Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A few weeks ago on Page 9 of The Leader, we encouraged people to let us know about Slave Lakers who were off doing interesting things in other parts of the country or the world. What follows is one of those stories:

Maclaine Short, born and raised in Slave Lake, is a corporal in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He’s an avionics tech, which means he looks after the electronic systems of military airplanes.

The job involves a lot of travel. He’s been on missions to Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Ellesmere Island, Scotland, Hawaii, Alaska, Spain and more.

“I really enjoy the traveling aspect and there’s a new challenge every day so it’s never boring,” Short says. “I’m quite happy with my decision; however, being away from your family is definitely the tough part.”

Unlike a lot of armed forces personnel, Short was well into another career when he decided to give military service a try. He signed up in 2017 when he was 32 years old.

“There are multiple reasons I joined,” he says, “such as traveling, job security and also I had never worked in the electrical field so it was a new challenge for myself.”

When the Air Force is called on to support Canadian peacekeeping missions, or to resupply a remote base, or to provide support for a NATO operation (among other possibilities), each flight has an avionics tech and an avionics systems tech. At least it does if the mission lasts more than a day. The systems tech looks after mechanical components, Short explains, “and we repair electrical ones,” such as “replacing computers, fixing wiring snags, general troubleshooting, etc. Also we both conduct servicing tasks such as fueling and pre and post-flight checks.”

One of the missions Short flew on was to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2021, called Operation AEGIS. It was to evacuate around 3,700 people from the airport. These would have been the ones whose lives were in danger due to the Taliban takeover of the country. According to Carole Short, Maclaine’s mother, it was “nerve-wracking and heartbreaking.”

This past August, Maclaine was off to the Caribbean on a very different kind of mission. The Air Force was tasked to help a Quebec drilling company rescue some trapped miners in the Dominican Republic. A giant drill was flown down in an Air Force transport plane. The mission was a success.

Then there’s Operation Boxtop, which is a supply mission to Alert, the Canadian Forces Station on the northern end of Ellesmere Island. This is generally done twice a year, bringing in thousands of pounds of food and fuel to the remote outpost located just over 800 kms. from the North Pole.

Short, son of Carole and Ric Short, graduated from Roland Michener School in Slave Lake in 2003. He worked a lot in construction after that for several years.

“The constant changing of employers and relatively zero job security were major contributing factors to joining the Armed Forces,” he says.

Short is now based at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in eastern Ontario.

Here’s Air Force avionics tech Maclaine Short on a resupply mission to Canadian Forces Station Alert, way, way up north.
RCAF Corporal Maclaine Short on the tarmac in Mali, West Africa.