Canadian tops USAF test pilot course

News Article / July 7, 2014

By Jeff Gaye

Major Jameel Janjua, a fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), has joined some exclusive company. He recently finished at the top of the Test Pilot Course at the United States Air Force (USAF) Test Pilot School (TPS) at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Although he joins Major Joshua Kutryk (2012) and Colonel (retired) Chris Hadfield (1988) as Canadian recipients of TPS’ Liethen-Tittle Award, Major Janjua doesn’t feel that he particularly stands out among RCAF pilots.

“For an individual, [the award] is a nice thing, of course,” he said. But he says the drive toward excellence is part of the culture of the RCAF in general and the test pilot fraternity in particular.

“In this business of flight testing, from a fighter perspective, this is their approach to everything they do,” he said. “The guys and gals who do this stuff are pretty driven people.” His own success, he says, “is telling of the level of training we get” in the RCAF.

Major Janjua served with 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, before the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE), located at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, selected him to take the year-long test pilot course.

He will remain at Edwards Air Force Base as an exchange officer, although it’s anticipated that he will be posted to AETE following his exchange period in the United States. 

For Major Janjua, who was born and raised in Calgary, a flying career is the culmination of a long-held ambition. He says the quality of people in the RCAF inspired him, and the training he received helped him fulfill his dream. He’s excited by the possibilities in the flight test world.

“I loved fighter operations, and I still do,” he said. “Flight testing is a great context to use everything I’ve learned to make things better for the war-fighter. It takes all that stuff and adds some pretty serious technical rigour.”

Canada’s other active Liethen-Tittle Award winner, Major Kutryk, is posted to AETE this summer following a year at Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto.

Maorj Janjua says the RCAF helps to inspire and attract new generations of pilots.

“It’s important to advertise to the kids out there that want to do this. Yes, Canada is a small country, but all of this is open to you,” he said. And he had special praise for his alma mater.

“The Canadians who have won this award are all graduates of Royal Military College,” he said. “And this is just a sliver of the RMC grads who have gone on to do other, even more important things.”

Canada should be proud that we punch above our weight in the world of aviation, Maj Janjua says.

“In our Canadian way, we can all politely, modestly beat our chests about this.”

About the award

The Liethen-Tittle Award honours Major Frank Liethen Jr, Class 61C, who lost his life flying with the Thunderbirds in 1966, and Major David Tittle, Class 55D, who lost his life testing the XC-5 VSTOL aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base in 1966.The award is presented to the pilot in each class who achieves the best overall record for outstanding flying performance and academic excellence.

Jeff Gaye is the managing editor of The Courier, 4 Wing Cold Lake’s base newspaper.


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