Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Businessmen aim high: Kamloops, British Columbia

By Cavelle Layes
Kamloops This Week 
Published: June 12, 2013 4:00 PM
Updated: June 12, 2013 4:01 PM

Fuel gauges, check.

Lights and flaps, check.

Master, on.

Oil pressure, check.

Taxi clearance, obtain.

Flight controls, check.

Kamloops residents are preparing to take to the skies as early as this afternoon thanks to a pair of local entrepreneurs.

Tyler Gertzen and David Cruz are watching their dreams take off with their Kamloops aviation school — a business built out of what they viewed as necessity.

While obtaining a pilot’s license of his own, Gertzen was not satisfied with his experience.

“It felt as though it was more about the money than actually teaching people,” Gertzen said.

The young entrepreneur thought there must be a better way to get aviation enthusiasts up into the sky, one which would make the experience of future pilots not only educational but fun.

After thinking about the concept, Gertzen teamed up with David Cruz to create TylAir Aviation Ltd., the only locally owned and operated aviation school in the area — and it promises to offer services they can be proud of, whether it be earning a recreational license or a private-pilot designation.

“I want to be able to help people discover the freedom you get from flying,” Gertzen said.

Classes are taught by two pilots with combined flying hours reaching 14,000.

Most pilots are lucky to reach 1,000 in a lifetime, Gertzen said.

Those who want to learn how to fly a plane but do not have a lot of time or money can work toward a recreational license, Gertzen said.

This type allows for daytime flying with a single passenger on flights within Canada.

“It is perfect for someone who doesn’t think they will be going flying a lot or with a group of people,” Gertzen said.

“If you want to take your entire family along, however, you are better off to get the private license.”

It costs almost double the amount to obtain and requires twice as many hours.

With the added hurdles, however, comes more freedom, with longer flights, farther flying distances, trips out of country, night-time flying and multiple-passenger allowance.

Unlike obtaining a driver’s license, those looking to fly a plane can do so without taking a single ground course.

Customers can take the in-plane portion of their lessons before ever reading a thing and, depending on the hours put in, after about a month of lessons they could be flying solo.

The ground course is less expensive than the flying lessons and runs over a nine-week period in a continuous interval.

While it is easiest to start at week one, Gertzen said those interested can jump in at any time, as each lesson is stand-alone in nature.

With dedication, a prospective pilot could have a recreational license in just three months.

And, unlike a vehicle license, recreational pilots can be as young as 14.

They must be 17 to study for a private license.

“So many people think you need to make lots of money and have a university education in order to be able to fly a plane,” Gertzen said.

“You do not need to be a doctor or lawyer — you just need an interest in flying.

“If you have your medical, we can teach you the rest.”

Potential pilots must pass a medical overseen by an aviation doctor.

Kamloops has six qualified to do this.

The health check is more rigorous for a private license that the recreational classification, Gertzen said.

If you are in good health, you are good to go.

Pilots can also rent planes once they pass a safety check.

“A pilot can’t just not fly for two years and then one day decide to hop in a plane,” said Gertzen.

They are required to clock a certain amount of hours each year. Offering a rental helps them keep their stats up without the expense of owning a plane.

While they have been in operation for six weeks, the grand opening will be on Thursday, June 20, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 2845 Aviation Way, with flights available throughout the day to give people a taste of flying.

For $99, participants can take to the skies for 20 minutes and, at one point, take hold of the controls for a while.

Once back on the ground, those who sign up for lessons can count that time spent in the sky toward their pilot license.

Participants will also be entered in a draw for a free ground course.

A barbecue will be available for all those who visit and information on the flight school and other business features will be available. 

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