George Neal, de Havilland Canada Test Pilot, Remembered in Toronto Tribute
200 Attend Tribute To Aviation Pioneer
Brampton Airport, Ontario, May 19, 2016….. Before an audience of more that 200 friends and relations, and accompanied by his de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk trainer aircraft, George Neal was remembered at his home airport in Brampton, Ontario, near Toronto.
The celebration of Neal’s life in the air was bookmarked by several prominent speakers, including Tom Appleton, a former DHC test pilot and current chairman of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, of which Neal was an inducted member.
George was 97 years old, and last year was recognized as the oldest licensed pilot by the Guinness Book of World Records. During his long career as the chief test pilot at The de Havilland Aircraft of Canada, as well as the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa, Neal logged over 15,000 hours airborne.
Joining DHC in 1937 as a mechanic, and following a three year stint in the RCAF during the Second World War, he rejoined DHC in 1947 and took over the certification and development flying of the very successful DHC-1 Chipmunk.
In 1948 he completed the test, development and certification flying of the iconic DHC-2 Beaver, for which he is probably best known today. Neal also test-piloted several other de Havilland Canada products including the Otter, Caribou and Twin Otter STOL aircraft.
Appleton recalled, “My first encounter with George was fifty years ago, in February, 1966, when I joined DHC as a young test and demonstration pilot, initially on the Twin Otter. At that time, he was Chief Production Test Pilot, responsible for ensuring that every aircraft that left the factory was up to company and DOT standards and, more importantly, up to his own, personal standards of perfection.“
George Neal’s passing marks the end of an era. George was ‘one-of-a-kind’ – his life the epitome of dedication, humility, perseverance, honesty and generosity. Over 97 years of single-minded devotion to the art and science of aeronautics in all its forms, George never wavered from his chosen vocation.
Additionally, Chris Pulley, President of Brampton Flying Club, announced at the service their plan to build a new pilot training facility, thanks to a bequest from George Neal.
Neal was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995.
Jamie McIntyre. 514-489-0830