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Cyril (Cy) Rowsell, D.F.C.

by Frank Tibbo

Cyril Rowsell, who was born in Millertown Junction, Newfoundland, was mainly known in Gander because of his involvement with Air Traffic Control.

World War II had begun and Cy Rowsell volunteered. He was trained as a wireless operator and air gunner. By the time he was posted overseas, he had been promoted to the rank of sergeant. He served five and one half years and completed 57 operations with Bomber Command.

By the time the war ended, he had obtained the rank of Flight Lieutenant and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). He was also involved with ferrying aircraft across the North Atlantic while serving with the RAF Transport Command.

His last wartime assignments were sometimes on this side of the Atlantic. F/L Rowsell was sent to Montreal as part of a flight test crew. Their job was to certify that ferry aircraft were fully operational prior to the Atlantic crossing. Later he was selected as part of a crew that transported VIPs.

After the war, Rowsell initially worked on the mainland but returned to Newfoundland to work with Gander Aeradio (Civil Aviation). He worked as a radio operator supervisor until the RCAF transferred the control tower operation back to Civil Aviation. Rowsell transferred to Air Traffic Control and remained there the remainder of his working life.

Rowsell eventually became Chief of the Gander Area Control Centre. Over the years, Cy helped create, what a lot of pilots consider to be, one of the best Area Control Centres in the world. During his eighteen years as manager of the unit, he guided the development of procedures and standards for aircraft flying the North Atlantic. A particular challenge was the development of new procedures and standards when the new jets (B707 & DC8) started to replace the propeller aircraft in 1958. Later, further challenges were made by the development of the supersonic Concorde. Gander Area Control Center, led by Cy Rowsell, wrote another chapter in the book of North Atlantic aviation.

He also worked with Edgar Baird in establishing the area of referred to as Beaverwood (now Memorial Drive) as a Veteran’s Land Act (VLA) area.

Ed note, also read; Fond Memries Of Constant Challenge

Contributed by F. Tibbo

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