News Article / July 23, 2013 / Project number: RCAF-20130723-01
Members of 412 (Transport) Squadron, also known as the Falcons, warmly welcomed their new Commanding Officer (CO), Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Michael Thornley, during a change of command ceremony in Ottawa on July 11. He succeeds LCol Éric Philippouci who had been leading for the past two years the Squadron that operates the CC-144 Challenger fleet.
“We’re delighted to welcome back LCol Thornley to our 8 Wing family,” said 8 Wing Commander Colonel Sean Friday. “His vast experience in air mobility will be an asset to the Squadron. I’m confident that he will continue the great job that LCol Philippouci had been doing for the Falcon Squadron.”
412 (T) Squadron, based in Ottawa, is a unit of 8 Wing Trenton. It provides high-ranking government officials and foreign dignitaries with VIP air transportation across Canada and worldwide, as well as undertakes military and medical evacuation (medevac) taskings.
"It is with mix of sadness and exhilaration that I depart my post as Commanding Officer of the Falcon Squadron,” said LCol Philippouci. “We have navigated through a challenging period over the past two years and I am extremely proud of the resilience demonstrated by each and every member of my team. The challenges we’ve overcome has cemented our team cohesion and made it that much easier to successfully continue to deliver flight services of the highest standard. I would like to thank every Falcon woman and man that supported me and helped us to remain focused on operational excellence. I know that the Sqn will continue to be in very good hands under LCol Mike Thornley's command."
As he officially took command of the Squadron from the former CO, LCol Thornley said that he is “honoured to have been selected to be the new CO of 412 (T) Squadron.”
The Squadron currently operates six CC-144 Challengers; four 600/601 variant aircraft and two newer 604 variant aircraft. To accomplish their task, the Squadron employs 18 pilots, eight flight stewards and eight civilians. Last year, the Squadron flew over 2,600 hours.
“I look forward to working alongside the men and women of 412 Squadron. I am confident in their professionalism and their dedication to duty,” said LCol Thornley.
LCol Thornley was born in London, Ontario and joined the Canadian Armed Forces in July 1989 as a pilot under the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP).
He graduated in 1993 from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario with a Bachelor degree in Engineering and Management. Following Graduation, he completed his flying training in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, where he obtained his wings.
His first operational posting was to 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Greenwood, Nova Scotia flying the CC-130 Hercules. After that, he was posted to 426 Squadron in Trenton, Ontario to instruct on the Hercules. In May 2003, he was posted to 437 Squadron in Trenton to fly the CC-150 Polaris.
In June 2005, he was promoted to the rank of Major and assumed the position of Squadron Standards Officer at 437 Squadron. Between November 2006 and May 2007, LCol Thornley deployed to Khartoum, Sudan as the Air Operations Advisor to the African Union Mission in Sudan. Upon return to 437 Squadron, he was appointed Squadron Operations Officer. He was posted back to 426 Squadron in April 2008. During this second posting to 426 Squadron, he held the positions of Flight Commander of the Airbus Training Flight, Standards Flight Commander and Deputy Commanding Officer.
LCol Thornley attended Canadian Forces Staff College from August 2011 until May 2012 where he received promotion to his current rank in December 2011. Following Staff College, he was posted to the Strategic Joint Staff in Ottawa, Ontario where he occupied the Current Operations desk covering the Western Hemisphere.