Mountain City’s training area runs from Altona to Manitou and from Roland down to the US border. We have over 600 square miles to do our training in! Of course, schools like MFC (Moncton Flight College) have at least a dozen training areas and probably four times as much room to practice in, but they also have close to 25 aircraft in those areas. At times, I spent more time avoiding other aircraft and staying within our closely defined little practice area than focusing on my student. Commuting out through the control zone and into the practice area could take the student 10 minutes each way. Coupled with the time spent avoiding midair collisions we really had very little training time remaining. It was a wonder it didn’t take 100 hours to get a licence. MCA’s training area on the other hand encompasses the airport and starts once we reach altitude the lesson dictates. We have saved the students some serious time training them here at the Morden Airport.
After our first born and bred commercial students left the MCA nest, we asked for their feedback and although there was some glowing praise, there was also some negative feedback. “I didn’t get enough controlled airspace practice.” “I never flew much in high volume traffic areas.” “The instructor trained me too well.” The first two I gave serious consideration to, and as a result, added a lot more controlled airspace training for the post-PPL student. Since the first cadre of CPL students, I haven’t really heard that comment too much since we started getting them to do hours of circuits at CYWG. As for the last comment…well it’s the age old battle of saving money versus saving your life or the lives of loved ones. Pretty simple to me.
MCA has grown a lot since I first got here. I came here as an inexperienced class 3 instructor and now I am on the cusp of being a class 1 instructor. We added a second aircraft to our fleet and are looking forward to getting a tail-dragger and twin-engine aircraft.
I am very thankful for the opportunities and challenges given to me here at Morden Airport. I love seeing our efforts come to fruition. If Transport Canada employees send their kids on a 2 hour commute to do training here, as opposed to Winnipeg, we must be doing something right in their eyes. Seeing my students take flight sharing the adventure with family and friends is awesome. Hearing from former CPL students that have landed their first job is awe-inspiring, even when they make 4 times as much money as me. The first solo grin. The successful flight test glow. All these things make Morden Airport and MCA special. God bless and safe flying.
-Lance Appleford, CFI