Did Fatherhood Cost a Pilot His Wings?

Flying was Dave Andrews’ dream. But family caused him to rethink his work in aviation.

As an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Andrews flew military operations and supported humanitarian aid missions. He flew the prime minister of Canada and when he did the call sign for that plane was Can Force One. On a trip to the United States, he flew the prime minister into Joint Base Andrews – which Air Force One calls home.

After the military, Andrews did what many former military pilots did. He flew commercial, getting in the cockpit of the Boeing 737-Max and in it, he flew long routes that might take him to London Heathrow or to Honolulu on the other side of the world. “I was gone 15, 16 days a month,” he said. Where he woke up was anyone’s guess.

It was a great life. But then his priorities shifted.

His son was born, and his wife, a doctor, didn’t have much flexibility. Not being home for less than half the month wasn’t a viable option. So he chose to make a change, in this case getting out of the cockpit and moving into the regulatory side of aviation.

“Parenting is probably more difficult than the most difficult day I had in an airplane,” Andrews said. “Sometimes it’s boring as hell. You’re playing with a one-and-a-half year-old, that’s not stimulating.”

But now he is embracing his role as a Lead Dad. “It’s good to know that men are taking on a nontraditional role,” he said. “Women are going to say, ‘oh, please welcome to the club’. It’s still good to have some bros to talk about it.”

Listen to Dave speak more about the thrill of flying and the rewards of Lead Dadding on EP 4 of The Company of Dads podcast, dropping Tuesday.