Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame to Honor Four Inductees and Belt of Orion Recipient

Montreal, Quebec – December 5, 2011. Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame (CAHF) will induct four Canadians, and recognize a Belt of Orion recipient, at its 2012 annual gala dinner and ceremony on Thursday, June 14, 2012. The Hall’s inductees are...


Montreal, Quebec – December 5, 2011. Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame (CAHF) will induct four Canadians, and recognize a Belt of Orion recipient, at its 2012 annual gala dinner and ceremony on Thursday, June 14, 2012.

The Hall’s inductees are: Nils Christensen, founder of Viking Air and Second World War pilot; Air Marshal Harold “Gus” Edwards, a First World War pilot with the Royal Naval Air Service, he was also involved in the founding of the RCAF; Pierre Jeanniot, O.C. C.Q., former president and CEO of Air Canada and was also a former Director General of the International Air Transport Association; Dr. Daffyd “Dave” Williams, a pilot, medical doctor and a retired Canadian astronaut. Leavens Aviation Inc. will receive the Belt of Orion award.

This year’s inductees’ achievements span the spectrum of Canada’s rich aviation history; their accomplishments range from the First World War to the space age. They are recognized for playing integral roles in the development of their respective aviation fields, contributing to Canada’s development through these roles. The new members will join a roster of 204 men and women aviation pioneers who have been previously honored since the formation of CAHF in 1973.

Mr. Nils Christensen of Salt Spring Island, BC, made his contribution to Canadian aviation with the founding of Viking Air and the acquisition of the rights from de Havilland Canada to manufacture spares for some of its post-war products.  The venture has given rise to an internationally reputed aircraft and parts manufacturing concern. Born in Norway in 1921, Nils served in the Merchant Navy and the Royal Norwegian Air Force during the Second World War and, emigrated to Canada in 1951.

Air Marshal Harold “Gus” Edwards (1892-1952) was born in England and raised in Nova Scotia. He served as a pilot with the Royal Naval Air Service in the First World War and was later intimately  involved with the founding of the RCAF. Gus was in charge of the monumental personnel management aspects of the BCATP when it began and then fought successfully for the “Canadianization” of the RCAF’s contributions to Allied efforts in the RAF as Air Office Commanding-in-Chief of RCAF Overseas. 

Mr. Pierre Jeanniot, O.C. C.Q., who was born in France in 1933 and emigrated to Canada in 1947, is a former president and CEO of Air Canada, known as an innovator in the field of airline operations and management. An internationally recognized leader in the airline industry, he contributed to the development of civil aviation in Canada and around the world. His work in Air Canada and with the International Air Transport Association as Director General and CEO has been recognized with honours from Canada, France and international organizations.

Dr. Daffyd (Dave) Williams, born in Saskatoon in 1954, is a pilot, medical doctor and a retired Canadian astronaut of outstanding skill, management ability and accomplishment in his work with the Canadian Space Agency. He was appointed Director of  NASA’s Space and Life Sciences Directorate, a rare accomplishment for a non-American astronaut.  Dave made two flights on the Space Shuttle, 1998 and 2007, and in the second was involved in three spacewalks for installations at the International Space Station.

The Belt of Orion Award for Excellence was founded by Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988 to honour organizations, groups, societies or associations who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of aviation in Canada.

The winner of this year’s award is Leavens Aviation Inc., the company began as Leavens Brothers Air Services in 1927, and is one of Canada’s great aviation success stories.  Its life encompassed several aspects of aviation in Canada and operated until 2011,starting with barnstorming a single aircraft, then flight training, running a major training facility under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), spraying operations, commercial airline operations, light aircraft manufacturing and the sale, distribution and overhaul of aircraft parts.

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