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The skies the limit for young Regina pilot Skwara

July 9, 2014, Regina - Matthew Skwara remembers his first airplane ride. He wasn't just a passenger, sitting in coach on a big jet airliner.


July 9, 2014
By The Regina Leader-Post

He was an eight-year-old boy riding shotgun next to Dave Atkinson,
general manager of the Regina Flying Club and a former coworker of his
mother's. "It was different because you always look up at (planes) and
then we actually were in one and, 'OK, this is cool!' I was hooked,"
said Skwara. "That was my first airplane ride ever."

 

It's no
wonder planes stuck in his brain throughout the rest of his childhood,
although he can't remember in what model he first took flight.

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Today,
Skwara is a 19-yearold pilot who has logged 106 hours in the air. He's
got one semester down at SIAST in the commercial aviation diploma
program. His goal is to fly for a big commercial airline like Air Canada
or WestJet.

 

"It's a long ways away, but that's what I want to do," said Skwara. You need about 5,000 hours to be a commercial pilot.

 

For
the first 200 hours, the time it takes to obtain a commercial pilot's
licence, he'll rent planes from the club at a cost of $169 per hour.

 

All
in, it'll cost him about $70,000 to become a pilot. His parents and
grandmother are helping him out a bit; the rest is down to student loans
and his full-time job at Dairy Queen.

 

But it's worth it to become a pilot.

 

"It's
kind of that feeling of freedom," said Skwara. "You look around and you
realize there's nothing holding your feet down besides the airplane and
you can hear the wind going by … You just kind of feel alive."

 

Next
month, Skwara is headed to Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., as Saskatchewan's
finalist for the Webster Trophy. He will compete against eight other
young pilots for the title of top amateur pilot in Canada.

 

The week involves two flight tests, two written tests and some time in the simulator.

 

But
Skwara is especially excited to mingle with the brass from Air Canada
at a banquet, and to meet the other young pilots in the running.

 

"It's nice to know there's people there doing the same thing you're doing," said Skwara.

 

Being part of a community is something he enjoys too.

 

At the Regina Flying Club on Sunday morning, Skwara chit-chatted about planes with an old-timer pilot.

 

"I've never met that guy in my life, yet you just have something in common to talk about," said Skwara. "Everyone's just nice."

 

His friends who aren't pilots say his career path is "really cool." He likes the versatility of it.

 

"I
could be doing Medevac and saving someone's life," said Skwara. "I
could be delivering a bunch of needed services and supplies to small
communities … I could be taking a family on their vacation or
reuniting a family. It's broad what I could be doing."

 

But nothing beats that view, "the thing that not everyone will get to see every day. Some days are really breathtaking."