Barry Marsden, a founder and former CEO of the Conair group died July 29. Marsden was universally respected as one of the pioneers of modern aerial firefighting and his impact is felt through the whole industry. “Although he would never acknowledge it, his contribution to the global aerial firefighting industry resulted in countless lives and resources being saved over the past five decades,” said Matt Bradley, President and COO of Conair. “Barry was committed to continually improving aerial firefighting services around the globe, tirelessly striving to incorporate innovative engineering and technology to produce safer and more effective missions.”
Marsden was part of the group that formed Conair Aviation in 1969, converting Second World War aircraft into firefighting aircraft. From the first Grumman Avengers and Douglas A-26s, Marsden and the other founders crafted a company that created 15 air tanker conversions up to and including modern jet aircraft. It’s latest model is the Q400AT based on the regional airliner. Marsden wasn’t just a front office guy, however. He had 10,000 hours of PIC, most of it in air tankers, was an AME and a recipient of the Medaille De L’Aeronautique from France; an inducted member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame; and the recipient of the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada.