JANE: Avionic Systems Technician
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.
My father began taking flying lessons when I was in my teens and spoke of flying as often as I would listen. He took me up once after he had gained his license, but I admit that I was far too nervous in that tiny plane to enjoy myself. Yet I loved planes and I decided that I would somehow work in that industry, even if it wasn’t as a pilot.
I finished my second year at university as an English Literature Major and decided to take a year off from my studies. I spent weeks pounding the pavement, looking for any job that would pay the bills and my student loan but had no success. One day my route took me past a Canadian Forces Recruiting Station. I remember standing in front of the building for about 10 minutes, then suddenly I was reaching for the door handle.
After 20 years as an aircraft Avionics systems technician in the RCAF, I’ve learned that recruiters are likely to tell you just about anything in order to get you to sign up. I returned 5 times to that recruiting station in order to complete all the interviews and tests before finally signing up with the Airforce. My poor eyesight and the necessity of wearing glasses eliminated me from pilot training, but didn’t limit me in the choices I had as an aircraft technician. I don’t regret a single moment since that decision; I got to work on all varieties of airplanes, travel, refuel/defuel, start, park, tow and fix them in places all around the world and in all types of weather. AND I got paid to do it!
The RCAF trained me in electronics, even though I had no background in science or physics. I learned about Ohm’s law, how to read a schematic, and after several attempts, how not to electrocute myself. Every day was different and I’ve lost track of the number of aircraft types I worked on. The CF-104 Starfighter is probably my favourite airplane, though I am extremely fond of its replacement, the CF-18 Hornet.
Even after I retired from the RCAF, my opportunities increased. I am now employed as a Logistics Coordinator for the CF-18 with a civilian company in Calgary. I’m working with some of my old Airforce buddies, on the same old Airforce equipment, I’m well paid, and I’m still thrilled with airplanes!
If you are interested career opportunities, but don’t have financial freedom, it might be worth checking out the RCAF website. You will find all the information about the technical trades, as well as information about the physical entry qualifications – you might find as I did that it’s just the ticket!
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