Carl Agar / Alf Stringer Award
Sometimes "Bringing the Industry Together" means taking a moment to pay tribute to our own.
In the category of recognition for outstanding contribution to the industry two trail blazing icons come to mind - Carl Agar and Alf Stringer. Back in the spring of 1947 they were both more or less freshly demobilized from the RCAF. Carl had been an instructor pilot, and Alf an engineer. Hearing that a helicopter had recently been certified for commercial service, they went over to the States to buy what would be the first helicopter ever registered in Canada - a Bell 47B-3. Four years later their company was already the largest commercial helicopter operator in the world.
Okanagan Helicopters having eventually been integrated into Canadian Helicopters Corporation, the company Alf and Carl founded continues to lay claim to the title of "the world's largest.". In any case, they forged on from their initial successes to spend the rest of their lives as, among other things, mentors to several leading helicopter operators.
To honour these distinguished pioneers, the HAC Board has devised a unique tribute. They will not simply receive an HAC award for their unprecedented accomplishments, their names will be associated with an HAC Award to be presented by the HAC Board to one of our new generation of leaders in the helicopter industry. The HAC Board of Directors will therefore, from time to time, bestow the Carl Agar/Alf Stringer Award, upon persons having made an outstanding contribution to the Canadian Helicopter Industry.
To propose someone for the Carl Agar/Alf Stringer Award please contact HAC staff or Directors
Carl Agar / Alf Stringer Award Recipients
Mike Aldersey graduated from Canadore College in 1978, and started his career with Ontario Helicopters in Thompson Manitoba.
Since then, he worked with Northern Mountain, Prism, Lakelse, and most recently with West Coast Helicopters. In 2020, he passed 30,000 accident-free hours.
He has extensive long-line experience, mostly in the mining and logging industries, but he also has experience in the Heli-skiing and forest protections sectors.
Tony Walker has provided safety awareness courses through his career on his own to important helicopter users. He trained as an AME at BCIT in 1987 and apprenticed with Delta. He learned to fly at Alpine with Jim Davies, and started his flying career with Canadian and took his Mountain Flying course with Penticton School of Mountain Flying - now Top Flight. He’s flown in a variety of places including the Canadian Arctic, BC, Kuwait, and Iraq after the Gulf War.
But most of his career was spent in BC’s Coast mountains. Tony is quick to point out that his outlook on safety has been formed by those professional pilots he has flown with and they inspired him to start his own business to enhance the safety culture in our industry. He designed a program to transfer safety knowledge between adults to teach recurring helicopter passengers the fundamentals of Crew Resource Management.
He still flies as a contract pilot for CHL, but is primarily involved with his own company called Advanced Crew Solutions. He has spent years bringing safety concepts to the helicopter industry’s customers and passengers which has helped make our industry safer.
Terry Dixon started his helicopter career sometime in the 70’s. But who can remember the 70’s anyway - particularly at his age, now? He began as a flight instructor - then Okanagan, CHL - Western, doing heli-logging, firefighting, heli-skiing, arial construction. Then Frontier for 15 years. Then Flying Tankers, primarily to expand their fire-fighting work.
In 1984 he received the prestigious Start of Courage for conspicuous courage during the helicopter rescue of the survivors of a plane crash near Chilliwack BC. Today he runs his own successful independent safety consulting service primarily for the BC and Alberta governments. He has roughly 11,000 hours, now.
KEITH (KO) OSTERTAG
KO started his career in aviation as an AME in the Navy in 1955, after leaving the service he hired on with Spartan Helicopters in 1961 and acquired his pilot’s license. After leaving Spartan he hired on with Klondike Heli in 1969 and accepted the Chief Pilot and Flight Instructor position. In the mid 70’s KO went to work for Shirley Helicopters, in the 80’s worked with Canmore Heli, serving as a mountain rescue pilot for Park’s Canada contract and in the mid 90’s took up flight training again as the CFI for Great Slave Helicopters Flight School then operating out of the St. Albert airport. In the early 2000’s KO accepted the position as Chief Pilot of Highland Helicopters until his semi-retirement as a flight instructor at Chinook Heli in Abbotsford.
K.O.’s career spans some 58 years and has trained 100’s of students/pilots throughout his career. Now in his 70’s he is still active in flight and mountain training. Keith Ostertag keeps himself current on industry issues and trends by continuing to attend industry functions such as HAC. There are very few pilots in Canada who have not received some kind of instruction from KO.
After almost 6 decades KO continues to contribute to the promotion of safe and professional helicopter flight in Canada.
John Ward has been in the aviation industry since 1962. He graduated from the PVI Aeronautics Course in 1964 and joined B.C. Airlines based out of Campbell River, B.C. John joined Trans Mountain Air as Chief Engineer in 1969 eventually becoming Operations Manager.
In 1972 John departed Trans Mountain and joined Brouwer & Company Alberta as a trainee Aviation Insurance Adjuster based out of Edmonton. John eventually became a partner of Brouwer and Company responsible for aviation claims in the Arctic and Prairie Provinces.
In 1972 John moved to B.C. and formed Pacific Adjusters Ltd. To date John is still adjusting and investigating aviation accidents.
After taking Business Administration in Humber College, Greg began a career in aviation in 1986 as a Bench and Airframe Mechanic with McDonnell Douglas Aircraft working on the F-18 and MD80 series aircraft. He completed his fixed wing pilot’s license in 1987 and his commercial helicopter license in 1990, having graduated from Canadore College School of Aviation.
Greg served four years as the Flight Safety Manager for an Air Ambulance program with nine bases, and in 1999 he transitioned to Base Manager in Baku, Azerbaijan. In 2002 Greg was promoted to Vice President, Safety, and in 2004 that portfolio was expanded to Corporate Vice President Safety and Quality where he led the creation of CHC’s first global SMS.
In January 2022 Greg accepted a full time role as North American Rotary Wing Growth Leader with Marsh and transitioned to the Advisory Board of Parallel Flight Technologies.
Greg is a graduate of the Aviation Management program at Canadore College School of Aviation, and the International Safety Management program at the British Safety Council. He is also a graduate of the University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering, Aviation Safety & Security program, and holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree from Royal Roads University.
JJan Elbe began his aviation career in 1958 with the German Air Force flying the Bristol Sycamore. Shortly thereafter he began his civilian aviation career flying in Africa where a chance meeting with some Canadian fixed‐wing pilots motivated him to come to Canada to be part of the fledging, yet burgeoning, helicopter industry here.
Jan has flown for several helicopter companies over the years as a pilot, Operations Manager, and Chief Pilot. With over 20,000 accident free hours Jan has made many significant and notable contributions to the industry. Jan Elbe was the first pilot to operate the Bell 212 in Canada when he worked with Bow Helicopters Ltd. for Panarctic in Canada’s high
arctic. His keen and extensive involvement with the fledgling heli‐ski industry is well known and he was instrumental in developing comprehensive heli‐ski guidelines, which significantly improved the safety and standards of this operation. These guidelines are still in use by operators today. In 1991 the HAI awarded Jan Elbe the Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award for outstanding mountain flying. Jan has also been active for decades in fire‐fighting operations all across Canada and the United States and was influential in establishing the helicopter’s early practical applications as a fire‐fighting platform.
There are very few people in the helicopter industry who do not know Jan Elbe’s name and a great number of today’s medium pilots were trained by Jan on the Bell 205 and Bell 212. His technical knowledge on these aircraft types is legendary and he has spent much of his career inspiring others to attain this same level of technical expertise. Jan’s ability to identify and develop talented young pilots is his greatest contribution to aviation in Canada. Establishing of standards is of no consequence if there are not individuals equal to the task. Jan has the ability to identify pilots who possess the natural talents to excel in the Canadian helicopter environment. It is not only the physical identification but also Jan’s ability to assess if the individual has the level of confidence and focus to succeed in the most challenging of flying environments. There are numerous Chief Pilots and Operations Managers and Company Owners who were trained by Jan. It is hoped that they have acquired some of the intuitive evaluation and pilot development skills that Jan possesses.
Jan Elbe has had a long and successful aviation career and much of his work has been done without fanfare. His legacy is the pool of talented and successful pilots that have been matched with the most challenging and rewarding flying in Canada. Further, many of those pilots are in positions in their careers where they also will be able to have a positive influence on the next generation of pilots.