An American with 3 DFCs in the RCAF – now honoured again

At the May 16 induction ceremony for Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, held in Bombardier’s Laurent Beaudoin Global Completion Centre at the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, one of the inductees to the Hall was David Charles Fairbanks, a native of Ithaca, N.Y.

By war’s end, David Fairbanks was a squadron leader, C.O. of his squadron, a three-time recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and only 22 years old. Photo via the internet.
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An American who joined the RCAF in 1941 at age 18, before the United States entered the Second World War, David Fairbanks trained as a pilot in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Posted overseas, he was attached to the Royal Air Force. After shooting down one enemy aircraft while flying a Supermarine Spitfire, Fairbanks then shot down 14 more as a pilot of a Hawker Tempest.

He eventually attained the rank of squadron leader and served as commanding officer of 274 RAF Squadron. In February 1945, he bailed out when his aircraft was shot up, and was taken as a prisoner of war shortly before the war ended.

Post-war, David Fairbanks graduated in engineering from Cornell University at Ithaca, became a Canadian citizen, and worked for de Havilland Canada (DHC). He served as a test pilot and demonstration pilot for the company, and was closely associated with DHC’s short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft — notably the Beaver, Otter, Caribou, Buffalo and the Dash 7.

As manager of Flight Operations for DHC, Fairbanks died suddenly at the age of 52 in 1975. The following year he was posthumously awarded the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy, largely in recognition for his contribution to development of STOL aircraft.

Squadron Leader David Fairbanks, DFC, is seen standing at far left in 1945 as commanding officer of 274 RAF Squadron, with a Hawker Tempest of the Squadron. Photo via the internet.
Squadron Leader David Fairbanks, DFC, is seen standing at far left in 1945 as commanding officer of 274 RAF Squadron, with a Hawker Tempest of the Squadron. Photo via the internet.

Now a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, David Fairbanks will be honoured further in his home country on September 13 at an Evening Celebration of Aviation to be held at the Ithaca Tomkins Regional Airport. For more information and to order tickets, click here.

More information about David Fairbanks and the short video of him shown at the Hall of Fame inductions can be seen here.

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