Northern lights shine bright for RCAF Lieutenant-Colonel and Honorary Colonel

News Article / October 5, 2020

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By Emily Lindahl, with information from the Northern Lights Aero Foundation website

On September 25, 2020, the Northern Lights Aero Foundation announced the recipients of the twelfth annual “Elsie” award, honouring Canadian women who have made outstanding contributions to aviation and aerospace.

“Our goal is to bring more recognition to women working in the world of aviation and aerospace in Canada,” says Kathleen Lang, President of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation. “This year’s recipients are an incredible line-up of role models for the next generation of women in these industries. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we look forward to celebrating them in 2021.”

Named after aviation pioneer and human rights advocate Elsie Gregory MacGill, the award recognizes women in seven categories: business, education, engineering, flight operations, government, trailblazer, and rising star.

The Royal Canadian Air Force would like to congratulate two of this year’s winners who exemplify the contributions of women aviators and leaders:

  • Government Award – Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Diane Baldasaro
  • Trailblazer Award – Honorary Colonel (HCol) Kendra Kincade

LCol Baldasaro embodies the values and spirit of the RCAF. A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, she received her pilot wings and flew the CC-130 Hercules at 435 Squadron in Winnipeg, doing Search and Rescue, Air-to-Air Refueling, and Tactical Airlift. Following four deployments to Afghanistan, she advanced to Major as Squadron Aircrew Leader, overseeing the delivery of the CC-130J Hercules. Promoted to her current rank of LCol, she was Operational Planning Team Lead for the RCAF Air Test and Evaluation Rebalance. In 2018, she became Commanding Officer of 437 Squadron, responsible for Strategic Air-to-Air Refueling and VVIP Transport for the Government of Canada in the Polaris Airbus aircraft.

In 2015, HCol Kendra Kincade (RCAF 417 Combat Support Squadron) founded Elevate, a non-profit devoted to helping women realize their potential. Elevate is a support network for women in aviation, with a mentorship and bursary program, as well as the Elevate Aviation Learning Centre, all to inspire the pursuit of careers in the industry. This comes after nearly 20 years as an Air Traffic Controller, and a transition to the role of NAV Canada’s Employee Brand Specialist. Beginning her philanthropic journey by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to fundraise for the Lois Hole Hospital, she then founded the non-profit, Changing Stories, undertaking projects such as building schools and playgrounds in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Numerous awards speak to her inspirational role for young girls and women across Canada.

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