A Day in Flight Operations with Dave Perry

Meet Dave! World traveller, Lupe’s dad, and Harbour Air’s experienced Flight Operations Manager! He’s been part of the Harbour Family for ten years and says that time have flown by! Between managing a dispatch team, creating pilot and aircraft schedules, coordinating private charters, managing daily flights, all while tap‑dancing with BC’s weather systems…it’s safe to say no day is the same for Dave and his team. Keep reading to learn about Dave and what life is like in Flight Operations!

How long have you been working for Harbour Air?

I hit the 10 year mark this week! I’m very grateful for the time I’ve spent at Harbour Air, it’s been an amazing period spent with incredible people. How does the saying go, time flies when you’re batching tens of thousands of flights?

What’s an average day like in Flight Operations?

I manage a team of 9 dispatchers and charter specialists. In normal times, we can have up to 300 daily flights, so there is always something going on in the office. I am also responsible for the airline’s flight schedule, which eats up a fair bit of time. On top of that I do the pilot schedules, so with Flight Ops included that’s more than 80 employees whose work schedules (and payrolls!) I take care of. They are all on different rotations, with a complex set of training requirements, vacation requests, etc. When I’m deep in the schedules, my brain feels like one of those scenes in murder movies where the detectives have strings tied chaotically all over the room linking different graphs, suspects, etc.

What are the team roles within your department?

In Flight Operations we have four roles:
1. Future/Charter Specialist – this is where any emails or phone calls go for flights that take place after tomorrow.
2. Scheduling – this is where tomorrow’s schedule gets finalized.
3. Dispatching – aka The Hot Seat.
4. Help Desk – this is a floating position designed to assist any of the other positions.

Any favourite “hidden gem” charter destinations?

I think everyone in Flight Ops is pretty familiar with the website for the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. We all get that distant faraway look in our eye whenever someone books a charter there. It is obscenely beautiful.

What’s the most popular charter destination?

By volume, we do most of our charters to pretty standard destinations. Victoria, Butchart Gardens, Tofino. But in the summer we end up doing quite a few flights up near Desolation Sound. Lots of trips to Sonora Island, Savary Island, etc.

What’s the most unique charter you’ve organized?

I remember taking a few charter calls from a gentleman who works for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, he is basically the Whale Whisperer. He will get a call when there is a whale in distress somewhere on the coast. He then charters a plane to get him as close to the whale as possible. We’ve flown him to the west coast of Vancouver Island on several occasions where he will meet up with a boat that then takes him to the troubled whale. The last time we did this there was a juvenile humpback that got tangled in an old fishing net. When he got back he said that the mission was successful, but that it was pretty challenging cutting the baby free, when the 50 foot long Mom was swimming nearby watching this strange man approach her entangled baby!!

What do you enjoy most about where you work?

Every morning I show up to work with my 4 year old dog Lupe. She starts whining as soon as we enter the building. She is so pumped to be at work. I’ll let her off leash at the bottom of the stairs, and she charges forward like a bull in Pamplona, running frantically to see her people in the dispatch office. She weighs 12 lbs, but I’ve seen her run over adults like a pilot flying through a high‑sensitivity noise abatement zone. So if you’re in the hallway when we show up, please give wide berth.

What’s your favourite Harbour Air moment?

It might be recency bias, but it’s hard to top the first Electric Beaver flight. It was a beautiful morning, the world was watching, and the flight was flawless.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

Is this where you’re supposed to drop a subtle humble brag? Well (clears throat), if I must, (long, pretentious pause), I’ve been to 100 countries. It was easy enough to accomplish after I made the decision to retire in my 20s. Perhaps not the greatest financial decision of my life – I won’t be able to retire again until I’m 80 – but you only live once.

Photos by: Harbour Air Seaplanes and Clayoquot Wilderness Resort



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