Early Development / Brief Historical Background

Bob Ward in his second book “Policing in Canada’s Northland” describes early steps in lobbying for safety improvements in the north.

Bob was Director of the Canadian Owners and Pilot’s Association representing the NWT for about 15 years. He also served as a Director of the International Northwest Aviation Council.

A significant step occurred on a Saturday morning in Yellowknife in early April 1964 when the inaugural meet of the NWT Aviation Council took place. Stan McMillan was the guest speaker and this combined with the fact there had been an RCMP Ball in the Elk’s Hall the night before resulted in a good attendance from across the territories. A number of members from the Alberta Aviation Council attended to give their support. The RCAF gave a demonstration of their search and rescue “Albatross” aircraft, taking off from the lake ice using JATO (jet assisted take off) with spectacular results.

The NWT Aviation Council lobbied the federal Department of Transport to improve navigation aids in northern Canada but they were told that unless the federally funded Trans Canada Airlines was flying the routes, money would be very difficult to budget for any northern improvements.

The Council was successful in making up a map of the Territories showing all landing strips with available services. They also succeeded in having phone lines marked where they crossed rivers.

One of their priorities was to organize a search and rescue plan and standards for emergency rations, flares and other equipment for forced landings in remote areas.

As Bob says, the organization petered out after a few years, not because of lack of need, but because of the high cost to individuals who tried to keep the organization going without outside funding.

Northern Symposia’s were held on an annual basis by the three regions of Transport Canada whose responsibilities extend north of 60. The regions were Western, Central and Quebec.

These symposia, while well intended, did not really adequately meet the needs of northern air carriers. Several operators, with vision, began discussions related to the pros and cons of forming a Northern Air Transport Association.

Informal discussions contained in the early 1970’s. Founding directors of the Northern Air Transport Association were: Mike Zubko, Robert O’Connor, Dick deBlicquy, Bill Tweed, Barry Thompson, Al Kapty and Robert Engle.

Bob Engle was elected first president.

At a meeting in Yellowknife on March 15, 1977 the following founding members and carriers participated. 



MARCH 15, 1977

Bill Hettrick,
Ptarmigan Airways
Bill Monoghan,
Wardair Canada
Bill Tweed,
Simpson Air
Bob Engle,
Northwest Territorial Airways
Bob O’Connor,
Aero Arctic Ltd.
Bob Russell,
Gateway Aviation
Dick deBlicquy,
Bradley Air Services
Eldon Germain,
Edkins Aviation
Joe McBryan,
Buffalo Airways
John Crichton,
Bradley Air Services
John Daykn,
Century Air
John Hill,
Joyce Filewych,
Northward Airlines
K.A. Morrison,
Northwest Territorial Airways
Larry Sukut,
Wardair Canada
Les Dvorak,
Wolverine Air
Mike Cheevers,
Harrison Airways
Mike Zubko,
Aklavik Flying Services
Murray McMahon,
Northward Airlines
Phyllis Linton,
Nahanni Air Services
R. Blackwood,
Edkins Aviation
Wayne Myers,
Buffalo Airways