Developing a Relationship

By Anna Serbinenko, In Flight USA, January 2015

Lessons learnt from the ICAS 2014 conference.  

3.30am on Monday. We boarded our school’s Seneca V and have completed the run-up check already. Ahead is almost 900nm of IFR, and we should be in Vegas by noon. The schedule is tight, there’s not a minute to lose. My Multi-IFR student Tony is briefing the departure plate. Pierre, another student, is getting cozy with Delphine in the back.  Weather justifies the IFR departure with 800’ ceilings. Almost two days of flight planning prior to that, already for half an hour on the ground warming up engines, doing the run-up, entering the flight plan – everything to make sure there would be no surprises when “the game is on” at take-off. We are now on our way to the International Council of Airshows (ICAS) conference in Las Vegas, NV – the place and time that will define the 2015 Air Shows season.

ICAS conferences are filled with training sessions, special events, exhibit hall time for business deals and lots and lots of networking. Many inspiring events will touch your heart and bring out the better you, fired up to make the next airshow season the best one ever. 

It was the second day of the conference, first day of the exhibit hall time. Tim LoDolce and Margaret Skillicorn from the Truckee Tahoe Airshow (California) stopped by my booth, and right after “Hi, how are you”, Tim said “We want to hire you. Do you have a contract to sign?”. Music to each performer’s ears! And how come that a relatively new performer like me would so “easily” get hired by a reputable – and very-hard-to-fly – show, as Truckee, CA?

Well, the answer is that it was anything but easy. I started talking to Tim about that show a while ago, when my inexperience was compensated only by enthusiasm and motivation. We had a friendly, and very educational for me, chat at that ICAS, explaining to me that when I take off at 8000-10000 density altitude (DA), my Decathlon would probably feel more like a glider. And how airshows are concerned about safety of the events, and that I need more experience with high DA airshows, and, and, and… I could have been discouraged. Or I could have learned from it, and take it as a guidance for my next steps. I chose the latter and here I am: scheduled to fly Truckee Tahoe Airshow on July 11, 2015!

I am a business person, and the combination of flying and business experience brought me where I am. I am happy to share today these common sense “secrets”:

  1. Be humble and always learn. If you are a beginner and just starting, do not pretend you are anything else. If you have more experience, well, still learn. I am still learning from my pre-solo students, improving how I could have explained better, and – if nothing else – how not to fly a plane! My dear mentor Bud Granley told me multiple times to “be a good cadet”. Tim in our conversation back then gave me pointers on flying high DA shows, and I am so happy I listened. 
  2. Apply what is learned. All wisdom is useless if not applied. Want an example – take any flight instructor who teaches students to check fuel before each flight, and then just hops in the plane as a “walk-in captain”. Guess what – statistically the most frequent pilots running out of fuel are the flight instructors. Not that I’ve always done it perfect, but in the last year I’ve had fair share of loops and rolls at a few thousand feet, as well as flew a few high DA shows last summer.
  3. Keep the connection. It is easier to maintain an existing connection than to create a new one. Even if you do not get an immediate result, call or email the person with a progress report, question, update. You never know when a “Yes” would come.
  4. Filter the BS. No, you don’t have to accept and agree with everything you are told. Just because someone says you can barrel roll a Buffalo, it does not mean you should try it tomorrow.
  5. “No” does not mean “Never”. Most likely, it’s “Not now”. Have a “Never Give Up” attitude.
  6. Give it all of yourself. Once the goal is set, you walk, sleep, eat, smile and cry without taking your eyes off the goal.
  7. Go back and succeed. The “Yes” will come. And it will give inspiration for a new challenge.

Later that day, Tim came by again and asked if I would join their group for dinner. We ate in a nice Italian restaurant in Rio Hotel. Tim and Dave shared exciting stories of their military flying careers, and Margaret reminded me to send her high resolution pictures for the promotion. It was a very warm welcome into the Truckee airshow family, and I cannot wait to go there in July!

Check us out online! (by Canadian Flight Centre ) and


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Experience Testimonials

Jerry Braun

(bought an aerobatic flight for his dad who is about to retire)

My family watched the video when we got back home the other day. You were amazing! The flight looked like it was so much fun! He was smiling like a little kid. He's still talking about it today lol. 

Thank for you helping create that memory for us all. 

Hope you had a wonderful Sunday. 

Talk soon, 


Jack Yang

Flying in Vancouver, you are able to combine (1) aerobatics (2) mountain flying (3) sightseeing all into one flight (1.4hrs). Learned loop, wingover, barrel roll and hammerhead from air show performer Anna. Flew over Pitt Lake and through the valleys of Coquitlam Mt. Finally circled around Vancouver downtown and flew over Vancouver Int'l.

Peter Stuhlmann

On Monday my father-in-law and I had the great pleasure of flying (I was left-seat and actually had the controls for a bit) out of Kamloops as mu very first flying lesson. now I'm not really meant for lessons - I've simply been an aviation nut since I was a little boy.

It was a truly memorable experience from start to finish. Out host and captain - Chirag - was certainly a key part of the fun we had. And I must day, while i love my job (full-time artist) I do have a certain amount of office envy. Well done all around - already making plans for out next trip up! :)

Groupon Customers


Ed Leduc

I just wanted to thank Peter at the Kamloops center for making my son-in-law’s and my 1st flight a great experience. I had contacted the office 2 weeks before and booked July 5th at 4pm for our back to back flights. It turns out our reservation had not been entered into the books. Peter arranged things to “get it done” for us. The 5th was important as it was my birthday (turned 50) and the flight was my birthday present. Both myself and my son-in-law will be continuing with the lessons and look forward to getting back up there. Thanks again Peter for helping to make my 50th a memory I will never forget. 

Much appreciated, 

Ed Leduc

Eila Stewart

5 star

I never could have imagined my recent birthday would include a voucher for an Aerobatic Flight Experience @Canadian Flight Centre, Boundary Bay Airport. The staff at the Flight Centre were very pleasant and helpful while I anxiously waited for my flight - which was right on schedule. Flying with Anna Serbinenko was a truly awesome experience, as she clearly explained where we would be flying, what maneuvers we were about to do, and answered any questions I had. It was amazing to have the opportunity to take control of the aircraft during flight. Anna's enthusiasm for her chosen career in aerobatic flight is infectious, and I am already looking forward to flying with her again.

Christy Shields

5 star

Thanks so much to Anna Serbinenko for the most incredible 30th birthday flight! The aerobatics had me terrified in the best way possible and exhilarated every second through the entire experience. My friends and I watched the videos last night at my 30th party from the go-pro and no one could believe how happy I looked the whole way through! I literally didn't take the smile off my face the entire time! My favorite part was watching Anna's hair when we flipped upside down!

My husband and family bought me this incredibly unique gift and I really can't think of a better way to get the thrill I was looking for on my 30th birthday. I recommend Anna to everyone and the flight centre staff were all friendly and informative about how I can use this as my first hour towards my flying license! How cool!

Thanks again guys, I can't wait to watch the videos again and relive every moment!


Tim Si

5 star

I totally loved my experience, people at the company are polite, nice, and helpful. I enjoyed my flight with Anna, she is a great performer and an amazing instructor.
It was a breathtaking experience and I will definitely come back again and again.

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