The Peace River country has long been a magnet for explorers, adventurers, and those seeking freedom to follow their individual paths. My first visit to the Town of Peace River, my husband’s birthplace, kick-started my instant love affair with the Peace country’s geography, its people and their positive attitudes. And so it was my great pleasure in the 1960s to come to live in Hudson’s Hope, BC, 300 miles upstream from the Town of Peace River. There, I met people who had grabbed and held on to their dreams.
HOW I GOT THERE: Stories from the Field
Not everyone gets to their chosen career by a straight path, and there are sometimes multiple ways to get to the same destination. Take a look at the stories of our members and find how they got to where they are.
Little airplanes taxied onto the grassy field, and before my very eyes, seemingly ordinary people disembarked, with their children and elders and pets. We were at the small rural airport to attend a different event, which ran concurrently with this fly-in BBQ. This moment inspired my husband to announce his decision to get started on his life-long dream of flying. Always the practical one, I heard myself say that I too should acquire a working knowledge of aviation, you know, just enough to manage in an emergency.
My journey into flight began as a child when I would dream about clouds and flying in them. I would stop at my play to look up into the sky in wonderment whenever a plane flew overhead. Visiting my dad who was a fire-fighter with the Department of National Defence stationed at McCall Field in Calgary was always exciting. I got to see planes up close. Family friends who flew to far-off places, like Hawaii, would be peppered with questions from me...what was it like? What do the clouds look like from up there? What did the pilots look like? Were there any lady pilots?
At age 20 I considered a career as a commercial pilot but the cost was more than what I felt I could manage so I pursued a different path instead. A number of years later I heard a retired pilot sharing about his flying experiences and the desire to fly bubbled up within me again. I wasn’t interested in changing careers at this point in my life but as I thought about it I realized I had another option - pursue a private license and enjoy it as a hobby.
I grew up in rural Ontario not far from the local airport. I remember lying in the tall grass as summer vacation sped by watching airplanes spin lazily through the sky. I was fascinated by them and spent countless hours watching as they lifted and soared through the bright summer sky.
Finding that first flying job can be the hardest thing to do when pursuing a career as a commercial pilot. You finish school and flight training with around 200 hours and a resume no experience. You have to decide whether to take the instructor route or start on the ramp somewhere. If you know people in the industry that can open doors for you but timing is everything.
I started out at the age of 18 wanting to be a career flight attendant. I got my first job at 19 years old as a Customer Service Agent at Westjet where I worked for 18 months. I then applied internally as a flight attendant and got the position. After 6 months I realized I didn't want to be a career flight attendant but didn’t know what else to do. I was then talking to a pilot about how to get a pilot license and heard there was a familiarization flight (also known as Fam-Flight) you could go take with an instructor to see if you liked it. I was hooked instantly as it felt so free.