Northwestern Ontario aviation pioneer Harvey J. Friesen died Sunday in California at the age of 65.

Friesen was the former president and CEO of Bearskin Airlines, and served most recently as chair and CEO of Thunder Air.

He passed away while on vacation in Palm Springs.

Harvey Friesen

Harvey Friesen, former CEO of Bearskin Airlines, had recently been recognized by the Air Transport Association of Canada. (Supplied)

Friesen was a past chair of the Air Transport Association of Canada.

In a news release, ATAC said that, in addition to his leadership in aviation, Friesen was a great leader in the community.

Last November he and his brother Cliff were the first to be awarded the Jim Glass Humanitarian Award, given by ATAC to a member of the aviation community who's demonstrated generosity, compassion, business acumen and community involvement.

Funeral arrangements are pending.