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Labrador West Pioneers: Jim Aylward

Jim Aylward
Jim Aylward - Gary Shaw

All over the place

There are few conversations initiated in Labrador about flying that don’t have Jim Aylward’s name pop up pretty quickly.

Aylward arrived in Labrador West from St. Brendan’s, Newfoundland, in 1970. He had flying in his DNA from the very beginning and somehow knew it would be his destiny.

He applied his efforts toward his passion of flying as he completed his commercial rating on float planes and was assigned to an instructor position for a year tour of duty in Langley, British Columbia in 1975. At the end of this assignment he did a year of service in the same position in St. Catherines, Ontario.

At the completion of this run, he returned to Labrador West and accepted a position flying the float planes for Ashuanipi Aviation. He flew the Cessnas, Beavers and Otters for a number of years on both the floats and the skis in both the exploration and outfitting sectors.

He knew his way around the entire interior of Labrador in pretty short order.


Related:

Lab West Pioneers: Darrell Brenton

Labrador West Pioneers: Albert and Noreen Careen

Lab West Pioneers: Dick and Anne Louvelle


His many flights over his years on the float planes included flight plans that took him all over Labrador with exploration gear and the people who were responsible for the hands-on exploration tasks in the most remote places.

The outfitting sector saw Aylward flying full loads constantly of food, supplies, and fuel requirements to all of the lodges. He was also responsible for all of the guests who came from literally all over the world to experience a taste and feel of the wilds of Labrador.

This was certainly no small responsibility. The supplies he transported to the lodges were the only lifeline all of these folks had, all solidly resting in Jim’s two hands at the controls. This mandate was also challenged on many days with the uncertainty and often rapidly changing weather that could go from a fine day to poor visibility, big winds, and rain or snow squalls, or both in a matter of minutes. This was definitely a challenge that demanded the “A game” every day. Lives depended on it.

Aylward continued his training, and logged many hours and experience in his undeniable passion to fly. His continued growth in his training, his experience and his skills saw him sign on with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as a water bomber pilot in 1987.

He is just now gearing up for year number 32 in this position. He has flown the Cansos, the CL-215s, and the CL-415s over these many years.

As the years have passed, Aylward found himself flying these bombers on a moment’s notice in every corner of Canada and many fire destinations in the United States as well.

He also has an extensive network of flying connections and requests during the off season.

His personal log book would be an overwhelming read of the many contract flying jobs he has completed. From the high Arctic and all the way to Antarctica, the Caribbean, Greenland, Asia and Africa, South America and the United States have all been destinations for Aylward.

He has given his entire life to flying.

“I have 43 years in the air, there is no stopping until a medical report stops me, it’s what I do,” he said.  

His outward appearance and personality is that of an ordinary guy. If by chance you have the opportunity to share a few stories of his flying life with him, though, you will quickly discover that wrapped up in his quiet and humble way, is a truly extraordinary Labradorian.    

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