Air Force Museum of Alberta

Wilson Leach

"The dedication of his skills to the science of space age medicine has resulted in outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.“

Wilson Leach

"The dedication of his skills to the science of space age medicine has resulted in outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.“

Wilson Leach

Major-General Wilson G. Leach served in the RCAF during the war as a pilot instructor with the BCATP. On release, he obtained a degree in Medicine and at graduation, was posted to the RCAF Institute of Aviation Medicine to improve existing oxygen breathing equipment. This equipment was to protect aircrew inadvertently exposed to extremely high altitudes while flying the Avro Arrow.

The assignment was maximum protection with minimum encumbrance, hence the partial pressure suit concept. The work involved exposing himself, his colleagues and later air crew at ground level and in a decompression chamber to extremely high altitudes to ensure the equipment was safe. While these altitudes were simulated, they were new to the RCAF, hostile, and potentially lethal.

Before prototype equipment had been developed, the Arrow was cancelled; however this research resulted in greater safety for those flying high altitude aircraft. He was later posted to DND Headquarters, and in time held positions of increasing rank and responsibility until he had reached the rank of Major-General and served a tour as Surgeon General of the Canadian Forces Medical Services. He retired in 1980.

Born: 28 Sept 1923, Chalk River, ON
Awards: CMM, CStJ, CD, BA, MD

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