FLIGHT LINES; Assorted Lies, Recollections and War Stories

Captain (Retd) A. Kent Smerdon 



This 318-page book is a series of short stories, a “memoir in anecdotes” that follows the author through his early years as a youngster in Toronto, on to Military College and Air Force flight training  and then through a broad spectrum of professional aviation ending as an Air Canada Captain. Over his 37 year career, Captain Smerdon was certified and licensed to fly well over a dozen different aircraft types and their variants, from supersonic jet fighters, to helicopters to Boeing 747s and much in between.

Flight Lines includes

  • Kent’s fond recollections of his father’s flying adventures during WW
  • Flying supersonic interceptors for NORAD
  • A training flight detour through the depths of the Grand Canyon in a RCAF T-33 jet
  • Piloting RCAF/Government VIP Challengers for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and family, Canada’s Governor General and members of the British Royal Family
  • Airshow tales with shuttle commander Col Chris Hadfield
  • A brief period flying helicoptersAn airline career finishing in the left seat of the B-767-300.

The book is studded with personal touches, high drama, interesting aviation trivia and thundering humour. Flight Lines is neither an autobiography nor a book just for pilots. It is filled with many personal yarns plus contributions from his late father Allan, a WWII RCAF instructor and Mosquito pilot and from many friends, pilot colleagues and other keen contributors to the book. 

Flight Lines is an easy to read collection of exciting flying stories, technical asides, tragic losses, funny cockpit happenings, humour and commentary.


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Kent Smerdon was born in Toronto in 1950 and was introduced to flying as a youngster by his father, a WWII RCAF veteran Harvard instructor and Mosquito fighter/bomber pilot. His exposure to and interest in flying led to his enrolling in the Canadian Air Force via a scholarship with Canada’s Military College at Kingston ON (RMC) directly after graduating from high school in 1969.  A varied and remarkable career in aviation began.

During the break between his third and fourth year at RMC, he married is high school sweetheart Liz and moved her to Kingston before graduating in 1973 with a degree in Applied Science and Engineering. He then started the serious business of Air Force “wings standard” training.  After wings and subsequent qualification on supersonic interceptors, Kent was posted to 409 (AW) “Nighthawks” Fighter Squadron in CFB Comox BC under the command of NORAD. (North American Aerospace Defence) During that time, he flew #3 position in the 409 “Hawks” air demonstration team and was chosen to compete for Canada at the 1976 Bi-Annual “William Tell” Weapons Competition at Tyndall AFB in Florida. He was then posted as an instructor pilot on Voodoos at 410 Cougar Squadron OTU at CFB Bagotville Quebec. Kent left the Air Force for Air Canada in 1980 but kept ties with the military through 401 “Ram” Squadron at St Hubert Quebec where he learned helicopter flying.

The recession and high interest rates of the early eighties compelled Kent to take a leave from Air Canada and return to the regular Airforce at NDHQ in Ottawa before being assigned the position of Challenger Flight Commander at 412 (VIP) Squadron at CFB Uplands.  After a six year leave he returned to Air Canada and left the military behind for good. After upgrading to A-320 Captain in 2000, he finished his career as a B-767-300 Captain in 2010 after having been qualified to fly over 18 different aircraft types and their variants over 37 years in aviation. 

Kent is a Director on the Board of Aeroserve Technologies Ltd., a life member of the RMC Club of Canada, a member of the Air Force Association, the Air Canada Pionairs, RAPCAN (Retired Airline Pilots Canada) and the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto. He is a cancer survivor, grandfather of twins, a keen tennis player, loves to swing a hammer, and volunteers at the Barrie Food Bank.

Captain Smerdon retired in 2010 after 31 years with Air Canada. He lives in Barrie Ontario with Liz, his bride of forty five years.


"Captain Smerdon introduces us to his sometimes wacky world of flying and captures many of our own remembrances of some crazy things we did decades ago. This delightful quick read is a humorous, thoughtful and provocative retrospective of a career in both military and civilian flying worlds. A MUST read."

—Captain John R. Scott, MRAeS, Editor, Position Report Magazine

“Kent Smerdon's Flight Lines is a riotous book. I could no longer read as I was crying from laughter. All the more so because what Smerdon writes about is pretty serious business: the Royal Military College, supersonic jets in the air force, airline flying. None of this was ever a danger to anyone, mind you: it was on the ground. But still.

Smerdon displays an uncanny descriptive talent; you see those capers. He covers a lifetime in the flying business, making its characters come to life. Flight Lines is a joyous, fun book, a great read that you can't put down. For aviators, even more so: it puts us in the milieu where we lived, with hilarious stories from our times and places.”

--Captain J. R. "Ace" Desmarais, Author "The Ace McCool Collection" ,  Past Air Transport Editor, Canadian Aviation Magazine, Past Editor, Canadian Air Line Pilots Association's Pilot magazine, Former Aviation Consultant, CTV News


Q: Why this book?

From the author; “I think it safe to say that pilots learn to fly for the challenge, excitement, the learning experience and the satisfaction gleaned from piloting a machine successfully in three dimensions and living (hopefully) to tell the tale. And some do fall deeply in love with the process and the allure of being airborne. Had I not been introduced to flying by my father when I was a young boy, this book most likely would never have been written. Pilots are generally goal or mission oriented problem solvers and straight line thinkers because they deal with reality and the physical world around them. They are not, in my experience, very keen on the paperwork. I know I’m not. Give me my airplane and a log book to sign and let’s get on with the real reason we’re here.  And we love our stories and tell them with relish as do any similar professions. But after the stories, the funny stuff, the “screw ups” are laughed at or “tut tut’d” at the bar, many are forgotten. Several of us have put pen to paper and created similar works. I just got the notion that the many good stories I had been part of and the dozens overheard in flight decks, ops rooms and bars over 37 years were worth recording before they too are forgotten.”

Q: When did you start?

“My sister-in-law worked at a big Toronto Law Firm and many years ago she gave me a book for Christmas called “Court Jesters” This was a book authored by Peter V. MacDonald who was a court reporter for several Canadian newspapers. Using his extensive list of contacts, he assembled a hilarious collection of anecdotes from Canadian courtrooms from coast to coast. That book gave me the idea to start although what I’ve done is not all that original an idea. I started to write some memories and other happenings down on note books, bar napkins or scraps of paper that Liz would sometimes have to fish out of the breast pockets of a flight shirt (sometimes AFTER the load was done!) and lay them out to dry. This started over ten years before I retired from flying.”

Q. Are there photos in the book?

“Yes. There are around 45 images from my own collection and from DND photographers as well. Most of the images were chosen to highlight or add to an anecdote or story as opposed to strings of airplane pictures--there are plenty of those books to choose from.”

Q. Are you satisfied with the work?

“Well I think so. I didn’t want to write a Chuck Yeager “There I was…” sort of book. I wanted it to appeal to a wider spectrum of readers who may not be pilots themselves but want a peek into that world. There are many contributions in the book from friends and colleagues. Many of my readers have said that I have succeeded. I guess we’ll see.”  


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