Fedak briefs Rotary Club on 3CFFTS 0
Lt-Col Peter Fedak of 3CFFTS in Southport came to speak to the Portage Rotary Club, Tuesday, about the flight training program and his desire to help create strong ties between personnel and their families and the surrounding communities. (ROBIN DUDGEON/THE DAILY GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
Members of the Portage Rotary Club got to hear from Lt-Col Peter Fedak from 3CFFTS at Southport at Tuesday’s meeting where he discussed the military flying program and his desire to integrate families into the Portage community.
Fedak explained to members that the Southport contract, which lasts until 2027, is among one of the most valuable contracts that the Government of Canada currently runs.
“There is a lot of attention on Southport to the highest levels right up to the Minister of Defence. They want to know exactly what’s going on here and that they’re getting their value for their dollar,” said Lt-Col Fedak.
Every pilot that joins the Canadian Forces starts out in Southport with a eight week selection course before going to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. As well about 80 per cent of all Air Force pilots get their wings at Southport.
“We are supposed to get 140 new starts per year to try and graduate 125. We will fail approximately 30 to 40 of those 140 that show up here,” said Fedak. “It’s looking at expanding, not an incredible amount, but going from 110 starts to 140 starts, from graduating roughly 80 to roughly 95 or 100 pilots per year.”
There are about 75 to 100 students in house at Southport at any one time, and roughly 250 staff between 3CFFTS, Allied Wings, and all of their sub-contractors. Aircraft will fly roughly 25,000 hours per year.
As in the past there will be pilots from other countries coming to train and work at Southport.
“We did have some Saudis recently, and there’s a group of Omanis coming in on Nov. 9. We will have four Royal Air Force pilots coming in to be helicopter staff pilots at 3CFFTS, (and) they will be here for three years possibly on rotation coming in the fall,” said Fedak.
Fedak added that his goal with all of his staff and their families is to try to encourage personnel to live in Portage la Prairie and really integrate into the community.
“We do have incredible support from the community and we do really appreciate that. I really, really want the people to live here in Portage, I am a big supporter of that, and you will see me out in the community,” said Fedak.
Although the military personnel will have the camaraderie and the commonality with each other it is often the families that will not know anyone.
“It’s the families that come into town and they’re not from the area, they don’t really know some of the other spouses and the other families, and so it’s integrating those families into the community, “said Fedak. “which will also expand the awareness in Portage la Prairie of who is out in Southport and what we do into the community.”
He hopes that if families get integrated into the community and enjoy living here that it will help to attract other military families to settle here as well, as well as encourage local business to hire military families.
“When they are looking for hiring it can be difficult to think ‘well they’re here for three to five years’,” said Fedak. “The individuals that come in are generally well educated, have good job experiences from across the board, and have some regional differences where they can see things and bring in a fresh perspective from outside the community and bring that to their businesses.”
“As well for other businesses in town, the more we can attract and have our members live in Portage la Prairie – they’re buying houses, they’re buying cars, they are generally well educated and well paid group of individuals – that come into town and love to spend our money,” added Fedak.
In the future 3CFFTS hopes not only to encourage more connections between personnel and the community but also to improve supports and infrastructures at Southport for those families.
“We can continue some of military support and infrastructure (for the families) on site. Fitness facilities, family resources, daycare facilities, I think those are all very important targets that we can achieve in the near future,” said Fedak.