Gerard ”Gerry” Burnett

Gerard ”Gerry” Burnett

Born in Wisconsin in 1920 to a British father and a French mother, he studied economics at the University of London and was a member of the University Air Squadron in 1939 when the Second World War began. He was hired as a mechanic by the A.T.A. (Air Transport Auxilliary) in 1942 and took his pilot training to accomplish on June 30 1943 his 1st solo on a MILES MAGISTER.

Within the A.T.A. (British organization of the Second World War created to ensure the transfer of planes between factories and airfields of military bases in active service), Gerry was able, by his qualities as a pilot, to quickly earn the confidence of the company. As a result, it has delivered over 620 aircraft to all parts of England, Scotland and Ireland.

It is also within the A.T.A. that Gerry would meet the one who would allow him to participate in the history of the aviation of Québec by becoming his future wife, Elspeth Russell. In 1947 he founded with his wife Elspeth the company MATANE AIR SERVICES.

In 1952, as there was then no ferry service between the two shores, Matane Air Services provided regular flights between the two shores of the St.Lawrence River, including to five lumber towns on the North Shore, to which was added the Lac-Ste-Anne in 1956 and Baie-Comeau in 1957. The year 1961 was the busiest year in the company's history, with its three DC-3s regularly ensuring the Matane-Manic 5 link during the construction of the famous dam that marked the history of Québec and where we recovered the wood that would have been otherwise flooded was recovered instead.

Thus in 1965, after 18 years of operation and the transport of more than a quarter of a million passengers without a scratch, Matane Air Services ceased its operations by being sold to the new transport company. QUÉBECAIR which has made history. Gérard Burnett died in 2015 at the age of 94. Matane airport now bears the name of Russell-Burnett.

Celebrating the legacy of airline pioneer Gerry Burnett  Listen 

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