Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue crewmembers have received another accolade for a dangerous and tragic rescue that occurred in the Arctic in 2011.
The Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators (GAPAN) Award for Gallantry was this year awarded to Royal Canadian Air Force crews who, on October 27, 2011, responded to a distress call near Igloolik, Nunavut, where two hunters were stranded in icy waters in deteriorating conditions.
The award, which is given to an individual or crew of an aircraft in any field of aviation for an outstanding act of gallantry, was presented in the Guildhall in London, England, on October 23, 2012.
The award was presented to the Cormorant helicopter crew from 103 Search and Rescue Squadron based in Gander, N.L. – Captain Aaron Noble, aircraft commander; Captain Dean Vey, first officer; Sergeant Brad Hiscock, flight engineer; and Sergeant Dan Villeneuve and Master Corporal Shawn Bretschneider who are search and rescue technicians. The honour was also awarded to Sergeant Janick Gilbert, Master Corporal Max Lahaye-Lemay, and Master Corporal Marco Journeyman, search and rescue technicians from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, Trenton, Ont.
Sgt Gilbert, SAR team leader, perished during the mission and received the award posthumously.
"The presentation of all the GAPAN awards was quite spectacular; especially, after the recent citation and award to 103 Squadron [the Cormorant Trophy for Helicopter Rescue by AugustaWestland] and, in particular, the presence of Sergeant Janick Gilbert's widow and mother," said BGen (ret'd) David Jurkowski, Chairman of GAPAN North America, who attended the presentation ceremony.
"Some 600 distinguished guests at the Guild Hall of London gala awards dinner rose in spontaneous enthusiasm and deep respect for a full two minute ovation.
"It was a truly moving salute which I will not forget," he said. “I have never seen a standing ovation like that before by so many dignitaries. It made me proud to be a Canadian.”
The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators was established in 1929; its principal activities are centred on developing action and activities to ensure that aircraft are piloted and navigated safely by aviators who are highly competent, self-reliant, dependable and respected. The Guild supports the education and training of pilots and navigators from the initial training of the young pilot to the specialist training of the highest levels. Through its charitable activities, education and training, technical committee work, aircrew selection, scholarships and sponsorships, advice and recognition of the achievements of fellow aviators world wide, the Guild keeps itself at the forefront of the aviation world.
Family members who attended the event were Melisa Lesquir, the widow of Sgt Gilbert, who accepted the award on behalf of her late husband; Diane Gilbert, mother of Sgt Gilbert; Anne Journeyman, spouse of MCpl Journeyman; and, Christine Baldwin, guest of MCpl Lahaye-Lemay.
About GAPGAN North America
The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (GAPAN) North America (NA) is one of 108 current Guilds and Livery Companies steeped in rich English history dating back some 800 years and recognized by the Guild Hall of London. Established in 1929 when the future professional status of air pilots and air navigators was very much in doubt, GAPAN is now a professional organization of more than 2,000 members in aviation communities in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
Comprising approximately 30 percent airline pilots, 30 percent military and 40 percent general aviation, our ranks are populated by current and former airline pilots, air force pilots and navigators, members of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority and many other professional organizations.
Among several goals, three are prominent in the North American context:
- To establish, maintain and recognize the highest standards of air safety through the promotion of good airmanship
- To maintain liaison with all aviation regulatory authorities connected with licensing, training and legislation affecting the pilot and navigator communities in the private, professional, civil or military domains
- To constitute a body of experienced airmen available for advice and consultation and to facilitate the exchange of information
To this end, experienced members provide expert consultative advice through a number of professional committees which are very active in all geographical regions:
- Technical and Air Safety Committee
- Educational and Training Committee
- Environmental Committee
- Trophies and Awards Committee
These committees cover a broad range of topical issues ranging from unmanned aircraft access to national airspace, future cockpit design, aircraft accident investigation, flight test and system design, aviation law, aviation medicine, aviation greenhouse gas and noise pollution mitigation, youth activities, training and the recognition of conspicuous actions.
On the latter, the Royal Canadian Air Force has been recognized three times for its search and rescue operations, the most recent of which was the crew of Rescue 915 (103 Search and Rescue Squadron, 9 Wing Gander, N.L., and 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. Such recognition is a wonderful objective testimony for what the RCAF does for Canada.
GAPAN NA is a recent amalgamation of its organizations in Canada and the U.S. In addition to the aforementioned recognition, members are kept up to date through paper or electronic issues of Guild News and can access or contribute to study, discussion and position papers or online discussions on a wide variety of aviation matters.
GAPAN enjoys special relations with a number of commercial and military units through its affiliation process. For example, Harbour Air, based in Vancouver, B.C. – the world’s largest seaplane operation; the Abbotsford Air Show; the Canadian Forces Snowbirds; 19 Wing Comox, B.C., 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, 12 Wing Shearwater, N.S., but located at Pat Bay., B.C.; the Royal Air Force Red Arrows; and many others around the world are Affiliated Units of GAPAN.
There is a wealth of aviation expertise in the North American region that can be brought together for the betterment of aviation. Anyone wishing to play a role in this important domain is welcome to join GAPAN NA by contacting Donna Farquhar, Administrator, GAPAN NA at email@example.com or David Jurkowski, CMM, CD (BGen ret’d), Chairman, GAPAN NA at 1.613.237.4556.
The GAPAN website can be found at: www.gapan.org