John Sanders Hugill was born in Quebec City QC 27 Dec 1930. After completing Secondary School at Quebec City High School in 1948, he commenced post-secondary school education at the University of New Brunswick in the fall of 1948.
He enlisted in the RCAF in 1952 and eventually underwent pilot training at 3 FTS RCAF Station Claresholm AB. From 1953 to 1958 he flew fixed-wing aircraft at various RCAF Stations in Canada and also during a UN tour of duty with 115 Comm Flight in Egypt.
John left the Air Force in 1958 and transferred to the Canadian Army and became an officer in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC), with the full intention of eventually qualifying as an Army pilot and flying helicopters. Before achieving this goal however, as an RCASC officer he completed another UN tour, this time in the Congo, with 57 Canadian Signal Squadron.
Selection for Army pilot training followed shortly afterward, seeing him qualifying for and being awarded the coveted Canadian Army Flying Badge on successful completion of RCAF Conversion Course #1 at CJATC Rivers MB in Oct 62 (see above photo). Subsequent rotary wing courses followed at the Basic Helicopter Training Unit (BHTU) and the Army Aviation Tactical Training School (AATTS) at Rivers. Because of his previous flying experience and natural flying ability, John easily qualified as a rotary wing instructor pilot and was posted thereafter to AATTS as such. He remained in this capacity until being posted to HQ 4 CIBG West Germany as a Staff Pilot from 1964 to 1968.
John left Germany on posting to 403 HOTS at CFB Petawawa in 1968 where he remained as an instructor until 1971 when he moved to New Brunswick (Gagetown) to become Second-in-Command of 422 Tactical Helicopter Squadron until tour-end in 1973. While still at CFB Gagetown, he took-up the position of Air Staff Officer at the Combat Arms School where he remained until 1975.
John made the monumental decision in anyone’s military career to leave the Canadian Armed Forces in 1975. From 1975 to 2001 he flew helicopters commercially at many locations both in Canada and the United States. He currently (2020) owns his own helicopter, which he keeps hangared at his youngest son’s acreage not far from his residence, and, as a reportedly hale and hearty 90 year-old, continues to fly for the sheer pleasure of rotary wing flying.
John has filed an ‘open” flight plan with departure date and destination TBA. Because of his early departure from the Canadian Armed Forces, John wonders if the flight is to be a ‘heavenly’ climb or a ‘hellish’ autorotation, remains to be determined. He regrets though that he will never be able to let anyone known which it was!