3 Wing Commander

Colonel Normand Gagné

Colonel Normand Gagné

Colonel Normand Gagné was born and raised in New-Richmond, a small village on the east coast of Québec. He joined the Canadian Forces after graduating from high school in 1982 and he earned his pilot wings three years later. In 1985, he was posted to MR 880 Squadron in Summerside, Prince Edward Island where he flew the CP‑121 “Tracker” for three and half years. In 1989, he started the fighter pilot course in Cold Lake, Alberta, on the CF-5 “Freedom Fighter” at 419 Squadron. After his CF-18 “Hornet” course, Norm was assigned to 439 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Baden, Germany until 1993. While in Europe, Norm participated in the Gulf War where he flew over 75 hours of combat mission in support of DESERT STORM. Following a three-year staff tour at Air Command Headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba, during which he acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba, he returned to the cockpit where he was a CF-18 instructor pilot at 410 Squadron. Norm was promoted to the rank of Major in 1997 and was selected as the CF-18 demonstration pilot for that year.

In 1999, Norm was posted to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. He spent four years in the Directorate of Aerospace Requirement and worked on the CF‑18 Modernization Project. Norm was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel on 7 July 2003 and had the opportunity to attend the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, where he received his Masters of Military Operational Art and Science. He commanded 416 Tactical Fighter Squadron from July 2004 to May 2006. During his posting to 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters (1 CDN AIR DIV HQ) in Winnipeg from 2006 to 2008, Norm deployed to the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) in Al Udeid, Qatar as the senior International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) representative in support to the war in Afghanistan; he was promoted to the rank of Colonel for that job and was the first Canadian to fill that position. During his seven-month deployment, he forward deployed to Afghanistan for 45 days.

Upon his return to Canada, Norm took back his Lieutenant-Colonel rank and moved to the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre (CFAWC) in Trenton, Ontario, where the Air Force doctrine is written amongst other things. While in Trenton, he had the opportunity to fly the Beechcraft King Air 200. In March 2011, he deployed to Germany and Italy as the Canadian Deputy Air Component Commander to enforce the No-Fly Zone (NFZ) and protect civilians and civilian populated areas in Libya as part of the United Nations sanctioned, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) led coalition. After four months away, Norm returned to Canada and was posted back to 1 CDN AIR DIV HQ in Winnipeg. From 2011 to 2013, Norm held various positions at 1 CDN AIR DIV HQ, which included: A3 Standards, Aerospace and Force Protection; Deputy Chief of Staff; and Senior Staff Officer Fighter. Colonel Gagné was promoted to his current rank on 15 March 2013 and assumed the senior position of Director Aerospace Readiness. In August 2013, he took over as the Director of Fleet Readiness. Early in 2016 it was time for a change, Colonel Gagné was posted to the high-readiness 1st Canadian Division “Red Devils” Headquarters in Kingston as Chief of Staff. In July 2018, he moved to Ottawa to work with the Fighter Capability Office (FCO). Colonel Gagné has accumulated over 5,000 hours of flying time, of which 2,000 hours are on the CF-18.