Wings Magazine

Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame announces inductees

Jan. 4, 2011, Wetaskiwin, Alta. - Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame (CAHF) will induct four Canadians, and recognize a Belt of Orion recipient, at its 2011 annual gala dinner and ceremony at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton, Ontario on May 26, 2011.

January 4, 2011  By Carey Fredericks

The Hall’s 2011 inductees are: John W. Crichton, the current president and CEO of NAV Canada, and previous president of the Air Transport Association of Canada, and First Air; Donald T. Hamilton, a bush pilot in northern Alberta who went on to purchase Air Spray Ltd., a company that fights fires in western and northern Canada; Richard W. (Dick) Ryan, a First World War pilot and vice-president of Canadian Pacific Airlines; and William J. (Bill) Wheeler, a founding member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS) and editor of its Journal magazine. Québec’s Hollinger Ungava Transport Ltd. will receive the Belt of Orion award.

This year’s inductees’ achievements span the spectrum of Canada’s rich aviation history. They are recognized for playing integral roles in the development of their respective aviation fields, and contributing to Canada’s development through these roles. The Hall was established in 1973, and these four honorees will bring the total number of inductees to 204.

John W. Crichton (1946 – ) has served as president and CEO of NAV CANADA since 1997. Previously he was president of the Air Transport Association of Canada and executive vice-president of First Air. Crichton was a major force in shaping Canada's northern air transportation industry to improve airfreight and passenger services to northern communities. His leadership led to the modernization of Canada's civil air navigation system with the establishment of NAV CANADA in 1996, the world's first privatized air navigation system. NAV CANADA is the country's civil air navigation services provider, supplying air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation. John Crichton has been honored many times for his work in Canada's aviation industry.

Donald T. Hamilton (1924 – ) earned his pilot’s license in 1946 and bought his first airplane one year later. He began crop spraying and cloud seeding in the Moose Jaw area, before he moved on to bush flying in northern Alberta. He then worked in aerial surveying and northern flying for the Distant Early Warning Line. In 1957, he established Hamilton Aviation Ltd., performing aircraft maintenance and flying cargo in northern Alberta. Hamilton now owns Air Spray Ltd., whose aircraft are used to fight fires in western and northern Canada.


Richard W. (Dick) Ryan (1896-1992) flew as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force in the First World War. In 1928, Ryan helped establish the Moose Jaw Flying Club and served as the chief flying instructor, before going on to establish Prairie Airways Ltd. in 1934, which was later purchased by Canadian Pacific Airlines; Ryan would go on to serve as a vice-president of the airline. During the Second World War, he trained navigators for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) at the No. 3 Air Observer School in Regina.

William J. (Bill) Wheeler (1931 – ) is a founding member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS) and served as editor of its quarterly Journal magazine for 45 years. Under Wheeler’s editorship the Journal became a foremost magazine of Canadian aviation history. A graduate of the University of Toronto and the Ontario College of Art, and a former art teacher, Bill encouraged Canadian artists by displaying their work on the cover of Journal. In producing the magazine he shared thousands of photographs and hundreds of previously unpublished stories with his readership. Bill Wheeler's enthusiasm and support of the CAHS was instrumental in building the Society to 12 chapters across Canada, and in 2001, the CAHS received the Belt of Orion award from the CAHF.

The 2011 Belt of Orion recipient, Hollinger Ungava Transport Ltd. (HUT), was established in 1948 as a private airline to supply air transport services to the Iron Ore Company of Canada during construction of the 573-kilometer Québec North Shore and Labrador railway from the port of Sept-Îsles, Québec to Schefferville, Québec. HUT operated in support of exploration for iron ore by hauling fuel, and all food, supplies and equipment to the 7,000 workers building the railroad. HUT made its mark as a unique aviation operation in serving this purpose. Using a fleet of 10 workhorse Douglas DC-3 aircraft and employing 80 pilots and over 100 mechanics, radio operators, technicians and support staff, Hollinger Ungava Transport flew up to 70 flights a day at its peak.

Tickets to the 2011 annual dinner and ceremony are $225, and also include a one-year Friend of the Hall membership. A tax receipt will be supplied for each ticket sold.


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