Wings Magazine

BushCat Build students complete first semester and look ahead to Manitoba airshow

June 25, 2024  By Ashleigh Cordery

High school students from PCI and Westpark School celebrate their progress at the completion of the program’s very first semester. (Photo: Eagle’s Wings Flight School)

Eagle’s Wings Flight School (EWFS) is celebrating the completion of its first semester with local high school students who have teamed up with its volunteers to build a BushCat ultralight airplane. A group of seven First Nations students, ages 15 to 18 years old, from both Portage Collegiate Institute and Westpark School have attended 18 sessions on Wednesday evenings this term as part of this unique new after-school program. The young people have learned practical mechanical skills, become familiar with airplanes, received career exploration sessions, and capped off the semester by flying over their homes on Long Plain First Nation, Dakota Plains Wahpeton First Nation and Dakota Tipi First Nation.

Over the past four months, students have gained valuable experience reading instructions, following designs, problem solving, and working as a team as they learned alongside Eagle’s Wings’ build mentors. Participants have learned how to use basic tools like ratchets and wrenches, and had opportunities to torque, solder, rivet, lockwire and drill while assembling the first 40 sections of the ultralight airplane. With a total of 125 sections, the project is expected to take between two to three school years to complete.

When asked what kept her coming back week after week, an 18-year-old Grade 12 student from Long Plain First Nation said, “This program gave me something to do. Every week I looked forward to Wednesday.” Another student shared, “It’s fun building a plane, I enjoy it. This is something for me to do instead of sitting around, and I’ve always liked airplanes.” The weekly sessions have been a time for the young people to learn new skills, gain confidence and build new relationships and friendships.

The class met for their final session this week to install the seatbelts, throttle cables, arm rests and firewall in the cockpit section. The program will pause for the summer and resume in September when the team will finish up in the cockpit before assembling the wings.


Students and the EWFS team are looking forward to showing off their work at the upcoming Manitoba Airshow being hosted at Southport Aerospace August 3rd and 4th. The BushCat Build team will be on hand along with the airplane, ready to share their experiences as they participate in a terrific display of pilot skill and amazing aircraft.

EWFS is an entirely volunteer-run registered Canadian charity whose mission is to inspire at-risk youth to explore their innate gifts, build self-confidence, and develop practical life-skills through aviation training. EWFS is funded through the generosity of corporate sponsors and personal donors. To give, visit, and to keep up with the progress of the BushCat Build, follow Eagle’s Wings Flight School on Facebook.


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