Aviation News Journal
By Kathy Wrobel of Prairie Aircraft Sales -
It seems like yesterday that I walked into Prairie Flying Service in Regina for my first day on the job.
Mr. Robert (Bob) MacPherson, ‘Captain Bob’ to his friends, sat me down and filled me in that yes, I was to be his personal assistant, but I was also to be trained in sales. This was news to me as it was not mentioned in the interview. I had grown up working in the family general store and worked retail throughout high school, so was fairly comfortable with the idea. Little did I know at the time what was to come, and here we are 30 plus years later.
I remember when I first started creating spec sheets and seeing the avionics lists and thinking, “I will never remember what all these things are.” Back then it was all Cessna and the new stuff was King Avionics. I did not yet have a pilot’s licence so did not understand what the items were and how they worked. Bob very generously allowed me to obtain my pilots licence with the aircraft we had in inventory, which was extra educational as I ended up using 5 different aircraft to obtain my private licence.
I can’t believe how much the industry has changed in the past 30 years, but, to be truthful, 30 years is a long time. I used to have to physically take photos of an aircraft, with a camera, take them down to the photo shop to have them developed. Then glue them to a piece of paper and mail them, through the post office, to the client and wait till they received them and got back to us. We advertised in the COPA newspaper, and the Western Producer. Wow, things were a much slower pace back then. The internet was just an idea at that time. We did have a lot more aircraft that we bought and put into inventory, so we had them on the ramp and folks just dropped in and gave you a cheque and flew home.
Bob always liked to be the first with new technology, so we were one of the very first to be online with advertising with Aircraft Shopper Online when they first started up. Bob bought the first handheld GPS that was available. When Bob retired and I bought him out in 2000, things were going well till 9/11 happened. That hit hard for me and was a very good learning tool for the future. When I moved the company to Alberta in 2007, things really got busy. I could barely keep up, but it was a lot of fun. When the dealerships came and went, I wasn’t sure how it would affect my business overall, but it didn’t slow things down at all. If anything, I had new freedom and sold everything including a couple of helicopters. (Love Helicopters, they are so very cool!) It has been a fantastic career; I have really enjoyed all the changes and different aspects of it. I still miss the folks in Saskatchewan and especially Regina. There will always be a special place in my heart for them. I have been very blessed to have met so many amazing people from all over the world, many of whom will remain friends for the rest of my life.
I look forward to the future travel in retirement where I can stop in and visit folks that I have not actually met and see more of the towns that I have been to so many times, but only spent time at the airport. I was so fortunate to have seen so much of Western and Northern Canada from the air when doing all the tours in the Cessna Caravan. Not many folks have the chance to go where that aircraft can take you and the amazing sites this county has to offer.
I find as I reflect back on my aviation career, I remember more and more the people I have met and known. Many of the ones I have known all my career are also retiring, so I know my timing is right for the change. Out with the old and in with the new as they say, time for the young folks to take the next chapter forward. I have been through so many changes over the years, and I see major ones coming again.
Thank you so much to all of you that made my career a wonderful experience, and also to those of you who made it very challenging! I learnt a lot from the tough ones as well as the kind ones, and we all need to learn! You may all be in a book one day, (the names will be changed to protect the innocent of course). I will carry these life and relationship lessons with me going forward and I know they will benefit me in what I do next. I have a very long list of things I plan to do as I no longer do the day-to-day sales, but a few aviation items will still be a part of my life, like my aircraft leases, and may do the odd project here and there as well as historical appraisals if the need arises. I will take things as they come.
All the best to you all, thank you again everyone, continue to fly safe and have