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Member Profiles


Maxwell William Ward

Birthdate: November 22, 1921
Birth Place: Edmonton, Alberta
Death Date: November 2, 2020
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: O.C., LL.?D., The Billy Mitchell Award (INAC), The McKee Trophy, The Gordon R. McGregor Trophy, The C.D. Howe Award.

"His lengthy and continuing efforts to responsibly service this nations northern frontier by air, despite adversity, together with his development of a viable international charter service, have been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." Induction citation, 1974

Maxwell William 'Max' Ward, O.C., LL.D. (Hon), was born November 22,1921, in Edmonton, Alberta, where he was educated. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1940, received his pilot's wings and served as a commissioned flight instructor at various Canadian bases until 1945. He received his Commercial Pilot's Licence in 1945 and began his flying career when he was hired by Jack Moar as a bush pilot for Northern Flights Limited, operating from Peace River, Alberta, to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

In 1946 he organized his own air operation, Polaris Charter Company Limited, based in Yellowknife, with one single-engine aircraft, a de Havilland Fox Moth, hauling prospectors and supplies into the mining exploration camps.

In 1947 the Air Transport Board (ATB) made it necessary for every air carrier operating in Canada to obtain an ATB charter licence. Since he did not have a licence, Ward was advised by a Member of the ATB, J.P. Romeo Vachon, to form a partnership with a veteran bush pilot who already possessed a charter licence. In 1948 he and George Pigeon formed Yellowknife Airways on a 50-50 basis, each contributing one aircraft. Pigeon sold his portion of the company in 1949, forcing Ward to liquidate his share. In the fall of 1949 he left aviation to enter the home construction business in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Four years later Ward returned to Yellowknife with a newly-acquired de Havilland Otter and and a newly-formed company, Wardair Limited, with a licence to operate a domestic charter service from that location. He bought a DH Beaver in 1954, and a second Otter in 1955, gradually expanding his operation by adding a new aircraft each year. In 1957 he purchased the company's first heavy aircraft, a Bristol Freighter. Using oversized tires, he and his pilots pioneered the air transport of heavy equipment into the far Arctic, and in May 1967, made the first landing of an aircraft on wheels at the geographic North Pole.

In 1962 he introduced four-engined Douglas DC-6A freighter aircraft to high latitude operations, carrying heavy loads into semi-prepared landing strips. Ward received an ATB licence to operate international air charters, changed the corporate name to Wardair Canada Ltd., and opened an office in Edmonton. Despite numerous financial setbacks and governmental delays, he expanded his northern operation and commenced the first international overseas charter flight agency serving western Canada.

His airline became the third major Canadian carrier to operate pure jet aircraft in 1966, with the purchase of a Boeing 727, which he named Cy Becker. Two years later he added a Boeing 707 and christened it Punch Dickins. In 1969 he acquired another Boeing 707, named Wop May, and in 1973, a 452 passenger Boeing 747, and named it Phil Garratt. By 1973 his company was serving destinations in England, Europe, the Mediterranean countries, the Caribbean and Mexico, the United States, Hawaii, the Orient and the South Pacific Ocean islands, and had developed into Canada's largest international air charter carrier. Later aircraft in the fleet included four more Boeing 747's, three DC-10's, an Airbus A-300 and twelve Airbus A310's all named after Bush Pilots.

Wardair Canada established a reputation second to none anywhere in the world for efficient operations and top-rated service to the travelling public. But the 'Open Skies' concept came too late for Wardair Canada to continue. Years of delays in governmental decision making and bureaucratic obstacles, which prevented the company from developing to its full potential, caused Ward to consider his company's position. Rising costs and the prospect of deeper debt led to his decision to sell, and on May 2, 1989, the company was sold to the Pacific Western Airlines (PWA) Corporation, ending a brilliant chapter in the history of Canadian aviation.

Ward's outstanding achievements brought him recognition and honours. He was presented with the Billy Mitchell Award by the International Northwest Aviation Council (INAC) in 1971, and the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy for 1973 for his contributions to this nation's air transport services. In 1975 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (O.C.) for his outstanding contribution to aviation and to the development of Canada's north. He received several Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees. The Gordon R. McGregor Trophy was awarded him in 1979, and the C.D. Howe Award in 1991.

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

Suggested reading:
“The Max Ward Story” - Max Ward (1991)

Max Ward’s personal dedication, leadership and hard work were largely responsible for the success of Wardair. Through his enthusiasm and ability to inspire others, he created a team dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in every facet of the company’s operations.

Vi Milstead Warren

Birthdate: October 17, 1919
Birth Place: Toronto, Ontario
Death Date: June 27, 2014
Year Inducted: 2010
Awards: OC, The Amelia Earhart Medal (The 99's), The Rusty Blakey Award, The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal

"During the Second World War she served with the Air Transport Auxiliary in Great Britain, flying 47 different types of aircraft, including trainers, fighters and bombers from factories to airfields as the longest serving Canadian woman pilot with the ATA. Post-war, she flew as a flying instructor and as one of Canada's first female bush pilots, a role model for women seeking careers in aviation." - Induction citation, 2010

Vi Milstead Warren, CM was born in Toronto, Ontario on October 17, 1919. She was born to fly, a natural pilot. When taken out of school at the age of 15, she worked long hours, six days a week in her mother's wool shop to pay for flying lessons, taking her first lesson on September 4, 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War. On December 14 of that year she earned a private pilot's licence. At the age of 20 she opened her own wool shop to help finance her flying. Vi was to become an accomplished aviator in wartime and peacetime operations.

Three months after qualifying for her private license, she received a commercial license. Soon she became the subject of a film by her instructor, Pat Patterson, who hoped to use the film to draw students to Patterson and Hill Aircraft, flying from Barker Field at Toronto.

In 1941, Vi started as a flying instructor herself at Barker Field. Some of her students would go on to serve their country in the RCAF during the Second World War. However, her wool shop closed in late 1942 and fuel rationing ended civilian flying training in November. In January 1943 Vi took her last flight and closed her civilian log book for the duration of the war.

Craving to fly, what was she to do? The answer was provided with opportunity as a pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), formed in May 1938 by the British Overseas Airways Corporation, later to become British Airways Limited. The ATA was established as a civilian operation to ferry military aircraft within Great Britain. Originally, civilian pilots not eligible for military service were intended to fly light aircraft to transport mail, news dispatches, medical supplies, ambulance cases and VIPs in light aircraft. But within six months, pilots were flying trainer aircraft, fighters and bombers from factories to airfields. Eventually over 1,200 pilots served with the ATA, including 168 women, of whom only a few were Canadians. They were often called upon to fly any one of 147 different aircraft, often with no previous experience in a particular type.

By then Vi had logged approximately 1,000 hours. At Montreal she was interviewed for the ATA and given a flight test in a Harvard by the RCAF. It was the most powerful aircraft she had flown to that time, and the first with retractable undercarriage. She and another pilot, Marion Orr (Hall of Fame, 1982), destined to become lifelong friends, passed the test and April 19, 1943 they boarded a ship for England.

Pilots with the Air Transport Auxiliary progressed through a rigorous and thorough training program. First as cadets, they were promoted to Third Officer upon completion of training. After only six days in that rank, Vi was posted for training on more complex aircraft and promoted to Second Officer. Soon she was trained to fly advanced twins and promoted to First Officer.

She was a natural pilot and her petite size of 5'2" was no impediment to her skill at the controls of military aircraft. Moving from single engine trainers she was soon to fly much larger aircraft, twin-engined aircraft, including the Beaufighter, Blenheim, Boston, Dakota, Hudson, Ventura and Whitley. Aircraft she flew had distinguished records in the war, including Mitchell and Wellington bombers and fighter aircraft such as the Spitfire, Hurricane and Mustang. American aircraft she piloted included the Corsair, Wildcat, Hellcat and Typhoon. One she considered the ultimate was the Hawker Tempest, with its powerful 24-cylinder engine that cranked out 2,800 horsepower, but her sentimental favorite was the twin-engined De Havilland Mosquito.

Sometimes Vi's first flight would be her first solo in a particular type. From April 5, 1943 to the last of her ATA flights on July 31, 1945, she flew 47 different makes of aircraft, logging 623 hours. Vi was the longest serving Canadian woman pilot with the ATA.

Following service with the Air Transport Auxiliary, Vi returned to Canada and looked for a flying job. Instructing continued to be the main flying position open to women, but there was lots of competition for those jobs. Initially she worked at Leavens Brothers, flying again from Barker Field, and it was there that Vi Milstead met Arnold Warren, who was to become her husband.

In 1947 she and Arnold began work for Nickel Belt Airways of Sudbury and Vi became one of Canada's first female bush pilots. In that capacity she flew bush planes such as the Fairchild Husky and Fleet Canuck on floats, taking prospectors, miners, lumber personnel, hunters and fishermen in and out of camps in northern Ontario. Her job also included spotting and reporting forest fires and taking men to combat fires. .

In 1950, Vi and Arnold were invited to Windsor, Ontario to reactivate the Windsor Flying Club. In 1952, Arnold was contracted to train pilots in Indonesia and during her time there with him, Vi provided private lessons to aspiring pilots. Upon returning to Canada, she and Arnold sought more conventional jobs and in 1955 Vi obtained a position with Orenda Engines in Toronto, serving as secretary to Alan Wingate, an RCAF veteran "whom Vi had taught to fly in 1941". Later, Vi moved to the Ontario Water Commission "where she worked until retiring in 1973. After retirement she and Arnold continued to fly in their own aircraft, a Piper Cub and later a Mooney.

Vi Milstead Warren served as a wartime ferry pilot, as a commercial pilot, and as an instructor when it was rare for women to fly in and of those capacities. In 2004 she was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada. Other honours have also been bestowed upon Vi. In 1978 the East Canada Section of the Ninety-Nines (a women's aviation organization) awarded her the Amelia Earhart Medal for contributions to aviation. In 1995, the Rusty Blakey Heritage Group in Sudbury celebrated her work as a bush pilot. In 1996, her work as an ATA pilot was documented in a film, “A Time For Courage”, produced by Cooper Rock Pictures. In 2004 she was inducted as a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2012 she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Vi Milstead Warren has served as a role model for women in aviation. Her accomplishments are a credit to her character and her skill as a pilot, and are an inspiration to those who would follow in her flight paths. She continued to live in her beautiful log home at Cobourg, Ontario until her death, at age 94, on  June 27, 2014.

Vi Milstead Warren was inducted as a member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame June 10, 2010 at a ceremony held in Vancouver, B.C..

Suggested reading:
“No Place for a Lady - The story of Canadian Women Pilots” - Shirley Render (1992)

The “Vi Milstead and Arnold Warren Flight Training Scholarship Fund” offers opportunities to future pilots in Colborne, Ontario.

Donald Netterville Watson

Nickname: Don
Birthdate: September 21, 1921
Birth Place: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Death Date: January 30, 2013
Year Inducted: 1974

"He has given of himself unstintingly and without reserve as a pilot, engineer and administrator to every facet of aeronautical challenge facing him, and despite adversity, has fostered a spirit in others of a willingness to succeed that has been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

Donald Netterville (Don) Watson was born on September 21, 1921, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and was educated there. He worked after school hours as an apprentice to Konnie Johannesson's Flying Service. By 1938 he had soloed in an Avro Avion but since he was only 17, and the minimum age for licencing was 19, he could only build up flying time in the ensuing period. He earned an Air Engineer's Licence at that time.

Watson joined Canadian Airways the same year as an air engineer and remained there until 1940, when the Canadian government requested his assistance with the technical, administrative and flying functions of the newly formed British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). He served that organization with distinction, assisting with the formation of No. 5 Air Observer's School. In 1945 he served the Alaskan Wing of the United States Army Air Force Transport Command as a Flight Engineer. At the end of World War II, he joined Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPA).

In 1946 he used his organizational skills to co-ordinate, with the Saskatchewan government, the first systematic air ambulance service on the North American continent. The world-respected Saskatchewan Government Air Ambulance Service operated with one specially-equipped Noorduyn Norseman, which he served as air engineer. J.J. Audette was also a pilot for this service. During Watson's tenure the service transported more than 6,000 patients in all types of flying weather, some from isolated and nearly inaccessible locations, to medical treatment centres, possibly saving hundreds of lives.

He joined Ontario Central Airlines at Kenora, Ontario, in 1949 and became Managing Director.

In 1958 Watson joined the executive staff of Pacific Western Airlines (PWA), which was incorporated in 1953 by R.F. Baker. He was appointed Assistant to the Vice-President and General Manager. In 1964 Watson became Vice-President, management and technical services. PWA, Canada's largest independent airline, maintained scheduled flights in western Canada with charter flights to Europe, Hawaii and Mexico. During the expansion years of the late 1960's and early 1970's, the airline set up the triangle service between Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle, Washington; the Calgary-Edmonton, Alberta, air-bus service; and the northern service to Yellowknife and Inuvik. Watson rose to become President and Chief Executive Officer, an office he held from 1970 to 1976, when the airline was taken over by the Alberta government. He retired from PWA in 1976.

Watson was elected Chairman of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) for the 1964 and 1974 terms in recognition of his understanding of global air transport problems and their solutions, and his contributions to Canadian aviation. He succeeded C.L. 'Punch' Dickins as Chairman of the Board of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1975.

In 1976 he was appointed Chairman of Canadian Cellulose Company, and in 1978, President and Chief Executive Officer. In 1982 he was named Chairman of B.C. Resources Investment Corporation.

Watson was made an Honorary Life Member of ATAC in 1976. He was recognized by the International Northwest Aviation Council by being named to its Roll of Honour in 1986. In 1984 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement in Aviation Award from the British Columbia Aviation Council, and was given a Pioneer Award from the Western Canada Aviation Museum in 1995. In 2004 the newly renovated Transport Canada building at Richmond, B.C. was named after him. He died at Vancouver, B.C. in 2013.

Donald Netterville (Don) Watson was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held at Edmonton, Alberta.

While he was President of P.W.A., Don Watson assisted people in many countries by sending company aircraft on emergency food and relief missions to Africa and other destinations.

Roland Burgess West

Birthdate: January 25, 1919
Birth Place: Medford, Nova Scotia
Death Date: July 2, 2001
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: D.F.C., A.F.C., C.D.*, The McKee Trophy

"The unselfish dedication of his outstanding aeronautical skills to the perfecting of new techniques for search and rescue operations, has been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

Roland Burgess West, D.F.C., A.F.C., C.D.*, was born in Medford, Nova Scotia, on January 25, 1919. He was educated there and at Kentville, Nova Scotia, before taking employment as a boat pilot on the Bay of Fundy. In 1941 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), trained in eastern Canada and was awarded his pilot's wings the following year. After operational training at Nassau, British West Indies, he was promoted to Flying Officer and posted to No. 116 Squadron, operating out of the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador. For his service on anti-submarine patrols over the North Atlantic Ocean, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.) in 1945.

West attended the Staff Course at Toronto, Ontario in 1946, and was transferred to No. 103 Search and Rescue Squadron at Greenwood, Nova Scotia. As a captain, during the next two years he flew approximately 2,000 hours on search and rescue operations for missing aircraft, ships at sea, and transporting critically ill patients to hospital.

In 1947 West was awarded the Air Force Cross (A.F.C.) for two consecutive mercy flights which resulted in the saving of human life. The first was made from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Harrington Harbour, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, through difficult winter flying conditions, to evacuate a 15 year-old pneumonia patient to hospital at Goose Bay, Labrador. On .the heels of this successful mission he was ordered to Mutton Bay, Labrador, through equally difficult weather, to fly out a seriously ill expectant mother. This flight was accomplished despite damage to the flying boat by rough seas. Prior to these particular rescue missions, he had completed a number of other rescue missions in different coastal areas.

The Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy for 1948 was awarded to West in recognition of his outstanding contribution to advancement in the field of aviation search and rescue operations during the year. During the Fraser River floods in British Columbia in 1948, West flew many hours carrying sandbags and other essential materials. Sandbags were dropped from the air to ground crews who formed dykes to hold back the flooding waters. The flying done during this mission was under the leadership of Group Captain Z.L. Leigh.

A promotion to Flight Lieutenant and appointment as recruiting officer at Brandon, Manitoba, in 1949 was followed by a tour of duty at Centralia, Ontario. In 1952 West was ordered to Summerside, Prince Edward Island, to eventually command the flying activities of the Air Navigation School, where he was promoted to Squadron Leader. A three-year posting to Goose Bay in 1953 was followed by a twelve-month jet pilot's course in 1956, at Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, and Cold Lake, Alberta. He was transferred to No. 416 Squadron at St. Hubert, Quebec, the following year, and was named Base Commander in 1959.

The Canadian Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) hired West in 1960 to work on infra-red research at Cartierville, Quebec. Here he flew Beech C-45's, de Havilland Otters, and Avro CF-100's. With this background he was sent to Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S.A., where he commanded the Canadian Task Force, known as Operation Lookout. This was a joint RCAF-CARDE operation on missile lift off and re-entry. He remained there for three years, flying CF-100's for research data.

In 1964 West returned to Rockcliffe, Ontario, and was named a senior officer of the Air Material Command. His responsibility was for all aircraft ferry operations throughout the RCAF, all aspects of flight safety and accident assessments, plus nuclear defence and emergency plans for all members of the unit. He retired from the service in 1966 to manage a branch of Merriam Graves Corporation in the state of Vermont. He died in Brockville, Ontario on July 2, 2001.

Roland Burgess West was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held at Edmonton, Alberta.


In June 1948 Roland West was chosen to perform the first large-scale Rain-Making Operation in Canada, which successfully produced large quantities of rain north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where forest fires burned out of control. He used a Lancaster aircraft with heavy loads of dry ice to ‘seed’ the tops of clouds at a high altitude.

William J. Wheeler

Nickname: Bill
Birthdate: November 10, 1931
Birth Place: Port Arthur, Ontario
Death Date: January 21, 2020
Year Inducted: 2011
Awards: Mac McIntyre Award (CAHS)

"A founding member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Bill Wheeler served as editor of the CAHS Journal for 45 years with tireless effort and dedication to the Society. His work is seen in the publication of a respected magazine that carried stories, photographs and art in a comprehensive portrayal of many diverse aspects of Canadian aviation history." - Induction citation, 2011

William J. 'Bill' Wheeler was born in 1931 in Port Arthur, Ontario and attended school there at Central Public School. His father, the city architect, designed and supervised the construction of the school in 1909. By the time Bill completed Grade 13 at Port Arthur Collegiate in 1950, he had developed an interest in aviation.

In 1955 Bill graduated from the Ontario College of Art with an AOCA (Associate of Ontario College of Art) diploma. While there he met fellow student Pat Smith, married her in 1955, and they became parents of three sons. Bill worked as a freelance illustrator during the early 1960s with assignments from de Havilland and various other publishers including the Toronto Star Weekly, doing most of their illustrations of aircraft and ships.

For publisher Macmillan of Canada, in 1958 he illustrated a book called Knights of the Air: Canadian Aces of World War I, which went through eight printings and two editions. It was his first aviation publication, with stories of several aviators who have since been inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame - William (Billy) Bishop, Freddie McCall, Wilfrid (Wop) May, William (Bill) Barker, and Raymond Collishaw.

In 1962, meetings were held at Bill's home to discuss formation of an organization to address the significance of aviation in Canada. Thus Bill became one of the founding members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS) in 1962, holding membership number 5. In 45 years as editor, he published 180 editions of the CAHS Journal. Under his direction it grew to become the foremost journal of Canadian aviation history. With a readership that spans Canada, and extends into the United States, the United Kingdom and beyond, the Journal is one of the most important ties that binds CAHS members together.

Celebrated aviation artist Robert Bradford, patron of CAHS and himself an inducted member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, has written that, "Whatever took place in those early meetings that spawned the CAHS, it is certain that the Society needed a central figure to create and sustain a 'Journal' that would establish its presence in the aviation community. Bill Wheeler was that central figure. He was a published author and a trained artist, but more importantly, he was incurably enthusiastic and devoted to his new role."

Bill Wheeler's abiding interest in art and his passion for aviation history have been instrumental in producing a publication in which hundreds of stories, thousands of pictures, and cover art by some of Canada's best-known aviation artists have been shared with CAHS Journal readership. In producing the CAHS Journal for over four decades, Bill has himself become one of Canada's most knowledgeable aviation historians.

He worked at building CAHS membership by attending air shows and events where aviation enthusiasts gathered. His enthusiasm for Canadian aviation history encouraged others to join and participate in the organization, which eventually grew to 1,300 members with eleven chapters across Canada.

In the late 1960s Bill furthered his education with completion of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Toronto. Starting with the Scarborough Board of Education, now part of Toronto's educational system, he taught for 28 years, serving as head of the art department. He retired from teaching at West Hill Collegiate in 1994.

Dr. George Topple of the Toronto CAHS Chapter has written that, "One of Mr. Wheeler's greatest talents is to befriend people in the aviation world and encourage them to write about their experiences and submit them for Journal publication. Over the years Bill cultivated many friendships with aviation artists who subsequently provided the first class art that is found on Journal covers."

Serving as volunteer editor for a national quarterly publication and recruiting writers and artists to share their work can be a tedious job. However, Wheeler says personal rewards included the opportunity to define and shape the Journal. "I got a lot of satisfaction in meeting all the people I came to know and in recording their stories. Otherwise, I would never have met people like First World War pilot, Harold Anthony "Doc" Oaks, who helped establish Western Canada Airways. Another memorable character was Arthur E. 'Jock' Jarvis, who also flew in the First World War."

Lt. Gen William 'Bill' Carr, retired from the Canadian Forces, has stated that, "Some Members (of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame) demonstrated outstanding skill and determination in the air. Many others, however, made equally important contributions to aviation's advancement and success in the fields of research and innovative leadership of the industry. The recording of these events and dissemination of their history has been tackled by many, but none better than that from the brain and pen of Bill Wheeler. Bill Wheeler's work over the many years of his faithful and precise recording and reporting of aviation history matches the very best this country has to offer."

Bill's work was instrumental in recognition given to the Canadian Aviation Historical Society by Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, which bestowed the Belt of Orion Award for Excellence upon the CAHS in 2001. Bill himself has been recognized by his readers with their selection of him to receive an annual CAHS Mac Mclntyre Award for the best-researched article to appear in the Journal.

Bill has also published four other aviation books. "Images of Flight" (1992) is a portfolio of paintings by Canada's best-known aviation artists. "Skippers of the Sky", (2000) is a selection of stories about bush pilots that first appeared in the pages of the CAHS Journal. Volume 1 of "Flying Under Fire" (2000) and Volume 2 (2004) are aviation stories from the Second World War.

When Bill left the editor's chair in 2008 he was approached by the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society to produce a special edition publication celebrating Canada's Centennial of Powered Flight. Published by the Toronto chapter, this standalone publication is a 40-page account of Canadian aviation history and was widely distributed by aviation museums in North America. The volume was a fitting cap to nearly a half-century of Bill Wheeler's work in sharing important aviation stories in an unmatched contribution to the published word for present and future generations.

Bill Wheeler was inducted as a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame on May 26, 2011 at a ceremony held in Hamilton, Ontario. Bill passed away on the 21st of January 2020 and will be missed by all of us.

Suggested reading:
“Knights of the Air: Canadian Aces of World War I” - John Harris (1958) - ASIN: B000J44F4O
“Images of Flight” - Bill Wheeler (1992) - ASIN: B00HAQR13G
“Skippers of the Sky” - Bill Wheeler (2000) - ISBN-13: 978-1894004459
“Flying Under Fire” Volume 1 - Bill Wheeler (2000) - ISBN-13: 978-1894004794
“Flying Under Fire” Volume 2 - Bill Wheeler (2004) -ISBN-13: 978-1894856072


Bill has also published four other aviation books. Images of Flight (1992) is a portfolio of paintings by Canada's best-known aviation artists. Skippers of the Sky, (2000) is a selection of stories about bush pilots that first appeared in the pages of the CAHS Journal. Volume 1 of Flying Under Fire (2000) and Volume 2 (2004) are aviation stories from the Second World War.

Robert Allan White

Nickname: Bud
Birthdate: December 11, 1928
Birth Place: Sudbury, Ontario
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: OMM, SSM (NATO), QSJM, CD**, The McKee (TransCanada) Trophy, and BC Aviation Council “Lifetime Achievement Award”

"His record can be matched only by those airmen of high endeavor and professional calling who have devoted their lives and skills to the benefit of the free world, and whose contributions have substantially benefited Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

Robert Allan (Bud) White, OMM, SSM (NATO), QSJM, C.D.**, B.A.Sc., M.B.A., was born on December 11, 1928, in Sudbury, Ontario, and grew up in Kirkland Lake. He learned to fly in 1946 at Larder Lake, Ontario, and obtained his Private Pilot's License at Toronto, Ontario, while attending Upper Canada College. For two summers he was employed by Imperial Oil Ltd. as an engine-room seaman, initially on the Great Lakes, and in 1948 aboard oil tankers to Venezuelan ports.

His desire to become a military pilot resulted in acceptance into the Royal Military College (RMC) at Kingston, Ontario, in 1948 under an Air Cadet and later a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Benevolent Fund Scholarship. During the summer of 1951 he obtained his pilot's wings at Centralia, Ontario, and the following year he graduated from RMC as a Flying Officer in the RCAF regular force. He then attended the University of Toronto during 1952-53 and graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

After completing the fighter operational training course (OTU) at Chatham, New Brunswick, White was transferred overseas to No. 427 Fighter Squadron at Zweibrucken, Germany, where he flew F-86 Sabres for 3 1/2 years during the peak of the Cold War. He returned to Canada in 1957 for brief tours of duty as resident staff officer at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, and on the staff of Central Flying School, Trenton, Ontario. Pre-selected to join the Avro Arrow flight test team, he then returned to England in 1959 as a Flight Lieutenant to attend the year-long course at the Empire Test Pilot's School at Farnborough.

With the Arrow cancellation, White returned to engineering test-flying duties in Canada in 1960 with the Central Experimental and Proving Establishment (CEPE) at Edmonton, Alberta. There he served with the Climatic Detachment at Namao, and as the Detachment Commander and resident test pilot at Northwest Industries Ltd., conducting acceptance trials on Canadair T-33 and Fairchild C-119 aircraft for the RCAF. During this 2-year period, he received a commendation for saving his crew and a C-119 Boxcar aircraft when he faced an engine failure on takeoff at maximum weight during an engineering test flight . He also completed the Air Transport Command 'Captains' OTU course at Trenton, and the RCAF Staff School course at Toronto.

In 1962 White was one of 4 Canadians loaned to the United States Air Force (USAF) Space Systems Division at Los Angeles, California, for service with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space programs. He spent the first year with the Mercury manned program, then returned to the Gemini Launch Vehicle Directorate as an Operations Project Officer with the rank of Squadron Leader. There he was responsible for Pilot Safety, Man-Rating and  Acceptance programs with responsibility during operations for engines, propellants and  loading systems. He was also the Program Office "Chaperon" for the critical GLV#2  'All-Up Systems Unmanned Launch Vehicle' from Baltimore assembly and  test through Canaveral erection, test and  successful launch. During his 3 1/2 years with the USAF and NASA, working out of Los Angeles, Sacramento, Baltimore and Cape Kennedy (Canaveral), he served with distinction in the acceptance and launch programs for the last two Mercury and the first four Gemini manned NASA space flights, as well as representing his Gemini Program office during other associated military and  NASA launches.

He returned to Canada in 1965 to attend the last RCAF Staff College course before being assigned to the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment (AETE) as Officer Commanding flying operations. In 1967 he was promoted to Wing Commander and named Senior Test Pilot (STP) of AETE (which at the time was an Air Force 'mini-command with units from Prestwick, Scotland to Ottawa, Cold Lake, Namao, Churchill and Yuma, Arizona.)

During 1967 he led the Canadian Centennial Team, composed of military, government and civilian personnel, in challenging the Russian-held World Altitude record for aircraft during Canada’s Centennial Year. They focused the highest level of Canadian technology on special instrumentation and modifications to a CF-104 Starfighter aircraft, and a unique 'Zoom' profile. Arrangements for tracking were made with the Defence Research Board and Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE) in Ottawa; and authentication was provided by the Canadian Flying Clubs Association. After 42 flights and  25 'zooms' (with 12 of them above 96,000 feet). Wing Commander White terminated the program in December. He had failed to beat the Russian record (which had used rocket booster assist). He had, however, piloted the aircraft to a new Federation Aeronautique International (FAI) Canadian record of 100,100 feet (30,510 m) which still stands to this day. He was awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy in 1968 for his leadership and flying skills in this undertaking. His unique CF-104 #700 is still on display in the National Aeronautical collection in Ottawa.

The following year, White was appointed Director of Cadets and Military Training at the RMC. In this capacity he was responsible for implementing sweeping social and structural changes which greatly strengthened the ethos and ethics of officer education at the military colleges. In 1972-73 he attended the USAF Air War College at Montgomery, Alabama, graduating with distinction, while at the same time obtaining a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Auburn University. After his return to Canada in 1973, he was promoted to Colonel and took over the Directorate of Policy Coordination and Review (DPCR), which eventually provided the secretariat and inner staffing for the Chief and  Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff and the Deputy Minister at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ), Ottawa.

In 1976 he was appointed Base Commander of CFB North Bay, Ontario, a North American Air Defence (NORAD) Command base and home of the 22nd NORAD region, with one of the largest underground military facilities in the western world. Originally sent to oversee the closure of the base, Colonel White convinced Air Command and NDHQ not only to retain the base, but to upgrade and modernize the underground facility.

In 1979, after 31 years of distinguished service and with 52 aircraft types to his credit, he took early retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces to accept an offer from Noranda Mines Ltd. to become Vice-President and  General Manager of their Special Metals Division nuclear tube manufacturing facility at Arnprior, Ontario. In 1981 after Noranda and  Sandvik of Sweden formed a co-venture known as Nor-Sand Metals Inc, Bud White became their first President. In 1983, he returned to his aviation roots, moving to British Columbia as a Board Director and  Executive Vice President (Operations) of Canadian Aircraft Products (CAP) in Richmond , BC. There he was deeply involved in the expansion and  profitability of major aircraft  component and  composite production, leading to the purchase of CAP by Avcorp in 1985/86.

For his engineering test flying, Gemini Program Office service with the USAF and  NASA, and particularly for his leadership of the Centennial team, Colonel White was made an Officer of the Order of Military Merit (O.M.M.) by the Governor General of Canada in June 1974 in Ottawa. A month later, as one of the 28 McKee Trophy recipients and  with 79 others in total,  he was inducted as a Member of the "First Class" of the new Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

An outstanding athlete and  hockey player at UCC and  RMC, White played for the RCAF Flyers against the top National teams in Europe. An accomplished skier, he became a professional ski instructor while serving at NDHQ. After retirement from Avcorp Industries and  moving to Whistler, BC in 1986, he taught skiing professionally for 6 years, began to race competitively in Masters competitions, and became a certified ski Racing Coach. Also while in Whistler, he moved from hiking into serious mountaineering, with successful climbs of Mount Waddington, the Grand Teton, and the Tantalus Range.

In 1950,  while recovering from a sport injury in Toronto General Hospital, Bud was captivated by his beautiful young nurse, Lee Smith. They were married following RMC graduation, and have 4 children, 8 grandkids and  2 great-grandkids.  In 1993, Bud and  Lee White moved to Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island in order to fulfill Lee's dream of seeing animals in Southern Africa. During the next 10 years in New Zealand, they travelled widely; Bud joined a  syndicate of Hi-Country Marino sheep ranchers with a Cessna 172;  taught skiing and  raced in the NZ and  US Masters Championships; and went hiking and  climbing in the Summers.

Bud and  Lee White moved back to Canada in 2004, and currently live in a Vancouver hi-rise condo. He has served on the CAHF Board of Directors; was President of the Air Force Officers Association and  the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust; currently owns and  flies his own Navion aircraft; and still skis at Whistler/Blackcomb at the age of 88. In 2009, the BC Aviation Council honoured him with their prestigious "Lifetime Achievement Award" in recognition of "his notable achievements and distinguished service in military and civilian aviation".

Wing Commander R.A. “Bud” White set a Canadian altitude record of 100,100 feel (30,500 m) at RCAF Uplands, Ontario on December 14, 1967. He borrowed a Gemini astronaut space suit for his attempts at setting a new altitude record.

Dafydd R. Williams

Nickname: Dave
Birthdate: May 16, 1954
Birth Place: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Year Inducted: 2012
Awards: C.M., FCFP, FRCP, LL.D. (Hon), D.Sc.(Hon), NASA outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal

"As a physician and Canadian astronaut in two missions aboard NASA Space Shuttles, Dave Williams conducted medical experiments and has worked at the International Space Station. Trained also as an aquanaut, in both sea and space he carried out medical projects and has served in management of space program development." - Induction citation, 2012

Dafydd (Dave) Williams, M.Sc., IVI.D., C.IVI., FCFP, FRCP, LL.D., D.Sc. was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on May 16, 1954. Inspired in part by seeing the RCAF Golden Hawks acrobatic team in action, he says, "I thought about being an astronaut when I was seven years old and watched the original NASA astronauts on TV. As a boy he built model aircraft and following high school at Beaconsfield, Quebec, he was a member of McGill University's Sky Diving Club. In 1976 he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from McGill.

Dave then earned his M.Sc. and M.D. degrees from McGill and completed a residency in family medicine practice in 1985 through the University of Ottawa. In 1988 he completed a residency in emergency medicine at the University of Toronto.

Dave's professional involvement included serving as a member of the Air Ambulance Utilization Committee with the Ministry of Health in Ontario. He trained ambulance attendants, paramedics, nurses, residents and physicians in cardiac and trauma resuscitation with the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation and the American College of Surgeons. In 1989-92 he served as an emergency physician and in 1992 became director of the Department of Emergency Services at Sunnybrook Health Centre and assistant professor of surgery and medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. Williams is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

While pursuing a career in medicine, Dave met his wife, Cathy Fraser, and encouraged her to pursue her dream of flying. She subsequently became a flying instructor at the Rockcliffe Flying Club in Ottawa and Toronto Airways, and helped Dave earn his private pilot's license in the 1980s. He continued on to earn both commercial and multi-engine licenses and trained in aerobatics.

In 1992 he was selected by the Canadian Space Agency as one of four successful candidates from over 5300 applicants to begin basic training as an astronaut. In 1993 he was appointed manager of the Missions and Space Medicine Group with the Canadian Astronaut Program. His assignments included implementation of space medicine activities in the Space Unit Life Simulation project. In a seven-day simulated space mission, he was the principal investigator to study training and retention of resuscitation skills by non-medical astronauts.

In 1995 Dr. Williams was selected to join a group of international astronaut candidates and reported to NASA, serving in various capacities for the next three years. In April, 1998 he was aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia as a Mission Specialist in Mission STS-90 as one of the seven-person crew during the l6-day space flight that orbited Earth 256 times. Dave served as medical officer, Extra Vehicular Activity crew-member, flight engineer during the ascent phase, and helped perform 26 experiments focusing on the effects of microgravity on the brain and nervous system.

For the next four years he held the position of Director of the Space and Life Science Directorate at the Johnson Space Center, the first non-American to hold a senior management position within NASA, for which he was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. As a pilot, during that time he completed a multi-engine turboprop rating and continued his interest in aerobatics.

In 2001 Dave became an aquanaut through participation in the joint NASA-NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) NEEMO-1 mission, a seven-day training exercise held in Aquarius, the underwater research laboratory located off the coast of Florida, becoming the first Canadian to have lived and worked in both space and the ocean. Aquanauts are involved with experiments conducted underwater, using spacewalk techniques. Dave was involved in planning medical objectives in NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Missions Operation) projects and in 2006 he led the NEEMO-9 mission as crew commander of an 18-day project dedicated to assess technologies for remote medical care.

Dave's second space flight was with Mission STS-118 from August 8-21, 2007, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station, following which he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. During the mission, the crew of the Endeavour added another truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the Station. Dave participated in three spacewalks and was lead spacewalker in two of them. A new system that enables docked Shuttles to draw electrical power from the Station was activated. During training, Dave was involved in testing for human factors in a range of advanced spacesuits for use in low earth orbit and planetary exploration.

A veteran of two space flights, Dave Williams has logged over 687 hours in space, including nearly 18 hours in three spacewalks. In March, 2008 he retired from astronaut service and joined the clinical staff at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario and the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University as a professor of surgery and Director of the McMaster Centre for Medical Robotics. In June, 2010 Dr. Williams announced the creation of the first scholarship in the McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering, named the Dave Williams Graduate Scholarship.

In July, 2011 Dr. Williams became President and CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ontario, bringing his experience in medicine, science and management to a new challenge, managing a tertiary care community hospital that employs 2,800 people, including 500 physicians and supported by 900 volunteers. An accomplished public speaker, he has the ability to draw on his varied experiences to weave together the insights he has gained as a physician, pilot, scientist, aquanaut and astronaut. He is the fourth Canadian astronaut to be inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.

Dave Williams was inducted as a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame on June 14, 2012 at a ceremony held in Montreal, Quebec.


Dave and his wife, Cathy, now a Boeing 767 captain with Air Canada, have two children, Evan and Olivia, and the family lives in Oakville, Ontario. Dave and Cathy enjoy hiking, kayaking, canoeing and skiing. Dave is frequently called upon as a speaker for topics including health care and technology, environmental stewardship, risk management, and motivation. In 2009 he joined the Board of Directors of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, where some of the memorabilia from his space missions have been placed in a space collection. As well, he has logged time in flying a number of the Museum's vintage aircraft. His log book shows that he has now flown over 30 types of aircraft.

Thomas Frederick Williams

Nickname: Tommy
Birthdate: October 12, 1885
Birth Place: Ingersoll, Ontario
Death Date: July 25, 1985
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: M.C., M.M.V. (Italy)

"His exemplary conduct in aerial combat and his half-century of dedication to the science of aeronautics, despite adversity, has inspired young and old alike, and his total involvement in flight has been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

Thomas Frederic (Tommy) Williams, M.C., was born on October 12, 1885, in Ingersoll, Ontario, where he was educated. At the outbreak of World War I he joined the Legion of Frontiersmen at Calgary, Alberta. He resigned from their ranks almost immediately to enlist with the Corps of Guides, then transferred again to the Provost Corps of the First Canadian Division. He arrived in France in February 1915. He served with distinction in the lines until recommended for a commission in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) by Major General Sir Arthur Currie.

Following operational training in Scotland and England, Williams was awarded his wings and a promotion to Lieutenant. He was posted to No. 45 Squadron, RFC, in France as a fighter pilot, flying a Sopwith Camel from the front lines against Baron von Richthofen's 'Flying Circus'. During this period he destroyed four German aircraft in combat. The squadron was posted to Italy in December 1917. Within three months of fighting in the Alps, he had raised his score of enemy aircraft destroyed to ten, and was awarded the Military Cross (M.C.) for consistent gallantry and devotion to duty. The Italian government also decorated him with the Valore Militare Medal (M.M.V).

This string of victories led to his promotion as Flight Commander of No. 28 Squadron, RFC, with the rank of Captain. In 1918, when his aircraft was disabled by enemy anti-aircraft fire, Williams glided a long distance through mountain passes to a safe landing at an Allied base. A new wing and tank were fitted in the field and both Williams and his Camel returned to duty before dark that day. He outfought one hostile aircraft in the air and forced him to crash-land.

He ended his combat career with victories over 14 enemy aircraft. He was ordered to England in August 1918, for medical reasons and rest. Heart problems often became evident in pilots who flew at high altitudes for long periods of time without an auxiliary supply of oxygen. After being posted to the School of Air Fighting at Beamsville, Ontario, as an examining officer, he returned to England in 1919 to resign his commission.

Back in Canada, Williams took a refresher flying course in 1920 at Camp Borden, Ontario, during which time he earned his Commercial Pilot's Licence with night endorsement, and his Air Engineer's Certificate. He bought his father's farm at Sweaburg, Ontario, then leased an adjoining estate, purchased an airplane and turned the operation into an airport.

From 1927 to 1931, Williams owned a commercial air service in southwestern Ontario and later became flying instructor at the Kitchener-Waterloo Flying Club. In 1934 he was named Chief Flying Instructor at the London Flying Club in Ontario and earned his Instrument Flight Rating. Jack Moar hired him in 1937 as a pilot for Skylines Express out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, flying a daily service into the mining areas of northern Ontario. When the company ceased operations a year later, Williams became a charter pilot and instructor for a flying concern at Rouyn, Quebec.

When Canada declared war against Germany in 1939, Williams joined Fleet Aircraft Company at Fort Erie, Ontario, as Chief Pilot, a position he held for eight years. On retirement in 1947, he purchased the Fleet 21M that he had been using at Fleet Aircraft to test-drop parachutes, and flew it for pleasure. Before selling it in 1971, he performed one last solo aerobatic flight, in his 87th year, when he was officially recognized as the world's oldest active pilot. After 56 years as an aviator, he allowed his licence to lapse.

Tommy Williams lived his philosophy “Plan to die young, but late as possible”. At age 96 he compiled a book, "Poetry and Prose". He died at Woodstock, Ontario, on July 25, 1985, less than three months short of his 100th birthday.

In June 2014, a park in Sweaburg, Ontario was named in his honour, Tommy Williams Memorial Park.

Thomas Frederic (Tommy) Williams was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.


On October 12, 1971, the day he sold his Fleet 21M, “Tommy” Williams flew it for 30 minutes, with loops, rolls and a spin, considering that this would be his final solo flying exhibition. It was. He had just started his eighty-seventh year of life that day!

Arthur Haliburton Wilson

Birthdate: July 27, 1899
Birth Place: Kendal, England
Death Date: December 30, 1983
Year Inducted: 1979
Awards: The Honour Roll (INAC)

"The dedication of his superior instructional abilities in airmanship to several generations of embryonic pilots, and his general up-grading of aeronautical facilities, have been of substantial benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1979

Arthur Haliburton Wilson was born in Kendal, England, on July 27, 1899. He received his education at the Old College, Windemere, and Dover College, Kent, then joined the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) as a provisional officer in March 1918. After graduating from the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, he earned his pilot wings at No. 7 Training Depot Squadron, Feltwell, in October 1918. On completion of an instructor's course, his superior instructional abilities resulted in his return to Feltwell as a training officer, where he served until being demobilized in early 1919.

In 1923 Wilson immigrated to Canada to live in Victoria, British Columbia. Four years later he enrolled in a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) refresher course which he completed at Camp Borden, Ontario. He joined British Columbia Airways Limited in 1929 to begin the first inter-city landplane service between Victoria and Vancouver in British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., flying a Ford Tri-Motor aircraft. In this capacity he became the first captain of a multi-engined aircraft on the west coast. Following severe damage to this aircraft by another pilot, Wilson completed a seaplane course with the RCAF at Jericho Beach, Vancouver, in the spring of 1929. In the fall of that year, he joined Alaska-Washington Airways, flying a Fairchild 71 seaplane between Vancouver and Victoria, until this aircraft, too, was put out of service when it was crashed by another pilot.

Wilson joined the Aero Club of British Columbia at Vancouver in 1930 as Chief Flying Instructor. He earned a distinct reputation as a Club instructor, becoming the central figure in the drive for high standards of flying techniques so evident on the West Coast during his tenure. He was granted a Class 1 Instructor's Rating, the first issued in Western Canada by the Ministry of Transport. In 1936, when instruction in instrument flying was becoming a requirement of the Flying Clubs in Canada, he was chosen to take an instrument flying course at Camp Borden. He then became the instructor to which all other Club instructors in western Canada came for training. As well, he was a proficient aerobatics instructor, and the first pilot in his area to fly a towed glider.

While he was with the Aero Club, Wilson became active in the RCAF's No. 111 Auxiliary Squadron at Vancouver during the late 1930's. In the opening stages of World War II he completed further flying courses with the RCAF at Camp Borden. His first assignment was to open Patricia Bay Air Station on Vancouver Island. He was then given Command of the Jericho Beach Air Station at Vancouver. In 1941 he was the first Commander of No. 10 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) at Dauphin, Manitoba. From there he was transferred to command No. 4 SFTS at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Wilson retired from the service in 1944 with the rank of Group Captain, and joined the Airways Division of the Department of Transport. He later became Regional Superintendent of Airways in British Columbia. In this position he personally flew over all areas of the province to update existing airports and establish new flying fields. His innovations in many aeronautical fields brought new standards of flight safety to the province, including the installation of markers on cables which stretched across many of British Columbia's valleys.

In 1965 Wilson retired from aviation. He was honoured in 1979 by the International Northwest Aviation Council (INAC) for his accomplishments in instructing by having his name placed on the Honour Roll. He had qualified as a pilot on 68 aircraft types during a career which spanned almost half a century. He died at Vancouver, B.C. on December 30, 1983.

Arthur Haliburton Wilson was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1979 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

Inaugural flights always created excitement. On the first flight of B.C. Airways from Victoria to Vancouver, the Mayor of Vancouver rushed forward to greet the civic dignitary from Victoria and received a crack over the head from one of the propellers of the Ford “Trimotor”. This, it was felt, was of historical note, inasmuch as Mayor L.D. Taylor became one of the few persons who have survived this type of accident.

John Armistead Wilson

Birthdate: November 2, 1879
Birth Place: Broughty Ferry, Scotland
Death Date: October 10, 1954
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: C.B.E., The Julian C. Smith Memorial Medal, The McKee Trophy, Medal of Liberation (Norway)

"The application of his engineering and management abilities to the problems facing the nation's emergence into the air age has been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

John Armistead Wilson, C.B.E., was born in Broughty Ferry, Scotland, on November 2, 1879, and was educated there. At the age of sixteen he became apprenticed to an engineering firm in Scotland, and qualified as an engineer in 1901 at Leeds, England. He worked in Calcutta, India, as an engineer for four years, and in 1905 chose to settle in Canada. Until 1909 he worked as an engineer on the construction of Canada Cement Company plants at Exshaw, Alberta, and Hull, Quebec.

In 1910, because of his keen interest in early aviation, he joined the newly-formed Department of Naval Service as Director of Stores and Contracts. In 1918 he was promoted to Assistant Deputy Minister of the Naval Service, responsible for organizing the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service (RCNAS) and the construction of naval air bases at Dartmouth and Sydney, Nova Scotia, for anti-submarine patrols. He was a member of the Governor-General's Foot Guards regiment from 1912 to 1920, and attained the rank of Captain.

Wilson was asked to draft the Air Board Act, later superceded by the Aeronautics Act. He became Secretary of the Canadian Air Board in 1920, and participated in drafting the first air regulations for Canada. The Air Board served three main purposes: to regulate civil aviation, conduct civil government operations, and organize and administer the aerial defence of Canada. A non-permanent Canadian Air Force (CAF) was formed in 1920.

The Department of National Defence (DND) was created in 1923, and all functions of the Air Board were assumed by the DND, in spite of the fact that most of the Air Board's dealings were purely civil. In 1924 the CAF was re-organized into a permanent force called the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Wilson was appointed Assistant Director and Secretary of the RCAF, responsible for civil aviation functions. The Air Board then ceased to exist.

During the summer of 1924, Wilson made a 10,000 mile (16,100 km) aerial survey trip across Canada in a flying boat, noting how aerial mapping could be done and the richness of the country's resources.

The rapid growth of aviation in Canada prompted the re-organization of the DND in 1927 into four directorates: the RCAF, Civil Air Operations, Control of Civil Aviation, and Aeronautical Engineering. Wilson was appointed Controller of Civil Aviation and during 1927-28, promoted the growth of flying clubs to train pilots and develop public interest in aviation. Twenty flying clubs were organized at major centres with DND financial assistance and instructor-training at RCAF Camp Borden. Airmail routes were established between these cities.

In 1929 the government directed Wilson to arrange for the survey and construction of a trans-Canada air route from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver, British Columbia, stretching some 3,100 miles (4,990 km). His branch would be responsible for surveying and selecting sites, constructing the airports, providing lighting, radio and weather services. In 1932 economic constraints forced the discontinuation of inter-city mail service, but the airway development continued, and provided employment during the worst years of the Depression.

During the summer of 1934 Wilson made a 15,000 mile (24,000 km) trip from coast-to-coast, and north to the Arctic Circle, using aircraft, train and automobile, to see the progress being made on construction of the trans-Canada airway. He and Inspector Bob Dodds flew a land-plane over the new route between Ottawa and Winnipeg in 1935, and in July 1936, he accompanied Inspector J.H. Tudhope when he flew the Rt. Hon. C.D. Howe on a brief inspection tour of this route.

The Department of Transport was created in November 1936, with C.D. Howe as Minister, and all federal transportation and communication services, including Civil Aviation, were placed under this department. Wilson continued as Controller of Civil Aviation, and construction of the trans-Canada airways system continued without interruption. On April 10, 1937, legislation created Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA, and Wilson was appointed one of the government directors of the company.

When World War II was declared on September 3, 1939, civil aviation quickly became a military function. The Department of Transport took over almost all of the larger municipal airports so that their operation could be co-ordinated for both civil and military use. Wilson's responsibilities increased when the government decided to provide training for personnel for the war effort in Europe. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), formed by agreement between Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New pilots, navigators, air gunners, bombers and wireless operators. Wilson's exceptional organizing, abilities and broad knowledge of all phases of civil aviation throughout Canada helped him to accomplish the gigantic task of providing the necessary facilities and personnel.

In 1942 Wilson assisted in arranging the Canadian Government Trans-Atlantic Air Service (CGTAS), which was later organized and operated by TCA. The first flight took place on July 22, 1943, using a modified Lancaster aircraft, carrying official passengers, goods and mail between Canada and the United Kingdom.

Wilson, who drafted many of Canada's early civil air regulations, received many honours in recognition of his achievements. He was awarded the Julian C. Smith Memorial Medal of the Engineering Institute of Canada in 1944 for his achievement in the development of air transport in Canada. He was chosen to receive the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy for the year 1944 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Canadian aviation and for his whole-hearted efforts in the development of civil aviation in Canada. In 1945 was appointed a Commander of the Order of British Empire (C.B.E.). He was presented with the Norwegian Medal of Liberation in 1948. He was named Honorary President of the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association.

Wilson retired from the position of Director of Air Services in 1945 after a 35-year career in aviation. He died in Ottawa on October 10, 1954.

John Armistead Wilson was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.


J. A. Wilson was passionately committed to the growth and well being of civil aviation in Canada. He argued for the need to separate the control, administration and financing of military and civil aviation in order for civil aviation to develop and progress more rapidly. He felt that if civil aviation in Canada were strong, the military aspect would also be strong, for the civil branch could provide the basic training of personnel.

John Fraser Woodman

Birthdate: May 14, 1925
Birth Place: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Death Date: May 16, 1987
Year Inducted: 1995
Awards: C.D.

"His pioneering work and internationally recognized abilities as an Experimental Test Pilot have done much to improve the safety and efficiency of both civil and military aircraft and made a significant contribution to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1995

Jack Fraser Woodman, C.D., was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on May 14, 1925. In 1943, after graduating from high school, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at age 18. He was selected as an Air Gunner and sent overseas upon completion of gunnery school.

He arrived in England in June 1944, and was assigned to No. 433 Squadron, Bomber Command (RCAF Group 6). The crew completed 23 operational missions flying Handley Page Halifax and Avro Lancaster bombers before the war in Europe ended. He volunteered for duty in the Pacific, and was en route when V-J Day was declared.

He was discharged in 1945 as a Flight Sergeant and returned to Saskatoon where he enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan's School of Engineering. He rejoined the RCAF in 1948 and was sent to No. 1 Flying School in Centralia, Ontario, for pilot training. He received his pilot's wings in 1949 and was sent to No. 111 Communications and Rescue Flight, Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he flew Douglas Dakotas, Beech Expediters and Noorduyn Norseman aircraft, gaining experience on wheels, floats and skis.

Two missions were of particular note during this period. During Operation Denhoime, in June of 1951, Woodman was captain of the plane that made the sighting and completed the rescue of a lost Saskatchewan Airways aircraft. Also in June, in Operation Bishop, he flew a jet-assisted-take-off (JATO) equipped Dakota on a mercy flight to bring out an ailing Department of Transport (DOT) radio operator at Mould Bay, Prince Patrick Island, approximately 76 degrees north latitude, in the Arctic Ocean. At that time this mission covered the longest distance ever undertaken by the RCAF at 4,600 miles (7,400 km).

In late 1951, Woodman was appointed as Canada's representative to the Empire Test Pilots' School, Farnborough, England, a 10-month finishing school for test pilots, to which Commonwealth air forces were invited to send their single most outstanding flier. After graduating from Farnborough, he was assigned to the Central Experimental and Proving Establishment at Rockcliffe Air Base, Ontario, and then posted to the A.V. Roe aircraft company (Avro) in Toronto, Ontario, as an RCAF acceptance pilot, flying 17-ton Avro CF-100 all-weather jet interceptors. At the same time he was the acceptance pilot for the de Havilland Aircraft Company, flying Lancasters, Vampires, Otters and Chipmunks.

In June of 1955 Woodman demonstrated the CF-100 at the Paris Air Show for Avro Canada, flying magnificent aerobatics, including the only spin of the whole show.

To prepare for the Avro CF-105 Arrow program, and to gain experience in supersonic flying, particularly in delta-winged aircraft, Woodman spent a year at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida as part of the United States Air Force (USAF) team evaluating the F-102A "Delta Daggar". He also attended the USAF Fighter-Interceptor School at Tyndall AFB, Florida.

In early 1957, Woodman was again assigned to Avro Canada, this time as RCAF Project Pilot for the CF-105 Arrow program. Chief Experimental Test Pilot Jan Zurakowski (Hall of Fame 1974) made the first flight of the Arrow on March 25, 1958. Woodman flew the eighth flight of the Arrow on April 22, 1958, and made five more flights on subsequent models of the Arrow. When the program was cancelled in 1959, he was the only military pilot to have flown the aircraft.

With the cancellation of the Arrow program, he participated in the evaluation of several other aircraft for the RCAF. The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was selected to fill the fighter-bomber role for No. 1 Air Division in Europe, and in January of 1960 he was transferred to Palmdale, California, as Project Pilot to work with Lockheed in the development of this new model. When the CF-104 went into squadron service in Canada, he was offered a position with the Lockheed Company in California. He was discharged from the RCAF in August 1962, as a Squadron Leader.

It is interesting that, unknown to him, Woodman was at the top of an unofficial list of three or four RCAF pilots who were possible candidates for the U.S. space program as astronauts. However, the Canadian government of the day did not commit the funding necessary to be a partner in the program.

Woodman was Project Pilot at Lockheed for the NF-104A Aerospace Trainer, an F-104 with rocket assist, intended to train future test pilots on the intricacies of high altitude flying, weightlessness, full pressure suits, rocket engine handling, and flying with reaction controls. On one flight, he set an unofficial world altitude record for jets of 118,400 feet (36,088m). But a control malfunction caused the aircraft to pitch up, enter a spin, and only after an 85,000 ft. (25,908 m) fall was he able to level the airplane off and land safely.

Lockheed began development of the L-1011 TriStar passenger transport in the mid-1960's. Woodman did most of the simulator  development of the flying qualities for this aircraft.

In December 1968, he was appointed Chief Engineering Test Pilot and was responsible for all flying activity associated with Engineering Flight Tests in both military and commercial programs including F-104, S3, P3 Orion, a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and the L-1011.

In late 1973, Woodman was appointed Division Manager in charge of Commercial Operations which included Engineering Flight Test, Production Flight Test and Customer Training for the L-1011 TriStar. He flew the L-1011 around the world twice, demonstrating it to almost every major airline in the world. Due to its reliability, the wide-bodied L-1011 became a favourite with pilots.

In 1976 he was promoted to Director of Flying, Commercial Programs and Customer Requirements for Lockheed. He retired in 1982.

Woodman flew over 60 types of aircraft, had over 10,000 hours of flight time and 37 continuous years of flying. He was a Member of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and a Fellow and President-Elect in 1985 of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He died at Palmdale, California on May 16, 1987.

Jack Fraser Woodman was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.

The NF-104A, with a rocket booster of 6,000 lb thrust supplementing its turbojet, was a highly supersonic aircraft. Jack Woodman made several flights at more than twice the speed of sound, and on August 21, 1963, he achieved Mach 2.6.

Walter Woollett

Nickname: Babe
Birthdate: January 1, 1906
Birth Place: Rochester, Kent, England
Death Date: June 1, 1998
Year Inducted: 2004
Awards: O.B.E.

"His contributions as an early bush pilot, as organizer and administrator of Canada's involvement in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and his leadership in helping to establish worldwide air passenger service have been of great and lasting benefit to aviation in Canada." - Induction citation, 2004

Walter 'Babe' Woollett, O.B.E., was born on January 1, 1906 in Rochester, Kent, England and educated at Eastbourne College in Sussex. He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) at Duxford in 1924 and learned to fly on the Avro 504-K. He resigned his commission as a F/L in April, 1929 to accept an appointment with Fairchild Aerial Surveys at Lac-a-la-Tortue, Quebec.

Woollett reported to Ken Saunders, Operations Manager of Fairchild Aerial Surveys, who taught him to fly seaplanes. The following month he was issued Commercial Pilot Licence #469.

During that summer he participated in the first air exploration of huge iron ore formations in northern Labrador. He was involved in air searches for pilots who were forced down by engine troubles, including his friend Peter Troup. Later that fall, Woollett flew wealthy sportsmen on the first fly-in moose hunt to New Brunswick. He flew prospectors and tons of supplies into the booming Chibougamau gold fields during the winter of 1929-30. During the spring of 1930 he was assigned the task of aerial survey mapping of the north shore of the Lower St. Lawrence River.

Fairchild Aerial Surveys amalgamated with Canadian Airways Ltd., and Woollett was transferred to Montreal in the fall of 1930. He moved to Quebec City to fly the winter 'drop-mail' to villages along the Lower St. Lawrence, and then to Winnipeg to fly mail. In 1933 he took an instrument flying course through the RCAF at Camp Borden, Ontario, and was put in charge of the first gold expedition to Lake Wabush in Labrador. He flew the first International Airmail service between Canada and Labrador for the Newfoundland Government on July 20, 1933.

During the winter of 1934 he joined Peter Troup's company, Dominion Skyways Ltd. at Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec as operations manager. The following winter they took delivery of the first Noorduyn Norseman. Woollett had advised his friend Bob Noorduyn on many special features for this first aircraft designed especially for Canadian bush operations.

In 1937 Woollett was hired by an agency from Holland to perform a large aerial survey contract in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. A further contract was made to fly a group of 'Forestry Engineers' to photograph the area around Canada's strategic Anticosti Island. The so-called 'engineers' all turned out to be German military officers. He tactfully informed the RCMP and the media, and on January 1, 1938 the group made a quick departure for their homeland.

In January, 1938 Woollett participated with pilot Ralph Spradbrow, engineer Joe Lucas and Syd Walker in the hectic search for 15 surveyors who had been flown into the north the previous summer and had not been picked up. Months later, when it was discovered that they had missed their caches of winter equipment and food, fears mounted for their safety. When they were located, they had suffered greatly from starvation and frostbite, some losing toes and fingers, but all were rescued.

At the start of World War II in late 1939, Dominion Skyways was one of several major bush contractors in Canada who were requested to submit bids to operate training schools for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) under the umbrella of Canadian Pacific Railways. Woollett and Troup set up Dominion Skyways (Training) Ltd. in Toronto and submitted their detailed plans for non-profit operations of training schools. These were the best of all the proposals received, and they opened No. 1 Air Observer School (AOS) at Malton, Ontario on May 27, 1940. It became the template for the nine AOS's that followed, a model of cooperation between the military and civilian operators.

Woollett became supervisor of all Canadian Pacific Air operated AOS's in Ontario and Quebec. His No. 9 AOS was awarded the "Cock of the Walk" trophy presented by the RAF, and his other schools were frequently awarded first place for efficiency. In recognition for his outstanding work in the BCATP, Woollett was awarded the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in 1946.

After the war, Woollett returned to CP Air as superintendent of operations in Eastern Canada, based in Mont-Jolie, Quebec. His focus was on the huge iron ore development in northern Labrador and building an all-season runway, since no seaplanes were capable of hauling the required freight.

Woollett led another dramatic search, this time for pilot Jim Hartley and six lumberjacks who had been forced to land on an ice floe in the St. Lawrence River on December 23, 1946. Their plane had gone through the ice and there seemed little hope for their survival. Woollett insisted on flying through the dark, dropping flares which the survivors said kept them alive by keeping up their hopes. On the second day a Grumman Goose Amphibian landed among the ice floes and was able to rescue three of the men, then came back to find three more. One was lost.

In December, 1948 Woollett was transferred to Montreal to work with the President of CP Air, Grant McConachie, on developing CP Air's first international route over the South Pacific. The following year CP Air inaugurated scheduled air passenger service from Vancouver to Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. Woollett was appointed manager for the South Pacific, and transferred to Sydney, Australia to cover New Zealand and Fiji. He served for several years as Superintendent of Sales and Operations for South Pacific at Honolulu, Hawaii.

Woollett was promoted in 1957 to become Assistant to the Executive Vice President in Montreal to work with the governments of Portugal, Spain and Italy in developing new international services. In 1961 he returned to Hawaii as Superintendent, South Pacific. He was recognized by CP Air for his efforts in developing air services to Canada and promoting Canada's Expo '67.

Woollett reached the compulsory retirement age of 65 on January 1st, 1971. However, the following day he was re-hired by CP Air as Director of Community Affairs, South Pacific. For the next five years his activities promoted Canada throughout CP Air's international network. He died at his home in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 1, 1998 at the age of 92. To honour his lifetime of achievements, he was inducted into the Quebec Air and Space Hall of Fame in 2003.

Walter 'Babe' Woollett was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in Mississauga in 2004.

Suggested Reading:
“Have a Banana” (1989) by W. Woollett - ISBN-10: 0919899072

In 1989 Woolett published his anecdotal life story titled “Have a Banana!”, a term meaning “Have Fun!” or “Live it Up”. Throughout his life he did just that; on his 80th birthday he flew an open-cockpit Pitts Special from Honolulu Airport, doing a loop and a roll.

Jerauld George Wright

Nickname: Jerry
Birthdate: August 31, 1917
Birth Place: Liverpool, Nova Scotia
Death Date: September 13, 2016
Year Inducted: 1974
Awards: D.F.C., C.D., FRMS, FCASI, Inventors Award (Canada), The McKee Trophy

"The application of his technical brilliance to the design of numerous navigation devices has been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation." - Induction citation, 1974

Jerauld George (Jerry) Wright, D.F.C., C.D., was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, on August 31, 1917, where he received his education. He was employed at Liverpool as a certified pharmaceutical clerk until 1940, when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). After graduating as a navigator, he served on operations out of England and India with No. 240 Squadron, Royal Air Force (RAF) and was employed on coastal operations until 1944.

During two tours of duty comprising more than 1,200 operational hours on flying boats, Wright was involved in some of the earliest Arctic flying and some of the war's longest patrol flights. He participated in flights to Spitzbergen, off the coast of Norway, Russia, and across the Indian Ocean. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in early 1942 and for one 23-hour continuous flight to Spitzbergen during the winter of that year, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.). These Arctic operations required the devising of special techniques and adaptations of equipment. This brought about the first of a long line of inventions to solve special problems having to do with the allocation, development and use of navigational equipment in a wide variety of environments.

Special duties in the Mediterranean, India and Burma followed, during which he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant. The flights he made required the development of special techniques in celestial navigation for landing with precise timing at night in small bays along the Burmese coast. For this work he was Mentioned in Despatches.

In 1945 Wright was sent to the Empire Navigation School at Shawbury, England, where he was engaged in test and development work related to aerial navigation. While there he completed the advanced specialist navigational course and in 1946 was posted to the Central Experimental and Proving Establishment (CEPE) of the RCAF at Rockcliffe Air Base, Ontario, to work on compass problems. He was then named Head of the Test and Development Section of the Air Navigation School at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, to develop new techniques and equipment for Arctic flying. It was there that he developed the prototype of the Synchronous Astro Compass which greatly improved heading accuracy at all latitudes, and which is used in all Canadian Forces long range aircraft.

Wright remained at Summerside until 1949, when he was promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to RCAF Headquarters in Ottawa to take charge of the Navigational Instrument Development Branch of the Air Member for Technical Services Division. It was there that his flair for inventions was seriously noted, when he designed what was to become a family of distance/bearing type computers of which the best known were the R Theta and the Position and Homing Indicator Mark 3. The R Theta was designed to fit into an aircraft instrument panel and was capable of two major roles. At the flip of a switch it could tell the pilot how many miles he was from home base and what compass heading to fly to get back to base. It could also show the pilot how many miles to fly to reach a destination and what direction to fly. For this invention, the first major breakthrough in aerial navigation in decades, Wright was awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy for 1953. He invented and patented some 30 navigational devices, many of which were accepted for use. by military agencies of other nations.

Wright was promoted to Wing Commander in 1954. As an indication of the confidence engendered by his inventive potential, he was assigned to complete a guided missile course in 1954, attend the RCAF Staff College at Toronto, Ontario, in 1957-58, and the senior anti-submarine detection course at the Joint Services Staff College in the United Kingdom in 1961.

During this extended period at RCAF Headquarters, Wright was responsible for studies and analyses, and development and/or selection of such equipment as flight instruments, navigation systems, anti-submarine warfare technical systems and flight simulators.

At the Naval Research Establishment, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, he was responsible for studies and analyses concerning underwater radar detection devices, hydrofoil operational feasibility and sonar research programs. His final assignment at Canadian Forces Headquarters was responsibility for the selection and/or development of avionics flight equipment and anti-submarine warfare tactical systems for all Canadian Forces aircraft.

In the 1955-65 period, Wright invented the Air Navigation and Tactical Control (ANTAC) system for the RCAF Argus, components of which were also used by France, Australia and Japan.

Wright is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and a Fellow of Honour of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute. He holds the coveted Inventor's Award from the Canadian Government's Patent and Development Corporation.

On retirement from the service in 1966, after receiving numerous honours and  awards from professional societies and groups, and a number of governmental presentations for his pioneering work, he formed his own consulting firm in Ottawa, JGW Systems. He also authored more than 50 technical and scientific papers on a wide range of aviation subjects.

Jerauld George (Jerry) Wright was inducted as a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974 at a ceremony held in Edmonton, Alberta.


The R-Theta Computer is an ingenious automatic navigation instrument designed for use in long-range, high-speed aircraft. The system performs automatically and continuously most of the numerical and plotting operations usually carried out by the navigator. It does not rely on radio transmissions from ground stations and is immune to ‘jamming’ or radio interference. The pilot no longer has to fly in a series of straight lines in order for the navigator to carry on with conventional navigation.