Wilfrid Thomas Reid was a British engineer who started in the 1910’s for the Royal Aircraft Factory and Bristol Aeroplane in U.K., working on numerous innovative airplanes such as the metal biplane M.R.1 fighter, the huge four-engine triplane Braemar bomber and the Bristol Ten Seater. In 1921, at age 34, Reid was appointed chief designer at Bristol. In 1924, the Vickers company hired Reid to be chief designer at Canadian Vickers in Montreal (then the only aircraft manufacturer in Canada), working on the project of a flying boat designed for Canadian operations. Reid developed the highly successful Vickers Vedette, which marked the true beginning of the Canadian aircraft industry. Sixty-one Vedettes were built (including 6 amphibian versions for Chile), more than any other types in Canada between the wars. The prototype was tested in a wind tunnel, another first in Canada. Reid then designed the Vanessa, Vista, Vigil, Velos, Varuna and HS-3L. In November 1925, Reid was made “Fellow” of the Royal Aeronautical Society for his important contribution to aviation. Reid left Canadian Vickers to form, in February 1928, Reid Aircraft. Finding investors in a group of Montrealers (mostly ex-WWI flyers), the company acquired the airfield at Cartierville. Reid designed the Rambler, a trainer plane conceived for the many flying clubs emerging. The prototype was first flown on September 23 (being “christened” by Mayor Camilien Houde on the 29!). The Rambler acheived fair success despite the Depression years ahead. It had folding wings to facilitate storage. Montreal-born WWII ace George Beurling would learn to fly on the Rambler. Wishing to establish a Canadian subsidiary, the Curtiss company in the USA was also interested in the metal construction of the Rambler and decided to invest in the project, giving birth in December 1928 to Curtiss-Reid Aircraft. Able to input a sizeable amount of money, Curtiss-Reid Aircraft developed the Cartierville airport and opened three other divisions: Curtiss-Reid Flying Schools (with subsidiary bases in Kingston and Toronto), Curtiss-Reid Airways (with a base in Saint-Félicien) and Curtiss-Reid Flying Service (the sales division). Unfortunately, victim of the Depression, the company went bankrupt in 1932 but was immediately re-activated by a group called Montreal Aircraft Industries, headed by J.A.D. McCurdy. While Wilfrid Reid became President of the Crude Oil Engine and Engineering Company in Montreal, the name Curtiss-Reid remained on the front scene of Canadian aviation until the 1950’s. In 1994, a coin was issued by the Royal Canadian Mint honouring W.T. Reid and the Vickers Vedette.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame on April 18th 2006.