Saturday, March 5, 2016

‘It was in my blood’: Flin Flon native reflects on decades as a pilot

Flin Flon native Dan Trojan during his days as a pilot. He spent decades flying, first for the Royal Canadian Air Force and then as a civilian.    

When Dan Trojan joined Flin Flon’s Air Cadets all those years ago, he never dreamed it would take him so far.

“I never intended to travel, but I’ve seen 90 countries,” said Trojan, who again calls Canada, and Flin Flon, his home.

Trojan completed his air cadet training at age 16 with the local squadron and earned a private pilot scholarship from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

At 17 he was eligible to join the air force but had to wait until he was 18, as his parents wouldn’t sign the required papers.

With his Grade 12 completed, Trojan went to Winnipeg for selection, joining the RCAF in June 1964.

Trojan completed basic officer training in Centralia, Ontario, where he studied law and learned the legal aspects of being an officer.

He then went to initial flight school, training at 2 FTS Moose Jaw, where he logged over 200 hours on the CT-114 Tutor jet – the aircraft used by the Snowbirds aerobatics team to this day.

Trojan describes his training in Moose Jaw as part of an experiment by the RCAF and NATO countries Denmark, Finland and Sweden. The young pilots were the first to be trained exclusively on jets.

“I was the first Canadian student to solo the Tutor,” he said, adding that he and his classmates flew the planes fresh off the assembly line at the time.

Flying the powerful machines was exciting for the young Trojan, who was later assigned to a transport squadron.

His career continued with training in Portage la Prairie. He was selected to go to the operational training unit and was assigned the Dakota DC-3 as captain when he was 19.

From there Trojan was chosen to be part of the exclusive 412 VIP Squadron in Montreal.

“In transport we flew a two-engine piston, passenger plane,” he recalled. “After flying the jets it was like going backwards.”

Trojan’s assignments featured some memorable moments.

“The next thing I know I was flying Paul T. Hellier, General Jean Victor Allard and Air Vice Marshall Carpenter around,” Trojan said, remembering the many flights he flew between  Ottawa and Washington with the minister of national defence during the 1960s.

At the time, Hellier was working to unify Canada’s navy, army and air force into a single organization, the Canadian Armed Forces.

Trojan’s military career ended when he left the Canadian Forces in 1969, beginning a nearly 50-year career as a civilian pilot.

He flew bush for Lamb Airways of The Pas, Parsons Airways of Flin Flon and later Pacific Western Airlines, where he earned a captaincy on the C-130 Hercules, out of Edmonton and later the Boeing 707 out of Vancouver.

Flying took him around the world, but it had its drawbacks. Many nights spent in hotels and eating restaurant food were not always pleasant, and time away was hard on his family life.

But looking back, Trojan remembers his time spent flying with fondness.

“I loved it. It was in my blood,” he said. “It never felt like I was working when I was flying. I still say it beats working for a living. If you like your job, it’s easy to do.”

- Original article can be found here:

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