Lieutenant Colonel Maryse Carmichael

A few years ago I participated in a mentoring program through the Women’s Executive Network (Wisdom II). This program pairs women navigating their careers with one of WXN’s Top 100 most powerful women via workshops and one-on-one sessions. I had the privilege of being mentored by Lieutenant Colonel Maryse Carmichael, Pilot and first female Commanding Officer of the Canadian Snowbirds. Maryse is a trailblazer, transforming what women can accomplish in aviation, and other challenging careers.

Maryse started her career as an Air Cadet in Québec (serving for four years) and subsequently enrolled with the Canadian Forces in 1990. Her path to Commanding Officer began as a Flying Instructor with 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (2 CFFTS). Maryse later served as an Executive Officer and Deputy Wing Operations Officer prior to returning to flight in 2007 in a CC-130 Hercules.

And check this out: some of the other aircraft she flew include the Bombardier-Canadair CE-144 and CC-144 Challenger Aircraft! She made history as the first female pilot (and only female pilot) to fly with the Snowbirds Aerobatic team. In May 2010, Maryse was promoted to Commanding officer of the Snowbirds, based out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

When asked about her role leading the squadron, Maryse takes a humble approach. “I was on the team a few years ago and I was the first woman to fly with the Snowbirds and that was really different. But now this posting is really about commanding this squadron and commanding the men and women that really represent the Canadian Forces across Canada.”

With over 3300 hours of jet flying time, Maryse is an amazing role model for women, showing determination, perseverance, and strength of character throughout her career. Awesome!

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