Submitted by Ben Ankenbauer Mon, 07/30/2018 - 10:37


Aero Skills Top Gun Competitors Left to Right: Devon McGregor, Gabriela Rodriguez Gil, Christopher Munger, Dan Oelrich, Michael Marshall, Erick Beltran, Jandre Smit, and Ray Wanner.

The Aero Skills season is here and was kicked off in a fantastic way in the heart of downtown Kelowna. Even the local forest fires abated to give us clear skies for the event! The local Block Party brought in thousands of visitors and interested eyes who watched our Aero Technician contestants at work, and what a show it was. With some of our competitors finishing mere seconds after one another, the challenge was tough, and perfection was key!

Firstly, we want to give a HUGE thank you to all our competitors! It’s not easy to come out in front of hundreds of spectators and put in one’s best work while not succumbing to the pressures put upon you. It was wonderful to get to meet each of you and amazing to see you in action! You are all a credit to yourselves, your trade, and your company. Speaking of company, a big thanks to KF Aerospace for sending over 8 of their best structural technicians to compete for the mantle of Top Gun!

The exhibition events were terrific, showcasing each of the tech’s talents and abilities. Each team was made up of a junior and a senior technician working together to do the best job in the shortest time. However, as quality is far more important in the aviation industry than quantity, we had some real “tortoise and hare” moments with the technicians that took a longer time, generally winning out on points purely because they made a superior product.

The exhibition events were “Rivet Shoot” which entailed riveting an aluminum cargo door sill plate multiple times over ensuring that the spacing was equal and the rivets were even. The next showcase was called “Clean Cut.” This event was all about cutting a square hole in the skin of a plane without damaging the stringer attached beneath it…Tricky! Lastly we demonstrated the “Out the Window” event which had our contestants removing all the rivets that they had placed in the first exhibition! The tricky part with this was that the holes left had to be clean enough to be riveted again! While the competition was fierce for 2nd and 3rd place there was a clear winner coming in 1st; congratulations to Dan Oelrich and Jandre Smit, Western Canada’s Exhibition Overall champions!

Finally and importantly, the Top Gun Aero Skills Tournament results! This challenge saw our technicians fabricate a widget out of sheet metal and rivets, disassemble part of this device, and then reassemble it again! This requires the technicians to be precise in every way as one mess up could ruin the entire device to come! We had four seniors and four juniors face off against one another of the same category to find our regions finest structural technicians. After a hard-fought build and three rounds of Top Gun competitions, the results are in:

Senior Top Gun Junior Top Gun

1st – Dan Oelrich 1st – Gabriela Rodriguez Gil

2nd – Michael Marshall 2nd – Erick Beltran

3rd – Devon McGregor 3rd – Jandre Smit

A big Shout out goes to Dan Oelrich, Western Canada’s Top Gun Senior, and Gabriela Rodriguez Gil as Western Canada’s Top Gun Junior! These titles will now see them $1,000 heavier and heading off to Tucson, AZ, to compete for the Can Am National Top Gun championship! Taking place on Dec 15th, the Top Gun Finals will be a fantastic way to kick off the winter.

As a one-stop-shop for hiring aviation technicians, Aircraft Technologies Group (ATG) can fill your aviation contract today! Give us a shout to see how we can help you!