For the last 20 years,
a small, family owned air service and a rural, interdenominational
Christian college have teamed together to teach students to fly so
that they can make a difference in the world.
The small, family owned air service is Harv's Air, located just
south of Steinbach, Manitoba. They offer accelerated but very
comprehensive courses for all licences and permits from the new
Recreational Permit through to the Multi-IFR (Multi Engine
Airplanes and Instrument Flight Reference).
The College is called Providence College and Seminary and is
located just west of Steinbach in Otterburne, Manitoba. They are an
accredited, interdenominational, multi-cultural, Christian
institution that offers university level degrees in Biblical and
Theological Studies, General Arts, Social Sciences, Performing
Arts, and Aviation, just to name a few.
The partnership between these institutions started over 20 years
ago when the then Vice President of Academics for Providence
College, Al Hiebert, paid a visit to Harv Penner, owner of Harv's
Air. Penner says he recalls both of them almost simultaneously
saying, "You know it would be a good thing for Winnipeg Bible
College (as Providence was called then) and Harv's Air to get
together to discuss the possibilities of offering an aviation
That first conversation evolved to become an entire Aviation
program consisting of either a four year Bachelor of Arts Aviation
Major, a two year Diploma in Aviation or a one year certificate in
Aviation. The program started out in the early 80s with four or
five aircraft and now Harv's Air operates 17 aircraft, logging over
11,000 flight hours a year. Enrollment has also increased, from ten
students in the first year to 28 in 2003. Students now come from
all over the world. Adam Penner, Harv's son says that 40% of their
students are Manitobans, 30% are from elsewhere in Canada and 30%
are international students from places like France, Germany, India,
Sri Lanka and Japan.
Harv's Air has been training pilots for over 30 years, though
their association with Providence is only 20 years old. They own
and operate their own airport, ensuring no landing fees, terminal
fees or headaches with any delays in flight training. They also own
and operate a mixed fleet of airplanes consisting of Cessna 152's,
Cessna 172's, a Piper Cherokee, a Pitts S2B, a Citabria, a Beach
Travelair and a Piper Navajo. In addition to having one of the
youngest fleets in the flight training industry, Adam Penner says
that all of the aircraft are maintained to the highest standard by
their on-staff Aircraft Engineers.
The staff themselves have over 40,000 combined hours of flight
training experience and have all been trained by Harv's Air. They
also have Designated Flight Test Examiners (DFTE) on staff to
conduct tests for Recreation, Private, Commercial and Multi
Providence College's Aviation program has a unique focus.
Students are able to choose between a business and a missions track
in the four year Bachelor of Arts program. The business track is an
integrated program in which students will obtain their commercial
license, multi-engine IFR rating, and flight instructor rating.
There are over 230 hours of flight training and 450 hours of ground
school. The aim is to produce students who are high quality, job
ready commercial pilots.
The missions track trains students to use the airplane as a tool
to help mission organizations get to the places they need to be.
The program includes many of the components of the business track,
but with a missions emphasis. Providence College is one of only a
few Christian colleges to provide comprehensive flight training
tailored to the needs of the mission field.
After 20 years, Harv's Air and Providence College have seen many
students graduate with their certificates, diplomas and BA's in
Aviation. These students now work for organizations like Air
Canada, WestJet, Jestgo, the Missionary Aviation Fellowship, New
Tribes Missions, Air Transat, and numerous air taxi and commuter
airlines. If the previous two decades have been any indication, the
sky's the limit for this unique education and aviation partnership.
[ANN Thanks Krista Folkers for her assistance in this article)