That time the 155 Air Cadet Squadron had its own airplane

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In the mid 1970’s a small group of dedicated people, passionate about flight and the Canadian Air Cadet organization, came together to build a local flying scholarship programme. There was one thing missing for the programme to take flight –  an airplane.

In 1976, Lieut. David Trussler, together with like-minded individuals created a non-profit company called ‘Sault Ste. Marie Flight Operations Incorporated’. With Lieutenant Trussler as President, Capt. Bruce Pearce – Vice-President and Lieut. Bruce Harten – Secretary Treasurer, ‘Sault Ste. Marie Flight Operations Inc. was born and received its letters patent on May 21, 1976. The sole purpose for the company was for air cadet flight training.

Marlene and Lieut. David Trussler at the 2016 Robbie Burns dinner – Bushplane Heritage Centre. The distinctive yellow wings of the aircraft immediately behind them is the OBS DeHavilland Beaver his father George Trussler flew.

“When we got it going, one of the members was instrumental in finding a benefactor who wanted to donate to the air cadets, and building on that donation, we carried out the purchase of a 172 Cessna Skyhawk.”

The four passenger aircraft cost about $18,000 in 1976, and was officially presented to then Chairman of the Sponsoring Committee – 155 Air Cadet Squadron, Major Bruce Ness at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport. A special presentation and parade took place outside the Airport terminal.

The 172 Cessna Skyhawk was purchased through an aviation company located in Bar River, Ontario. “I found the aircraft in Bar River, at Springer Aviation. It originally came from the Chicago, Illinois area.”

Lieut. Trussler told Superior Media, “We flew out of the airport – mostly on weekends. Dave Roden and I would each take a weekend and fly about three air cadets at a time. We would try to get a flying scholarship student in the front right hand seat where they could get familiar with the controls of the aircraft. The instructor would be in the left seat at the controls.”

Lieutenant David Trussler and Dave Roden were both commercial pilots and taught flying as part of the 155 air cadet flying scholarship programme. Navigation and communication were also components of the programme.

“We used to say, Army Cadets have artillery – Navy Cadets have a boat – Air Cadets should have a plane. We thought we should bring flight to the local air cadet squadron.” shared Lieut. Trussler.

Marlene Trussler, showed Superior Media a 1976 ‘Sault Star’ article that she has saved, which featured the story. From the ‘Sault Star’ newspaper archives – ‘Sault Squadron has own plane.’

Air cadets, (then) Flight Sgt. Lucinda Lister and (then) Sgt. Charles Jansen were mentioned in the 1976 Sault Star article as being among the first to take part in the flying scholarship programme.  At that time, Flight Sgt Lucinda Lister was selected to take part in Glider Pilot Training in the summer of 1976. According to the ‘Sault Star’ article, Lister was the first female cadet to be part of the Canadian Armed Forces Air Cadet Glider Pilot Training Program.

Lieut. Trussler remembers both air cadets as capable and bright students, and reflects fondly on the hours spent teaching flight operations as part of his leadership with 155 Air Cadet Squadron.

“Students would apply locally through the air cadets, and we would teach different classes – Airmanship – Navigation and hands-on training with the aircraft. We had the toys.” said Lieut. Trussler. “We would always have lots of young people apply to be part of the flying scholarship programme.”

“At the Annual Inspection, based on marks and feedback from instructors, students could proceed further with summer programmes offered at various military camps in Canada.”

Lieutenant David Trussler was with the 155 air cadet squadron from 1974 – 1981.

To say that Lieut. Trussler’s love of flying is in his DNA – is an understatement.

George (Red) Trussler. Provincial Air Service pilot

David Trussler grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, and Sioux Lookout, Ontario. His father, George (Red) Trussler was one of the original bush pilots, who flew out of Sault Ste. Marie and all points north, west and east. George Trussler was a pilot with The Ontario Provincial Air Service – Lands & Forests (Ministry of Natural Resources).

As a youngster and teenager, David Trussler spent summers in Sioux Lookout with his mother Hazel and father George Trussler, who was based out of Sioux Lookout from April to October each year. Aircraft were coming and going from Sioux Lookout all summer long. David Trussler would pursue his love of flying, earning both his private and commercial pilot licenses.

The (OBS) DeHavilland Beaver water bomber that George Trussler flew is part of the Canadian Heritage Bushplane Museum collection in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Lieutenant Trussler is retired, and on reserve status, having received an honourable discharge from Canadian military forces.

Lieut. David and wife Marlene Trussler are presently members of the 432 wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association – a sponsoring committee of the Borden Gray (GC) 155 Royal Canadian Air Cadets. They continue to champion the 155 Air Cadet squadron to this day, and plan on attending the Annual Inspection taking place as part of the 155 Borden Gray (GC) Air Cadet Squadron’s 75th Anniversary celebration coming up this weekend, May 5-7th, 2017.

The Annual Inspection is open to the public, Saturday May 6th from 9:30 until 11:30 am at the Sault Ste Marie Armoury.

It’s been a few years since Lieut. Trussler was behind the controls of an airplane. He stated, “The sound of a whirring aircraft engine still makes my heart beat a little faster.” True that Lieut. David Trussler – true that.

Superior Media salutes your enriching and meaningful service to former air cadets of the 155 Borden Gray (GC) Squadron.