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Teens soar to new heights at Foothills gliding school

Cu Nim Gliding Club gets brothers Joshua and Kaleb Bagrowicz' aviation careers off the ground

Two ambitious teens are soaring to new heights at Cu Nim Gliding Club

Twin 14-year-old brothers, Joshua and Kaleb Bagrowicz, completed their first solo glider flights on April 17.

“Flying solo, the feeling of freedom felt so good after many months of training,” said Kaleb.

“A lot of my flight also consisted of being grateful for my dad and instructors helping me get where I am now.

“We’ve been working for this for the past year, we’ve been flying with instructors many times.”

The two had been flying since July 4, said his brother Joshua.

“We’ve had many great experiences and there’s been a lot of labour and hard work put into the sport," he said.

Their father Bart Bagrowicz couldn’t be more proud.

“I was absolutely ecstatic and proud of them,” he said. "It’s a true and material achievement for anyone to do, let alone at the age of 14.

“It takes guts, for lack of a better term.”

The nerves certainly weren’t absent for the man seeing his sons take flight.

“I felt that weight on my shoulders as a parent of two 14-year-olds about to take command of an aircraft, fly solo by themselves, and climb up to 2,000 feet,” he said, conceding that his wife was notably more calm and collected.

The day started for them like all pilots at the club, located east of Black Diamond.

The trainees start early - making sure they help get the gliders and tow plane out of the hangar. 

This is a matter of respect, said Kaleb.

After helping out, they start getting ready for their own flights by preparing their parachute, and readying weights, which are used to ensure the same centre of gravity in the ultra-light plane regardless of pilot.

Then comes a briefing with their instructors and going over their flight plan.

“Once we’re in the glider, we just plan on doing everything the best we could,” Kaleb said. “We try improving pretty much every flight just to make sure our skills keep on progressing and our confidence keeps going up.”

Ben Hornett, Cu Nim president and instructor, was confident the fledgling aviators were able well before they turned the required age of 14 last December.

“They were really ready to go solo, they just weren't old enough yet,” he said.

With the intense weather in the last weeks of December, the brothers' flying season was on hold until the new year brought sunny days.

“We did a bit of flying with them to make sure they were back up to standard,” Hornett explained.

“When it came to the solo day on April 17, we already knew they were really ready.

“You just want to make sure they’re having a good day, that they’re ready for it.”

The conditions were challenging that day, with changing winds, he added, but the young pilots handled it well.

“I think those are flights they’re going to remember for the rest of their flying career, and the rest of their lives,” Hornett said.

He added that solo flights at 14 are incredibly rare, and twins flying solos at that age even more so.

While proficient and tested individuals can fly solo at 14, pilots may obtain their Transport Canada regulated glider pilots licences at 16.

Kaleb added the brothers are grateful for the instruction they’ve received at Cu Nim.

“It was all our instructors that made this all possible, Patrick (McMahon), Ben (Hornett), and Chris (Gough),” he said.

The passion for flight was seeded much earlier in life, Joshua said.

“Kaleb and I have both had an interest in aviation from a very young age," he said. "Our parents would take us out to go watch planes and we both developed a strong passion for aviation.”

Kaleb added the fascination also ties into frequent trips overseas, with the family having travelled to Japan to visit family since they were very young.

“I think a lot of our interest comes from the journey from Canada to Japan,” Kaleb said.

“We’d board huge jets and share ideas about what it would be like to be airline pilots on those specific aircraft.”

As for the future, the twins already have their flight plan.

Both have goals of becoming commercial airline pilots, with Kaleb aiming to ascend to corporate management, and Joshua setting his sights on flying large body aircraft.

More immediately, the two will be moving toward learning in powered aircraft.

“Because we have this gliding experience, we think it should help us a lot,” said Joshua.

For anyone looking at aviation, he added there’s no better path than gliding.

“It really teaches you the values of aviation and knowing the aircraft itself," Joshua added.

For more information about Cu Nim Gliding Club, go to www.cunim.org


Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and OkotoksToday.ca
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