Women in Aviation: Lieutenant-Colonel Jill Bishop

News Article / June 12, 2017

In the weeks leading from International Women’s day on March 8 until the Canadian Women in Aviation Conference on June 21-24, we will feature weekly interviews with female leaders in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Occupation: Aerospace engineer

Current position: Commanding officer of 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, located in Borden, Ontario

Hometown: King City, Ontario

What drew you to join the Royal Canadian Air Force?

I knew all through high school that I wanted to be an engineer. Although I knew very little about the military, the prospect of working with aircraft and travel sounded very exciting.  I am happy to say, 30 years later, it still is!

What is your unit’s role?

400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron recently transitioned from an operational flying squadron to an air maintenance squadron. My unit takes in helicopters from squadrons across Canada; we tear them apart and conduct a deep level of inspection and maintenance on them, conduct test flying and then return them to their units. 

What have been some of the highlights of your career with the RCAF?

Two of my career highlights are having the opportunity to be a commanding officer of a unit and deploying at the Air Wing, A4 Maintenance in Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in 2009.

What have been some of the challenges of your career with the RCAF?

I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity to be a commanding officer. I believe in the RCAF we feel strongly that only “operators” can command operational squadrons. I believe we should concentrate on who makes the best leaders.

If you could provide advice to young women who are thinking about joining the RCAF, what would it be?

The RCAF requires people with a variety of strengths and abilities. Everyone has strengths and abilities that can be used to great success in every trade of the officer and non-commissioned members corps. A woman joining the RCAF shouldn’t think they have to be like their male counterparts.  The best leaders are those that show their genuine selves.

If you could provide advice on recruitment, training and retention of women in the RCAF, what would it be?

I fully believe that we need to recruit the best candidates for our Armed Forces and RCAF. It shouldn’t matter at the end of the day if they are men or women. That is the true test of equality: when it doesn’t matter what gender you are.

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