From the RCAF to Lockheed Martin Canada: Centennial Tales

From the RCAF to Lockheed Martin Canada: Centennial Tales

Meet David Lowthian

May 31, 2024

As the Royal Canadian Air Force celebrates 100 years of serving and protecting Canadians this year, we are introducing a few of our incredible Lockheed Martin Canada employees with previous Air Force careers. These employees have dedicated their lives to Canada’s defence, and to this day continue to support the RCAF in its mission of keeping Canadian skies secure alongside Lockheed Martin Canada.

Next in the series, we spoke with David Lowthian, Program Manager for the Future Aircrew Training (or FAcT) Program at Lockheed Martin Canada, about what has inspired him through his time with the RCAF and Lockheed Martin Canada. 

Air force headshot of David Lowthian

David Lowthian

(Major-General (Retired)), OMM, MSM, CD

From building model airplanes to flying them as a career:

David’s love of aircraft began in his childhood and has followed him throughout his life. He jokes that his family would say that it was the iconic movie Top Gun which inspired the start of his career, but in reality, it was growing up watching Robert Conrad in “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” which sparked his passion for flight at just 12 years old. 

“I spent my youth building World War II airplane models and loved the detail and the history. My father was an engineer in the army but earned his master's in Aeronautical Engineering. I didn’t know that a career as a pilot in the RCAF was even an opportunity that I could pursue. My dad connected me with some military aviators, and I learned that it was an attainable career path. In 1992, I graduated my pilot training in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and my father pinned my wings on my chest - a proud moment!”

From that moment on, David found himself constantly learning, growing and having experiences he never would have imagined possible. As a pilot, David flew a variety of historical planes – including the workhorse of the RCAF, the CC-130 Hercules.

“I flew the CC-130 Hercules at 429 Squadron in Trenton, Ontario. I flew global operations on the E and the H Models and then went on to instruct on this outstanding airplane as Chief Flying Instructor at 426 Squadron. I flew the Mighty Herc for eight years.”

What was the most memorable lesson from his time in the RCAF?

To this day, David uses the skills he learned in the RCAF in his daily life. He approaches problems the same way he would tackle a difficult mission in the air.

“Aviate/Navigate/Communicate: That is how a pilot prioritizes their task load, that is how a pilot controls a challenging situation or predicament, and that is how a pilot succeeds on their mission. This same principle applies elsewhere – fly the plane, know where you are going, and share and reach out for information.”

How his history in the RCAF impacts his current role with Lockheed Martin Canada:

Today, David is a Program Manager for the Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) Program – a position he feels especially passionate about because of the opportunity to support future generations as they follow the same path he took years ago. The FAcT Program is delivering renewed aircrew training services for the RCAF, to ensure Canada’s military pilots and aircrew have world-class skills and capabilities.

“When I learned that Lockheed Martin was committing itself to the Future Aircrew Training (FAcT) Program for the RCAF, I was immediately interested – Lockheed Martin’s leadership and expertise in turnkey training is world-class. The FAcT Program is a generational opportunity and a total training enterprise that I found to be well-suited to my skillsets and background.”

He is proud to continue to contribute to Canada’s defence, now and into the future, using the skills he developed in the air force. 

“In the RCAF I took pride in building technical knowledge, executing mission excellence and serving Canada as a professional, as a team player and as a leader. These same features and attributes are prevalent throughout Lockheed Martin for the same reasons and motivators. At Lockheed Martin, we are serving our country – we accelerate mission readiness.”

What is the significance of the RCAF Centennial?

For David personally, he views this milestone through the lens of teamwork, collaboration, and a shared commitment to Canada’s defence. 

“To me, the RCAF symbolizes excellence, innovation, and teamwork. It is not just about an aircraft in flight and those who are at the controls – it is about what it has taken and what it takes everyday to design, build, maintain, prepare, sustain, and support the air force’s missions. Every member of the RCAF is behind RCAF operations and our ability to integrate and operate with Army, Navy, and Allied partners.”

For Canadians across the country, David says the 100-year celebration is not only about recognizing a decorated past, but looking ahead to a boundless future.

“The Centennial represents 100 years of generational pride and commitment to Canada, our fellow Canadians and to our international partners. It is not so much about looking back as it is about looking forward – new aircraft, new capabilities - beyond the stratosphere and into space. What will the next 100 years look like and how will Canada and Canadians take part, contribute and lead?”

Bud Wight and Gennifer Stainforth at the 2023 Air Force show
David and Nancy Lowthian at David’s Outgoing Change of Command Parade at 8 Wing Trenton

His advice for anyone interested in a career with the RCAF?

David is now watching proudly as his daughter takes on a career of her own with the RCAF. To her, and to anyone else considering joining, he offered some advice: 

“Don’t look back, give it your all and be yourself. I joined at the age of 24 and was relatively mature - I think that these were my guiding principles. My daughter joined the RCAF at 17 and she has had the same approach to her learning, her profession, and her dedication to her crews and her missions.

I didn’t know before I considered joining that a career in the RCAF was accessible and attainable for anyone and everyone in Canada. Once I learned that I had a chance to qualify and join the RCAF ranks, I didn’t look back, I gave it my all and I was always myself. You can too!”

Stay tuned for the next monthly installment in this series!

David Lowthian and his daughter standing in uniform, posing for the camera.
David and Nancy Lowthian in North Bay for Marina Lowthian’s Promotion to Captain