Category Archives: Aviation history

Publisher Milberry in the Toronto Sun!

Air Canada's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, landing at Toronto Pearson International

Air Canada’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, landing at Toronto Pearson International

From Mike Filey’s Saturday column in the Toronto Sun:

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Norsemans Here & There …

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 In the winter scene outside at Anchorage’s Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum is Interior Airways Norseman N725E. Originally US Army UC-64A 43-35433, in 1945 it joined the US Fish and Wildlife Service, moved to Alaska in 1951 for Northern Consolidated Airlines, thence to Interior in 1955. Forty years later it was donated to the museum by Alaska’s great aviation history aficionado, Jim McGoffin.

By now I hope that you’re reveling in your set of CANAV Noorduyn Norseman books. These already have been recognized as two of the finest aviation books so far in the 2000s. As usual, new Norseman material continues to roll in and the Norseman Festival spins up next week in Red Lake in Northwestern Ontario. Enjoy these five nifty Norseman photos submitted recently by CANAV reader Antti Hyvärinen, a Finnair A320 pilot. As usual, good reading to you all … Larry

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The ramshackle cockpit of Norseman N725E. Some day, however, this old Norseman will shine like new – whenever museum priorities allow.

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This project Norseman is in the Swedish aviation museum at Arlanda airport, Stockholm. The cockpit certainly is in more respectable condition than N725E’s. If you scroll back you can see this Norseman as RCAF 3538. Later it was RNoAF “R-AY”.

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Antti’s close-up of the Norseman in RCAF colours at the British Columbia Aviation Museum near Victoria. The museum uses its Norseman on its logo. The 3 museum aircraft shown here all are covered in Vol.2 of our Norseman book.

New CF-GUE Coverage from Gordon Olafson

ImageIn April 2014 former Norseman pilot Gordon Olafson sent us these great 1970-71 views of Gimli Air/Northway Norseman CF-GUE (GUE’s basic story is told in Noorduyn Norseman Vol.2). First, the rugged-looking Norseman at Riverton, Manitoba with a 12-foot aluminum boat strapped to each side for a trip to the outpost camp at Sasaginnigak Lake.

Two winter scenes of CF-GUE on different skis. First on Lake Winnipeg at Arnes. That’s Gordon standing by the plane. He’s warming up his R-1340 before a trip north. The Norseman is on standard air bag pedestals. Gordon explains: “You can see how we drove the skis up onto green poplar poles (not too sticky), so they wouldn't freeze down to the ice.” Then, CF-GUE at Charron Lake with just the oleos for suspension. This type of skis made for a pretty stiff run on take-off or landing. Jake Thorsteinson (left) is ready with his helper to start cutting ice to be put up in a shed insulated with bales of hay. The tourist camp there then would have ice for the coming season

CF-GUE -3 - Gordon Olafson img068_LR2 Above, two winter scenes of CF-GUE on different skis. First on Lake Winnipeg at Arnes. That’s Gordon standing by the plane. He’s warming up his R-1340 before a trip north. The Norseman is on standard air bag pedestals. Gordon explains: “You can see how we drove the skis up onto green poplar poles (not too sticky), so they wouldn’t freeze down to the ice.” Then, CF-GUE at Charron Lake with just the oleos for suspension. This type of skis made for a pretty stiff run on take-off or landing. Jake Thorsteinson (left) is ready with his helper to start cutting ice to be put up in a shed insulated with bales of hay. The tourist camp there then would have ice for the coming season

CF-GUE -4- Gordon Olsfson 1982014_LRA typical Norseman summer scene with some of the fellows not exactly looking overworked. On the left is Gordon’s cousin, Danny; bush pilot Jim Johnson, whose father, Geiri, founded Gimli Air; Howard Olafson bush pilot (no relation); and Gordon himself.

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Another excellent winter scene with GUE on straight skis.

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Gordon and GUE at the dock on a fine day for a Norseman trip.

Norseman restoration projects: Pics from Finland

Norseman_A_Hyvarinen-1There are numerous Norseman “project” planes around the world. Some actively are being restored, as is Pablo Columbo’s LV-FFH in Argentina, or the Aviodrome’s N4474 in Holland. Others projects are more cautiously underway. Sometimes work moves ahead, sometimes planes are dormant for years. Examples would be CF-BHU waiting in the corner of a hangar in Steinbach, Manitoba, or N725E in Anchorage. Yet other Norsemans seem to be hopeless wrecks, as are CF-OBD at Selkirk, Manitoba, or 4X-ARS in Israel. But one never knows, right.

One of the long term project Norsemans is OH-NOA, the only known Finnish example. Delivered from Cartierville to the USAAF in September 1944 as 44-70381, it was shipped from New York in October, then served the US military  8th Air Force for a year, until a take-off accident in Germany. In November 1946 it was sold to a Swiss operator, becoming HB-UIK. In May 1951 it went  to Voukralento Oy of Finland, becoming OH-NOA. He and others operated it until 1969, when it was de-registered and stored. Today it is a project with the Finnish Air Force Museum, but no one is in a rush to move it up into the restoration shop.

On April 16, 2014 Finnair A320 pilot Antti Hyvärinen wrote to me: “I finally found those pics of Finnish Norseman OH-NOA! She’s in a bad place behind all the junk, so getting photos is almost hopeless. Hope you find these interesting anyway! She’s stored in the Tikkakoski aviation museum in Jyvaskylä.” Thanks, Antti — everyone loves a set of photos like this!

Norseman_A_Hyvarinen-3Norseman_A_Hyvarinen-4You can see that years ago the plane was painted yellow and black, then a dark blue, then a light blue. This is certainly a restorable Norseman — the cockpit and cabin are in quite decent shape, the fuselage frame looks good, but every museum has its priorities. OH-NOA likely will gather dust for a few more years, but it’s in safe storage. Many other Norsemans are in similar condition, including CF-PAA in Langely, BC.

Thank you for this great new blog content, Antti!

CANAV Special Offer: De Havilland in Canada

 De Havilland in Canada

by Fred W. Hotson

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An aviation hound since he was a little boy, while still in high school Fred Hotson built his own plane – a tiny one-seater, mail-order Heath. Fred ordered it one part at a time, finally finished it and got it airborne. Finished with school, Fred got on at de Havilland Canada before WWII. He flew through the war, including with Ferry Command, then had a distinguished postwar career in corporate aviation. Eventually, he returned to DHC, where he demonstrated Twin Otters and trained pilots all over the world.

As an early member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Fred promoted Canada’s aviation heritage every chance he got. His special passion was DHC, about which he spoke and wrote much until the time came to do a comprehensive history. First published by CANAV in 1983, his best-selling The De Havilland Canada Story eventually needed an update. We did that in 1999, creating a new book, De Havilland in Canada. This production gives all the details of an incredible success story from the 1920s to the present. You won’t find a lovelier aviation book. Not only does DHC cover all the great planes from tiny Moths to wartime Mosquito and postwar Beaver, Buffalo, Dash 7 right to today’s Q400 and Global Express, but the key people also all are there. This is a story of humble beginnings and grand success, how a dubious gamble ended with a Canadian company influencing the entire world.

Revered as Canada’s leading aviation history personality, Fred Hotson was a fastidious collector of aviation documents, photos and memorabilia. He was a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame and there’s a list of other honours. On his passing in 2012 Fred’s priceless collection was offered gratis to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, which turned it down as irrelevant (your Ottawa mentality at work, eh – can you believe it!). Fred already had donated his magnificent library to me, so the estate offered me the pick of everything Ottawa had no use for. I selected a few items, the rest was snapped up by the quick-minded folks at the Provincial Archives of Ontario, who know valuable Canadiana when they see it. Anyone doing serious DHC research will do well in visiting Fred’s collection, located in the new provincial archives building on the York University campus in northwest Toronto. Masses of photographs and a very rare collection of DHC 16mm movie reels are included.

Ordering De Havilland in Canada:

This world-famous title is a 376-page, large-format hardcover printed on top-grade paper. Its vast, comprehensive, well-written text is complemented by some 500 photos. If you have the remotest interest in Canada’s grand aviation past and don’t yet have your copy of DHC, or if you need a premier gift for some special occasion, get in on this offer today. Regularly $45.00, now $35.00 + $12.00 postage (Canada) + $2.35 tax = $49.35 (cheque or PayPal only). USA/Overseas postpaid $60.00.

Here are a few of the astounding de Havilland Canada photos from Fred’s collection. Some of these you’ll enjoy in the book, some not. Check every so often to see what new DHC photos have been added. Click once on any photo to see it full frame. Have a great day, have fun with the CANAV blog and thanks for your loyal support … Larry Milberry, publisher

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As young fellows, Fred Hotson and his pals, including C. Don Long and George Neal, were totally keen about aviation. Not surprisingly, they usually carried their cameras — even in his 90s Fred was avid about photography. C. Don Long, a DHC engineer, carefully covered the aviation scene at least since the late 1920s. Fred inherited his old pal’s collection, including this fabulous view of a pair of Moths circa June 1928 in front of the first de Havilland Canada building. This was at de Lesseps Field in Mount Dennis, on the northwest fringes of Toronto. C-GAKX was a Cirrus Moth newly assembled for the Halifax Aero Club. The following summer ‘AKX was wrecked landing on floats near Halifax. By this stage, unfortunately, there remains almost no record of how any of these old planes were painted. Call it a black-and-white world, right! (Click on any photo to enjoy it full screen.)

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Don photographed Fox Moth CF-API at the Toronto Flying Club on some pleasant weekend. As you can see, the aviation set always was pretty sharply turned out in these early times. That’s the renowned Leigh Capreol standing by the cockpit. Canada’s first Fox Moth, CF-API arrived in Toronto in a crate from the UK in May 1933. That winter it joined General Airways of Rouyn to toil in the Quebec and Ontario bush. In 1937-39 it was in Western Canada, then returned east for Leavens Brothers. Wrecked in the Ontario northland, it was rebuilt as CF-EVK, then worked into the 1950s, before fading from the scene.

Another early DHC type was the D.H.84 Dragon. Powered by two 130-hp D.H. Gipsy engines, the Dragon carried six passengers at about 100 mph. CF-APJ was delivered to Canadian Airways Ltd. of Montreal in May 1933. That summer it served the tourist trade, joy-riding from Cartierville airport, making a lot of money for CAL. It then joined CAL’s Maritime’s division. Eventually, it was cannibalized, so that Dragon CF-AVD could be reconditioned. The Dragon was an early example of a solid, economic, general purpose “airliner”, kind of a Dash 8 of its day. Don photographed it while DHC was getting it ready for delivery. Note the classic CAL “Goose” emblem.

Another early DHC type was the D.H.84 Dragon. Powered by two 130-hp D.H. Gipsy engines, the Dragon carried six passengers at about 100 mph. CF-APJ was delivered to Canadian Airways Ltd. of Montreal in May 1933. That summer it served the tourist trade, joy-riding from Cartierville airport, making a lot of money for CAL. It then joined CAL’s Maritimes division. Eventually, it was cannibalized, so that Dragon CF-AVD could be reconditioned. The Dragon was an early example of a solid, economic, general purpose “airliner”, kind of a mini-Dash 8 of its day. Don photographed it while DHC was getting it ready for delivery. Note the classic CAL “Goose” emblem.

De Havilland in the UK refined the somewhat dowdy-looking Dragon into the nifty-looking D.H.89 Rapide. Many Rapides served the Canadian scene into the late 1940s. CF-BBG was one of Canada’s early corporate planes. Delivered in June 1937 to Toronto-based Globe and Mail, Don photographed it “factory-fresh” on Toronto Bay. Dubbed “The Flying Newsroom”, it was intended for use on news gathering expeditions. But fate intervened -- CF-BBG was soon was lost. Fred tells the story in his book.

De Havilland in the UK refined the somewhat dowdy Dragon into the nifty-looking D.H.89 Rapide. Many Rapides served the Canadian scene into the late 1940s. CF-BBG was one of Canada’s early corporate planes. Delivered in June 1937 to the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, Don photographed it “factory-fresh” on Toronto Bay. Dubbed “The Flying Newsroom”, it was intended for news gathering expeditions. But fate intervened — CF-BBG was soon was lost. Fred tells the story in his book.

From Mont Dennis, DHC moved to Downsview, where airplanes still are built under the Bombardier banner. Here is the factory set-up circa 1938. Very little empty space remains here today – it’s now all jam-packed with “Toronto megalopolis” development.

From Mont Dennis, DHC moved to Downsview, where airplanes still are built under the Bombardier banner. Here is the factory set-up circa 1938. Very little empty space remains here today – it’s now all jam-packed with “Toronto megalopolis” development.

Further pre-war DHC development at Downsview.

Further pre-war DHC development at Downsview.

The hangars shown in this spring 1940 photo are easily seen in the aerial view. By now the place had picked up wildly. The war is on and Tiger Moth trainers were being churned out – more than 1400 would be produced. No.4043 (nearest) was delivered in May 1940. Sad to say, the following March is was lost in a crash at the RCAF flying school in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

The hangars shown in this spring 1940 photo are easily seen in the aerial view. By now the place had picked up wildly. The war was on and Tiger Moth trainers were being churned out – more than 1400 would be built. No.4043 (nearest) was delivered in May 1940. Sad to say, the following March is was lost in a crash at the RCAF flying school in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Also mass-produced at Downsview were more than 1100 Mosquito bombers. This is the view as Mosquitos were coming down the line. This very production bay still stood in 2014, but it likely soon will disappear, now that the former Toronto Aerospace Museum has been rousted from the place. The Mosquito story is well covered in Fred’s book – you’ll love it!

Also mass-produced at Downsview were more than 1100 Mosquito bombers. This is the view as Mosquitos were coming down the line. This very production bay still stood in 2014, but it likely soon will disappear, now that the former Toronto Aerospace Museum has been rousted from the place. The Mosquito story is well covered in Fred’s book – you’ll love it!

How Downsview looked during the Mosquito era. Hovering over this spot in a helicopter today, you would see Hwy 401 sweeping across the bottom left to right, the sprawling Yorkdale Shopping Center and a major TTC subway station.  You would not see much unused real estate!

How Downsview looked during the Mosquito era. Notice how suburban development already was encroaching on the airport. Hovering over this spot in a helicopter today, you would see Hwy 401 sweeping across the bottom left to right, the sprawling Yorkdale Shopping Center and a major TTC subway station.

DHC author – the great Fred Hotson in his home office in Mississauga in 2012. Age 97, Fred still was busy researching and writing. On the wall is the painting Bill Wheeler did of Fred’s tiny Heath homebuilt.

DHC author – the great Fred Hotson in his home office in Mississauga in 2012. Age 97, Fred still was busy researching and writing. On the wall is the painting Bill Wheeler did of Fred’s tiny Heath homebuilt.

PS … are you keen about the F-104, that fantastic “Fighter of the Fifties”? If yes, then here’s something to light your burner …  check into The Canadian Starfighter Museum. Located in Manitoba, the CSM is restoring one of the oldest CF-104s — RCAF 12703. It also has many important “collectibles”, including one of the RCAF’s CAE-built CF-104 flight simulators. Make sure you see what excellent work these dedicated, hardworking folks are doing!

CF-104 12703 on arrival in 2013 at the CSM hangar at St. Andrews Airport, a short drive north of Winnipeg.

CF-104 12703 on arrival in 2013 at the CSM hangar at St. Andrews Airport, a short drive north of Winnipeg.

The CSM's beautifully-restored CAE-built CF-104 flight simulator. Based at Cold Lake, No.6 OTU/417 Squadron trained Canada's CF-104 pilots from 1961 into the early 1980s.

The CSM’s beautifully-restored CAE-built CF-104 flight simulator. Based at Cold Lake, No.6 OTU/417 Squadron trained Canada’s CF-104 pilots from 1961 into the early 1980s.

The CF-104 flight simulator cockpit restored by the CSM to the smallest detail. (photos via Steve Pajot/CSM)

The CF-104 flight simulator cockpit restored by the CSM to the smallest detail. (photos via Steve Pajot/CSM)

PPS … Are you a self-respecting airliner fan? If so, you must have these essential sources to be “au courant” (including the “fashionable” and “stylish” versions of the translation):

1) Your subscriptions to Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight  and Propliner Aviation Magazine.

2) Your personal connection to Henry Tenby’s airlinehobby.com. There you can order books, buy/sell aviation photos and other collectibles, etc.

3) Your copies of The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection, The Wilf White Propliner Collection and Air Transport in Canada. These now are on sale, see CANAV’s current booklist.

Canada Post — spare us from the yahoos in Ottawa, please! You can scoll back a bit to see about CANAV’s Canada Post woes. We still are missing delivery days in M4E. So be that, but others in Canada seem to be getting really royally screwed over —  little or zero mail for them. So why are we paying taxes and is it time for a tax payer revolution? How about it, citizens?

Can you believe this crapola about King Deepak Chopra and his do-nothings at Canada Post? Have a look at this little news item:  Herein, “$500K Deepak” discusses the Canada Post charter. His summary is a real hoot — Deepak bleets how the terms of the charter are what “we try to strive for”. Huh? Not actually striving, just “trying” to strive — Homer Simpson couldn’t have put it better. Hey, Your Eminence, you don’t strive for the terms of the Canada Post charter — you deliver as promised or get outta town.

The Norseman Saga Grows and Grows

Blog Crossley #4 TorStar563On Feb.17, 2014, Robert Galway, who’s researching the life of W.R. Maxwell (founding father of the Ontario Provincial Air Service), showed up at CANAV with some rare newspaper clippings covering important Ontario aviation topics. Included is the front page of the Toronto Daily Star June 1, 1956 “Home Edition” with the banner headline, “COLDEST JUNE 1 EVER, FARMS FACE DISASTER, MERCURY MAY HIT 28”. Wow … looks like “climate change” has been around for a while, eh!

Crossley #3 TorStar562This page also has a “breaking news” headline in red ink across the very top of Page 1: “In Darkest Hours I Put My Faith in God – Pilot”. (See the rest of the story here).

Thus did the Star announce the rescue of Carl Crossley, given up for lost with his Norseman far up in Hudson Bay. The great reporter Frank Teskey turned out the main story, backed up by Edwin Feeny.

Blog Crossley #5 Westaway Crash TorStar572Blog Crossley #6 G&M 28-5-1948Also in Robert’s collection are Star and Globe and Mail clippings about the death in May 1948 of James “Westy” Westaway, another of the “Kings of the Norseman” covered in Vol.1.

What excellent fodder for our blog, right. If you’re into Norseman lore, especially if you have Vol.1, you’ll revel in this stuff, so here it is.

Norseman miseries

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On p.113 of Austin Airways that great Dave Russell photo showing “drowned” Norseman CF-OBN correctly reads: “Norseman CF-OBN submerged at Moosonee. ‘OBN finally met its end on August 10, 1968. That day it stalled and crashed neat Winisk in the hands of pilot Don Plaunt.” This straightens out the iffy caption in Norseman Vol.2 p.101. The wonderful Norseman website NorsemanHistory.ca adds: “During take-off, lift-off was attempted at low speed to avoid shallow water ahead. Then a  turn was attempted to avoid an island, but the aircraft hit the shore at considerable speed and was destroyed. The flaps had been left in the up position.” Well, not exactly the shore from what we see here, but we get the drift, right. Thanks to Roland Brandt, who took this photo when passing by one day.

Finally, if you scroll back to the Alaska item and the previous Norseman update, you can check out some of our recent readers’ comments and reviews. Have fun with all this good stuff … Larry

Bush flying in Ketchikan

Similar to Canada, Alaska has a rich aviation heritage dating from early post-WWI days. Every  settlement in the state remains dependent on air transportation. Aviation hounds consider Alaska one of the world’s best “hunting grounds” for photographing old planes, from Beavers and Otters to C-46s and DC-4s.

The Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage and the Alaskaland Pioneer Air Museum in Fairbanks tell the story of Alaska aviation through the decades. The Norseman, of course, has its place. Many US Army UC-64s served in Alaska during the war. Civil examples operated postwar, several with Wien Airlines. In 2014, however, Alaska didn’t have a single airworthy Norseman. You’ll find museum examples N725E in Anchorage and N55555 in Fairbanks. There also are 2 or 3 “project” Norsemans around Alaska awaiting restoration.

The town of Ketchikan has produced this gem of a video honouring its bush flying lifestyle. Here it is and you won’t regret taking a look:

Ketchikan: The Bush Pilots from Laurel Lindahl on Vimeo.

One of my Alaska aviation pals comments after watching it: “Great footage and what good quality! Ketchikan is a pretty special town, lots of old style bar life going on. The houses in the red light district had hatches in the floor, so the customers could arrive under the house unseen in skiffs.”

Here are three shots I took on August 3, 1993, when Sandy Parker flew me up to Ketchikan from Prince Rupert in his Wagair Beaver. It was a perfect summer’s day for such a swan.

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Shown above is recently-converted Turbo Otter N51KA of Ketchikan Air. Note the Turbo Beaver in the distance. To this day Beavers and Otters remain at the heart of bush and coast flying in this region. In 1957 N51KA came off the production line at DHC in Toronto as Otter 270. It was delivered to the US Army as 57-6128. Its Army days over, in 1978 it became C-GLFK back in Canada with Air Saguenay in Quebec, then migrated to Alaska, sporting a PT6 turbine engine. By 2014 N51KA had been re-registered N270A of Pro Mech Air, also of Ketchikan.

Ketchikan 4 N4787C of Yes Bay Lodge began as Beaver 1330 in 1959, then spent its entire career on the West Coast. It last was in the news on July 24, 2013. While on a Pro Mech Air flight-seeing trip from Ketchikan, the engine failed. N4787C crashed into trees, but all four aboard were rescued.

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Here’s a typical view from town looking across to Gravina Island, site of Ketchikan International Airport. An Alaska Airlines 737 is on final approach.

Special note to serious fans: The Regina Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society is hosting the 2014 CAHS national convention in early June. For info, here’s the link: http://cahs.ca/Convention-2014/2014-agm.html

And … Check out Steinar’s Hangar for a fabulous website about one of history’s great little bushplanes/sportplanes — the Republic RC-3 Seabee. Visit www.seabee.info — don’t skip this one or you’ll really be missing out! Steinar also covers such topics as Norway’s Otters and Twin Otters, so there’s plenty of Canadian content.

Lately I dug out some Seabee photos I took 50+ years ago and sent them to Steinar. Now everyone can see these nifty old shots, uselessly buried in my files for so many years. So … if you have any Seabee photos or info, kindly share with Steinar at steinar.saevdal@gmail.com. Thanks … Larry

People sure do need their Norseman fix! Readers keep getting in touch to order Norseman books and tell me a bit about their Norseman connections. Eric Boyce in Alaska writes on February 14, 2014:

I worked on CF-FQI when it was owned by Sept-Iles Air Service in Sept-Iles, QC. That was in 1961 and ’62. I was 14. FQI was the first airplane I ever got to fly — I got to hold the controls for 30 minutes from Lac Manitou to Lac Des Rapides. 
 
In 1999 I brokered CF-GUE to Bear Lake Air, a company in Seward Alaska. I flew it back with my engineer buddy and fellow Canadian, John “Alan” Wakefield. I flew GUE a bit here in Alaska for the last operator, Renfro Air. I modified it by putting Sikorsky S-58 axles, wheels and brakes on it (just like having Otter wheels). I sent Gordy Hughes a copy of the FAA approval and blueprints. Renfro said he could beat the Cessna Caravans hauling freight into the Eskimo villages, because the Norseman was fast and a lot cheaper to operate. He said the wheels and brakes made it taxi, takeoff and land with great control. As you may know Renfro’s engine quit and he rolled it up in the muskeg trying to make the airport.
 
Anyway, I love the Norseman and have since 1961. So I need the books to complete my love affair. Thanks a million for making these books available.

Canada’s Cadet Program … One of our country’s best organizations for teens is “Cadets”. Th Cadet movement is under attack from the Harper Government (our great pals in Ottawa, right). Not only is the HG campaigning to destroy our post services, etc., now they’ve put their sights on the Cadets. Please look at this item. Please sign the petition and forward. Thanks again … Larry

http://www.change.org/petitions/stephen-harper-and-government-of-canada-end-the-cuts-to-cadets-canada-training-and-uniforms-and-cut-the-expansive-regional-cadet-bureaucracy-instead?share_id=RKtrcoJlib&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition