Bush pilote and adminsitrator
Fernand “Frank” Henley started as a RCAF Canso and B-24 pilot during WWII, doing two tours of operations at Dartmouth and Gander on anti-submarine patrol. After the war, he became a bush pilot, flying in Abitibi for Gold Belt Air Service and A.Fecteau Transport Aérien, then Northern Wings in Sept-Îles. From 1951 to 1956, he worked for Maritime Central Airways (MCA), doing certification flight tests for the ski/wheel DC-3 and piloting the first cargo flight to the DEW LINE. In 1957, he amalgamated two subsidiaries MCA companies – Mont Laurier Aviation and Boreal Airways – to found Nordair, for which he was Vice-President Operations during fifteen years. During that time, Nordair opened many instruments flying routes (IFR) in the north. To replace piston-powered aircraft, Henley selected in 1966 the Boeing 737-200. Nordair then became the first carrier to operate a scheduled air service to the Canadian Arctic using jet aircraft.
In 1957, he amalgamated two subsidiaries MCA companies – Mont Laurier Aviation and Boreal Airways – to found Nordair, for which he was Vice-President Operations during fifteen years.
From 1972 to 1983, Henley acted as executive consultant for Hydro-Québec Société d’Énergie de la Baie James (SEBJ) in connection with the huge James Bay project. As such, his responsibilites included: definition of operating standards, selection of airport and heliport sites, development of communication and navigation systems, general managing of cargo and passenger transport. During the construction phase of the dams, 4 major airports were built, 11 secondary and 47 heliports. Upon recommendation by Henley, SEBJ acquired six Convair 580 that flew close to 700 000 passengers to the sites. Henley also elaborated a logistic plan to support the construction of a 660 kilometre road between LG2, LG3, LG4 and Caniapiscau. The massive airlift was a huge success and the road was completed one year ahead of time, in part due to the use of four ice runways in the winter and the purchase of a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft in September 1973. In 1983, Henley was appointed Québecair Vice-President Operations. From 1985 to 1990, he acted as President of his consulting firm Zenith Aviation Inc. In 2000, he won the prestigeous Trans-Canada/McKee Trophy.
He passed away peacefully on Tuesday May 4, 2021 at the age of 98 at the Veteran’s Hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec.
2000 : Trophy Trans-Canada/McKee