Agar, Carlyle Clare

Identity area

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Authorized form of name

Agar, Carlyle Clare

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Agar, Carl C.

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Description area

Dates of existence

November 28, 1901 - January 27, 1968


Carlyle Clare Agar AFC was a pioneering Canadian aviator. Agar was born on November 28, 1901 at Lion's Head, ON and moved to Edmonton, AB in 1905, where he was educated. He farmed on the outskirts of the city until 1928, when he learned to fly under the tutelage of Moss Burbidge at the Edmonton Aero Club. He earned his private pilot's license the following year, and accepted a position in 1932 with the Department of Indian Affairs as an agricultural instructor at Wabamum, AB. Two years later, he returned to full-time farming. At the outbreak of World War II, he attempted enlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot but was rejected for being overage. In 1940, he reapplied to the RCAF, was accepted for pilot training, and posted to Moose Jaw, SK and Trenton, ON, where he graduated as an instructor. He was stationed at Edmonton and High River, AB and Abbotsford, BC until 1944, and was awarded the Air Force Cross for outstanding contributions as a flight instructor. He was discharged from the RCAF in 1945 when he received the maximum age for aircrew.

In Penticton, BC, he formed the South Okanagan Flying Club in partnership with two ex-RCAF members. A lack of commercial flying business forced them into reassessing their position, so they moved to Kelowna and formed Okanagan Air Service. Their plan was to engage in instructional activities, charter flying, and crop spraying, but they were again forced to reconsider their plans due to high maintenance costs. He then investigated the possibility of using the newly designed helicopter as an airborne spraying device. The Company was converted to public ownership, and, in 1947, he flew the first commercial helicopter in Canada, to spray orchards with insecticides. When it became evident the operation would not support the firm, he contracted with the Government of British Columbia to spray infested forest areas. When not engaged in these operations, he pursued helicopter flying in the high reaches of the Rocky Mountains, and perfected new skills and operational techniques. He performed helicopter flying for the government's topographical department on a special survey of the Wahleach Mountain area, where his techniques for high altitude landings and takeoffs from hitherto inaccessible locations became the accepted worldwide standard.

Having conquered the altitude barrier, he then proved the effectiveness of contour flying for timber operations and transported prospecting parties to and from remote bush areas. He also accepted a contract from the Water Board of Vancouver in 1949 to airlift 400,000 pounds of construction material, equipment and personnel to the 3,500-foot level of a mountainside to complete the Palisade Lake Dam. It was the first time a helicopter had been used in such a manner, and more than 200 takeoffs and landings were required to finalize the lift. The international publicity accorded this outstanding achievement caused industry and the military to re-think their operational transportation methods. As a result, his Penticton-based company trained selected commercial and military pilots in mountain flying techniques. His experience was then contracted to the Aluminum Company of Canada in 1951 to assist in the construction of their giant smelter complex at Kitimat. His firm went on to become one of the largest commercial helicopter operations in the world.


Lion's Head, ON
Edmonton, AB
Wabamum, AB
Moose Jaw, SK
Trenton, ON
High River, AB
Abbotsford, BC
Penticton, BC
Kelowna, BC
Kitimat, BC

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Rules and/or conventions used

RAD, July 2008 version. Canadian Council of Archives.


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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Catalogued November 2021.




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