Getting to know the new TSB Chair in 12 questions
25 September 2014
Posted by: Geneviève Corbin
As of 21 August 2014, the TSB has a new Chair: Ms. Kathy Fox. Her biography is rather impressive. Before joining the TSB in 2007, Ms. Fox explored many facets of the air transportation industry, from working as an air traffic controller, to being appointed NAV CANADA’s Vice-President of Operations, all while being a licensed pilot, a flight instructor and a sport parachuting enthusiast. In order to let us get to know her better, the new TSB leader kindly accepted to share some details on her career path and her life outside the office.
Q1: You started your career as an air traffic controller. Why did you choose this profession?
K. Fox: This is going to be a bit of a long answer. I always wanted to be a pilot. At 3 or 4 years old, I was climbing trees, pretending I was flying airplanes. By the time I was 16, I had to choose between going to university or learning to fly, because I couldn’t afford both. I chose university. When I graduated, I still wanted to be a pilot, but there weren’t any opportunities for women at that time. One of my friends from university had responded to an ad for air traffic controllers for Transport Canada, and so I said to myself “if I can’t fly airplanes, I could tell pilots where to go”. That’s how and why I became an air traffic controller; to be a part of the piloting world.
Q2: Who’s your biggest inspiration?
K. Fox: It’s hard to say, because I’ve had a lot of people in my life who have inspired me in one way or another, but I can definitely say that Canadians Rosella Bjornson, Deanna Brasseur, and other pioneer women in aviation have been great inspirations for me.
Q3: You did become a pilot. What’s your favorite thing about flying?
K. Fox: I like heights, I like being up high. The view from an airplane is spectacular and it’s very different from being on top of a building. I especially like flying at the end of the day when the sun is going down, the air is calm and you see birds flying at your level.
Q4: Are you a good cook?
K. Fox: No. I can cook for myself, but I can definitely not say that I am a good cook. I treat cooking like a science; I need a recipe to follow.
Q5: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
K. Fox: A little bit of both! I would say that I’m more of a night owl, but as I get older I tend to wake up earlier, so I have to discipline myself not to go to bed too late. I like to read at night, so that is usually what keeps me up late.
Q6: Do you have any pets at home?
K. Fox: I do, I have 2 cats: Lucky and Rosa. They’re pretty friendly and also very independent, which is good because I work long days.
Q7: What’s the most amazing trip you’ve taken so far?
K. Fox: It’s hard to say, because I have travelled a lot. I’ve been to the 7 continents, but I would say that my favorite trips were north, to the Canadian Arctic. It’s so spectacular there, and I think more people should see it.
Q8: Is there a place in the world that you haven’t been to yet and that you would really like to visit?
K. Fox: I’ve never been to South East Asia and I really want to go there someday.
Q9: On top of being a pilot, you also used to jump from planes with a parachute. When was your last jump?
K. Fox: The last time I jumped was in China, in 1980. I had actually stopped jumping in 1978, but because I was in China, leading the Canadian Parachute Team in an international competition, I figured I had to jump one more time.
Q10: Where did you learn to speak French?
K. Fox: I went to high school in Montreal, so I learned French there, but I wasn’t very skilled until I had to move to Sept-Îles, Quebec, to work as an air traffic controller. Later on, I was put in charge of the air traffic training program at the CEGEP in St-Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec. I thought it was a bit odd that they had put an Anglophone (who spoke French, but still an Anglophone) at the head of this new French program, so I decided to have two plaques outside my office: one was “Kathleen Fox”, and the other one was “Catherine Renard.” Being immersed in French by living and working in those Quebec areas is how I really learned to speak the language.
Q11: In 2004, you were inducted into the Quebec Air and Space Hall of Fame. What does that mean?
K. Fox: Quebec has a hall of fame to recognize pioneers in aviation and space. I was quite honored and humbled to be inducted in recognition of my contributions to aviation in Canada, even though I thought I was too young to be in a museum. I had a long history in aviation that was well known, having been involved in air traffic controlling, flying, and parachuting. At one point, I was the president of the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association — youngest, first female president and longest serving. I was very honoured that they thought it was worth nominating me for the hall of fame.
Q12: What are you afraid of?
K. Fox: I used to be afraid of being trapped under water, and that’s one of the reasons why I took Underwater Egress Training, and have been a proponent of float plane safety. It’s ok to be afraid of things, but I think that it’s important to face our fears and not let them hold us back from doing what we want to do in life.
With her remarkable life and work experiences, as well as her great wisdom and knowledge, there is no doubt that Ms. Fox will lead the TSB into its 25th year and beyond in a purposeful and dedicated way.
Geneviève Corbin is a Strategic Communications Advisor at the TSB. She has worked in various communications related fields within the public service, and has committed to a serious and permanent relationship with her smart phone. She’s an avid runner, a wife and a proud mommy.
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