Lt.-Col. Philippe Turcotte officially assumed command of the 2 Canadian Forces Flight Training School at 15 Wing Moose Jaw on Friday.

He took over the position from Lt.-Col. Riel Erickson, who is moving to Ottawa to take on the role of Executive Assistant to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.

"This is a very exciting moment," commented Turcotte. "It's a big unit. There's lots happening. It's emotional. I was here before as a student, back as an instructor, now as the commanding officer. It's very exciting."

Turcotte says as the commanding officer, his job will be to make sure the unit continues to evolve and continue the work of Erickson.

"She did great things for this unit. It's taking the ball while it's still in the air. Making sure that we continue the effort towards making this place inclusive and a super interesting training environment for the students."

Erickson, who arrived in Moose Jaw in August of 2020, described the day as bittersweet.

"It's a tough job coming here and leading. It's a big responsibility. The biggest thing I'm going to miss most about this place is the people. I can't describe that enough how blessed I've been with the team I've had."

The 2 Canadian Forces Flight Training School at 15 Wing Moose is one of the largest flying units in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Turcotte isn't planning on making any major changes in the near future.

"There's a lot of good work that has been done. I'm going to continue that good work. We need to work towards the RCAF reconstitution. There's a future aircraft training program that's coming in a few years to Moose Jaw and in the RCAF. It's an important piece. There's preparation that needs to happen. We need to keep building the unit to a higher number of instructors and students. The demand is extremely high in the RCAF for pilots."

Turcotte, who hails from Trois-Rivières, Que., moved to Moose Jaw in 2005 as a student.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and was posted back to 15 Wing Moose Jaw in 2013 to obtain an instructor qualification.

In 2016, he became the Canadian Senior National rep at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program in Texas.

Turcotte was promoted in 2021 and spent the last two years as a future aircrew training program director.

15 Wing Moose JawBack Row (L-R): Chief Warrant Officer Erik Keur, Chief Warrant Officer Neil Thorne. Front Row (L-R). Lt.-Col. Philippe Turcotte, Col. Jonathan Bouchard, Lt.-Col Riel Erickson.