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Aviation dream takes flight on wings of CFB Borden family’s military values (3 photos)

Nouvelle-Alliance graduate Meagan Daley wants to become a commercial pilot, but never forgets her military roots; 'It takes both sacrifice and strength to serve Canada'

Future careers are being built on the sacrifices and inspiration of Canada’s military women and men.

Meagan Daley, a former Barrie high school student and aspiring commercial pilot, drew her inspiration first-hand from her military mother and father, and now has her eyes set on the skies.

“Since both my parents have served and my mother still serves, the Canadian Forces have always been part of my life,” the École Secondaire Catholique Nouvelle-Alliance grad (2019-20) tells BarrieToday. “I have grown up knowing the kind of work and dedication it takes to be a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.”

Now the 19-year-old is putting everything she can into the next stage of her life while immersing herself in the Sault College aviation program to become a pilot.

Her stint there was kick-started after she won a $1,000 scholarship through the RCAF Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that celebrates the Royal Canadian Air Force through community engagement.

Despite a busy schedule, Daley who is also an accomplished hockey player  still finds time to lace up her skates.

“The fact that Sault College has a college hockey team playing at the collegiate level in the United States was a wonderful bonus to allow me to continue a sport I love,” she says. “I moved into residence at the end of August and so far so good. My grades are strong and I am skating strong with the team.”

In her quest to become a commercial pilot, Daley will complete a three-year program, which includes eight back-to-back semesters with flying during the summer. She hopes to have all the qualifications to fill an entry-level role as a first officer, likely with a small northern airline as an ideal first job.

And along the way she will be drawing on qualities learned from her military mom and dad.

Her father, Daryl Daley, served as a reservist in the army, twice, including eight years in the Royal Canadian Armour Corps as a ranger and later as an intelligence officer.

Daley’s mother, Nathalie, signed up with the reserves as a medic while in university and later joined the regular forces as a Royal Canadian Air Force logistics officer. At one point in her 13-year career  mostly in administration, finance and human resources  she was deployed to Afghanistan and worked in the multinational 438th Expeditionary Wing, primarily a United States Air Force group, that was part of the NATO training command.

“That was in 2013 and she was away from home for almost the entire year,” Meagan says. “It was a long deployment for her and for us. Military families have to get used to parents being away on training, deployments or other duties often.”

She clearly remembers the day she got the flying bug during an opportunity most kids her age would never have.

“When 436 Squadron received their first C130J model Hercules aircraft in Trenton, there was a family day in which all the family members of the squadron were taken up in their shiny, new Hercs,” Daley says. “They opened the back of the aircraft to let us admire the fall view and it was an amazing experience that stayed with me.”

By the time she was in Grade 11, the die was cast and she began looking at different career options to achieve her flying goals.

Throughout her life, Daley says her respect for the Canadian Forces has been front and centre, especially on Nov. 11.

“It takes both sacrifice and strength to serve Canada,” she says. “Remembrance Day reminds us of the sacrifice others have endured for the freedom and liberty that we enjoy daily in Canada.

“It’s a single day where we say thank you to all of them for serving."