When Doug Jenkins talks about unusual attitudes, loops and rolls, it is not as crazy as it may sound. He teaches aerobatics for a living – for him, an “unusual attitude” can mean flying upside down.
|Doug Jenkins takes a student for a spin|
Running Alberta’s only full-time aerobatics and tailwheel instruction business, this pilot works on a contract basis for Springbank Flight Training Centre in the foothills west of Calgary. He also teaches privately.
Jenkins stands out because he has turned these skills, his life’s passion, into a full-time job.
“I’ve been very fortunate. Everything in my life is bought and paid for, so I can get by on a smaller income than some,” the pilot says modestly. “But I have as much fun today as I did 20,000 takeoffs and landings ago.”
His clientele is split between aspiring commercial pilots interested in learning flying techniques and tailwheel handling (tailwheel airplanes are the types used out in the bush, where the greater stability of having a wheel on the tail is necessary, but difficult to handle) to commercial airline pilots who want to learn new skills.
Other clientele are recreational pilots who try the course for fun. Some end up taking their aerobatic skills on the road, to air shows or competitions.
Jenkins’ job sounds dangerous, but “it’s done in a very controlled fashion,” he says. “The most dangerous aspect is the drive to and from the airport.”
* Year Founded: 1972
* Address: P.O. Box 1514, Cochrane
* Phone: (403) 932-4000