George C. Keefer



George C. Keefer
2008

Pilot

Born in New York to a Canadian mother and an American father, George Clinton Keefer lived part of his childhood in Prince Edward Island. After obtaining a scholarship in engineering at Yale University, Keefer enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in October 1940, receiving his “wings” in April 1941. His instructor in Cape Town- de-la-Madeleine wrote of Keefer (who had made his first solo after only four hours of flight): “Unusually lively… no boasting or fear in him… has a lot of panache and liveliness”. These characteristics would define him throughout his life. Keefer graduated first in his class and was quickly transferred to England to complete his training. He was then posted to RAF 274 Squadron, piloting Hurricane fighters in the Middle East. Back in Europe in May 1943, he flew Spitfires in RCAF 416 and 412 squadrons. During the war, Keefer obtained the rank of Wing Commander, completed three operational tours and was credited with destroying 12 enemy planes, 2 probable, 5 destroyed on the ground plus 9 damaged and over 60 vehicles and land-based facilities. He was one of the most decorated officers of the RCAF, one of a group of only four aviators to obtain a bar in the DFC and DSO, in addition to receiving from France the Croix de Guerre with golden star and the Croix de Vol des Netherlands. Keefer remained with the RCAF until 1947, working at the Air Force College in Trenton and, with Canadian personnel, serving in Washington. In 1947, his recognized qualities enabled him to obtain a managerial position within the company CAE in Montreal.

In 1951, Keefer joined the Canadair aircraft company in Montreal. Like his military career, he rose through the ranks and left Canadair in 1968 as vice-president. That year, Keefer acquired the Granby firm Plastal (now Avior), which specializes in the manufacture of composite parts for the aerospace sector. Thanks to Keefer's contacts in the industry, Plastal won several major contracts for components such as: cabin windows, air ducts, anti-reflective screens, landing gear compartments, flight simulator windows, etc. These contracts fit into a variety of programs, including Canadair's CL-215 and CL-600 Challenger, De Havilland's Dash 7 and 8, McDonnell Douglas' DC-9 and MD-80 family, Helicopter division of Pratt & Whitney, etc. Thanks to his clear vision, his natural leadership, his involvement and his tenacity, George Keefer was able to position Plastal as a world leader in its field. He was a source of inspiration to all who came into contact with him, until his sudden death in 1985.

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