Hi all. I’m presently employed as a Dash 8 Captain with Air Canada Jazz, formerly Air Nova of Halifax, Nova Scotia and have been for the last 4 ½ years. We operate our Dash 8’s and Bae146’s all over the east coast of Canada, Quebec, Ontario and Northeast USA.
I started flying in 1990, doing my training locally at a small airfield on Vancouver Island. After deciding that engineering was not where my heart was, I applied to the aviation program at a college in western Canada. Things progressed quickly and before I knew it, 1993 rolled around and I finally had my Commercial/Multi/IFR licenses and I was ready for any job that was available, Unfortunately, at the time there was little available, so I had to head off to help repay my training bills and got a job in construction, with the good news being that it was building hangars at the Victoria airport. After 6 months, an opportunity opened up and I started working in Victoria, BC for a small rental outfit, washing planes, dispatching and helping keep shop.
Then my big day came; I got offered a job on a Mitsubishi MU-2 as a co-pilot – my dream come true! Flying all around BC in this turboprop was magnificent and my promotion to Captain came up faster than I imagined. This was all happening in 1995/96 when aviation in Canada was on one of the greatest upswings ever. Once it came time to move forward, I decided that I wanted to progress with the greatest opportunity possible, so I applied to the regional carriers in Canada. After preparation, including coaching from the guys here at The Right Approach, I interviewed and was offered job at Air Nova as First Officer on the BAe 146 jet. It was good timing on my part and I stayed in that position for 3 years here before proceeding into a Captain’s spot on the Dash 8, which I have held for a 1 ½ years.
The initial training here was intense, getting checked out on my first jet in just over 5 weeks. We did our groundschool portion in Halifax, followed by two weeks of simulator just outside of Washington DC, in Herndon, Virginia. We even managed to sneak a half day visit to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in there! Once back, we did our line training, with my first flight being to New York, Newark. Even after Vancouver, it was a wake up call how busy that place was. What a great time it all was. Then my seniority allowed me to upgrade to captain on the Dash 8, an opportunity I jumped at. My training was much the same, with the simulator training in Toronto.
The Dash 8 is a magnificent airplane. We operate in some of the most extreme weather in the world on the east coast and the aircraft is ideal suited for it. It can takeoff and land on runways of 2500 feet and cruise comfortably at 25000 feet and 250+ kts. We fly multiple sector days in it and it’s the flying I really love. Lots of takeoffs and landings, I like the challenge and variety it affords.
Just to give some insight into the job, we typically work 15-18 days per month, some being longer than others. Days can range from one to 8 sectors (or individual flights), the shortest being just two hours on duty, up to the long haul of 13 ½ hours at work. But all the balance works out great to get the variety I enjoy.
Our routes out of the Halifax and Quebec City bases, vary a fair bit, with flights to Boston, all over Newfoundland, the maritimes, Quebec and as far west as Toronto. It’s a great challenge to one day fly into Boston, on of the busiest airports in the world, then a few hours later fly up to some uncontrolled airspace in Quebec.
I find the work at this level is all about the people. There’s one thing I’ll miss when my time comes to leave and that’s the friendships I’ve forged here in such a short time.
This is a job and career I’d change for nothing. The challenges, socialization, variety and and working conditions are second to none and I’d recommend this life to anybody, especially to those who have a love of flying. If I could go back I wouldn’t change a thing and if you decide to follow this path you will not regret it!
Enjoy the journey!
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