At Cooking Lake Aviation, we want our students to succeed. If you have any further questions about the various career paths, or would like to get in touch with one of pilots below, let us know!
Trevor Brooke, Captain, Dash 8 Q400, Westjet Encore
Trevor lives in Edmonton, Alberta and currently flies a Dash 8 Q400 turboprop for WestJet Encore based in Calgary, Alberta. The Q400 is a 78 seat short to medium range aircraft with a cruising speed of about 650 kph with a service ceiling of 25000 feet. It’s powered by two 5000 HP Pratt and Whitney PW150 turbine engines which allow it to operate very fuel efficiently. WestJet Encore currently operates scheduled service to over 35 destinations in Canada and the United States as well as charter service for Suncor to Fort McMurray and Firebag airports utilizing 43 aircraft with numbers 44 and 45 planned for delivery later this year.
Trevor started his flying career as a student at Cooking Lake Aviation (CLA). Upon graduating, he became an instructor for the school, moving quickly into the multi-engine and IFR training department and assisting in the development of the multi-IFR curriculum along with his good friend Rob Forst (also featured on this page). Trevor spent almost 5 years teaching and enjoyed his time at CLA immensely.
After obtaining his Airline Transport Pilot License, Trevor moved on to Nor-Alta Aviation where he flew the King Air 200 under a medevac contract with Alberta Health based in Fort McMurray, Alberta. This job was an important step in combining his technical skills with the operational challenges involved with a true commercial operation.
After building some time on turbine engine powered aircraft, Trevor received a job offer from West Wind Aviation based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. While maintaining residence in Edmonton and commuting to and from Saskatoon every week, Trevor flew the ATR 42-300 turboprop. This 44-seat aircraft was Trevor’s first introduction to CARS part 705 (airline) operations. The majority of the flying he did for West Wind was on behalf of Cameco Corporation doing crew changes for their uranium mines in northern Saskatchewan. This job provided Trevor with valuable experience operating a medium aircraft into short gravel airstrips without the support available at the larger paved airports.
After 18 months with West Wind, Trevor was offered an opportunity to return to Edmonton and fly the Boeing 737-200 for Canadian North Airlines. This challenging job combined the rigors of flying in the far north (short, gravel strips and unreliable magnetic compass readings) with the complex operation of flying a larger turbojet aircraft. Trevor visited the Pacific Western Airlines Boeing 737-200 on display at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton many times while growing up and was honoured to have been given the chance to actually fly one.
Trevor has been flying for WestJet Encore for the past two years (one year as first officer and one as captain) and has never once regretted his decision to become a pilot. If any aspiring pilots would like to contact Trevor with questions or for general advice, he would be delighted to help out!
Richard Oxlade, First Officer, CRJ-900, Jazz Aviation
Richard is operating the all-new King Air 250C for Alberta Air Ambulance Services, based out of Grande Prairie, AB. CanWest Air is currently operating as the largest medevac provider to Alberta Health Services. They are on stand-by 24/7 and are always wheels up or airborne within 30 minutes of a call for a patient in need. A typical medevac pilot shift with CanWest Air is 12 hours, on a 2 week on, 1 week off rotation, alternating between a rotation of nights and a rotation of days.
Richard completed all his flight training at Cooking Lake Aviation. Richard would be happy to tour any Cooking Lake Aviation students around the Grande Prairie facilities & aircraft!
Andrew Wilkes, First Officer, KingAir 200/200GT, Kenn Borek Air
Based out of Inuvik, Nunavut, Andrew commutes up to Inuvik from Edmonton. Andrew’s flying involves schedule and charter flights to various communities in the Western Arctic. Due to the location & remoteness of the Arctic communities, almost all runways that he flies into are snow & gravel strips. Furthermore, Andrew also does 24/7 medevacs out to various Arctic communities. This entails transporting patients in need to larger cities such as Yellowknife, NWT, where additional healthcare services can be accessed.
Rob Forst, Dassault Falcon 900EX
Rob flies the Dassault Falcon 900EX for a Private CARS604 operator based out of the Edmonton International Airport. The Tri-Jet Falcon 900EX is a 4500 nautical mile range corporate aircraft and one of the first aircraft to have an all glass cockpit. Typical operations include nonstop flights from Edmonton to locations throughout North America, Mexico, Hawaii, United Kingdom and South America. Rob started flying with this company as a King Air 200 Captain and then as a First Officer on the Hawker HS125-800A business jet.
Rob was a Flight Instructor and Operations Manager at Cooking Lake Aviation. Rob assisted in the setup of the first GPS LPV approach course in Alberta at the Cooking Lake Airport. Rob also assisted in the development of curriculum for the training of new students on the company’s Piper Seminoles. Rob has fond memories watching Cooking Lake develop into a school with the latest technology and to be able to teach students on the very latest glass cockpit G1000 Cessna aircraft.
Rob began his flying career as medevac pilot with Nor-Alta Aviation based out of Fort McMurray on the King Air 200 on a contract for Alberta Health Services. This was his first operational IFR flying job giving him the experience of flying into short strips throughout Alberta.
His next job was with First Air based out of Iqaluit, Nunavut flying the ATR-42 and ATR-72 on Baffin Island and as far North as Resolute Bay. This job entailed flying to Ottawa from Edmonton and then up to Iqaluit every 15 day rotation.
Rob then moved back to Edmonton and flew with Canadian North Airlines on the Boeing 737-200. Rob flew the Boeing throughout Nunavut, the North West Territories into places such as Kugluktuk/Coppermine (gravel strip), Inuvik and Cambridge Bay.
Rob worked for the Alberta Government Air Services Branch flying government personnel including the Premier of Alberta in the King Air 200.
Rob has a heart for teaching and his students, he encourages any Commercial students to contact him for pilot mentorship or just to come out and see where he works.
Lastly, Rob has his own blog dedicated to Pilot Mentorship, You can access his blog & follow along with Rob at “The Forst Approach”!
Jason Migadel, First Officer, Q400, Jazz Aviation
Jason is based out of Vancouver, BC operating out of Vancouver International Airport. Jason operates schedule & charter flights within British Columbia & Alberta. All flights involve various passenger loads as well as a small cargo aspect. Out of Vancouver, Jason flies to Vancouver Island as well as up to Northern B.C. Destinations include, but are not limited to, Campbell River, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Prince George, Kamloops & Kelowna. The best thing about flying on the west coast are the beautiful views of both the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains.
Jason completed all of his pilot training at Cooking Lake Aviation. For Jason, the best thing about flight school is the people you meet & relationships you build. You never know when those relationships will help you out down the road!
Kassam Omar, First Officer, Q400, WestjetEncore
Kassam flies the Caravan for CanWest Air, based out of Ft. Vermillion, AB. The Caravan is known for its ability to carry cargo & passengers, into & out of remote airstrips. Up in Northern Alberta, most of the flying is into & out of remote Indigenous Reservations, where travel by road is limited and or restricted. This includes transporting food for grocery stores, cargo & mail as well as passenger service to & from larger towns. Furthermore, Kassam also does Medevac flying, where he transports patients in need from the reservations to various towns with hospitals capable of better patient care.
The aspect of the job Kassam enjoys the most is the Medevac portion, always having to adapt to different situations, including flying into unimproved strips, as seen in the picture below.
Kassam completed all of his flight training at Cooking Lake Aviation. His advice for those students currently in flight school is always keep your goals in mind, strive to do better, stay humble & always be willing to learn!
Travis Whyte, First Officer, Q400, Westjet Encore
Travis Whyte has spent a good portion of his adult life sitting behind a computer, helping people build websites, solving internet issues and running his own company. He has enjoyed the journey but has always had an underlying dream: to fly. There’s a point when you realize a thought that seems out of reach is a passion, and that you have to follow it. Travis is now in the middle of a career change from business professional (a.k.a. computer geek) to career pilot.
In 2015 Travis enrolled in an intensive professional pilot training program (ATP Flight School) in Phoenix, AZ where he completed all FAA ratings up to the commercial multi engine level. He then moved back to Canada and completed the transfer of all licenses and ratings to Transport Canada equivalencies, resulting in a Transport Canada Commercial Pilot License with Group 1 Instrument Rating and valid Category 1 Medical.
It was at this time, that he connected with Cooking Lake Aviation and got checked out on our Cessna 172’s & Piper Seminole Multi Engine trainer to continue building his flight time & working to stay aircraft current. Travis & CLA’s CFI Ben, flew several multi-engine flights together over the summer of 2016. During this time, Travis was working on the ramp at North Cariboo Air, as part of their low time pilot program.
In June 2017, Travis started flying as a contract First Officer with North Cariboo and was promoted to the flight line in on August 1, 2017, flying as a line pilot ever since. The first 100 hrs flying the King Air were pretty much a blur for Travis, but now having settled into routines, it’s starting to go much smoother and the excitement for every flight is still abuzz.
Denis Ndahiro, First Officer, Pilatus PC-12, Northern Aviation
Denis currently flies the Pilatus PC-12 for Northern Aviation. The Pilatus is known for its amazing ability & performance, through its utilization of its single engine. A great plane to fly, Denis’ flying is solely corporate aviation. Flying corporately allows him to see various cities throughout North America. Although most trips often include busy days & being away for a week at a time, there is the perk of being able to explore the cities you visit! A few of Denis’ favourite cities he has visited include Houston, Denver & Midland, TX.
Denis completed his Private Pilot License & Instructor Rating at Cooking Lake Aviation. His favourite part about Instructing is the excitement from his students when they get signed off as licensed pilots. It’s his way of contributing to making a dream come true for many people!
Dean Hardman, First Officer, B737, Swoop
Dean is currently a First Officer with Westjet Encore, based out of Calgary, Alberta. Dean began his training with Encore in April of 2018 and began flying the line in June. Flying the Dash 8 Q400 has been a great experience, a very powerful & advanced aircraft. Dean enjoys the people he works with the most, spending lots of time both in the air and on the road.
Previously, Dean operated the King Air 200 with North Cariboo Air. Based out of Fort St. John, BC, Dean works a 2 week on, 2 week off rotation. Dean strictly flies a medevac role, transporting patients in need throughout British Columbia. Some of Dean’s favourite places he’s flown into have been Vancouver, Terrace & Prince Rupert.
Dean completed his Commercial Pilot License, Multi Engine & Instrument Rating at Cooking Lake Aviation. He then went on to complete his Instructor rating & has now Instructed at CLA for the last 3 years. He taught many of the students who are now Instructors at the school today their private & commercial licenses.
Dean still has a part time role at CLA & is still actively involved in Instructing. If you see him around & have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Jeremy Sam, First Officer, King Air 350, Carson Air
Jeremy flies the Cessna 206 for CanWest Air, based out of Ft. Vermilion, AB. The Cessna 206 is known for being the pickup truck of the skies of the North. The aircraft has the ability to carry up to 5 passengers as well as transport a considerable amount of cargo and goods. Up in Northern Alberta, most of the flying is into & out of remote Indigenous Reservations, where travel by road is very limited. Jeremy often flies into unprepared strips such as gravel, dirt and uneven terrain runways. The Cessna 206 also operates charter flights across the province providing quick and easy commuting between cities and towns.
Jeremy most enjoys the beautiful scenery he gets to see as he flies between airports. To the North of Fort Vermilion lies the Caribou Mountains, to the South lies beautiful Alberta Prairies and Alberta Forest. Another perk is getting to view the wonderful sunrises and sunsets. Let us know if you have any questions for Jeremy about his flying up north!