Recent Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame inductee and Air Spray Ltd. owner, Don Hamilton, has passed away in Edmonton at the age of 86. Please read on to learn more about his inspiring life and his many achievements.
John Chalmers, historian for the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, and volunteer for the CAHS convention writes the following:
"Getting to know Don and seeing him a few times has been one of the pleasures of working on Hall of Fame matters this year. At the June conference of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, we showed the Hall of Fame video of Don and then he spoke briefly to our conference, regaling attendees with stories of early adventures and misadventures in his life of aviation, including flying Lockheed Electras from Japan and Africa to join his aerial fire suppression fleet. Howard Malone, a retired Air Canada captain and former President of CAHS National and the Toronto CAHS chapter, told me he could have listened to Don tell his stories all afternoon!"
Don Hamilton in June at the CAHS Conference (Photo: Bill Zuk)
On August 3rd, friends, family members, and members of the aviation community from across North America gathered in the huge hall of the Alberta Aviation Museum to celebrate his memory. Another Don, who did all the electrical work on AirSpray Ltd's Electras, had flown in from Florida. "Buffalo" Joe McBryan came in from Yellowknife, and there were quite a few other people from Don's days in the north, including his friend and colleague of 60+ years, Tellef Vaasjo.
The piper began the service by playing Danny Boy. Afterward his son-in-law, Paul Lane, welcomed the standing-room-only crowd. Then Lynn Hamilton read excerpts from her father's Hall of Fame induction speech, and Chris Welsh read "High Flight," a favourite poem among aviators. His eight grandchildren also each got a chance to share a special memory, followed by Tellef's amusing anecdotes of their "character-building" times flying in northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. Finally, we watched a slideshow of his aviation career set to music, amazed at the incredible spirit, drive and accomplishments of this humble man.
Once the service was done, we all walked to the side of the museum closest to the Edmonton Municipal Airport and watched as the AirSpray L-188 Electra air tanker did a fly-by, bird-dogged in by the Turbo Commander 690.