Exciting Surprise Visit During Alumni Reunion
At approximately 1:00 pm on Friday, September 28th, a Royal Canadian Air Force CF – 18 Hornet fighter jet suddenly appeared over Mount Sentinel, swooped down and landed at the West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar. The purpose of this sudden and unusual visitation would be a mystery to the innocent passerby but not to the Selkirk College Professional Pilot program students gathered on the tarmac. It was Max returning to his alma mater for a class reunion.
Max is Captain Max Cameron, Selkirk College Professional Pilot class of 2003 graduate, an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force and the pilot of one of our country’s workhorse fighter jets, the CF – 18 Hornet. Capt. Cameron had flown in from Bagotville, Quebec on Friday, with a refueling stop in Winnipeg, a distance of approximately 4500 km taking about five hours – at cruising speed!
Having done a few fly-bys to make sure everyone knew he'd arrived, Max then touched down at Castlegar's West Kootenay Regional Airport to mingle with the festive crowd. A Calgary native, Cameron had come quite a distance to be part of the party.
"It's not really my graduation reunion," he said sheepishly on the tarmac, "I might've stolen the show, I'm sorry." (much laughter). "But the other class was gracious enough to host me." Based in Bagotville, Quebec, Cameron had taken the solo trip out west for the occasion. "The boss gave me the jet for the whole weekend," said Max. The trip took a little over five hours of flying time... not non-stop, however. "She runs out of gas in a hurry," said Max. "I had to stop for a fill-up in Winnipeg."
Necks were craned from one end of Castlegar to the other as the awesome power (not to mention noise) of the two-seater was displayed. And the weather just happened to play along as the afternoon was sunny and beautiful.
The Professional Pilot reunion was organized by the class of 2002 with invitations going to the classes of 2001 and 2003. Capt. Cameron was joined by fellow graduates of the prestigious two year diploma program who have gone on to careers with airlines such as Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and Westjet, a variety of aviation businesses and of course, the RCAF.
While the reunion involved graduates, the arrival of the Capt. Cameron and his CF – 18 created a great deal of excitement for the classes of 2013 and 2014 as they were given a rare opportunity to get up close to this powerful aircraft. Besides coming to Castlegar for the reunion, Capt. Cameron took advantage of the opportunity to speak to the current students and encourage them to consider a career in the air force.
One of the many Selkirk College personnel at the airport to welcome Captain Cameron and other program graduates was President Angus Graeme. The President was one of the many who actually climbed into the CF – 18 cockpit reporting that it was ‘just a wee bit tight’.
“One of Selkirk College’s primary functions is to give our learners the skills and education needed to pursue varied and rewarding careers. Being here today, speaking with Max, other graduates and current students, I am again reminded of how excellent our programs are and the important and inspiring role played by college’s here and throughout BC” said Graeme.