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RCEME in Aviation.

My first contact with the aviation side of RCEME was when I was undergoing what I thought was a routine medical while at the RCEME School in Barriefield ON. The doctor mentioned that it was in fact an aircrew medical that I was taking. Questioning the Adjutant of the School revealed that RCEME had been allocated two vacancies for future pilot training and that I was being assessed for one of those positions before being offered the opportunity. When it came, I gladly accepted!

I attended Primary Flying School course 62/2 at RCAF Station Centralia ON from Nov 1962 to Mar 1963. Then it was off to CJATC Rivers MB for LAPC 35 from Apr to Jul 1963 after which I was awarded the coveted Canadian Army Flying Badge. Following these fixed-wing courses was basic helicopter training on BHTU course 57 from Aug to Oct 1963. On completion of the flying courses I was posted to the Army Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AAMU) at CJATC as Production Officer, responsible for the second line maintenance of the training aircraft at AATTS and BHTU. Test flights after maintenance was also part of this responsibility.

In Apr 1964 I was sent to Ft Eustis Virginia for the Army Maintenance Officers Course (AMOC), a good course on US Army fixed and rotary wing aircraft. While there I also had the opportunity to fly their aircraft that were maintained by draftee tradesmen.

On return to CJATC I continued as Production Officer at AAMU until Jul 1965 when I was posted to 1 RCHA Camp Gagetown NB. 1 RCHA had three L-19 aircraft and a small contingent of maintenance technicians. As the senior RCEME individual in the unit, I was primarily involved with their major pieces of equipment, including guns, vehicles and communications gear. I was also called upon to provide input on technical problems for the L-19 fleet.

In Jul 1966 I was posted to 4 CMBG Germany as OC Aircraft Platoon 4 FdWksp RCEME, replacing Capt George Hutson (also a RCEME pilot), who had been in the position for the past three years, and working for Maj Paul Pospisil, the CO 4 FdWksp at the time.The Platoon supported the Armoured Regiment Helicopter Recce Troop in Ft Chambly with first and second line maintenance as well as second line maintenance for the RCHA L-19s as well as the small Bde HQ Helicopter Liaison Flight.

The work as OC Aircraft Platoon was similar to any manager’s job. As such it involved personnel and maintenance management, supply and equipment control. My main role as a pilot was test flying the helicopters to maintain a standard product eg, minimize vibrations and ensure individual helicopter idiosyncrasies were removed.

In 1967, with Integration, I chose to stay on the air maintenance side of the CF as most of my training and experience was with air per se. Thus, I became MOC 41A AERE. On return to Canada in Jun 1969 I was posted to 403 Hel (OT) Sqnin Petawawa ON as Senior Maintenance Officer and attended the CUH-1H Transition Course from Apr to Jun 1970. The first of the CUH-1N helicopters were being introduced at this time. Test flying during this period was carried-out by experienced pilots onSqn.

In Jun 1971 the AERE Career Manager made the following pronouncement: “it has become the general opinion that the brown people in aircraft maintenance must diversify and broaden their scope”. As a result I was posted to CFB Greenwood NS as Aircraft Servicing Officer for three Squadrons of Argus aircraft (aka the aluminum overcast). While at Greenwood I was called upon to be the technical member on the Boards of Inquiry for two Sea King crashes. Although my flying days had ended by that point, it was still very satisfying to wear pilot wings when conversing with aircrew.

Lt CA (Chuck) Penny 1963.

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  • 1 Air OP Flight Group photos.
    Assistance would be welcome in identifying personnel in these photographs: View Content.

    Compiled by BGen R.G. Heitshu.