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Honouring Canadian aviation’s top female achievers

September 11, 2012  By Carey Fredericks

Sept. 11, 2012, Toronto - The annual Elsie MacGill Northern Lights award dinner goes Sept. 28 in Unionville, Ont. and this year's gathering promises to be a truly gala affair, highlighting the accomplishments of four incredible women in Canadian aerospace and aviation.

Expanding from one award in past years, this year's gala will highlight four categories of expertise: Flight Operations/Maintenance, Government, Business and a Rising Star. The Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award was created to honour the career of Vancouver's Elsie MacGill, a pioneer in Canadian aviation and aerospace. The award was created in 2009 by a small group of Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots) from the First Canadian Chapter, under the leadership of the award creator, Anna Pangrazzi, sales manager for Leggat Aviation and an accomplished pilot and leader in Canadian aviation.

Regina (Gina) Jordan, a retired flight instructor who introduced thousands of aspiring pilots to the joys of flight during her 17,000-hour flight career, will be honoured with the first ever Flight Operations/Maintenance award. Born in New Brunswick near the Saint John airport, Jordan learned how to fly at the Fundy Bay Flying Club and spent the majority of her illustrious career teaching students at her own school in Calgary, Jordan Flight Services. She sold her business in 1982, and after additional training in Redwoods, Calif., became the second woman to fly for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) as a missionary pilot until she retired in 1994.

Northern Ontario's Mary Ellen Pauli is the first winner in the new Government category. The Timmins-Ont. native has had an extensive career as a pilot, flying for a variety of organizations since attaining her pilot's licence at Fredericton Helicopters Ltd. following high school. Pauli has flown for Trans Quebec Helicopters (TQH), been a base manager for TQH's sister company Trans Canada Helicopters. In 1986, she jumped to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as one of its first helicopter pilots. Until recently, Pauli was the only permanent female staff pilot in the 85-year history of the OMNR.

Georgian Bay Airway's co-owner, chief pilot and operations manager Nicole Saulnier is the inaugural winner in the Business category. Saulnier has worked her way up the corporate ladder after graduating from Georgian College with a diploma in advertising and flying thousands of hours in an iconic deHavilland Beaver in northern Ontario, B.C.'s  West Coast and as chief pilot at Georgian's base in Parry Sound, Ont. She now owns the base with her husband and has expanded it into a thriving business.


The Rising Star award will be handed out to Erika Kangas, who currently works for Bombardier Aerospace in Toronto. A graduate of Ryerson University's Aerospace Engineering program, Kangas is now a flight testing engineer with the Q400 team and was the fight test engineer on board the first biofuel flight in Canada.

The Elsie MacGill Northern Lights award truly is a special honour, recognizing Canadian women who have demonstrated determination, enthusiasm, courage and personal accomplishment throughout their careers. Previous winners include Heather Sifton (2009), Kathy Fox (2010) and Roberta Taylor (2011). Wings magazine salutes all the winners and the organizations of this year's event. For more information about the event and the Elsie MaGill Award, please go to http://www.northernlightsaward.ca/index.html.


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