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How did you get started in the industry?
I started pursuing my aviation career back in 1991 when I started taking flying lessons. However, I felt the desire to serve my country, and after graduating from university I enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot. I successfully completed pilot training in the RCAF and went on an exciting flying adventure that took my all over the world that included many deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. I retired from the RCAF in the summer of 2010, where I commenced my next aviation chapter flying for WestJet. This photo was taken on the ground in Kabul, Afghanistan during one of my many deployments to the region.
What advice would you give a young person who is interested in becoming a pilot?
Join the RCAF, you will receive the best training and fly advanced aircraft into challenging environments all over the world.
What’s the best part of being a pilot?
Going to work to do what you love and seeing the beauty of mother nature. These are the Northern Lights overhead Thunder Bay as we were enroute from Toronto to Edmonton one evening.
What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome when you first became a pilot?
The learning curve. I graduated flight school as a pilot and subsequently posted to 8 Wing Trenton to fly the CC-130 Hercules. The amount of information and learning I had to accomplish was like drinking from a fire hose.
Do you have a good story about an onboard experience?
Yes, one time flying from Toronto to Victoria. We were between Calgary and Kelowna when we had a medical emergency on board with a guest who was having a seizure and subsequently stopped breathing. We declared a medical emergency with the Edmonton center and requested immediate descent and heading back to Calgary. With great crew co-ordination between the pilots and flight attendants, we were on the ground in Calgary in 20 minutes and the guest was breathing on their own thanks to the lifesaving skills of the flight attendants. Emergency services were awaiting our arrival at the gate and the guest was taken off the plane alert and breathing normally.
What does safety mean to you?
It is like getting into a car and putting your seat belt on right away. I grew up in the time promoting seatbelt safety, so now it's a subconscious action. Every time I get into a car I put on my seatbelt; it is the same for me when flying. My flying career in the RCAF and here at WestJet/Swoop has always centered around flight safety and it is first and foremost in my mind every time I fly.
What’s a common misconception?
People think the auto pilot does everything from the take-off to landing. The auto pilot is designed to reduce pilot workload by offloading some basic tasks such as flying the airplane on a constant speed, altitude and heading. This allows the pilots to focus on other demanding tasks such as navigation, fuel management, radio communication and crew co-ordination with the flight attendants in times of turbulence. Yes, the airplane can land itself, however the airport must have the required ground-based navigation systems in place for this to occur. However, only a few airports in Canada have this capability.
Is there a pilot culture that goes beyond the airline you fly for?
Yes, ask my wife! When we go out with friends who are also in the industry, the dominate discussion is always aviation.