2015 DCAM recipient, Women in Aviation

Catherine Lynn Press
CEO, Chinook Helicopters.com
Entrepreneur, Flight Instructor, Airline Transport Pilot, Canada and the U.S.
As the first female flight instructor in Canada, Cathy Press is CEO of ChinookHelicopters.com, a flight training school based out of Abbotsford, British Columbia, which has become a national leader (with 25% of the market) in training some of the best helicopter pilots in Canada and around the world.

In fact, as someone who started flying at the tender age of 11 and did her first solo flight at 16, Cathy has a long history of persevering toward big challenges and goals in her extraordinary aeronautical career.

Cathy took over Chinook Helicopters from her father in 1997 and has grown the business from three to 13 helicopters (3 Bell 206s, 4 R44s and 6 Bell 47s), along with three original-design flight-training devices that are customized to the needs of their customers.

Chinook offers every training course available from private, commercial, night, mountain, instrument flight rules, instructor and airline transport. Heralded as the “Harvard of Training Programs” and renowned for their world-class instructors, Chinook Helicopters attracts trainees from all across the country and from Switzerland, Egypt, China, Thailand, Australia, the UK, France, Denmark and Russia.   


“I want to again express my sincere appreciation for being selected as a recipient of the DCAM award this past November. It is fantastic to have an award such as the DCAM that recognizes flight instructors who have a passion for teaching new pilots.

I inherited my passion for aviation from my father who had owned a float- plane charter service flying up and down the rugged B.C coastline, and then started Chinook Helicopters in 1983 when I was 13 years old.  I had started flying at age 11 and I will never forget my first solo flight at age 16. It was thrilling when I suddenly realized, hey I am up here at the controls all alone!

I had always enjoyed challenges and  soon after started competing for the different aviation licences — private, commercial pilot and helicopter licences, as well as the equivalent flight and helicopter instructor licences. Of course, I knew that aviation had always attracted some adventurous women but was still surprised to learn that I was one of only six women in the country to fly helicopters at that time and the first female flight instructor in Canada.

When I took over the family business in 1997, I was once again one of very few women running an aviation company, but as I have grown it, it was often to other business women that I often turned to for advice and support.  That’s because I truly believe we are our own biggest advocates. Female business leaders empowered by other successful female professionals are operating their own enterprises successfully, while at the same time actively helping to promote and empower other rising business women. This impacts not just each other but our families and communities as well.

I have been blessed with so much support from female leaders from all different sectors who have encouraged, supported and introduced me to other leaders, many of whom have positively influenced the business decisions I make. Now I look forward to helping and encourage other women on their way up in business, especially in aviation”!