by Capt. E. R. T. Park
January, 1969, Canadian Aviation
Forty years from the time he first walked apprehensively on to DeLessep’s Field at Weston, Ontario, determined to become part of the airman’s world, Captain Arthur Frances Hollingsworth stepped down for the last time from the deck of one of the world’s largest civilian jet transports. More than one hundred of his flying comrades waited with his family to greet the man who became an airman’s airman and one of the world’s most experienced pilots.
Hollingsworth belongs to that group of men who flew in the colourful days of the aircraft industry’s infancy. Between September 1928 and June 1968, he logged 24,000 hours on machines as widely separated as the de Havilland Moth and the Douglas DC-8 and he became a member of a select group – the northern bush pilots.
A year after receiving commercial license No. 453, he was busy in the Northern Ontario bush in 1930 with prospecting operations for $200 a month, plus a 2% interest in all new discoveries. This was nearly his undoing. A broken bracing wire on the float of his Moth forced a premature landing on the Albany River, 125 miles north of Armstrong. During the long swim ashore, his geologist passenger drowned. Hollingsworth reached shore and wandered in the bush for 48 hours, without clothing at the height of the black fly season. This is a part of his life difficult to forget.
About this period when the RCAF began experimenting with night flying and blind flying, Hollingsworth became a part of it. He was chosen to help pioneer what developed into a system of flying requirements a high degree of precision and skill that became known as instrument flying. The Depression affected many pilots, but in 1935 this airman went to work in Timmins for the Hollinger Mines. He spent the next three years plunging into the wilderness with prospectors in search of gold.
As Trans-Canada Air Lines developed, Captain Hollingsworth was quick to realize that there was better equipment operating in conditions that kept him grounded. In April 1940, he exchanged his bush clothes for the dark blue uniform of what is now Air Canada. And for 28 years he remained a part of it. He served at various times as a line pilot, an instructor and a check pilot. It was in the role of line pilot that he was happiest and where he spent most of his time. But on the Toronto-London, England, run the rule book caught up with him as he reached 60 years of age and retirement.
Although his golf and curling hobbies will keep him busy as he enters his new life of freedom, his comrades understood that last day on the tarmac when he was asked to smile for the cameras, and he gave his customary little cough and said in his quiet voice:
“What the hell do I have to smile about?”
This article originally appeared in the January, 1969 edition of Canadian Aviation magazine.