Mary Ellen Pauli

Mary Ellen Pauli grew up in Northern Quebec in a trailer near a seaplane base. Her father was a career pilot and Mary Ellen longed to fly too but there was little money and her father's words "you'll never get a job" haunted her, but did not daunt her. After High School she earned her commercial helicopter certificate at Fredericton Helicopters Ltd. in New Brunswick. In 1980 Mary Ellen worked for Trans Quebec Helicopters (TQH) at their Matagami base flying in and out of mining bush camps. There she met her husband who owned a mining exploration company in Timmins, Ontario. TQH's sister company, Trans Canada Helicopters saw Timmins as an expansion opportunity and Mary Ellen opened a base there and was appointed as base manager. Two years later when the base closed, she flew as a rotation pilot on the James Bay Hydro Project flying for mining exploration, powerline construction and environmental studies.

In 1986 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources began to acquire helicopters for their fleet and Mary Ellen, who had extensive experience on their aircraft type, became one of the Ontario government's first helicopter pilots. As a government employee she improved her skills with courses in Deputy Conservation Officer and Aviation Management. Until recently Mary Ellen was the only "permanent staff" female pilot in the 85 year history of the OMNR.

In 1980 Mary Ellen won "Outstanding Service Award" for help in the great Canadian ice story, and in 2008, the P.R.I.D.E. Award for bravery.

Mary Ellen, her husband and two children live in Timmins. All are accomplished musicians. Mary Ellen worked hard to overcome many obstacles in her career path – only woman in secluded bush camps, facing polar bears, and old prejudices towards the capabilities of women in aviation careers. She offers strong encouragement to all women who care to follow in her footsteps and will say "where there's a will, there's a way."