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Member Profiles


Carlyle Clare Agar

Nickname: Carl
Birthdate: November 28, 1901
Birth Place: Lion's Head, Bruce County, Ontario
Death Date: January 27, 1968
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: A.F.C., The McKee Trophy

His perseverance in designing new applications for rotary wing fight and his expertise in training both civil and military organizations alike to the highest standard of competency, have been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation. - Induction citation - 1974

Carlyle Clare (Carl) Agar, A.F.C., was born on November 28, 1901, in Lion's Head, Bruce County, Ontario, and moved to Edmonton, Alberta, in 1905 where he was educated. He farmed on the outskirts of the city, and by 1928 had saved enough money to pursue a long-time goal: learning to fly. He joined the Edmonton Aero Club and under the tutelage of 'Moss' Burbidge, earned his Private Pilot's Licence the following year. In 1932 he accepted a position with the Department of Indian Affairs as an agricultural instructor at Wabamun, Alberta. Two years later he returned to full time farming.

At the outbreak of World War II, Agar attempted to enlist in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as a pilot, but was rejected because, at age 38, he was over the age limit. In 1940 he reapplied to the RCAF, since the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was expanding and there was increased demand for instructors. He was accepted for pilot training and posted to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and Trenton, Ontario, where he graduated as a flight instructor. He was stationed at Edmonton and High River, Alberta, and Abbotsford, British Columbia. In 1944 he was awarded the Air Force Cross (A.F.C.) for outstanding contributions as a flight instructor. He was discharged from the RCAF in 1945 when he reached the maximum age for aircrew.

Agar moved his family to Penticton, British Columbia, where he formed the South Okanagan Flying Club in partnership with two ex-RCAF members, pilot Barney Bent and maintenance engineer Alf Stringer. Their Club operations were limited to flight training only - no charter work was permitted. The lack of commercial flying business forced them to reassess their position, so they moved to Kelowna, British Columbia, and formed Okanagan Air Service. Their plan was to engage in instructional activities, charter flying, and crop spraying, but they were again forced to reconsider their operational activities due to high maintenance costs.

The partners learned of a Bell 47-B3 helicopter being demonstrated at Yakima, Washington, as a crop sprayer. They went to see this new machine and returned convinced of the helicopter's potential. To raise enough money to purchase one, as well as meet the costs of pilot and maintenance training, they decided to convert the Company to public ownership and sell shares. In this way, Agar was able to bring the first commercial helicopter, a Bell 47-B3, into Canada on August 9, 1947, to spray orchards in the Okanagan Valley with insecticides.

When it became evident that he needed to expand his operations to sustain his company, Agar contracted with the Government of British Columbia to spray forests affected by loop worm, and areas of the lower Fraser Valley which were infested with mosquitoes.

When not engaged in these economically crucial operations, Agar learned the secrets of helicopter flying in the remote reaches of the Rocky Mountains. Flying at high altitudes brought new challenges: the higher one goes, the less dense the air becomes, causing the rotors to provide less lift and the power of the engine to diminish. As well, unpredictable winds created sudden up-drafts and/or down-drafts. The rugged terrain required the ability to land on a small shelf of rock and take off again. Agar practiced his theories and perfected new skills and operational techniques. When the Company needed additional pilots, he taught them the intricate mountain-flying skills himself.

When the British Columbia Government's topographical department needed a special survey of the Wahleach Mountain Range southeast of Chilliwack, Agar was ready. The operation was a complete success and his techniques for high altitude landings and takeoffs in hitherto inaccessible locations became the standard accepted world-wide.

Having conquered the altitude barrier, Agar then proved the effectiveness of using helicopters in contour flying for timber operations, and followed this successful manoeuvering strategy by transporting prospecting parties to and from remote bush areas. He accepted a contract from the Water Board of Vancouver in 1949 to airlift 400,000 pounds (181,000 kg) of construction material, equipment, and personnel to the 3,500 foot (1,067 m) level of a mountainside, and was credited with helping to complete the building of the Palisade Lake Dam on schedule. It was the first time a helicopter had been used in such a manner, and more than 2,000 takeoffs and landings were required to finalize the lift. Today the dam stands as a monument to Agar's mastery of vertical flight.

The international publicity accorded this outstanding achievement prompted industry and the military to re-think their operational transportation methods. As a result, selected commercial and military pilots were trained in mountain flying techniques by Agar's company. His expertise led to a contract in 1951 with the Aluminum Company of Canada to assist in the construction of a giant smelter complex at Kitimat, British Columbia. Engineering survey work, which formerly would have taken up to two years to complete, was finished in a matter of weeks. His firm, now renamed Okanagan Helicopters Ltd., moved its operations to Vancouver and went on to become one of the largest commercial helicopter operations in the world.

Agar received many honours and awards for his achievements. In 1950 he received Canada's highest aviation award, the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy for “outstanding contribution to advancement in the field of aviation in Canada during the year 1950, particularly in the use of rotary-wing aircraft over mountainous terrain”. In 1955 he was awarded the William J. Kossler Trophy by the American Helicopter Society for his development and operation of rotary wing aircraft. This was the first time the award was given to anyone outside of the United States. In 1959 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship in the American Helicopter Society, and in 1963 was honoured by the Helicopter Association of America.

'Mr. Helicopter', as he was dubbed, was invited to speak at many conventions and conferences, and requests for his services in a consulting capacity were increasing. In 1962 he gave up the demanding responsibilities he held with the Company. He died on January 27, 1968, at Victoria, British Columbia.

Carlyle Clare (Carl) Agar was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

Landing a helicopter in the late 1940’s on a narrow mountain ledge was a skill to master. Taking off was another: the machine needed forward space to become airborne. A new, daring skill was needed. Agar learned to literally "bump" his machine sideways off the mountain ledge, and as it fell, it picked up enough forward speed to fly.

William Munroe Archibald

Birthdate: February 23, 1876
Birth Place: Truro, Nova Scotia
Death Date: November 10, 1949
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: The McKee Trophy

"His efforts to have Canada's northern mineral resources explored by air resulted in new air harbors being located that have substantially benefitted Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

William Munroe Archibald, B.Sc., was born in Truro, Nova Scotia, on February 23, 1876. He was educated there and at McGill University, Montreal, where he graduated in 1897 with an engineering degree in mining. After graduation, he moved to Rossland, British Columbia, where he began working as a mining engineer for the British America Corporation. In 1901, following extensive experience in various mining camps, he joined the staff at Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (Cominco) at the nearby smeltering community of Trail, British Columbia, to investigate mining properties. He soon was appointed to the position of Mining Manager.

While visiting California in 1919, Archibald became interested in flying when he saw Curtiss Jenny aircraft being used in barnstorming exhibitions. After his first night in a Jenny, he knew he wanted to learn to fly. In 1928, as general manager of mines for Cominco, he decided that aircraft could be used to great advantage in mining exploration.

By 1929 he was determined to fly, even though he was 53 years old. He had already purchased a Gipsy Moth from the de Havilland Aircraft Company through company agents in Vancouver. These men also taught him how to fly and he became the first private aircraft owner in British Columbia. He made the first recorded flight into the interior of British Columbia when he and an air engineer took off from Vancouver for Trail, a trip that took a total of four flying hours.

Archibald wasted no time in putting his plane to good use, making many flights to Cominco's operations throughout the rugged interior of the province. He moved to Creston and had an airstrip leveled on his property. He commuted to work almost daily by air, a road distance of 150 miles (240 km), but less than half that over the mountains in his aircraft. In May 1931, he completed a coast-to-coast flight over Canada in his new Puss Moth, one of many such trips he would make in the four small planes he owned during his lifetime.

He then organized Cominco Flying Service at Creston as the company's pilot training school. He staffed it with World War I aviators who were hired to train young company engineers up to flying licence standards. One of the early graduates was Mike Finland. Archibald's enthusiasm ensured that Cominco's use of aircraft for prospecting, and transporting crew and equipment would be successful. The peak period for Cominco's use of aircraft under his supervision was reached in 1932 when ten aircraft were in use almost daily.

In 1935 Archibald inaugurated the first air route in the north from Trail to Stewart, British Columbia, and to Ketchikan, Alaska. His broad interest in mining stretched from the east to west coast of Canada, south to Idaho, U.S.A., and as far north as Great Bear Lake, North West Territories. He developed routes to allow for wheeled aircraft, and made many suggestions for placement and building of suitable landing strips. He was accompanied on many of his cross-country business nights by Page McPhee, an air engineer, pilot and friend. These trips meant long days, often covering 1,500 or more miles (2,400 km) in a day.

Archibald's numerous cross-Canada flights earned him the title of 'Canada's Flying Businessman'. He was also known as ‘The Father of the Yellowknife Gold Fields', since it was through his insistent efforts, shrewdness, and enthusiasm that the properties were developed.

The Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy was awarded to Archibald in 1935 “in recognition of his work as a pilot and in organizing the flying services of the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company”. In 1935 alone, he had logged over 448 hours flying time, covering approximately 44,800 miles (72,000 km).

Archibald retired in 1939 after 38 years with Cominco. He became a senior mining consultant, maintaining an active interest in mining engineering from his Toronto office. He served for many years as a Director of de Havilland Aircraft of Canada. He died in Toronto, Ontario, on November 10, 1949.

William Munroe Archibald was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

A professional mining engineer. Archibald had flown from coast to coast in Canada more often than any other pilot, and had crossed the Rockies more times that other pilots up to the mid 1930’s.

Neil J. Armstrong

Birthdate: April 15, 1920
Birth Place: Alvinston, Ontario
Death Date: November 23, 1994
Year Inducted: 1974

"His combination of piloting ability, technical knowledge, navigational skills and dedication to purpose, despite adversity, have resulted in outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

Neil J. Armstrong, B.Sc., was born in Alvinston, Ontario, on April 15, 1920. He was educated there and at Petrolia, Ontario, from where he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). He served in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and was one of the first constables assigned to Dauphin, Manitoba, when the RCMP took over the policing of that town. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1943 and graduated as a commissioned officer and pilot at Brantford, Ontario. He served as a flying instructor at various Canadian bases until he was discharged in 1945.

The following year he began studies at the University of Toronto and graduated with an engineering degree in 1949, majoring in geology and geophysics. He worked as geologist and prospector for Eldorado Mining and Refining in the Northwest Territories and later with the International Nickel Company in Manitoba. He did well-site geology for Hudson's Bay Oil and Gas Company in the Peace River area of northern Alberta and British Columbia. He also worked as a research and project engineer with the Polymer Corporation at Sarnia, Ontario.

From 1953 to 1969, Armstrong was associated with Spartan Air Services at Ottawa and became the first known helicopter pilot/geologist in North America. He worked with the Geological Survey of Canada on Operations Baker Lake and Thelon River in the Barren Lands of Northern Canada. Over a period of two years, more than 100,000 square miles (260,000 km2) were mapped geologically on a scale of one inch to eight miles. He made the first helicopter contact with the Barren Lands Inuit during this period. They had never seen a helicopter and referred to it as 'an unfinished airplane'.

In 1955 Armstrong became manager of a Spartan subsidiary, Aerophysics Ltd., specializing in airborne electronic surveys. With this firm, Armstrong pioneered the two-phase electromagnetic system for detecting mineral conductors in the earth. The system was installed in Avro Ansons, and used initially in the Knob Lake area of Quebec. It was later adapted for use in helicopters, first using the Bell 47-D1. The transmitting and receiving coils were on a twenty-foot 'bird', or catamite, towed beneath the helicopter on fifty feet of cable at 150 feet (46 m) above ground level.

Armstrong's combined knowledge of airborne devices and engineering helped him to develop and patent a helicopter hover-sight, now used world-wide as a cost-saving shortcut in airborne surveying. The instrument used a laser beam mounted on a survey tripod which was leveled vertically over the point whose coordinates were required. A circular receiver, comprised of photo-electric cells and mounted on the bottom of the helicopter, was activated when contacted by the laser beam. Hovering the helicopter and taking readings from two slave stations set up over known points gave the required coordinates through triangulation. This system cut to a fraction the man-hours required for surveying, and eliminated the need for costly towers which were normally built to obtain line-of-sight over the trees.

In 1960 the Government of Argentina hired him to head a team surveying the Province of Mendoza from the air, using a Cessna 310. This was one of the first foreign projects ever undertaken in which aerial surveys were used for evaluation purposes to determine the tax levels for the land parcels in the area.

In 1961 Armstrong and pilot Max Conrad flew across the Atlantic Ocean non-stop in a twin-engine Piper Apache, making the flight from Gander, Newfoundland, to Shannon, Ireland, in thirteen hours. Two years later he shared the pilot/navigator duties with John Stuart, flying a Piper Aztec non-stop across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Hawaii, in eighteen hours.

In 1969 Armstrong was a founding partner and President of Liftair International Ltd., a helicopter service based in Calgary, Alberta. He served as chairman of the Helicopter Committee of the Calgary Transportation and Development Authority.

His well-rounded flying career has been recorded in the numerous articles he wrote for many North American aviation periodicals. He was a strong supporter of general aviation and encouraged others to complete their pilot training and enjoy the freedom of flight. He was elected president of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) in 1964, a position he held for three years.

Armstrong died on November 23, 1994, in the crash of a de Havilland Twin Otter in Antarctica, along with his son, Captain Corcoran 'Corky' Armstrong and two others.

Neil J. Armstrong was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

Armstrong and his wife Trudy raised a family of five children. Trudy obtained both power and glider pilot’s licenses. Each of their four sons and daughter became licensed pilots after soloing on their 16th birthdays.

Julien Joseph Audette

Birthdate: June 6, 1914
Birth Place: Radville, Saskatchewan
Death Date: October 28, 1986
Year Inducted: 1989

"His dedication to the development of the art of soaring has been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1989

Julien Joseph Audette was born in Radville, Saskatchewan, on June 6, 1914. Following graduation from Regina's Campion College, he successively worked in his father's grocery, Canada Packers and Gray Insurance. In 1937 he began working for the Saskatchewan Government Audit Department.

In May of 1941 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and received his pilot's wings and commission at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, on February 27, 1942. He held instructor positions at Trenton, Ontario, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Following operational training at Comox, British Columbia, he was posted to southeast Asia where he flew the Douglas C-47 on supply runs for the 'Canucks Unlimited' 436 Burma Star Transport Squadron until the end of the war.

Following the war, Audette assisted in the formation of the Saskatchewan Air Ambulance Service in 1946 and was its second pilot. In 1949 he became the first pilot with Kramer Air Service and eventually became General Sales Manager of a subsidiary company, Kramer Tractor Ltd. He retired in 1974 from Kramer's, ending a 25-year career with the company. Throughout this time he was active in the Prairie Road Builders Association, and was president of the Regina Flying Club. He was chairman of the Regina Chamber of Commerce's Aviation Committee and lobbied for improved air service, particularly for cross-border connections with North Dakota, U.S.A.

From 1976 until 1984, Audette was sales development manager for Saskmont Engineering. He was also director of the Roughriders Football Club for 27 years. Other associations to benefit from his energies were the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association (RCFCA), Ducks Unlimited, YMCA, Royal  Canadian Legion, Air Force Association, Knights of Columbus, and the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum.

It was, however, in the field of non-powered flight that Audette made his major contribution to Canadian aviation. In 1952 he was one of three founders of the Regina Gliding and Soaring Club, and served as chief tow pilot, chief flying instructor, and president. He was instrumental in establishing a gliding scholarship for the Regina Air Cadets, and for bringing three National Soaring competitions to Western Canada.

In 1962 Audette was awarded Canada's first Diamond Badge by the Paris-based Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), #240 in the world. He was the only Canadian to earn this badge while establishing Canadian Soaring records, and was the first Canadian to break 9,144 metres (30,000 ft.) in a sailplane.

On the national level, he was the FAI Awards Chairman of the Soaring Association of Canada (SAC). He was the only Canadian to hold all eight competitive awards available, six of them simultaneously.

For the 1958 Distance to Goal, he won the Barringer Memorial Trophy of the Soaring Society of America—the only Canadian so honoured. The 1961 altitude flight earned him Canada's first Symonds Wave Memorial Plaque and Lennie pin.

With his record free distance flight on April 22, 1962, Audette became the first Canadian to combine a wave flight (27,300 ft or 8,300 m) with a thermal flight.

In 1959 and 1962 Audette was awarded the Soaring Association of Canada (SAC) President's Choice Award, and the Ball and Chain Trophy for achievement in soaring flight, one criteria for this being that he was married. In 1961 and 1962 he won the SAC'S Canadair Trophy for the best five nights of the year. In 1962 he was awarded the SAC Certificate of Honour. In 1967 the FAI awarded him the Diploma Paul Tissandier Certificate of Honour for the promotion of soaring aviation, the first time a Canadian had won this award. In 1964 and 1967 he won the Alberta Soaring Council's (ASC) Carling Trophy for the best single flight of the year. In 1967 he won the Bruce Soaring Trophy. In 1977 he was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1982 the ASC presented him with a Certificate of Achievement Plaque.

During his soaring years in the Cowley, Alberta, area, from 1960 to 1975, Audette worked closely with the Federal Meteorology Department. Recognizing that the soaring prospects in the Pincher Creek area could be enhanced by a greater knowledge of the climatology of wave clouds, he initiated a data collection program. This 'Audette Project' provided the foundation for studies by others, including the University of Calgary's Environmental Science Centre.

Audette died at Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1986.

Julien Joseph Audette was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1989 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

Julian Audette's Soaring Records

1958 Distance to Goal and Return - 322 km
1958 Distance to Goal - 380 km
1961 Absolute Altitude - 9,336 m
1961 Gain of Height - 7,108 m
1961 200 km Triangle - 72.6 km/h
1962 300 km Triangle - 65.0 Km/h
1962 Free Distance - 603.8 km
1964 100 km Triangle - 85.0 km/h

“...seeing two lenticulars still active east of my position, and easterly course was set ... the lift was quite smooth, with a rate of climb averaging 313 feet (96 m) per minute, to a maximum height of 127,300 feet (8.300 m).” That day in June 1962, Audette broke the Canadian Distance Record with a soaring distance of 395 miles (635 km) in 7 hours, 55 minutes after take-off.

John Alexander McDonald Austin

Nickname: Jack
Birthdate: September 30, 1912
Birth Place: Renfrew, Ontario
Death Date: December 1, 1984
Year Inducted: 1976
Awards: The McKee Trophy

"During a forty year career he was actively engaged in commercial aviation as a pilot, engineer and administrator. His dedication to purpose resulted in Austin Airways bringing responsible air service to many communities adjacent to James Bay and Hudson Bay, without government assistance and despite adversity, contributions which have been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - induction citation, 1976

John Alexander (Jack) Austin, B.Sc., was born in Renfrew, Ontario, on September 30, 1912, attended school there and graduated from the University of Toronto in 1934 with a degree in applied science and engineering. That same year, after learning to fly at de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. (DHC), he entered a partnership with his brother Charles to form Austin Airways Limited. They were joined for a time by Leigh Capreol, who was DHC's first test pilot and Austin's flight instructor.

The company began with three small aircraft, two Waco biplanes and a Tiger Moth. They operated from Toronto Air Harbour during the summer months and moved to the Toronto Flying Club field for winter operations. The following year the company was incorporated by federal charter, purchased the assets of Eclipse Airways at Chapleau, Ontario, and then opened a new base at Sudbury, Ontario. The company's first flights were made to the Little Long Lac mining area to bring prospectors into that area.

Austin obtained his Air Engineer's Licence in 1936, the year the company began flying forest fire patrols for the Government of Ontario. Also that year, they participated in the Moose River Mine rescue mission in which equipment was flown in to a gold mine in Nova Scotia where three men were trapped below ground. As the company expanded, a base was established at Temagami, Ontario, and a flying school opened at Sudbury, Ontario. Many of the students from this school went on to serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). One of their well-known students was Thurston 'Rusty' Blakey, who became a long-time pilot with Austin Airways. Other sub-bases were opened at Gogama and Biscotasing, Ontario, to serve these new mining areas.

During World War II, ‘Austin Airways' operations were restricted to essential services, such as forest fire suppression, aerial photography, timber surveys, and supplying the needs of the mining industry. The company bought larger planes and continued to expand its operations. A base was located at Nakina, Ontario, in 1943 to transport the catches from commercial fishing operations. Austin then completed an aerial survey along both shores of James Bay and Hudson Bay, which resulted in the commencement of air service to a number of isolated communities.

The next decade saw the company's fleet enlarged to include freighter aircraft, and bases were  established to serve hitherto inaccessible areas. Aerial surveys were completed for mining operations, and in 1952 the company purchased Nickel Belt Airways at Sudbury.

In the mid-1950's Canada and the United States decided to build a cross-continent air defence network to guard against bomber attack from the USSR. The plan was for three radar-electronic defence lines to be strung across the country. The construction of the Mid-Canada Defence Line along the 55th parallel in 1955-56 generated a considerable amount of work for Canadian regional airlines and charter operators. Austin was named chairman of the committee which was formed to coordinate the services provided by these operators in this monumental airlift. He also assisted the Department of Transport in developing the manual which was instrumental in making the operation a complete success, proving that competitors could work together towards a common goal.

In 1958 Austin Airways took over the scheduled service from Trans-Canada Airlines between Timmins and Kapuskasing, Ontario, and then improved their own radio system to better serve communities as far north as Cape Dorset and Baffin Island in the Northwest Territories.

For a period of 20 years, from 1950 through to 1970, Austin Airways provided planes and crews flying for the Gravity Survey Division of the Dominion Observatory. Surveying for minerals was done using a device attached to an airplane which measured anomalies in gravity readings which often indicated a body of ore. These flights took them over many of the provinces and the Northwest Territories. The company was also involved in ice reconnaissance flights over Hudson and Davis Straits.

During this period, Austin Airways and Aircraft Industries of Canada Limited jointly developed the first water-bombing kit for the Canadian-built Canso aircraft, consisting of a set of tanks and water scoops which were attached to the underside of the Canso. It was very successful and was used by Canso operators for many years. Austin helped to develop the Povungnituk area in the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec into a viable tourist attraction. During 1966 aircraft maintenance facilities were completed at Mount Hope, Ontario, and operations were extended to Baffin Island. Ontario lakes were stocked with trout fingerlings released from Austin Airways' aircraft. Other major terminal facilities were also completed, without government assistance.

Some years earlier, Austin had been elected director of the Air Industries and Transport Association (AITA) and was named the first president of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC). In 1967 he was awarded honorary life membership in ATAC.

In 1975 Austin was awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy “in recognition of his long and active service to the air transport industry”. By then, Austin Airways had operated for forty years, and was Canada's oldest airline. In 1975 the company was sold to White River Air Services and Austin retired. He died in Toronto, December 1, 1984.

John Alexander (Jack) Austin was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1976 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

There are perhaps two main reasons why Austin Airways was successful for so long: Jack Austin’s belief that his employees were entirely capable of running his airlines, and the firm belief of every employee in safety first.