Of Belgium origin, Achille Vanhee migrated to Montréal in 1925, growing a passion for aviation. Since no course was then available there, he followed a correspondence course in 1927 from the Aviators Preparatory Institute of New York. In May 1928, he received his first practical lesson from Hervé Simoneau, at the Montreal Flying Club, and went solo in October. Hired as mechanic by Continental Aero Corporation in Québec City, Vanhee obtained his Air Engineer’s Certificate and Commercial Pilot’s licence in 1930. As an instructor, his first student was Arthur Fecteau. He also taught Maria Lévesque, first female aviator of Québec city. A few years later, Vanhee went to work in Abitibi and Edmonton, as mechanic and bush pilot. In December 1937, for Mackenzie Air Service, he carried the first official airmail between Yellowknife and Fort Resolution. During WWII, Vanhee became instructor in the RCAF and piloted amphibian Canso between North America and the UK.
During WWII, Vanhee became instructor in the RCAF and piloted amphibian Canso, in 1944, between North America and the UK.
After the war, he joined Canadian Pacific Airline and participated in 1947 to the famous Knob Lake (Schefferville) airlift from Mont-Joli and Sept-Iles. In 1949, he opened the route Canada-Australia and achieved many other Canadian “firsts”. He piloted four engines North Star C-4 and DC-6Bs, and carried the first airmail to Hawaii and Australia. He also worked on the polar route between Vancouver and Amsterdam. Between 1973 and 1982, he acted as flight instructor for Austin Airways and also worked for CIDA. As chief pilot for the Aviation Project in Dakar, led by Paul Gagnon, he taught to fly on DHC-6 Twin Otter in many African countries. Achille Vanhee retired in 1983, at the age of 74, after 56 years in aviation. He has flown on over 90 different types of aircraft, from the biplane Curtiss JN4 to the prototype of the Boeing 707, totaling more than 25000 flying hours.
Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame
Les Vieilles Tiges De Belgique