"The application of his superior skills in Test Flying, leading to vital improvements in many aircraft during war and peace, have been of outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation.”
Alexander John Lilly had an unblemished career of 35 years as an instructor, test pilot, transport pilot, and aviation executive. In 1932 he joined the RCMP and while on detachment at Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan he advocated the use of ski or float equipped aircraft to replace dog-teams and canoes. The RCMP later transferred Lilly to headquarters in Ottawa but since this would remove him from flying opportunities, he resigned and went to England to join Imperial Airways, the predecessor of British Overseas Airways Corporation. When the Second World War broke out, he returned to Canada and became Chief Flying Instructor with the BCATP and eventually joined Ferry Command in Montreal.
In this position he flew several types aircraft including the Hudson, Ventura, Boston, B-52, C-47 Dakota, B-24 Liberator, Catalina, Boeing B-17, Lancaster, and Mosquito. On August 8, 1950, Lilly flew the first Canadian manufactured F-86 Sabre jet, and gained the distinction of being the first in Canada to break the sound barrier.
Born: 19 July 1910, Moose Jaw, SK
Died: 21 Nov 2008