“My grandfather was a World War II bomber pilot. My dad’s a pilot, my uncle’s a pilot. I’ve grown up around aviation."
His feet are firmly on the ground now, but as a lifelong pilot, Missoula County Sheriff’s deputy Paul Von Gontard knows his way around the sky and wanted others to share that experience.
“I love the teaching aspect of it. As a helicopter instructor, that was my favorite part of it. I learned more and had a better time teaching others, seeing their growth and development was far more rewarding for me than just flying around."
Von Gontard enjoys teaching. He took that skill from planes to patrol cars. Among his other duties, he’s also a field training officer.
“That’s my favorite part of the job is having deputies come in with little or no experience going through our FTO program, which is one of the best in the state. I went through it. I loved it. It was challenging, but it builds confidence and well skilled deputies."
By the time he was 18, Von Gontard had been to 45 countries, lived in seven of them and graduated from high school in Austraila. He’s glad to be able to put down roots and have a home life.
And as someone who has been a reserve deputy, a firefighter, an EMT and in search and rescue, he really likes the fact that every day on the job is different than the one before.
“I don’t do well with just a standard routine. I always wanted something different and challenging. I want to push myself and have others push me too. In this career, I have the opportunity to make decisions that directly influence people in the field and their lives and those are based on decisions I make and on the observations I make at the moment.”
Von Gontard says his experiences living in other countries gives him a broader understanding of people and cultures and helps him on the streets.