Heritage Aviators

Heros of Aviation

From the Wright Brothers to Amelia Earhart, aviation history is rich with hundreds of famous individuals. Each have either contributed to the world of aviation in a significant way or have been the first to achieve a new landmark of some sort. Some are noted for their outstanding bravery and determination. This page of Airplanes.com is dedicated to these individuals. However, as there are such a large number of famous people who have made their mark on aviation history, not all of them will appear here immediately. You can be confident that we will endeavor to discuss as many famous people as possible in due time, so if you have a particular favorite, watch this space for their name or email us and suggest someone, detailing what contribution they made to the wonderful world of flight. We will be happy to take your suggestion into consideration.

Wilfred “Wop” May : Famous Bush Pilot

Wilfred “Wop” May began his career with the British Royal Flying Corps during World War I. He escaped death by the Red Baron when another pilot shot down the infamous German ace. May returned home to Canada after the war and joined his brother at May Airplanes Ltd., performing air stunts and delivering freight.

On January 1, 1929, diphtheria erupted in a northern Canadian village. They needed serum to prevent an epidemic. May and his mechanic, Vic Horner, loaded the precious medicine into their two-seater Avro Avian, an open cockpit biplane. After flying for two days at 500′ in blizzard conditions at -60° F, they delivered the serum, saving the lives of hundreds of villagers.

May pioneered the delivery of mail throughout the Far North, and later played a role in the pursuit of the Mad Trapper of Rat River in 1932 in the Northwest Territories. The first use of a plane for law enforcement purposes occurred when May piloted his Bellanca Pacemaker on skis to transport the officers and provide aerial reconnaissance. May saved the life of an officer shot by Johnson, when he flew the man through blizzard conditions to a northern hospital.

Throughout the 1930s, May led the famous Canadian Airways, which flew passengers and freight throughout the remote regions of Canada and North America. After World War II, during which May trained pilots, Canadian Pacific Airways hired him to establish international flight service. Wilfred “Wop” May survived the Red Baron to help develop commercial aviation as we know it today.