Ron Eland is a commercial helicopter pilot whose professionalism has had many lives and raised safety standards for the aviation community. He is Canada’s first commercial helicopter pilot who was not previously a fixed-wing pilot.
Born in Vancouver, he spent his early years living on Texada Island. His flying career took off in 1967 and soon afterwards he began specializing in high altitude flying.
Today he is a pilot with Yellowhead Helicopters in McBride, where he continues to demonstrate selfless dedication during countless mountain rescue operations on Mount Robson and in Jasper National Park.
Earlier in his career, as a rescue coordinator in the Yukon’s Kluane National Park, the site of Canada’s highest mountain, he flew missions at extremely high altitudes often flying his helicopters perilously close to their operating limits, sometimes in blinding snowstorms. In one particularly dangerous mission he rescued nine climbers from above 17,000 feet on Mount Logan.
Ron Eland is the only Canadian to be awarded the U.S. Flight Safety Foundation’s Presidential Citation for Professional and Extraordinary Achievement. In 1993 he was awarded the Order of Canada.
Helicopter rescue work takes extraordinary skill and courage. To use his own words, “When I was young, I used to watch eagles because they were the best flyers ..their landings were perfect. If you can fly like an eagle, he said, you’ve got it made”. Ron Eland learned well from the eagles.