HPAC Awards to Major Contributors to our sport: Suzanne Francoeur and Jacques Blanchet

By Bastien Dufour, Quebec Director, HPAC Board. 

Recipients of the 2021 Safety Award and the Domagoj Juretic Leadership Award have been presented their awards by Bastien Dufour, Quebec Director of HPAC.

The Domagoj Juretic Leadership Award: Awarded to an individual who demonstrates exceptional leadership in relation to the sports of Hang Gliding and Paragliding in Canada.

What best defines Jacques Blanchet is leadership. He has demonstrated this repeatedly over the years, whether on the field, at his school, to the general public, within HPAC and internationally. Jacques has been paragliding for two decades. He created the school Voiles 4 Saisons in 2003, which contributed to the development of the sport in Quebec. Its instructional philosophy has always been to provide a progressive and safe training environment where all participants (students, pilots, instructors) work as a team, share their passion and fun, making the sport ever more accessible to all.

Jacques has also promoted the sport to local communities, showcasing our sport at local events and investing time in public relations. Jacques has also organized and collaborated with local clubs in other countries, notably Colombia, promoting the know-how and passion of Canadian paragliding.

But Jacques did not stop there. He has been involved nationally with the ACVL Senior Instructors Council (CSI) for many years. He was a key activist to promote the first two CSI meetings, bringing together instructors from across Canada, resulting in a complete overhaul of the pilot training system.

Jacques is a passionate, extremely knowledgeable and highly respected senior instructor. His thoroughness and positive attitude, coupled with a sensitive understanding of human factors, are highly appreciated by students and instructors. Under his guidance, students and instructors feel empowered to learn and improve in a safe environment. Under his leadership, pilot and instructor certification programs in Canada reached new heights.

The Safety Award: Awarded to recognize an HPAC member who promotes Safety in hang gliding or paragliding by continuously displaying exemplary safety- conscious behaviour and decision-making in paragliding or hang gliding, or to a member who promotes Safety with volunteer initiatives or programs that contribute to safety and risk management in the sport.

Suzanne Francoeur was a member of the HPAC Safety Committee from 2013-2021. During these years, her genuine concern for flight safety has helped maintain an active flight safety program. She also worked to emphasize the safety perspective within the HPAC training program.

Suzanne worked on virtually every task assigned to the Committee and showed great initiative. Her thoroughness is well known, and she has never hesitated to discuss things in detail, whether with pilot members or the HPAC office to ensure quality.

Her notable accomplishments include long-standing commitment to safety in the sport, which has dramatically raised the profile of safety within HPAC, the introduction of the critical Pre-Flight Checklist, which all tandem pilots receive and must follow (which brings us closer to other aviation sports where pre-flight checklists are common), promotion of the P1/P2 Training Logbook (a system already used by Voiles 4 Saisons), the adaptation of this document to the HPAC SOP 410 for national use, and maintenance of the accident/incident database and production of annual reports.