I was born/grew up in: Mary’s Harbour, NL
I now live in: St. John’s, NL
I completed my training/education at: Canadian Helicopters International Flight School and Chinook Helicopters. However, as a commercial helicopter pilot, training is an ongoing event, with company training on annual basics throughout the year.
Do you self-identify as First Nation, Métis or Inuit (FNMI)? If yes, with which community do you affiliate?
I am a member of the NunatuKavut , formerly known as the Labrador Metis Nation.
Describe what you do at work.
My day usually starts about an hour prior to departure, with daily flight inspections, personal offshore survival suit inspections, and weather and sea state checks along with a discussion on the day’s events with the captain. As a crew we then get briefed by dispatch on the details of our flight plan. This will include weather for all phases of flight, information about the ship or oil rig we will be landing on, number of passengers we will have onboard and amount of fuel that we will require.
During the flight there could be a change in plans due to weather forcing us to change altitudes or a customer request. This may require changes to be made to the flight plan, additional fuel taken from a ship/rig or even a shutdown offshore. We swap rolls and crews for every other flight we fly, so each and every member of our team is comfortable with the task at hand. From landing on a moving ship, flying precision approach to runways or being able to complete the paperwork that contains valuable information regarding fuel checks, weather updates, and commutation with air traffic control and ship or rig operators. At the end of each day the aircraft requires engine rinses due to the amount of salt water we encounter offshore and paperwork to be completed.
STEM is very important in my daily activities as we use math to be aware of the weight we can carry in relation to the amount of fuel required and burned. We use science to study the weather for the planned flight route and to ensure the safety of our passengers. Part of our daily activity involves the use of technology to program our GPS for our flight route and to set up approaches to airports and rigs. The helicopters that we fly are automated, which means they are driven by computers with programing inputs from the pilots. We start and finish our day by logging into our crew support and updating our flight logs, duty days, and checking updates and information on aircrafts and regulations.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
We are responsible for the safety and well-being of each and every person that steps aboard our aircraft as they commute to and from work in the harsh environment of the North Atlantic.
What motivates you in your career?
I love that each and every day there is a new and exciting task at hand, from scheduled passenger flights to cargo flights or medevacs. The North Atlantic has some of the most challenging weather you will ever encounter as a pilot. Being able to land a helicopter on a moving ship or the rush of breaking out of the clouds at 100’ over a runway to make that perfect landing is always a thrill and satisfying feeling. I have the pleasure of flying with pilots from all over the world, with stories and personalities that are as colourful as this province; it’s a ride that truly never gets old!
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
In the past year my career path has taken a slight turn from when I began at Canadian Helicopters almost 8 years ago. As an eager 18 year old and fresh out of flight school, I paid my dues as dispatcher like most 100 hour rookie pilots do. This gives you a chance to see and learn from pilots in a day to day environment and to see how the aviation world works. With thousands of flying hours in my logbook and many nights in hotels, fish camps and tents in remote parts of Eastern Canada and the Arctic, I was ready for a change and a new challenge as a pilot.
With encouragement and support from those close to me, I decided to step out of my comforted zone and go back to flight school and become an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) certified pilot. This would not only allow me to fly by visual flight rules (looking outside), but also fly by instrument flight rules (looking inside the cockpit) with no visual clues due to poor weather conditions such as fog.
After 4 weeks of training, written exams and a flight test, I was faced with a new set of challenges that included learning how to fly a new helicopter with a different set of rules and regulations, but also some that was all too familiar. I was once again a rookie, looking for my first start in the IFR world with no experience and only 25 years old; this was young as most IFR pilots are known to be seasoned men with years of experience and most with a military background. With a lot of determination, a little luck and a successful flight evaluation I became not only the newest, but the youngest S-92 pilot in North America and only female pilot at Cougar Helicopters. I have gained the respect of my co-workers and shown that I can fly alongside each and every one of them and be a contributing member of the team.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I spend my free time with family and friends whether it’s catching a movie, going for a bite to eat or watching a sporting event. I love being outside walking my dog, biking, playing hockey or enjoying all the activities the city has to offer.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Aviation is a hard industry to get started in, but with great patience, hard work and dedication it becomes a rewarding career, with endless opportunities.