Capt. Ave Pyne gets ready to take flight at the Snowbirds base in Comox.

Snowbird pilot soaring to new heights

From a young age, Ave Pyne was obsessed with airplanes.

From a young age, Ave Pyne was obsessed with airplanes.

When he was five years old, Pyne, who often travelled from Victoria to Australia to visit family, would sit on an airplane, pull out the in-flight magazine that shows the different aircrafts to fly on and memorize them, including the number of windows, doors and the type of engine in the aircraft.

While walking through the airport with his father, Pyne would often name all the different aircrafts he could see as well.

“I was an aviation geek at a young age. As a child, I remember sitting there and staring out at the landscape, particularly between Vancouver and Victoria and looking at the islands and just the beauty of it. That’s what really got me interested in aviation was just the background and phenomenal parts of the country that you can see,” said the 34-year-old former Ecole Victor-Brodeur student.

“It was one of those moments when you realize, this is more than just a hobby and something I’d like to do as a career.”

At the age of 13, he jumpstarted his aviation dreams by joining the air cadet program with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron in Sidney. Four years later, he enrolled in the glider scholarship course in Comox, where he first became a pilot and later earned his private pilot license.

While he was attending the University of Victoria, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a pilot. He began training in Moose Jaw and, after being deployed on HMCS Winnipeg deterring pirates near Somalia, eventually returning to Moose Jaw to become a senior instructor with the 443 squadron.

While flying has always been a passion of his, in 2014, Pyne turned his dream into reality, and tried out to fly with the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds.

As part of the rigorous application process to be a part of the team, Pyne was forced to take a step back in time and fly a machine he had not flown before and was five years older than the ones he was used to working with.

But he overcame his obstacles and was selected to fly with the nine-aircraft team in 2014.

Last year was his first full season with the Snowbirds, flying as Snowbird two as the inner right wing.

“What I noticed when I joined the team was the standards were so much higher, the expectations were so much higher. Little errors that you would make on other platforms would ultimately be of no consequence to anybody else, but could be extremely consequential on this team,” Pyne said, adding they train from October to May, flying twice a day Monday through Friday.

“It was very challenging everyday to go out and make as few mistakes as you could.”

Now, the 2016 Snowbird season is gearing up with shows in the U.S. in May and Canada in the following months.

Pyne is excited to see parts of Canada he’s never seen before and hopes to inspire audiences young and old.

“Working with my fellow teammates and trying to strive for the best is an extremely challenging and rewarding thing,” Pyne said.

“Not only getting to fly a Snowbird aircraft, but also getting to represent Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces at the same time.”