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CASI turns the spotlight on its members who are making an impact across the country and around the globe. These members exemplify the mission and vision of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute. We gladly highlight our members as part of our mandate to make it the place to foster national pride and international esteem for Canada’s accomplishments in aeronautics, space and related technologies. If you are interested in participating or nominating another member for the spotlight, please contact Danielle Tremblay at danielle@casi.ca


In today’s Spotlight we meet the fascinating Dr. Parvez Kumar. Dr. Kumar is a Fellow of the Institute and has been a CASI member since 1978, 39 years!

What is your most memorable experience as a CASI member so far?
I have many fond memories of CASI. I especially enjoyed attending conferences where I‘d occasionally meet up with former colleagues from Europe. I was the Ottawa Branch President in the early 1980’s and that was both challenging and fulfilling.  As a former member of The Royal Aeronautical Society in London, I was knowledgeable in the workings of a learned society.

Dr. Kumar's book

What is your current job?
I am now retired, living in Sooke on Vancouver Island. I give the occasional lecture and courses at the University of Victoria and to other learned societies in the Victoria area.  I published an autobiography in 2008 ‘The Cry of The Eagle – The Life and Times of An Aerospace Engineer’ that covers my life and career until 1990. It can be obtained from Trafford Publishing. [Note: this Canadian company was bought out by a US company shortly after my book came out].  I self-published the sequel entitled ‘In the Shadow of The Eagle’.

What is the favourite moment of your career thus far?
I have many, many favourite moments.  Here are just a few:  the view of the Earth from 65,000 feet, many test flights with the CAA and industry (B747, BAC111, A300, light twins and single-engine aircraft).  I once had an engine blow up in my face during the flight which made for an interesting power out landing and one memorable test flight was going up in the Shuttleworth Trust’s vintage Tiger Moth to put it through its paces – leather helmet, goggles, white scarf and all!  Ah – Red Baron and Snoopy!

What’s the highest altitude and speed you’ve reached?
65,000 ft. and Mach 2.2, during a proving flight of Concorde in the mid-1970’s when I was with the CAA.  It was like an early astronaut’s view of the Earth – the curvature at the horizon was obvious!

What was your childhood dream job?
I always wanted to be a pilot but my eyesight put paid to that.  So obviously the next option was to design aircraft and work in that industry.  That ultimately led to Space, when the NRC asked me to set up Canada’s role in the International Space Station program in 1982.  Later on I got hired as the Astronaut Training Manager for Canada’s second batch of astronauts (Chris Hadfield, Mike McKay, Julie Payette, Dave Williams). My Basic Training Program was taken up by NASA for their new astronauts!

Guilty pleasure: what can you not live without?
At my age it’s a few sips of single malt whisky as a sundowner followed by a gourmet dinner (my wife of 47 years and I are both great cooks!) with good wine. Living in France for the A300 program led me to these guilty pleasures!

errol_flynn_pirateWho would you like to see play the lead role if Hollywood made a movie of your life? 

I was asked by Trafford Publishing whether I would like a movie made of my life.  I declined on the grounds that nobody would go to see it!  I most certainly would not take part in it since I am no longer the handsome swashbuckling pilot that I once used to be! As a kid I saw every Errol Flynn movie where he was a pirate!

What is your favourite Aero or Astro activity?
Reading the above you may gather that I have no specific favourites, only those that push the boundaries to the limits of technology and human endurance.  Hence my activities these days are trying to keep abreast of the latest in aerospace.

Where would you like to go that you haven’t been yet?
To the Space Station obviously, but that is not an option!

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Neither!  Although I was Chief Guest at a Fandom Conference in Ottawa once and there were Trekkies and Darth Vaders everywhere!  They wanted me back the following year and I sent an unsuspecting colleague of mine to do the job.  He nearly killed me for that!

What is the best career advice you’ve ever been offered?
Push the envelope in whatever you do and believe in yourself.

 What decision in your life would you most like to change and why?
I never go back on a decision. But there are a few personal tragedies that I often wonder if I could have prevented happening by doing things differently.