Lieutenant-Colonel François Couture, aboard the CH-147 Chinook piloted by his son, Captain François-Xavier Couture. Submitted photo.
Captain François-Xavier Couture and his father, Lieutenant-Colonel François Couture, during an exercise carried out in Farnham a few years ago. Submitted photo.
The happiness of flying alongside your son
By Yves Bélanger, Servir
Posted on Thursday September 23, 2021
Lieutenant-Colonel François Couture, Liaison Officer (Montreal, Quebec) in the Directorate of Employer Support Programs, had a wonderful experience a few weeks ago in Petawawa. He was fortunate enough to participate in a flight aboard a CH-147 Chinook helicopter piloted by his son, Captain François-Xavier Couture.
LCol Couture explains that he and his wife traveled to Petawawa to visit his son and his wife. A pilot with 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Capt Couture has lived there for several year
“Part of his job is to train flight engineers.”
Knowing the Commanding Officer of 450 ETAH well, LCol Couture took the time a few weeks earlier to contact him to request the possibility of visiting his son’s unit during his stay.
“Not only did I visit the unit, but I had the honor and pleasure of participating in a training flight.”
A nice surprise
LCol Couture says the crew knew about it except for his son.
“We wanted to surprise him. He was very disappointed to learn that he had to work the night his parents arrived,” he laughs.
It was only a few hours before takeoff that Capt Couture learned the reason for this unscheduled training flight added to his work schedule.
“We had just arrived at his home and he was sharing his disappointment at having to leave us for work. I then told him that if he had to leave for work early, it was because of the fittings on my flight helmet. He understood then and he smiled.”
Captain François-Xavier Couture admits having been really surprised by his father.
“These days, it’s not easy to take a tour of Chinook as a passenger. I didn’t believe him when he told me. I was very happy to be able to share this experience with him.”
Before boarding the CH-147 Chinook, LCol Couture was able to tour his son’s workplaces and spend almost an hour in the flight simulator.
“It was awesome. This allowed me to familiarize myself with the aircraft and the environment we were going to fly over. It’s amazing the sensations you can get in a simulator. It is almost the same intensity as in reality. I loved this experience.”
Four hour flight
It was 8:00 p.m. when LCol Couture and his son set out on the runway to join the rest of the crew and take off aboard the CH-147 Chinook. Among them were two future flight engineers.
“My son was in constant discussion with them. They had to give him the right instructions to carry out.”
The officer witnessed complex maneuvers such as landing the aircraft in the dark in a wooded area.
“It’s amazing how precisely these teams have to work.”
Pride on both sides
LCol Couture takes great pride in talking about his son’s work.
“It was funny to see him and especially to hear him speak with such confidence about the maneuvers to be carried out. I’m not used to hearing him talk that much in everyday life, because he’s quite an introvert.”
Capt Couture is also proud to share his piloting experience with his father.
“Especially since this time it was a night flight.”
He goes on to say that from an early age he was inspired by his father’s military career. As a teenager, he joined the Air Cadets.
“It was there that I realized that I could combine military life with aviation into an exciting career in the Royal Canadian Air Force.”
Not their first flight together
LCol Couture goes on to explain that this flight was not the first with his son.
“A few years ago he was the one who surprised me. I was then a member of the Regular Force and Commanding Officer of the 6e Bataillon, Royal 22e Régiment. We were holding an exercise at Farnham, working with 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.”
His son, who was flying CH-146 Griffons with 438 ETAH at the time, led him to believe that he could not be there because he was on leave.
“Needless to say, I was very surprised and proud when I saw him disembark from his device. It’s impressive to see how far the children we have seen growing up have come. I am also very proud of my second son who is making a career in 3D design.”
LCol François Couture has more than 40 years of military career. After 33 years in the Regular Force, in 2014 he turned to the Reserve.
“I am an infantry officer who served several years in the Montreal area.”
In the spring of 2022, the time for retirement will ring for him.
“I will reach the age of 60 and I will have to leave the Forces,” he concludes.
Article and photos reprinted with permission from Servir (Vol. 27/No 16)