Roger L. Smith
2003

Airline pilot

Native of Coaticook in the Eastern Townships, Roger Smith was only 15 years old when he began as an apprentice mechanic at Saint-Hubert for Continental Aero Corporation, under Hervé St-Martin. It was in 1928, the same year of the inauguration of the airport. In exchange for his work, Smith was able to learn to fly, getting some experience next to more experienced airmen such St-Martin, Roméo Vachon, Lee Mackay, Stuart Graham, Hervé Simoneau and Walter Leavens. At the age of 19, Roger Smith became presumably the youngest Canadian airman to obtain a commercial pilot license, already operating his own air service: Roger L. Smith Air Service. At the helm of a small Travel Air 4000 biplane, the young man criss-crossed the country selling coupons which offered aircraft flights for $2. Parachute jumps during air meets and the transport of fishermen to the North also counted among the first activities of the young airman.

Roger Smith piloted more than 50 types of aircraft, from the canvas biplane to the DC8 jet, by way of the Super Constellation.

Having piloted in the 30’s for McKay Exploration Co, St-Martin Air Transport in Saint-Félicien and Dominion Skyways in Rouyn, Smith was hired in 1939 by TCA (Trans-Canada Air Lines, now Air Canada), becoming captain after only 9 months. On April 16th, 1941, he piloted the final segment (Moncton-Halifax) during the inauguration in a Lockheed 14 Electra of the Trans-Canada service of TCA connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic. During the war, Smith was also affected to the transatlantic transport service, piloting along with George Lothian, four-engined Lancastrian aircraft (Lancaster bombers modified for the transport of passengers towards Europe). Inaugurating several new lines during his long career, Roger Smith piloted more than 50 types of aircraft, from the canvas biplane to the DC8 jet, by way of the Super Constellation. He retired from Air Canada in 1971, adding up credibly more than 1,000 crossings of the Atlantic Ocean. He continued to pilot up to an advanced age, reaching the tremendous total of 27 000 hours of flight, which is the equivalent of more than 3 years in the air !

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