Royal Canadian Air Force Captain Shawn Tyerman, dropped in for a quick visit at the Williams Lake Regional Airport and some pizzas on Nov. 10, 2022.
Tyerman was aircraft commander of a Canadian Armed Forces CC-130 Hercules aircraft out on a training flight to Williams Lake. The regional airport just happens to also be where Tyerman’s interest in aviation began.
While Tyerman is now based in Trenton, Ontario at the Canadian Forces base as part of 424 Squadron, he was born and raised in Williams Lake.
His friends in Williams Lake still keep in touch and he was in British Columbia covering for members of the 442 Squadron based in Comox, B.C., which is how he came to be flying into his hometown for the first time.
While the plane had originally been meant to make some practice supply drops, weather delays meant the crew only had time to touch down long enough to provide friends of the pilot a 10-minute tour to see a bit of the aircraft and learn some of its operations.
Search and rescue (SAR) technician Matt Davidson and Tyerman led the group around to see the rear of the aircraft, and get a look up into the massive body of the plane.
Two Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR techs) were on board, and two loadmasters, with an extensive collection of equipment and gear for a range of search and rescue operations.
Two pilots, two engineers and two navigators were in the cockpit for the flight, which is more than the usual crew, because it was a training flight, said Tyerman.
Tyerman was born and raised in Williams Lake as the son of pilot Texas Tyerman. His dad Texas worked for Con Air Group as a fixed-wing firefighting pilot, working seasonally fighting fires. Texas retired from flying after a fellow pilot died in a plane crash, Shawn recalled, only a few years after Shawn’s mother had already passed away. But his father’s time flying and seeing his dad up at the tanker base had sparked an interest in the career for Shawn.
“I was always kind of inspired by him and aviation was something I always wanted to do,” he said.
While he tried to join the air force out of high school in 1990, he was rejected because at the time the requirement was for 20/20 vision.
“It kind of dashed my dreams at the time,” he recalled. He pursued other career paths, getting a degree in biology and doing fisheries work for about six years, which dried up after governmental changes.
He then went to school and obtained a tech diploma and worked in Fort McMurray and then Vancouver in the tech industry.
He then returned to fisheries work and had a stable job in Victoria, where his office near the end of the airport runway got him thinking about aviation again and he worked on getting his pilot’s license to fulfill his flying dreams.
Then he met some members of the Canadian Forces in Victoria through the sport of dragon boating, and he learned the eyesight requirement for air force pilots now allowed for corrected vision.
So Tyerman once again applied to the air force.
After working at it for a number of years, he was accepted into basic training at the age of 41 years old, and he took up the challenge.
“It’s a scary leap,” he admitted, of leaving behind the security of his government job.
Tyerman said he was older than most of the trainers he had during the four months.
“If you keep your nose to the grindstone, it’s actually doable,” he advised, noting some of the harder challenges were more mental than physical. After three years, he obtained his wings to fly for the air force and was posted to Trenton, Ontario. He has been enjoying the challenge of his role as a military pilot ever since.
“I love flying, it’ll be the last career I have,” said Tyerman.
“He’s family,” said Dino Lecomte, who made it up to the airport for the brief visit. He said he and Tyerman have known one another their entire lives.
Lecomte and some of Tyerman’s other friends: Sydni Paley, Darren Sanford, Zachary Lecomte, Don Lecomte, Mackenna Lecomte, Jason Landry and Cristy Landry all proved their friendship by standing outside in frigid winter temperatures and they brought along some pizzas to pass on to the crew for their lunch.
Hercules airplanes, though originally built in the 1950s by Lockheed, have remained a staple in the search and rescue operations, according to the Canadian Armed Forces website, because of its long range of 7,200 km, the capacity to transport up to 80 passengers, ability to operate on short, unpaved runways and fly in severe weather.
The airplane is nearly 30 m long, has a wingspan of over 40 m and a height of nearly 12 m.