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Capt WH (Hal) Cockerill RCASC

29 Oct 35 –


Walter (Hal) Cockerill was born 27 Oct 1935 in Toronto ON, subsequently attending High School in Brampton ON.

He joined the RCAF as a pilot trainee in Jun 1953 where he underwent standard pipeline training of the day for student pilots at Centralia ON, Gimli MB and finally Cold Lake AB. His first operational posting as a fully qualified RCAF pilot was to 419 AWF Sqn at RCAF Station North Bay ON in 1955 on the CF-100 aircraft. This posting was followed by a tour in Baden-Soellingen West Germany in 1957, also on the CF-100.

On return to Canada, he took his release from the RCAF on termination of his Short Service Commission and subsequently joined the Canadian Army in 1959 as a commissioned officer in the RCASC, undergoing Corps training at the RCASC School at Camp Borden ON. Following Corps training he served in several different Companies at the School.

During his tour at Camp Borden, he applied for and was selected for Army pilot training and subsequently posted to CJATC Rivers MB in Nov 1963 to undergo Fixed-Wing (FW) Conversion training with several other ex-RCAF officers on the Cessna L-19 Birddog aircraft at the Army Aviation Tactical Training School. Successful completion of said training saw him awarded the coveted Canadian Army Flying Badge. FW training was followed by Rotary-Wing training on the CH-112 Hiller helicopter at the Basic Helicopter Training Unit also located at Rivers. Now, as a fully qualified Canadian Army Aviator, Hal was posted to Ottawa as a member of the Army Headquarters Training and Liaison Flight (AHQ T&L Flt), under the command of Capt Joe Thibedeau RCA, flying Army Cessna 182 D and F model aircraft out of firstly, RCAF Station Rockcliffe and then RCAF Station Uplands.

He remained with the T&L Flt until fall 1966 when many American airlines came to Canada looking for pilots. He, along with many others, took-up the challenge and in 1966 he joined United Airlines. After schooling in Denver CO, he domiciled in Washington DC until retirement in 1995.

On retirement he found lots of spare time to pursue his passion as both a pedal biker and a fisherman, interspersed with “a lot of travel”. As he has also stated: “old age finally caught-up with me and we moved to a senior living facility in Harrisburg VA in 2021”, where he lives today (Mar 2022).

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    Compiled by BGen R.G. Heitshu.