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Pilot, and Ground Instructor/Ground Crew Coordinator at Great Lakes Helicopter.
I was born/grew up in: Hanover, Ontario, Canada. I grew up partly in Hanover, partly in Elora, and partly in Guelph
I now live in: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
I completed my training/education at: Great Lakes Helicopter/Conestoga College – in their 2 year partnership Aviation General Arts & Science diploma program.
Describe what you do at work.
The time of the year and day of the week changes what I do at work. From September to April I am mostly focused on teaching ground school. I teach topics like Air Law, Meteorology, Flight Theory, and Navigation. I originally went to university for biology before I switched to pursue aviation. My science background gave me a strong foundation to help me while I was studying Meteorology & Theory of Flight during my training and it has also helped me while teaching my students these topics. Also, the math courses I took in high school helped to make things easier when learning navigation.
I teach our regular program students year-round. When our Conestoga students are not in class, during May to August, a large amount of my work is focused on ride events. I recruit student volunteers, prepare equipment, and load trucks with fuel drums, tables, etc. While on site, I supervise ground crew, give passenger safety briefings, refuel helicopters, and perform other ground crew duties.
Things like cleaning the office & hangar, flight scheduling, and some customer service duties are also a regular part of my job. I run program information sessions for people who are possibly looking to start helicopter flight training. I also help with career presentations at high schools, aviation expos, and college fairs.
As a junior pilot at Great Lakes Helicopter I fly helicopters to and from our maintenance facility during their scheduled maintenance times and I run the helicopters for maintenance ground checks. During the ride event season I often fly the helicopters to and from the event locations. I am currently undergoing extra company training and I will later be granted further flying responsibilities.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
I help students gain new knowledge and help them if they are struggling with something. When I’m at events and I ask kids, “how was it?” when they come down and they say “it was awesome!” with a big smile on their face it is great and it is nice to be a part of something like that. With more flight experience down the road I may be able to teach others how to fly, do rescue flying, or many other things that help people.
What motivates you in your career?
Flying itself it a huge motivator and doing something that is fun and challenging helps. Also, working hard, doing a good job on something, and seeing a good result come from your work is a big motivating factor. Having someone recognize your hard work and then giving you a shot at flying a really expensive machine while putting their trust in you is very motivating. You want to live up to the trust they’ve placed in you and you want to continue to do a good job. Also, being able to help people and enjoy what you are doing are probably two things that motivate the most.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
I graduated from the Aviation program at Conestoga College. The helicopter specific training was done at Great Lakes Helicopter. After graduation I was hired by Great Lakes directly out of the program. In the aviation industry most graduates start out as ground crew first. It is very much like an apprenticeship. A company gets to know an employee’s work ethic and personality. At the same time, the newly hired pilot learns more about the operations that the company does from the ground first and then they are given more responsibilities as time goes on.
I had done lots of volunteering at ride events while in the program and when I was hired I started out leading ground crew at ride events. After a season of doing that and some ground crew work on crop spraying operations I was kept on to be a tutor for students. I was later moved up to be the ground instructor. All the while, I was given flight opportunities here and there and these keep growing as time goes on.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I have a lot of things that I like to do for fun. Hanging out with friends is always great! While indoors I usually watch TV, play video games, and I enjoy model building. While outdoors I enjoy riding my bike, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and playing other sports.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
I would say motivation is the key. If you are really driven to go and do something when you encounter obstacles you are more willing to push through those challenges. Respect, hard work, and time management skills will all serve you very well when seeking a career in aviation.