"His skill and dedication as a military aerobatics pilot, the professionalism of his work in aircraft accident investigation and prevention, and his long-standing contributions to the Canadian Air Cadet gliding program have resulted in lasting benefit to Canadian aviation.”
In 1959, Squadron Leader Joseph Gerard Fernand Villeneuve was appointed to select, train and lead an F-86 aerobatic team (Golden Hawks) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of powered flight in Canada. The inaugural Golden Hawks team was carefully chosen from the ranks of the most seasoned RCAF Sabre "jockeys" and included Squadron Leader Fern Villeneuve as leader.
He studied the craft of team aerobatic flying while serving on squadrons in Europe and Canada, and was a natural choice to organize the new team. Fern Villeneuve left the team after its 1960 season, but was soon in the limelight again when he won the Air Force Cross by an heroic feat of airmanship in landing a crippled Sabre rather than risking its crashing into a built-up area. The aircraft was destroyed in the crash landing, and Villeneuve spent several months in a body cast; but he recovered to continue flying.
After the Golden Hawks, Fern was appointed Chief of Safety in Air Defence Command. This was followed as Squadron Commander of CF-104 Strike aircraft. After graduating from Staff College he spent two years as Squadron Commander of the CF-100 Electronic Warfare Squadron. That was followed by four years as Head of our Aircraft Accident Investigation branch in National Defence headquarters.
He then spent 3 years as Base Operations Officer CFB Bagotville in northern Quebec, and the last three years of military service as Deputy Base Commander CFB North Bay, Ontario. Not too much later, he served with the Canadian Snowbirds. He was also involved in developing the method by which CF-104's would have dropped nuclear bombs from low level had the Soviets attacked Canada.
Born: 2 July 1927, Buckingham, QC
Awards: AFC, CD