Bruce Mackinnon Memorial Award

2023   Gary F. Searing, Bird Strike Association of Canada –Gary is a wildlife biologist since 1971 and has worked as a wildlife researcher and consultant most of his career with LGL Limited (1975-2008). In 2009 he founded Airport Wildlife Management International, his private firm helping airports around the world to mitigate wildlife strikes.

Gary began airport wildlife management work in 1989 and developed an advanced and innovative wildlife management plan for the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in 1995. He continued to contribute to advancing that program until his retirement in 2019. That program stands as one of the best airport wildlife management programs in the world. He has worked at many Canadian airports and airports all over the world building wildlife management programs, providing training and assisting the airport to improve their programs with detailed audits.

With Bruce Mackinnon’s untimely death in 2008, Gary wanted to avoid the demise of Bird Strike Committee Canada and thus began the Bird Strike Association of Canada (BSAC). He has volunteered countless hours of his time since 2009 as Executive Director of the association. In his role leading the BSAC he has organized a steering committee comprised of industry representatives from airports, airlines, suppliers, consultants, Transport Canada, NavCanada and the Department of National Defense. In his relentless quest to restore Canada to its leadership role in wildlife strike safety and mitigation he has led BSAC to develop a white paper on the subject, developed a paper detailing the learning requirements for wildlife controllers at airports, organized Canadian conferences on wildlife strike mitigation and either led or participated on the steering committees in organizing North American bird strike conferences. In addition, he has presented talks at most of those conferences. He communicates with wildlife strike experts throughout the world on a regular basis. During the last 30 years he has developed an extensive wildlife strike library (over 3600 documents) which he makes available to BSAC members online. Most importantly, he has created a unique network among the Canadian Airports to keep them informed about the industry best practices and keeping wildlife safety as a top priority.

2021   Dr. W. John Richardson   LGL Limited – John is a specialist in bird migration and avian hazards to aircraft. His academic training was in animal behaviour. Much of Dr. Richardson’s research, since the mid-1960s, has concerned bird hazards to aircraft and bird movements over many parts of Canada, the U.S.A., and Puerto Rico. He is internationally known for his work on the effects of weather on the timing and characteristics of bird movements, including radar and visual studies, analyses, and reviews. His recent bird hazard to aircraft work has included landfill studies and analyses of the circumstances of serious birdstrike accidents, especially involving military aircraft. He has contributed numerous papers to bird strike conferences in Canada, North America and internationally. He is a current member of the Bird Strike Association of Canada.

2019    Dr. Rolph Davis    LGL Limited – Rolph has been involved with bird hazard to aircraft safety issues for 40 years. He was president of LGL Limited, one of Canada’s leading firms in this field, for 26 years and continues to serve as that firm’s Executive Chairman. He has conducted bird hazard assignments in 8 provinces and territories in Canada and 20 states and territories in the U.S.A. Dr. Davis has been involved with many of Transport Canada’s major initiatives to reduce bird hazards to aircraft safety at airports in Canada. He also served as a continuing consultant to National Defence Headquarters on bird hazard issues at Canadian air bases. He has served on the BSAC Steering Committee since our formation in 2009.

2017 Mac Kuhring – At the request of the National Research Council of Canada, in 1962 Mac formed the Associate Committee on Bird Hazards to Aircraft and acted as chair of that committee until 1973. During his tenure as chair the Committee he initiated the publication of “field notes” to ensure the rapid (at least for the 1960s) exchange of information for solutions to bird strike problems. Sixty-one field notes were produced under his chair. As well, in 1969, Canada hosted the first ever “World Conference on Bird Hazards to Aircraft” in Kingston, Ontario with 140 delegates from 21 countries. Together with Dr. Vic Solman, he was a primary force behind the establishment of Bird Strike Committee Europe in 1966. The International Bird Strike Committee awarded the prestigious “Mike” Kuhring Prize for achievements of significance in improved flight safety concerning bird hazards to aviation. You can read the text of the award presentation here.

2015  Dr. Vic Solman became one of the world’s top experts in preventing dangerous collisions between aircraft and birds, but this biologist got his start with fish. By the early 1950s, Dr. Solman’s interests while with the Canadian Wildlife Service switched to birds and this led him to the hazards caused by birds colliding with aircraft. Vic served on the National Research Council of Canada’s Associate Committee on Bird Hazards to Aircraft from 1964-1976 and was Chairman from 1973-1976. One of his first actions was to help write a chapter on Bird Hazard Reduction for the Aerodrome Manual published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  Together with Mike Kuhring, he was instrumental in encouraging the creation of Bird Strike Committee Europe (first meeting in Germany in 1966) which evolved into the International Bird Strike Committee (1996) and World Birdstrike Association (2012). Using radar, Vic and his colleagues developed a Canadian Bird Hazard Forecasting methodology. Vic Solman died in Ottawa on 2 January 2013, at the age of 96.

2013     Hans Blokpoel     Canadian Wildlife Service, retired     Hans was a member of the Associate Committee on Bird Hazards to Aircraft and author of the landmark publication “Bird Hazards to Aircraft: Problems and Prevention of Bird/Aircraft Collisions” published in 1976. Following major population increases, he conducted a long-term study of Ring-billed Gulls and terns in the Great Lakes and wrote many papers on their biology and preventative measures for airports.

2011     Dave Ball     Vancouver International Airport, retired     Dave has been the Wildlife Supervisor at Vancouver International AIrport for 20 years. He has managed one of the largest and most complex airport wildlife programs in the world with 17 contracted wildlife controllers and a contract biologist. During his tenure the program has developed from one in which there was heavy reliance on lethal control to a more diverse program of active and passive wildlife control methodologies including the use of dogs, lasers and more. He was always willing to experiment with new methods without straying far from the tried and true approach to wildlife control at airports. Dave has announced that he intends to retire early in 2012. As a long time member of the bird strike community in Canada, it is fitting that he receive the first Bruce Mackinnon Memorial Award for excellence for his contribution over the last 20 years to air safety at YVR.