MONTREAL, MAY 16, 2012– For most teenagers, earning a driver’s license represents a watershed moment in their lives. The small 8.5 x 5.5 centimetre card represents freedom, responsibility and the beginning of adulthood. However, for Carl Bindman, a Grade 10 student at Royal West Academy in Montreal West, he has set his sights just a little bit higher.
To be more specific, about 10,000 feet higher.
By the time the first bell rings in September, he will have a pilot’s license in his pocket, roughly one year before he can attempt to go for a spin with a representative from la Société de l’assurance automobile de Quebec.
For Bindman, who is also a prefect at Royal West Academy, this summer is the beginning of the realization of a dream he has pursued since the age of five.
“I’ve always had a passion for aviation and the military. I was drawn to it from a young age,” said Bindman. “My grandfather was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force. As I was getting older, I researched the requirements for joining the Air Force and what I saw was that a lot of the fighter pilots who have gone through Royal Military College in Saint-Jean, then onto Royal Military College of Canada [in Kingston, Ontario] begun as members of the Air Cadets.”
While one is only eligible to join the Air Cadets at the age of 12, Bindman had his application prepared well in advance of his birthday. Needless to say, even before he blew out his candles, 1 West Montreal Squadron had their newest candidate.
Following in the footsteps of Marc Garneau, current Member of Parliament for Westmount/Ville-Marie and the first Canadian in space as well as the Right Honorable Joe Clark, he was immediately accepted as a member of the Air Cadets.
Yet, being one of 23,000 cadets across Canada would not automatically convince the Air Force to one day hand over the keys to a CF-18; it was merely the first step.
Being a member of the Air Cadets requires a commitment above and beyond what an average young adult is normally willing to do. Fortunately, Carl Bindman isn’t your run-of-the-mill adolescent. While his friends and family were well aware of his passion for his country, the military and flight, soon after joining 1 Montreal West, his Squadron Commander noticed as well.
In addition to being a flight commander, at the age of 15, he was nominated by his Commander for the Lord Strathcona medal, which is the highest award that can be granted to a cadet, intended to recognize exemplary performance in physical and military training.
“I was extremely flattered, it was a true honor,” he recalled. “The only other person in our Squadron to have been awarded this medal is our Cadet Commander. “Our Commanding Officer likes to say that what you get out Cadets is what you put in, so I like to think I get a lot out of Cadets.”
Despite that exclusive company, of course, Bindman set his sights on achieving an even rarer prize: a summer flight scholarship at CEGEP Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Throughout the year, Bindman was vying for a spot amongst hundreds of his peers in the Cadets’ Eastern Region (Quebec and Eastern Ontario).
After hours upon hours of hard work and dedication to the Air Cadets, he recently got the nod that he be spending his summer vacation just a little off the beaten path: at CEGEP Saint-Jean flying gliders and ascending a step further to his lifetime calling.
“I’m thrilled. To be considered for the scholarship, you had to attend ground school. Throughout the year, I spent three hours of every week studying flight theory which included meteorology, theory of flight, navigation, air law, radio communications, etc,” said Bindman. “That work really prepared me for this summer. I’ve been told that it will be a really intense and difficult program, but I am very much looking forward to it. It will require a lot of work and studying, but I will be studying what I love, so I’m very excited for it.”
“At the end of this summer, I will receive my glider pilot license, which will allow me to fly gliders whenever I want,” he added. “For next summer, I hope to earn a power pilot scholarship which would be quite similar to this summer, but it will be a seven week course where I will be training on planes with engines. It’s much more intense and challenging.”
While Bindman expects the summer to fly by, if all goes well, he will soon be returning to Saint-Jean to attend CEGEP full-time.
“Following Royal West Academy, I will apply to CEGEP Saint-Jean and then onto the Royal Military College of Canada and pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Hopefully following that, I will become a pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Bindman. “Everybody in the pilot program goes through the same course, until the third stage, where individuals are separated based on their proficiency. The top 10 percent will then have the opportunity to choose whether they would like to train on fast jet aircraft (CF-18), multi-engine aircraft (Cargo planes) or rotary wing aircrafts (Helicopters).”
“My goal is fast-jet, but how could I be disappointed with any of those options?,” added Bindman. “I would still be living my dream of flying and I would be serving my country, which is really the ultimate goal.”