Bush pilot and administrator
Paul Gagnon started as a bush pilot in the 50’s for A. Fecteau Transport Aérien, Wheeler Airlines and Québecair, piloting devices of type Canso, DC-3, etc. After a brief interlude with Transport Canada as inspector, the Québec government recruited him in 1960 to set up the Provincial Air Service, making of him its first General Manager. Regrouping in a single administrative unit the ill-assorted fleet of the government, Gagnon was also at the bottom of the famous water bombers program, initiated in 1961 by the introduction of the first two Canso amphibians in “water bomber” version (external reservoirs). Under the mandate of Gagnon, the Air Service thus developed an expertise for which Québec is famous all over the world today: i.e., the airborne fight against forest fires.
Under the mandate of Gagnon, the Air Service thus developed an expertise for which Québec is famous all over the world today: i.e., the airborne fight against forest fires.
Collaborating with the industrial environment, the Air Service contributed to the development of water bombers of type Canso (with internal reservoirs) and Canadair CL-215. Acting as expert counsellor to several governments in matters of fighting forest fires, Gagnon was honored in 1967 with the award of the Centennial Medal. Also, to underline his contribution to the CL-215 project of Canadair, a twenty-dollar coin was issued in 1998 by the Royal Canadian Mint displaying a cameo of Paul Gagnon. Leaving the Government Air Service in 1970, Gagnon joined Atlantic Aviation in Montreal. From 1973 untill 1975, for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Gagnon was Director of the Canadian Civil Aviation Project in West Africa in Dakar. He then founded his own consulting firm, Gagnair, with which he was involved in several development projects, notably in Africa, in Asia and in South America. Paul Gagnon passed away suddenly on April 17, 2021 at the Sacré-Coeur Hospital in Montreal.
1967 : Award of the Centenial Medal