Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame inductee and first leader of the RCAF Golden Hawks Demonstration Team, Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Joseph Armand Gerard Fernand “Fern” Villeneuve, passed away on Christmas morning 2019.
Born in what is now Gatineau, Quebec, on July 2, 1927, Villeneuve joined the Air Cadet training program in 1943. He earned his private pilot license in 1946 and obtained his commercial pilot license in 1948. In 1950, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served for 32 years as a fighter pilot. His first posting was with 441 Squadron, flying F-86 Sabres at St. Hubert, Quebec.
In 1952, while serving in England, Villeneuve commanded the squadron’s demonstration team and performed several demonstration flights. In 1954, with 431 Squadron at Bagotville, Quebec, he formed a four-ship demonstration team that performed across Canada. In 1955, he began instructing at the Advanced Flying Training School at Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, on T-33s. Two years later he was posted to the Central Flying School at Trenton, Ontario, where he worked on procedures to make forced landings safer. He was also appointed Jet Flight Examination Officer.
In 1958, Villeneuve was directed to form an official RCAF Demonstration Team by the Chief of Air Staff to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the RCAF and the 50th anniversary of flight in Canada in 1959. He personally picked the members for the team, dubbed the Golden Hawks, led the training and choreographed the…