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Ray Fiset Passes

Aviation lost a great man llast month (July 2010) when Ray Fiset passed away. Most pilots knew Ray as the fellow in the wheelchair who represented the Recreational Aircraft Association in Quebec, but he was much more than that. In 1957 Ray was hit by a propeller when he dove to save someone who was unknowingly walking into it. Although that act of bravery put him into a wheelchair for life, it did not slow Ray down. He built airplanes, operated an aviation machine shop, and attended the EAA fly-in convention for over 50 years where he set up and manned the information booth. No one has been a stronger supporter of aviation than Ray Fiset.

We will miss this great man.

Volunteers inside the General Information Services building from left:
Grayling Peterson, kneeling, vice chairman, Sandstone, Minnesota; Jim Camp, co-chairman, Madison, Wisconsin; Bill Schneider, chairman, Oshkosh; Gary Sternberg, co-chairman, Oshkosh; and Lawrence Gunderson, co-chairman, Ishpeming, Michigan. Ray Fiset, Quebec City, Quebec,
who started the information booth more than 50 years ago, sits in front.
Photo: www.EAA.org 2008


From the EAA archives:

EAA Thanks Ray Fiset for 50 Years

Ray Fiset Receives Special Award, AirVenture 2004

A lot has changed since EAA’s early days. But there has been some constants, one being Ray Fiset, Quebec City, Canada, who this year celebrates his 50th year as an EAA convention volunteer. Ray got a special visit Monday from EAA Founder and Chairman Paul Poberezny and EAA President Tom Poberezny, who presented him with a special plaque in recognition of his half-century of service.

Ray started the first General Information Services booth at the EAA convention and fly-in at Rockford, where he was also one of the first convention campers. “We used a card table and a beach umbrella for the first ones,” he said. Ray, 66, has been coming to these things since he was 16 years old. He has also volunteered at Sun ’n Fun for nearly three decades. He also founded EAA Chapter 173 in Quebec City in 1963 and still serves as its president.

And he’s done most of it without the use of his legs. His heroic act over 40 years ago – lunging to prevent a man from walking into a spinning propeller – left him wheelchair-bound. Ray tackled the man, saving his life, but the prop struck Ray’s head, nearly killing him.

“I came out a winner from that,” he said. “I’m still here. The plane is not, and the guy didn’t walk into the propeller.”

Ray flew a Tiger Moth and his uncle’s J-3 Cub before the accident, sometimes using the latter to get to school.

Ray refers to Oshkosh as an annual family reunion, and he was taken by surprise when the two most prominent members of the EAA family showed up on Monday with the award.

“Both Paul and Tom stop by and say hello all the time,” he explained. “Today didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary when I saw them until they brought about that award. I have no words to describe the appreciation I have.”

The feeling is very mutual, Ray.

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