Flying the Super Decathlon, an aerobatic training aircraft, Dan executes a graceful flight routine set to ethereal music which evokes the freedom and joy of flight. Dan owns Winnipeg Aviation, a flight school located on the outskirts of Winnipeg, MB. where he is the Chief Flight Instructor and Class 1 Aerobatic Instructor. He demonstrates its capabilities and some of the maneuvers he teaches to aspiring aerobatic students.A native of North Battleford Saskatchewan, Dan started flying in 1972 after earning a flying scholarship courtesy of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.
A second generation pilot, Dan got his first taste of flight at 4 years of age when his father took him for a hop over his home town. He says he remembers, looking at his world from on high and wondered, why you would ever want to come down?
Dan has passed along his passion for flying to his children and has spawned an airline captain, a private pilot, and a whole bunch of happy passengers. Now he’s working on developing the fourth generation of future aviators.
He continued his pursuit of a flying career by working at various jobs to support his flying training at the Regina Flying Club where he eventually qualified as a commercial pilot and by 1976, a Flight Instructor.
Newly minted as flight instructor at the age of 21 he packed up and moved to Winnipeg where he got his first job as a flight instructor at Point West Aviation (the predecessor of what is now Winnipeg Aviation).
In 1978 Dan took a position with the U.S. aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company as the national flight training marketing representative. He was responsible for developing and managing Cessna’s Pilot Training Centre programmes across Canada. While in this position, Dan was instrumental in converting what had previously been an American based learning system to that of a truly Canadian flight training programme. In addition to his management position, Dan was also a company demonstration pilot for Cessna’s complete line of piston aircraft.
While at Cessna, Dan progressed to various marketing management positions culminating as both single engine and multi-engine sales manager for the Prairie region until 1982 when, due to an international economic downturn, he and 35,000 close friends were laid off.
After a 12 year hiatus away from flying, Dan diverted back into aviation in 1998 on a full time basis; first, flying for a Winnipeg based construction company, a small flight charter company until 2000, when he joined Perimeter Airlines as a qualified captain on the Metroliner, an 18 passenger turboprop aircraft.
In 2003 Dan purchased Winnipeg Aviation, (yes that same school he first started instructing at back in 1976), which at the time, was a small 5 aircraft flight school serving the local market out of St. Andrews airport, just 8 kms. northeast of Winnipeg.
Today, Winnipeg Aviation operates 8 aircraft with expansion plans for more, and regularly trains 50-75 students at any given time from across Canada as well as internationally.
Although he had over 50 years in aviation, and enjoyed going to airshows, becoming an airshow pilot was never on his radar. That all changed in 2016 when an airshow pilot contacted Dan and asked him if she could borrow his aerobatic trainer to fly in a local Manitoba airshow.
As the old saying goes, one thing led to another and in 2017 Dan became Manitoba’s first airshow pilot to be certified by the International Council of Airshows, the organization that sets the performance and safety standards for all of the airshow pilots.
His very first airshow was flown in 2018 at the Portage La Prairie Airshow- his most memorable experience of the show- flying in +40 degree heat with a 55 km/h wind blowing at 90 degrees to the airshow crowd line.
Never to do things in half measures, Dan now owns two aerobatic aircraft. A Super Decathlon, which allows him to present the slow and graceful art of flight in a routine he calls “Romancing the skies”, and a high performance Yak-55, serving up high energy and lots of noise.
Considering himself privileged, blessed and one lucky guy to be performing for you today, Dan wants to share his good fortune so whenever he performs at an airshow, he donates 10% of his performer fees to a local charity or cause as chosen by the airshow organizers.