Walter (Babe) Woollett
2003

Bush pilote

Legendary figure of Canadian aviation, Walter “Babe” Woollett was born in England (getting his nickname from the fact that he was the youngest of the family). From 1924 untill 1929, Woollett served in the RAF, before finding work in Canada as a bush pilot in the Fairchild organization at Lac-à-la-Tortue (Qc). His monthly salary amounted to $250, an incredible sum for that time. In Lac-à-la-Tortue, Woollett found several British airmen, one of which, C.R. ‘Peter’ Troup, became his great friend. At the end of 1930, Woollett joined Canadian Airways, carrying mail from Saint-Hubert to Saint John (NB) by following the railroad. The beginnings of Woollett on this line were not however very restful, experiencing three engine failures on the first run! Next year, Woollett transferred to the winter airmail on the North Shore, releasing mail bags over a number of villages, by aiming at a flag planted in the snow. In winter 1935-36, Woollett’s aircraft was caught in a blizzard, getting damaged on a frozen river in Northern Quebec. With his snow shoes, Woollett pounded a landing strip in the snow to allow the possible rescuers to land

During the war, Woollett was one of the main artisans of the BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan), overseeing several schools in Quebec and Ontario.

But after waiting five days, Woollett was irritated and printed with his snow shoes in big letters in the snow the following message: “LAND HERE YOU BASTARDS!”. His aircraft was finally located. Woollett worked then in Rouyn for Dominion Skyways, a company founded in 1935 by Hartland Molson and directed by Peter Troup. During the war, Woollett was one of the main artisans of the BCATP (British Commonwealth Air Training Plan), overseeing several schools in Quebec and Ontario. For his leading role in the training of airmen during the war, Woollett was decorated with the OBE. Appointed Superintendent of the Eastern Division of C.P. Air Lines in Mont-Joli after the war, Woollett became the right-hand man of the president Grant McConachie, and developed afterwards the network of C.P. Air in the Pacific. Recognized as a famous bush pilot (and a merry lad !), Babe Woollett was a real pioneer of aviation, appreciated by all.

Honors

Order of the British Empire

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