A Foothills captain has spread his wings and taken off with the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Through an exchange with the U.S. Air Force, Capt. Jeremie Burney has come a long way since his days as a cadet from Turner Valley.
"I was actually interviewed by the Western Wheel in 2007 back when I was in high school going into the military," said Burney. "So it's kind of funny."
Burney first took to the skies as a 12-year-old with the 187 Foothills Squadron.
"Through the air cadet program in Okotoks I had gotten my glider's licence and powered pilot licence, and the summer before Grade 12 was when I got private pilot licence," said Burney. "I think they're in High River now, but they were in Okotoks when I was there from 12 to 18.
"During my Grade 12 year, I applied to the military and I was accepted into the Royal Military College."
After completing basic training in Quebec and graduating from the aeronautical engineering program at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont., Burney earned his military wings as a pilot in Moose Jaw, Sask.
"The summer of 2014 I was posted to Winnipeg," he said. "I flew the Dash 8 for four years and then the summer of 2018 I moved to Trenton."
In the summer of 2022, Burney moved to Washington for a three-year exchange with the U.S. Air Force, where he is currently stationed.
Burney had wanted to become a fighter pilot after being inspired by Top Gun, but through his training he took on a bigger task: flying the C-17 Globemaster III.
"It's the largest aircraft in the Canadian Air Force," said Burney on the C-17, which has a wingspan of around 52 metres. "Its main mission is moving cargo, especially cargo that won't fit on a commercial airliner.
"We fly a lot of the bigger, larger cargo movements to different operations that Canada's participating in around the world."
Burney has dedicated most of his life to reaching these heights with the air force.
"The training in the air force does take a while to get through," said Burney. "I remember being a 12-year-old and seeing cadets who were five or six years older than me getting their pilot licenses. It's hard to imagine yourself in that position, but you know it kept me working towards all those courses and certificates, all the screening and interviews.
"Working with multi-engine aircraft is now something I'm super happy about and I love that."
Burney is still ambitious about his future as a pilot with the air force.
"Once you're proficient enough you get made an aircraft commander," he said. "So now you're in charge of the entire aircraft and crew. After that you're working towards your upgrade to become an instructor on that aircraft and eventually an evaluator.
"So there's always something to work towards on every platform I've been on."