For Meadow Lake resident Daniella Petitti, becoming a pilot was something she imagined she could do, but didn't have the confidence or resources to get there.
While in her teens, Petitti first went on a flight with a friend and thought “it was so awesome, and so amazing. It really just opened my eyes.”
Eventually, in her late 20s, while working in a medical lab in Calgary, she had a chance encounter with a pilot who heard her story and gifted her $500 to help her take the first step.
And she did.
“I realized it was possible,” said the Waterhen Lake First Nation member.
Petitti went on to undertake a flight training program at First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) in Ontario. After three years of hard work she obtained her diploma and graduated in May 2018 as an aviation pilot. She is currently qualified to fly single-engine aircraft.
"It feels really awesome to have completed it," said the 34-year-old. "I do feel I still have a long way to go."
She said her mother and sisters were especially excited to see her achieve her goals after completing her flight training program.
Petitti said she hasn't started working in the aviation field yet, but that is her goal. She next wants to return to school at FNTI in the Spring to obtain her instructor rating so she can go on to teach.
"I'm hoping for March," she said of her plans, which could take at least five months to complete. "I'm still waiting on paperwork to see if I can get that paid for through my reserve or through another program in Ontario for an adult learner."
If she is successful, she can go on to teach others how to fly.
Petitti said FNTI has offered her an instructor position at the school if she can complete her instructor training program.
She mentioned there are very few Indigenous female pilots in the field currently, however she believes more are on the way.
“There are going to be a lot of female pilots coming out of this school," she added.
Petitti pointed out studying in aviation can be quite expensive, but said she is not discouraged.
"I'm still trying to find the funding to accomplish more of what I'd like to do," she added.
On Twitter: @battlefordsNOW
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