When Pretty River Academy student Michael Gougeon dreams, he dreams big. On Friday his dream of crossing Canada in a solo flight will come true. Gougeon, 16, will be able to witness the sights that Canada has to offer while listening to his iPod playlist.
The Collingwood, Ontario teen expects to deal with fatigue during the nine-hour time spans sitting at the controls of his father's Cessna 182 float plane he will pilot. The plane has both floats and wheels, allowing the young man to land on ground or water.
Matthew will be alone in the cockpit but his father will be flying close by. The trip is expected to take 6 days starting in Tofino, B.C. and touching down on July 19th in Halifax.
The trip depends on the weather. If it rains Gougeon will be grounded before one of the scheduled refueling stops he will be making along the way.
This week he is flying to Tofino and learning more about the challenges he could be facing during his solo flight. One of those challenges will come at the beginning of his journey. Fog is a problem in the area and Matthew needs to be able to navigate using his own eyes to see where he's going. Yesterday he flew over the Rockies for the first time learning more of what will be required. He blogged about that experience this morning:
"Since the air is thin at that altitude the engine looses power, and it must be kept at full throttle, even to maintain altitude. We were extremely lucky in the sense that flying over the rockies yielded almost no turbulence because the slightest bit of turbulence could cause a loss of altitude, potentially leading to a dangerous situation. Usually when mountain flying turbulence is a given. Flying over such rugged terrain was a very neat experience, and I look forward to doing it again today."
Gougeon could be the youngest to cross Canada flying at low altitude. He began training for this week's trip three years ago when he started taking flight training classes. Within a year the young man passed his private-pilot exam and picked up a float-plane rating.
Friday's trip has been made possible with sponsors who are paying for most of the $12,000 costs of the day long journey. The trip will also be a fund-raiser for the Neil Armstrong Fund. Those donations will help the fund provide flight training to other young people.
You can track Matthew's progress on his Twitter feed.