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BUSH PILOT NEIL AYERS “WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING”

Sudbury-based Neil Ayers’ aviation enthusiasm stems from his first airplane ride in an Oshawa Flying Club Piper PA-12 during 1954. A year later, he labored with Ontario’s Junior Rangers and eventually, in tree nurseries to finance flying lessons. On June 4, 1957 he soloed a 65 hp Aeronca 7AC registered CF-DNO and went on to earn his commercial pilot license.

In the ‘50s and early ‘60s, an influx of unemployed pilots released from Arctic District Early Warning (DEW) line construction projects saturated the job market. In spite of his low hours, the persistent Ayers talked his way into a Piper J-3 agricultural sprayer with Hicks & Lawrence in Tillsonburg, Ontario, and survived a season with no more than a wheel strike against a power line while colleagues collided with fences, more power lines and the earth of tobacco fields. Hungry again, he found three weeks of work at Huntsville hauling tourists. There he developed float-flying skills in J-3s and a Piper PA-12 which kept him safe throughout his life. ...

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