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EAA Canadian Council Welcomes Newest Member
By Ian Brown, Editor
April 2019 - After submissions by several highly qualified candidates for the position, we are delighted to be able to announce that EAA has selected Patrick Gilligan, retired vice president at the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA), to the EAA Canadian Council. Patrick, EAA 1164458, brings a massive depth of experience in light aircraft construction, regulatory issues, and long-distance flights. He is excited to be part of the team and will be looking forward to meeting many of our readers at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019. We sincerely appreciate the applications from the other candidates and hope they will stay close to EAA Canada.
Patrick also submitted six articles to Bits and Pieces over the last five years including a fascinating article on his design for a set of penetration skis for his RV-8, which were used on Michel Gordillo's around-the-world flight landing in Antarctica.
Patrick is a Montreal native and began learning to fly in the 1970s as a teenager working night shifts, weekends, and overtime to put aside enough money to start his flying courses. With his private pilot license in hand and a total of 42 hours, he flew more than 4,000 nm from Montreal to the Bahamas and back. He started working in aviation in 1974 as a lineman, then dispatcher, and later as a flight instructor with a total logged flight time of more than 7,000 hours.
In the 1980s Patrick owned a Cessna 172, and he later purchased two Lazair ultralight kits and, soon after building these ultralights, started the first ultralight flight school in Canada. Patrick was also the first Transport Canada licensed ultralight instructor while also holding a commercial license with instructor and float ratings. He currently owns two amateur-built aircraft. After assembling and selling more than 70 ultralight aircraft from different manufacturers in four years, he decided to design his own and built 16 Safire ultralight aircraft. The market for ultralight aircraft slumped in the 1990s, and to sustain the operations of his flight school, Patrick was required to find stable income by working at Rolls-Royce Canada refurbishing turbine engines.
After seven years at Rolls-Royce Canada, Patrick was offered an opportunity to work for Bombardier Aerospace in public relations, trade shows, and international exhibitions. After five years, he was offered a promotion to work for Bombardier Amphibious Aircraft in sales engineering, where Patrick designed many improvements for the Bombardier 415 amphibious forest fire water-bomber aircraft. After 13 years at Bombardier Aerospace, Patrick left to work for COPA in Ottawa.
Patrick's main responsibilities at COPA were helping members who had technical, regulatory, or other aviation questions in areas such as Canadian Aviation Regulations. He was also responsible for providing support to the editor of COPA Flight magazine, COPA's website, managing COPA's membership benefits package and aircraft group insurance program, as well as representing COPA at certain government and industry committees, conferences, and trade shows. In June 2017, after 10 years as vice president at COPA, he retired and currently enjoys flying long trips across North America.
"Having retired from a lifetime career in aviation, but continuing my passion teaching flying and building recreational aircraft, I look forward to bringing my experience to the EAA Canadian Council and providing much time," Patrick said. "Also, the last 10 years of my career as VP operations at COPA, advisory member, and SME [subject matter expert] on the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council, may be beneficial."
Patrick is bilingual and resides in the East Ottawa area. He is currently board director of the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association of Canada and provides assistance to aircraft manufacturing startup companies.
Patrick has done presentations, written articles and reports, and was director of EAA Chapter 415 in Saint-Hubert in the mid-1980s.
On a personal level, Patrick and his wife, Susan, have a daughter, Patricia, and six grandsons.
"My first date with Susan was in a Cessna 172. Unknown to me, within a few years [she] was to become my wife," he said. "Fog had delayed our departure, and I took a long time doing my walk-around, explaining every detail and answering any questions. I had ample time to sit with Susan and, since it was a calm day, I explained that she would be taking off and how she should hold the controls and how to determine the aircraft was in a climb, descent, or straight and level. I would be doing the communications, throttle, trim, and rudder pedals. She was doing fine, and on our way to a very quiet aerodrome I told Susan we would be only doing a low pass at slow speed, but we agreed that she would prevent the wheels from touching the ground by pulling delicately up on the controls. I kept a little power till the plane settled down, then slowly throttled back all the while stating, 'Don’t touch the ground.' She did a greaser and … has become my travel companion and life co-pilot."
Patrick also hopes to introduce his six grandsons to the world of aviation.
"This summer I will be giving them a short ground school on basic aerodynamics and ab initio briefing before we go flying again," he said. "I think some of them may get the flying bug."