Fighter pilot always dreamed of flying higher, faster

Cpt. Matthew Kutryk has always wanted to go higher and faster.

The Royal Canadian Air Force pilot first took to the skies at 16 when he got his glider’s licence through air cadets. From there, he kept wanting to go higher and faster.

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“When I got my glider licence it was amazing as a 16-year-old kid, but I wanted to go a little higher and a little faster, so I got my private licence—same thing. Flying those Cessnas was the most fun summer of my life, but I still wanted to go higher, faster,” he said.

From there, it was on to the RCAF, where trained as a pilot and was chosen to take on the F-18, which he’s been doing for four years now.

“That theme continued as my own personal motivation, to go higher and faster and that’s how I wound up on the F-18.”

Kutryk has flown faster than the speed of sound in the CF-18. How fast that feels depends on their reference point from the cockpit, he said.

“Now, when you’re really high and really fast, it doesn’t feel that significant,” he said. “When you’re low, even if you’re not super sonic, when you have the reference for the ground, brush, trees and whatnot moving, that’s when you get the sensation of speed.”

Kutryk didn’t fly faster than the speed of sound this weekend at the Fort St. John Air Show, however, as the sonic boom can shatter windows and set off car alarms. Still, he went as fast as he was able, and showed off the Canada 150 paint job on his jet for the crowd.

“We’re going to be showcasing the aerodynamic capability of Canada’s fighter jet, the CF-18,” he said. “So it’ll be a fully aerobatic show, taking that aircraft from it’s slowest speeds at a standstill to takeoff to the fastest speeds we’re able to fly in this area, which will be right below the speed of sound and exploiting the full aerodynamic capability of the airplane.”

All fighter pilots have a call sign, a tradition that dates back to the First World War, and Kutryk’s is “Glib.” When asked why that was his call sign, Kutryk just laughed.

“We keep the stories behind those call signs guarded pretty close,” he said.

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