Northern Lights Aero Foundation announces 2019 award winners

News Article / July 16, 2019

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From the Northern Lights Aero Foundation

Earlier this year, the Northern Lights Aero Foundation announced the 2019 winners of its annual “Elsie” award, honouring Canadian women who have made outstanding contributions to aviation and aerospace. The foundation’s cause is to attract young women to enter careers in any sector of aviation and aerospace, by recognizing and celebrating the achievements of accomplished women in these fields.

“Our goal is to bring more recognition to women doing incredible work in aviation and aerospace in Canada,” says Joy Parker Blackwood, president of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation. “This year’s winners are all role models for the next generation of women in these industries.”

Named after aviation pioneer and human rights advocate Elsie Gregory MacGill, the award recognizes eight women across seven categories: business, education, engineering, flight operations, government, pioneer and rising star. Among the 2019 award recipients are two members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The 2019 gala awards dinner will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at the Sheraton Parkway Hotel and Suites Conference Centre in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The Northern Lights Aero Foundation “Elsie” Awards is in its eleventh year of celebrating women in Canada’s aerospace and aviation industries.

RCAF award recipients

Pioneer Award: Captain Mary Cameron-Kelly

Captain Cameron-Kelly, a member of 404 Maritime Patrol and Training Squadron, based at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, was the first female non-commissioned member to become a CP-140 Aurora pilot, captain of the first all-female CP-140 cockpit flight and first female maritime patrol crew commander. She has accumulated more than 7,200 flight hours with the military, making her the highest-time female pilot in the Canadian military. She also served as the crew commander for Operation Apollo, where she fought against terrorism in the Middle East. In 2007, she received the Progress Women of Excellence award in the “management and the professions” category.

Flight Operations Award: Major Alexia Hannam

Major Hannam is a RCAF helicopter pilot and the commanding officer of 417 Combat Support Squadron, based at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta. She flew the CH-147 Chinook for 40 combat missions in Afghanistan and was the Operation Lentus detachment commander during the Fort McMurray and British Columbia wildfires on CH-146 Griffon search and rescue helicopters. She is a vocal advocate for the Canadian Armed Forces and women in aviation.

Other 2019 recipients

Business Award: Wendy Tayler

Ms Tayler is the President and majority owner of Whitehorse-based Alkan Air. She established Northern Canada’s first aviation-business diploma program at Yukon College, where she has introduced northern youth to careers in aviation.

Education Award: Dr. Suzanne Kearns

Dr. Kearns is an associate professor of aviation at the University of Waterloo. Since becoming a pilot at the age of 17, she has earned her commercial multi-instrument pilot (fixed- and rotary-wing), a college diploma in helicopter flight training, a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science and a master’s in human factors and systems engineering. She has devoted her career to aviation education through lecturing, guest speaking, publications and e-learning.

Engineering Award: Lyndsey Poynter

Ms Poynter is currently project engineer for MDA, supporting projects for the International Space Station and the Kennedy Space Center. After developing an interest in space at an early age, Ms Poynter went on to complete a degree in space and communications sciences from York University. She has been the recipient of numerous awards from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.

Government Award: Kathrine Stewart

Special Constable Stewart is a helicopter pilot with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, providing search and rescue, mountain radio repeater access, aerial surveillance, border security, and pursuits and interception support to frontline RCMP personnel throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. Her career has ranged from forest fire fighting, wildlife management to diamond exploration, seismic exploration and work in the Arctic. She has more than13,000 flight hours and is endorsed on eight helicopter types.

Rising Star Award: Dr. Joelle Thorgrimson

Dr. Thorgrimson is a pilot, physician, physicist and future flight surgeon. She holds degrees in astrophysics, quantum computing and medicine, and has completed her private pilot’s license. Upon completion of her medical residency, she will be posted in Cold Lake, Alberta, where she will complete her flight surgeon training and work as a medical officer with the goal of pursuing aerospace medicine.

Rising Star Award: Lauren Egglestone

Ms Egglestone graduated from Seneca College’s Bachelor of Flight Technology program in 2013. She started work for a small airline in northern Manitoba the next day. She worked her way up from assistant to the chief pilot, to first officer, and ultimately captain. Her flights included medevacs and scheduled routes in Northern Canada. Her northern adventure continued at Canadian North as first officer on the Dash-8, based in Yellowknife and Iqaluit. She recently fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a pilot for Air Canada where she flies the B-737 MAX.


Join the RCAF - Dare to be extraordinary

Meteorological Technicians observe, brief on and forecast weather conditions in support of operations at Royal Canadian Air Force Wings and Squadrons, on Royal Canadian Navy Ships at sea and in Army facilities.

Their primary responsibilities are to:

         - Observe and record surface, marine and upper air weather conditions
         - Process, analyze and interpret meteorological information
         - Operate and maintain specialized meteorological instruments and equipment
         - Brief wing, ship and land unit personnel on actual and expected weather conditions
         - Forecast weather conditions

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