Pilot Profile: Dustin Rickard

As a contract pilot and base manager for Helicopter Transport Services Canada (HTSC), Dustin Rickard thrives in experiences that are both challenging and rewarding. Based in Moosonee, Dustin began his career in aviation with 4 months on the ground before getting his Long Ranger endorsement. Now, he focuses on flying utility work and long lining. The exploration and discovery are what ignites his passion for what he does. “I love meeting new people and travelling to new places; seeing different parts of Ontario and returning to the familiar ones.”

Dustin is no stranger to the world of aviation and grew up around helicopters. Having lived on a secluded island in Northern Ontario, road access to land was limited to winters only and Dustin was used to seeing helicopters as a sign of replenishing supplies and essential transportation. He also has an uncle that flies for Ornge. With inspiration all around him, and the added cool factor that flying a helicopter brings, Dustin embarked on his first hurdle, the classroom.

Like a lot of student pilots, Dustin is a hands-on learner and the flying came more naturally than the academic side. With such a short and intense period of training, Dusting combatted these challenges by staying focused, disciplined, and establishing a sustainable and healthy routine.

For Dustin, some aspects of the program felt more like a job than regular school because of the operational courses, duty pilot program and ground handling. “The entire program was realistic in preparing for a job in the industry, especially flying scenarios in the bushlands of North Bay, a great example to simulate the real world of helicopter work.”

The coolest part of Dustin’s training? Winter Survival of course. Although not unfamiliar territory to Dustin, it was an opportunity to learn new skills and tips and also develop leadership skills. “It could be your reality when flying with customers on board, and it is now your job, as the pilot, to take on the role of a leader to keep everyone calm and safe.” His biggest lesson learned from Winter Survival? “Always carry a go-bag with you when flying that matches the climate and location where you’re working.”

Dustin is now entering his 2nd year with HTSC and so far, one of his proudest achievements has been mastering long lining. “It’s fun, challenging and engaging and always keeps you fresh.”

As for advice to future students, Dustin said to be patient, to not give up on a company too quickly, to always work hard, and to have a good attitude no matter what,  “Keep a good reputation (this is a small industry.) Stay in touch with your classmates, instructors and anyone you meet along the way because you never know when you will run into them again or connect you with job opportunities.” As for those opportunities, he suggested heading to social media and websites and start following the companies you would like to work for. Ornge has a great Instagram page.

We wish Dustin well on his adventures and look forward to hearing more about his time in Moosonee and beyond!