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Interview with Air Hart Owner: Richard Hanson

What are you currently flying?

180 floatplane, 172 landplane

When did you first realise you wanted to become a pilot?

Back when I was a kid, I actually signed up for pilot testing for the airforce. They signed me up for 3 day testing up in Toronto and then I chickened out last minute because I didn’t want to give the 7 year commitment. At 17 that’s a lot! It was a full officer programme, you get a degree and everything but they frown on you having a relationship. It’s always been one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t go through with it.

What did you do instead?

I went into sciences at first at university, then switched to accounting. I was an accountant for ten years, a business analyst then I went to building houses, did that for ten years. Then I decided, I’m sick of building and I can’t go and work for someone else because I’ve been self employed for too long so I started looking online for businesses for sale, saw this (Air Hart Aviation) and thought wow, that’s my dream job right? I kept looking but I couldn’t get it out of my head after that. So I made an enquiry and found out that they teach, so thought, hey that’s perfect – they can teach me!

What would be your dream plane to fly?

Other than a fighter jet? A caravan on amphibs would be a fun, realistic one. Just to have for the business, I’d like to do commuter flights to Vancouver perhaps. If we had a caravan we could do training on the caravan, we would be one of the only ones in the world that do that. So people could fly downtown Kelowna to downtown Vancouver, you wouldn’t have to go out to the airport!

How regularly do you fly?

Pretty close to daily.

Any advice to someone who wants to become a pilot?

Just do it because it’s so fun! Give it a try. If you’re thinking about it, then it’s for you. There is a huge shortage coming up for pilots, so the demand for pilots has never been better, so now’s the time!

How long did it take you to get to where you are now with your flying?

Well, I did my PPL in 3 months and that was alongside buying a business and learning the ropes of running that at the same time. So it didn’t seem quick at the time! So many people see that you need 45 hours and think ‘that’s like a week!’ and it doesn’t quite work like that! Not long after I started my CPL and began hour building which took me about a season.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back then as you began your training?

If you’re going to do a Commercial after your PPL do it right away (if possible) so you don’t have to go back and re-learn all of the theory. I knew that when I did it but I still left it too long because you need 100 hours before you can write the written test and you finish your PPL with 50-60 hours. So you need to do some build time and then you start to forget the theory.

Any general rules that you fly by?

I would say, don’t get over-confident. You still learn each time you fly.

If you could fly anywhere in the world, where would you most like to see from above?

That’s tough! It would be cool to fly a floatplane in the Caribbean, that would be a big one!

What’s your favourite location that you’ve ever flown?

Oh well I’d have to say Kelowna! Kelowna is just amazing, there’s such a variety of terrain and mountain lakes.

What is your ideal aviation adventure?

I would like to fly from here to Europe in a small plane. Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and all the way down. When I first bought the company, I found an article online about this guy who wrote a blog about his trip, all about things like trying to find fuel along the way, etc. And at the end of every day he would have his pint of beer and would document his most expensive pints, in Iceland for example!

Thanks Richard for taking the time to chat - happy flying!

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Address: 1348 Water St Kelowna, BC V1Y 9P3

Tel: (250) 762-9830
Fax: (250) 762-9840
Toll-Free: 1-877-766-6699