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Canadian aviation pioneer Bill 'Father Goose' Lishman passes away

Last Updated Jan 2, 2018 at 6:46 pm EDT

YouTube screengrab.

The man affectionately known as Father Goose for his pioneering work on bird migration has died.

According to family and friends, Canadian Bill Lishman passed away on December 30 at the age of 78.

“His passing was peaceful, surrounded by family and friends. Thankfully he did not suffer long,” his son, Aaron Lishman, posted on Facebook. No cause of death was given.

“Most people that lived anywhere near him will remember him flying over with a flock of geese behind him. That was a common sight in the late eighties and early nineties,” Aaron Lishman told CityNews in a phone interview. “He’ll be remembered for a lot of different things but mostly for being an innovator and someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things.”

Lishman wore many hats during his colourful and adventurous life. He was an artist, filmmaker, naturalist and public speaker.

But it was his work with birds that caught the attention of the world, including Hollywood.

Lishman made headlines when he became the first person to use ultra-light aircraft to lead birds on migrations. He went on to co-found Operation Migration Inc., and flew several subsequent migrations with geese and cranes.

His autobiography “Father Goose” inspired the film “Fly Away Home” which starred Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin. The film was nominated for an Oscar in 1996 for Best Cinematography.

Lishman was also a revered sculptor and filmmaker.

His death was mourned online by the likes of MP Erin O’Toole and author Margaret Atwood.

Lishman is survived by his wife, Paula, and three children.