8 Jun 1950 to 19 Jun 2021

It is with sadness that the Class of ‘73 reports the death of Shawn Corwyn Coyle who joined the CF and commenced his military college life at Royal Roads in the fall of 1969.

Shawn was born into a military family on 8 June 1950 in Pembroke, ON to Donald and Helen Coyle (both deceased). His dad retired as a CWO in the RCE, and Shawn’s subsequent growing up was mainly in Chilliwack, BC and North Bay, ON.  Shawn always had an interest in flying, and his appetite was further wetted by being awarded his Private Pilot’ Wings through Air Cadets in 1967 in St Catharines, ON.

He attended RRMC and RMC from 1969 to 1973.  Interestingly two of the other 16 Air Cadets on his Air Cadet Private Pilot course also joined the CF in 1969 and went on to graduate from RMC in 1973:  9635 Gerry Bayles RMC 69-73 and 9811 Rick Martin, the latter like Shawn spending his first two years at RRMC.  So Shawn was never without buds.

During his time at Royal Roads, Shawn was a proud member of Hudson Flight and 3 Squadron.  During his first year, Shawn was on the College Cross-Country Team…when asked why he liked running, his favoured response was : ‘because it feels so good when I stop’.  Like others, Shawn was also keen on intramural sports and was a solid team player.  He also showed his aviation interest by actively participating in the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute Club.  Second year saw him as second slate Cadet Wing Training Officer (must be that Air Cadet background) and doing well academically (not common in second year).  Many remember his technical abilities which enabled him to hook into the Public Address system and, for a short while, his Radio Free Poop-Deck broadcasts with 9826 Frank Parker entertained the whole of Nixon Block.  Shawn maintained his Hudson loyalty when he attended RMC as one of only a very few select members from RRMC to join Hudson Squadron (No.1).  He liked the highly individualistic nature of being a Frigateer, and reveled in the very tight comradeship that was evident throughout the Stone Boat.  He graduated with a Civ Eng degree, but at RMC he also displayed an artistic side…a half dozen of his poems were published in the RMC Log.  Throughout his time at Military College there was one important constant in his life, and that was his high school sweetheart Bev whom he married within a week of graduation.

Post graduation saw Shawn enjoying his other passion – flying.  He went on to be awarded his CF pilot wings off CF-5s (as did his two former Air Cadet Pilot coursemates), in 1974.  He subsequently converted to helicopters and was posted to 427 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Petawawa the following year. He spent a full tour with 427 and subsequently by his own desire was channeled into test flying. He was posted to the Empire Test Pilot Course at Boscombe Downs in the UK, in 1979, and stayed on as an exchange officer until 1982 when he was posted to Canada’s Aerospace and Engineering Test Establishment.  He left the CF in 1984 to serve as a test pilot for Bell Helicopters in Fort Worth, TX.  He then instructed at the US Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxtent River, MA from 1985 to 1989.  From 1989 to 1992, he was  the Principal Rotary Wing Instructor at the International Test Pilots School in Cranfield, England. He remained in the UK as an Independent Aviation Consultant until 1995 and then came back to Canada to become an Engineering Test Pilot at Transport Canada until 2001. He then assumed Branch Chief responsibilities for the Helicopter Program at the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, CA until 2004. He subsequently had short stints as an Emergency Medical Service Pilot in Mojave, as Director of Flight Operations at Agusta Helicopters in Philadelphia, and as Director of Certification at Aerosimulators in Belgium and the USA until 2007.  In 2007 he created his own Aviation Consulting Company, Eagle Eye Solutions LLC.  He has written extensively on aviation-related topics and was often called upon for accident analysis and expert testimony. In addition, he published six major books on helicopter-related topics including: 40 Years Afore The Mast Volume 1 and 2; Cyclic and Collective; The Little Book of Autorotations; and Helicopter Aerodynamics Volume 1, 2 and 3.Of note, in 1997 Shawn and two of his RMC classmates (9657 Ron Davidson and 9719 Kent Smerdon) founded Aeroserve Technologies Ltd.   They and their company were inducted into NASA’s Space Technology Hall of Fame in 2009 for their successful commercialization of their Airtab Vortex Generator, which was originally a device conceived for the transport of the Shuttle on the Boeing 747, and is now widely employed throughout the world, particularly in the trucking business. Shawn also separately received the Helicopter Association International’s Excellence in Communications Award in 2013.

Shawn’s health had been deteriorating over the last few years, but he was still active in accident investigations and sought after for his expertise. He went downhill fast about a week prior to his passing, and, he died in McClure Miller Respite House in Colchester, Vermont on 19 June, 2021.  He is survived by his wife of more than seven years, Tricia Coyle (nee Patricia G Coleman) of Charlotte, Vermont; his children and grandchildren: Erin (b75 m03 Ben Coppin and children Joseph b05 and Beth b07) of Ely, UK; Patrick (b77 m01 Sarah and children Pippa b04 and Dexter b10) of Northhampton, UK; and Katie (b85) also of Northhampton; as well as by their mother, Shawn’s wife of 33 years, Beverly Coyle nee Nicholls, of Long Buckby UK.  He is also survived by his brothers Allan (m Jeanette) of Kelowna, BC and Eric (m Jyoti) of Calgary, AB and his nieces Krysta Coyle and Anjali (m. Keith Inman and their children Cadel and Jackson).

Due largely to COVID travel-related restrictions, Tricia advises that Shawn’s cremated remains will rest in their home in Charlotte, for now.  She reports that Shawn often joked that his was a life with no fixed address, but he will finally have one.  In accordance with Shawn’s wishes, his ashes will be eventually laid to rest in the Coyle family plot in Princeton, BC in a largely private ceremony.  That said, for most of us, all we have to do is to look up to the sky to remember Shawn.

Tricia also advised that she and Shawn considered that their preference was for charitable donations in Shawn’s name, in lieu of any flowers/cards that some might consider sending.  Both concurred on three charities closest to their hearts:  the McClure Miller Respite House which provided Shawn the very personal, warm and uplifting care in his final days; the Shuttleworth Air Museum, a favorite in the UK that they hoped to revisit; and the Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa (which includes at least one of the helicopters Shawn flew).  Details of these charities are as follows:   McClure Miller Respite House, 3113 Roosevelt Highway, Colchester, VT, 05446, USA; Shuttleworth Trust, c/o Shuttleworth, Old Warden Aerodrome, Nr Biggleswade, Bedfordshire SG18 9DX, UK; and Canada Aviation and Space Museum, 11 Aviation Parkway, Ottawa, ON K1K 2X5, Canada.  Email addresses of interest follow: Tricia Coyle, triciacoyle@earthlink.net ; and Bev Coyle, b2coyle@gmail.com .

From the 1972 RMC Log (an untitled poem by Shawn Coyle)

When again shall

I tread the mornings air

On wings of soft silver

Silken cool in the rainbow sun

When again shall

I hold thee

Naked, cream soft in my arms?

When again shall

I walk this

Earth in my childhood?

When again shall

I see your

Eyes moisten at my depart?

For I go on a journey

From which there is no return

A journey of few friends, but true.


Shawn, good luck with your test flight of your new set of wings.  You are fondly remembered.  TDV. Prepared on behalf of the RMC Class of ’73  by fellow classmate and helicopter pilot, 9847 Ken Sorfleet.


  1. Charles Oliviero on August 25, 2021 at 12:57 pm

    It is with great sadness that I read of Shawn’s passing. He was our Rook Flight CFL in the Stone Frigate in 1972 and was a formative leader of us all. He was irrepressibly positive in his outlook and unlike some, saw his responsibilities as our leader as a deep moral charge to shape us as better men, officers, and leaders.
    About a decade ago, he phoned me out of the blue just to say hello and ask how I was doing. What a pleasant surprise from an old friend!
    I offer my sincere condolences to his family. He was one of the best of us.

  2. Paul Amyotte on August 25, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you, Chuck, for telling our rook class of Shawn’s passing. Like you, I am truly saddened to learn of his death. And like you, I have so many memories of his positive influence on our motley group of teenagers in that Frigate recruit class of 1972.
    What stands out for me personally is the day he walked into my room while the rest of our Flight was away on the recruit class tour across the country. (I stayed behind because I was on the football team.) I snapped to attention and Shawn told me to relax and sit down. We then talked for some time about what I wanted to do at RMC and in my later career (mostly in civilian life, as it turned out). I can’t say I remember the precise details of our conversation, but I do know how I felt afterward. Simply put, I felt I had made the right choice to attend the College and that, despite the rigours of rook camp, I would be okay.
    Many years later, I heard someone give a speech in which they said that you might not always remember what someone says, but you will remember how they made you feel. That day in 1972, Shawn Coyle made me feel that I was valued as a human being and that I belonged exactly where I was.
    I extend my deepest condolences to all of Shawn’s family and friends.
    Paul Amyotte

  3. Philip Wall on August 25, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    I concur fully with what my fellow Frigate Recruits have said about our Rook Flight CFL Shawn Coyle. I recall a discussion I had with Shawn similar in nature to what Paul Amyotte has described. Suffice it to say that the discussion has guided me through some difficult times in my life. Arriving from a rather sheltered life in rural Ontario, needless to say my first exposure to RMC was a shock to the system for which I was ill prepared.

    Although I was relatively well equipped academically, my military and athletic skills were sorely lacking. Within the first few weeks, Shawn understood the difficulty I was having in adapting, and took me alongside for a heart to heart discussion. He managed to bolster my confidence, and in large part saved me from leaving for which I owe him a great deal of gratitude. He was a father figure to us all in guiding and leading us towards being better people, and part of a larger community of friends and colleagues.

    Forty years later, I was fortunate enough to have met up with Shawn and his wife Tricia in St. Andrew’s Cathedral in downtown Victoria. My wife Sheila and I met them again later that day for dinner, and reminisced regarding where our respective lives had led us. It was a truly enjoyable time we spent together. I will remember Shawn as being a true Officer and Gentleman, and friend above all else.

  4. David Hall on August 26, 2021 at 6:25 am

    My classmates, Chuck, Paul and Phil have said it all well. I don’t have the same personal recollections that my buds do of Shawn other than I remember him as be a decent person. Like Phil noted, my own military attributes at that time were also less than minimal. Yet I don’t have any memory of Shawn, as our Rook Flight CFL, going all “Rambo” on any of us. So to remember Shawn favourably all these years later says much about the man himself. The article mentions Ronnie Davidson who was my centerman with the Reddies. (I think I’m allowed to use that term without fear of reprisal). Keith “Radar” Wilson, whom I also got to know through the hockey team, was another one I remember of Shawn’s class. My point is that to also remember more than a few of Shawn’s classmates suggests that they were, in the main, a fine lot, of good character, and able to mold – and motivate – some pretty green rooks way back when. Well done, Shawn.

  5. Ron Tidy on August 26, 2021 at 11:15 am

    I am very saddened to learn of Shawn’s death. I was lucky to have crossed paths several times with Shawn after RMC throughout my military service and civilian career with Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) HQ. I remember his knowingly infectious smile each time we met.

    I fondly remember the time I was attending the SIT Course at CFB Borden as part of QFI training for 3 CFFTS. Shawn was in Borden with 427 Sqn to conduct para drops from his Twin Huey helicopter. He invited me to the Sargent Major’s briefing of the troops the evening before the drops. We stood behind the three ranks with the unit’s padre, as the Sargent Major regularly interjected appeals to the padre for forgiveness for the blasphemy and swearing that peppered his briefing. It was almost impossible to maintain our composure.

    While at TCCA HQ we crossed paths several times in the food court on his visits to Canada from the States. It was great to catch up on his latest aviation exploits over a coffee, see that knowing smile and eternal enthusiasm. Shawn was an outstanding leader and an impeccable example to us all.

  6. Kenneth L. Walper on August 26, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    I met & worked with Shawn at Transport Canada Aviation. I spent many an hour with him on the bus commuting to & from work. He was the consummate professional engineer & pilot. He was miles ahead of many of his work colleagues in his knowledge of things Aviation.. A great loss to Aviation.. I shall sorely miss his wit & companionship..

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