RCAF welcomes 10 newly-winged pilots

On July 26, 2019, 10 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, Man., and received their official pilot wings.

Graduates of the rotary wing course, along with school personnel, BGen Mario Leblanc (standing, left) and HCol Andy Fletcher (kneeling, left), gather for a photo after receiving their pilot wings. RCAF Photo
Graduates of the rotary wing course, along with school personnel, BGen Mario Leblanc (standing, left) and HCol Andy Fletcher (kneeling, left), gather for a photo after receiving their pilot wings. RCAF Photo
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The 10 new military pilots demonstrated exceptional abilities 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 Lt Stefan Bobes.

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

This milestone is not the end for the graduating pilots, as they will continue studying and training to learn how to fly their selected airframes. Among the 10 graduates, 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. For example, Lt Rachel Wilt will be posted to 440 Transport Squadron in Yellowknife, N.W.T., to fly the CC-138 Twin Otter multi-engine aircraft, Lt Zakary Kolkowski will be posted to 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., to fly the CC-130 Hercules multi-engine aircraft, and Lt Sarbjeet Nijher will be posted to 439 Combat Support Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., to fly the CH-146 Griffon helicopter.

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The commander of 2 Canadian Air Division, BGen 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,” he told the graduates.

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

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