Wall of Fame Inductees
Edward Robert McGill
(1912 - 1996)
The grandson of a Manitoba settler, Edward Robert McGill, was born in Vancouver on September 21, 1912. The family moved back to Brandon when he was seven. Educated in Brandon, he attended Brandon College for one year prior to enrolling at Queen's University and graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1934.
After graduation, Ed was employed by the International Nickel Company of Canada in Copper Cliff, Ontario. In July 1940, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and trained as a pilot at Regina, Hamilton, and Saskatoon. He was awarded his Pilot's Badge on February 22, 1941, and his Flying Instructor's Category in May 1941. He was then posted to Saskatoon as Flying Instructor and promoted to Deputy Flight Commander. He met Eve Shaw in Saskatoon and married on May 30, 1942.
In April of 1943, Ed was posted to England, where he trained as a fighter Pilot. He was posted to 418 (City of Edmonton) Squadron as a Night Intruder Pilot flying De Havilland Mosquitos. He was promoted to Flight Commander with the rank of Squadron Leader. He completed his overseas tour in August 1944 after flying a total of 37 Night Intruder and Daylight Ranger Operations over France and Germany. Posted back to Greenwood, Nova Scotia, as Chief Ground Instructor, he requested a transfer to the R.C.A.F. Reserve in January 1945 and returned to Inco as Veterans' Personnel Officer.
On June 15, 1946, he received a letter offering him the position of Secretary Manager and Chief Flying Instructor of the newly formed Brandon Flying Club. He began work in July of that year with a fleet of five Tiger Moths purchased from Crown Assets Corporation, and in September, the first class of 10 air cadets graduated. In 1952 he assumed the additional responsibility of Airport Manager. Ed, along with partners, formed Brandon Air Services on November 19, 1946 (later renamed Maple Leaf Aviation). He was President and General Manager until Jim Wall was promoted to General Manager in 1956.
Ed helped organize satellite flying training schools in Virden, Dauphin, Neepawa and Souris. He also helped organize the Flying Farmers in Manitoba. In 1968, after many years of lobbying Transport Canada, Brandon Air Radio was upgraded to a full control tower, and a new terminal building was built. Commercial air service became a reality in Brandon when Transair agreed to provide twice-daily service.
In 1969 Ed resigned from the Brandon Flying Club to enter politics. Shortly after that, he sold Maple Leaf Aviation to Jim Wall, who had been General Manager since 1956. On December 31, 1970, Brandon Municipal Airport was renamed McGill Field to recognize Ed McGill's "outstanding contribution to Canadian aviation."
Elected to the Manitoba Legislature as the member for Brandon West Constituency in 1969, Ed McGill served three terms and held several cabinet posts as a Conservative Cabinet Minister. He retired in 1981 and, in 1986, was appointed by the federal government to the Civil Aviation Tribunal.
Other community services included being Chairman of the Brandon School Board, Chairman of the Brandon Hospital Board, member of the Brandon Police Commission, President of the Brandon Golf and Country Club, and President of the Wasagaming Golf Course.
Ed McGill passed away in Brandon at age 84 on December 3, 1996.
James Douglas Wall
(1933 - 2011)
Jim Wall was born in Brandon, Manitoba, on March 22, 1933. He spent his entire life in Brandon, graduating from high school in 1951. In 1950 Jim earned his Private Pilot's licence at the Brandon Flying Club as an Air Cadet with the 82nd Squadron. He accomplished this in a short 30 days and 25 hours of flying time! In 1951 he earned an Air Cadet International Exchange trip to England, Scotland and Wales. He worked at the airport as a lineman, hangar attendant, aircraft washer and mechanic's helper. He built flying hours (at a cost of $8.00 per hour) by barnstorming with other pilots on weekends, ferrying aircraft and taking people for rides. Jim moved up the ladder of success and was soon employed as a full-time Apprentice Maintenance Engineer earning a wage of 25 cents per hour.
In 1954 Jim tested for a Commercial Pilot's licence. He scored remarkably high on his tests and was selected as a finalist for Western Canada for the Webster Trophy. Jim missed winning by only one-tenth of a point! The Webster Trophy is awarded annually to the top amateur pilot in Canada. The commercial licence would be used to fly charter, survey work, and test flying throughout his career. He continued the path to obtaining his Aircraft Maintenance Engineer's licence and received his licence # WGM348 in 1956. By this time, he had moved from the Brandon Flying Club to Maple Leaf Aviation Limited. Maple Leaf was a Cessna dealership located here at Brandon Airport. In 1971 Jim and his wife Beth purchased Maple Leaf Aviation from Ed McGill and partners. In 1974 Maple Leaf Aviation was one of only nine Cessna dealers in the World at the time that was awarded a 25-year continuous Service Award to the Aviation Industry. After 33 years as a Cessna dealer and with no new Cessna-manufactured aircraft to sell, Jim redirected Maple Leaf and concentrated on Aircraft Maintenance as an AMO, Manufacturing fibreglass parts and continued with Flight Training, Charter and Patrol work. Taking advantage of advances in composite structure technology, Maple Leaf entered a program called Aircraft Speed Mods with associate Roy Sobchuk and became a Canadian manufacturer of fibreglass aircraft products sold all over the world. As of 2007, the design and production group hold many Canadian and American Supplementary Type Certificates for the production and distribution of fibreglass products.
Jim's family would be heavily involved in the business and his world. Beth was involved with the office management during the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. In 1977 son Dave came on board full-time as a commercial pilot, earned his Aircraft Maintenance Engineer licence and eventually assumed the company's day-to-day operation. Before Jim's passing in 2011, Granddaughter Brittany worked two years of summers in the shop with grandpa, and she earned her private pilot licence. Jim's grandson Grant would be at his grandfather's side by 2006, assisting grandpa in hanger tasks and came on board full-time in 2012. Grant has followed the path and is now an AME with the company and holds a private pilot licence. Also, in 2012 Jim's daughter-in-law Karen came on board as an office assistant. Jim never envisioned the company as a family business, but he certainly would have enjoyed such!
In 2000 Transport Canada appointed Jim as a Minister's Delegate- Maintenance. This authorized him to issue the Certificate of Airworthiness upon the importation of an aircraft into Canada following inspection and required maintenance.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honoured Jim with a certificate for his 50 years of service for the quality maintenance work that he had provided.
In March 2006, at the Central Aircraft Maintenance Engineer Symposium, the Association presented Jim with the prestigious NAASCO Outstanding AME Award, awarded annually to an AME that has shown outstanding achievement in aviation maintenance. He was immensely proud of this achievement!
Jim worked over 60 years full time, and every one of those days were tied to McGill Field at the Brandon Airport. He genuinely loved aviation and the airport!