In 1919, Lewis Hong Chow moved to Sault Ste. Marie with his family. His parents were the well-known owners and operators of the Victoria Inn, which was adjacent to the Ontario Provincial Air Service, now the home of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre hangar. Lewis had an early fascination with aircraft, watching them take off and land in front of the hangar.
Chow graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, and was able to gain valuable experiences in many aspects of aviation early on. After positions at deHavilland Canada and Noorduyn, Chow joined the National Research Council during World War Two, examining shot-down German aircraft engines. In 1946, Chow was selected to join the Avro CF-100 Jet Fighter Design Team.
In 1948, Chow was hired on at Canadair; shortly thereafter, he was selected to work with the American-bought F86 Sabre. Chow's team decided to outfit this Sabre with a Canadian-made Orenda 3 engine, therefore making this Sabre the fastest in the world.
In 1953, a Canadair support crew, included Dr Chow, was sent to the United States to assist Jacqueline Cochran break a variety of speed and altitude records. On May 18th, 1953, she was successful in becoming the first woman in the world to break the sound barrier. This was accomplished using Chow's F86 Sabre. Dr. Chow has said that this period in his life was the apex of his aviation career.
Dr. Chow is also well-known for his charitable work, most notably in the fields of health care, and in the Chinese-Canadian community. At the University of Ottawa's Heart Institute, Chow served as Chairman of the Research & Development project that would investigate the feasibility of using a turbine as a heart pump.
In recognition of his volunteer time, Dr. Lewis Chow was awarded the Governor General's Commemorative Medal in 1993 for "his contribution to his compatriots, his community, and to Canada."
For more information on Dr. Lewis Chow, come in to see his exhibit at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre!