Submitted by Gord McNulty, Vice President, Canadian Aviation Historical Society
Family and friends of renowned aviation photographer Eric Dumigan gathered at Tillsonburg Regional Airport on Sept. 23 to celebrate his life as he would have wanted. An exceptional turnout of people and planes spoke volumes about the esteem in which Eric was held throughout the aviation fraternity. The event was hosted by the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association in their hangar.
Bernadette LaBarre Dumigan expressed heartfelt thanks to everyone for their attendance and donations to a GoFundMe campaign after Dumigan died unexpectedly on September 25, 2021. In an emotional and touching moment, Bernadette said she would “rather have a short life with Eric than a long life.”
Speakers included long-time friend Rich Kolassa from New Jersey and Naomi Wadsworth of the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, New York, among others. Kolassa recalled he first met Dumigan at the Geneseo air show in 1998 and they would see each other at events four to six times every year.
Family members said they would miss Dumigan’s laughter and his mischievous smile. As they said, he was always in a good mood and invariably had a story or two. Dave Rohrer and Leon Evans led Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum representatives in the museum’s Second World War-era B-25 Mitchell bomber. Hannu Halminen brought his striking P-51 Mustang in the colours of RCAF 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron. Alf Beam in his T-28 Trojan trainer and a Viking Air DHC-2 Beaver also highlighted an array of visiting aircraft.
Well-known air show pilots attended as well as members of the Guelph Tiger Boys, the Jet Aircraft Museum, the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, the EAA Chapter 65 Golden Horseshoe and more.
Six Harvards flew a missing man formation in a fitting tribute to Dumigan, remembered by Rich as “not only a great photographer, but a great human being.”
Eric Dumigan may be gone, but his inspiring legacy will live on.