August 10, 2017

Bill Long Hangs Up Parachute


Bill Long ended his storied 63-year affair with the Harvard the way it began, with the smell of oil and leather and the propeller snarl that snap heads skyward whenever a Harvard goes overhead. The former chief pilot of the Canadian Harvard Association took his last flight in the beloved trainer Aug. 23. It was the same aircraft he flew as a teenager training to become an RCAF pilot in Claresholm, Alberta in 1954. “I never thought I would be doing this 63 year later,” he told the Woodstock Sentinel Review. After setting the big yellow single down, he turned on the show smoke in a final flourish. Long said that while he’s still comfortable in the cockpit, he’s not as nimble as he once was. “It’s too hard to get in and out with a parachute on,” Long said.

After he finished training, he was assigned to a training unit as an instructor and then spent a long career flying C-47s and Cosmopolitans. He ended his air force career as pilot for the deputy commander of NORAD in Colorado Springs. He went on to the airlines and only stopped working as a simulator instructor two years ago, all the while volunteering for the Harvard group and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. “My wife said I never had a job; I had a hobby all my life,” Long said. “You’re pretty disciplined but you’re also very free while you are up there.”