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Kelowna grad fulfilling dream to be a pilot

In just a few short months after graduating from Okanagan Mission Secondary School,  Elizabeth Campbell is well underway of pursuing her pilot’s career as the youngest serving female Second Lieutenant in the Canadian Forces.

Destined for a life in the aviation industry,  Campbell’s career has taken off in a big way.

Only days after graduating from high school in Kelowna, the now 18-year-old traveled to Victoria on a full scholarship to earn her private pilot license through her participation and years of hard work with the Kelowna Air Cadets.

Campbell was selected to attend a seven-week course that for air cadets to acquire their Transport Canada regulated private pilot license and their Air Cadet Power Pilot Wings.

In the early days of last summer, she was flying solo far above the shores of Vancouver Island while earning her wings. The Canadian Forces called for Campbell during her private pilot license training, resulting in her mentors to generously accelerate her course to completion in just five short weeks.

In August, she attended the Canadian Forces Aircrew Selection Centr in Toronto. It is very difficult to be accepted to the facility and even harder to pass the screening.

The designated candidates must be near-perfect human specimens and pass stringent background checks. The candidates must successfully pass cognitive, spatial and motor skills testing, hand/eye co-ordination, and general suitability for being an aircrew member in the Canadian Forces.

Those candidates who succeed are then sent for further evaluation in computer controlled flight simulator testing. The historic success rate for pilot candidates at the CFASC is approximately 45 per cent. After qualifying in mid-August, Campbell returned home to Kelowna to await word from the Canadian Forces air crew selection board.

The news that Campbell received from the Canadian Forces was much better than she anticipated, as she was accepted into the highly sought after Bachelor of Aviation Technology degree program at Seneca College in Ontario delivered in conjunction with state-of-the art Canadian Forces pilot training.

Participants in the partnership program gain on-the-job experience flying maritime, fighter, transport and tactical helicopter aircrafts. Simultaneously, they earn a degree which includes business management, airport operations and planning, and air carrier administration knowledge.

Last October, Campbell travelled to the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre in New Westminster to accept her career offer and was sworn in. Days later, Campbell was off for a 15-week grueling winter course in Basic Military Officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

Campbell’s training emphasized basic military skills, weapons handling, first aid, leadership fundamentals and ethical values. Since physical fitness is an integral component of military service, a large part of the course was spent in physical fitness training, some of it in -30C weather. Of the 39 recruits in Campbell’s platoon, 24 successfully graduated.

Campbell was honoured by 200 of her peers to bear the Canadian flag at the prestigious CFLRS graduation ceremony. The day after her graduation, Elizabeth was transferred to CFB Esquimalt in Victoria  for a temporary posting with the Search and Rescue arm of the Canadian Forces, where she will celebrate her 19th birthday.

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