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Operations Committee

David E. Wright, P. Eng.

Chairman

Edmonton, AB

Dave was born and raised in Edmonton but has worked in Calgary and Toronto as well. He attained a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta in 1972 and ‘73 respectively. His working career was in the energy industry where he worked the business side of his education even though he was hired as an engineer. Dave earned his private pilot’s license at age seventeen with the fantastic instruction of Hall of Fame Member Vera Dowling. He has owned three aircraft over the years since: a Piper J3 Cub, a Cessna 172 and a Cessna 206 and continued private flying for enjoyment until 2013. He has been a member of COPA since 1966.

Dave’s volunteer work included sixteen years on the Board of Directors of the Edmonton Petroleum Club, President in 2000-01; six years on the Advisory Board of the Reynolds Alberta Museum, Chair in 2009-10; four years on the Board of Directors of the Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club, President in 1998-2000.

Although retired from regular work, Dave is a life member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta and a member of the Edmonton Petroleum Club.

 
 
 

Mary Oswald

Edmonton, AB

Mary Oswald was born and educated in Alberta, and received her Master of Education degree from the University of Alberta. Most of her working career as teacher, principal and consultant was spent in Edmonton, and she also taught at the U of A. For four years she was co-editor of a teachers’ journal published by the ATA, and following retirement, spent seven years as supervisor for many student teachers during their practicums.

She received her Private Pilot’s Licence in 1979, and shortly afterwards joined the “99’s”, an International Organization of Women Pilots. She became deeply committed to them, and served in all of the elected offices of the West Canada Section, including Governor.

She was elected to the Board of Directors of the Alberta Aviation Council in 1986, and served as President in 1992-93. She was a long-time member of COPA (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association), and in 1998 was the co-coordinator of its very successful convention held in Edmonton. She also served for several years on the executive of the Edmonton Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society.

Since 1996, Mary has been a member of the Alberta Operations Committee for Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. In the fall of 1998, she undertook the task of producing a new book about the Members of The Hall of Fame to commemorate its 25th anniversary. They Led the Way was the result of many hours of research and rewriting in an effort to bring the stories of the Members up-to-date with additional information and photographs.

Thereafter, she produced the annual Updates to the book. These stories about newly inducted Members are now collected in binders as part of the set of They Led the Way. In 2005 she chaired the Induction Dinner Gala which was held in Edmonton. At this time she produced a detailed dinner program book which was given to each dinner guest, and began the tradition of producing a short biographical video on each new Member to be shown during the dinner. Both of these endeavours have proven to be very successful and are continued today.

For the 2010 induction, Mary passed on these three major tasks to John Chalmers, who became The Hall’s new historian. She now serves as editor of The Hall’s newsletter, The Flyer.

 

John J.N. Chalmers

Edmonton, AB

John Chalmers was born in Edmonton, still lives there, and earned B.Ed. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of Alberta. His career was spent in education as a teacher, consultant and administrator, and all his adult life has done freelance writing and photography. John became Historian for Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 2009, a part-time position in his retirement. His researches and writes the stories about the Hall’s inductees for the program book of the annual induction gala. He also scripts and produces the videos shown at the induction, writes the content for display panels of all those recognized by the Hall, and writes the annual updates to They Led The Way, the Hall’s book about inducted Members and recipients of the Belt of Orion Award for Excellence. John first wore air force blue in Air Cadets, then spent two years with RCAF 418 Auxiliary Squadron and graduated from the URTP program at the U of A with the rank of Pilot Officer. In 2008, he published Navigator Brothers, the story of his father and an uncle who both served as RCAF navigators during the Second World War. John and his wife, Linda, have two married daughters and four grandsons. John says, “The best part of my job is learning about the amazing individuals and organizations that are honoured by Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.”

 

Robert Porter

Camrose, AB

The trend today seems to be “in my hey-day” when pictures are published in BIO’s. In keeping with that trend, my picture was taken in the cockpit of a CF104 Starfighter at Marville, France, 1964.

I joined the RCAF in 1953 and after training on Chipmunks and Harvards, spent eight years on the F86 Sabre, four years on the CF104 Starfighter and two years on the CF5 Freedom Fighter. In 1970 Mother Nature downgraded my eyesight to “no more jet fighters” and I was posted to Ottawa for six years in Information Technology. From there I flew the Convair 580 (Cosmo) with 412 VIP Squadron as a VIP Captain until retirement from the military in 1980. I then took an Information Technology position with the Federal Public Service and retired in 1995.

In 2002 I moved “West” and in 2007 joined the Operation Committee of CAHF. Between then and now I have served on the Operations Committee, as a National Director and as National Vice Chairman.. In the past six years I have had the privilege of meeting many Members and Friends of the “HALL”. Although flying has to be the best “job” of my career, association with the fabulous and knowledgeable people involved in the total operation of the HALL comes a close second.

 
 
 

Aja Davis

Interim Executive Director and Curator

Wetaskiwin, AB

Where Aja’s younger brother has successfully pursued a career in aviation from a very early age and has flown more planes in his lifetime than he has been a passenger, Aja has simply just been the passenger.  (And she is more than fine with this.)

Aja grew up on the family farm near Edam, Saskatchewan before jumping on a plane and heading to Sackville, New Brunswick to attend Mount Allison University.  She pursued a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Major in Art History and Double Minor in Anthropology (Archaeology) and Religious Studies.  From there, Aja took another flight across the pond when she was accepted into Durham University’s Masters in the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects.  

When Aja started working for CAHF in February, 2017 as the Collections Manager, her primary interest was in preserving history through collections care / management, and object conservation.  Although that passion is still there, her focus has since expanded to include Canadian aerospace history, fundraising, not-for-profit sustainability, and long-term planning. 

The irony is not lost on her that although she has never flown a plane like her brother that she is now acting as the custodian of Canada’s aviation careers and legacies.  She is committed to seeing the Hall succeed - for the leaders of today and the Hall of Famers of tomorrow.

Aja became the Interim Executive Director for Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in November, 2019.
 

Katherine Simunkovic

Collections Manager and Flyer Editor

Edmonton, AB

Katherine Simunkovic grew up in Beaumont, Alberta a small town just south of Edmonton. After graduated from high school in Beaumont, Katherine went on to Grant MacEwan University where she took a Bachelor of Arts Degree double majoring in History and Anthropology. Throughout her degree Katherine was able to take part in two separate placement opportunities that both equally contributed to her passion of Canadian history and its preservation.

The first placement was in the Telephone Historical Center where she had the opportunity to work alongside the curator in accessioning and maintaining their historical collection. This placement in particular was important for Katherine in solidifying her desire to work in museums and with historical collections. Her second placement was an archaeological opportunity in the Mill Creek Ravine in Edmonton, Alberta where she worked to uncover the old Vogel's Meat Packing Plant that shut down in the early 1900s. Though archaeology was not the end goal for Katherine, the opportunity to uncover history, in the most literal meaning of the phrase, and learn more about the development of Edmonton was one of her favorite experiences throughout her degree.

Following her graduation from MacEwan University Katherine went on to take an internship with Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame as an Assistant to the Collection's Manager. This position allowed her to work directly with the Historical Collection at CAHF, as well as learn how to provide tours for guests and programming for school field trips through the Reynolds Alberta Museum.

Following her internship with CAHF she has returned to take on the position as Collection Manager.

 

Jonathan Scotland

Historian

Toronto, ON

Jonathan Scotland was born in Toronto and grew up in what was then nearby Etobicoke. He attended Etobicoke School of the Arts for high school, where he majored in visual art, and then headed to the University of Toronto, where he earned an Hon. B.A. in History and Political Science. From U of T, Jonathan headed a few hours west to London, ON, where he earned both his MA and PhD in Canadian History at Western University (formerly the University of Western Ontario). In 2015, Jonathan began working at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography - a hidden gem among Canada’s heritage institutions. Its volumes tell Canadian history through biography. Each contains the stories of people who died during a specific period, arranged alphabetically; nearly 9,000 have been published and are now available freely online at www.biographi.ca, including the biographies of Hall members Alexander Graham Bell, Alan McLeod, and James Richardson (to name only three). A life-long aviation fan, Jonathan is an RCAF Associate Air Force Historian and he volunteers with the Ontario based Vintage Aviation Team. In 2019, he became Historian for Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame – possibly the closest thing he could call a dream job!