Close to 40 exhibitors set to inspire at Careers in Aviation Expo

Premier sponsor WestJet plans to tow a Boeing 737 Max into its South Bay Hangar at Toronto Pearson for Careers in Aviation Expo attendees to tour, subject to aircraft availability at the time of the event. (Photo: WestJet)

On May 6, 2023, the next generation of aviation leaders will experience a unique opportunity to learn about the industry from within one of the country’s busiest airline hangars. WestJet is opening its South Bay Hanger at Toronto Pearson International Airport, located at 6085 Midfield Road in Mississauga, ON, to host the one-day Careers in Aviation Expo.

In addition to Premier sponsor WestJet, the Mississauga event is also being sponsored by Porter Airlines (Platinum), CAE and Diamond (Silver), and Centennial College (Bronze). Attendees will be able tour one of WestJet’s Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the hangar, as well as a handful of smaller airplanes and helicopters (aircraft on display is still subject to availability with more details to come before the event).

Presented annually by Wings and Helicopters magazines, properties of Annex Business Media, the Careers in Aviation Expo is designed to connect aspiring aviators, graduating students and young professionals with leading companies, organizations and schools from the aviation and aerospace sectors. There are two such career expos held each year, with the second leg scheduled to take place October 24, 2023, in Calgary, Alberta.

This year, close to 40 exhibitors are set to inspire the next generation of Pilots, Aircraft Maintenance Engineers, Air Traffic Controllers, future leaders for airport and airline operations, aerospace engineering and design, and flight services, among a range of aviation career opportunities that will be discussed at the expo.

Exhibitors for the May 6 event at WestJet’s hangar include: Air Inuit, AirSprint, AME Association of Ontario, Avworld, Brampton Flight Centre, CAE, Canadian Armed Forces, Centennial College, Chartright Air Group, Confederation College, Cygnet Aviation, Diamond Aircraft, FL Technics (Wright International AMS), Flair Airlines, Georgian College, Harbour Air Aerospace Services (Harbour Air Group), HeavyAero Maintenance Centre, IMP Aerospace & Defence, Jazz Aviation, Journey Air Pilot Training, MFC Training, NAV Canada, Near North Aviation, Northern Lights Aero Foundation, Ornge, Porter Airlines, Select Aviation College, SkyCare Air Ambulance, Skyservice Business Aviation, Southern Interior Flight Centre, Spectrum Airways, Threshold Aviation, Transport Canada, Voyageur Aviation, Wasaya Airways, Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, and WestJet.

In addition to the exhibitors on hand, the Careers in Aviation Expo includes an educational stream with four Main Stage Presentations by industry leaders discussing the challenges and opportunities within a range of aviation careers, as well as dozens of Breakout Sessions with smaller groups and mentors assigned to discuss specific career topics. Attendees can sign-up for individual Breakout Sessions before May 6.

SUN ‘n FUN Author’s Corner features Kevin Lacey of Aircraft Repo

Aircraft Repo cast member discusses his new book at SUN ’n FUN. (Photo: Phil Lightstone)

— By Phil Lightstone

Friday March 31st at SUN ‘n FUN featured Kevin Lacey discussing his new book “Fly It Like You Stole It – The Early Years” in the Authors Corner.  Kevin found his passion for aviation while attending high school in the south side of Dallas. Although his plans did not turn out exactly as he hoped, his life and career path took several unexpected turns. At 19 years old, Kevin sold his car and bought a wrecked airplane and a motorcycle. He earned a lot of his flight time repossessing airplanes. Kevin is a well-rounded accomplished aviator with nearly five decades of aviation experience. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with multiple Jet Type Ratings, a Sea Plane rating and a Flight Instructor Certificate. In addition, he is a Certified Aircraft Mechanic with Inspection Authorization.

Kevin’s book recounts his experiences as a young inexperienced aviator looking for a pathway to becoming an airline pilot for United Airlines, or any other airline.  As with many things in life, his journey in aviation began with watching aircraft in the pattern at his local airport through the window of his high school classroom.  One day, while at the airport, he wandered through an airport day, with the ramp littered with brand new jet aircraft.  Wandering into a brand new United Airlines Boeing 707, he sat in the cockpit admiring all the flight instruments, controls, buttons and switches.  His time in the 707 was like turning on a light switch, beginning him down a lifetime career path.  With a lot of grit, determination and obstacles, Kevin’s life story embodies the passion and desire of a golden age of flying from years gone by.

With his advanced flight training out of the way, he had to struggle to earn credibility as a pilot. While seeking jobs as a pilot, he was often told that “we are not hiring mechanics to fly airplanes, we are hiring pilots!” Kevin became intimately familiar with the maintenance side of several types of corporate jets before he finally got the chance to fly one. It was not long before the naysayers would claim “he must not be much of a mechanic if he can fly a Learjet”.

With over 800 aircraft repossessed and from the television series “Airplane Repo”, Kevin brings a series of stories from the early days of his aviation career chasing his dreams to become an airline pilot and all the obstacles encountered along the way.  Although he signed up for flight school right out of high school, he ended up in an aircraft mechanic program. That lead to a deviation from his intended career path, but he used his newfound skills as an aircraft mechanic to pay for his advanced flight training.

Kevin is now training the next generation of mechanics and pilots, focusing on high school students in Texas.  Founded by Kevin, Lt. Col. Greg “Spanky” Barber, and Ret Delta Airlines Captain Ron Roland, Tango Thirty One Aero Clube, Inc. (  is a  non-profit organization founded in October 2016 as an idea to allow high school age people access to the world of aviation and enable them to explore career opportunities.  Tango 31 purchases barn find Cessna 150’s for the students to rebuild and fly while completing their flight training and ratings.  The students just pay for the fuel, but invest a lot of sweat equity to get the barn finds airworthy and safe.  All the students are FAA Licensed Student Pilots, one has earned his FAA Airframe Mechanic License, three Members have earned their FAA Private Pilots License, and several more have soloed.

You can purchase Kevin’s book on Kindle at CAD $9.99; Hardcopy at CAD $36.43; and Paperback at $26.02 (plus taxes). You can find more information about Kevin at

Manitoba pegs $420M for transportation, infrastructure projects in the north

Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook said she has been impressed with the amount of money the province has been investing in northern Manitoba in recent months. (Photo: Dave Baxter, Winnipeg Sun)

— By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

Cutline: Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook said she has been impressed with the amount of money the province has been investing in northern Manitoba in recent months. (Dave Baxter, Winnipeg Sun)

LJI- The province announced this week they plan to pump more than $400 million into transportation and infrastructure projects in northern Manitoba. “We are making strategic investments that strengthen northern Manitoba to create opportunities not only to compete today but to build on for generations to come,” Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk said in a Tuesday news release announcing $420 million will be invested over five years into northern Manitoba. “We believe a stronger, more vibrant northern economy can help propel the provincial economy forward.”

According to the province, as part of their 2023 Multi-year Infrastructure Investment Strategy, the money will be spent on “strategic initiatives,” which include a plan to improve seven northern airports, with more than $75 million invested into two new airport terminal buildings and approximately 150,000 square metres of planned runway repairs.

The province will put $74 million towards the development of a “sustainable northern corridor” through the Port of Churchill and spend another nearly $250 million to improve five existing northern roadways. “We understand the importance of improving transportation linkages today to transport goods and services, promote tourism, mining exploration, and spur economic development,” Piwniuk said. “We are also committing to a bright future by making the Port of Churchill an inter-continental trade gateway.”

As part of the funding, the province said the Thompson Regional Airport Authority will receive $15 million to construct a new terminal building and to redevelop existing infrastructure. The new terminal will also offer a “culturally sensitive” air travel experience for Indigenous people, and include a dedicated area for Elders, the province said.

While speaking to the Winnipeg Sun earlier this year, Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook said she has been impressed with the amount of money the province has been investing in northern Manitoba in recent months. “More and more I believe the government is starting to recognize how important the north is, and that is why you see more investments, and you see more ministers coming to visit the north and acknowledging its importance,” Smook said.

“The province and the federal government are starting to understand the importance of investing in the north, and we will keep pushing and advocating for those investments.”

Huronia Airport land sale of 61.4 acres jointly approved

— By Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

It was unanimously approved that 61.4 acres of lands at the airport CYEE, known as the Huronia Airport in Tiny Township, would be approved for sale to support the airport’s capital needs. A joint meeting of three partnering North Simcoe municipalities – Midland, Penetanguishene, and Tiny Township – attended a hybrid presentation by the Huronia Airport Commission (HAC), followed by the three breaking off into their own special committees of the whole to discuss what they’d heard.

Within the partnership, Midland owns 50 per cent of the Huronia Airport with Penetanguishene owning 28 per cent and Tiny owning 22 per cent. As part of the agreement, all municipalities must be in agreement for decisions made to its operation. Roy Ellis, who’s the Huronia Airport Task Force’s outgoing chair, presented the information in person at the Midland chambers while the other joint partners joined virtually.

The airport is host to 350 acres of land in Tiny, servicing North Simcoe through emergency services, public and private business, flight training, and many other means. The 61.4 acres of land is located on the east side of the property adjacent to the 4,000-foot north-south runway.
“We actually have a letter of intent from a future investor who last fall – we (the HAC) have the ability and authority to lease land – we offered them a lease of six of those 7.6 acres,” said Ellis.

“I really appreciate… that in short order you were able to convene this meeting, because they were timed out on this. They’re doing operations already in Sudbury, they have got a base there. You’ve probably heard of the organization – we call it Geopark but it’s really the Ring of Fire, and it’s that whole electrification plate, minerals, et cetera. The principal owns about 62 per cent of the rights in the north for that whole plate, for that whole category,” Ellis explained.

The need for joint approval on the request was due to a deadline at the end of March, 2023. Other leads to establish businesses include a flight school, an aircraft mechanic, general aviation hangars, relocation of an HVAC business from the GTA, and others. “This is about selling land and putting a shovel in the ground – quickly,” added Ellis.

After the presentation and joint discussion, the municipalities separated. Members of the Penetanguishene committee of the whole swiftly approved the request within minutes and without further discussion.

Tiny Township committee of the whole members supported the HAC request with some concerns. Coun. Steffen Walma drilled down to ensure that as the municipality where CYEE is physically located, tax revenue sharing would come directly to Tiny Township and not to the other joint partners; this was confirmed by CAO Robert Lamb. “(If sold), they’re our lands; they’re no longer in the hands of the commission,” said Lamb. “They are within the Township of Tiny, and all the revenue associated would come to ourselves, the County of Simcoe, and the school board.

“Just to be clear,” Lamb reiterated, “none of the municipalities have the ability, if that land is sold, to come and ask for a percentage of that revenue. That is ultimately your – elected council for Tiny’s – decision, not anybody else. They can’t come and demand anything that’s our taxation base.”

Tiny Mayor David Evans called the proposal an investment to be managed: “This airport’s been here since 1965 and nobody’s thought to make a change until now, and I’m kind of proud we did.” Tiny Township approved the request in roughly ten minutes.

Midland, however, had things to say. At their meeting, nearly half an hour was spent addressing concerns, with Coun. Bill Meridis and Beth Prost requesting an option to reduce the sale land from 61.4 acres to roughly 20 acres as a way to see how it would impact taxpayers. Acting CAO Andy Campbell responded to the concerns by alluding to the recent withdrawal of a development company from Midland Bay Landing as a cautionary path for Midland council to be wary of retreading. “The goal here is to give the airport commission the ability to raise money to reduce property tax,” said Campbell. “I question: why would you give them less of an opportunity to raise money by reducing the opportunity to sell land?”

Mayor Bill Gordon sympathized with council members who were told that to propose a change to the HAC request would be to risk a “scuttle of the whole deal.” “I know this feels like the snowblower again,” said Gordon, referring to a forced agreement during budgets for a previously-purchased machine which caught the joint municipalities off guard. “This isn’t really a debatable thing about ‘we give them this but not that’; this is the ask that’s before us, all three partners. And that’s part of the joy of having a partnership that we can’t all go off on our own way. We need to sing together on the same sheet, in the same key and same cadence and make sure we’re singing the same verse, which feels limiting and frustrating. I get that.”

Gordon requested a recorded vote “in spirit” of Coun. Jim Downer who was unable to attend, and the motion was passed 6-2 with Meridis and Prost in opposition. All three municipalities carried their motions to approve of the joint land sale during their special committee of the whole meetings, to appear on their upcoming individual regular council meetings for formal ratification.

The 26-page report with slideshow presentation and Huronia Airport Commission request is available on the special meeting of council page on the Town of Midland website.  Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.

(Photo: Huronia Airport)

COFLYT Unveils New Aircraft Insights APP

― By: Phil Lightstone

COFLYT ( of Pensacola FL provides a cloud delivered aircraft maintenance and billing application designed specifically for General Aviation.  COFLYT combines inspections and maintenance tracking, scheduling, and billing into a simple, mobile app to provide peace of mind for aircraft owners.

A pilot simply inputs their last flight details into the COFLYT App and COFLYT updates the flight logs and can generate billing for aircraft held in a partnership or block timers.  Bill payment is automatically generated when the pilot enters the times and a credit card transaction is created through Stripe.

COFLYT is designed to track aircraft inspections and generate alerts based upon time limited components, e.g. Magnetos and ELT battery replacement. AD’s can be imported from the FAA’s database, ensuring that the mechanics are up to date with the FAA’s requirements.  COFLYT provides aircraft scheduling (Calendar) as well as advanced squawk reporting.  Pre-existing paper logbooks can be uploaded into COFLYT, safeguarding the future resale of the aircraft, by creating a digital backup of the aircraft’s logs.

COFLY has three pricing categories:  One Plane One User – Free for a single aircraft and single pilot but with limited capabilities; Premium Individual Pilot – USD $14 per month or USD $140 per year; and Premium Aircraft Partnership – USD $36 per month or USD $360 per year and is designed for partnerships with an unlimited number of users (each additional aircraft is USD $15 per month or USD $150 per year).

(Photo: COFLYT)

PRPS and Super T partner with HALO

Over the past three years, students in the Prairie Rose Public Schools’ South Alberta Flight Academy built this Vans RV-12 aircraft.

― By: SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Medicine Hat News: Prairie Rose Public Schools’ South Alberta Flight Academy held a fundraising gala Saturday evening, where it was announced the academy and Super T Aviation will be partnering with HALO Air Ambulance in a unique agreement.

Along with their studies, over the past three years students of the academy have built a Vans RV-12 aircraft ready to hit the skies. Not only will the plane be used for flight-school training by academy students, it might soon be added to the HALO fleet for fire spotting and search and rescue missions.  A small two-seater, single-engine plane, the Vans RV-12 is ideal for flight-school training. It is economical to operate, easy to manoeuvre, and often has low maintenance costs.

HALO not only responds to emergency calls but is also actively involved in fire spotting along with search and rescue.  “The BK-117 is a multi-purpose helicopter that is a key tool for the work HALO does,” says HALO CEO Paul Carolan. “There are instances however, such as search and rescue and fire spotting, that we benefit from the use of other aerial aircraft. The Vans RV-12 is a good fit for this type of work and HALO is eager to explore the potential of developing a program in partnership with the South Alberta Flight Academy.”

The partnership would benefit all the organizations involved. In exchange for using the plane, HALO could provide students in the flight academy and those in the recently announced South Alberta Fire Rescue Academy with training and mentorship.  The full release is available at

(Photo: Prairie Rose Public Schools)

Huronia Airport Land Sale ‘best thing for North Simcoe’

― By: Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


Three North Simcoe municipalities hope the public pilots its way to an incoming Huronia Airport Commission meeting about a potential land sale.  Next Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Midland municipal chambers, a virtual meeting will be held with partnering municipalities Penetanguishene and Tiny Township regarding the potential land sale of roughly 20 acres of airport CYEE located in Tiny for the purposes of supporting the airport’s capital needs.

Penetanguishene Mayor Doug Rawson told Midland Today that although the discussion was no surprise to mayors, deputy mayors and CAOs of the municipalities, “due course” would need to be followed through a public information session as all municipalities would have to give authorization to the Huronia Airport Commission (HAC).  “I think this is a really good thing; I think it’s very positive for North Simcoe,” said Rawson. “Last term of council for Midland, Penetanguishene and Tiny were working hard on how to bring the airport to the next level, and that started with the (‘Strategic Development Plan for the Huronia Airport, July 2019’) Loomex Group report.”  Rawson added: “The recommendation was that up to 20 acres would be parceled off for appropriate commercial activities at the airport.”

An example of value for the property can be found in a 2021 review from the HAC regarding development opportunities and constraints; one currently-existing parcel of land for commercial aviation at CYEE – not for sale – measured roughly 5.4 acres and could accommodate up to 35 hangars. Additionally in 2021, the HAC task force recommended multi-plot development of a 10-acre parcel of non-aviation commercial phase 1 for lease or sale, with another multi-plot development of 7 to 10 acres as aviation commercial phase 3 for lease or sale to aviation-based companies.

For the upcoming meeting about the potential land sale, a presentation by the HAC will be provided to the three councils along with discussion. Once concluded, each municipality will leave the joint meeting and separate to their own respective committee of the whole meetings for further discussion as it pertains to their own municipality.

“The public can join the meeting to watch either in person or on Zoom,” explained Midland acting CAO Andy Campbell. “The (HAC) meeting will not have a ‘public meeting’ agenda item, so there will not be an opportunity for the public to ask questions of (Midland) council. In summary, the meeting is the same as most council meetings where the public can only observe the debate by their elected officials.”  The framework for the Tiny Township portion will be similar, according to director of legislative services/clerk Sue Walton.

“This a joint presentation to the ownership municipalities and although open to the public, no municipal business will be advanced and no deputations will be received during this (HAC) presentation,” said Walton. “Township of Tiny council will be attending the presentation virtually. The presentation will not be available for viewing in the Township of Tiny council chambers as a result.”

Once Tiny council parts into their special committee of the whole meeting, Walton said: “It is at this meeting that council will consider the presentation and associated request from the (HAC) and make a recommendation in this regard… (and) that deputations would be received as per our deputation policy.”

For Penetanguishene, Mayor Rawson confirmed that council would also break off into a committee of the whole meeting for discussion, but any public input regarding the presentation should be provided to him prior to the event.  “Anything that I have for the public meeting, I will ask the question and have them before our experts that will be at the (HAC) presentation,” said Rawson. Rawson shared excitement over the potential for the airport as well as his anticipation for the joint meeting. “There were a lot of recommendations about upgrades and enhancements that the owners of the airport should be thinking about, that the HAC should be considering; and they’ve been operationalizing some of those recommendations. Lots of positive things have been worked on.”

However, Rawson pointed out that patience was key for the benefit of all North Simcoe residents. “This isn’t about racing to make a decision; it’s about making an informed decision and doing the right thing,” added Rawson. “I wholeheartedly believe this is the best thing for the town of Penetanguishene and North Simcoe, our member municipalities. There’s not a lot of downside; I see an upside to this. Let’s take our time and do it right.”

Details regarding the 2019 Loomex Group final report and Huronia Airport Commission review can be found in the January 2022 committee of the whole agenda on the Town of Penetanguishene website.  The presentation is open to the public and will be held in the Town of Midland council chambers located at 575 Dominion Avenue in Midland. In the event a member of the public wishes to attend the presentation virtually, please contact Sarah Cathcart, Deputy Clerk, via town email to receive the Zoom meeting link.  In the event a member of the public wishes to attend one of the council meetings virtually, the public is asked to contact the clerk of the respective municipality as noted below.

For more information, please contact:

Town of Midland: Sherri Edgar, Clerk | 705-526-4275, Ext. 2210

Town of Penetanguishene: Stacey Cooper, Clerk | 705-549-7453, Ext. 211

Township of Tiny: Sue Walton, Director of Legislative Services/Clerk | 705-526-4204, Ext. 225

(Photo credit: Gus & Clara Carujo)

Pilot Recruitment at SUN ‘n FUN

― By: Phil Lightstone

The pilot shortage is a widely discussed topic by the airlines, flight schools, flight instructors and most pilots.  Fueled by the COVID pandemic, many airlines offered their line pilots and aircrew early retirement, to mitigate monthly salary costs as passenger revenue declined.  United Airlines will see 5,000 of their pilots retiring in the next 10 years.   United’s CEO Scott Kirby comments: “Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed a job with United after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program – and our plan is for half of them to be women or people of color.”

In an effort to backfill the worsening pilot shortage, some airlines have created flight training organizations.  United has created the United Aviate Academy (, located in Phoenix AZ.  UAA’s goal is to graduate 500 new pilots per year.  Their 2023 class has 320 students, with an expected dropout rate of 32.  The program is designed to immerse student pilots into aviation with an outcome of obtaining their PPL, Commercial, Instrument, Multi and CFI ratings within 12 months, at a cost of USD $71,250.

In year two, they begin acquiring hours with the goal of 1,500 hours (an ATP requirement).  While they acquire hours, they can work for UAA as a flight instructor with a guarantee of a minimum of 70 flight hours per month at USD $40 per hour.  While USD $2,800 per month does not sound like a lot, the cost of living in Phoenix can be reduced through finding a roommate.  UAA has created partnerships with a variety of regional air carriers to bolster employment opportunities while the students gain hours.  United Airlines and JPMorgan Chase contributes USD $2.4 Million in annual scholarships to help students finance the financial realities of the cost of entry into the cockpit.

Anyone can apply, regardless of race or gender identity. The scholarship funds are distributed through UAA’s partner organizations:  Latino Pilots AssociationNational Gay Pilots Association, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals,  Professional Asian Pilots Association ,Sisters of the Skies and Women in Aviation International. Each organization may have their own requirements.

(Photo: Phil Lightstone)