Major Miguel Bernard joined an elite club on Aug. 15, 2011 when he flew his 3,000th hour in the CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft while transiting from Bagotville, Que. to Trapani, Italy, to support Operation Mobile.
“It’s a significant milestone because not many people have it,” he said from Trapani. “It just takes time.”
Maj Bernard is one of only two active CF-18 pilots with 3,000 hours in the aircraft.
The native of Gatineau, Que., joined the Canadian Forces after finishing Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in 1988. It was a long-time dream of his to fly fighters, ever since he began flying with a friend’s father who was a civilian pilot.
Since completing his training on the Hornet, Maj Bernard has been living that childhood dream to the fullest. In addition to postings at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., and 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., he has served on exchange postings in Australia and Germany, and two tours in Kandahar. He also flew as a Hornet demonstration pilot, participating in many air shows.
Despite all of these accomplishments while building an impressive amount of flying time, Maj Bernard says the highlight of his career has been deploying for Operation Mobile.
“It took 3,000 hours to get to my first operation!” he said with a laugh. “A lot of pilots go their entire career without seeing an operation so this completes the circle. This has to top everything because we’re actually putting to work what we’ve trained to do.”
He also recognizes the importance of Canada’s contribution to Operation Unified Protector.
“Something like this doesn’t happen often but when it does, you really need to be there,” he explains. “The people of Libya: it’s their country. We’re here to help and save as many lives as we can,” said Maj Bernard.