Pilote, founder of Québécair
Paul-Émile Lapointe was bitten by the aviation “bug” at age 11, dazzled by the grand vision of 24 seaplanes of the Italo Balbo expedition on its way towards Chicago to represent fascist Italy at the World Fair of 1933. World War II incited Lapointe to enlist and he obtained his pilot’s wings in March, 1942. Spitfire pilot in North Africa and Europe during the conflict, Lapointe made 211 combat flights, some setting him against V-1 rockets and the formidable Messerschmitt 262, first German jet fighter plane. In the autumn of 1946, Paul Lapointe founded, with the local business circle, Air Rimouski and the Syndicat d’aviation du Golfe, which became Québecair in 1953. Absorbing throughout the years several regional companies (Les Ailes du Nord, Air Gaspé, Northern Wings, Matane Air Services, A. Fecteau Transport Aérien), Québecair grew to become in the 80’s the national carrier of the Quebec Government. At the beginning, the fleet was limited to a single aircraft of Fleet Canuck type obtained from military surplus.
Spitfire pilot in North Africa and Europe during the conflict, Lapointe made 211 combat flights, some setting him against V-1 rockets and the formidable Messerschmitt 262, first German jet fighter plane.
Soon were added a Stinson, then a dozen of Avro Ansons, several DC-3, Beech 18, DC-4, Convair 540, etc. From 1958, Québecair was equipped with Fairchild F-27 turboprop. In 1969, the company purchased its first jets, BAC 1-11; then in 1974 two four-engined Boeing 707. The dream of Paul Lapointe to pilot one day a four-engined jet came true on April 9th, 1975, during a flight from Montreal to Cuba. Two and a half weeks later, the founder of Québecair died, overcome by disease. Chief pilot and soul of the company from the beginning until his premature death, at the age of 53, Captain Lapointe accumulated, in a relatively short time, an impressive total of 25 000 hours of flight, which is the equivalent of about 3 years in the air.