Man in charge
Carbonear native named CO of 103 Search and Rescue in Gander
Carbonear native Maj. Jim Pinhorn owes his love of flying to a group he joined as a youngster.
He was 13-years-old when he accompanied a couple of his buddies to a session of the 589 Air Cadet Squadron in his hometown. Over the next several years, Pinhorn dove headlong into the world of flight.
“Once we went to Argentia to go gliding with the cadets and once I got that first flight in the glider, I pretty much knew this is what I wanted to do,” the 41-year-old told The Compass.
Then Pinhorn completed the air studies program, received his glider pilot’s licence and his private pilot’s licence, as well as a glider instructor rating.
“The cadets in Carbonear are responsible for making me want to fly for a living,” said Pinhorn. “In fact, I joined the military to fly.”
In a way, it was those early days with the 589 squadron that laid the groundwork for Pinhorn to advance to his latest post.
Those days led to flying and flying led to search and rescue.
That’s why on June 24, Pinhorn was named the commanding officer of the 103 Search and Rescue Squadron in Gander. He replaces Maj. John Leroux.
It’s a big honour for Pinhorn to be named the CO for the busiest search and rescue operation in the country. Just recently, the group completed its 4,000 mission in Gander at an average of one call every two-and-a-half days.
From that, they’ve saved somewhere in the range of 2,500 lives.
That right there would make getting handed the keys a special moment in one’s career. It’s especially an honour given Pinhorn is a Newfoundlander.
“To get the opportunity to be the CO of a place like this with the missions that we do is pretty impressive,” he said. “It’s very humbling actually. I’m pretty happy.”
Falling in love
Pinhorn’s two loves converged while he was awaiting pilot training during his first post at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax.
That’s when he fell in love with search and rescue.
“It’s operational everyday,” said Pinhorn. “Most of what the military does, or a lot of what the military does, is training for an eventuality that may come every three years … Search and rescue is everyday. We’re continuously operational and we get to do what it is we trained for on a daily basis.
An extensive resume
After completing his pilot’s training in 2002, Pinhorn made a couple of stops at other SAR units around the country.
First, he flew for four years with the 444 Squadron based out of Goose Bay. That was followed a four year stint with the 417 Squadron in Cold Lake, Alta. Pinhorn made his return to Newfoundland when he began serving in Gander in 2008.
In his career, he’s been a part of hundreds of missions, and held a laundry list of positions like Operations Officer, Pilot Leader and Deputy Commanding Officer. For the last two years, Pinhorn has been completing the Joint Command Staff Programme (JCSP) by distance.
“I knew that once that was done, the plan was for me to take over as CO,” he said.
The change of command ceremony is always an important one at the base in Gander. There’s plenty to get done before the departing officer takes his final ride out of the base on a Cormorant helicopter.
Pinhorn had family there for the ceremony, so it was a pretty busy day for him. Still, he’s looking forward to the challenges that come with being the man in charge.
It helps that the 103 Search and Rescue Squadron is an efficient operation. “This squadron runs very well,” he said.
To get the opportunity to be the CO of a place like this with the missions that we do is pretty impressive. Jim Pinhorn
Carbonear native Jim Pinhorn is the new commanding officer of the 103 Search and Rescue Squadron in Gander.