After a long career in the air, Langley’s George Miller is hanging up his wings, and donating the aircraft he’s flown over Langley for decades to a new aviation museum.
“I’m 86 years old, and I thought, I want to leave at the right time,” said Miller, who retired in 2013 from a career as manager of the Langley Regional Airport.
However, even after he retired from that job, Miller was still active at the airport, as team leader of the precision flying team the Fraser Blues.
Along with his fellow pilots, which included his son Guy Miller, he flew over airshows across North America in precision flying formations. The team used Navions, a light post-war aircraft that was built by the same company that had produced the Second World War fighter plane the P-51 Mustang.
Miller began his aviation career flying Cold War fighters as a young RCAF pilot. In the late 1950s, he’d become a member of the Golden Hawks, Canada’s first aerobatic squadron, which flew F-86 Sabres.
“Huge crowds, everywhere we went,” Miller recalled.
Later he’d join the Snowbirds, Canada’s longest-running military aerobatics unit, and retire from the RCAF as a colonel.
After leaving the military, Miller formed the Fraser Blues, flying out of Langley.
Although the team performed all around the continent, they’re best known to Langley residents for their flypasts of local Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Miller scaled back the activities of the Fraser Blues several years ago, and the Remembrance Day performances, important to a team made up of military veterans, were the last events they still performed.
“I thought the last Remembrance Day was the right time,” Miller said of his retirement from precision flying.
Back when he started in aerobatics, with the F-86 Sabres, the biggest military fighter base in Canada was Chatham, in New Brunswick.
The base has since become a civilian airport for Miramichi, and is now establishing the New Brunswick Aviation Museum.
As Miller was winding down the Fraser Blues, he got a call from the new museum, asking him about some artifacts, including his plane.
“That’s sort of where I grew into the operational side of my career,” said Miller.
With part of the museum based on the legacy of the Golden Hawks, the museum was eager to have Miller be a part of the project, and he agreed to donate his Navion.
Naturally, this meant one last big cross-Canada flight to drop it off.
Miller flew east hopping from airport to airport with his longtime friend and fellow Newfoundland native Lew Kennedy, and maintenance flight engineer Freya Inkster.
“This is the best way for me to retire,” he told the Langley Advance Times, from a stop at a regional airport in Quebec on Monday, May 9.
He planned to drop off the Navion mid-week, and spend a little time at Chatham before flying back home to the Lower Mainland – this time, flying commercial.
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