Safety & Training
Accomplished women aviators capture top awards
May 21, 2013, Toronto - The Northern Lights Award Foundation (NLAF) has
announced the winners of its 2013 aviation and aerospace awards. The
Foundation’s prestigious award program, called the Elsie MacGill
Northern Lights Awards, is named after aviation pioneer Elsie MacGill
who had a pivotal role in the design and production of the Hawker
Hurricane in Canada during the Second World War, earning her the title,
“Queen of the Hurricanes.” MacGill was the first Canadian woman to
graduate with a degree in electrical engineering and the first woman in
North America to earn an advanced degree in aeronautics.
By Carey Fredericks
The national award program was established in 2009 to recognize and
honour the outstanding achievements of women in aviation and aerospace
in Canada. Since its inception, the program has grown from one to six
separate award categories that now include: Flight
Operations/Maintenance, Business, Government, Education, Pioneer and
The 2013 winners come from all across Canada including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
Flight Operations/Maintenance Award
Maryse Carmichael is Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces’ 431 Air
Demonstration Squadron based out of Moose Jaw, Sask. She has more than
3300 flight hours logged with the Canadian Forces on the CT-114 Tutor,
Bombardier-Canadair CE-144 and CC-144 Challenger aircraft, and CC-130
Hercules. Lt.-Col Carmichael was the first female pilot selected to fly
with the elite Snowbirds Aerobatic Team in 2000, and in 2010, she was
the first woman chosen to lead the squadron.
(Kate) Fletcher is Transport Canada’s Regional Director of Civil
Aviation for the Prairie and Northern Region where she is responsible
for all civil aviation safety including airports, maintenance and
manufacturing, commercial, business and general aviation, flight
training, engineering and enforcement. Kate is heavily involved in the
implementation of Safety Management Systems in the aviation industry and
she sits on the National Civil Aviation Management Executive Team at
Transport Canada. Kate holds an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL)
and has over 8,000 hours of flying experience.
Strang works in Airport Operations for the Vancouver Airport Authority.
In her capacity as Coordinator of Emergency Programs, Strang runs
full-scale training exercises in emergency response and Incident Command
Systems (ICS) for Vancouver International Airport (YVR) staff. Marcia
was instrumental in preparing YVR for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010
where she held an additional post as the Olympic Airside Coordinator.
Most recently, Marcia organized and ran the largest multi-agency
exercise in the history of YVR, involving over 700 people.
Wieben taught at Confederation College from 1986 until 2005 where she
was honoured with an Outstanding Service Award in 1998. As the first
full-time female faculty, she served in many capacities including
professor, aviation program coordinator and Director of Flight
Operations. Wieben has made a significant contribution to aviation
throughout her career as a bush pilot, flight instructor, air charter
operator, Flight Test Examiner and Civil Aviation Tribunal Officer.
McKendry was one of the first female flying instructors in Canada.
During her career, she trained more than 1100 students and had many
diverse roles in flight training including Transport Canada Designated
Flight Test Examiner and demonstration pilot for Transport Canada
documentary training films. Among her multiple accomplishments, McKendry
was instrumental in the formation of the Canadian Owners and Pilot
Rising Star Award
Panek obtained her Master of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering
from the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies in 2009.
That year, she received a scholarship to attend the International Space
University Space Studies Program at NASA Ames from the Canadian
Foundation for the International Space University. One of two Canadians
selected for NASA internships in 2008, Panek now works in flight support
for the International Space Station at MDA SpaceMissions, performing
systems and operations engineering.
Past winners of the Elsie
MacGill Northern Lights Award include Heather Sifton, former president
and CEO of the Buttonville Municipal Airport; Kathy Fox, appointed
member of the Transportation Safety Board; Roberta Taylor, aviation
trailblazer and former professor at the University of Victoria; Regina
Jordan, flight instructor and missionary pilot; Mary-Ellen Pauli,
helicopter pilot for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; Nicole
Saulnier, co-owner, chief pilot and operations manager of Georgian Bay
Airways; and Erika Kangas, Flight Test Engineer for Bombardier.
2013 Award recipients will be honoured at a gala ceremony and dinner on
September 27, at Spirale Banquet Hall and Conference Centre in Toronto.