Dropping the Ball Again – Canadian Fighter Pilot Training

Dropping the Ball Again – Canadian Fighter Pilot Training

The recent retirement of the RCAF’s 419 Squadron, based in Cold Lake, Alberta ended fighter pilot training in Canada.  NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) is the very successful pilot training program that has flown the CT-155 Hawk jet for 24 years, creating baby fighter pilots, teaching them basic fighter pilot skill sets.  Sovereign Fighter-Lead-In-Training (FLIT), which is also called Phase IV in pilot training parlance, has graduated wannabe fighter pilots who were capable, safe, and effective as they moved on to learn to fly the more advanced CF-18 Hornet.

As it turns out, RCAF officials cancelled this program with perfectly capable jets to fly, trained instructors and maintenance personnel available at a time when the air force is desperately short of fighter pilots and with very little access to training programs to refill their ranks.  There are only 42 combat-ready fighter pilots in the RCAF, not enough to sufficiently man the CF-18s to protect our country or support operations abroad.  With 88 F-35s to be delivered in the coming years, and a severe shortage of trained pilots, instead of leveraging existing sovereign training capability, RCAF officials just shot themselves in the foot and cut off their own elite, highly successful fighter pilot training program. The decision they took is now to outsource all of that training out-of-country at enormous additional expense.

Balkan Rats – 25 Years On

Balkan Rats – 25 Years On

The Canadian CF-18 Composite Wing, the ‘Balkan Rats’, that flew combat during Operation Allied Force, 25 years ago, propelled a peacetime air force to mold itself into a more capable and lethal fighter force.

Fate, Luck and Choice – The Kenny Switch

Fate, Luck and Choice – The Kenny Switch

None of us live long enough to make all the mistakes so learn from others. In fighter aviation, flights seldom go as planned. We can learn from mistakes of others so that we don’t make them ourselves instead of pointing fingers and ridiculing others. I choose to learn. June 4, 1985, I was on the wing during a formation takeoff of CF-18s when my flight lead could not get airborne, aborted but could not stop in time and ultimately ejected as the aircraft exploded. He lived fortunately. It turns out that a simple pilot-induced trim setting error prevented the jet from getting airborne.

There was so much to learn from this, primarily to avoid distraction from media and outside attention when flying, to always be vigilant, especially when we change procedures and habit patterns, that it is okay to make the small mistakes so that I don’t make the big ones and finally, to trust my instincts when I sense that something is not quite right. Lots to learn each time we fly.

The Merge Podcast Episode

The Merge Podcast Episode

The RCAF has never been in such a desperate state in its 100 year history. Spoke with Mike Benitez on The Merge Podcast about the Canadian fighter force at length on many issues facing the RCAF personnel.

F-35 vs CF-18 Introduction.  What I did not say.

F-35 vs CF-18 Introduction. What I did not say.

I penned an Op Ed published in Skies Magazine linking the RCAF introduction of the F-35 to the CF-18 origins more than 40 years ago (https://lnkd.in/gH-ufnr3?; page 54). There are so many comparisons that work in favor of the F-35 making sure that things are done...