Canadian Air Force: Fighter pilot training program premieres tomorrow night on Discovery Channel

With exclusive and unprecedented access to one of the world’s most elite jet fighter training schools in Cold Lake, Alberta, Jetstream chronicles the sheer grit, determination, unparalleled resilience and skill it takes to survive "Top Gun" training. In this eight-part series, follow elite members of the Canadian Air Force, who have been selected to learn to fly one of the most advanced supersonic tactical fighter jets in the world: the $35-millon dollar CF-18 Hornet. Jetstream premieres Tues., Jan. 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery Channel. Over the course of nine months - from the first day of classes to graduation - join these handpicked pilots from classroom to cockpit as they progress from the multi-million dollar flight simulator to the adrenaline-charged first solo flight and the complex war games that complete their training and battle-readiness. In each episode of Jetstream explore the state-of-the art technology reserved for only the world’s best pilots and see how this complex technology works from inside the cockpit. As aeronautic technology and tactics continue to evolve, witness the evolution of these top-ranked students as they strive to excel not only as pilots, but also as engineers, strategists and weapons experts.

With unprecedented access to the military training, the students and the instructors, Jetstream tells the true story surrounding the extraordinary vocation of protecting Canadian and International air space with one of the world’s most advanced flying weapons. From the inner sanctum of the 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron at Canadian Forces Base, Cold Lake, Alberta, follow these future warriors, as they must prove themselves every day in a battle school so intense not everyone will make the cut.

The high-stakes human struggle for personal and professional victory is complemented with cutting-edge CGI and graphics that illustrate the complexities of the pilots’ training. Jetstream teamed up with Emmy® Award-winning animator Adam de Bosch Kemper and a talented group of artists to create these extraordinary visual effects.

Episode highlights from Jetstream include:

Jetstream: "The Rookies"
Tues., Jan. 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

First up is ground school, where the students are introduced to the 858 page CF-18 Hornet Flight Manual. The next hurdle is the Human Centrifuge test, an extreme challenge that tests their body’s ability to withstand the punishing G-forces in a fighter jet. The Centrifuge is like an amusement ride on steroids and pilots call it a torture chamber. With their first flights just days away, they need to write their Flight Manual and Red Page exams. A passing grade is 100% on the Red Pages - no margin for error of any kind. But no pressure, right?

Jetstream: "Members Only"

Tues., Jan. 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
The students are about to fly the F-18 Hornet for the first time. But even before taking a single flight, one of the rookies calls it quits. In a matter of hours Lt. Dave McLeod gets the call that he has been chosen for the spot. Meanwhile, Air Force tradition dictates that once a pilot goes solo he or she earns a "call sign," a nickname that symbolizes his or her identity as a Hornet pilot. As the celebration gets underway the rookies anxiously await their new handles.

Jetstream: "Blood On The Page"
Tues., Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

It is summer in Cold Lake, Alberta and the temperature on the tarmac hits 100 degrees. Up higher, under the transparent canopy of the F-18 Hornet, a pilot can feel like a bug pinned under a magnifying glass. The students are about to enter one of the most intense and terrifying stages of the course - formation flying. The art of sticking together. Meanwhile, the Progress Review Board is meeting about one of the trainees whose future as a fighter pilot now hangs in the balance. After eight days, the final verdict is delivered.

Jetstream: "Darkness Falls"
Tues., Jan. 29 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

The students are entering the tactical training phase. This is the time when jet pilots must become jet fighters. A challenging mission finds one rookie’s landing seriously close to claiming three lives. In the fighter world, conformity is the lifeline they all depend on, knowing you can trust a guy to follow orders without question. But one of the students is questioning the orders and it isn’t sitting well with the instructors.

Jetstream: "Fight’s On"
Tues., Feb. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

This is the midway point through training and the pilots are about to take on "dog fighting." The only real rule of "dog fighting" is that there are no rules. Coming out of a battle alive requires nerves of steel. Time is short and the instructors have their work cut out for them: To reach inside the hearts of six congenial young Canadians and bring out the warrior in them.

Jetstream: "Dream Killer"
Tues., Feb. 12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

At 410, every course sees at least one pilot who can’t cut it. This course has already seen two. If that isn’t daunting enough, the remaining six are about to enter the part of the program known as "The Dream Killer." These missions are fluid and dynamic. And it is that dynamic nature which will - in very short order - shoot down another of the group’s star students.

Jetstream: "Do or Die"
Tues., Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

At this point the instructors are hell bent on driving home a single message to the rookies - death can happen to you! The next mission is Low Level Flying. Diving straight for the dirt then skimming above the tree line at hundreds of kilometres per hour. Meanwhile, one final hour in the CF-18 will determine the next 20 years of one student’s life. The Progress Review Board is back in session and it looks as if things have hit rock bottom this time.

Jetstream: "Bomb’s Away"
Tues., Feb. 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

The fighter pilot rookies are in the homestretch, just a few short weeks away from graduation. But that doesn’t mean they can relax. Their next mission has them refuelling the jets in mid-air, dropping bombs and shooting guns at ground targets. Finally, after nine long, hard and sometimes heartbreaking months of training, it is graduation day. The graduates can finally shake the annoying title of "rookie" and become bona fide fighter pilots.

The elite students in the Jetstream cockpit are:

* Lieutenant Shamus Allen, Peterborough, Ontario.

Allen has an outgoing personality and independent spirit. He enlisted in the military at 18 and graduated from Royal Military College with a degree in mechanical engineering. Allen has dreamt of being a fighter pilot since a fourth grade field trip found him up in a Cessna 150.

* Captain Tim Coffin, Pisquid, Prince Edward Island.
This impossibly positive pilot craves a challenge - and has never met one that he couldn’t master. Coffin attended Royal Military College and obtained a degree in business administration. He was inspired by his older sister who joined the military four years before him.

* Captain Mike Dunning, Richmond, British Columbia.

Dunning is the only student on this course who did not earn his degree at Royal Military College. When this funny, sarcastic and down-to-earth guy doesn’t have his head in the books studying, he finds stress relief on the rugby field.

* Captain Riel Erickson, Millarville, Alberta.
Erickson has always been aggressive, athletic, competitive, a hard worker and is used to being the best at everything she attempts. She graduated from Royal Military College with a degree in mechanical engineering and if Erickson completes this program she will become only the second active woman fighter pilot in Canada.

* Captain Yannick Jobin, Ste-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, Quebec.
Jobin was a serious competitive gymnast from the age of eight to 18, but soon traded in the high bar for high flying. What this modest and reserved rookie didn’t trade in is his drive, passion and intensity. Jobin graduated from Royal Military College with a degree in physics.

* Captain Mike Lewis, Calgary, Alberta.
Lewis graduated Royal Military College with a bachelor in business. For anyone in the fighter force, this is the guy you want on your team. The instructors have high hopes for this senior student with many hours under his belt. Lewis is a true military man.

* Captain Tristan Mckee, Whitby, Ontario.
It was in high school that Mckee made the decision to apply to Royal Military College to jumpstart his career aspirations of becoming a pilot. He has always been studious, methodical and a by-the-book kind of guy - habits that should serve anyone well during intense training.

* Lieutenant Dave McLeod, Victoria, British Columbia.

McLeod is in a unique situation in that he arrives in Cold Lake a month after the course started, filling in for one of the pilots who unexpectedly left program. For a hard working, focused pilot with positive attitude like McLeod’s, a little catch up shouldn’t be a problem. A graduate of Royal Military College, he was inspired by his older brother who is a commercial pilot.

Putting the rookies through their paces at Cold Lake, some of the instructors featured in Jetstream include:
* Major Mike Ayling, call sign "Flayling"
Ayling is the Standards Officer who keeps a close watch on the students’ progress. He’s known for high expectations and a low tolerance for attitude.

* Major John Argue, call sign "Spanky"
Argue is the Deputy Commanding Officer, a combat veteran and one of the most senior instructors.

* Captain Patrick Pelletier, call sign "Peanut"
Pelletier has cheated death several times. He’s a guy who likes to live on the edge in his airtime and his spare time

Do you have the right stuff for the cockpit? Visit (or directly at for immersive interactive online elements that enhance the Jetstream experience.

Learn about aeronautic technology and aerial warfare tactics, plus "all things CF-18" including specs, video, diagrams and photos. Live the "Top Gun" experience vicariously through the 410 Squadron Cougar students with personal video and profiles, video clips and exclusive bonus content including interviews, officer reactions, behind-the-scenes featurettes and audio. The site also features a realistic flight simulator game that replicates the experience of being a student fighter pilot at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, including learning how to take off and land the jet, fly a bomb run, work through a dogfight and complete a mission.


Source: Canadian Forces (DND/CF) - By Holly Bridges - Discovery Channel News Release
For further information about Canadian Forces (DND/CF), click here

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