Wop May

Canadian air ace

Born: 20 May 1896 in Carberry, Manitoba
Died: 21 June 1952 in Provo, Utah

Wilfrid Reid "Wop" May's very first combat patrol in WWI would end up being Manfred von Richthofen's last. The young pilot caught the attention of the Red Baron and in the ensuing chase, Richthofen was shot down by the Allied team. May continued his military career, rising to the rank of captain and receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross.

When the war was over, May returned to Alberta where his family had moved when he was five, and he spent some time barnstorming and performing stunts at local fairs. In 1919, he and his brother, Court, formed May Airplanes Ltd., the first air service in Edmonton. He flew the first airmail to the Canadian Arctic in 1929 and assisted the RCMP in catching "The Mad Trapper" by leading the first aerial manhunt in Canadian history (1932).

Wop May died of a heart attack at age 56 while hiking in Utah and his body was flown back to Edmonton for burial. He was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973.

Additional trivia:

For more of Wop May's achievements, including details on his famous "mercy flight" in 1929, please see his official site, run by his son, Denny.

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Added 14 April 2002.