Rising Star Award
Larissa Chiu, president, University of British Columbia Aviation Club, and chair, Waypoint Aviation Connections
From a young age, Chiu quickly took after her father’s interest for aviation. She enrolled into the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program and obtained her glider and private licenses, and went on to be the only female cadet familiarization pilot in her region. She has since rerolled back into the program as an officer after graduating in May 2018.
Chiu is currently the president of the University of British Columbia’s Aviation Club and the chair of the Waypoint Aviation Connections Conference, which is a student-lead networking event aimed to help students’ network with others by sharing ideas and knowledge of the aviation industry. Chiu aspires to become an Angel Flight pilot, flying passengers who are in need of medical treatments that may not be available near their rural homes.
Return to list of 2018 Elsie Award winners for more personal stories
A favourite story on my journey, by Larissa Chiu: Breathe. Bank left, enter downwind leg at circuit altitude. Pre-landing checklist. Check. Power back, slow down airspeed, flaps down to 10 degrees. Breathe. Bank left, continue to decrease airspeed. “This is the shortest field I’ve ever seen! Now I know why Charlie said you have to come in at 60 knots to make it,” my friend trailed off, staring in awe.
Breathe. Bank left, flaps down to 30 degrees, maintain airspeed at 60 knots, keeping that approach path and attitude steady. Landing too low... ditch. Coming in too high... ditch. Making the finest adjustments in power, not teetering off that approach path. Approaching aiming point, power idle, flare right over the runway numbers, eyes on the horizon, hold off and hover just over the pavement for a smooth landing. Main wheels down. Flaps up. Breaks. Breathe.
Laying out my maps and charts, I looked over the flight plan I had prepared the night before as I anxiously awaited for my friend to arrive. I thought landing on an 1,800 foot runway with both ends bounded by water would be fun and challenging for an amateur pilot like myself, as I ran through my flight plan again before departing for our home airport.
“Hey where are you heading off to?” asked Mike the flight instructor. “Victoria International Airport then over to Courtney Airpark.” “Oh – that’s a short runway. Have yet to land there myself. Just you?” he speculated, baring a slight tension in his eyes.
“Well, Victor will be flying with me, and he’s flying the leg back,” I responded, almost as if to subconsciously reassure myself. I saw his eyes relax; he wished me good luck and left.
Exiting off the taxiway at CAH3, a grin stretched across my face over the excited commotion of my friends and I after a textbook short field landing. This is why I live to fly: To share these exhilarating moments with fellow pilots, but beyond that, to inspire others to fly. It gives me great joy and sense of honour to be able to take my friends, family, cadets and anyone in the community who is willing to let me share my passion for aviation, and show them a different perspective of the world we live in.
I love finding new challenges that push to perfect my skills. This landing was nothing out of the ordinary for any pilot, but the moment was one of many that pushed aside the stirring self-doubt I had, and reinforced a sense of confidence in myself. Bit by bit, every time you push beyond your own perceived capabilities, you build upon your self-confidence. Never doubt yourself. I really believe one can do anything they set their mind to.
Return to list of Elsie Award winners for more personal stories
Elsie Rising Star Award, Larissa Chiu
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