Every two years the Bird Strike Association of Canada selects a worthy
candidate to receive the Bruce Mackinnon Memorial Award for significant
contributions to aircraft-wildlife hazard mitigation and management in
Canada. The successful candidate is selected by the general membership of
the Bird Strike Association of Canada. Past winners include Dave Ball , Hans
Blokpoel and Vic Solman. It is my priviledge to award the 2017 Bruce
Mackinnon award posthumaously to Mac Kuhring. This continues our quest
to honour the pioneers in the field in which Canada has a long and proud
What I am about to read is from a remembrance of Mac Kuhring by Vic
Malcolm Kuhring (Mac to his friends) played an instrumental role in the Associate Committee on Bird Hazards to Aircraft in Canada and in in forming Bird Strike Committee Europe. Long before the committee was formed , Mac and others in Canada were much concerned about bird
hazards to aircraft. He became chairman of the multi-agency committee in 1962, and provided dynamic leadership. He had had a distinguished career testing large jet aircraft engine behaviour under a variety of conditions including low temperatures.
He was chosen as chairman of the committee because one of the most serious problems faced by Canadian aviation at that time was damage to jet engines by bird ingestion. With his engineering experience Mac looked first for engineering solutions to the problem. From his knowledge of engine testing in relation to ingestion of foreign objects, he knew the limitations of engineering in dealing with that problem. It was his idea that biologists and other specialists should be represented on the committee. His ability to grasp the biological principles involved and to see how they could be applied to remove bird hazards , even though his background was in engineering, was one of the factors that made him an excellent chairman. He had a flexibility of mind and an active imagination and could see possible solutions where others saw only problems. When he had made up his mind that something needed to be done , it was impossible for him to conceive that it could not be done.
He was always able to borrow or otherwise obtain whatever he needed in equipment and cooperation. He obtained Defense and Traffic control radars right across Canada, in part of the United States and in a number of European countries. Mac arranged for free transportation from major airlines or military transport services and he was able always to find experts and get them to work with the committee. The committee believed that with him as chairman nothing was impossible.
Mac Kuhring never dwelt on the problems created by bird hazards; he looked for solutions. When he retired from his official duties at the National Research Council, the committee persuaded him to continue as chairman and for the NRC to continue to pay him. Just before the 1969 World Congress in Kingston, Ontario, which he organized, he suffered a heart attack. However, he still attended the conference and presented his ideas on how support could be secured from the scientific arm of N.A.T.O. and to encourage a number of European countries to try some of the ideas on bird hazard forecasting which the Canadian Committee had begun to use successfully in Canada. When those programs showed positive results, they were continued and expanded with local funds. Mac did much of the work in getting the money from N.A.T.O. and dividing it among the countries which began work in the bird/radar/weather complex in: Europe which was Mac Kuhring ‘s idea.
He travelled to Europe at least once a year strengthening the bonds of friendship with many bird hazard researchers there , dropping ideas here and there about things that should be tried and picking up ideas helpful to us in Canada. Mac’s declining health made him realize that he should withdraw from a high level of activity in 1973 . One of his last acts as chair was to promote the idea of a book on Bird Hazards to Aircraft which was ultimately prepared by Hans Blockpoel of the Canadian Wildlife Service in Ottawa, now an honorary member of The Bird Strike Association of Canada. Mac helped in collecting the information published. He suffered from cancer, but he never lost his good humor and his creative abilities . Mac was a devoted leader, and a man whose enthusiasm led to the formation of Bird Strike Committee Canada, Bird Strike Committee Europe and many advances in the use of radar, habitat management and aspects of airport wildlife management we take for granted today. He was truly a pioneer in the field of Airport wildlife strike mitigation and it gives me great pleasure to award him, the Bruce Mackinnon Memorial Award.