How the High Prairie Air Cadet program helped a boy realize his dreams

The High Prairie Air Cadet Squadron recently received a $3,000 donation from the Twice is Nice Boutique Society. In front, left-right, is High Prairie Air Cadet Sgt. Joachim Aquino, Air Cadets civilian instructor Milkiya Perkinson, and Twice is Nice directors Marie Brulotte, Lorraine Deynaka and Len Brulotte.
Col. Bill Werny

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A former High Prairie man understands and appreciates the importance of the Air Cadets program.

Bill Werny says the cadets’ mission sums it up best.

“. . .encourage the nation’s youth to develop and maintain an interest in aviation, leadership, and citizenship, in partnership with the Canadian Armed Forces and other organizations.”

He adds the mission is accomplished in several ways. Cadets participate in a variety of fun, challenging and rewarding activities and learn valuable life and work skills such as teamwork, leadership and citizenship.

“In addition, the program helps youth improve their knowledge of aerospace and aviation by supporting and providing access to educational programs and resources,” says Werny.

Werny had a personal interest in aviation from an early age. Living on the farm, he recalls lying on hay bales and watching jets fly overhead.

“This was the seed that got me hooked on getting into the aviation business,” he says.

Luckily, his parents encouraged Werny to join the High Prairie #539 Squadron.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the squadron,” says Werny.

“Besides meeting others who had a similar interest/desire to learn more about aviation, I was fortunate enough to get selected to attend the Senior Leadership Course in Bowden and, even more exciting, I was selected to attend the Flying Scholarship program in Edmonton.”

Werny was so interested in aviation he had his private pilot’s before had his driver’s licence.

After graduating from the cadet program, Werny furthered his aviation career through the military route. He applied for and was accepted into the Military College program as a pilot. He attended post-secondary education at Royal Roads Military College in Victoria, B.C., and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Werny then attended pilot training at Portage la Prairie, Man. and Moose Jaw, Sask. where he received his wings.

“I was then assigned to fly helicopters and returned to Portage la Prairie for my basic training and then to Gagetown, N.B. for my operational training,” says Werny.

Werny credits the journey to the Air Cadet program.

“It set me up for an incredible rewarding career in the military as a pilot and in several leadership roles,” he says.

“I was fortunate to have operational experiences in Europe and a broad range of operational and training experiences in Canada, the Arctic, the United States, and the Middle East. During my military career, I was fortunate enough to have attained over 6,000 flying hours on helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.”

After retirement, Werny continued with employment with the Government of Alberta as senior director for Aviation and Defense Development. He was then vice-president operations for STARS and the vice-president operations for the Fort McMurray Airport Authority. He has also conducted multiple projects as an aerospace consultant.

And how did it all start? With a boy looking at jets in the sky and joining a local Air Cadets program.

Werny retired from the military with 40+ years of experience and rank of Colonel.

The High Prairie Air Cadets recently received a $3,000 donation from the High Prairie Royal Canadian Legion. Presenting the cheque, left, is Legion president Don Ebbett, to Air Cadets civilian instructor Milkiya Perkinson. Money will be used to pay for a trip later this year.

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