August 2, 2019

Explore Aviation Summer Camp: Leaders of Tomorrow Explore Careers in Aviation

For the second consecutive year, NAV CANADA’s Explore Aviation Summer Camp is providing young leaders the opportunity to explore exciting career choices as an air traffic controller, flight service specialist, electronics technologist, engineer and more. The camp consists of two sessions, one for young women that recently took place the week of July 14th, and one for young men that will be taking place the week of August 11th. Veteran Controller and co-organizer of the Camp Kendra Kincade gives us the inside look at how Explore Aviation Summer Camp is shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

Campers looking at a screen depicting space-based ADS-B surveillance of aircraft.

Leave ordinary behind! That’s the NAV CANADA slogan and that’s exactly what 24 young women from across Canada did this past week. This summer marked the second annual Explore Aviation Summer Camp, and so far it has been an adventure! As far as I can tell from my limited research skills it’s the only summer camp put on by an air navigation service provider in the world.

At a time when the industry is in need of more recruits, this camp couldn’t be more timely to promote careers in aviation. The week focused on air traffic services and what goes on behind the scenes to ensure airplanes get from their departure points to their destinations safely and efficiently.

The camp instructors are employees of NAV CANADA with diverse work histories and experiences. They have backgrounds in IFR and VFR air traffic control, technology, flight service and international flight service. The camp is made possible by the leaders at NAV CANADA who believe in the importance of not only bringing awareness to women about aviation careers, but helping the aviation industry as a whole, hence the camp in August that will be held for young men.

Home base for the week was at the NAV CENTRE in Cornwall where the young women had the chance to control airplanes in the air traffic control simulator, practicing vectoring skills to separate aircraft through a maze. In the flight service simulator, they had the opportunity to provide advisory services to aircraft and determine where aircraft were located on the manoeuvring areas. They also had fun learning about aviation technology as they toured the inside of a radar dome.

The field trips included a trip to Montreal and Ottawa. Montreal’s visit consisted of a tour of the Montreal Area Control Centre as well as a visit to ICAO. Seeing an actual control centre and the engineering and technology that makes air traffic services all come together is informative and educational and this group of campers went home with a whole new appreciation of all the aspects of aircraft safety in the sky.

Camper looking out the control tower window at Explore Aviation Summer Camp

The field trip to Ottawa included a visit of the Ottawa Control Tower where you heard gasps as they got to the top of a narrow spiral staircase and entered the tower cab. With their eyes wide with excitement they watched the controllers work and grabbed the binoculars to search the sky for airplanes coming in to land. Time was also spent learning about spaced-based ADS-B, which is changing the way the world controls flying aircraft. A lot more was packed into this day, but we wrapped it up by heading over to visit the NAV CANADA Flight Inspection Aircraft which is always a ton of fun.

The camp would not be complete without a chance to spread their wings at the Cornwall Flying Centre where each young woman got a chance to fly in a Cessna 172. For many of them it was their first time in a small aircraft and an experience they will not forget.

I truly believe that when horizons are expanded and new opportunities are presented it uncovers possibilities that may never have been discovered otherwise. I thank Lyne Wilson, Assistant Vice President of Talent Management at NAV CANADA for making this camp possible. I am extremely grateful to be a very small part of the lives of these young women. I know it’s not likely they will remember my name in the future but I do believe they will remember their experience at Explore Aviation Summer Camp and that the time spent with us will create pathways in their lives that may lead them to this dynamic and fulfilling industry. More than anything, and I know I can speak for my fellow camp leaders, it’s our wish that attending this camp will demonstrate to them that the world is full of incredible experiences and opportunities to help them build a life they love and perhaps… leave ordinary behind

A version of this piece was originally posted by Kendra Kincade on LinkedIn.

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