November 2, 2015 by Legion Magazine

Who are the leading lights in Canada’s great aviation heritage? The question has been asked often, but there seem to be no easy answers, and no single list will please every aficionado.

Legion Magazine’s latest special-interest publication—25 Great Canadian Aviators—represents a valiant effort to compile a list of 25 great and groundbreaking Canadian aviators.

Few people will quibble over Canada’s most iconic aviation celebrities. J.A.D. McCurdy of Silver Dart fame will appear on many a list, along with such other obvious choices as renowned fighter aces Billy Bishop and George “Buzz” Beurling, bush-flying pioneer “Punch” Dickins, Avro Arrow test pilot Jan Zurakowski and world-renowned astronaut Chris Hadfield.

But what we have compiled is a mix of national aviation celebrities with some less well-known names. Each has made important contributions to Canada’s aviation scene. Among the First World War airmen, you’ll certainly recognize William G. Barker, but not likely Edward O’Leary. From the Second World War, you’ll likely know David Hornell, but maybe not W.H.D. Meaden.

Pick up a copy of Legion Magazine’s 25 Great Canadian Aviators on the newsstand to see what you think of these 25, and then have fun compiling your own list and post it here at www.legionmagazine.com/aviators.

Legion Magazine’s 25 Great Canadian Aviators:

J.A.D. McCurdy

Redford Henry “Red” Mulock, DSO

Christian Burgener

Basil D. Hobbs, DSO

William G. Barker, VC

Edward O’Leary

Ernest Archibald McNab, DFC

Roy Grandy

Lloyd Breadner, DSC

Russell Bannock, DSO

Gordon Roy McGregor, DFC

William H.D. Meaden, DFC

David Ernest Hornell, VC

Bruce MacKenzie

Clifford M. McEwen, DFC

Violet Milstead Warren

Robert Martin Edwards

Ernest Arthur Glover, DFC

Keith Rogers Greenaway

William K. “Bill” Carr, DFC

H.E. “Herb” Smale

Maryese Carmichael

Karen McCrimmon

Christopher Hasler, DFC

Chris Hadfield




Supermarine Stranraer



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  • heraldogalactus

    I’d include: Captain Roy Brown. Two time DSC recipient. Never lost a pilot under his command when the average lifespan was two weeks, shot down the Red Baron and a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame. Judy Cameron – In 1978 became the first female airline pilot for Air Canada and in 2010 became the first female in Canada to Captain the Boeing 777. Retired in 2015 after flying 37 years for AC.

  • Ian Clarke

    I would like to offer a tip of the hat to Flying Officer Hollis (“Holly”) Hills who, with 414 Army Co-op Squadron shot down an FW190 over Dieppe late in the morning of August 19, 1942. It was the first Mustang “kill” of the war, and in the process Hills saved the life of his Flight Leader, F/L Fred Clarke, my father who was about to be finished off by the Luftwaffe pilot who was on his tail as he struggled to ditch his stricken Mustang in the Channel. Hills, an American with the RCAF, later went on to join the American Fleet Air Arm, and became an “Ace” as a naval aviator.

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