A strong work ethic and a good attitude

Influential Women in Aviation at 4 Wing

Swain_Capt_PicJoy Smith, Reporter

Capt Jaclyn Swain entered the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 2012 and her drive to always do better showed early in her career when she finished Basic Training as “Top Female Athlete” of her platoon. Swain credits a strong work ethic and a good attitude, her passion for aviation and a desire to keep learning as part of her formula for success so far.

“I am very glad that I chose the CAF for my career. I feel challenged, secure, and I am constantly provided with the encouragement I need to push my career forward,” said Swain, who is the Chief Controller of the Military Aerodrome Control Unit (CCMACU) at 4 Wing Cold Lake. She is also qualified as a Flight Safety Officer, and is the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) Officer at her Unit.

Life as an Air Traffic Controller (ATC) has its challenges but Swain feels that women are natural multi-taskers and often have an excellent capacity for the chaotic world of ATC. Being a supervisor has its fair share of challenges as well, especially with a pandemic hovering in the background, “The hardest part of working as a supervisor in 2020 has been scheduling around special COVID restrictions, what the CAF called Op LASER. I had to essentially re-imagine scheduling and training, as well as create sanitization and distancing protocols for the Control Tower that would keep people safe.” With 4 Wing Squadrons not seeking warmer climates to train this year, the Control tower is busier than ever, “Recently we have finished a period of challenging Night Flying, and ‘Ex AUTUMN BLITZ’… This Ex saw heavy traffic, operations 7 days a week and extended flying hours. Skilled control was required, as well as creative management of Tower crews.”

The challenges of ATC are not limited to directing arriving or departing aircraft and that is what led Swain to present a Briefing Note to the chain of command suggesting different courses of action to improve the Runway Incursion Device System (RIDS). “The note concluded with my suggested system of mechanical flip RIDS, which would be present at all workstations and would include all control positions involved in the transfer,” explained Swain. “This method would increase visibility of the system for scanning purposes, and the involvement of each member of the control transfer would help solidify the meaning of the transfer itself. I suggested that it would be best to use a system that can standardize RIDS across the RCAF, and 1 Canadian Air Division agreed. This will make it easier for controllers to correctly utilize the system, regardless of where they are posted and hopefully result in fewer runway incursions across the RCAF. Additionally, I proposed last year that we should implement a Runway Incursion System internally in Snow and Ice Control (SNIC) vehicles, as they are often working on the airfield for extended hours. This course of action was pursued, and is something that we are now doing at 4 Wing Cold Lake as well.”

Swain takes her inspiration from women such as Maj Alexia Hannam, who Swain describes as, “an excellent role model for women who aspire to excel in aviation! She is an amazing pilot and a woman with limitless courage and drive.” Swain also considers, Honorary Colonel of 417 Squadron Kendra Kincade, “An all-star Air Traffic Controller with Nav Canada, and an inspiring public figure.”

When asked about advice for women considering a career in the CAF Swain remarked, “Some women may feel intimidated to join the military, but they really shouldn’t. Women can do anything. I can speak to a career in Aviation in particular, and with a strong work ethic and a good attitude, anything can be achieved. Follow what interests you, follow your heart, work hard and don’t let anything stand in your way!”

Capt Jaclyn Swain poses in front of a CT-156 Harvard II while suited up in her roller derby uniform for a Moose Jaw team called the Damebusters. Photo: Submitted