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Student reaching new heights
Iqaluit man receives assistance from the Northern Aviation Scholarship Program

Myles Dolphin
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, November 19, 2013

As a young student in Kimmirut, Thomas Cousins could see the planes taking off and landing from his classroom.

NNSL photo/graphic

Thomas Cousins, a 22-year-old Aviation Management student at Algonquin College, is one of three recipients of a $5,000 scholarship from the Northern Aviation Scholarship Program. - photo courtesy of Thomas Cousins

Outside of school, he can vaguely recall playing a flight simulator game on his grandmother's outdated computer.

It was around that time the seeds were sown for a future career in aviation.

The 22-year-old, who splits his time between Ottawa and Iqaluit, is one of three recipients of a $5,000 scholarship from the Northern Aviation Scholarship Program for the 2013-2014 school year.

The award is given to students who are pursuing full-time studies leading to a career in Northern aviation.

"I've always been interested in aviation," he said from Ottawa on Nov. 13, where he studies Aviation Management at Algonquin College.

"I've got posters and pictures all over the place. You can tell I'm interested in it. I also have close to 200 metal diecast planes."

Many of those are the 1:400 scale models but he also has a lot of the bigger, 1:200 scale planes, which he keeps in his home.

Last month, on Oct. 11, Cousins flew his first solo flight in a Cessna 150. At that point, he had 15 hours of flying under his belt.

"It was a great day. The instructor told me we'd have three flights that day and after the second one, he said he was getting out," Cousins said.

"It was a lot of fun. You're never told when you're going to do your first solo flight and most people feel comfortable doing it after they've done between 20 and 30 hours of flying."

After 15, the instructor felt Cousins who has a Student Pilot Permit was ready and cut the tether.

Following his studies, Cousins wants to get his multi-engine IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) certification and eventually find his way back to the North, where he'd like to work for First Air.

He said the excitement he gets from flying is a novelty that never wears off.

"I love the feeling of looking around, and you're the only one," he said.

"The whole experience is great. You practice all the steps so that when checkout time comes, everything is routine."

As for the $5,000 scholarship, he has a general idea of where the money's going.

"We pay our flights by the hour," he said.

"But I'm sure I'll also spend some on Christmas gifts."

The other two recipients of the scholarships are Colin Gunn of Iqaluit and Andrea Niptanatiak of Kugluktuk.

Nunavummiut with an interest in aviation can apply for the remaining half-scholarships ($2,500 for full-time studies of at least 10 weeks in duration) and full scholarship ($5,000 for full-time studies of at least 20 weeks in duration).

The application deadline for the second intake is Jan. 31.

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