Regehr still a fly boy

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Pilots, or those embarking on the quest to become one, don't give it a second thought before climbing into the cockpit and scrambling down the runway.

Take Calgary Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr, for example.

A day after New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle lost his life when his single-engine Cirrus SR20 crashed into a Manhattan building in New York City, Regehr wasn't any less enthusiastic about the hobby he picked up two years ago during the NHL lockout.

"Depending on what you compare it to, I don't think it is (dangerous). There are risks to everything," said Regehr yesterday. "As a person, you have to be as responsible as you can to minimize those to the best of your ability."

Wednesday's tragedy once again pointed out anything can happen once you're airborne but Regehr doesn't feel he's putting his life on the line every time he takes the controls.

"When you're recreational or a private pilot, you don't have the pressures of having to go up whenever the weather is bad, which is a huge factor.

"The next biggest factor is pilot error and you try to eliminate that by being as responsible as you can.

"The last thing you have to worry about is the airplane. Usually, in a crash, the fewest incidents are involving actual mechanical failure because there are systems in place there to help you."

On the ground, life is hectic. If he's not throwing his body at an opponent or racing backward to defend an attack, he's dropping in front of pucks flying dangerously fast. Even the gridlocked drive to the office on terra firma can be stressful.

But there's something soothing about being airborne that has Regehr looking forward to every minute he spends in the Earth's troposphere.

"It's really tough to explain unless you go up in a plane by yourself -- a small plane. It's totally different than a commercial airliner," said Regehr.

"First of all, it's beautiful. You get a nice day and get up there, fantastic view.

"Also, the freedom of it, the independence to be able to get up there. You're not dealing with congested highway traffic or anything like that, even though some people say the skies are very busy, too -- which they are in some places."

But not in the prairies, where Regehr got hooked on aviation. And not in the wide open outskirts of Calgary, where Regehr got about a third of the way through the licensing process before joining the Worldstars team on a tour through parts of Europe during the lockout.

"One day, I'm gonna finish my licence and probably have a small plane out in Saskatchewan or Calgary," said Regehr, who started his training at Springbank Airport.

"Just to have the freedom to be able to take that out. It's a pretty good feeling."


Photos