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Men of courage and vision

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Lucien Gendron

Pretending to apply for a barber course, Lucien Gendron went to Cartierville, Quebec, to learn to fly, earning a private pilot's license in 1928. In the summer of 1929, a first job with Laurentian Air Express sent him on the North Shore to bomb the St. Lawrence belugas, thought to be destroying the salmon stock... That same year, La Société d'Aviation de Québec was founded at the Bois Gomin airfield. Gendron became their first pilot. Roméo Vachon, then manager of Canadian Transcontinental Airways, also recruited him for a few contracts. Gendron went on to study in Cartierville and Camp Borden, Ontario.

In 1933, the Anticosti Corporation hired him to pilot their forest surveillance Curtiss Robin airplane. In 1935, Gendron became flying instructor for Curtiss-Reid in Cartierville. A few months later, Quebec Airways started operations with Roméo Vachon as manager. Vachon hired Gendron to help him on the Saint-Hubert - Rimouski run, set to speed up trans-Atlantic mail delivery relayed to and from ocean liners at Rimouski. In winter, Gendron transferred on the Sept-Îles - Natashquan run, dropping mailbags in flight from village to village along the North Shore (first using a Fairchild 71, then a DH89 Dragon Rapide). Later, he extended the service to Blanc-Sablon, Quebec. Numerous charter flights sent him to Labrador, Toronto, New York, etc. Gendron also became an expert photography pilot, doing aerial surveys in Gaspésie, Abitibi, lake Saint-Jean area, northern Ontario and Alberta to the Pacific west coast. Consequently, he became the only native French Canadian aviator of the 1930s to work Canada coast to coast.

In 1941, he was appointed Operations Manager for Quebec Airways (then the largest operator in Québec). A true source of inspiration for the then rare French Canadians aviators, he was considered the successor of Roméo Vachon. Sadly, the year after, he lost his life in an unusual accident in Shelter Bay, trying to free the skis of his Dragon Rapide stuck in the snow. Gendron slipped and his head was hit by the propeller.

Thank you to the Quebec Air and Space Museum for this biography.

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