I arrived in Petawawa from the RCEME Field Workshop in Germany in Dec 1957 with the intention of leaving the Military. To my surprise I was greeted with an offer to learn how to fly. This appealed to me as I had taken a few lessons on a Piper Cub as a teenager and had the ‘bug’. In Jun 58 I commenced ab initio flying training at the Brandon Flying Club followed by Light Aircraft Pilot Course 24 at the Light Aircraft School at CJATC Rivers. In Nov 58 I graduated with the award of the coveted Canadian Army Flying Badge.
RCEME had positioned technicians at both Greenwood and Trenton for the purpose of cross-training to aircraft techs. I interviewed them and made the selections of those to come to CJATC Rivers where we started to form the first Army Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AAMU). Among those technicians were MWO Chuck Macdonald and six other NCOs. Chuck and I set to work training and qualifying the NCOs so they could officially get on with the tasks at hand. We had all the help we needed from the RCAF. The aircraft at that time were in fact being maintained by the RCAF and as our folks got qualified, they replaced the RCAF techs. I then attended the US Army Maintenance Officers Course during the winter of 1960 and as a result, the RCAF accepted my qualifications as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer (AMO). In 1961 CWO Fred Leach and Capt Ron Connell arrived to help me with the training which was becoming quite onerous.
I left Rivers in Dec 62 with the AAMU being fully trained and operational. To the best of my knowledge and pride, there was never a maintenance issue during my tenure.
Of the NCOs in the unit, three were eventually commissioned; one as a pilot (Fred Leach LAPC 36 Oct 63) and two as AMOs.
During my flying days I qualified on the Cessna 140, Cessna 172, deHavilland Chipmunk, Cessna L-19 aircraft (both wheel and float equipped) and three types of helicopter for a total flying time of 1335 hours. I have a son in Montreal who currently owns a Grumman Tiger aircraft which I get to fly each year. This year (2016) we did a nice X-cty to northern NB and return. I look forward to a repeat next year.