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Giving Female Hockey Players the Wings to Soar

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Interview with Mallory Deluce, Gold Medal Winning Hockey Player and First Officer for Air Georgian

When Air Georgian Pilot, Mallory Deluce is not in the sky, she’s on the ice playing hockey and winning gold medals for Team Ontario (2005 and 2006) and Team Canada (2008, 2009 and 2011). As a young girl, Mallory’s father and brother, who are commercial pilots, would often share their ubiquitous stories of in-flight experiences. Not to mention, the fond memories of her family gatherings, where uncles and cousins talked about their pilot lives in vivid detail. It’s as though flying is part of Mallory’s DNA. Amid Mallory’s time in the skies and on the ice, she is spokesperson for the Air Georgian Cadet Program and enjoys talking to young female hockey players about a rewarding career as a pilot. Here’s what she had say, that will make you want to join the Air Georgian team:

Where and how were you trained to be a pilot?

I started my flight training a few weeks after I graduated from university in May 2011.  I did my private license in St. Thomas, Ontario at St. Thomas Flight Centre and then for my multi engine and instrument ratings, I went out to Professional Flight Centre at Boundary Bay Airport (an airport that is a 15 minute drive south of Vancouver). I lived in the flight school’s boarding house that had 15 other student pilots from Canada and all over the world. I met many amazing people and loved being around other student pilots.  I came back home to the St. Thomas Flight Centre to do my commercial license and build some flying time.

Who are you currently working for?

I’m currently working as a First Officer for Air Georgian, a company that flies routes for Air Canada, under the Air Canada Express name.

Tell us about your training experience.

My Air Georgian training began with ground school that taught me about the company operation and about the Beech 1900.  After ground school, we trained on a Beech 1900 simulator at a first class facility in Toronto called Flight Safety.  This simulator felt very similar to the real airplane and prepared us for the transition to the airplane.

Tell us why you love being a pilot.

First of all, flying is a lot of fun!  I love the thrill and adrenaline rush I get from flying.  I love how flying never feels like “work” and I always look forward to it.  It’s fun meeting and flying with different people and I find I learn a lot from everyone.

There’s a “teamwork” aspect to flying that I enjoy and it reminds me of hockey – the captain and co-pilot work together as a team to make each flight as safe as possible.

Also, when I get a few days off, I find myself missing life in the plane. Just like the way I miss playing hockey, when I’m not on my skates for a few days. I love the lifestyle for hockey and piloting as you are traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people. The typical 9-5 lifestyle is not for me.  Every day is different and has a new adventure or challenge.

What inspires you about your piloting career?

Doing something that I love doing everyday is very rewarding.  I was lucky to have been exposed to aviation my whole life, with many family members involved in the industry.  Seeing how much my family enjoyed their work as pilots helped me decide on the career and I’m extremely thankful I chose it.

How do you balance being a hockey player and a pilot? 

I always go to the rink to play pick-up hockey on my days off.  It’s nice not to work a traditional schedule, because I’m able to attend the mid day pick-up hockey at my local rink.  Staying in shape as a pilot is easy since there’s always time to workout at the hotel gyms on our overnight flights.  I find living healthy and being in shape as an athlete and hockey player helps my performance as a pilot, keeping myself energized and focused all day long.

Why do you feel female hockey players should know about piloting as a career choice? How is it rewarding?

Female hockey players are great candidates for a pilot career since hockey and flying are very similar.  They both require skills such as dedication, focus, teamwork, and determination.  As a pilot, you get to meet different people, see different places and everyday has a new challenge.  Hockey players are used to overcoming different challenges. Learning to fly takes time, practice and dedication and being able to do it everyday as a career is very rewarding.  Doing something that I’ve worked hard for is very rewarding.

What does it take to be a pilot?

To be a pilot it takes determination, dedication, focus, a positive attitude, and the ability to work well with others.

Why train and fly with Air Georgian?

Air Georgian is a first class company with a state of the art training program. They provide quality airline experience, which is extremely valuable for a flying career.  Safety is the first priority with Air Georgian and you get to fly with very knowledgeable and experienced captains. They offer a great program for low time pilots, giving you the proper training and every opportunity to be successful.

How is being a hockey player similar to being a pilot?

I find that being a hockey player really helped me in my career as a pilot. Hockey taught me teamwork, which is important when working together as a flight crew. Showing up on time and prepared for hockey practices and games set the stage for always being prepared, well rested, and on time for my flights.  

What do you want to tell young female hockey players today about a career in piloting? What do you think they should know?

Flying is an extremely rewarding profession.  It let’s you go to new places, meet new people, and above all, it is a lot of fun. Currently, the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) is in partnership with Air Georgian, taking the piloting Cadet program across Canada and promoting it to female AA players and intermediate AA players while giving them interview opportunities so that they can get started in a piloting career journey.

What are your next big goals in life?

I am extremely happy and enjoying my time at Air Georgian.  Both the Cadet and Mentor program is an amazing opportunity that I was very lucky to be a part of. My goal is to have a long and happy career in aviation, not without the hockey of course. 

For more information on the Cadet Program visit www.clearedfortakeoff.ca/

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