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On September 18, 2021, two planes took to the skies to honour the anniversary of a fatal crash that took place in Stratford, ON, 50 years ago. On September 18, 1971, Gil M. Ruston was piloting a WWII Harvard Mk. IV aircraft at an air show in Stratford. Due to an issue mid-flight, the aircraft tragically crashed into the ground, killing the pilot upon impact. The flight was organized by Gil’s son, Dean Ruston, and supported by Waterloo Warbirds and Dave Hewitt.
This flight of remembrance was conducted by two WWII Harvards. Waterloo Warbirds’ Harvard Mk. II was flown by Peter Stewart, with Dean Ruston in the rear seat to honour and salute his father. The lead Harvard was flown by Dave Hewitt, with George Stewart of Hamilton, ON in the rear seat. Stewart is a WWII RCAF Flying Ace and recipient of the distinguished Flying Cross. He was also one of the 4 other pilots flying alongside Gil Ruston 50 years ago during the show where he unfortunately lost his life. Hewitt piloted Harvard CF-NDB, the same aircraft a 47-year-old Stewart was flying the day of the crash.
The flight took off from the Region of Waterloo International Airport at approximately 11:30 AM on September 18th. The planes flew a “lost man” formation over the crash site at the Stratford Municipal Airport at around 12 noon.
This press release was prepared and distributed by the Waterloo Warbirds