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Shenstone: An Unparalleled Career (Part 1, the Pre-war years)

Shenstone Borden OutsideBy Wayne Saunders

THE NAME BEVERLEY ‘BEV’ SHENSTONE MAY NOT BE ONE THAT EVERYBODY INTERESTED in Canadian aviation history will have heard. But it should be. In fact, if a ‘Top Ten’ list of Canadian personalities who have made a significant impact on aviation were drawn up, Shenstone would arguably be near the top. Yet, his outstanding career is not well known, nor has it been examined in any depth. This biographical study attempts to redress the situation.

It aims to raise awareness of Shenstone’s impressive accomplishments, both in Canada, and internationally.

A Career of Accomplishments

Shenstone and SpitfireFrom an overall view, Shenstone’s career covers a range of significant milestones that, when taken together, represent an impressive body of work. Perhaps since most of his aviation career was spent outside Canada, though, he has not received his due. He himself recognized that since a large amount of his work was done abroad he seemed to be regarded as a foreigner. However, his work continually included projects related either directly or indirectly to this country. He never lost touch with Canada or his Canadian character and always retained his Canadian citizenship.

His involvement in aviation was broad and deep. Likely no other single individual from this country could claim to have been involved in such a range of activities. These included aerodynamics theory and practice, the design of notable civil and military aircraft, and involvement in air transport with one of the most prominent airlines in the world, including serving on the committee established to formulate supersonic transport aircraft. He trained and flew with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), was the first Canadian to receive a Master’s degree in aeronautics, and held management positions in industry, government and the air transport sectors.

He learned to fly gliders and sailplanes, was involved in societies that promoted unpowered flight both in Canada and abroad, and initiated and led the design of several types. Shenstone was also the driving force behind post-war efforts to establish human powered aircraft programs as a significant activity. As well, he played a leading role in professional societies including the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), the Soaring Association of Canada (SAC), and the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI). Additionally, he helped generations of aviation specialists do their jobs better by initiating an important range of design and aerodynamic standards. And, finally, as a noted writer and keen observer, he contributed a range of materials throughout the length of his career that provoked thoughtful understanding of the changing world of aviation in its many forms.

 Interested, intrigued, want to read more? See the latest CAHS Journal.

CAHS 49 3 Fall 2011 FRONTcover200