10 new RCAF pilots proud to receive their wings

New Pilots
Graduates of the multi-engine course, along with school personnel, Honorary Colonel Andy Fletcher (kneeling left) and Brigadier-General Mario Leblanc (left), gather for a photo after being presented with their pilot wings. Photo: Corporal Angela Gore

Lieutenant Camille MacKenzie Dolphin

On Friday, July 26, 2019, ten Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilots successfully completed the third phase of their pilot course at 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training school in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, and were given their official pilot wings.

The ten new military pilots demonstrated the exceptional ability during their time learning to fly RCAF aircraft. Candidates receive their wings when they graduate the third phase of their pilot training regardless of the airframe they are selected to fly.

“I am very excited and proud of myself, I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that it is happening. I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time and had the support of my family during my training, who have come from Montreal to see me graduate, so today is their day,” said Lieutenant Stefan Bobes.

The day they receive their pilot wings is always a very significant milestone for pilots in the RCAF, because getting that winged recognition required hard work and dedication. Each candidate had to spend hundreds of hours in ground school, in the flight simulator and in their selected airframes.

For all of the graduating pilots, this milestone is not the end as they will have to continue studying and training to learn how to fly their selected airframes. Among the ten members who graduated the course, four members were from the multi-engine course and six from the rotary-wing course.

They will now all be posted to squadrons across the RCAF and, once there, will spend time at their respective communities’ operational training units. To name a few, Lieutenant Rachel Wilt will be posted to 440 Squadron in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, to fly the CC-138 Twin Otter multi-engine aircraft, Lieutenant Zakary Kolkowski from Thunder Bay, Ontario, will be posted to 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, to fly the CC-130 Hercules multi-engine aircraft, and Lieutenant Sarbjeet Nijher will be posted to 439 Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, to fly the CH-146 Griffon helicopter.

The commander of 2 Canadian Air Division, Brigadier-General Mario Leblanc, was the reviewing officer for the graduation ceremony and presented the military pilots with their wings in front of their proud families and friends.

“Graduates, I would like to offer you a very warm congratulations! Today is the day you officially receive your pilot wings; it is also a day where you can take a moment to honour all of the tenacity and courage it took to bring you to this moment,” Brigadier-General Leblanc told the graduates.

“It truly is satisfying to be done with this part of my training, but when you get to this point you realize there is still a long way to go,” said Lieutenant John Rustad, the top graduate of the rotary-wing course, who will continue his studies at Seneca College before being posted to a squadron.