|It is said that progress happens when men stand on the
shoulders of other men.
When Marc Garneau became the first Canadian
in space he rode on the shoulders of the likes of John Glenn, Gus
Grissom and many others.
Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. At
that time he had been a pilot for only six years. Yeager made his
momentous progress standing on the shoulders of Chalmers
"Slick" Goodlin, a former-RCAF pilot and, what should be, an Honorary Canadian.
While not a Canadian citizen, Goodlin's connection to Canada, through
the wartime RCAF and another interesting connection that we will discuss
in a later story, qualifies him for inclusion on Mysteries of Canada.
Chalmers Goodlin was born in 1923. In 1941, he joined the Royal
Canadian Air Force on his 18th birthday, hoping to get some fighter
combat over the English Channel. (authors note: the
US did not enter the war until 1942) He became the
youngest commissioned officer in the RCAF and in mid-1942, he reached
England. In December 1942, Goodlin was enticed to leave the RCAF for the US Navy and
training as a Navy test pilot. In 1943, he was released from active duty
never having the opportunity to fire a shot at an enemy.
In December 1943, Goodlin joined Bell Aircraft as a test pilot.
After 26 missions in the X-1, the experimental aircraft seen at the
left, he was on track to become the first pilot to take the X-1 to Mach 1.
However, in June 1947, the US government took over the project from Bell
and installed its own pilot, Chuck Yeager, in the machine.
Goodlin, in a recent message to
this author, stated, "I
believe my RCAF flight training was invaluable for my career, and the
accompanying military schooling was great character building for a 18
year old fresh off the farm."
Approximately 10% of the RCAF enlistments at the beginning of WWII were Americans
like Chalmers Goodlin.
It is estimated that there were 140 "Aces" created in the
RCAF throughout the war. In addition to these heroes, 26 American
Ace fliers were made "Honorary Canadians" by their comrades-in-the-air for their service in the RCAF.
The accompanying pictures were sent to the author by
Slick Goodlin. The top image of a freshly-minted and proud Pilot
Officer Chalmers Goodlin was taken Dec 5, 1941 in Dunnville,
Ontario. The middle image (autographed by Slick) of Goodlin and
the X-1 was taken Dec 10. 1946 at the Muroc Army Air Corps Flight Test
Centre in California. The lower photograph, taken at Winnipeg in
the Spring of 1942, is of Goodlin stepping into the cockpit of an RCAF
More information on Chalmers Goodlin can be found on
the Internet or you can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those aero-nuts like this author, Chalmers has a large number of
autographed memorabilia for sale. He is also a great guy with whom
Also, look at our stories on the Canadian Car &
Foundry, which involved Chalmers "Slick" Goodlin.
UPDATE: Good friend and
Honorary Canadian, Chalmers Goodlin died on October 20, 2005 at the age
of 82. He will be missed.