school varsity

Donald MacLean

Some personal information:

I was born and brought up in Stirling Scotland. My father owned the 'pub', still one of the most important buildings in the village - next to the kirk!

I attended the High School of Stirling from ‘Infants 1’ through to ‘Sixth Year’, and completed my Scottish Higher Leaving certificate in 1951.

As a member of the Boy Scouts, my good luck in being chosen as one of the Scottish contingent to the first post-war international Scout Camp in Ommen, Holland, in 1948 gave me the taste for international involvements that I was able to fulfil in later life.

School gave way to university, and on going to the University of Edinburgh in September 1951 I made a decision that would change my life. I joined the University Air Squadron. I therefore date my time in the business of aviation from the first time I strapped an aircraft to my backside in early 1952. Having spent perhaps too much time as a trainee pilot, and not enough in class my first year examination results were somewhat disappointing! As a result I fulfilled my National Service obligations and joined the Royal Air Force.

Luck was on my side once again as I was in the very last National Service intake that was able to muster as aircrew. A second life-changing decision was taken even before my officer training was completed. Liking what I saw of the service I applied for, and was accepted for, a Short Service commission - committing myself to an eight year term. Pilot training was successful right up to the very last solo night flight before “Wings”. My instructor, knowing that I would be sent for jet fighter training, recognized that I hadn’t got the ‘right stuff’ to be a jet jockey and would end up killing myself! Though disappointed - to say the least - so close to attaining my coveted pilot’s wings, I re-mustered as a live navigator rather than a dead pilot.

Canada was then training NATO navigators at Stevenson Field, Winnipeg. Here my luck held, and I met a young lady destined to have a profound influence on my future career. After several years of soul-searching she plucked up courage and came to Scotland where we were married in 1961.

After eight years in the Royal Air Force, only charter companies were hiring navigators and I didn’t fancy that kind of a nomadic life - especially with a new wife! So Air Traffic Control offered a way to continue to be close to aircraft even if not on the flight deck. I therefore successfully complete air traffic control training and spent eight years as an Air Traffic Control Officer with the United Kingdom administration, as a Tower/Terminal controller at Prestwick Airport in Scotland.

A wifely propaganda campaign was waged concerning Canada as a land of opportunity. And luck again played her part. A very short window of opportunity opened when Transport Canada decided to recruit off-shore to make up for a shortage in controllers. Another eight year stint as a controller, this time in the en-route specialty in Dorval Area Control Centre. It was here I got the 'working initials" DF. [they should have been DM, but 'Delta Mike' was already taken.] Anyway, that explains the 'Delta Fox'.

Computers were being introduced into air traffic control, and I was fortunate to become a Data Systems Co-ordinator tasked with assisting in the implementation of these new systems. Coincidentally, Dorval controllers were often asked to provide assistance to the International Federation of Air Traffic Control Associations (IFATCA) to fill seats at International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meetings in Montreal. My international leanings were re-activated.

service After a short time spent back in Ruth's home city, Winnipeg, as a Data Systems Coordinator (DSC) in the Winnipeg Area Control Centre, but when the cold of winter became too much for my foreign blood, we returned to Air Traffic Control Headquarters in Ottawa where I assumed the role of operational requirements specialist, first in communications, and then in flight data processing. Another eight years.

Moving into management, as manager of Flight Data Processing Requirements, I widened my international duties, through various ICAO agencies, and latterly, the Civil Air Navigations Systems Organization (CANSO). I was privileged to be the Canadian Member on the ADS Panel of ICAO for almost ten years.

I was happily married to that young Winnipeg girl I met some fifty five years ago, the talented artist Ruth Magel MacLean , until we lost her to cancer in 2006. We have two sons who take after their artistic mother.

Donald Paul was for many years was a Technical Consultant for Cirque du Soleil, in Las Vegas and latterly in Macao and Tokyo. He spent a further three years as Director of Ride and Show assisting in the development of the Universal Studios Theme Park on Sentosa Island in Singapore, followed by time with another theatre company building a theatre in Wuhan, China. In late 2012 he accepted a position with Universal Studios, based in Orlando.

My other son, Robert, after graduating from Carleton University, spent several years of teaching English as a second language in Taiwan. He returned to Ottawa in order to aquire further qualifications in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), while also pursuing a successful DJ career [as Rob Solo] in the local and Eastern Canadian club scene. Then, following successful completion of a Teachers' Training Certificate from Brisbane University in Australia, he moved to Beijing where he is currently teaching at an international school.

I have been active in various community and service organisations [Round Table in the UK, and Kinsmen in Canada] and latterly have been involved, through Ruth's Anglican leanings, with the local branch of the Prayer Book Society. As well, I am a supporter of my own church family, Knox Presbyterian Church in downtown Ottawa, where - for some unfathomable reason best known to them - I have been made an elder.

When time permits, I try to follow my several hobbies of model railways, magic and genealogy, and intend to continue to post pictures from Ruth's considerable ' oeuvre ', and my layout - Kyle of Auchendammit - on this web page.

Luck has been on my side as I traversed these many career, personal and family moves. But I believe some aptitude and ability have also played their parts.

Donald F. MacLean
R.A.F. u.k.. TC NavCan