Joseph Gerard Fernand Villeneuve
Born(1927-07-02)2 July 1927
Buckingham, Quebec, Canada
Died25 December 2019(2019-12-25) (aged 92)
AllegianceCanada Canada
Service/branchAir Force Ensign of Canada (1941-1968).svg Royal Canadian Air Force
Years of service1950–1982
RankLieutenant Colonel
Commands heldGolden Hawks
AwardsRCAF Air Force Cross
Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame

Lt. Col (Ret.) Joseph Armand Gerard Fernand "Fern" Villeneuve (2 July 1927 – 25 December 2019) was a Canadian aviator who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1950 and was the first leader of the RCAF's Golden Hawks aerobatic team. He flew for 32 years as a military jet fighter pilot[1] Villeneuve was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006.

Aviation career

Villeneuve was born in Buckingham, Quebec (now Gatineau, Quebec). He learned to fly as a civilian in a Piper J-3 Cub. In 1946 he obtained his Canadian Private Pilot Licence, and in 1948, he went on to acquire his Canadian Commercial Pilot Licence. In 1950, Villeneuve joined the RCAF in which he had a long and distinguished career as a fighter pilot. He flew the Harvard propeller trainer, the North American P-51 Mustang Second World War piston fighter, and several fighter jets over the decades: Canadair CT-133 Silver Star, de Havilland DH.100 Vampire, Canadair Sabre, Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck, McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo, and the Mach 2+ Canadair CF-104 Starfighter. Villeneuve was a squadron leader three different times, on the CF-104 and the T-33 and CF-101. Villeneuve retired as a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1982. He has logged more than 13,000 hours.[2]

The Golden Hawks air demonstration team

Golden Hawks

The "Golden Hawks" were a Canadian military aerobatic flying team established in 1959 to celebrate the 35th anniversary or the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the "Golden" 50th anniversary of Canadian flight. Initially a six-plane team was envisioned as performing for only one year with the Canadair Sabre 5, but the Golden Hawks were so popular after their 1959 show season that the team was re-established for 1960, under the command of W/C Jack Allan with Villeneuve flying as the lead pilot with the team.[3]

Villeneuve was the first leader of the RCAF Golden Hawks jet fighter aerobatic demonstration team in 1959, and then again in 1960. S/L Villeneuve was with the Hawks from the beginning in 1959 as leader of the team for two years, yielding the lead position to F/L Jim McCombe for the 1961 season. He had to leave the team when he became married, under the Hawks rule of only two years for married men. [N 1] He then went on to Training Command. Villeneuve was awarded the rare RCAF Air Force Cross for his skillful piloting of a disabled F-86 Sabre in 1960.

Villeneuve was the Honorary Team Leader of the "Hawk One" F-86 Sabre project at Vintage Wings of Canada in Gatineau, Quebec from 2009-2013. In 2012 he was still flying his civilian Globe Swift with the registration C-GLYN,[4] 66 years after he first soloed in 1946.

Honours and recognition

Villeneuve was awarded the RCAF Air Force Cross[5] on 20 May 1961 for an engine-out landing of an Canadair F-86 Sabre. In 1997 he became one of two living people to have their image on Canadian coins,[6] the other being the Queen. Villeneuve was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006,[7] he was appointed as Honorary Colonel of 8 Air Maintenance Squadron in Trenton, Ontario, from 2008 to 2012 and in 2015 was inducted as an Honorary Snowbird by 431 (AD) Sqn, the Snowbirds, in Moose Jaw, SK. .[8]



  1. ^ Villeneuve and F/O J.T. Price both had to leave the team because the Golden Hawks had a rule of three years for single men, max two years for married men, since the schedule was hard on their families.


  1. ^ Busha, Jim. "Canada's finest: Memories of a Golden Hawk." Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Sport Aviation, October 2010, pp. 38–39. Retrieved: 25 November 2012.
  2. ^ Dempsey 2002, pp. 5–96, 105–107, 136–156.
  3. ^ Dempsey 2002 p. 160.
  4. ^ Lacombe, Oliver. "Globe GC-1B Swift C-GLYN / RVA Cornwall 2004 - Cornwall 2004 Fly-in." Flickr, 2011. Retrieved: 25 November 2012.
  5. ^ unknown. "Villeneuve Decoration and Citation". Air Force Association of Canada.
  6. ^ Cross 2006, p. 361.
  7. ^ "Fern Villeneuve." Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, 2006. Retrieved: 25 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Honorary Colonels/Honoraires." Retrieved: 25 November 2012.


  • Cross, W.K., Editor. Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, 60th Anniversary Edition. Toronto: The Charlton Press, 2006. ISBN 0-88968-297-6.
  • Dempsey, Daniel V. A Tradition of Excellence: Canada's Airshow Team Heritage. Victoria, British Columbia: High Flight Enterprises, Second edition 2007, First edition 2002. ISBN 978-0-9687817-1-5.
  • Fast, Beverley G. Snowbirds: Flying High, Canada's Snowbirds Celebrate 25 Years. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Lapel Marketing & Associates Inc., 1995. ISBN 0-96993-270-7.
  • Mummery, Robert. Snowbirds: Canada's Ambassadors of the Sky. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Reidmore Books, 1984. ISBN 0-919091-37-7.

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