1926 – 2006
Andy Russell was born on June 2, 1926. During the 1930’s while attending school Andy obtained a part time job in a commercial radio sales/repair shop located in La Prairie near Montreal. The owner, an electronics engineer, was eager to impart some of his knowledge to his young apprentice. In future years electronics became Andy’s specialty because of this exposure.
Andy’s first venture into aviation was during World War II when he was hired by Noorduyn Aviation in Cartierville, PQ. At the time Noorduyn was building Harvard’s, Yale’s and Norsemen for the military. His initial assignment was on a salvage crew assigned to bring wrecks back to the factory for repair. He eventually became a crew chief in the repair section and worked in various departments including the instrument and radio shops. Andy left Noorduyn and joined the army where he spent the war as a military policeman. After the war Andy attended the University of Montreal where he majored in Electrical Engineering. After a short time in the logging industry he was employed by the RCMP and was stationed at His Majesty’s dockyard in Halifax.
Andy returned to aviation when he joined Quebecair as a mechanic. Quebecair was heavily involved in the construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line that was a radar chain in northern Canada along the Arctic coast from Alaska to Baffin Island. Working on DC3’s, CH46’s, Canso’s and DC4’s he obtained his AME licence. Andy became a supervisor at the Mont Joli, Quebec base. He also obtained a pilot’s licence and flew for Quebecair. As the dew line project wound down Quebecair went into scheduled passenger service. When they introduced new aircraft, including the Fokker F27 Andy was involved and became a senior maintenance supervisor. Eventually leaving Quebecair he secured a position as an AME with Abitibi Paper who was operating a corporate Fokker F27. He moved to Toronto in the early 60’s with the operation that operated out of the Field Aviation hangar for many years. When the operation closed down Andy went into business for himself and set up a small AMO specializing in electrical equipment repair, pitot static recertification, ni-cad battery service and aircraft servicing which he operated until he passed away at 80 years of age.
Andy was also involved in the initial set up of the aviation course at Centennial College in partnership with Art Parry the original administrator. Andy became an instructor and taught on a part time basis for some period while operating his business.