Soaring Opportunity for Aspiring Young Aviators
Students in the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Aviation Club recently participated in an exciting opportunity during one of their virtual meetings.
Alumnus Andrew Giguere ’13, a pilot with Air Canada, lent his time to speak with club members over Zoom.
“When I spoke with the students, I framed the conversation around the typical career path of a pilot,” says Giguere. “This typical career path moves from flight school to a regional airline and finally to a major airline. Since we were using the Zoom platform, I created a presentation that included photos of the aircraft I have flown and route maps of destinations. Then the floor was opened up to questions and we had a long discussion regarding everything from weather to emergencies.”
Joe Tropea, SMCS teacher and moderator of the Aviation Club, says the school first started the club in 2018. The club’s group on Edsby, SMCS’ digital learning platform, has over 40 members.
“Before COVID we would meet once a week for about an hour, however, we always went over our ‘scheduled time,’ as the students were always having such a good time,” he says. “Sometimes we would have student-led presentations (on topics such as parts of an aircraft, types of commercial and civilian aircrafts, etc.). Other times we would just organically start conversations around current events in the aviation world such as ‘MAYDAY’ calls, or recent changes to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) — TSB (Transportation Safety Board) in Canada — protocols. However, I think the students truly enjoy flying planes on the brand-new flight simulator the most. I mean, who wouldn’t?”
Since the pandemic began last year, the club has met virtually via Zoom when schools were shut down. This is also the second time they have invited a guest speaker in to talk to students.
“In 2019, we had another SMCS grad, Stan Kuliavas ’98, come and speak to the group in-person,” says Tropea. “Stan is a pilot who is now working on the business side of the industry selling private jets.”
Both Giguere and Tropea credit John Walsh, manager of Community and Learning Partnerships at SMCS for introducing them.
“A pilot and a moderator of an Aviation Club who is also an aviation enthusiast, I knew Andrew and I were a perfect match and the conversation just continued from there,” says Tropea.
“Since aviation is a large part of my family with my father and grandfather both being pilots, I was fortunate enough to have people to ask aviation-specific questions, but for many who are curious about it, they don’t have that luxury,” Giguere says. “I felt that it was important to make myself available to be that person for students and maybe help expose individuals to this fascinating industry. In addition to wanting to be a resource for the students, I wanted to hear about the club, its activities, and history.”
Giguere, who has also volunteered his time with the school’s rugby and snowboarding teams over the past five years, remembers alumni returning to SMCS while he was a student to share their experiences about university, careers, and life after high school.
“I felt that by speaking to the club I would be contributing to this practice that was common back in my time at SMCS,” he says. “Those experiences were impactful on me and I thought they might serve that same purpose on current students.”
“This was a great opportunity for the students to connect and just have an open conversation with likeminded individuals outside of the regular Zoom/classroom setting,” says Tropea. “I think a great takeaway from this meeting was that we are all impacted by this pandemic in one way or another. Andrew mentioned that with the recent travel restrictions, all of his planes have been grounded. He used this opportunity to repurpose his time to other things like volunteering and speaking to individuals who share his passion for aviation.”
Learn more about other clubs and activities SMCS offers and which ones are currently running online due to the pandemic.