WETASKIWIN, Alberta — Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame (CAHF) will induct four new members, and recognize a Belt of Orion recipient, at its 44th annual gala dinner and ceremony, to be held Thursday June 15, 2017, at Vancouver International Airport.
The new members are:
- James Erroll Boyd: World War I pilot and co-founder of the Air Scouts of Canada;
- Robert John Deluce: Founder of Porter Airlines;
- Daniel A Sitnam; Founder of Helijet Airways and Pacific Heliport Services;
- Rogers Eben Smith: NASA and NRC test pilot; RCAF Pilot; and
- Royal Canadian Air Force “Golden Hawks” aerobatic team: Belt of Orion Award for Excellence
CAHF inductees are selected for their contributions to Canada’s development through their integral roles in the nation’s aviation history. This year’s inductees will join the ranks of the 224 men and women inducted since the Hall’s formation in 1973.
James Errol Boyd was an early entrant into the Royal Naval Air Service from the Canadian Infantry, flew anti Zeppelin operations over the UK and coastal patrols from Dunkirk until being interned in the Netherlands.
Postwar, he flew mail along the St Lawrence and graduated to long distance over water, in record-setting flights to Bermuda and Haiti.
His great claim to fame was his west to east trans-Atlantic flight in October 1930 in Bellanca WP-2 Columbia/Maple Leaf. It was the first crossing by a Canadian and completed in the hazardous autumn season, a feat not repeated again until made necessary by the demands of war 10 years later.
Boyd then put his fame to work to promote “air mindedness” in the Canadian public by sustained work through the Toronto Star and Star Weekly magazines. He also co-founded the Air Scouts of Canada that laid the foundations for the Air Cadet organization.
Upon the outbreak of war in 1939 he offered to serve again and became a central figure in the Clayton-Knight Committee where young Americans were recruited to join the RCAF prior to Pearl Harbor. His entire adult life was spent in furthering the cause of aviation on the North American continent. He died in 1960.
Robert John Deluce has been engaged in the aviation industry all of his life since he began working for his parents’ White River Air Services as a teenager in the 1960s.
His subsequent career has taken him through a succession of positions in a host of Canadian aviation companies operating mainly in central Canada. Chief among them are norOntair, Austin Airways, Air Creebec, Air Manitoba, Air Alliance and Canada 3000.
In 2000 he began discussions which culminated in the launch of a new concept in regional air travel from the then Toronto Island Airport in October 2006 under the banner of Porter, using 20 new Bombardier Q400 aircraft and providing a “flying refined” experience at modest fares. Porter has grown to become a real power in the heavily travelled eastern Canada area and has expanded into US destinations. A former Minister of Transport credits Bob Deluce with saving the Island Airport, now named Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, from ultimate failure.
Daniel A Sitnam has amassed an outstanding record as an entrepreneur in rotary flight operations in British Columbia and as one of the industry’s most progressive and admired company leaders. Thirteen years after a chance encounter led to his first experience with helicopters, he launched, with partner Alistair MacLennan, Helijet Airways offering two-crew, twin-engine IFR harbour to harbour services between Vancouver and Victoria.
Thirty years later he is still president and CEO of Helijet International and its subsidiary, Pacific Heliport Services. In addition to guiding this company to success where many others failed, Danny Sitnam is legendary for his proactive mentoring and development of staff, especially female flight crew, and his insistence on core company values of safety, customer dedication, mutual respect and trust and professionalism. His accomplishments have been recognized by the Helicopter Association International and the BC Aviation Council.
Rogers Eben Smith is one the most renowned test pilots in the western world and has been recognized internationally as such by his peers for many years.
He received his aeronautical degrees from the University of Toronto, following which he served as a fighter pilot in the RCAF. A lack of test flying opportunities led him to the National Research Council’s National Aeronautical Establishment, where he was involved with automated stability trials on helicopters. Dual citizenship allowed him to accept an offer from NASA to join its test pilot program and then the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory where he was heavily engaged in developing fly by wire systems.
A return to the NAE as Chief Test Pilot was followed by 18 years at NASA Ames from which he retired as Chief Pilot and Director of Flight Operations. His experimental test flying there has been characterized as being at the frontiers of knowledge. Known as one of the “Canadian mafia” among test pilots worldwide, he went on to work for SAAB, EADS and Dornier and to lead the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
The RCAF “Golden Hawks” aerobatic team was formed in March 1959 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of flight in Canada and the 35th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was the first official Canadian national aerobatic team and its mandate was to showcase RCAF capabilities to the Canadian public.
The “Golden Hawks” were to operate Canadair F-86 Sabre Mk 5 aircraft from RCAF Station Chatham and to exist for one year.
From a standing start, the team under the leadership of S/L Fern Villeneuve (CAHF 2006 Inductee) developed a non-stop program featuring new formations and routines not previously used and had an extremely successful 1959 airshow season. Though stood down at the end of the season, popular demand resulted in the team’s reinstatement and it embarked on an unparalleled record of success until it was disbanded in 1964 after 317 shows, a 100% serviceability rate and an estimated 15 million spectators.
The legendary team became a symbol of the professionalism, skill and daring needed to be a fighter pilot in the RCAF and its legacy lives on 50 years later in the form of names of sports teams, trophies, films and aircraft on display in the trademark metallic gold and red livery of the “Golden Hawks” Sabres.
CAHF 2015 Inductee Col (Ret’d) George Miller flew with the team in 1962-63. The contribution of the “Golden Hawks” to Canada’s aviation story was profound and well merits the award of the Belt of Orion.
Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame office is located at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, south of Edmonton, Alberta, with the Hall’s displays in the museum’s hangar. The Hall was founded in 1973, and its inductees have come from all across Canada, having led extraordinary lives as military and civilian pilots, doctors, scientists, inventors, engineers, astronauts and administrators.