Wilfrid Thibault
2003

Mechanic

Wilfrid Thibault started in aviation in 1923 at Lac-à-la-Tortue, cradle of commercial bush aviation in the country. He was employed by Laurentide Air Service, the first large-scale airline company in Canada. Hired as a carpenter, as his father Stanley Thibault, Wilfrid gradually learned the different facets of a mechanic’s profession, alongside experienced professionals such as Roméo and Irénée Vachon. Accompanying the pilots practically in every flight, the mechanics occupied then a key post in current operations. The fleet of Laurentide consisted mainly of Curtiss HS-2L seaplanes dating from the First World War. Their Liberty engines, having little reliability and being difficult to start, required a draining of oil every 40 hours of flight and a complete overhaul every 100 hours. Having a very long career, Thibault worked afterward for several companies, notably Canadian Airways, Dominion Skyways in Rouyn, Mont-Laurier Aviation in Roberval, and finally Nordair after the merger of Mont-Laurier Aviation and Boréal Airways in 1958. He was then considered the “dean of bush mechanics, respected by all” .

Of this first generation pioneer, some people wrote they wished they could possess “a hundredth of his knowledge in mechanics”.

History kept of Wilfrid Thibault the recollection of a very gifted mechanic, appreciated by his colleagues. Then working for Dominion Skyways in 1941, Thibault impressed more than one by reconditionning the famous prototype of Noorduyn Norseman CF-AYO, including the dismantling of wings, flaps and ailerons, redopting of fabrics, control ajustements, complete inspection of fuselage, etc. Of this first generation pioneer, some people wrote they wished they could possess “a hundredth of his knowledge in mechanics”. Prolonging family tradition to a third generation, his son Bertrand Thibault had a long career in aviation too.

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