Hervé St-Martin
2002

Pilote

Born in Michigan of French Canadians parents, Hervé St-Martin was a WWI aviator. Back in Canada, he held the first commercial air pilot licence earned by a francophone (No.23), issued the same day as his air engineer licence, May 27, 1920. That same year, St-Martin was recruited by Canadian Aerial Services of Cartierville, a new company specializing in barnstorming, simulated air combats, parachutist jumps, races against automobiles, cinema stunts, etc. On February 4, 1922, with Roy Maxwell, St-Martin made the first winter flight to James Bay (in an open cockpit Avro 504K!). After several trips to Moose Factory for an oil prospector, a forced landing 100 km north of Cochrane compelled St-Martin to return by foot. At the same period, St-Martin teamed up with Tom Wheeler to form Laurentian Air Services, a small company carrying tourists to the Gray Rocks Inn in the Laurentides.

Back in Canada, he held the first commercial air pilot licence earned by a francophone (No.23), issued the same day as his air engineer licence, May 27, 1920.

In 1925, St-Martin piloted an aerial survey for McGill University to study ice floes in the St.Lawrence River. Pioneering airmail with Canadian Airways, he inaugurated May 5, 1928, the Montréal-Toronto run, relaying trans-atlantic mail delivery to and from boarding ocean liners at Rimouski. That same year, St-Martin was appointed Chief-Pilot for Continental Aero Corporation at Saint-Hubert. By then, he was recognized as one of the best pilots around. In 1930, he participated in air patrols contracted in Rimouski by the Québec Liquor Commission to search for bootleggers’ boats. Later operating his own service (St-Martin Air Transport) in the lake Saint-Jean area, he only had one phobia: never to fly in an airplane piloted by someone else. Sadly, he lost his life in 1939 in one of the rare occasions where he wasn’t at the controls, busy filming a herb of caribou. Looking for a better angle, the inexperienced pilot at his side lost control of the WACO, with fatal results. By viewing the film roll shot by St-Martin, the inquiry, led by his friend Stuart Graham, was able to reconcile the facts.

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