Hundreds Pay Tribute to Extraordinary WestJet Pilot, ALPA Leader

Scholarship Planned to Benefit Female Aviators in Canada

By John Perkinson, ALPA Senior Staff Writer
Capt. Christina Thomson’s life was celebrated by family, friends, and colleagues on January 8.

Hundreds of family members, colleagues, and friends gathered on January 8 in a WestJet hangar at Calgary International Airport for a celebration of life to pay respects and bid farewell to Capt. Christina Thomson (WestJet), who flew west the month before.

“Losing Christina has been incredibly tough for all of us, but amid the pain, there’s a profound comfort knowing we can carry forward her essence, her resilience, her immense love, and the fire within her that exists in us all,” said Capt. Ruarri Thomson (Air Canada), Christina’s older brother. Commenting on her adventurous spirit and joie de vivre, and adding some levity to a difficult situation, he noted that among her many accomplishments, Christina had successfully performed handstands on six of the seven continents.

“She lived the lives of four or five people in her short 45 years,” he added. All the program’s speakers acknowledged Christina’s tireless support for others and quickness to get involved, her kind and giving nature, and the vast network of friends she made wherever she went.

Christina played an integral role in helping her pilot group secure representation with the Association in 2017. She served as the WestJet Master Executive Council’s (MEC) first secretary-treasurer and later transitioned to the MEC’s Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee, where she served as chair for the most recent round of contract negotiations. Prior to WestJet, Christina flew for Sunwest Aviation, Perimeter Aviation, and Jazz Aviation.

“It takes a very special person to bring so many people together, and that’s exactly how I think of Christina,” said Capt. Tim Perry, ALPA Canada president, who served as the WestJet MEC vice chair at the same time Christina was secretary-treasurer.

As part of his presentation, Perry announced plans to work with fellow ALPA Canada officers Capts. Rod Lypchuk and Louis-Éric Mongrain and Christina’s family to establish a new scholarship in Christina’s name to benefit female aviators in Canada. The scholarship’s details, including whether it will be affiliated with or sponsored by ALPA, are still being worked out. In the meantime, Perry invited attendees to visit the personal GoFundMe page they set up to accept donations toward a future scholarship. “I want us all to be part of something that would make her proud,” Perry remarked.

Like many of the other speakers, Capt. Bernie Lewall (WestJet), his pilot group’s current MEC chair and a close friend of Christina, shared memories of her countless acts of altruism and generosity. He recalled the WestJet pilots’ first national informational picket in October 2020 and Christina “personally driving hundreds of kilometres to deliver signs and participate in every city possible.” He added, “As she often stated, ‘I’m just one woman working to save the pilot profession in Canada.’ And that was her—often putting the needs of others before her own.”

Born into an airline family, Christina’s father, Rusty, is a retired Air Canada A340 captain and her mother, Jeannie, spent 11 years as a flight attendant with Canadian Pacific Air Lines. During the ceremony, Jeannie echoed the many references to her daughter’s selfless nature. She noted that Christina would regularly fly on Christmas because she was single and felt that others should be at home with their families during the holiday.

Other speakers included Capt. Eric Orchard (WestJet), Capt. David Campbell (Alaska), and Angela Avery, WestJet’s executive vice president, chief people, corporate, and sustainability officer. In the closing moments of the ceremony, Avery announced that WestJet had named the aircraft parked behind her in honor of Christina.

Capt. Desmond Jordan (WestJet), who moderated the hour-and-a-half event, took the podium one last time to announce, “On behalf of WestJet Airlines and the WestJet ALPA MEC, it’s our honor to dedicate this B-737 MAX 8 aircraft in loving memory of Capt. Christina Thomson.” Christina’s mother, father, and brother then removed a small covering below the nose of the airplane to reveal Christina’s name.

Contribute to Christina’s Scholarship

To make a donation, visit (This fundraising effort isn’t sponsored by or affiliated with ALPA, and ALPA isn’t responsible for any funds collected.)

This article was originally published in the March 2024 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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