Meet the newest, and youngest, commercial pilot at True North Airways in Ontario

Isabel Fredette was barely a teenager when she decided she wanted to become a pilot.

Just two years later, Fredette earned a private pilot’s license. Now 18, she’s working for True North Airlines, a private charter airline based on Whitewater Lake in Azilda.

Fredette is a new high school graduate who plans to get into biology studies at Laurentian University in Sudbury this fall.

But this summer, she’ll focus on her work at True North Airlines.

She recalled when she was first inspired to become a pilot.

At 14, she was a passenger with her father, a pilot who was practicing touch-and-go landing maneuvers through narrows — a restricted water passage.

“[The water] was kind of glassy, ​​which is, when the water is just perfect glass, there’s straight reflection,” she said.

“I just knew at that point that I would become a pilot and it was going to happen.

“Just watching my dad and getting to see things from above — I just love that. And I felt like I needed to be able to do that.”

The base for True North Airways, a private charter airline, is on Whitewater Lake in Azilda. It has seven commercial pilots. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Michelle Hayden, co-owner of True North Airlines, had no hesitations hiring Fredette.

“She’s always very self-led and she looks after things from start to finish, and she has a really thorough knowledge of airplanes, aircrafts and flying, so it’s really nice to have somebody so confident to look after things, especially if I’m not here for the day.”

Fredette’s job is to mostly deliver supplies and check on guests staying at remote fishing resorts north of Sudbury. She may also provide training to other aspiring pilots who need flying hours.

“I think her skills will speak for themselves,” Hayden said, acknowledging it might be harder to convince some people that a teenager can fly a plane.

“I hope people look at Isabel and the accomplishments she has at such a young age and I hope that inspires more people to get into a field that generally isn’t for super super young females,” added Hayden.

Teenaged, female pilot stands beside float plane she will be flying.
This is the Cessna float plane that Fredette will be flying this summer for True North Airlines. The 18-year-old is the newest and youngest commercial pilot with the company. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Getting her private pilot’s license required hard work and perseverance.

For the practical part of the program, she had to maintain high grades during ground school, including writing an exam through Transport Canada.

“There’s flight training and you have to do so much time with an instructor and then by yourself” in the air.

During her studies to earn her commercial pilot’s license, “it’s pretty much the same as the private one [licence] — just the margins for error are much much tighter, which makes sense — you want everybody to be super proficient.”

After finishing her requirements for her private license at 16, she received a recreational permit, which allowed her to pilot a plane on her own.

At 17, she was legally able to get her private license, leading up to more work to earn her commercial license, including logging at least 200 hours of flight training.

Flying license before driver’s license

This is Fredette’s third summer working at True North Airways. She started as a dock hand, and because she didn’t have her driver’s license during her first summer there, she ended up flying her plane to work.

As a pilot, some of her travels have taken her to Toronto.

“I’ve actually gone to Billy Bishop [Airport]. Flying around the CN Tower is kind of cool.”

Fredette’s dream flight would be to Alaska “on bushwheels, which are big tundra tires that you can land on sandbars.

“That seems like a really awesome adventure.”

Her advice for anyone thinking about becoming a pilot: “You’re going to need to put in the work. The studying part is not fun at all. I can vouch for that — It’s dry and boring,” Fredette said.

“But it’s all worth it when you get to go flying.”

Morning North7:21Meet an 18-year-old who’s working as a commercial pilot

Many teenagers dream of what they want to be someday. 18-year-old Isabel Fredette of Sudbury isn’t dreaming anymore. She just got her commercial pilot’s license… and is already working for an airline.

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