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.

Fate, Luck and Choice – The Hole in the Wall Gang

Fate, Luck and Choice – The Hole in the Wall Gang

One of the key lessons that I have learned over the years as a test pilot is that the success of any team or organization is contingent on strong leadership with core values. Teams need an environment of trust as well as a transparent and ‘safe workplace’ to openly identify challenges and get to the bottom of problems, most importantly, learn from each other’s mistakes. With these traits, we can create powerful, effective, and ultimately very successful organizations. One of the most serious threats to an extremely cohesive functional team is toxicity. Toxic leadership can destabilize the ability of a test flying unit to operate safely. A toxic work environment erodes the ‘team’ and in the world of experimental test flying (maybe one of the most dangerous environments that exists), it can kill people.

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...