First Flying Officer George Gurmail Singh Aulak lived for flying. It was this passion that led him to become the first Indian pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces, says his brother Gurdev Singh Aulak.
Gurmael immigrated to Canada in 1934 with his mother. He was the eldest son of Gian Singh and Tante Kaur Aulak. "Dad always dreamt of having a son to fly from Canada to India because it took so long on a freighter," recalls Gurdev.
Gurmael graduated from John Oliver High School and enrolled at Royal Roads University in 1949. "He loved to socialize and dance. He would do Arthur Murray impressions; the girls would just eat it up," says Gurdev. But Gurmael was also very driven, says his brother. He began taking flying lessons at the Aero Club at Vancouver Airport. In order to pay for the lessons, which cost $80 per hour, a small fortune at that time, Gurmael worked part-time, but he spent as much time in the air as he could. "I remember flying in a one-engine Cessna with him around Vancouver," says Gurdev.
Gurmael's family couldn't have been happier when he was accepted into the Royal Canadian Air Force in January 1952. "Mom was very proud to have a pilot in the family," says Gurdev.
Gurmael quickly rose through the ranks, impressing people in the community as well as his military superiors. "The Royal Canadian Air Force Wing Commander knew him personally, and he could see he was rising at a very fast pace," says Gurdev.
After stints at military squadrons in Centralia and Trenton, Ontario, Gurmael was sent to St. Huber, Quebec in 1954. On October 13, 1954, after returning from a successful rescue mission in Maine, Gurmael was killed while trying to land at St. Hubert. He was 23 years old. "It was a great loss for the Air Force and for the family," says Gurdev.
He was honored with a 21-gun royal salute by the military. To this day, his hard work and achievements still resonate with the people that knew him well. "He rose above the ranks, overcoming any racial prejudice," says Gurdev. "Against all odds, he was able to achieve this status due to diligence and hard work."