By Air Cadet League of Canada
As the 75th anniversary year of the Air Cadet League of Canada and of the Royal Canadian Air Cadet (RCAC) program has drawn to a close, it is important to reflect on what the program has brought to a number of past air cadets who have learned valuable life and work skills such as teamwork, leadership and citizenship.
We often hear about notable former air cadets whose lives have been touched by the program, such as Canadian astronauts Chris Hadfield and Jeremy Hansen, Canadian country music singer George Canyon, former Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Armed Forces Walter Natynczyk, and Maryse Carmichael, first female Snowbird and Commanding Officer of the Snowbirds. We however don’t hear about how the program has benefitted our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues and our families. These testimonials from past air cadets are strong evidence of the important impact the program has had on their lives and careers.
“My career in the RCAC was brief, yet rewarding. I joined the 177 Air Canada Squadron of the RCAC in 1975 to obtain my glider licence on the recommendation of a friend. I was selected for the 1976 gliding scholarship in Rivers, Manitoba. During 1977, I was awarded the powered flight scholarship as well. I was awarded the ‘Top Cadet in Manitoba’ at the conclusion of both courses. Currently, I am a qualified pilot holding an airline transport pilot licence (ATPL). Some highlights of my career: I have physically stood on both the North and South geographic poles; I operated in North and South America, Antarctica, Asia and Africa; and I have done ferry flights from Canada through Europe to Asia and Africa. Most of my career has been with turbine-powered propeller aircraft, notably the DHC-6 Twin Otter and the Dash 8. Seems that the ‘airline’ type of flying was not my thing. I suspect I had more of an adventuresome spirit! Who knew that when I began with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet organization I would still be involved in aviation after 40 years! This year marks my 40th year as a pilot (1976-2016). I am thankful and grateful that I was selected to attend both gliding and powered flight scholarships. Thank you, Royal Canadian Air Cadets!”
~ Michael Kruger
“I enjoyed a full and rewarding time as a Toronto Air Cadet in the 1960s. It prepared me for a satisfying career in the Canadian Forces/RCAF as well as a professional accountant. I was fortunate to participate in a number of cadet programs and have fond memories of the many friends and dedicated military and civilian cadet instructors that I met.”
~ Douglas Stickley
“Air Cadets gave me a huge jump into aviation; attaining my glider pilot, private pilot and glider instructor ratings, as well gliding tow pilot. The professionalism and leadership that I was shown at a young age helped me in my future career as an aircraft maintenance engineer at a number of aircraft maintenance companies, regional airlines and finally at the Flight Research Laboratory of the National Research Council in Ottawa. The hard work of volunteers that I saw when I was an air cadet continues today, as I witnessed while serving on the sponsoring committee of my son’s squadron.”
~ Per Talgoy
“I work for an oil and gas company in northern Alberta. Cadets have made every success in my life possible and gave me the self-discipline to overcome hardships and adversity. I became the first female wireline operator for my former company and the first female oil and gas operator in my area for my present company. I purchased a military training plane three years ago and have started aerobatic and formation training. With time, my goal is to have an airshow-level of skill and perhaps join in with the shows. Cadets has given me so much, and although I’m not in an area that allows me to work with a squadron or a flying centre, I try to make an effort to give back to this program any way I can — be it donations or notifying a squadron … that I will be bringing my warbird to the area and should anyone want to see it or learn about it I will make myself available! I make sure to tell the cadets that I was once in their shoes and with hard work and applying the teachings of the cadet program they can achieve whatever goal they want in life! This program is the finest youth program in the country and needs to be there for future generations! It has the full support of me and my entire family always!”
~ Tanya Lindley
Since its inception, nearly two million young Canadians have gone through the program and have witnessed what it can bring to Canada’s youth.
If you are a former air cadet and would like to share your story, join the Air Cadet League of Canada’s Air Cadet Alumni by going to http://aircadetleague.com/about-us/75th- anniversary/air-cadet-alumni.