It has always been airplanes for Barry Marsden. Since he was a teenager in the Creston Valley in the 1950s he’s been looking to the sky and finding inspiration in flying machines and the people who fly them. Born in Vancouver and raised in Creston, B.C., Barry embarked on his career path in 1954, by holding flags in farm fields for agricultural sprayer planes to aim at, before becoming an airplane mechanic and pilot. Barry began his aviation career as a mechanic and pilot with Skyway Air Services of Langley, B.C, where he also flew several stints overseas. He graduated from the Southern Alberta Aerospace Institute as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME), and also logged more than 9,500 hours as a commercial and airline transport rated pilot, all in aerial forest fire control and other specialty spraying operations.
Surrey, British Columbia
At Skyway and Conair, he was one of the key industry people contributing to the development of aerial fire control aircraft and the Initial Attack method of fire control. Serving as a mechanic, pilot and co-founder at the formation of Conair in 1969, Barry assumed successive positions including Chief Pilot, Superintendent of Flight Operations, Director of Operations, Vice President and General Manager, and in 1991, President and Chief Executive Officer. Under Barry’s leadership, Conair evolved from an aerial fire control operator providing specialty services to become a world leader in the development of aerial fire control aircraft and systems using a fleet of 50 aircraft. Today Barry is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of both Conair Group Inc. and Cascade Aerospace Inc., two well-respected and thriving businesses headquartered at the Abbotsford International Airport in Abbotsford, B.C., Canada. The two companies employ more than 780 people and substantially contribute to the local economy and to the aviation and aerospace industries.
Some of the many special awards and achievements Barry has received are:
1. Rarely given to a foreigner, Barry received the “Médaille De L’Aéronautique” from the Government of France in March 2006 for his knowledge, innovation, and long term career in aviation. Participating in activities that range from ferrying Firecat aircraft from Abbotsford, B.C. to southern France in the early 1980s, to sharing his aerial fire control tactics with France and delivering two Cascade-designed and certified Q400-MR multi-role aircraft in 2005, Barry has earned and maintained the trust and respect of many people in France.
2. For his long term contribution to the Fraser Valley economy and the Canadian aerospace industry the University College of the Fraser Valley gave Barry an Honorary Doctor of Technology degree in 2004.
3. Winner of Aviation Week’s Outstanding Achievement in Aviation Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) at an industry conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in 2003 where he was honoured among 4,000 peers including many top executives from major airlines and aerospace companies.
Barry and his companies Conair and Cascade are long time supporters of the Pacific AME Association. They staff a booth, sponsor events, provide seminar speakers, and several of their employees attend as delegates.