Cool Jobs


From flight paths to football passes … meet guys who made cool career choices

Capt. Bruce Peters, pilot

On a regular basis Capt. Bruce Peters can be waking up in Airdrie, Vancouver, Chicago or a hot-spot destination in the Caribbean or the Hawaiian islands.

With more than 17,000 hours under his belt, the WestJet pilot has the ultimate frequent-flier-miles occupation. But with those perks comes huge responsibilities on a daily basis.

“My schedule really varies month to month. I could be flying east, west, oceanic down to the Caribbean or Hawaii, or transporters flights to the United States,” says the 14-year WestJet veteran. “To see some green plants, beach, waves and warm weather is a nice reprieve from the Canadian winters.”

The biggest challenge to this mini-vacation lifestyle is jet lag, time changes and the body clock waking up in the dark, early morning hours.

“Twenty-four hours in Hawaii sounds great. But if there’s anything about this job that is unpleasant it’s the fatigue management and flopping time zones all over the place,” he says.

The thought of flying came early to the experienced aviator. After a brief layover career as an architectural engineer, Peters earned his commercial pilot’s licence in 1991 and was soon piloting such crafts as Cessna, Hawker Siddley and Learjet before becoming a wingman on the white-and-blue WestJet 737.

Fourteen years later a lot has changed in the airline industry, including the upgraded (in 2001) digital-loaded 737, 700NG (Next Generation) aircraft.

“The old airplanes did have a rudimentary autopilot, but the only flight management computer that you had on the old airplane was the one sitting in your brain,” says Peters who now leaves a bit more of the flying to the Automatic Flight Director System.

Regardless of his many hours in the air, the WestJet training captain still marvels at the complexity of modern day aviation, and he has great respect for all involved, from the flight crew to ground maintenance through to air traffic controllers.

“From my experience it’s amazing how they can make the aviation dance work co-ordinating multiple airplanes,” Peters says. “Airplanes these days are immensely complicated machines. For the amount of flights that happen, it’s pretty remarkable with the reliability of the entire system.”

Bruce Aalhus, videographer

On any given day Bruce Aalhus can be found hanging off a mountainside, rubbing elbows with celebrities and high-profile athletes, or traversing a disaster scene.

Being on front-line news for more than 15 years, Aalhus has been hauling his Global News camera to all corners of Calgary and beyond, from Red Deer to Medicine Hat or west to the British Columbia border.

“Even after this many years no two days are the same,” says the athletic cameraman. “What makes (this job) interesting is showing up in the morning you just never know what your day is going to bring.”

From the exhilarating to the mundane, the experienced lens man can be photographing politicians, reporting on a deadly tragic house fire, navigating 17-hour days on the front lines of a national flood story or chasing coyotes beside a busy thoroughfare.

“You may cover something that is pretty tragic – a car accident that involves kids, something pretty sad – then half an hour later you’re at another positive event. You have to take the good with the bad,” says Aalhus.

“The lens is a bit of a buffer sometimes,” he adds. “You do feel like you’re removed from it in some ways because you’re looking at it through the lens.”

Aalhus recalls days of standing centre field during the Grey Cup, shooting backstage at a Who concert, being flown to Disneyland for the day, broadcasting live from the Calgary Tower roof or following royals William and Kate around the Calgary Zoo.

Even more surreal, a casual two-hour chat with James Bond actor Roger Moore has become a career highlight.

“You’re sitting there talking, thinking, ‘I’m talking to James Bond.’ Roger Moore may not be a big deal, but when you’re a kid watching him and then one day you’re sitting with him it’s a surreal experience,” recalls Aalhus.

“I think that’s what keeps any of us doing the job,” he adds. “Every once in a while there’s one of those things that you just know, ‘I wouldn’t get to do this if I wasn’t doing this job.’”

Chris Glass, football coach

Like the hardened white lace threaded through brown pigskin leather, Chris Glass and football are virtually inseparable.

When he’s not performing his WestJet operational performance analyst duties, the linebacker-built Glass is helping transform the minds and talents of local junior-level football players.

Growing up around football royalty, Glass bleeds football brown.

“When I was nine years old my dad started a job as vice president (Peter Glass, VP of finance and administration) with the Calgary Stampeders so I grew up around the game as a kid,” says the George McDougall Mustangs co-head coach. “My father’s been a pretty big influence on me. It’s always been a family tradition for us.”

As a training camp assistant coach with the Stampeders and Dave Dickenson’s Passing Academy, Glass had the honour to cart around the Grey Cup this past April to schools and WestJet.

Also helping with the Airdrie Raiders Football Club, coaching came early to the 35-year-old Glass – immediately after graduating from Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School. For 16 years he’s been reaping the rewards of developing camaraderie and young football minds.

“Some of the most unique, fun, outgoing personalities and some of the shyest kids get to come together on the football team. On the first day of school they don’t know each other very well (but) a week later they have 40 or 50 brothers,” says Glass, who is also a part-time DJ and vice-chairman of WestJet’s Proactive Communications Team.

Impressed with both the talent and the mindset of local athletes, Glass takes pleasure in seeing his chess-match-like coaching moves acted out on the field.

“On a very selfish level it’s an absolute blast to be able to challenge myself and to come up with new ways to interpret the sport. Airdrie has such a high level of athletes you can pretty much run a university or pro-style offence and have a lot of fun with it,” says Glass, who will be entwined with the gridiron game for many years to come.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of,” he adds. “In fact the older I get the more involved I get.”

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