Veterans usually had the right stuff during their service to Canada, including one from Ponoka who was able to use his mechanical inclinations to improve how equipment operated.
Jerry Reynolds enlisted in the navy with his older brother Joseph, when he was 16 in 1941 but was released after four months when they realized how old he really was. That did not stop him however, and in 1943 he joined Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry as a paratrooper at 18 years old. He stayed on for a three-year tour.
He re-enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1951 and served 12 and a half years working in safety equipment, conducting search and rescue operations. For Reynolds the joy was in solving puzzles. With only a Grade 8 education, he developed a patent for a dragshoot for the CF-100 Voodoo aircraft. “I’ve always been mechanically inclined.”
The aircraft would overshoot the runway because the dragshoot failed to deploy and it was Reynolds who found a better way to store and deploy the dragshoot. His patent was received in 1963. Reynolds was a pilot in his own right and flew a Cessna 150 Commuter while selling real estate in the Ponoka area.
During air force training, Reynolds and his team were sent out for survival training in the winter in -38 degree C weather. He took inspiration from First Nations people by constructing an ad hoc tipi out of one parachute rather than a lean-to, which was standard practice at the time. The training session was featured in a 1953 edition of the Roundel, a Canadian Air Force magazine.
Reynolds returned to his home in Ponoka and has been able to become a businessman manufacturing steel grain silos. He is currently refurbishing a Ford Model T in his garage. His business was featured in a book called Canada from the Air by Bo Curtis and J.A. Kraulis.