I Want to be a Pilot

“Mom, I want to be a pilot in the Air Force.” What do you say when your only child wants to join the military? How do you describe the pride that you feel and the fear that grips your heart?

My daughter has always wanted to do a job in the community helping people. She volunteered with St John’s Ambulance and was a member of the local volunteer fire department. So, I shouldn’t have been a surprise when she joined the military.

She has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and an Advanced Diploma in Radiation Therapy. During university she did a one year placement at a cancer center, but she decided that wasn’t the career she wanted. She considered a career in policing before deciding to apply to become a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) which she thought was a long shot.

Image created in Canva; photo via Pexels

Steps to Becoming a Pilot

These are the steps she went through to get into the pilot training program. 

    Application

    To join the Canadian military, you must be a Canadian citizen and at least 18 years old (17 with permission from a parent) with a grade 10 education, although some jobs require a higher education level.

    To become a pilot in the RCAF, she applied to the Direct Entry Officer program (you need a bachelor’s degree to apply this way). You can also apply through the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP) where you do not require a degree to enter but obtain one before being qualified.

    There is a screening process that involves an employment check, criminal record check, credit check, a security clearance questionnaire, and character references.

    Aptitude test

    A military recruiter contacted her to take the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test (CFAT) to determine her strengths and which jobs she was eligible for. This test is necessary for every applicant and tests for verbal skills, spatial ability, and problem-solving.

    Aircrew Selection

    It took over six months to reach this step for her but not all applicants have the same wait time after the CFAT. The aircrew selection process involved an overnight stay at the Trenton Air Force Base. This is the crucial step to pass if you want to be a pilot. The computerized aircrew selection tests assess for aptitudes and skill sets required by the RCAF.

    Her testing was successful. Yes, I am bragging, but so would you. I was so excited when she called me with the news that she passed. I had been practicing two speeches for the phone call hoping not to have to give the ‘you can try again next year speech’.

    Interview

    The interview happened quickly after aircrew selection testing. They told her as long as she passed the medical she would have a good chance of being hired.

    Medical One

    There was a history questionnaire including a medical record assessment, hearing tests, vision tests, and a physical exam.

    Medical Two

    This step involved a trip to Toronto and included a breathing test, eyesight tests, cardiac tests, along with another look at her medical record.

    Selected

    She received a call that the recruiting center was putting her name forward as a pilot hire. Today was an auspicious day.

    The timing was perfect since she was losing her current job at General Motors because of un-allocated product.

    Swearing-in

    The swearing-in ceremony occurred in January at our local recruitment centre. There were three other recruits – one officer and two enlisted members.

    Basic Training

    All members of the Canadian Forces have to attend basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

    The training involved military education, weapons training, and physical fitness testing.

    Image by Marina Hinic from Pexels

    Flying

    She moved to the Trenton Air Force base and started her first day in June 2020. They assigned her to an operational squadron as a pilot scheduler while she awaits training.

    Within a week she had gone on her first flight as a passenger, although it was only just up and down in the area as the pilots did their training.

    Since then she has gone to Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. They have even let her do open door ops where the large back door is open as she stands near the edge strapped into the plane. The picture below shows how close you can get to the open door without parachuting. As you can see, the officer not jumping has a harness on which attaches him to the plane by a tether not seen.

    Image via Pexels

    This made my heart stop beating, but it started again. I am thankful she tells me about these adventures after they are over.

    Next Steps

    The RCAF has scheduled her Phase I of flight school for March 2021, COVID-19 pushed it back from January.

    Final Thoughts

    Sometimes my daughter’s choice of career scares me, but I have never seen her happier and her happiness means more to me than anything else. She is helping people and doing something she loves. Do you know someone in the military? Let me know in the comments.

    Until next time

    Frankie

    Feature image via Pexels.

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    1 Comment

    1. Michelle Campbell

      My cousin Brad was in the Canadian Navy for over 20 years and retired 2 or 3 years ago. Not close enough for me to worry too much, but i still worried. Can’t imagine if it were my daughter or son! I feel for you mama, proud but terrified at the same time. As much as November 11th meant to you before, it will be all the more important to you now. I hope your girl soars and makes all her dreams come true!

      Reply

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