Master Corporal Emil Edwards: A love of music contributes to success as sensor operator

News Article / April 12, 2019

By Corporal Nick Betts

“I believe that interest in music helped [me] develop an intuition for listening to underwater acoustics,” says Master Corporal Emil Edwards. “Being able to listen for subtle changes as well as pick up quickly on rhythmic patterns.”

Master Corporal Edwards is an airborne electronic sensor operator (AES Op) serving with 406 Maritime Operational Training Squadron at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia. In March 2019 he graduated from the first Sensor Operator Conversion Training course (SENSO CT 1) at the squadron. The course is designed to enable sensor operators to move from the CH-124 Sea King helicopter to the new CH-148 Cyclone.

He was born in Prince George, British Columbia, into a family that loves music. His father enjoyed playing folk songs on his guitar while his mother preferred opera and theatre. He says his lifelong interest in music contributes to his success as an AES Op today.

“We [AES Ops] maximize the effectiveness of our underwater sensors,” he says. “Seeing and hearing with eyes and ears whose senses go beyond human limitations is remarkable—but the real selling point for me begins with just being on the [Cyclone] helicopter.”

Master Corporal Edwards enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 2001 as a naval combat information operator (NCI Op) in the Reserve Force. Over the following 12 years, he served with the port security section in Esquimalt, British Columbia, and Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Brandon and Whitehorse. His naval career took him as far north as Skagway, Alaska, and south to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He fondly recalls taking part in Operation Podium, the CAF’s support to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics; he worked on security with HMCS Brandon, whose task was surveillance of the Strait of Georgia. There were some similarities between the work of NCI Ops and AES Ops that help him to this day.

“The NCI Op trade also uses voice reporting of contacts and requires a similar level of understanding of radio frequency,” he explains. “It has kept me digging in to publications after I made the occupation transfer.”

Master Corporal Edwards was trade trained as an AES Op in 2013. He enjoys going to places that fixed wing aircraft cannot, conducting shipborne operations and operating a hoist to lower or raise personnel from the helicopter—something he says many people would pay money to experience.

As an AES Op, Master Corporal Edwards has served on both CH-124 Sea King and CH-148 Cyclone helicopters. In 2016, he deployed on NATO Operation Active Endeavour with HMCS Fredericton.

“When flying became unrestricted, it was our air detachment that began collecting imagery for the Navy,” he said.

“Overall, the deployment enabled me to see much of Europe, struggle to learn a few phrases in one language before having to learn them in another, and being able to experience life on the ship with so many great people.”

With 631 flying hours on the Sea King and 35 hours on the Cyclone, Master Corporal Edwards says the transition from the CH-124 Sea King to the CH-148 Cyclone was, in many ways, like taking a big step into the future. Working on a Cyclone is about integration with a digital environment, providing a new challenge for even the most technically proficient AES Ops.

Looking to the future, he plans to further his education and take advantage of the various career opportunities the CAF provides—always with a focus on what is best for himself and his wife and daughter.

Outside of the military, Master Corporal Edwards takes great pride in his skills as a photographer and graphic designer; he created the 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron’s 75th anniversary display at the Shearwater Aviation Museum.

“In the immediate future,” he says. “I’m looking forward to upcoming flight instructor cadre training to then contribute to the successful training of our future CH-148 Cyclone sensor operators.”

About AES Ops

AES Ops are responsible for detecting and tracking submarines, providing support for search and rescue operations/medical evacuations, and assisting other government departments and agencies in the collection of evidence and counter-narcotics patrols.

Their primary technical functions are to:

  • Operate radar, electro-optic/Infrared systems, magnetic anomaly detection, and electronic warfare equipment
  • Take airborne photography
  • Load and arm airborne weapons, and search stores systems
  • Operate the helicopter-mounted machine gun system
  • Operate unmanned aerial vehicle electronic sensor systems
  • Communicate with internal and external agencies; both civilian and Allied forces
  • Collect evidence


Join the RCAF - Dare to be extraordinary

Human Resource Administrators provide administrative and general human resources support to all military activities.

The primary duties of a Human Resources Administrator are to provide:

         - Human resource administration and services
         - Pay and personnel support services
         - Automated information management
         - Corporate and general purpose administration

Date modified: