Governor General Julie Payette receives RCAF astronaut “wings”

News Article / November 14, 2017

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From RCAF Public Affairs

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) astronaut flying badge, known as astronaut “wings”, was created in 2000. Colonel (retired) Chris Hadfield was the first to wear them, following his second flight into space in 2001. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada has now become only the second person to wear these wings.

Major-General Blaise Frawley, deputy commander of the RCAF, officially presented her with the wings on November 10, 2017, on behalf of Lieutenant-General Michael Hood, commander of the RCAF. She first wore the badge on her RCAF uniform at this year’s National Remembrance Day Ceremony.

Although Governor General Julie Payette has not served in the RCAF, as Commander-in-Chief of Canada she is entitled to wear military uniforms and accoutrements, including the Canadian Forces Decoration and, in her case, because she is an astronaut, RCAF astronaut wings.

As part of her preparations for a space mission assignment, Governor General Payette obtained her commercial pilot license and her pilot captaincy in February 1996 on the CT-114 Tutor aircraft, which is flown by the RCAF’s air demonstration team, the Snowbirds. She obtained her military instrument rating in 1997 and has logged more than 1,300 hours of flight time.

“It is a great honour to present these very well-earned RCAF astronaut wings to Governor General Julie Payette, and it will be a privilege for us to see them worn on her Canadian Armed Forces uniforms,” said Lieutenant-General Hood. “Given her tremendous achievements, from her aviation qualifications, to going to space to being our Commander-in-Chief, I believe she truly embodies our RCAF motto: Such is the pathway to the stars.”

Astronaut wings design

The design of the gold astronaut wings presented to Colonel Hadfield was updated to match the silver theme now used on RCAF uniforms. The design of the astronaut wings is based on the outspread eagle’s wings and crown of the terrestrial aircrew badge. It consists of a silver maple leaf rising above the earth atop a stylized plume of rocket exhaust. The silver grid lines of the earth below outline an arrow pointing up into space.

The white stars set in blackness above all show Earth in the universe and exemplify the RCAF motto Sic Itur Ad Astra – “Such is the pathway to the stars”. As on all aircrew wings, a red laurel wreath surrounds the central design.


RCAF personnel are entitled to wear the astronaut wings on their distinctive environmental uniforms after completing the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) approved astronaut training and a spaceflight. If RCAF members are already entitled to wear aircrew wings (e.g., pilot, flight engineer, air combat systems operator, etc.), they will wear those wings on their uniforms until qualified to wear astronaut wings. After they undertake their first space flight, their aircrew wings will be replaced by the astronaut wings.

NASA allows all members of the astronaut corps to wear civilian astronaut wings on their NASA uniforms, allowing Lieutenant-Colonel Joshua Kutryk and Colonel Jeremy Hansen the option of wearing either their military pilot wings, or civilian astronaut wings until they complete their first spaceflight.


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