Aviators Honoured at June 2017 Annual Celebrations

By John Chalmers
CAHS Membership Secretary

Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame will celebrate and honour outstanding achievement in aviation at the Hall’s annual gala dinner and induction ceremonies to be held at the Vancouver International Airport on June 15, 2017. The 44th annual inductions will bring the number of individual Members to 228 since 1973, with the Belt of Orion Award for Excellence, given to an organization, for the 23rd time.

The span of individuals being honoured reaches from the First World War to present times. Again, both military and civilian aviation achievement is being recognized by the Hall.

Erroll BoydErroll Boyd (1891-1960) was born in Toronto and flew for Canada in the Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War. He survived mishaps in combat flying, was interned in Holland after being shot down, and did test flying after the war. He rose to fame as the first Canadian to fly across the Atlantic, a flight with navigator Harry Connor in October 1930. Taking off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, the flight took 17 hours, coming down in the Scilly Isles when a blocked fuel line, with 100 gallons of fuel still left, necessitated the landing. The flight continued the next day to Croydon, England, the original destination. Erroll had previously flown a record-setting flight in the same Bellanca aircraft to Bermuda and later toHaiti. After his transatlantic flight, he spent the rest of his life promoting aviation.


Robert DeluceRobert Deluce, born in Chapleau, Ontario, is President and CEO of Porter Airlines. He began working for his parents’ company, White River Air Services, as a youth and earned his Private Pilot Licence at the age of 17. A year later he earned his Commercial Licence and flew new aircraft from the factory in Kansas to deliver to his parents’ company. Over the years he became increasingly involved in airline development and service, eventually establishing Porter Airlines in 2006, operating from the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and flying Bombardier Q400 aircraft. Service commenced with 10 return flights per day to Ottawa. A major Canadian carrier, Porter now serves 20 locations in Canada and the U.S. Bob Deluce is highly regarded in aviation and business communities, and is the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from three universities.


Danny SitnamDanny Sitnam, born in England, got his first flight in a helicopter after moving to Canada with his family in 1963. After investing in a small helicopter with others, in exchange for learning to fly it, he soon earned his helicopter licence and landed his first job as a pilot. He then established Helijet Airways and now has over 5,000 hours as a helicopter pilot. Over the years, he built his company to become Helijet International Inc., operating the world’s largest scheduled passenger helicopter airline. Besides some 300 IFR certified scheduled flights weekly between Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo, Helijet operates B.C.’s largest medevac service with both helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. The company has 160 employees and operates 16 helicopters and 2 fixed wing aircraft from bases in Vancouver, Victoria, Richmond, Nanaimo, Prince Rupert and Sandspit, Haida Gwaii.


Rogers SmithRogers Smith, born in Dawson Creek BC, is widely recognized as one of the world’s top test pilots. He holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the University of Toronto, where he studied aeronautical engineering. He has had a stellar career as an engineer and test pilot. Starting with the RCAF as a pilot who trained in the ROTP program, after his air force service Rogers flew as a test pilot for the National Research Council and later for NASA. “Rog” has flown many types of jet aircraft, and logged time for over eight years in the SR-71 Blackbird at over three times the speed of sound. Now retired after over 10,000 hours as a pilot, including 8,000 in jet aircraft, of which 6,000 hours were spent as a test pilot, he remain involved in the industry as a consultant.

Golden Hawks

The Royal Canadian Air Force Golden Hawks aerobatic team is the recipient of the Belt of Orion Award for Excellence. The team was formed in 1959 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of powered flight in Canada. Under the leadership of S/L Fern Villeneuve, who was inducted as a Member of the Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006, the Golden Hawks comprised the first official RCAF aerobatic team. It flew six Canadian-built Canadair F-86 jet aircraft. Intended to fly for only one year, success of the Golden Hawks saw them continue to fly until 1964. At least five F-86 Sabres in original colours are located at museums in Canada. In the Vintage Wings of Canada collection at Gatineau, Québec, a restored F-86 named “Hawk One” is in authentic livery and has flown at aviation events from across Canada.

For more information about the 2017 award recipients and details of the Hall of Fame inductions, click here. For event details, click here.