One of Canada’s best known aviation elder statesmen died Christmas Day at the age of 92. According to some reports, Lt. Col. Fern Villeneuve (Ret.) died from injuries suffered in a car accident three days earlier. Best known as the founder of the RCAF Golden Hawks, Villeneuve spent 32 years in the Air Force. He remained active in the flying community and was apparently driving from Saugeen Municipal Airport, where he had flown his Globe Swift on Dec. 22, back to his home in Guelph when the accident occurred. Circumstances of the accident aren’t known.
Villeneuve got his private licence in 1946 and joined the RCAF in 1950. He flew F-86s in deployments to Europe and formed an air demonstration team while in England in 1952. When he returned to Canada in 1954 he formed another four-ship team that toured Canada. In 1958, he was directed to form the Golden Hawks, which went on to thrill audiences until 1964. Villeneuve held several command positions in the RCAF before retiring in 1982. He was a member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame and was awarded the Air Force Cross for staying with his Sabre after an engine failure to ensure it didn’t crash into a populated area.