Gaston Monod was born in Leysin/VD on the 10th of July 1928. Since childhood he was very interested in aviation and during the compulsory school years he was building aeroplane models. His interest for aviation was such that by the age of 17 he had already obtained his glider license piloting a Zögling. In the meantime he enrolled at the technical college in Lausanne/VD where he obtained his qualification as an electrical technician.
Next he commenced the military aviation training. However after only five weeks he was transferred, i.e.he was asked to continue his military duty as an electrical technician. Despite this discouragement Monod proceeded to realize his dream. He knew exactly what he wanted and decided to pursue his objective i.e.to become a professional aeroplane pilot.
At first he invested his talents working for the company BBC based in Baden/AG. Much later he would return to the Romandy, at first working at the Lear company (along with the Swiss aviation pioneer François Durafour who obtained his pilot’s license in 1913) and then for Vibrometer of Fribourg, a company specialized in the production of sophisticated instruments for the aviation industry. His spare time was fully dedicated to aviation at the small airfield of Ecuvillens/FR.
In 1960 he obtained his pilot-instructor license and began teaching his first students. During the following eight years Monod introduced modern teaching methods, and was much acclaimed for his dynamic dedication and his spirit.
In 1968 the FOCA, which had been observing Monod’s work as an aviation instructor offered to employ him. At that he had already accumulated a flight experience of some 3’000 hours. At the beginning he was in charge of organizing course syllabus for instructor candidates. This new job gave him the opportunity to intensify the contacts with the flight schools. Soon he became known for his pleasant character. When necessary however he could also be rigorous, especially with the aspirant pilots. It is also thanks to his character that the atmosphere among FOCA, pilots and companies became more relaxed with all concerned benefiting from the new work environment.
In 1969 Monod obtained his professional helicopter pilot license. Subsequently he became an instructor and also an examiner. In the following 20 years of his activities he became responsible for the instruction and the evaluation of private and professional pilots, as well as for the examination of the mountain and aerobatics pilots. He also introduced the first course for aerial spray helicopter pilots.
For about 10 years he was also in charge of Swiss SAR services, flying mostly helicopters.
During the period as a FOCA flight inspector Monod also transported Swiss ministers and other important personalities, mainly using the famous SE. 3160 Alouette III HB-XDE. This helicopter was later replaced by the faster twin-turbine AS.365N Dauphin HB-XPE.
Both for work as well as for pleasure Monod accomplished various long-range flights, such as for example when he flew with a Piper Malibu from Florida to Switzerland along the course Montréal-Goose Bay-South Greenland-Island–Shetland Island–Southampton-Berne. He also flew with a Pilatus PC-7 from Switzerland to Kuala Lampur (Indonesia). Piloting aeroplanes he flew mostly in Northern Europe, Norway, Sweden, Finland or in North Africa (Morocco and Tunisia).
In 1990, at the age of 62, he decided to quit his work as a flight inspector and retire, however continuing to fly for enjoyment as an aeroplane flight instructor.
On the 16th of January 1997 he renewed his flying licenses for the last time. Before quitting his flying career as a helicopter pilot he completed his qualifications with the IFR rating. At the end of his flying career Monod had accumulated considerable flying experience with some 12’000 hours on light aeroplanes, 3’000 on helicopters and 500 on gliders.
Altogether he piloted more than 150 different aircrafts, from the small Zögling glider to the twin-turbine jet. The list of the helicopters he piloted includes: Alouette II, Alouette III, AS 350 types, Bell 206 Jet Ranger types, Enstrom F-28, SA 315B Lama, SA 365N Dauphin.
Until he passed away, on August 6, 2015, Gaston Monod lived with his wife Monique (an excellent painter like him) in Ecuvillens, close to the airport which had a special place in his heart.