Q&A with KF Flight Instructor Keith Kelly

June 3, 2024

On finding balance and fulfillment in KF’s military training program

Keith Kelly has carved out a fulfilling career as the Contractor Flight Safety Officer and a Phase 1 & 2 flight instructor on the Grob G120a at KF Aerospace’s military aircrew training program in Southport, Manitoba. Since relocating from Ottawa in 2007, Keith has found more than just a job; he’s found a community and a way of life that suits him perfectly. We delved into his experiences to find out why Southport has been his home base for over 16 years.

Q: Keith, what prompted your move to Portage and what attracted you to this role?

A: The role itself was the biggest draw. The chance to work with the RCAF offered a unique appeal, alongside the stability of a steady income. Being an instructor here means you’re not left worrying about how the weather might impact your earnings, which is a huge plus for me.

Q: What do you see as the primary benefits of working on the CFTS Program with KF Aerospace?

A: The work/life balance is unparalleled. Our schedule is mainly Monday to Friday, allowing me to be home for dinner with my family every night. It’s rare that weekends are required, and even then, only to catch up due to weather delays. Additionally, the job security that comes with our military contract means we’re compensated consistently, with the bonus of performance incentives and increasing vacation time the longer you’re here. Plus, the joy and fulfillment of flying and teaching motivated military students is incredibly rewarding.

Q: Living in the Southport area seems to have its perks. Can you share some advantages and what life is like there?

A: Absolutely, the convenience and quality of life here are fantastic. My commute is incredibly short, and everything you need is close by, from shopping in Winnipeg to local amenities in Portage la Prairie like grocery stores and restaurants. And then there’s Lake Manitoba, with its beautiful beach and campground, just a short drive away. The affordability of homes here makes a comfortable lifestyle very achievable on our wages. Seriously, you can still buy a nice family home in this area for under $400K! There’s not too many places in Canada where you can get a 1-bed condo for that, let alone a house and your own land.

Q: What would you say to someone considering taking a job out here?

This is a great job for those with families. You are home every night for dinner, the compensation and benefits are very good and with your extra time you have time to coach, take your kids to extracurriculars, or do whatever it is you like to do. There is a major city center less than an hour away – which is commutable to the program by the way – but most choose to live in Portage or the surrounding area.

Q: Could you describe the work culture and community of the CTFS program? 

A: We have an excellent team dynamic, with both military and civilian members collaborating closely to achieve our training goals. The program fosters a great balance between work and personal life, ensuring flexibility for family and personal commitments. It’s a community where open communication is encouraged across all levels, creating a supportive and inclusive environment.

Q: Finally, what would you say to someone considering a career with KF Aerospace in Southport?

A: This role is ideal for those with families looking for stability, excellent compensation, and benefits, as well as the opportunity to engage in fulfilling work. Living here offers the best of both worlds—a tight-knit community with easy access to a major city center. It’s a place where you can truly balance a rewarding career with a rich personal life.

Interested in this role? KF Aerospace is hiring a CFTS Grob Flight Instructor Trainee NOW. Once certified, Qualified Flight Instructors can expect to earn between $92,491.26 and $102, 576.16. Apply now

About the CFTS Program

In 2005, KF Aerospace was awarded the Contracted Flying Training and Support (CFTS) Services contract to support pilot training for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

As the prime contractor of a team of top Canadian aerospace companies (collectively called Allied Wings), KF Aerospace established a turnkey operation at the Southport Airport (near Portage la Prairie, MB) with new facilities, training devices and courseware to satisfy the rigorous training requirements of the RCAF.

Operating four fleets of aircraft, KF Aerospace and partners provide ground school and simulator instruction, flight instruction and all of the support services for the program. The program is a fully integrated partnership between the Department of National Defence and the Allied Wings Flight Training Services Group – led by KF Aerospace.

Learn more about the opportunities with the CFTS Program and life in Southport/Portage.