‘A big moment’: Campbell River sees the first commercial electric plane flight in Canada

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A Campbell River company has marked a historic milestone in Canadian aviation Friday, as Sealand Flight took the first-ever commercial flight in an electric aircraft.

The plane is the Pipistrel Velis Electro and the introductory flight lesson was taken by a 15-year-old from Campbell River.

Edwin Clements, an air cadet, was selected for the opportunity through a written application process run by Sealand Flight. The moment he learned he’d been selected was electric.

“I was driving to school with my mom and sister and they screamed. I might have lost hearing for a bit,” said Clements. “I’ve just been shaking all day I’ve been so excited.”

Clements has never even driven a car, much less flown an airplane.

“It’s just a moment in history,” said the teen. “First commercial electric flight in Canada. It’s a big moment for the future.”

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Sealand Flight started the process of buying the $300,000 airplane two years ago. The plane arrived in a shipping container from Slovenia. Then, factory-trained technicians came to Canada to teach the proper maintenance.

“So to find out at the very end of the process, to find we’re going to be the first commercial flight in Canada, that’s electric, it’s great. We’re very happy to have the honour,” said Ian Lamont, Sealand Flight’s chief flight instructor.

Lamont says the company wanted to move to electric not only for environmental reasons. but also for financial ones.

“To go from $80 an hour in leaded fuel to less than $2 an hour in electricity, it’s just perfect for company’s like ourselves that do training flights,” said Lamont.

The planes boasts a range of 50 minutes.

With a number of dignitaries watching, the plane took off on Friday, and while electric there is still some noise.

Soon, Clements got his opportunity to handle the instruments.

“OK you want to try the stick there? so just look at that cloud and you just want to keep kind of the same angle, keeping the wings level,” said Lamont.

The flight took nearly 30 minutes, and once back on the ground Clements had a glowing review.

“It was pretty fun. Considering the weather a little bit bumpy, but a really fun ride,” he said. “Pretty quiet. Really cool experience.”

Clements has aspirations to get his pilot’s license and got a remarkable start to his training. The flight cost him $20, but being a part of a piece of Canadian history is priceless.

Earlier this year, Harbour Air announced it has ordered 50 electric engines to help electrify its fleet of seaplanes.

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Kendall Hanson

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