Aircraft collector Al Rubin
was a CAHS Life Member

Canada’s aviation community lost a colourful and unique personality when Allan Aubrey Rubin, better known as Al by all those who knew him, passed away at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre on May 18. He was 81.

Al was the President of International Vintage Aircraft Inc. at Markham Airport, north-east of Toronto. He accumulated a collection of RCAF aircraft exemplified by the CF-104 Starfighter, CF-5 Freedom Fighter, Canadair Sabre, CT-133 Silver Star and de Havilland Vampire, along with parts and memorabilia. Other than family, aviation and photography were Al’s passions.

Al was operator/partner of the Markham Airport for decades and had hoped to expand it, as well as establishing a permanent museum to house all of the military artifacts. Markham was his second home.

Al’s affection for aviation began when a school friend’s father took him for a ride in a Tiger Moth. He enlisted in the RCAF at age 18 and was posted overseas as a photographer. His service mainly involved work with camera systems on RCAF jets like the Sabre, CT-133 and CF-100 with NATO in Europe. He also flew in operations with the USAF photo reconnaissance units while stationed in Europe.

Al left the RCAF in 1962 and returned to Canada. He quickly found work at the photo engineering department of Ontario Research Foundation and later went into advertising, real estate marketing and eventually land development. He became involved in groups like the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum before setting up on his own.

Al joined CAHS as No. 3431 in 1987 and became a Life Member at that time. In 2009, Al acquired a CF-100, RCAF 18506, that had been on display at 447 Wing RCAFA in Hamilton since 1982. In return for the aircraft, originally built as a Mk 4 and then converted as a Mk 5 for electronic warfare training, Al was instrumental in covering the Wing’s rent for a year as it moved to a new home.

As his obituary stated: “He was always on the go and ready to lend a helping hand. His constant smile and joyous laugh will be greatly missed by all.”

Al was a visionary who aimed for the stars as it were. While the feasibility of some of his aspirations could be questioned, there wasn’t any question about his appreciation for, and knowledge of, the heritage and history of the RCAF. In his own way, he left his mark on the aviation world.

Al was a proud veteran of General Wingate Branch No. 256 of the Royal Canadian Legion, founded by Jewish Canadian military veterans, and president of the Jewish Canadian War Veterans Memorial Park Cemetery at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Memorial Park.

Al was the beloved husband of Lorraine (nee Swadron) for 60 years and a devoted father to his children. A private family service was held on May 19.

(files from Ken Swartz, Sheldon Benner and Gord McNulty)

Avro Canada CF 100 RCAF 18506 2009 Gord McNulty

Avro Canada CF-100 RCAF 18506 at Hamilton International Airport after its purchase by Al Rubin in 2009. (Gord McNulty)