Aviation professor transports masks out of China
Initiative part of an Air Canada operation
May 1, 2020
There were no passengers or flight attendants aboard Capt. Jack Proctor’s latest flight to China. Instead, the Air Canada pilot and Seneca professor was part of a four-person crew that flew an empty plane to Shanghai and brought home some much-needed personal protective equipment for front-line health-care workers in Canada.
“I never got to serve my country as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Mr. Proctor, who graduated from Seneca in 1983 and has been teaching in the School of Aviation since 2006. “When we were asked to step up and do this important work, I felt that it was a privilege to do it.”
Due to the airline’s reduction of flights during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Proctor, who joined Air Canada in 1988, had not flown since the end of February. When he volunteered and was then selected to fly one of Air Canada’s converted Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft to Shanghai, he and his crew were excited about the opportunity.
“We were prepared,” he said.
Air Canada is one of the air carriers flying medical equipment out of China. Since March 1, its operations have resulted in nearly 250 tonnes of personal protective equipment such as N95 and surgical masks delivered across the country.
Mr. Proctor’s flight departed from Montreal to Narita on April 19. After a 24-hour stopover, he flew to Shanghai and was on the ground there for two hours, loading the equipment, before flying back to Narita for another 24-hour stopover. The crew returned to Toronto on April 22.
A few days after Mr. Proctor returned, his daughter, Victoria, a relief pilot for Air Canada, also flew to Narita for the same operation.
“I’m proud of her for doing this,” Mr. Proctor said of his daughter, who graduated from Seneca’s Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology degree program in 2012. “I’ve done two flights with her in the last year.”
Mr. Proctor said several members of his family are front-line workers, including his nephew and niece, both are graduates of Seneca’s Firefighter, Pre-Service Education & Training certificate program and now firefighters in Toronto and Hamilton, and his son’s girlfriend, who is a nurse working in a COVID-19 ward in Midland.
“Maybe it’s because I have a personal connection with front-line workers. I had a particular personal feeling that I wanted to do something to provide the equipment they need to protect citizens from getting sick,” he said. “I wanted the privilege of serving my country and I felt compelled to do this.”