By Anthony Langlois, Air Cadet League of Canada
The Air Cadet Program is comprised of many great cadets who fully embody its fundamental aims of leadership, citizenship and physical fitness. Some use the opportunities offered to them to reach new heights. Warrant Officer Second Class (WO2) Larissa Chiu of 111 Pegasus Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron is one such cadet. After winning the Virginia Mitchell Pilot Training Achievement Award back in December 2016, WO2 Chiu entered into a partnership with the Hamilton Watch Company that will see the watchmaker contribute $1,000 towards her aviation training on top of the initial $1,000 she received with her award. Here is the story of an exceptional cadet who has been transformed by her cadet experience.
Larissa joined the Air Cadets when she was 12 after being inspired by her father’s love for aviation. At first, she was not too sure about the Air Cadet Program; she thought it was too drill-orientated for her. Quickly though, she realized all the skills and attitude she could gain by being a cadet. She mentioned the discipline and self-control among the skills implied in military training and also observed, “Flying a plane is not that simple. There is a lot of leadership involved. Basically, you have to take charge of what your actions are. You need to have a quick-thinking skill and problem-solving. What happens if the engine fails? You can’t just stop; you need to act immediately.”
WO2 Chiu is one of three cadet pilots in the Lower Mainland who is qualified to conduct familiarization flights for other cadets after obtaining her pilot license in the summer of 2016 and completing 30 hours as pilot-in-command. To further her mastery of the air, she received $1,000 as part of the Virginia Mitchell Pilot Training Achievement Award in December 2016 and a Hamilton Watch for being the top female power pilot. “I was very honoured to receive this award,” said Larissa, “because it shows that hard work can get you places. Not only was this an award to myself, but I felt that the greater reward was actually having cadets come up and say, ‘Wow! I’m very inspired by you!’” For her, it is not enough to have one cadet succeed; it is better to have the entire squadron wanting to succeed.
Following the reception of her award, she contacted Hamilton to express her gratitude for the watch and the support they are giving to the Air Cadet Program. She then entered into a partnership with the company where they would sponsor her training by donating $1,000 through her flying school while she would fly winners of Hamilton’s other programs. This contribution will go a long way in helping her achieve her dream of becoming an Angel Flight pilot. Angel Flight is a community of volunteer pilots who fly kids or patients with medical conditions from rural areas to bigger cities to get treatment at a hospital.
In the meantime, WO2 Chiu just completed a research project, studying the effects of socioeconomic status on children’s developmental cognition, in collaboration with the University of British Columbia after approaching a UBC professor wondering if she could get a mentor for her research. She gives credit to the Air Cadets for helping her develop her communications skills through programs such as Effective Speaking. “Find yourself” is her advice for people who just joined as a cadet. “I think, in the Cadet Program, you can really explore who you are and find your attributes and find your weaknesses, your strengths and work on your weaknesses.” By turning her weaknesses into strengths, WO2 Larissa Chiu was able to successfully seize the opportunities offered to her by the Air Cadet Program.