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.

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