Alkan Air Flight Academy chief flight instructor Lance Appleford leans on a Cessna Skyhawk 172 M in Whitehorse on November 4, 2020. Appleford is the first pilot examiner in the territory since 2013. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Alkan Air Flight Academy chief flight instructor Lance Appleford leans on a Cessna Skyhawk 172 M in Whitehorse on November 4, 2020. Appleford is the first pilot examiner in the territory since 2013. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon flight instructor earns pilot examiner accreditation

Prospective pilots no longer have to wait for Outside examiner to visit territory

Yukoners working to earn their private and commercial pilots license will now have more flexible options testing with Alkan Air Flight Academy chief flight instructor Lance Appleford taking on the role as pilot examiner.

The last time there was a pilot examiner in the territory was in 2013.

Appleford recently returned from Edmonton where he spent a week getting his pilot examiner accreditation through Transport Canada.

After the required two weeks of self-isolation back home in the Yukon, Appleford is ready to take on his additional role as pilot examiner with the flight school and that means students waiting to be tested for their licences are better able to book their exams at a time that works for them.

Previous to Appleford getting his accreditation, the flight school typically brought pilot examiners in from British Columbia for a few days at a time about every three months, Appleford said.

That was before COVID-19 hit, closing borders and taking its toll on the economy.

While the border between the territory and B.C. is now opened, the situation had officials at the flight school looking at what it could do to ensure students are able to test for their licences at times the school can’t get examiners into the territory.

At any given time, Appleford said, there’s between 30 and 40 part- and full-time students working towards their flight test, which can be a somewhat dissatisfactory experience when waiting for an examiner to visit the territory.

Previously, students would be told when an examiner was coming up and would either have to be ready for that date or wait for a subsequent visit a few months down the road to be tested if they weren’t ready. Weather issues can also impact flight tests when an examiner is in the territory.

Ultimately officials decided to send Appleford to Edmonton for the training and accreditation that would provide an in-house pilot examiner at the school.

Appleford said he was pleased with the training provided by two Transport Canada staff, noting becoming a pilot examiner “seemed like the right fit” for him.

Lance Appleford takes the student side of the aircraft so his instructor pilot student can practice teaching during the flight in Whitehorse on November 5, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

There are a number of benefits for the school and its students as the cost of flight exams could come down as per diems, hotels and such will no longer have to be covered for the visiting examiner.

It also means that prospective pilots can book their flight test when they’re ready for the test.

“They can book (their flight exam) with me anytime,” Appleford said, adding that students at the school already know him in his role as chief flight instructor which he’s hoping will help them feel more comfortable about the exam.

“Alkan Air’s Flight Academy was created by, and for, Yukoners so our team is very proud to have Lance certified to conduct flight tests,” Alkan Air president Wendy Tayler said in a statement.

“Investing in Yukoners is key to everything Alkan undertakes and we look forward to local pilots in our flight school receiving this additional service and becoming part of our strong and rewarding aviation industry right here at home.”

Appleford’s own flight career began years ago when he was working as an English as a second language teacher in Korea and Taiwan.

He came back to his former home in Toronto on a break for a couple of months and while he saw many old friends he was hoping to see, he also found many were busy with their own careers, families and lives.

Somewhat bored, he said when he heard a radio ad to take part in a 20 minute flight from Toronto Island for $40, he headed down there and took in that first instructional flight.

“I was hooked,” he said as he recalled talking with the instructor about getting his private pilot’s licence and soon working to get his required 45 hours of flight time required before the examination.

“I flapped down my money at that school,” he said.

After getting his private licence he returned to teaching English in Taiwan, saving money so that he could get his commercial license when he returned to Canada.

In moving to a career as a pilot, he has incorporated his skills as a teacher as well.

He began his flight-training career at Moncton Flight College where he led an English for pilots program for students from China who were studying at the New Brunswick flight school.

After his time there, he made his way north over nearly a dozen years before joining Alkan Air as part of its air ambulance team.

It was after two years as a medevac pilot with Alkan Air that he moved to the flight school and has since taken on the role as the school’s chief flight instructor.

While COVID-19 continues to impact the flight industry and has altered some of the school’s operations, Appleford said prospective pilots are continuing to train at the flight school and interest in the school remains strong.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read