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Viking Air founder inducted into hall of fame
Peninsula resident and founder of Viking Air, Nils Christensen, received a special honour as he was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.
The ceremony took place in Montreal on June 14 and inducted four Canadians including Christensen into the hall of fame.
"It was very emotional really," said John Latta, a longtime friend of Christensen’s, who nominated him for the induction. "Nils was pretty overwhelmed with the recognition. Even though he knew it was coming, it was just such a big thing for him and everybody gave him a standing ovation. It was great."
Christensen started his aviation career in 1942 when he joined the Royal Norwegian Air Force in New York and was sent to “Little Norway” in Toronto as an aircraft mechanic. For close to the next decade, Christensen spent his time travelling around as a flight mechanic, whether it was with the air force or with private companies and earning his Norwegian Flight Engineers and Mechanics licence.
In 1951, Christensen returned to Canada and worked at deHavilland. A year later he became chief of maintenance at Sault Airways in Sault Ste. Marie, Que. There he maintained various float and ski aircraft which would later transfer to similar work that is currently done at Viking Air.
In 1956 Christensen became chief of maintenance at the Victoria Flying Club and later worked with Fairey Aviation and McKinnon Enterprises.
In 1970 he formed Viking Air which has grown from a small company consisting of three workers to being one of the Peninsula's largest employers.
"I remember when Nils started Viking and they were just doing work for various companies around the airport," said Latta. "I was working [at the airport] too, which is how we met in the ‘60s, and I remember wondering how long it would last. Now he's one of the biggest around – the old Norwegian knew.”
In 2003 Christensen was inducted into the Canadian Aircraft Maintenance Engineers Hall of Fame and he continues to be an active member in many different aviation-related organizations on the Peninsula and abroad.