Lynn Garrison

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Lynn Garrison
Lynn Garrison in cockpit 1966.jpg
Lynn Garrison in the cockpit of his Corsair N693M at the National Air Races in Reno, Nevada, 1966
Born (1937-04-01) April 1, 1937 (age 84)
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Royal Canadian Air Force
United Nations United Nations Emergency Force
Biafran Air Force
Years of service1954–1964
RankWing Commander
Unit403 City of Calgary Squadron
Battles/warsNigerian Civil War
AwardsPaul Tissandier Diploma

Lynn Garrison (born 1 April 1937) is a Canadian pilot and political adviser. He was a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot in the 403 City of Calgary Squadron, before holding jobs as a commercial pilot, film producer, director and mercenary. Garrison has also accumulated a substantial collection of classic aircraft, flying many of these as well as organising their restoration and preservation.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Garrison served in various political capacities, such as being an adviser to Haitian President Raoul Cédras and serving as Haitian Consul to the United States between 1992 and 2010. In his latter years, he has been increasingly active as an author as well as various charitable concerns. With regard to flying, Garrison is known for his oft-repeated comment, "If it has fuel and noise, I can fly it."

Military career[edit]

Garrison in cockpit of an RCAF Mustang, July 1956
Lancaster KB-976, flown by Garrison, over FM-136, Calgary, Alberta on 4 July 1964

On 4 July 1964, Garrison captained the RCAF's final flight of the Avro Lancaster with Flight Lieutenant Ralph Langemann as co-pilot. Specially authorized by Minister of National Defence, Paul Hellyer, the flight was complicated by the fact that Garrison had never flown a Lancaster and had broken his ankle the previous day. It displayed at the Calgary International Air Show, an event created and coordinated by Garrison. After the flight, Garrison purchased the aircraft, KB-976, which is now on display in Kermit Weeks' Fantasy of Flight collection in Florida.[1]

In his classic, Fighter Command Air Combat Claims, 1939–45 (1939–1940), John Foreman commented on the question of pilot temperament and ability. Foreman observed that Garrison had remarked, "In every squadron there were, perhaps, four or five pilots who exuded confidence. They knew that they were going out to shoot. The rest knew sub-consciously, that they would make up the numbers, mill about, and get shot at".[2]

Post-military career[edit]

Garrison P-51D Mustang CF-LOQ at Calgary, July 1962

In 1960, Garrison obtained a contract to ferry 75 ex-RCAF P-51 Mustangs to new owners in New York. Milt Harradence took time off from his law practice to accompany Garrison on the trips. Flying mainly without radios, they navigated by following the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks eastward. Harradence and Garrison acquired two Mustangs as part of their compensation and registered them RCAF 9221 44-74435"CF-LOR" and RCAF 9223 44-74446 "CF-LOQ";[3] the first of their type registered in Canada.

Garrison at a committee for Federation Aeronautique Internationale conference in Dublin, Ireland, 1973

In 1962, Garrison served with 115 Air Transport Unit of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), on the Sinai Peninsula, where he flew de Havilland Otters and Caribous. While with 115 ATU he acted as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Dr. Ralph Bunche's pilot.[4]

During the sixties, Irving P. Krick & Associates operated a successful cloud seeding operation in the area around Calgary, Alberta, utilizing four Harvards to disperse silver iodide into the atmosphere in an attempt to reduce hail damage. For several years, Garrison, Ralph Langeman and Stan McLeod, all ex-members of the RCAF's 403 Squadron, spent their summers flying hail suppression. The Alberta Hail Suppression Project is continuing with C$3 million a year in funding from insurance companies to reduce hail damage in southern Alberta.[5]

In 1964, Garrison established the Air Museum of Canada.[6] Prior to the creation of the Museum, Garrison had accumulated a personal collection of 45 classic aircraft including:

In 1963, Garrison acquired a number of Hawker Hurricanes from farmyards in Alberta and Saskatchewan for his collection. He planned to create Canada's first flying aviation museum but could not generate interest. One of these now flies as G-HURI while Hurricane 5389 is now under the stewardship of the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society and is under restoration in Wetaskiwin, AB. During December 2013, Bonham's Auction House offered one of Garrison’ Hurricanes for sale, valuing it at between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000.[7]

After 50 years in storage, on 11 August 2012, Garrison’s ex-Spartan Air Services PR.35 Mosquito (RS700 CF-HMS) was transferred to the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, Alberta, for restoration by the Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society with half of the $1,650,000 funding provided by the City of Calgary.[8]

Garrison relocated to Los Angeles during 1966 and incorporated the American Aerospace & Military Museum, Inc. with Walker Mahurin, Mira Slovak, Chuck Lyford and Mickey Thompson on the board. Mahurin obtained displays from the USAF, the first being a HGM-25A Titan 1 missile. Ed McMahon, a former Marine Corsair pilot, and Johnny Carson’s nightly TV sidekick, was involved with the project. As a result, Carson heard about the missile and used it in a joke, one night, commenting on “people who forgot luggage at motels, but here was a guy who forgot a Titan Missile!” The resulting uproar saw the USAF retrieve their property.[9]

Between 1965 and 1969, Garrison was president of Craig Breedlove & Associates. Breedlove held the World Land Speed Record five times in 1965 with a top speed of over 601.1 miles per hour. During 1968, Garrison started a deal that saw Utah's Governor, Cal Rampton provide a hangar facility for the construction of a supersonic car. Bill Lear, of Learjet fame, was to provide support, along with his friend Art Linkletter. Playboy magazine hoped to have the car painted black with a white bunny on the rudder. TRW was supplying a lunar lander rocket motor. However, the concept was shelved. The group also negotiated to use the late Donald Campbell's wheel-driven Bluebird CN7 record-breaker.[10]

Garrison published the aviation magazine AVIAN from 1966 to 1969 with contributions from actor and pilot Richard Bach, Ernest Gann, Ray Bradbury and others. AVIAN started a tradition by including an aviation-oriented poem; the first issue featured "Planes that Land on Grass" by Ray Bradbury while the last issue, Vol, 2, No. 6 featured Garrison's Remembrance which has been used over the years by pilots’ groups such as Fighter Pilot University.[11] </poem>

Film projects[edit]

Camera crew from Richthofen & Brown. Peter Peckowski and Peter Allwork in cockpit of Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama. Jimmy Murakami, Shay Corcoran, Garrison

Between 1964 and 1965, Garrison worked with the Irish Air Corps to establish a collection of First World War replica aircraft and support equipment at Weston Aerodrome, Leixlip, Ireland. It was originally established for 20th Century Fox's 1966 film The Blue Max.[12] The aerial fleet included a sole Caudron 277, two Fokker DR 1s, three Fokker D VIIs, two S.E.5As and two Pfalz D IIIs (all full-scale replicas) four de Havilland Tiger Moths, three SV4C Stampes, a Morane 230 and six Curry Wot 3/4 scale S.E.5As.

Irish Air Corps pilots filming Von Richthofen and Brown, 1970. Garrison is second from right, front row

During the September 1970 filming of Owen Crump's film, Zeppelin, Garrison's unit lost an Alouette helicopter and S.E.5 in a mid-air collision over Wicklow, Ireland with a loss of five people including Burch Williams, brother of 20th Century Fox executive Elmo Williams. For the film Tora! Tora! Tora!, Garrison and Jack Canary created the large fleet of "Japanese" aircraft. Some of these aircraft still make appearances at air shows.[13] Garrison also worked on Darling Lili, Barry Lyndon, Ryan's Daughter and the TV series "Twelve O'Clock High".

Mercenary activity[edit]

Garrison became a mercenary, flying as a combat pilot in various conflicts and later acting as a military and political advisor, allegedly with the support of several US Government agencies and U.S. senators.

During the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970), Garrison joined a group of mercenaries fighting for the breakaway state of Biafra.[14] Garrison was originally dispatched to Biafra to research ways to neutralize the Nigerian Navy frigate Nigeria, which was blockading Port Harcourt to disrupt petroleum exports. Discovering his expertise as a pilot, the Biafrans asked for Garrison to assist. On 20 August 1967, he flew one mission in an almost unserviceable B-26 against Kano airfield, destroying three Mig-17s. Then it was realised that light aircraft could operate as simple COIN platforms, gaining the support of Garrison's associates, James Baring and John Fairey, of the Barings Bank and Fairey Aviation Company families. Count Gustav von Rosen initiated this concept, which finally saw action in May, 1969. Garrison's RCAF experience help him destroy numerous Soviet-supplied aircraft, such as a MiG-17 and IL-28 at Port Harcourt on 22 May 1969. Numerous such raids were conducted around this period.[15]

Operation Tiger Claw was a military conflict fought in late October 1967 between Nigeria and Biafra. On 17 October 1967, Nigeria invaded Calabar, led by Benjamin Adekunle, while the Biafrans were led by Col. Ogbu Ogi, who was responsible for controlling the area between Calabar and Opobo. The Biafrans came under fire from the water and the air. For the next two days, Biafran stations and supplies were bombarded by Nigerian warplanes. Upon arrival in Calabar as a mercenary, Garrison came under fire by federal troops. By October 20, Garrison's forces withdrew from the battle while Ogi officially surrendered to Adenkule.

During 2017, an American intelligence study investigating light COIN aircraft contacted Garrison regarding the Biafran action.[16][17] In response, Garrison provided details on his combat experiences in the conflict.[18] Each year, on 30 May, the IPOB - Independent People of Biafra - hold the Biafran Annual Remembrance Day; Garrison's role has often been noted. The 2018 remembrance activities were marked by publication of articles, one entitled: "Biafra Fallen Heroes: The Heroic Deeds Of Lynn Garrison In Focus".[19][20]

Later in 1969, Garrison flew in the last military conflict involving propeller-driven fighters (P-51 Mustangs and the Vought F4U Corsairs) during the Football War between El Salvador and Honduras.[21]

Garrison with RCAF 9281, 1956. It was flown in the US as "Cottonmouth" and used in the 1969 Football War

Garrison had owned an ex-French Navy Corsair which had operated in Vietnam and during the 1956 Suez Crisis, having bought it after its retirement from French service, it was transported to California for him with help from the U.S. Navy.[22]

Haitian activities[edit]

By August 1991, Garrison was back in the political arena and, arguably, a military role as a personal advisor to Haiti's military ruler, Lieutenant General Raoul Cédras,[23] the US Senate and, allegedly, the DIA and CIA.[24] He acted as the interface between the American embassy and Cedras after diplomatic relations were severed; his code name was "'The Shadow".[25]

Garrison with Haitian Corps d’Aviation Marchetti and crew, 1990

In June 1992, Garrison, working with Colonel Pat Collins, the Military Liaison Officer with the American embassy, wrote a White Paper visualizing modification of the Forces Armeés d'Haiti (FAdH) into what they called, an Army of the People. This would see the FAdH undertake many projects to support Haiti's population, including road building, school and hospital construction, revival of the nation's 23 airfields and interdiction of drug traffic from Central and South America. Mobile medical/dental clinics, staffed by military personnel, were to be a major factor in the program. A team of 700 Canadian and American military engineers and technical staff was dispatched to Haiti on the USS Harlan County, on 11 October 1993, but left Haitian waters when its captain, Commander Butcher, perceived dangers not seen by Colonel J.T.F. Pulley, 7th Special Forces chief on board.[26][27]

In a final effort to avoid a full scale invasion of Haiti, on September 18, President Clinton sent a three-man team, made up of Jimmy Carter, Sam Nunn and Colin Powell to negotiate with Cedras. The American negotiators used Garrison's office, located adjacent to that of Cedras, as the focal point of their communications with Clinton's team. In his book, ‘Hazardous Duty’, Hackworth recounted the final moments before the invasion, in which Garrison's intercession effectively derailed it with predictions of 25,000 potential civilian casualties.[28]

The return of President Aristide in 1994 promptly led to Garrison being accused of running a public relations campaign against Aristide.[25]


Garrison's Haitian Children's Fund is coordinating distribution of donated One World Futbol soccer balls in Haiti as part of a Chevrolet sponsored worldwide project to acquire and distribute containers of these undeflatable balls to Third World countries.[29]


Garrison's ancestors migrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania in 1728. Some moved on to Kentucky and then to Marion County, Illinois. Garrison's great grandfather, William Lloyd Garrison, served with the 40th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War. He lost his leg in the Battle of Shiloh, and was subsequently released from service on 18 October 1862.[30]



  1. ^ KB976 and Lynn Garrison by Lynn Garrison (, last updated 10 July 2013)
  2. ^ Foreman 2003, p. 18.
  3. ^ Walker, R. W. R. "RCAF Mustangs 9221 to 9250." Retrieved: 8 December 2011.
  4. ^ Jenkins, Gordon. "115 ATU UNEF." Retrieved: 4 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Alberta's cloud-seeding pilots see 2nd busiest year in 20 years". CBC News. 22 August 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Surviving Lancaster – Air Museum of Canada." Retrieved: 8 December 2011.
  7. ^ "Lot 375." Retrieved: 7 February 2014.
  8. ^ Cromer, Peter. "The Journey Begins." Retrieved: 1 October 2012.
  9. ^ Ed McMahon. Here’s Johnny. Nashville, Tennessee: Rutledge Hill Press, 2005. ISBN 1401602363 page 167
  10. ^ Kirshenbaum, Jerry. "Craig Breedlove is the undisputed champion of a sport." Archived 2009-05-04 at the Wayback Machine Sports Illustrated, April 27, 1970. Retrieved: 12 June 2010.
  11. ^ Rogers, Jolly. "We Remember." Retrieved: October 1, 2012.
  12. ^ "History: Blue Max Triplane." Retrieved: December 8, 2011.
  13. ^ Freedman, John. "Mitsubishi Zero VH-ZRO Tora replica Down Unde r". Australian Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  14. ^ "The Mercenaries." Time magazine, 25 October 1968.
  15. ^ Al J. Vetner. “Biafra’s War 1967-1970: A Tribal Conflict That Left a Million Dead.” Warwick, UK, Helion & Company, 2015. ISBN 978-1-910294-69-7. pp. 197-210.
  16. ^ [1] Retrieved: 28 May 2018.
  17. ^ "BiafraFallen Heroes: The Heroic Deeds Of Lynn Garrison In Focus." Retrieved: 3 June 2018.
  18. ^ [2] Retrieved: 28 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Biafra Heroes Remembrance Day: 30th May Sit-At-Home Directive Is Sacrosanct and Morally Right - IPOB." Retrieved: 29 June 2018.
  20. ^ "BiafraFallen Heroes: The Heroic Deeds Of Lynn Garrison In Focus." Retrieved: 29 June 2018.
  21. ^ Depner, Wolfgang. "Warfare Without Shooting." Diplomat & International Canada. Retrieved: 7 October 2012.
  22. ^ Chapman, John et al. "Corsair/BuNo. 133693." Retrieved: 8 December 2011.
  23. ^ "AIM Report: Jesse Jackson's Rapid Resurrection." Retrieved: 8 December 2011.
  24. ^ "Haiti." Archived 27 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine PR Retrieved: 8 December 2011.
  25. ^ a b Davison, Phil. " 'Shadow' plays dirty tricks in Haiti: A Canadian adventurer is behind the smear campaign against Aristide." The Independent, Retrieved: 8 December 2011.
  26. ^ Diebel, Linda. "Canadian advises Haiti chief." Toronto Star, 19 October 1993.
  27. ^ Riehm, LtCmdr Peter. "The U.S.S. Harlan County Affair." Military Review, July–August 1997, pp. 31–36.
  28. ^ David H. Hackworth. Hazardous Duty. New York, New York: Avon Books, 1996. ISBN 0-380-72742-0 page 236.
  29. ^ O'Hanlon, Ryan. "The Soccer Ball That Never Needs Air". Outside Online. Mariah Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  30. ^ Yarbrough, Carol. "Men of the 40th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry." Retrieved: 23 September 2012.


  • Garrison, Lynn. Aristide: The Death of a Nation. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Leprechaun Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN 978-0-9704636-7-8.
  • Garrison, Lynn. Voodoo Politics: The Clinton/Gore Destruction of Haiti. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Leprechaun Publishing Group, 2000. ISBN 978-0-9704636-2-3.
  • Garrison, Lynn. EVOLUTION: 90 MPH to Supersonic in 30 years. Portland, Oregon: Bitz Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4942507-1-3.