Female pilot takes flight with CHAA

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Andrea Kuciak is not reticent, nor is she a reluctant interview.

But the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association's first female pilot may well also be the one downplaying that fact the most.

"Just because I'm a girl," she shrugged during last Saturday's Wings & Wheels fly day at the Tillsonburg Regional Airport. "It's news, but it shouldn't be news.

"What about the other guys who fly here?"

Kuciak glided her way into powered flight close to 20 years ago as an 18-year-old high school student, dragged to a Southern Ontario Soaring Association gliding event by her brother Mark Kuciak.

"He always had the passion for flying," said Andrea, who quickly found a second home. "I joined even before I flew because it was so cool."

She was taken for her first flight by an "amazing woman, a fantastic pilot still in the gliding club."

Kuciak eventually acquired her instructor rating for gliders, an aerobatic glider rating and then rating as a glider aerobatic instructor.

"It's so quiet, and you wouldn't believe the things a glider will do," she said.

Kuciak began powered flight in 2001 in glider tow planes, Piper Pawnee crop dusters whose unique characteristics made them an ideal bridge aircraft.

"They are such a blast."

Introduction to powered flight also served as introduction to husband Scott McMaster, an enthusiastic competitive power aerobatics flyer.

Kuciak embraced both McMaster and his flying passion, going on to tackle such aerobatic challenges as the Lamcovak, a tumbling, gyroscopic manoeuvre for expert pilots with a hint of certifiable insanity somewhere in their makeup.

"Certifiably crazy, yeah," she laughed. "But it's so much fun."

Kuciak tends to look for new challenges every two or three years, and flying Harvards would turn out to be the 'new thing.' They found her as much as the reverse, in the form of a flight to her home airport in St. Catharines.

"I sat in one, and that was it," she laughed.

Kuciak joined CHAA's ground school in the spring of 2013, advancing through the program and checked out in July.

"And now I'm just sort of flying them and enjoying it."

Ultimately, Kuciak, a mechanical engineer who got her degree at The University of Waterloo and works at a steel plant, would consider formation or aerobatic opportunities in a Harvard. But for the moment, she is clearly happy to just be one of the CHAA 'boys.'

"I love engineering, I love flying and I love hanging around guys - guys are fun."

But if there is a positive message for women of any age in her experience, Kuciak is more than happy to model that role, firmly believing any option should be open to every Canadian, be that flight, mechanical engineering or prime minister.

"The message is, there is no reason girls can't do anything they want to do - just do it."




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