The first pilot hired at STARS Manitoba base has been selected to lead the non-profit organization’s aviation division across Western Canada.

Dave Harding was recently named STARS’ chief aviation officer, replacing Dr. JN Armstrong who will continue as Chief Medical Officer after holding both roles for a number of years.

“We had some incredibly strong candidates for this role, both internally and externally,” said STARS President and CEO Andrea Robertson. “Dave’s strong leadership skills and breadth of experience will be a welcome addition to our leadership team.”

Harding has more than 30 years’ and 6,500 flight hours of experience in aviation as a helicopter and airplane pilot, both as a civilian and with the Canadian Forces. His love of flying began while growing up in Newfoundland and Labrador where he earned his pilot’s license for a glider at the age of 16 and his private pilot’s license the following year.

Since joining STARS in 2011 he has held a number of leadership roles at the Manitoba base including captain pilot, aviation base manager and base director. Harding was also the aviation lead on STARS’ fleet renewal project.

“It is an honour to have been chosen to represent such a select group of professionals,” Harding said. “We are fortunate to have an incredible team who dedicate their service to the preservation of life across the Prairie provinces and Eastern BC.”

Harding, who has flown nearly 800 missions with STARS, will continue to fly out of the Manitoba base part time.