On 30 May 2017, a former cadet from 561 Nelson Osprey Royal Canadian Air Cadets returned to the area for a few minutes in his CF-188 Hornet aircraft.
Capt. Thegne ‘Bashar’ Rathbone, who is originally from South Slocan, was the pilot. The single aircraft flew at about 1,000 feet above ground from the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, climbed over Nelson, then to South Slocan and Castlegar where he did several “closed patterns” at West Kootenay Regional Airport.
Capt. Rathbone says, “We have to fly more quickly when we are below a couple thousand feet above ground level. This is for safety reasons, it gives the aircraft the necessary energy to be able to zoom away from the ground if we have an emergency. I was flying at 350 Knots which is approx. 700 kilometres per hour. At this speed we can make it from Nelson to Castlegar in a few minutes”.
Capt. Rathbone, who graduated from Mount Sentinel High School in 2008, was a member of 561 Nelson Osprey Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron from 2002 until 2008. As a cadet, Capt. Rathbone attended the General Training Course, a Survival Training Course and in 2007 the Power Pilot Course.
After graduating from Mount Sentinel Secondary, Rathbone joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) under the Regular Officers Training Plan. For his first year of university he attended Royal Military College St-Jean in Quebec. He then completed his University at Royal Military College Kingston. In 2012, he graduated with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. During his time at University he also did Basic Military Officer Qualification and French second language training.
Since graduating Rathbone has been working to complete his flight training. He started with Primary flight training on the G-120A at 3 Canadian Forces Flight Training School at Portage la Prairie, Man.
After primary flight training Rathbone move to Moose Jaw, Sask. and did two courses on the CT-155 Harvard II and earned his Canadian Forces Pilot Wings on 14 Feb 2014.
Since earning his wings, Rathbone has continued his training on the CT-156 Hawk and the CF-188 Hornet at Cold Lake Alberta.
In 2017, he was posted to 401 Squadron as a fighter pilot.
When asked about his best memories from cadets, Rathbone said “it was all the weekend gliding, flying and summer camps. I made friends who I still talk to today and some of whom I serve with right now.”
About being in the RCAF, “I’ve been through a lot of courses and made a lot of friends, the memories of being on the road with the jets and your buddies are by far the best. Other very big highlights recently have been shooting an AIM – 7 Sparrow and dropping a GBU-38. Also seeing home and flying over was awesome.”
The CF-188 Hornet is a front-line multi-role fighter used for air defence, air superiority, ground attack, tactical support, training, aerobatic demonstration, and aerospace testing and evaluation. The CF-188 has a service ceiling of 15,000 metres (49,000 feet), a max range of 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) and a top speed of Mach 1.8 (1,380 miles per hour/2,100 kilometres per hour)
The Cadet program, which include Sea, Army and Air Cadets, is the largest government-funded youth program in Canada with over 50,000 participants across Canada.
The cadet program accepts youth between the ages of 12-18 who have a desire to learn more about the Canadian Forces, wish to develop the attributes of leadership and good citizenship and who wish to promote physical fitness.
While the program is military based, there is no obligation for a cadet to join the Canadian Armed Forces.