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 email@example.com
Sandford (Sandy) McLeod is the President/CEO of Tower Aerospace Inc. He has been with CASI since 1989 – 27 years and is a Senior Member.
What is your most memorable CASI experience so far?
My most memorable experience was giving my first paper on the Future Role of the Canadian Space Industry, at the ASTRO 2006 conference. The topic, “Canada’s Role in Space: Socialization, Commercialization and Industrialization of Space” broached the idea that Space could be opened up to Industry. I spoke about how we must support and grow Space Science and Manufacturing activities; meaning industrial growth and employment. It was a standing room only audience with attendees from North America and Europe.
At first, the reaction from the crowd was mixed then it became an overwhelming response as really no one up to that time had been addressing that topic. I spent seven months researching and writing: it was like tackling all of Space itself! The topic was brand new and wide open in scope. Today, the Space Industry is burgeoning around the world. The presentation was an opening shot at commercialization. At the time, the concept of profit was greatly feared as industry was seen as taking over Science. The U.S. had not even opened up yet – Space X and Elon Musk – had not been heard of at that point. We needn’t worry though, as Science will always prevail and lead in Space.
What’s the highest altitude and speed you’ve reached?
At the age of 18, I was an engineer in the Air Force in the back seat of a T-33 at 40,000 ft. cruising at about 400kts over Lake Winnipeg. It was an early morning training mission and I saw the blackness and vastness of space and the stars through the canopy. Off to the west, l could see the curvature of the earth. That scene is burned forever in my memory.
What is your current job?
I have been the President, CEO and Founder of Tower Group of Companies: Tower Aircraft Hardware, Tower Wheel and Brake and Tower Aerospace Products Ltd. since their inception in 1978. We consolidated those companies under Tower Aerospace Inc. in 1990. In addition to my regular duties, I carry out public relations training exercises and attend trade shows and international trade meetings. Recruiting is a big thing with me. Talent is valuable.
What is the favourite moment of your career thus far?
My first presentation to CASI in 2006 in Montreal was a huge step up for me and a strong step toward Space. There have been two more presentations since. The world is advancing rapidly in Space Technologies and Canada must stay in the lead.
What was your childhood dream job?
My childhood dream job was to be a fighter pilot and on retirement to become a Senior Executive in the Aerospace Industry. I have done most of that, however, I missed the Fighter Pilot route due to an eye defect which I later outgrew.
Guilty pleasure: what can you not live without?
The experience of having young Engineers, Scientists and Pilots creating and testing the most advanced equipment in the world and advancing safe flight for everyone. And now Space, Science, engineering and Flight. It’s my life.
If Hollywood made a movie of your life; who would you like to see play the lead role?
Robert Redford. He’s a man that cares about people and life and what he can contribute to society.
What is your favourite Aero or Astro activity?
To research and deliver current answers addressing the problem areas of the overlap between what can be done and what is being done, and do it better regarding how we will survive in the Space Environment once there.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever been offered?
A quote from the late Peter Lougheed, former Premier of Alberta, has always resonated with me: “Stay the course, and never quit. Above all, believe in yourself”.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek for sure. Simply we are going there.
What decision in your life would you most like to change and why?
I would choose to be more open with my family, friends and colleagues about the realities of building an international corporation.