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Neil Armstrong - Background



Neil J. Armstrong was born at Alvinston, Ont., on April 15, 1920. He received his education there and at Petrolia, Ont., from where he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He served in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba before transferring to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943.

He graduated from pilot training as a commissioned officer and was assigned to serve as a flying instructor until he was honourably discharged in 1945.

In 1946, he studied at the University of Toronto and in 1949, he graduated as an Engineer with a major in Geology and Geophysics.

From 1953 to 1969 he was associated with Spartan Air Services in Ottawa and became the first known helicopter pilot geologist. He worked with the Geological Survey of Canada on Operations Baker and Thelon in the Barren Lands to help map a 100,000 square mile area.

In 1961, he flew the Atlantic Ocean non-stop with his friend Max Conrad in a Piper Twin-Comanche, from Newfoundland to Ireland in 13 hours.

Two years later he shared pilot/navigator duties with Roy Moore, flying a Piper Aztec non-stop across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Hawaii, in 18 hours total.

In 1964, he was elected president of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, a position he held for three years. His continued interest in COPA was a stabilizing factor in the continued success of this organization. Armstrong wrote a regular column about his travels in COPA's Canadian Flight magazine, from 1972 to 1995.

He was named to Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973 with the following citation:

"His combination of piloting ability, technical knowledge, navigational skills and dedication to purpose, despite adversity, have resulted in outstanding benefit to Canadian aviation."

Neil J. Armstrong was killed Nov. 23, 1994, when the Twin Otter he was a passenger in crashed into an Antarctic iceberg. His son, Corcoran, also died in the crash.