Time marches – rather, flies – on

January 16, 2023 — Royal Canadian Air Force

8 000 hours‑plus in the air is a distinct Aurora milestone

Sara White, Managing editor

Of the 8 000‑plus hours flying the CP‑140 Aurora over the past several decades, captains Rob Scholte and Mary Cameron-Kelly figure they’ve spent a good couple thousand of those together.

“When I see her name on the crew list, I am ready - no questions,” says Scholte, who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1984 as a weapons technician, remustered in 1988 to airborne electronic sensor operator, and commissioned in 2000.

“My job is to make the mission come together and be successful, and her job is to fly the plane and keep me and the crew safe. I know she knows what I’m looking for, and I have total faith in her. I hope she trusts me, too.”

Cameron-Kelly, the first woman to pilot the Aurora and, later, become a crew commander; agrees.

“When you work together that many hours, you do develop a bond and you know how they think. You anticipate each other’s moves.”

The two are instructors at 404 (Long Range Patrol and Training) Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood: this is Scholte’s third posting with 404, now teaching tactical coordination and as a crew commander, adding up to 13 total years; Cameron-Kelly, a pilot, has been here five times, for a total of 20 years. They often crew together, as the squadron is small. Scholte marked his 5 000th hour in the Aurora over Afghanistan, his 7 500th hour over Syria and his 8 000th hour May 31 close to home; Cameron-Kelly knew from her logbook she was two hours away from 8 000 August 11.

“We were out with a training crew and I watched as we passed it,” she says. “When I hit 5 000, I never thought I’d hit 8 000. Now, I’d like to hit a year in the air.”

That would be 8 760 hours, and both Scholte and Cameron-Kelly know that is large number from where they are logged now.

“I know my career is winding down, but we’ll see if something happens,” Scholte says. “I still enjoy the flying and, if I have one more operational tour in me, I’d like to go out that way.

Day-to-day highlights now include the pair’s role teaching new aircrew: Scholte, who laughs when he says the only three times he’s ever been airsick were on board a student-piloted plane, received a signed card from the members of his most recent course.

“That’s what makes it.”

Cameron-Kelly agrees: “I enjoy teaching. It’s sharing experience to the new group, passing it on so they can go back to their squadrons and fly.”

Two aviators in military uniform with their arms crossed, standing in from of an aircraft on an airfield.

404 (Long Range Patrol & Training) Squadron members Captain Rob Scholte and Captain Mary Cameron-Kelly, armed with new – and rare – 8 000‑hour flight time patches, have put in their time aboard the CP-140 Aurora.

Photo credit: Corporal W. Pfneisl, 404 (Long Range Patrol & Training) Squadron

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