Who Will Sell the Books + A Sad Day, Warbirds Lost

Whither Indigo? In his latest (November 25) editorial on his blog “SHuSH”, Canadian literary guru, Ken Whyte, discusses Indigo and some Canadian bookselling machinations. Have a look … we need to know what’s happening to Canada’s bookselling industry.

Welcome to the 174th edition of SHuSH, the official newsletter of The Sutherland House Inc. If you’re new here, hit the button: Subscribe

A SHuSH update: at the end of May (SHuSH 150) we mentioned that after three years of operation, SHuSH had 2,132 subscribers and was averaging 4,000 readers a week. We anticipated continued steady growth that would bring us to 2,800 subscribers by SHuSH 200 next June. We’re happy to report that we hit 3,000 subscribers this week, well ahead of schedule. We are now averaging 5,000 readers a week.

We need to talk about Indigo. As you know, it’s Canada’s biggest bookstore chain, with 88 superstores and 85 small-format stores. It sells well over half the books that are bought in stores in Canada, with Walmart, Costco, and independent bookstores accounting for most of the rest.

One problem with Indigo is that it’s failing. The other problem is that it’s abandoning bookselling. Yes, that sounds like a Woody Allen joke, but it’s not funny from a publishing perspective. We depend on Indigo.

The company’s finances have been ugly for some time. It lost $37 million in 2019, $185 million in 2020, and $57 million in 2021. Things looked somewhat better in 2022 with a $3 million profit, but the first two quarters of 2023 are now in the books (it has a March 28 year end) and Indigo has already dropped $41.3 million.

That the company lost money in its first two quarters isn’t the end of the world. Indigo is a third-quarter business. All the magic happens over the holidays. The trouble is that the $41.3-million loss is about $10 million more than the 2022 loss over the same period. That’s the wrong direction; things were supposed to improve with COVID’s foot lifted from the neck of the retail sector. The company’s share price, which seemed ready to recover in June, has since dropped 30 percent, down to $2 (from a high of about $20). Without an absolute blockbuster of a holiday season, Indigo is likely to be back in the red on the year.

While all this is going on, Indigo has been backing out of the book business. If you follow the firm’s marketing, it’s all about “intentional” and “purposeful” living (its press releases sound like Gwyneth Paltrow circa 2008). Indigo is intentionally and purposefully attempting to re-establish itself as a general merchandise supplier to youngish women.

This is not news. As far back as its 2013 annual report, Indigo said it was in “the early stages of a journey that is taking us from our position as Canada’s leading bookseller to our vision of becoming the world’s first cultural department store.” It saw toys, paper, home decor, fashion accessories, and gift sales as the future of the business.

As far as I can tell, 2014 was the first year Indigo reported its book and general merchandise sales separately. Books, once practically the whole of its business, were by then down to 67.4 percent of total sales, with general merchandise accounting for 28 percent. By last June, books were down to 53.6 percent and general merchandise was 41.5 percent.

Indigo has made roughly half of its retail space devoted to books go poof and the transformation is far from finished. At its showcase New Jersey location, the mix is 40 percent books and 60 percent general merchandise, and it’s specializing in a particular kind of book. “We found a niche,” said an Indigo executive. “We became the preferred destination for New Yorkers for coffee table books. In fact, every decorator in New York comes to that store to buy these big format coffee table books for their clients’ homes. So we go from books about décor to books as décor… That store has had an incredible year.”

In July, Indigo released this publicity photo for a new flagship store at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre. See any books there? All the company’s flagship stores are being refitted in this direction.

And, over here, a few books, bestsellers only.

That’s pretty much it for literature on the main floor and even in this corner, the book tables share space with general merchandise. I didn’t pull out my tape measure, but I’d guess well under 20 percent of high-traffic space is devoted to reading material. If you want more books, you have to journey up to the dark and forbidding second floor. At least you avoid the crowds.

Two weeks ago, Indigo announced a deal with Adidas to bring sportswear into the stores. Last year, it held a contest where kids-and-baby businesses competed for the right to open their own stores within Indigo stores.

The fastest-growing category of general merchandise at Indigo is its house brands, stuff it makes itself, cutting out the middlemen. Walk around an Indigo and you’ll see products labeled OUI, Nóta, The Littlest, Mini Maison, IndigoScents, Love, and Lore. All house brands; none have anything to do with books. This is a business that owner Heather Reisman learned in the last century, making private-label soft drinks for grocery chains. She’s returning to it now.

Indigo hasn’t come right out and said we’re through with books. It can’t, given that Heather has spent the last twenty-five years building herself up as the queen of reading in Canada. Also, the Indigo brand is still associated with books in most people’s minds and that won’t change overnight no matter how many cheeseboards it stocks. So Heather talks about a gradual, natural transition: “We built a wonderful connection with our customers in the book business. Then, organically, certain products became less relevant and others were opportunities.” To be clear, books are irrelevant; general merchandise is the opportunity. Heather recently appointed as CEO a guy named Peter Ruis who has no experience in books. He comes from fashion retail, most recently the Anthropologie chain, which sells clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings, furniture, and beauty products. Anthropologie was hot in 2008, and it seems to be where Indigo wants to go today.

Fair enough. You own a company, you can take it in any direction you want, so long as your shareholders will follow. I don’t blame Heather for having second thoughts about the book business. (I have them every week. It’s a tough business.) But where does that leave readers, writers, agents, publishers, and everyone else who remains committed to books?

You’ll recall that Indigo and Chapters, between them, decimated the independent bookselling sector in Canada in the nineties. They are the principal reason Canada has so few independent bookstores today. You could probably fit the combined stock of all our independents into a handful of Heather’s stores. The federal government let Heather’s Indigo buy Larry Stevenson’s Chapters in 2001, which gave her a ridiculously large share of the market. That shouldn’t have happened.

At the same time, with the help of some lobbying by Heather, the federal government made it clear that the US chains, Borders and Barnes & Noble, weren’t welcome up here. The argument was that bookselling was a crucial part of our cultural sector and needed to be protected from foreign domination by the Canadian government. In that spirit, Indigo also asked the federal government to prevent Amazon from opening warehouses in Canada. That request was denied in 2010, which is about when Indigo began its transition out of books.

One can see how Heather might feel betrayed by the federal government. Instead of protecting bookselling, it swung the door wide open for Amazon. You said I wouldn’t have to compete! All the same, one can also see how Canadian readers and the Canadian literary sector might feel betrayed by Heather and Indigo. They bought control of the Canadian bookselling market; now they’re washing their hands of it. I put more onus on the feds—you intervene in a market, you own it—but assigning blame is a useless exercise when none of the parties will accept it.

We’re left with a bookselling sector dominated in its bricks-and-mortar dimension by one firm spewing red ink and running for the exit, and in its online dimension by an international platform that could care less about anything Canadian and is also deprioritizing books.

Publisher’s Weekly reported last week that Amazon was eliminating roles in its books division, a decision that follows a summers-long effort by the company to reduce the number of books it was keeping in inventory and adds “more fuel to the feeling within publishing that Amazon is losing interest in its book business.”

Where this ends is anyone’s guess. It is interesting that Heather stepped down as CEO at Indigo a couple of months back (she remains executive chairman). This was followed by her husband and bankroll, Gerry Schwartz, retiring as head of Onex this month. Might be a lifestyle choice. Might be a sign that she’s about to unload Indigo. My dream is that she sells, preferably to Elliott Advisors, the same private equity bunch that owns Waterstones in the UK and Barnes & Noble in the US. They seem to have figured out how to make a book chain work. Meanwhile, as I said at the outset, the publishing sector needs Indigo. I wish the company a robust and highly profitable holiday season, and I hope books outperform for them.

A Sad Day, Warbirds Lost

November 13, 2022. Very sad news … yesterday B-17 N7227C and P-63 N6763 collided over Texas. All six aboard the two aircraft were lost. Here are three photos that I took of the B-17. The first time I saw it was on July 2, 1966 at North Philadelphia Airport during its aero surveying career. I took these two Kodachromes during an airport tour with my sidekick, Nick Wolocatiuk. Then, on May 27, 1972 I shot N7227C at Transpo72 at Dulles Airport in its new Confederate Air Force colour scheme. You can find much detailed history for N7227C on the web. The caption for my earlier pix here of Bell P-63 N191H was incorrect — it was not the accident P-63.

Update for December 1, 2022-11-30Rytis Beresnevicius Reports in AeroTime News: No Altitude Deconflictions Brief Before Mid-Air Collision in Dallas

The National Safety Transportation Board released its preliminary findings from the Wings Over Dallas historic air show, summarizing the events that happened prior to the mid-air collision. 

The accident, which took place on November 12, 2022, resulted in the death of six people onboard the two aircraft, namely a Boeing B-17 and a Bell P-63. The two aircraft collided in the air when the P-63 was banking to the left, hitting the left-side aft wing section of the B-17, sending the pair of planes into the ground. 

“Both airplanes were operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 in the Wings Over Dallas Airshow,” the NTSB’s report noted. Additionally, the government agency indicated that the aircraft were part of two different airship formations, as the Bell P-63 fighter and Boeing B-17 bomber were flying in three and five-ship formations, respectively. Following an analysis of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and radio transmission data, the NTSB indicated that the air boss at Wings Over Dallas was directing the two formations to fly southwest of the runway at Dallas Executive Airport (RBD). Subsequently, they were ordered to return to the flight display area. 

“He directed the fighter formation to transition to a trail formation, fly in front of the bomber formation, and proceed near the 500 ft show line. The bombers were directed to fly down the 1,000 ft show line,” continued the report. Both show lines kept a distance of 500 and 1,000 feet from the viewing line … However, the NTSB’s report stated that there was no altitude deconfliction brief neither in the air nor on the ground: “There were no altitude deconflictions briefed before the flight or while the airplanes were in the air. When the fighter formation approached the flying display area, the P-63F was in a left bank and it collided with the left side of the B-17G, just aft of the wing section,” the preliminary accident report continued. Following the mid-air collision, both aircraft broke up while in the air and hit the terrain on the airport’s property just south of the approach area of one of the field’s runways. The B-17 was on fire while still in the air and exploded as it impacted the ground. 

“Both airplanes were equipped with ADS-B. An Avidyne IFD540 unit from the B-17G and a Garmin GPSMAP 496 unit from the P-63F were recovered and submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorders Laboratory,” the report stated. However, the P-63F’s mini-multi-function display (MFD) did not record any data for the flight that resulted in the accident. “The wreckage of both airplanes was retained for further examination,” the report concluded. The weather conditions, per the information provided by the NTSB, provided 10 miles (16 kilometers) of visibility, while the wind speed was 14 knots, with gusts up to 18 knots at 350°. 

Remembrance Day 2022

Remembrance Day 2022 was well celebrated from coast to coast in Canada. This year I attended the service at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, the final resting place of many Canadian aviators. The service centred on the mausoleum where Canada’s great W/C William G. “Will” Barker, VC, DSO, MC and 2 Bars, is entombed. A wide spectrum of Canadians attended to honour Canada’s veterans from wars down through the generations, including the Commander of the RCAF, LGen Eric Kenny, and other dignitaries, to a Guard of Honour from 16 Wing Borden, and Air Cadets from 330 and 631 squadrons. On the dot at 1100 hours a C-130 Hercules from RCAF Trenton made a perfect, low pass over the event. Here are a few photos from this important day honouring Canada’s military heritage:

The Mount Pleasant Mausoleum on Remembrance Day 2022, then the entrance to the Smith family crypt where Barker, VC, rests.
Some of the crowd in attendance.
The Honour Guard marches in.
Wreaths laid at the Barker monument on the steps of the mausoleum.
Following the main ceremony, people gathered at the grave of Francis Granger Quigley, DSO, MC and Bar, another of the many airmen buried in Mount Pleasant. Quigley finished his war with 21 enemy aircraft to his credit. While returning overseas in October 1918 to commence a new tour over the front, he contracted the dreaded “Spanish Flu” aboard ship. He died a few days later in hospital in Liverpool.
Also interred at Mount Pleasant is the great Royal Naval Air Service ace, Arthur T. Whealy (19 victories). There is much more to learn about Canada’s great aerial warriors of the First World War. These three books will get you well started: Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939, The Brave Young Wings, and Barker VC.

News From CANAV

RCAF 435 Squadron C-130H 130336 on the ramp at 17 Wing Winnipeg on September 28, 2022. This is one of the “H-models” delivered in 1986 as aerial tankers, but also to do the other many duties demanded of Canada’s Herc fleet. This day ‘336 was slated for a search and rescue training exercise in the Lake Winnipeg area. Also shown is the crew for the day. 435’s five Hercs have logged more than 100,000 flying hours, including 27,000+ for ‘336 when I photographed it this day.

It’s been so long since we’ve had the time to post anything new. Finally, here’s a bit of an update. First of all, I hope you will have a close look at our new Fall/Winter 2022-23 newsletter & booklist. It’s packed with outstanding reading for all those having a serious interest in our great aviation heritage. I really appreciate that most of you are long-term CANAV fans, but in order to survive, any such small aviation publisher needs more of its fans to turn into actual supporters (i.e., fans who buy a book once in a while). CANAV needs you both, but can’t survive without a few more more fans becoming supporters. Please give it a thought, if it won’t break the bank.

CANAV introduces its latest booklist

Canada’s premier aviation book publisher presents its Fall/Winter 2022/23 list. Have a close look and you’ll find many important titles old and new including some exceptional bargain books. Please get in touch with any questions about ordering, etc.
Cheers … Larry Milberry, Publisher, larry@canavbooks.com

RCAF Centennial Book Project

Most of my 2022 efforts have been in basic research and writing for CANAV’s next book, its grand history of the RCAF 1924. After four years of this so far, the groundwork is done covering from the background to 1924 and into the 1980s. The next year mainly will be covering the modern RCAF, including visiting as many bases as possible. I started this lately with visits to Borden and Winnipeg to cover such squadrons as 400, 402 and 435, and such other important organizations such as CFSATE at Borden and Barker College at 17 Wing Winnipeg. In November I’ll cover 8 Wing Trenton and Petawawa. This fieldwork lets me see the RCAF in action, before finishing the final chapters. This is the recipe for a book that will be worth having on your shelves.

Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada

The RAMWA’s magnificent Canadian Vickers Vedette replica. Several of the men who worked on this project had worked on Vedettes in the 20s and 30s. This spectacular display shows the results.

While visiting 17 Wing, I squeezed in a sidetrip to Winnipeg’s wonderful new aviation museum, the former Western Canada Aviation Museum. There, Gord Crossley (17 Wing Heritage Officer) and Bob Arnold (long-time museum member, restorer, scrounger, etc.) showed me all the super work that’s been done to bring the museum from its roots in the 1970s, through its decades jammed into an old TCA hangar, to today’s magnificent museum. Here are a few of my quickie photos to give you an idea of why you need to make an aviation history pilgrimage to Winnipeg. At the end, I include a few images from Winnipeg’s other important aviation history collection at 17 Wing Winnipeg across the field from the RAMWC.

Another of the museum’s premier displays is the restored Froebe brothers’ experimental helicopter from the late 1930s. The story of Canada’s first serious helicopter project first was told in my 1979 book Aviation in Canada. In that period, Doug Froebe had written to me, “The first time it left the ground, I was at the stick. The tail lifted off first, I’d say two or three feet. Then I pulled back and the front wheels left the ground one at a time. My two brothers were very excited, but I was sort of scared.” Interest in the Froebe story then slowly developed, as often happens once a story gets a bit of initial coverage. Others pursued this one until the original Froebe airframe was acquired by the WCAM. Here is sits in its glory in the new museum.
Restored to flying condition over many years by a team led by Bob Cameron of Whitehorse, Fokker Super Universal CF-AAM now is permanently on display at the RAMWC.
CF-AAM also graces the dust jacket of our by-now famous book, Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years.
Another of the museum’s many world-class restorations is “Big Bellanca” CF-AWR. Brought to Canada in 1935, “AWR” (in its day Canada’s biggest airplane) toiled on many northern projects until crashing near Sioux Lookout in January 1947. Eventually, the WCAM’s stalwart recovery team hauled “AWR” out of the bush. Then began its multi-decade restoration to Bellanca perfection.
From the same era of the classic bushplane is the museum’s Fairchild FC-2W2, CF-AKT. Imported from the US for Canadian Airways in 1930, it eventually (1934) was brought up to Fairchild 71C standards. It then served in the bush until a serious accident near Watson Lake, Yukon in August 1943. Then, Canada’s only civil Fairchild Super 71 CF-AUJ. First flown at Longueuil in 1935, “AUJ” did much heavy lifting in the bush, until an October 1940 accident at Lost Bay south of today’s Red Lake. Again, the always forward-thinking WCAM recovery team salvaged the wreck, which the museum turned into this magnificent restoration.
Beautifully restored cabin Waco YKC-S CF-AYS came to Canada for Arrow Airways in 1935, then served many other operators in the bush. Finally, it joined Central Northern in 1947, a company that soon became Transair of Winnipeg. “AYS” was withdrawn from use in 1953, but somehow survived to end in the RAMWC as another premier example of aviation in Canada during the “Golden Years” of the 1930s.
Sometimes touted as the WCAM’s premier bushplane is this Junkers 52. Originally a tri-motor Ju.52s, long ago the museum converted it to represent CF-ARM, Canada’s famous single-engine Junkers “Flying Box Car” of the 1930s. The details of this and most of the museum’s classic bushplanes are best found in the seminal K.M. Molson book, Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. This is a book you all should have. See if you can track down a copy at www.bookfinder.com Otherwise (seriously), you should find yourself a copy of Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years and one of Air Transport in Canada.
Representing the RCAF in WWII and the BCATP is this lovely Tiger Moth restoration. 1122 had served at 34 EFTS at Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, piling up some 1242 flying hours before being sold as war surplus equipment in 1945 and becoming CF- COU.
Beaver No.1500 … DHC-2 Beaver C-FMAA served the Manitoba Government Air Service 1962-84, before landing at the WCAM. Today, it’s one of many aircraft seen “flying” from the rafters of the new museum.
No.703 is the RAMWC’s example of the RCAF’s great CF-104. Beside it is one of the CF-104 flight simulators manufactured by CAE of Montreal. In the background of some of these photos you can see other museum aircraft. In this case … the Beaver and Air Canada Viscount.
The museum’s Canadair CL-41 Tutor climbs away above the Viscount and Canadair CL-84.
Two experimental types of which the museum is proud – its Avrocar (the so-called Avro “flying saucer”, actually a simple hovercraft) and the Canadair CL-84. The CL-84 held great promise until defunded by the US government. One wonders about its potential back in the 1960s and how it might have influenced today’s V-22 Osprey. Note how the museum maximizes its wall space.
Two fascinating cockpits to be viewed at the museum: the Viscount airliner and CF-101 Voodoo fighter.
The museum has a giftshop with many products on sales, but books only get a tiny corner. Nothing here from CANAV, sad to say, but … c’est la guerre, right. Then, a look at a tiny part of the museum’s important research library and archive.
On the west side of Winnipeg International Airport resides RCAF 17 Wing. Beginning decades ago, the base decided to display a few of the classic post WWII types that served here. The first three were the Expeditor, Dakota and Mitchell, mainly of No.1 Air Navigation School fame. These have weathered the decades fairly well. Here are “the Dak” and the Mitchell shot during my September 2022 visit.
The Expeditor was in the 17 Wing aircraft restoration shop for a clean-up and new paint. The other big project here is a Bolingbroke being restored using parts from various hulks recovered from prairie farms over the decades.
The RCAF air park’s CF-104, T-bird and Sabre. Under the scaffolding to the right is the CF-100, then getting a clean-up, new decals included.
Voodoo 101008 in 425 Squadron colours, then ex- AETE Challenger 144612.
Part of the air park’s tribute to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan includes a Harvard and several displays of memorial bricks. Among the latter I spotted several fellows about whom we’ve written over the decades, Ron Breeden included. Ron’s career included a first tour on CF-100s, where he was known on squadron as “the boy pilot” on account of his youthful appearance.
The air park also includes a Musketeer, Kiowa and Tracker. All things considered, you can see why a trip to Winnipeg should be in the cards for any serious fan of Canadian aviation history!

Norseman Update … Antti Hyvarinen from Finland recently visited the Dutch aviation museum where ex-Canadian Norseman CF-GLI is being restored. Here are his photos. Thanks, Antti! See the attached special offer for our two beautiful Norseman books. For outside Canada drop a note ref. shipping costs to larry@canavbooks.com

Norseman lists … Northern pilot, Rodney Kozar, keeps close track of Norseman “facts and figures”. Here are his two basic lists for 2022. Please contact Rodney if you have any updates.

Old Hamilton Airport Update

If you search here on the blog for Old Hamilton Airport, you’ll see a fascinating bit of Canadian aviation history. Airports, of course, are not of huge interest to the typical aviation fan, but they are an indispensable part of our aviation heritage. By far the best source book for the topic is T.M. “Tom” McGrath’s 1991 gem, History of Canadian Airports. If you’re ever lucky enough to find a copy, pay whatever they’re asking. You’ll soon have this one on your shelf of favourite aviation books.

While filing material lately, I came across some other really top photos of old Hamilton Airport — the one opened  in 1930 to replace the original 1926 J.V. Elliot Airport in the Beach Road neighbourhood. In 1951 Hamilton Airport closed, once the wartime airport at nearby Mount Hope became Hamilton’s main aviation hub.

If you search here on the blog for Old Hamilton Airport, you’ll see a fascinating bit of Canadian aviation history. Airports, of course, are not of huge interest to the typical aviation fan, but they are an indispensable part of our aviation heritage. By far the best source book for the topic is T.M. “Tom” McGrath’s 1991 gem, History of Canadian Airports. If you’re ever lucky enough to find a copy, pay whatever they’re asking. You’ll soon have this one on your shelf of favourite aviation books.

While filing material lately, I came across some other really top photos of old Hamilton Airport — the one opened  in 1930 to replace the original 1926 J.V. Elliot Airport in the Beach Road neighbourhood. In 1951 Hamilton Airport closed, once the wartime airport at nearby Mount Hope became Hamilton’s main aviation hub. These historic photos came to me decades ago in the Robert “Bob” Finlayson Collection. Bob had been CANAV’s darkroom man for many years. You can find earlier blog mentions of him

Canada Post in the Crosshairs … Again

Canada Post riles Canadians with its Mafia-like rates. It cost me $74 today (November 1, 2022) to mail 3 small packages (inside Canada, cheapest rate) each with one book. Too bad Canadians are so wimpy when it comes to such things. We just take whatever Canada Post sticks to us.
The latest Canada Post brouhaha is around the new stamp honouring the DHC-2 Beaver on its 75th anniversary. Problem is that they’ve incurred the wrath of the aficionados who object that the Beaver on the stamp has an American registration. Good point, you eagle-eyed folks, and shame on Canada Post. Their design gurus certainly are not sweating the small stuff!
My own beef with this stamp (and the series of 5 in the booklet) is their overall brownishness. Isn’t aviation all about the blue sky and bright clouds? If I had been asked, I’d have suggested simplicity — bright aviation colours. Brown? Forget it!
When Canada Post brought out my own stamp showing the RCAF Vampire, which I had photographed from a 442 Sqn Buffalo, it was just perfect. Take a look. How could Canada Post have done so well?

Besides the Vampire, compare today’s brown Beaver with the beauty of a Beaver that Canada Post issued ages ago based on one of the great Robert Bradford’s magnificent paintings. Now that’s a philatelic Beaver for you!

Canada Post, feel free to call me next time you have an aviation stamp in mind. I’ll be happy to get you on the right track and save you from shooting yourselves in the foot again. Meanwhile, start sweatin’ the small stuff!

Cemetery Studies

Following up on some earlier cemetery coverage, here is a bit more RCAF history from St. John’s Norway Cemetery. I spotted these two graves during a walk on September 11.

With 11 men killed, January 26, 1942 was a dark day for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, its darkest to date. Included among the dead was Sgt Alfred C. Cornell, age 26. Having attended Danforth Technical School in Toronto, before enlisting in the RCAF he had been an optician at Robert Simpson Co. in Toronto. He was married and had two small children. Killed with Cornell when they crashed in Harvard 3237 was Sgt Gordon F. Clark, age 23 of Kingston. They had been on a flight from No.2 Service Flying Training School at Uplands, Ottawa. Cornell’s funeral took place on January 30. Clark is buried in Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston.
Memorialized on his family marker in St. John’s Norway is navigator, WO2 John W. Dickson, a pioneer night fighter airborne intercept navigator with RCAF 409 Squadron. Flying in a Beaufighter IIF from Colby Grange, on August 3, 1941 he and F/O Bruce A. Hanbury, a former TCA pilot, made 409’s first GCI (ground controlled intercept). Tragedy struck on March 27, 1942 when S/L Hanbury (age 21 from Vancouver, a 1 Squadron RCAF Battle of Britain veteran), P/O Philip M. Sweet (age 21 from Huron, South Dakota) and FSgt Dickson died in a Beaufighter training accident. Suddenly, Beaufighter T3142 had entered  a flat spin from which Hanbury could not recover. The crew was laid to rest in Scopwick Church Burial Ground, England. Often, such airmen are remembered on the stone marking their family burial plot in Canada.

CANAV’s Blog for Summer 2022

RCAF 100th Anniversary Project + The Great George Fuller Passes + Nostalgia Time & Commentary + A Few Old Milberry Pix + Rants + Leslie Corness Classic + Old Malton Airport Scene + De Havilland Open House: End of an Era + Cemetery Studies + Blogs of Years Gone By + “Ghost Canso” Update + Aviation Adverts from the Early 1950s + Order your Autographed Copy of Air Transport in Canada  + Obituary … Last Survivor of Japanese Prison Camps in Taiwan

Just so you have your copy and haven’t missed anything, here’s our current main booklist:

Part of the scene at the spectacular De Havilland of Canada “send-off” at Downsview on June 11, 2022. History and nostalgia really came together this day. It was especially wonderful meeting the likes of the great Dan McNiven here. An unforgettably fantastic Canadian, always chipping in at the Great War Flying Museum, etc., Dan excelled in aviation, even found time to support CANAV Books whenever something arose like a book launching. Scroll back and you’ll find Dan’s photo just as he usually looked. No pretensions with this King of Canadian Aviation. Dan died in Milton, Ontario on July 27.


Greetings from CANAV Books World HQ, where we’ve been publishing since 1981. Who knows how long we’ll be keeping this up, but certainly long enough to publish the grandest ever single volume history of the RCAF. We did this in 1984 with the RCAF’s 60th anniversary title, Sixty Years. This beauty remains the best such book to date. Amazingly, after five printings and 20,000+ copies Sixty Years is still in print for anyone needing a copy.

2024 will bring you CANAV’s RCAF 100th book, an even more fantastic history. Naturally, there will be a host of such books, but none will come close to CANAV’s in depth and breadth of written history, combined with superb photo coverage, design, paper quality and all else that goes into a top book. CANAV fans know what we’re talking about here and can’t wait to place their orders.

Highly recommended from the CANAV Blog Archive … Enter Mission to Krasnoyarsk in the search box for some very special CanForces air transport coverage.

RCAF T-33 Update

The wonderful T-33 still gets into the news, have a look:


The Great George Fuller Passes

Today (July 4, 2022), George A. Fuller, one of Canada’s top aviation historians, died peacefully at home in Montreal. George was CAHS Member No.56. I first met him in the early 1960s, while on a trip to the Quebec Winter Carnival with fellow aviation fans Nick Wolochatiuk and Paul Regan. We visited George at his cozy apartment at 50 Hudson Ave and were warmly welcomed. Later, when he was in the Anaconda Brass office in New Toronto, we’d get together, and also would see each other at local CAHS meetings and aviation events. Ever since those ancient days, we kept on touch. If for no other reason, George would call to make sure the Milberry kids were behaving. He had met them at CANAV book launches when they were little and had been impressed.

George especially was interested in the earliest days of flight in Canada — balloons and dirigibles from the 19th Century, then the great Montreal Air Meets of 1910-11. Everything else about early Quebec aviation especially fascinated him. Veteran CAHS member, Sheldon Benner, adds a few memories: “The last time I talked to George was 9 months ago when he called to say that Paddy Gardiner (#125) had passed away. George was 94 and would have celebrated his 95th birthday in September. As you know he was a regular contributor to their Chapter’s newsletter and submitted 19 articles for the CAHS Journal in the period of 1963 to 2008.  He was a co-author of 125 Years of Canadian Aeronautics – A Chronology 1840-1965 published in 1983 with John Griffin (#160) and Ken Molson (#361) by the CAHS National. He also contributed to the Special Edition of the CAHS Journal in 2009 to honour the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada.”

It’s not the best photo, but here’s George (left) in his trademark pose at our June 11, 1985 book launch for Z.L. “Lewie” Leigh’s book, And I Shall Fly. On George’s left are two other fantastic CAHS types, Fred Hotson and Johnny Biehler.

Calgary Mosquito Aircraft Society … As usual, things are hopping at this go-getting museum. Check in here to see what’s happening, including restoration of one of the famed Spartan Air Services Mosquitos:  https://calgarymosquitosociety.com/feature83/feature83.htm And … check out the museum home page for membership info.

Have you seen this hilarious VW advert? Reklama kone-Wolksvagen.mp4

Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of CAE Inc.of Montreal. This in mind, if you’ve seen our fantastic book Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, you’ll be interested in this fastidiously-detailed aerospace history. Google CAEvideogallery for an update about the company, and see CAE’s new logo.

Here’s a special deal for your signed copy of the CAE book (392 pages, large format, 100s of photos). Usually $65.00 + shipping + tax, mention this offer and get a copy all-in for: (Canada) $55.00, (USA) $60.00, International $95.00. Pay straight to larry@canavbooks.com and your book will be in the mail within hours. Certainly, for Canadian aviation bibliophiles, this is one of the most thoroughly written and beautifully produced books about our aviation industry.

You’ll read about CAE’s early struggles, its intimate connection with the CF-100, Argus and CF-104, then its battle to rise to the top in commercial flight simulation (that’s where it sits today). Besides all the expected technology history (which is fascinating for any serious aviation reader), you’ll marvel at CAE’s involvement in the DEW Line, aircraft overhaul (T-33, CF-104, F-84F, C-119, Viscount, etc.), trying its hand building bush planes, its automotive and forestry years, its key role with the Space Shuttle, the amazing systems it developed for warships and commercial vessels, etc. Take it from the author, if you’re a fan of CANAV Books, once you get your hands on this one, you’ll agree with me that it’s probably the best and most beautiful all ’round Canadian aviation book ever published. CAE’s longest serving CEO, the late Doug Reekie, once summed up this incredible book, writing to me: “You deserve a great deal of credit for undertaking this task and for doing it so well. There should be a medal for you for perseverance.” If it’s solid Canadian aviation history that you enjoy, get in on this deal. You’ll be a happy camper with your signed copy of The CAE Story! If you already have your copy, think about the CAE Story as a very special gift for any aviation pal, customer, supplier, etc. Cheers … Larry

Nostalgia Time & Commentary

In Toronto back around 1960 we teenage spotters watched eagerly for any chance for a special new photo. My boyhood mentor back then was Merlin J. “Mo” Reddy. Mo had been a radar tech with 410 Squadron in the UK during the war, and when we met he was a technical writer working on DND manuals for a company in Willowdale, Ontario called Technical Economists. Mo and I spent many a day sleuthing around Toronto’s Malton and Downsview airports hoping to catch something new. Here are three typical Mo Reddy RCAF pix, all taken “back in the day” on Ektachrome 120 and shot with Mo’s “2¼” Yashica twin lens.

First, here’s Mo’s nice, slightly-rear view of RCAF Dakota KG587, which we spotted at Malton on September 11, 1959. These were the days when RCAF units sometimes had showy colour schemes, something that always really got us going. In the background is the club house of the Toronto Flying Club, and you can tell that this is a late evening shot. KG587 had begun in May 1944 with the RAF. It served RAF 48 squadron and RCAF 435 and 436 squadrons before war’s end, so likely served in India/Burma. Postwar it had several assignments until joining 102 (Composite) Unit at Trenton in 1959. Somewhere along the line this spiffy paint job was approved. By 1968 KG587 was in Winnipeg with 440 Squadron, then in 1970 became CAF 12931. Its air force days seem to have ended with a tour at the CAF Airborne Sensing Unit at Uplands, then it began a long civil career, including with Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife as C-GRTM. In 1985 it became N115SA in North Carolina and presently (nearly 80 years since built) is in the collection of the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum in Portland, Oregon.

Sometimes we’d be waiting and pacing around beside Wilson Avenue at the south end of Downsview’s main runway. This was a favourite spot to catch RCAF and de Havilland planes landing. One of our favourite types, of course, was the RCAF’s C-119 Flying Boxcar. These often were in the circuit, for Boxcar operator 436 Squadron was based here. On May 2, 1959 Mo and I were hanging out when 22123 rumbled in to land. I love the looks of Mo’s shot. Really a great angle in the late evening light. Of course, no such early photos ever were perfect. Focusing manually while panning was a fine art at which we often fell short. Then, there’s Ektachrome’s graininess and other issues that we faced doing “real” photography. But … for the day, this qualified as quite a decent airplane photo. This evening from Wilson Ave. we also spotted C-119 22129, RCN Avengers 53697, 53804 and 86180, and DHC-4 Caribou No.1 CF-KTK-X.

Mo’s nice side view of RCAF Expeditor 1534 was made at Dorval on Christmas Day 1959. He always could get on the ramp at Dorval, where his brother, Frank, was a senior Department of Transport man. Expeditor 1534 had joined the RCAF in March 1952, then served steadily into 1968, when it was sold into the USA and converted by Hamilton Aircraft of Tucson, mods including a cargo door. As N6686, then N38CB, it toiled in the freight business for many years. Since leaving the RCAF it spent most of its time hard at work in the air freight business, but in the last 25 or so years has been in private hands and has been converted back to Beech 18 executive standards. First to fly N38CB privately was Doug Sellix in the late 1990s. Today it’s based in Athens, Georgia, where it’s being refurbished yet again, this time by airline pilot John Cartwright. Airframe hours to date for 1534/N38CB total a very impressive 16,280. You can see an impressive gallery of Mo Reddy’s wide-ranging photos in Vol.2 of Air Transport in Canada.

Next … here’s one of the most glorious views of any TCA DC-3. It’s from an original 4×5 Kodachrome transparency made by Canadair c.1946. CF-TEC had been RAF KG485. It joined the TCA fleet in May 1946, served into 1958, then became CF-DTB with Canada’s Department of Transport. After more than 35 years with the DOT, it moved on in 1998 to Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife. About 2016 “DTB” left Buffalo to become N856KB with Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh. As recently as August 2020 it’s been photographed there out in the weather and still in its (fading) red-and-white DOT colours.

A Few Old Milberry Pix + Museum Rant

Here are some ancient Kodachrome 35s that I came across lately. These are always nice to look back upon. First is a shot I took of the sole Canadair C-5, the RCAF’s premier VIP transport in the 1950s. Many a head-of-state flew aboard the C-5. What a beautiful propliner! See the C-5 story in our book, The Canadair North Star.

What a shame that such a beautiful plane had to go into storage and not to a museum. Here it is as I saw it collecting dust at Mountain View (near Trenton) on June 11, 1966, after its retirement. From here it was sold for peanuts, then went for scrap in California. Letting such treasures end so badly should be considered an assault on Canadian heritage, yet our history and heritage bureaucrats in Ottawa have committed many such nefarious acts. Look how our prototype CF-100 went for scrap after being turned down by our aviation museum in Ottawa? Meanwhile, do you think the Americans scrapped their presidential DC-4, etc? Not a chance, for they know the cultural importance of “Air Force One”.

You likely heard lately that the same place (Canada Aviation and Space Museum) recently (as reported widely) had turned down an RCAF De Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo. About this, the “Ottawa Citizen” of June 6 reported: “The lack of interest from Ottawa’s national aviation museum in acquiring the Royal Canadian Air Force’s last available Buffalo aircraft has prompted a U.S. organization to make a bid for the plane.” However, the CASM via its overseeing body, “Ingenium”, reports (July 4) that, contrary to “The Citizen” (which has apologized for some incorrect reporting) it has “voted to acquire the Buffalo and we are working closely with DND to prepare for its arrival next summer.” What a relief to all who support Canada’s aviation heritage.

Here’s another historic Canadian transport plane, the first of two CanForces Dash 7s. I shot 132001 (Dash 7 No.8 of 113) at Lahr, West Germany on March 11, 1987, when it was serving 412 Squadron’s 1 Canadian Air Group Lahr detachment. Taken on strength in August 1979, 132001 served to April 1987, then became C-GJSZ back at DHC. “JSZ” then was sold to Arkia in Israel, where it flew as 4X-AHI. Reportedly, “AHI” has gone for scrap. The Dash 7 story is well outlined in Fred Hotson’s book, De Havilland in Canada.

An airplane hobbyist couldn’t photograph a lovelier subject than the T-33, one of the most aesthetically appealing airplane designs. Beautiful just sitting there, let alone in flight. We always revelled in photographing any T-bird. In my own progression as an aviation “buff”, I eventually enjoyed a few great backseat T-bird flights, including with 414 Squadron from North Bay on June 26, 1991. At this time 414 has painted T- bird 133174 in a special 414 “Black Knight” Squadron colour scheme. Somehow, I got permission to do an air-to-air photo shoot of “174”. Capt Lou Glussich took me up in 133543 for an hour to get the job done. Today “174” belongs to the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum at Halifax International Airport.

Leslie Corness Classic

If you’ve been following our booklist and blog, you’re familiar with the spectacular photography of the late Leslie Corness of Edmonton. No one could capture the feel of an aviation scene better than Les. Lately, I came across this gem, one that I used in The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection. Can you imagine being on the ramp this day in the early 1950s at Edmonton Industrial Airport when it was packed with airshow planes of the postwar era! Les being Les found himself a high vantage point to capture his C-124A Globemaster (51-5176) scene just the way he wanted. This grand propliner ended its days on April 2, 1957. On landing at Cambridge Bay, NWT that day, it touched down short, tearing off its undercarriage. Rumour has it that it’s still at the bottom of Cambridge Bay. See our booklist (above) to order the Corness book at a very nice price.

Old Malton Airport Scene

In going through some of my old Al Martin photos I found yet another fantastic image from long ago. Al passionately photographed at Malton (today’s “YYZ”) in the 1950s-60s, and collected anything else he could about the place. So … I wasn’t surprised when I found a large format b/w aerial view of Malton early in its “Aeroquay” years (Malton’s modern circular terminal opened 1964). However, Terminal 2, which opened in 1972, also is here. T.M. “Tom” McGrath’s invaluable book History of Canadian Airports tells the story of Malton/YYZ in detail, including about all such history. This is a priceless book, so see if you can track down a copy.

Many of us remember Malton in these times. Our favourite vantage point was the roof (parking lot) of the Aeroquay. Whoever took this magnificent photo (the great Les Baxter took most such photos for the DOT, City of Toronto, etc. using a small plane based at Toronto Island Airport, aerial photography was Les’ business) did so just as the aircraft at the Aeroquay included 2 Air Canada DC-8s, 2 Air Canada DC-9s, an Air Canada Viscount, an American Airlines 727, an Allegheny “580” and a United 737. In the distance is a 707 on an overseas charter. Looks a bit like Donaldson. Centre left you can see the airport admin building. The tall white building in the distance is the then new (now demolished) Constellation Hotel at Airport Road and Carlingview. Top center with the treeline in the foreground is the iconic Skyline Hotel. Notice how there’s lots of open space in this view that looks southward towards Toronto. You won’t find much open space there today. This is the sort of aviation history photo that people can stare at for an hour, it’s so packed with detail. Anyway, as far as this YYZ scene goes, there’s next to nothing remaining from it in 2022. Thank goodness that Al Martin filed this gorgeous photo away. His photos also are featured in Air Transport in Canada. Just now you still can get a set of this huge, 1030-page 2-volume title (usually $155++) for $65 all-in. Want a set? Drop me a line larry@canavbooks.com . For that matter, also get yourself a copy of The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection at $40 all-in (offers for Canada only, USA and overseas drop me a line for a price). You’ll count these as two of the top books in your home library.

De Havilland Open House: End of an Era

A tarmac scene at Downsview from the De Havilland Canada June 11 open house.

To start, have a look at this short overview of the day as produced by DHC: Thank you Downsview – YouTube

On Saturday, June 11, 2022 thousands of retirees and friends gathered at De Havilland Aircraft of Canada at Downsview to close a famous page in Canadian aviation history. Founded in 1928, DHC spent most of its years at Downsview. Starting with the tiny Gipsy Moth, then the whole UK Moth family, DHC made a huge, deserved name for itself. First, it provided training planes to the flying clubs and RCAF, then bush planes to operators everywhere in Canada, anything from Gipsys to the big Dragon and Rapide twins. Come WWII and everything changed, for airplanes were needed quickly and in great numbers for the RCAF, especially for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. First came the D.H.82C Tiger Moth trainer (1384 delivered), then the Anson II (375 assembled from UK stock) and the Mosquito bomber (1033). Post WWII DHC soon recovered from the doldrums created when the war ended and all contracts were cancelled. First, DHC built some new Fox Moths to help small commercial operators get a start (some of these became Canada’s first postwar airplanes for export). The Chipmunk, Beaver and Otter soon were being built at Downsview, then a long list of types that you know so well, everything from the Caribou, Buffalo, Twin Otter, Dash 7 and the whole Dash 8 family to the magnificent Q400. All this history is best enjoyed in Fred Hotson’s magnificent book De Havilland in Canada (copies usually can be found on the web). The company now is leaving Downsview for good. For now it still is building new Twin Otters and upgraded Canadair water bombers in BC and Alberta. Let’s hope that the Q400 soon enjoys a renaissance. For all the basic DHC gen see www.vikingair.com . All the very best to De Havilland of Canada. Here are a few photos (taken by me unless noted) covering DHC’s grand June 11 send-off. The company did a fantastic job of finding examples of most types to fly in for the event (after you’ve had a look, you’ll figure which ones were missing).

Beautifully-restored ex- RCAF Tiger Moth CF-CKF. As RCAF 3932, it had served through the war at 1 Elementary Flying Training School at Malton, where it piled up 2024:50 flying hours. After the war Watt Martin of Eden Mills, Ontario acquired 3932 from War Assets Disposal for a few hundred dollars. Today it’s still flown by Watt’s son, Don, from the same family farm where it’s been for decades. In the cockpit view that’s aircraft restorer Les Balla in the front cockpit with Don behind.
The late DHC test pilot, George Neil, flew this lovely DHC-1 Chipmunk for many years from Brampton. Today it’s based at Collingwood on Georgian Bay, where it’s still lovingly treated.
Three different Beavers attended: C-GDWP on amphibious floats, C-FPSM on wheels, and Turbo Beaver C-GODH.
C-FMAU is the Otter that the late Max Ward of Wardair used for years at his summer camp on the Copper Mine River, NWT. It had flown in to the DHC event from Edmonton. “MAU” is a “Texas Turbine” conversion using a 900-shp Garrett engine. Ted Larkin caught “MAU” in flight.
This spiffy DHC-4 Caribou arrived from south of the border. N302PT is one of the turboprop conversions done by PenTurbo Aviation of Cape May, New Jersey. Ted Larkin shot the side view as N302PT landed, while Parr Yonemoto took the arrival shot at sunset. This Caribou originally served the Kuwaiti Air Force.
De Havilland Canada provided this gorgeous new Twin Otter 400. The company has delivered more than a hundred of these durable utility planes around the world.
This Air Tindi Dash 7 flew down all the way from Yellowknife. This is another solid old DHC type that keeps on keeping on year after year. Ted Larkin caught C-GCEV on arrival at Downsview.
DHC’s premier model remains the Q400. Ted Larkin photographed C-FJJA on departure from Downsview. There’s another “JJA” on this blog. If curious, put CF-JJA in the search box (you’ll be surprised at what you find).
The DHC event was a great chance for people watching. Here (always left to right for the people pictures) are Dan McNiven and Dave Crerar, captain on the Max Ward Otter. Dan passed away on July 27. Here are some inspirational words from his obituary: “Dan resided on the family farm in Vulcan until he left to attend S.A.I.T ( Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) pursuing a career as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer… Dan started his career as an aircraft maintenance engineer at P.W.A. until he joined Wardair, the best airline ever, in 1967. He worked as an A.M.E climbing the ranks quickly until he was promoted to V.P. of maintenance and engineering. He achieved this goal due to his quick thinking, integrity, resourcefulness and desire to be a leader… He was also a member of The Great War Flying Museum where he had a part in the restoration and upkeep of many heritage aircraft from the First World War.” (see our earlier GWFM blog entries)
Tom Appleton and Dan McNiven. Tom flew most of the DHC-5 Buffalo trials in the 1960s, then finished at DHC/Bombardier as V-P of the amphibious (CL-215/415) division.
Photographers and all ‘round aviation fans Ted Larkin and Brandon Siska. Ted’s a photographer/writer, Brandon flies for Air North.
Old time DHC employee and long-time member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Sheldon Benner, shows his very first pay cheque from DHC. It dates away back to 1962.
Dogged aviation nerds Ken Swartz and Sheldon Benner. Then, Gus and Clara Corujo and (middle) Parr Yonemoto. These are the types we depend on to record, share and preserve for all time everything that goes on in Canadian aviation from coast to coast.
Andy Cline of AvWorld with Larry Milberry. Then, myself with Sheldon. (Para Yonemoto)
Here are a few photos taken ‘round and about on the tarmac and display hangar.
Here’s the main DHC/Bombardier office building from the 1950s. It’s still in use. Then, the memorial to those from DHC who gave their lives during WWII.
Bombardier opened its doors as well on June 11, for many working there today also date back the DHC times. It was really great to have a look at the Global Express line, then at the new 7500 bizjet. One of the fellows mentioned to us that they have delivered some 1000 “Globals” so far, so what a feather on their cap and Canada’s, right!

Bonus DHC video. Here’s a 15 minute add-on to this fascinating story. Ride a Dash 7 from Yellowknife to Downsview for the DHC final open house: FLYING ON A RARE DASH 7! De Havilland Canada Downsview Farewell – YouTube

Cemetery Studies

Ever since the 1960s I’ve been fascinated by “cemetery studies”. Whatever the subject someone may be following, there’s a wealth of history to learn by pacing the rows of grave markers and reading the inscriptions. Of the many great sources of aviation history, cemeteries may not leap to mind, but they are part of the picture. For serious historians, for example, they are important in confirming dates and correct spellings. On June 5 I visited St. John’s Norway Cemetery in my Toronto neighbourhood. We used to play here as kids back in the 1950s. Here are a few photos from this interesting foray.

Many military stones in Canadian cemeteries have no actual remains of the people named. But families needed to remember their lost sons, etc. and you can see why sand how this works out after so many decades. Here, P/O Charles S. Thomson is memorialized on the family stone. Charles lost his life while crewing on 419 Squadron Lancaster KB769 (built at Malton) during a raid on Leuna on the night of January 14/15, 1945. Some 573 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitos were involved in the operation. The target was one of Hitler’s vital synthetic gasoline factories. The place was severely damaged, greatly harming Germany’s final efforts to continue the war. Having bombed, KB769 had turned for home at Middleton-St.-George when a Luftwaffe fighter pounced on it. KB769 went down in flames taking six crew to their deaths. Only F/O J.O. Eddy somehow managed to parachute to safety. He finished his war as a POW.
John Wilson Frizelle of Toronto was instructing at 14 Service Flying Training School at Aylmer, Ontario late in the war. On January 20, 1945 he was taking part in an Army co-operation exercise. These were a good break from instructing and allowed for pretty well unrestricted low flying. In this case, Frizelle got down really low. As he passed over a truck, the wing of his Harvard (2869) struck and killed a soldier, then Frizelle crashed fatally nearby. Normally, the markers for RCAF men include the RCAF crest or wings. But … quite often no mention at all is made of a man’s air force connections. It’s a bit odd sometimes.
Here’s another case of memorializing a son killed across the seas, F/O Alistair Keith Price. The war was over when Price died. At the time he was a Spitfire pilot with 416 Squadron with the British occupation forces at Utterson, Germany. On his fateful day, Price had been taking off when he had engine failure and crashed. At his funeral in Hamburg Cemetery, 10 of his squadron mates flew overhead in salute and a final goodbye. Then, a photo of 416 pilots during the occupation. F/O Price is bottom left. (I used the flash for this shot. I think I was better off not using flash, better just using natural light.)
The Bridgeman family stone in St. John’s Norway with Marcel Rene Bridgeman at the top. On October 11, 1942 LAC Bridgeman was killed in a bus accident near Calgary.
On November 19, 1941 LAC Robert Haig Guthrie of Toronto was on a night training exercise from 13 Service Flying Training Station at St. Hubert, near Montreal. Flying Harvard 3110, he suddenly was engulfed in fog. In trying to find the aerodrome, he crashed fatally into a barn. Guthrie had been living on Blantyre Avenue, not far from where he’s buried. He recently had married.
LAC Herbert John Lee had been making a single engine approach in Anson 6191 at 16 Service Flying Training Station at Hagersville, Ontario, when he crashed fatally on June 14, 1943. Note that he was an older fellow for the time – age 28. Most such students were in the 18 to 22 age range.
Sgt Victor George De Havilland of Toronto somehow was related to “the” De Havilland family. On September 15, 1942 he was training in a 9 Air Observers School Anson from St. Hubert. Aboard with him were Sgt T.P. Fraser, RAAF and LAC W.H.F. Smale, RAF. Spotting a sailing vessel below in Lake St. Francis near Cornwall, Ontario, Victor decided to “beat it up”. Instead, he crashed into it with fatal results to all on the Anson. At the time, Victor had been living with his mother, Mrs. C.G. De Havilland at 117 Danforth Avenue in east Toronto. His name is inscribed on the DHC WWII memorial at the Downsview plant.
Here’s the simple grave marker for Georgina and Donald Crumb at St. John’s Norway. I knew them and spent many good hours with Don chatting about his tour in India/Burma flying P-47 Thunderbolts in a RAF squadron (see Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace, Vol.1). I attended his funeral here in 2012. Passersby will never know what a great fighter pilot Don had been in his day. Then, an old family photo of Don and Georgina, and one of him that I took around 2000. Note Don’s nifty vanity licence plate. Many more such stones can be found in St. John’s Norway. With every one there’s a story. I may add a few more of these stories next time.

Blogs of Years Gone By

Our blog by now includes hundreds of stories and reports, and innumerable photos. You can take in some of these by scrolling back, but it’s a long way back to 2009. These are a few that I recommend … just enter some key word in the search box. Have a look, you’ll not be wasting a minute:

Visiting Lakehead Airport 1961
Great War Flying Museum
East Africa Adventure, Summer 1994
Boeing 727 Turns 50
Typhoon and Tempest – Reminiscences
Typhoons and CF-100s
Old Canadair CRJs Go for Scrap
440 Squadron Gets together
The Great Bob Halford
Canada’s Enduring DC-3s
Some Great Lakes Shipping Photos
Visiting the 10th Mountain Division

“Ghost Canso” Update

In June 2022 transportation and industrial history aficionado, Jim Christie, and a pal visited Gananoque, Ontario for some boating and to do a bit of history sleuthing. They inspected the old Link buildings in town, then drove up to the airport. Now used mainly for sport parachuting, the airport was built during the war as a satellite for the RAF BCATP flying school in Kingston, a few miles to the west on Lake Ontario. At Gananoque they inspected what I call in earlier blogs the “Ghost Canso”. You can see this detailed story by putting “Ghost Canso” into the CANAV blog search box (the blog is www.canavbooks.wordpress.com); or search by dates: May 18, 2020 and December 15, 2020. This time the Canso was found in poor-looking condition. The WWII hangar clearly needs repairs. You can see that the Canso now is partially disassembled. This had to be done to get it back into the hangar, the doors of which need fixing. Let’s hope Canso CF- JTL has better days ahead. Photos via Jim Christie.

Aviation Adverts from the Early 1950s

Everyone has enjoyed our earlier blogs covering advertisements from aviation magazines of yesteryear. You can find these by using the blog search box entering such dates as: February 23, 2022; March 9, 2022; April 9, 2022. Today, here are a few more, these from the October 1952 edition of “Canadian Aviation” magazine. There’s a lot of general Canadian history to learn from these (about the industry and products to what was happening in the world) and the art and illustration can be superb. Who can even do such work (by hand) in the 2020?

Order your autographed copy of Air Transport in Canada today. Supplies are dwindling. Get these two massive volumes (Canada’s grandest ever aviation history book with 1 million+ words and 3500+ photos (weighs 5+kg) at a fantastic price. “ATC” sells at $155++. This offer? $65 all-in for Canada, CAD$80 all-in for USA, CAD$160 all-in overseas. “ATC” will give you a lifetime of great, enjoyable reading. Take it from the author! Cheers … Larry
Late arrivals. Ref. our Mo Reddy photo at the top of this blog posting showing RCAF Expeditor 1534: current owner, John Cartwright in Georgia, provides this early post-RCAF view of 1534, when it was operated by Detroit-based cargo carrier Bard Air. Then, a view of it in John’s hangar. John notes: “I’m nearing the end of some extended maintenance on the airplane which included both X-ray and ultrasonic inspection of the wing spar. It is a tribute to Beechcraft’s excellent design that the spar met the upper end of all dimensional standards even after 70 years of service. Here are two pics. The first is how 1534 (Beech serial number CA134) as it appeared during most of its working life. The second is in my hanger yesterday. The overhauled props are ready for installation after I paint the fuselage and wings. The color scheme will be circa 1942 US Army olive drab and gray, as seen on the cowling (apologies to the RCAF).”

Veteran POW Dies, Where Is Japan’s Apology?

Ottawa is world famous by now for its propensity to apologize for absolutely any real or perceived “past transgression”. It gets a little ridiculous some days. Japan on the other side has barely apologized for one of its countless horrible atrocities, which far exceeded those of the Nazis. By comparison, we here in Canada have almost nothing for which to apologize, especially in the context of what, for example, comprised actual human development, progress, etc., in centuries gone by. I hope there are realistic books about this subject in the works “as we speak”, for Canadians need a reality check about their past, about whom were/are the truly great Canadians (John A. Macdonald, Egerton Ryerson, Samuel de Champlain, etc). On July 11, the Hamilton Spectator covers this important topic with its feature about a great soldier and what Japan did to him … and millions of others. This is fact and reality. An apology from Japan would be welcomed, but we won’t hold our breath. Canada by comparison? Ottawa … please stop already with the endless vote-pandering apologies:

Obituary: Burlington veteran Adam Houston was last survivor of Japanese prison camps in TaiwanFormer British soldier worked 12-hour days in copper mine, brutally beaten

By Daniel NolanContributor

Adam Houston was a hardworking Canada Post worker and an active member of many Burlington clubs, but he could never forget his time in a Japanese prison camp during the Second World War. The former British soldier talked of having nightmares about his experience working in a copper mine in Taiwan, including the time he received a beating from a guard and was left for dead because he was too weak to work. He spent 12-hour days toiling in the cold, dark mines, scrubbing the wall for copper in 1943 and 1944. He and other prisoners dug the copper out with small shovels and put it into bamboo baskets. Many dropped half their weight.

After the beating, other PoWs carried Houston over a mountain and back to the camp. He spent months in a coma and was moved to two other camps before the war ended. “It’s very hard to talk about what happened in the mines,” he told The Burlington Post in 2005 after he visited Taiwan to take part in the dedication of a PoW memorial park. “I nearly broke down. Too many memories come back . . . the memories are difficult to forget. I think people need to know these sorts of things happened.” Still, he counted some good fortune out of it. “I think I got off lightly being out (of the mine) after a year,” he said. Houston — who died April 13 at age 100 — was part of the British force in Singapore that surrendered to the Japanese on Feb. 15, 1942. Canadian historian Michael Hurst, who has written extensively about the camps since 1997, said Houston was the last remaining Taiwan PoW.

Former Golden Hawk Donates Plane + Passing of J.F. “Stocky” Edwards & Bjarni Tryggvason + 737 Flight with CHRONO to the High Arctic +The Versatile Dove and Heron + More B-23 + Air Show Season + Old DHC Adverts + Flashy New Twin E-Plane

Former Golden Hawk, George Miller, has donated his personal airplane. See this important Canadian aviation heritage story. Google it: “New Brunswick Aviation Museum Update 2022-06”

CANAV News … I’ve been buried lately keeping on top of CANAV’s 2024 book project — our grand history of the RCAF in its 100th Anniversary. This is one of CANAV’s grandest and most important aviation book projects, but it’s gobbling up much of my and co-author Hugh Halliday’s time. For now, the blog is taking a bit of a back seat. Meanwhile, treat yourself by scrolling back in the blog, where you’ll fine plenty of enticing items that you haven’t yet digested and many others you’ll enjoy re-reading, whatever your interests.

J.F. “Stocky” Edwards & Bjarni Tryggvason … People everywhere were saddened lately to hear of Stocky’s & Bjarni’s passings. Stocky died in Comox at age 100 on May 14. Truly one of the great, all ’round Canadians, Stocky excelled as a WWII fighter pilot and postwar commanded a wing of RCAF Sabres. Look just at this one recognition — the citation for Stocky’s 1944 Distinguished Flying Medal: “Flight Sergeant Edwards is an extremely capable soldier and a superbly gallant fighter pilot. Since October 1942, he has destroyed six enemy aircraft while participating in numerous sorties over enemy territory. He has displayed outstanding coolness and courage in the face of opposition while his cheerful and imperturbable spirit has been an inspiration to the squadron.” Then … the citation for the Bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross: “This officer has successfully completed a very large number of operational flights and has destroyed thirteen enemy aircraft. He is a keen and courageous pilot whose example and leadership have been most inspiring.” Talk about impressive, right, and what an inspiration to any aspiring young Canadian aviator. It was an honour to know Stocky, who was one of my earliest supporters back in the 70s, when I was getting into the history game. We last visited in 2016. You’ll see some good new coverage about Stocky in our upcoming RCAF 100th Anniversary book. You can see a wonderful photo of him on the cover of Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace, Vol.1. Not surprisingly, Stocky and Bjarni were members of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. For a good summary of Bjarni’s amazing accomplishments, see: http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-040622a-canadian-astronaut-bjarni-tryggvason-obituary.html

737 Flight to the Mary River Mine on Baffin Island

You’re really going to enjoy this short video featuring an old 737-200 of Chrono Aviation of St. Hubert. This versatile company’s fleet includes the old “200” that remains one of the Arctic’s most versatile jetliners, equipped as it is with a gravel kit allowing operations on rough strips. This is the host’s first Arctic trip, so he’s a bit cranked up. Never mind, he does a good job, certainly gets across his main points. Well done for a fellow from Dubai landing at Iqaluit and Mary River in the dead of winter. The Chrono crew also is great to watch in action, full marks for them. This sure reminds me of several similar northern trips (mainly in winter) over the decades on the Argus, C-46, Convair, DC-4, 737 and 748. Sit back and enjoy this one — 20 minutes well spent, especially for the armchair aviator. Cheers … Larry

The Dove and Heron in Canada

Our feature aircraft for this cycle of the CANAV Blog are the De Havilland D.H.104 Dove and D.H.114 Heron, two beloved types from the UK’s aircraft industry in early post-WWII times. Naturally, they were of great interest to DH in Canada, which in the initial flurry of publicity sold more than a dozen as corporate aircraft. Needless to say, the Dove and Heron were real treats for we aircraft spotters.

Canada’s first two Doves: In March 1946 DHC acquired Canada’s first Dove c/n 4015 CF-DJH. No one was surprised to see that DHC soon tried “DJH” on floats, although no Dove ever operated this way. In the left seat in this glorious scene is DHC’s legendary test pilot, George Neal. Here, he’s over the east end of Toronto Bay with the vast Victory Mills elevators beyond. “DJH” was sold in the US in October 1951, becoming N91827. In 1958 it was with the Wheaton Glass Co. in New Jersey, but in 1961 was replaced by an OnMark A-26. It’s then said to have gone to Alaska, where it was wrecked in an accident. In more modern times “DJH” was a DHC-2 Turbo Beaver. (DHC)
Dove c/n 4001, CF-BNU was registered in Canada in August 1946. In 1953 it was sold in the US as N73795. This registration was cancelled in 1961. Tony Merton-Jones of “Propliner” adds that when this Dove was sold to Mike Keegan’s Trans World Leasing in the UK in June 1961, it became G-ARGN. Having arrived at Southampton Docks by ship, it did not fly again until December 1967, following a rebuild by Rogers Aviation at either Cranfield or Little Staughton. G-ARGN flew little thereafter and seems to have faded away. (Al Martin)

Soon after WWII several small 5-to-8 seat twins were vying for the Canadian air taxi and executive markets. However, they had to compete with war surplus types such as the Anson, Beech 18, Cessna T-50, etc. For surplus aircraft, “the price was right” for that category, so sales weren’t easy for such types as new Beech 18s or the UK’s premier offering, the De Havilland D.H.104 Dove. Beech knew its North American market well, while DH mainly knew its home and Dominion markets, having done very well pre-WWII with such popular twins as the D.H.84 Dragon and D.H.89 Rapide biplanes. The Dove having flown in September 1945, it was evident that DH had been designing it well before the bullets had stopped flying. The Dove began with two 330-hp DH Gipsy Queens, but DH soon upped the power to 340, then 380. Once the C of A was awarded, the sales force and company demonstrator G-AHRB moved out across the world to find buyers. In spite of the Dove’s relatively steep ticket price compared to something like an Anson, sales were encouraging – eventually 500+ were built. On the homefront, various air taxi services and UK companies such as Dunlop Rubber, English Electric and Shell ordered executive Doves. The Rapide had been important in getting Canadian commercial aviation going in the 1930s, so the market was keen when the Dove reached Canada in the late 1940s. The big companies (where money was no object when it came to an executive plane) liked the Dove’s speed (150 mph) and roomy interior for 6 to 8 plus crew. We spotters photographed many a Dove at Toronto’s Malton Airport in the 1950s and early 1960s. Early Doves there were flying for the Massey Ferguson farm machinery empire, Imperial, Shell and Sunoco oil companies, and a big DEW Line contractor, Federal Industries. However, the photogenic little Dove faded quickly to second tier operators, when such types as the Gulfstream began appearing in 1960.

Al Martin’s views of Dove CF-ODI (c/n 4377) at Malton, then, Toronto Island. “ODI” had begun as CF-GBV. It flew the Atlantic in October 1952, then in December joined the Ontario government. Over the years it would call Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie home. In the first view, note the DHC logo, while in the second it bears the logo of Ontario’s Department of Lands and Forests. These are the little details that the spotters are forever noting, right. “ODI” served Ontario to March 1956, when it was taken back by De Havilland of Canada. It then was sold in July to Orenda Engines Ltd. of Malton. With the demise of the CF-105 and the Orenda Iroquois engine, in September 1959 “ODI” became N6503D with Ole Hansen and Sons, a New Jersey sand and gravel company. Later it joined Virgin Island Airways, but on July 15, 1965 it ended very badly. Taking off from Charlotte Amalie Airport on the island of St. Thomas, it stalled and crashed, killing 8 of the 12 people aboard. What a disaster, yet, in scouring the “Toronto Star” and “Globe and Mail” newspapers for that week, there was not a line to cover this disaster.

In gathering all the details for such a basic caption as re. CF-ODI, many sources must be used. I’m fortunate to have a large library of the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register (CCAR) beginning from 1955. I’m constantly referring to these, e.g., for dates of an aircraft’s registration and its owners over the years. A CCAR library is essential for doing serious civil aviation research in Canada. Then, Terry Judge’s CCAR website is indispensable. Since Terry chiefly uses original sources, his facts are extremely reliable. Have a look … google Historic CCAR Project. Of course, much else exists on the web for the Dove and Heron, two useful sites being the “rzjet” Dove and Heron production lists. These provide many facts, but such sites are works in progress, and some can be misleading, by jumbling facts, so use them with discretion. Check and double check your facts, right. You still can make the odd error – history’s a demanding business. Other sources that I consulted were the great Geoff Goodall’s Dove and Heron sites. Also important is the “Aviation Safety Network” website. In this case, I went to ASN’s Dove and Heron accident compilations. ASN is tops as to reliability. Some Doves and Herons were military, so www.warbirdregistry.org is another wealth of data. Believe it or not, I’m still using my ancient copy of Dove and Heron Production List No.2 from VHF Supplies in the UK; also A.J. Jackson’s seminal book, British Civil Aircraft 1919-59, Vol.1 (1959), which beautifully encapsulate the Dove and Heron stories. Happily, I still have my airport notes from the 1950s, so was able to look up my own observations re. Doves and Herons from the 50s-60s. It all comes together, but many sources have to be scoured for to put the simplest item together. CANAV’s own Air Transport in Canada also proved useful in getting this item together. Such books (yes, actual books made from paper, ink and glue) are essential. No researcher can function at a professional level without them, so a word to the wise to the dunces who have bought into the big lie that we no longer need books. The chief problem for such people is their laziness. Having 90-second attention spans, these iPhone addicts no longer can cope with the No.1 source for aviation history – books!

The spiffy-looking Massey Ferguson Dove (c/n 4335) at Malton c.1960. At this time “Massey” also had a Lodestar and a Ventura at Malton. CF-GYQ was registered in Canada in February In 1960 “Massey” purchased a new Gulfstream, which replaced the three older planes. Around December 1961 “GYQ” was sold to Gulf Leasing in the US as N424S, but later was N424SF with Trans National Airlines of San Francisco. On March 6, 1975 it was flying a TNA courier run from Paso Robles, California to Los Angeles in poor weather, when it ran into “cumulo granite”, killing the pilot. (Larry Milberry)
I photographed CF-GWC (c/n 4345) at Toronto Island Airport. This was another of the lovely Malton-based executive Doves. Kept in the Genaire hangar, it was owned by Toronto-based Caterpillar dealer, George W. Crothers. Around 1962 “GWC” was sold to Canadian Inspection and Testing Co. in Montreal. The following year, it was listed in Toronto to one of those fishy-sounding outfits – Sierra Leona Holdings Ltd. Having migrated to the US, “GWC” somehow retained its Canadian registration. The NTSB archives lists it as badly damaged on landing near Elyria, Ohio on June 2, 1967. It was struck from the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register c.1969.
Originally G-AMWZ with DH, CF-HGT (c/n 4388) was imported in May 1954 for Shell Oil of Canada. Shell later re-registered it CF-TCP. When sold in the US it became N6387T with Riley Aircraft, a US company specializing in converting aging Doves and Herons into commuter planes. Subsequently, it was N669R with Hawaii Sky Tours. Riley Dove and Heron conversions included major changes from a fuselage stretch to replacing the standard Gipsys with American engines. On November 3, 1969 N669R landed short at Kalaupapa airport. The undercarriage collapsed, but all 13 aboard survived. (Al Martin)
Shell’s former CF-HGT, CF-TCP was based in the Genaire hangar at Malton. The registration change was done when Shell started to market its special fuel additive “TCP” (triclesyl- phosfate). It left the CCAR in 1962. (Larry Milberry)
When we used to see this little beauty (c/n 4391) around Malton, it was owned by Federal Equipment Ltd., a big Canadian contractor doing work on the DEW Line. CF-FEL also “lived” in the Genaire hangar. The paint job was a bit wild – overall white with flashy “Day-Glo” red trim. Having come to Canada in October 1953, “FEL” had begun as CF-HGO with James M. Dunwoody, DCM, DSO, of Oakville, Ontario, founder of a prominent business consultancy. Next, “HGO” was listed with Consolidated Trucking of Toronto, then moved to Federal about 1959. Even later it was with Northgate Hotel of Toronto, then flew for a drugstore in Saskatoon as CF-POC. About 1966 it was sold in the USA as N228J and last was heard of at Sebring, Florida as recently as 2018. (Larry Milberry)
Registered in Canada in November 1952 to Solar Communications Ltd. of Calgary, Dove CF-GBE (c/n 4356) is seen later in the 50s at Malton in SUNOCO (Sun Oil Co.) colours. Much later it served Gordon Airways of Windsor, Ontario (see below). (Al Martin)
Construction Services of Calgary operated Dove CF- GQH (c/n 4281) from December 1950. It later was N6307T and last was heard of with Trans National Airlines in the 1970s. A note on the web states that it was cannibalized for spare parts. (Al Martin)
Seen at Malton, Dove CF-GBW (c/n 4385) served Shell Oil, then was N4041B of Air Wisconsin and Catalina-Vegas Airlines. It ended with Jimmy T. Thompson of Moses Lake, WA. On taking off there on May 15, 1973, one engine quit and the Dove was wrecked. (Al Martin)
Yet another Shell Dove. CF-EYM (c/n 4390) was based at the company’s Calgary HQ. It came to an ignominious ending there, destroyed in a hangar fire on December 6, 1954. In this era many corporate aircraft carried their company name and/or logo, or, a registration tied to their corporate image (Shell had a Cessna 310 CF- SHL). These days? No such thing, for corporate aviation in the 2000s is a highly secretive business. (Al Martin)

As evident in the captions, following their initial careers in the pampered world of corporate aviation, most Doves and Herons ended in the “real” working world of commuter and air taxi carriers. Here it was rare to see a mechanic wiping off unsightly oil or polishing windows. Around 1968 CF-GBE, which had been working in Canada since 1952, changed ownership from Skyline Hotels to Jack Wigle of Milton, Ontario. Then, it appears in the 1969 CCAR with Gordon Airways (1961-1970) of Windsor, Ontario. How did it end? (Neil A. Macdougall)
Another small Southern Ontario air service of the 1960s was Sarnia Airlines. About 1960 we started to see their Apache and Dove at Toronto. CF-LDE (c/n 4343) is shown in this Al Martin shot at the Genaire hangar at Malton. “LDE” originally had been N4269C with the Massey Harris US operation. It later returned to the US as N33AE, where it flew under the Trans National Airlines banner until retired.
Dove C-GEDT (c/n 4371) had begun with Riley Aircraft as N1564V, then was N85V. It came to Canada in 1975 for Canadian Voyageur Airlines, a company founded by entrepreneur O.J. “Bud” Mallory of Fort Frances in northwest Ontario. Its Doves connected Fort Frances with Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. CVA was Canada’s last Dove operator. (CANAV Books Col.)

The DH Dove’s Big Brother

Canada’s first Heron (April 1953), the fixed gear Mk.IB CF-EYX. (Al Martin)

Having succeeded with the Dove, De Havilland wanted to see what the market would say about a stretched version. Enter the Heron, first flown in 1950. Compared to the Dove, the Heron had four two 250- hp D.H. Gipsy engines. Being about nine feet longer, it carried as many as 17 passengers. Heron production totalled 149. It found its niche among commuter operators from the UK to Australia, Indonesia, throughout Africa, in the Caribbean, South America, etc. It proved to be rugged and economic, even if slow and underpowered with its Gipsys. The Heron did not catch on in Canada. The first was the Department of Transport’s CF-EXY with its fixed undercarriage. Delivered in 1953, “EYX” served to 1966, then was sold to Newfoundland Air Transport. After about two years there, it went to Aero Servicios in Honduras. On May 26, 1970 it crashed on approach to Tegucigalpa, killing all four aboard.

Canada’s next Heron was CF-IJR (c/n 14074), which De Havilland of Canada operated as a corporate plane from 1956-67. With DHC “IJR” had many uses, from getting executives to meetings around eastern Canada and the US, to rushing spare parts to customers in distress. Here is an early view of “IJR”, then one a bit later showing a DHC zapper plus the Ontario provincial flag. DHC sold “IJR” into the US, where it became N570PR with Prinair in Puerto Rico. On July 11, 1975 it was taking off at Puerto Rice when a propeller blade failed and sliced into the cabin. Happily, no one was hurt. As with N570PR, many Herons were modified by Riley to use four Lycoming IO-540 engines. Prinair’s own conversion lengthened the fuselage by 17 feet and used the Continental IO-520 engine. Prinair folded in 1985. (Al Martin)
Toronto-based CF-HLI (c/n 14053) operated from Malton with Canadian Comstock Co. from 1954. It and CF-IJR were Mk.2s with retractable undercarriage. It was finished in an attractive forest green-and-white colour scheme. About 1962 Comstock replaced “HLI” with an A-26 Invader. “HLI” then became N1420Z with Apache Airlines in the USA. Other operators followed until it was wrecked in Hawaii in a May 1984 forced landing. (CANAV Books Col., Larry Milberry)
Canada’s only Riley Heron, CF-RAB (c/n 14061) began in 1955 with the predecessor of Turkish Airlines. Next, it came to the US in 1966 as N484R, was converted by Riley, then sold to Royalair of Dorval for proposed service on a commuter route from Dorval along he St. Lawrence Seaway as far as St. Catharine’s in the Niagara area. This, however, did not catch on and “RAB” returned to the US, where it had several registrations and owners, the last being N15FB with Allegheny Commuter (1977-83) and Susquehanna Airlines (1983-84). It then migrated to distant Fiji (1985-91), then to Heron Airlines in Sydney, Australia as VH-NJI (1991-2001). “NJI” now resides at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society at Parkes, NSW. (CANAV Books Col.)

For years there was no sign of the Heron in Canada. Then there was a resurrection, when entrepreneur and brilliant inventor, Dave Saunders, devised a canny scheme to convert the Heron to the PT6 turbine engine. This became the Saunders ST-27, an excellent airplane, but that’s a story for another time. Any reader can see that there certainly is enough good, interesting material to produce a modest book about the Dove, Heron and ST-27 in Canada. Sad to say, however, but few remain on the Canadian aviation history scene with the fortitude to take on such projects. Everyone is too busy texting and playing video games.

Here are two last-minute extras. I found this nice print of 9L-LAG (c/n 14019) in the Leslie Corness collection. Les probably took this photo during his tour in Nigeria. Sierra Leone Airways used three Herons 1962-74. “LAG” eventually came to Canada for Dave Saunders. It was registered C-GCRN, but didn’t become an ST-27, instead being cannibalized for parts.
Heron XG603 (c/n 14058) served the RAF 1954-68. Here it is at Dorval over the summer of 1969, likely soon after being ferried across the pond. It’s in the overall Da-Glo red scheme in which it recently had been flying as part of “The Queen’s Flight” (notice the Queen’s emblem on the door). On leaving the RAF in 168, XG603 was acquired in Denmark and registered OY-DNP, but Saunders soon acquired it to convert to his Saunders ST-27 prototype, CF-YBM-X. It later was sold in Colombia, becoming HK-1286. Of February 9, 1976 it had an exciting day. A hijacker took control of “1286” on the ground at Medellin soon after it had landed. He forced the captain to fly to Chigordo, where 8 passengers were allowed off. The pilot then was obliged to return to Medellin. Later that evening, the plane was stormed by special forces, who killed the hijacker. In 1976 “1286” returned to Saunders at Gimli, Manitoba. There it became C-GYCQ and in January 1979 was sold to Otonabee Airways of Peterborough, Ontario. It was withdrawn from service in 1980. Eventually, “YCQ” was converted into pots ‘n pans. (Al Martin)
Last second Doves. These two magnificent views of CF-BNU surfaced just as we went to press. These were taken at Downsview in 1946 when DHC was hosting Toronto’s first post-WWII air show. Visiting from New Jersey, John C. Barbery took these fine views of “BNU”. It served Imperial Oil for several years, before being sold in the US in 1953.

A Bit More Douglas B-23 Coverage

In our last session I featured the exotic B-23/UC-64 Dragon. Since then one of our readers supplied a bit of further history. Tom Appleton recalled how Juan Trippe, chairman of Pan-Am in the 1940s, had purchased a batch of surplus B-23’s. This is where the movement to convert B-23s to corporate use began, Trippe taking one of these for Pan Am’s own use. He then assigned one of his pilots, Al Ueltschi, to be his personal B-23 captain and B-23 marketing man. Tom notes: “Al thought it might be a good idea to offer PanAm’s training expertise to the fledging biz aircraft pilot community. So began Flight Safety International, now owned by Warren Buffet. I knew Al quite well, as I brought FSI to DHC when I was running customer support, and negotiated the building of a training center with simulators for the Dash 7 and 8, along with a Twin Otter. It turned out to be a very successful venture and DHC was the first regional aircraft manufacturer to offer simulator training with every Dash sold.”

Al Martin photographed B-23 Dragon N1G at Malton in the 1950s. Al had the advantage of working with TCA at Malton. On his breaks, he could wander around the ramp with his camera. Originally delivered to the USAAC as 39-0047, this B-23 finished the war as an instructional airframe, then was sold as war surplus from the storage depot at Bush Field, Georgia. We’re not sure, but it well may have been one of the PanAm aircraft. Soon it was converted, registered NR45361 and sold to the United Rexall Drug Co, where it flew into 1954, then joined the GE corporate fleet (dates unknown). Later in the 1950s it was with General Tire and Rubber of Akron as N1G, then was N244AG with Aerojet General, a California rocket research company associated with General Tire. About 1960 it moved to L.B. Smith Aircraft, a Miami company specializing in corporate conversions. Other owners and registrations ensued, and this glorious old Dragon somehow managed to survive. It may be seen at the Castle Air Force Base museum in Atwater, California.

Tiger Moth & Mosquito Tidbits

Every week I come across interesting photos as I work through my files. Lately a tiny b/w print popped up showing ex-RCAF Tiger Moth CF-CLF (ex-RCAF 4353) on skis. Tiger Moths were seen everywhere after the war, when they were important in getting the Canadian flying clubs movement re-started, and were the delight of hundreds of private pilots. Back in the day, a good Tiger Moth could be bought very cheaply, $500 being top price. 4353 was sold initially in December 1945 to the Hamilton Flying Club and seemingly remained dormant still in RCAF colours until sold in June 1947 to Weston Aircraft of Oshawa. Weston then overhauled it and painted it “Consolidated Blue” (a dark blue). It then was sold to Aloysius La Marsh of Hamilton in November 1947. He was one of hundreds of ex-RCAF men taking advantage of war surplus prices to own his own plane. On June 30, 1948 “CLF” was one of four light planes on an overnight “Dominion Day” weekend jaunt from Hamilton to Rochester, NY across Lake Ontario. Coming home in the afternoon next day, La Marsh ran out of fuel and was forced to crash- land at Hamilton airport. He was badly injured and his passenger, Peter Revie, died. Gradually, of course, all such war surplus types faded away and the Tiger Moth became a rare collector item. Prices these days are in the USD$100,000 range.

Here’s another interesting postwar scene — a pair of ex-RCAF Mosquitos time and place not known. This scene was captured for posterity by the late Leslie Corness of Edmonton. You can see a rare Canadian-built “Mossie” at the CASM in Ottawa. Did you know that many Canadian-built Mossies were sold to the Chinese Nationalist Air Force in China soon after the war? This story was kept very quiet at the time. It was approved by Ottawa and DHC personnel travelled to the Far East to train the Chinese techs and pilots. These Mossies flew combat missions against Mao’s communist forces, until Mao prevailed in 1949. M.L.”Mac” McIntyre and George Stewart have covered this important story in the Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal. You can (and should) joined the CAHS. Go to cahs.ca

Air Show Season is on the Horizon

After two dud airshow years, there will be some good shows this season across Canada. The Snowbirds just announced their schedule, so check their web page. The team will celebrate its Golden Anniversary this year in Moose Jaw. Here’s a classic airshow crowd scene. It was one of those steamy Abbotsford Airshow days — August 13, 1972. The Snowbirds were part of the scene, flying their white-and-red Tutors. I wonder if any of this season’s Tutors were on the ’72 team? Do you have your copy of A Tradition of Excellence, Dan Dempsey’s magnificent history of Canada’s flight demo teams from the Siskins to the Golden Hawks to the Snowbirds? “TradEx” is what I call “The World’s Grandest Aviation Book”. If you don’t have a copy, do yourself a favour and buy one. Dan tells me: “The book can be ordered directly from me at afteams@gmail.com using e-transfer or through PayPal on my website www.CanadasAirshowHeritage.com

Take a look at the 2022 Canav Books Booklist

Canada’s Last Dove + Some Great Heron Covers

I hadn’t realized that there still was a Dove in Canada. Ken Swartz alerted me to this, explaining that for many years Dove N4913V has been sitting idle at Chilliwack airport in BC. Is this Canada’s last Dove? If so, what a treasure of an acquisition it might be for some adventuresome Canadian aviation museum. A 1949 model (c/n 4272) N4913V sometimes has been identified as previously having been OO-CLV (Belgium) and CC-CLV (Chile). In the USA c.1970-83 it is said to have flown with Apache Airlines and New World Airways. (Ken Swartz)
In the 1950s, the UK aviation press was very hot re. the Dove and Heron. Check out these lovely Heron front-page adverts in “The Aeroplane” from 1954 and 1958. Such adverts often featured first-rate aviation artists of the day, or, the top commercial photographers and designers. I think that the advertising kingpins should bring back this important trend of using original art and supporting our aviation artists. But… this seems to be beyond the interest of our corporate leaders.
For the day, the Heron was as flashy a new light business plane as a company could have. Note what was a very big deal at the time for a corporate interior. We’ve come a long way, right, considering today’s corporate 747s, Globals, etc. When I was on one of my An.124 junkets away back, someone from Antonov told me there even was an oligarch with an An.124 for his private jet. I wouldn’t be surprised!

Old DHC Adverts

I’m still on my kick of flipping through ancient magazines to enjoy the advertisements. Here are two from “The Aeroplane” in 1954. The Beaver is  a wonderful piece of art by the incomparable Robert W. Bradford, Order of Canada. I wonder what became of Bob’s many originals from this era? In his late 90s, Bob still was painting a bit in 2022. When the founder of Canada’s national aviation museum in Ottawa, K.M. “Ken” Molson, left the the museum, where  he had been the boss, Bob took over. He and Ken put the museum on a steady course, where it has continued over the decades (thanks to their road map). But do you think anyone there today has a clue about them? The men who set it up and made it work are barely remembered at today’s CASM. Happily, Bob has been inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, but, so far Ken Molson is not considered worthy enough. But … I digress.

Here’s some important news. E-Planes are making progress!


The Douglas B-23 Dragon + Big News from Buffalo Airways

As the 1930s came to a close, America’s aircraft industry was booming, and the US Army Air Corps and US Navy were ordering new aircraft fleets in the rush to be ready for potential war. In one case there was a competition among manufacturers to produce a new medium bomber to surpass the current frontline type, the Douglas B-18 Bolo. Douglas proposed a revamped B-18, the result being the B-23 Dragon, first flown in July 1939. However, as impressive as the B-23 was – it was fast, had good range, carried a load, etc., it  did not compare overall with the competing North American B-25 and Martin B-26. In the end, only 38 B-23s were built and these spent their forthcoming war on the home front more or less in the shadows as advanced trainers, glider tugs, etc., and UC-67 transports.

What makes the story of extra interest by 2022 is how – immediately after the war — the B-23/UC-67 became a sudden star, once discovered by corporations needing a fast, comfortable, impressive executive transport plane. Soon many large companies and some wealthy individuals were operating UC-67s. That’s how we young “airport rats” got introduced to the UC-67 as we hung around Malton airport near Toronto, and travelled around with our cameras spotting between Chicago and Montreal.

As promised a few weeks ago, here are some of my UC-67 black-and-whites. For a good source of B-23/UC-67 history, google “Warbird Information Exchange B-23 Project”. For simplicity, in the captions I call these planes B-23s, but feel free to substitute UC-67.

B-23 Dragon N58092 caught my eye during my visit to Malton on a gorgeous June 16, 1960. The first things we noticed about the B-23 was its DC-3-style wing and massive empennage. Originally USAAC 39-0053, among other things during the war, N58092 was an RB-23 reconnaissance plane based at Muroc Lake, California. At war’s end it joined the countless thousands of surplus equipment being disposed of by the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and was sold for scrap. Instead, however, it was acquired by some dealer, converted for executive use, then served Lehman Brothers in NYC from 1946. Next (1954-64) it was with H.K. Porter Co. of Pittsburgh, a famous manufacturer of steam locomotives by this time in the defence industry, one product line being components for the Nike series of anti-aircraft missiles. One wonders all these 60+ years later what N58092 was doing at Malton this day. Little is known about this impressive big corporate plane’s history, but what stories its log books could tell, right! Later owners included Monarch Aviation of Monterey, California (1966) and Trans Aero Systems of Miami (1969-70), whatever such companies were doing with N58092. Its ultimate fate is not known.
Frequent visitors to Toronto in the 1950s-early 1960s were General Electric’s N33310 and N33311 (GE had operations in Hamilton, Peterborough and Toronto). N33310 had been 39-0062 through the war, then was with such owners as Pan American World Airways of NY, the famed air racer Roscoe Turner, and Fairbanks-Morse Company (manufacturer of scales, pumps and engines). In 1954 it joined GE. It served there into 1966, when it was sold to Florida-based Palm Beach Yacht Sales; then various change-of-ownerships followed. By 1973 the once glorious executive plane was derelict in Panama. It’s said to have gone for scrap in 1978. Here is N33310 at Malton on July 12, 1960. Then, N33311 (39-0064, the final B-23) landing at Malton on August 11, 1960, then on the ramp there in the same period. It had a similar history, going postwar to Pan Am, then to GE in 1954. A decade later it was sold to the Los Angeles Board of Education. One wonders for what purpose. There’s a story that the majestic old plane was destroyed in a fire during the LA riots of 1965. While serving GE, these two lovely UC-67s were based at White Plains, NY.        
B-23 N4000W (39-0031) at Detroit Municipal Airport on April 16, 1963. It also had been acquired postwar by PanAm, which seems to have been brokering B-23s and maybe doing the conversions. I didn’t make a note this day about its ownership. Note the modern Douglas logo on the rudder. In 1968 N4000W was sold to an operator in Ecuador and survives today in Ecuador’s national aviation museum in Quito.
Pittsburg Construction Co.’s N34C (39-0051) at Detroit Municipal on the same day as N4000W. It also had begun postwar with Roscoe Turner, then was with Celanese Corp. of America. Also on the ramp was a new Grumman G.159 Gulfstream, a sign of things to come. About this time, the Gulfstream and F.27 were starting to nudge the older DC-3s, B-23s and Lockheed twins out of their envied position at the top in corporate aviation. Then, N34C landing at Dorval  September 5, 1960. In 1966 N34C moved to Ohio State University, then had further owners. Today it may be seen in Tucson at the renowned Pima Air and Space Museum.

News From Buffalo Airways of Yellowknife (March 26, 2022)

Buffalo Airways is on the verge of the jet age. Famous for its DC-3s, DC-4s, C-46s and Electras, the company has just announced its purchase of a Boeing 737. Here’s the work straight from Mikey McBryan of Buffalo: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html

Communism and Putin in a Nutshell + A Goldmine of History in One Old Copy of “The Aeroplane”

Talk about déjà vue … have a look at how Communist doctrine worked when the USSR invaded Finland (they’re threatening to do the same thing 80+ years later) See Winter War: The 1939 Soviet Invasion Of Finland In Crystal-Clear Photos (rferl.org) (also see https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/russians-finland-1.6379693). Exactly the same today with Ukraine. Brute force, merciless bombardment, intimidation, starvation, lies, lies, lies, etc. That’s the traditional Communist way. Civilized people rightly call this “pure evil” and so it is. In January 1940, Winston Churchill noted about the Finnish invasion: “Finland shows what free men can do…. Everyone can see how communism rots the soul of a nation; how it makes it abject and hungry in peace, and proves it base and abominable in war. We cannot tell what the fate of Finland may be, but no more mournful spectacle could be presented… than that this splendid northern race should be at last worn down and reduced to servitude worse than death by the dull brutish force of overwhelming numbers.”

“Aviation Advertising – A Goldmine of History in One Old Copy of “The Aeroplane”

Many of you enjoyed our blog post “Postwar Adverts” from November 2, 2016. Even if you’ve seen it before, take a look back to enjoy again what emblems of technology history these old adverts have become. Really … they are fascinating, and in many cases literally are works of art, for the lead magazines such as “The Aeroplane” in the UK and “Canadian Aviation” on this side of the pond employed actual artists (i.e. with bushes and paints) to create the artwork required. Thus might you enjoy the great Frank Wootten’s original paintings as cover art and in advertisements in “The Aeroplane”, and Canada’s top aviation artist Robert Bradford’s originals as the foundation of adverts for De Havilland Canada’s Otter, Caribou, etc.

Here are a few adverts from “The Aeroplane” of October 21, 1955. What quickly caught my eye (once I got over the dramatic cover art by top British commercial artist, Vic Carless) was the page taken out by Avro Canada featuring the all-red CF-100 that it was operating experimentally as a target tug. Otherwise, there was page after page of fascinating adverts portraying the aviation industry of the times, when Britain’s V-Bombers were just coming out, and types such as the Gannet for ASW and Supermarine 525 fighter held great hope for Britain’s postwar aviation industry. Adverts for the Britannia, Vanguard and Herald announced the way ahead for the airlines, while the Skeeter helicopter was where the light helicopter market was heading (so hoped Saunders Roe). Also, take a look at the want ads page to get a better sense of what was happening.

CANAV’s Late Winter BLOG for Early 2022!

This quintessential CF-100 photo shows prototype 18101 from a wonderful angle. One of history’s great CF-100 photos, right! Avro always had the best photographers, and this image says it all. In this era the fellows normally used the Avro Jetliner, a Lancaster or a B-25 as their photo ship. The CF-100 made its first flight on January 19, 1950 (72 years ago) with the great Bill Waterton at the controls (see Bill’s excellent book The Quick and the Dead). It then evolved into one of the famous “Fighters of the Fifties”. Deliveries totalled 692 by 1958. The last CF-100s retired in 1981 from 414 Sqn at a great event in North Bay, which hundreds of us attended. Happily, many CF-100s have been preserved. You can google this recent CBC item to see how one is getting a long-overdue facelift this year: Historic Canadian aircraft set to get a facelift, courtesy of the City of Moncton

Welcome to the CANAV Books blog for February 2022. As usual, there’s a lot to cover. You can start right here by downloading our Spring/Summer 2022 Booklist. Any reader will find something enticing — guaranteed! For one thing, you’ll spot some excellent Avro Canada books, including a top new CF-100 history, Canadian Cold Warriors. “CCW” nicely complements the Jan Zurakowsi and Bill Waterton test pilot autobiographies. Chris Gainor’s Who Killed the Avro Arrow caps off this selection. There’s also Paul Ozorak’s new Abandoned Military Installations of Canada, Vol.4, a massive production for anyone with the least interest. Covering Gander in wartime, North Atlantic Crossroads is another gem. What else? Any Canadiana reader will revel in The Company, ditto for Chris Hadfield’s Apollo Murders. And don’t miss our special offers on Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace and Air Transport in Canada, two monumental and legendary Canadian aviation book publishing projects that are beloved anchors in many an aviation home library. Here’s your list … have at it!

Russian assault on Antonov airport February 24. If you google these bits, you should be able to see these dramatic scenes as Russian commandos take the airport by helicopter assault. Not a happy sight — so far not a single nation is willing to help Ukraine. Putin has the world terrorized. pic.twitter.com/SnvmwQ1Ge


9:03 AM · Feb 24, 2022·Twitter Web App

Two of our top new titles this season.

Vintage Canadian Aviation

It’s not too well known by 2022, but Canada had an aviation industry as long ago as 1915, when Glenn H. Curtiss established a small factory and flying school in Toronto. In late 1916 this was taken over for wartime needs by the Imperial Munitions Board, which turned out more than 2000 Curtiss JN-4 airframes in the city’s west end. Through the 1920s other companies got into the business, including De Havilland in Toronto and Canadian Vickers in Montreal. By 1930 there was a blossoming industry, one of several Montreal companies being Reid Aircraft at Cartierville Airport. Founded early in 1928, at year’s end it was acquired by Curtiss, to become Curtiss-Reid Aircraft Co. Only one production design was turned out – the Rambler, a tandem 2-seater that for some years was an important club and RCAF trainer. According to the great K.M. Molson’s seminal book, Canadian Aircraft since 1909, 43 Ramblers were built. These were powered by D.H. engines of 80, 90 or 120 hp. Unfortunately , the Depression by then was getting into full swing. Even with its US backing, Curtiss-Reid did not make it and folded in 1933. Shown is Rambler CF-ABO in an evocative Cartierville scene. Built in 1928, “ABO” was short-lived, being wrecked in an accident on October 6, 1930. The Curtiss-Reid hangars beyond survived into modern times. I remember them from the 1960s, but am not sure when they finally went. No original Rambler exists, although the outstanding Montreal Aviation Museum has created an excellent replica that has a few original parts. Definitely tour the MAM website: https://www.mam.quebec › discover-our- museum-2
Our second vintage photo for this session is a rare aerial view of Vancouver Airport c.1930. I have no idea how this tiny, original print got into my collection eons ago, but it’s sure worth a look in 2022. Beyond the new terminal building is the Lower Fraser River and miles of farmland, which today make up the sprawling Vancouver suburb of Richmond, where a tiny patch of land sells these days for $1 million. The cornerstone for Vancouver’s modern terminal building was laid on September 13, 1930, then the airport opened the following July 22. For 1931 the original “YVR” welcomed 536 passengers on 309 flights. The basic source of all such history is Tom McGrath’s incomparable 1992 book, History of Canadian Airports. Do yourself a favour and find yourself a copy.

Old Hamilton Airport

If you scroll back you can find one of our more popular blog items, “Old Hamilton Airport”. Why this topic again? Mainly because a few fascinating archival photos have surfaced in one of my dusty old Fred Hotson files. For any fan of Canada’s early airports, you’ll enjoy today’s aerial view of this long ago redeveloped urban landscape (see Tom McGrath’s book for details). Dated June 30, 1937, this original 8×10 was taken by a long-forgotten Toronto company called “Airmaps Limited”. Great name, eh! This is one of those delightful old photos that interested folks love to sit and stare at. The longest runway seen here measured about 2800 feet. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a photo from the same vantage point as per 2022?
Here’s another photo at old Hamilton Airport, this one c.1940. This style of stacking planes allowed a lot more to be kept inside. Some of these planes? CF-AWF Taylor E-2 Cub probably when W. Nixon of Woodstock owned it; CF-BGE Taylor J-2 Cub owned by Fred Gillies of St. Catharines; RCAF Stinson 105 No.3486; and J-3 Cub CF-BOU. “BOU” ended badly, crashing vertically into a farm field near Campbellford, Ontario (east of Peterborough) on October 24, 1956. Owner George Stafford age 30 and Gary Stapley age 17 died. Young Gary recently had earned his wings and his father had just purchased him his own Cub. George had his own airstrip near Campbellford from where he did some flying instructing, and where several local people kept their planes. Formerly in the RCAF, George had flown during the war as an air gunner. No reason for the crash ever was found.
Here are two ancient gems from my ever-fascinating Fred Hotson files. First, a spectacular scene with G-CAOT, one of the few Loening 23 Air Yachts (three of about 15 manufactured served in Canada). Designed in the early 1920s by Grover Loening, the Model 23 used a 400-hp Liberty engine, similar to that in the OPAS’s HS-2L fleet. The design concept was unique: instead of being an integral flying boat, the Model 23 cabin, wings and engine were mated to a flying boat hull. G-CAOT was purchased from Loening in New York City in January 1926, but was wrecked one day following a hard landing on Ramsay Lake in July 1927. Then, probably the most modern airplane to visit Canada this year — the Cities Service Oil Company’s DC-2 NC1000 at the Toronto Flying Club’s North Toronto airstrip on October 19, 1934. NC1000 went to Pan American Airways in 1939 and later (1942) to South American owners. Eventually, it was seized for smuggling and went for scrap in 1951. But … in this scene it was a marvel of modern aeronautics to behold.

More Oldies — Wartime National Film Board Aviation Short

During WWII, Canada’s National Film Board’s primary job was turning out propaganda shorts. 75-80 years later these are a window on the day’s documentary standards from storyline to editing and presentation. By today’s standards, the acting seems almost ridiculous in how the NFB narrators (this one is the great Lorne Greene) put across their message in that panicky style of the times, but that was then and this is now. Here’s a good example of the NFB’s wartime effort. I’m sure you’ll be able to overlook the aggravating presentation to enjoy the fascinating film clips from Canadian aviation “way back in the day”. Google it at:


More Martin Martin News: The mighty Mars miracle

Cargo Airlines Post-WWII

In Air Transport in Canada all of our post-WWII air carriers are covered in decent detail, for such a general book. You see all about the roots of such carriers as Maritime Central Airlines, Mont Laurier Aviation, Wheeler Airlines, Transair, Queen Charlotte Airlines, etc. for which air cargo was so important. “ATC” provides solid background for what was happening – the war was over, surplus airplanes were available, markets beckoned (or did they?), on and on. To the credit of the visionaries, many companies survived for decades, until gradually absorbed into larger ones. If this sort of business/aviation story interests you, there are good books to track down. Besides “ATC” for the Canadian story, two of my favourites are R.E.G. Davies Airlines of the United States since 1914 and Commuter Airlines of the United States, but so far I’ve yet to see a book about the US postwar cargo airlines. Is this one in the works? Here’s an excellent old movie covering Sante Fe Skyway, a short-lived 1940s carrier with DC-3s and DC-4s. It’s an excellent business case study and the ancient propliner footage is not to be missed. Sante Fe Skyway reminds me of such great Canadian companies as QCA and World Wide Airways. For an informative and enjoyable 18 minutes, google The Failure of Santa Fe Skyway – YouTube

More of Les Corness’ Unique Photography

Two ex-RCAF P-40 Kittyhawks that Les Corness spotted at Edmonton “Muni” on July 18, 1968, a time when such rusty old wrecks still went to the scrap yard. This was at the beginning of the serious warbirds movement in Canada, when pilots and mechanics showing an interest in such exotic planes were considered a bit eccentric. Now we realize what a debt we owe those pioneers. Where are these historic old Kittyhawks in 2022?

Any time I glance through a pile of old Les Corness transparencies from the 50s, I spot many that I’d like to share. Regardless of their sometimes rough condition with scratches and crud, or Les’ preference (when called for) to favour content over form, there’s always something inspirational about his photos. You’ll know what I mean if you have your copy of The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection (if you don’t, see the booklist for a great deal). Also, you can search for earlier blog items featuring Les, this item included: “Leslie Corness Propliner Review” which features lots more of his magnificent photos.

During his years toiling in the High Arctic, Les went through many rolls of Kodachrome. If a subject looked interesting, he got out his 35mm range-finder and shot off at least a frame, even if at too great a distance to make for a prize- winning photo. Case in point … this abandoned Avro York freighter at Hall Beach, NWT on June 15, 1957.
At Hall Beach the same day, Les grabbed this distant photo of one of the most legendary DEW Line freighters, DC-3 CF-JIZ “Arctic Rose” of Don McVicar’s Dorval-based World Wide Airways. Problem? Blurred DC-3, but any view of this famous plane is fascinating for the true fans. After all, this gives a good idea of the colours for the next modeller to built “JIZ”, or, the next artist to start a painting. A photo that’s a “dog” to some perfectionist can be the solution to someone else’s niggling question about paint details. Arctic pilot Tony Jarvis adds about this scene: “Hall Beach was the settlement and the Dew Line site there was Fox Main. Many years later I dug through the York site was and recovered the instrument panel, which you photographed in Yellowknife. CF-HFQ was the first Avro York brought into Canada for Arctic work.”
An everyday scene at Frobisher on July 25, 1957. One of Kenting’s Oshawa- based, aerial survey B-17s has dropped by, and a USAF Grumman Albatross is getting ready for a transit maybe up to Thule, or it could be on a search. A USAF C-54 is off on its next long leg north to Thule, east across the pond, or back south. This exact line of hills could be used today to frame a photo of something like a 737, ATR or Dash 8 taking off.
Les appreciated the close-up. This RCAF Neptune was in Frobisher Bay on a search on November 17, 1958, when Les got interested in its big engine heaters steaming away, so he snapped off a frame. Then his excellent detail shot out the window when he was a spotter in RCAF Lancaster FM122 on a search of November 4, 1958. What you see below is pure Baffinland. Having flown once each in the North Star and Lancaster, I still can here the roar of those Merlins!
Every airplane was a photo op for Les. He’d have been ecstatic this day (May 22, 1959) when nine ex-RCAF Expeditors passed through Frobisher with their C-47 mother ship on the way to France. (Canada recently had gifted a large number of “Exploders” to France, where they gave years of good service.) Even though the day was bleak for photography, Les didn’t let this historic moment pass.
Les’ postwar photo of Lancaster FM159 in Nanton, Alberta. This old relic subsequently was saved and meticulously restored by the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton. Today all its engines are serviceable. For the detailed story of FM159, google Dave O’Malley’s superb history — LAST CALL FOR LANCASTERS – Vintage Wings of Canada
In September 1980 Les photographed this rare ex-RCAF CF-100 Mk.IVB at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. Behind is Britain’s great technological wonder, the TSR-2, which was terminated at the height of the Cold War due to budget and technical issues. Writer David Nolan has commented about the TSR program: “Nearly 50 years later, TSR-2 cultists still talk of conspiracies, cover-ups, and sinister U.S. efforts to sabotage the project.” Sound familiar? Isn’t this exactly what we never stop hearing from Canada’s Arrowmaniacs – those “cultists” who’ve never done any actual research into the demise of the Arrow? Then, a lovely Wilf White photo of 18393 while in squadron service. Wilf spotted it one day c.1960 at Scottish Aviation Ltd. at Prestwick. It looks factory fresh, so could be on its delivery flight from Avro, or, maybe it’s right out of overhaul at SAL. Happily, it evaded the breaker’s torch.

RCAF Procurement

Northrop Delta NC13777, the Richfield Oil Company’s speedy executive plane c.1930. For high-class air travel, the “Richfield Eagle” would have had no rival for several years in speed, comfort and ability to “impress the Joneses”. You may see NC13777 today in the National Airline History Museum in Kansas City, MO. The civil Delta became the basis for one of the RCAF’s first modern airplanes 85+ years ago. (William J. Wheeler Col.)

Over the decades CAF/RCAF aircraft procurement has been a subject of discussion, analysis and befuddlement. Project timelines themselves have been mindboggling at times. How long, for example, long did it take to replace the Argus? It seems that since the late 1960s the Argus was going to be “replaced”. Finally, the Aurora arrived at Greenwood in 1980. So it went with the F-104/CF-5/CF-101 replacement, which culminated with the delivery in 1982 of Canada’s first CF-188 Hornets. Then there was the Sea King replacement, which finally has arrived in the form of the Cyclone, a much modified civilian Sikorsky. Most recently, the fantastic old Buffalo has been phased out after 50+ years of stellar service. Its replacement, the C-295 Kingfisher, has arrived, but with a list of either unacceptable features or yet-to-be sorted out mods (so it also went with the Cormorant). Somehow, each such fleet gradually has been sorted out. The main thing about DND procurement seems to be that Canada rarely acquires an airplane without massive gobs of time to contemplate and complicate everything, plus astounding (sometimes unjustified) over-spending.

When, lately, I spotted the wonderful old photo (above) of Richfield Oil’s NC13777, I was reminded of how the RCAF had acquired its first modern, all-metal airplane in 1936. Just then it needed a new type to replace its ancient Bellancas and Fairchilds of 1920s vintage. Somehow, RCAF engineering HQ learned of the Northrop, maybe simply by a salesman knocking at the door, or spotting a trade magazine advertisement or article. It looked like a good airplane, and (RCAF HQ soon learned) industrial and trade skills spinoffs were available. But the Delta was a civil design. The great Joseph P. Juptner describes it as “a highly advanced single-engined airliner, a speedy conveyance … for medium roads on the trunk airline routes”.

Unfortunately, TWA had cancelled its order for 15 Deltas when the US government ceased licencing single-engine airliners for night schedules. Northrop was left holding the bag, but the RCAF came to the rescue, buying three Deltas from Northrop’s surplus, then contracting with Canadian Vickers for licence production of 17 more. These served well into early WWII, then had extra duty into late the war as ground training aids. In the end, the RCAF saved Jack Northrop’s bacon by buying his orphan. In RCAF service, the Delta proved to be a solid, versatile plane. Meanwhile, it must be admitted that DND procurement can get things rolling in a hurry if necessary, not just with the Delta. Look how it acquired its fleets of C-17s and C-130Js – they seem to have come out of nowhere compared to the decades needed to replace the Sea King or Buffalo.

The first RCAF Delta at Canadian Vickers in Montreal before its delivery in September (CANAV Books Col.)
RCAF Delta 675 (left) at Vancouver, where No.1 Squadron recently had accepted 10 newly-arrived (by sea) Hurricanes. The Delta served here as a makeshift advanced trainer to give 1 Squadron’s pilots some time on a reasonably modern plane before trying out the Hurricane. The Delta had some similar features, but not a retractable undercarriage. This role illustrates how versatile the Delta could be. While acquired for aerial photography (at which it proved to be excellent), it also was a useful trainer, and flew many armed coastal patrols on the East Coast in the first year of WWII. It’s odd how the RCAF acquired this Northrop orphan and on the spur-of-the-moment. A plane was needed, RCAF engineering liked what it saw, some irresistible offer likely was made by Jack Northrop (“Have we got a deal for you.”) and the rest became history. Try pulling off something like that at DND procurement in 2022. This is thought to be a Gordon S. Williams photo.

Canada’s Hornets –Retrospective

CAF “Desert Cats” Hornets that I shot at Doha back in January 1991 during Gulf War I.

We fans started following the CF-18 Hornet back in 1982 and since then haven’t missed much about this exciting, ongoing episode in CAF/RCAF fighter history. My first chance to photograph Hornets was at Cold Lake in 1983. Since then I’ve chased them all over the place, and even had some backseat rides (starting at Baden-Soellingen in 1987). Other highlights were at Maple Flag at Cold Lake, various exciting events at Bagotville, fighter meets at Tyndall AFB, Langley AFB and Burlington, Vermont, a few days with 437 Sqn refuelling Canada’s last NATO Hornets between Lahr and Goose Bay via Keflavik, Doha for Gulf War I, and airshows from coast to coast. Another historic event occurred in 1993, while I was waiting at CFB Lahr to catch a Hercules back to Canada. There on the ramp sat a lone Hornet getting ready for departure. Here’s that story as it appeared in the November 1993 edition of “Wings” magazine.

Hornet 188761 has had a typically fascinating history. Having risen like a phoenix, it served on the line at Cold Lake and Bagotville, and from Bagotville was an airshow demo jet for three seasons. Here are three great Richard Girouard photos of ‘761 wearing its special airshow colours. This month ‘761 made the trip from 410 Squadron at Cold Lake to begin another tour at Bagotville. To date it has logged more than 4900 flying hours. As such it’s one of the RCAF’s “youngest” Hornets, certainly when compared to 787 at more than 8300. Theoretically, Canada’s Hornets are time-expired at about 10,000 hours. This is spectacular for any third or fourth generation Western fighter.
Canada’s Hornets continue to give solid service decades after the process started to find their replacement. So far our only “replacement” has been a batch of ancient RAAF Hornets, which the Aussies put out to pasture starting in 2018, when they started taking delivery of their 72 F-35s. One consolation for Canada? When it ordered the Hornet more than 40 years ago, DND made the best possible choice.

Harsh Realities in Space Flight

Terranauts … here’s an important Space Program retrospective. The topic is melancholic, but needs to be contemplated to have a realistic sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going tomorrow in space exploration. Chris and Helene Hadfield are the guests. Google this: We remember – A special episode of Terranauts with Helene …

Scrolling Back

You’ll never run out of solid history to read or photos to enjoy on our blog (which dates back to 2009). What are your interests? Here are some of the worthwhile topics you can find in a flash via the search box or by scrolling back through the years:

440 Squadron Gets Together in Ottawa
A History of Austin Airways
Aircraft of the USAF Museum
Antonov AN-124
Apollo 40 th Anniversary
Beech 18 Boeing 727 Turns 50
C-119 The Travels of Nick and Larry
Canada’s Enduring DC-3s
Canadian Fighter Pilots Association
Canadian Forces in Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda
CF-104 Warbird Emerges
Dash 8 No.1000 Is Delivered
Fox Moth Discoveries
From the Wilf White Collection
Homebuilding Roots in Canada
Last Lockheed Jetstar Retires
Light Planes
Lockheed Lodestar
More CF-TGE Nostalgia
Northern Aviation in 1977
Old Canadair Originals
Postwar Adverts
Super Connie Field Trip
The Crash of CF-100 18417
The Great Bob Halford
The Great War Flying Museum
Toronto/Winnipeg Turn-Around
Winter Photography

Next Time on the CANAV Blog?

I’ll be rolling out some more of my prehistoric black-and-white shots of the great corporate planes of the 1950s. Emphasis on the amazing Douglas B-23 Dragon. Here’s a teaser – Dragon N34C.

Have a close look at our promo sheet for CANAV’s grand history of CAE Inc. of Montreal. If you pride yourself in having a serious Canadian aviation home library, The CAE Story belongs in it. There isn’t a more wide-ranging aerospace history book with this depth of coverage anywhere in the world, nor a more beautifully-produced book at such a bargain price.

TTC Winter Photography in Years Gone By

Since we’ve had a very snowy winter here in Toronto this year, I got thinking about winter photography in years gone by. I was further encouraged by Pierre Gillard’s recent winter aviation photography at St. Hubert — see http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html This is not to be missed!

First, here’s a January 1976 scene from the bad old days of the Queen St. East morning commute. Well do we remember packing ourselves onto such PCCs as 4690. Talk about the wretched lives of sardines, eh! Then, 4449 rounding the loop at Neville Park on January 15, 1968 ready to battle its way on another cross-town Queen Street grind. Finally for this trio … PPCs 4230 and 4309 stored at the Wychwood Barns as I spotted them on December 6, 1969.

Old Magazines Are Real Treasures

There is no more fun with the printed page than flipping through old magazines reading the articles and perusing the wonderful old advertisements. Lately, I spotted these two wonderful old “adverts” in “The Aeroplane” from 1955 — one featuring the Viscount for TCA, the other the Avro CF-100. The first one illustrates the heyday of the UK’s post-WWII aviation industry; the second — Canada’s at its peak, a time when such other types as the Beaver, Otter, Tracker and Argus all were coming off the lines. Canada was at the top of its aviation industry game. For more such delightful reading, see our earlier item “Postwar Adverts”.

Welcome to the CANAV Blog for December/January 2021/22 — Take It all In … Martin Mars for Sale $5m Here’s Your Chance + RCAF 100th Anniversary Project Update + Back in the (Same Old) USSR? + Best Book Deals + F-102 + Early Jetliners in Canada + C. Don Long Photo Collection including Don’s Coverage of “Cambria” in Toronto 1937 + Tugboat Rouille + Plane Spotting Rules + Central Airways and the Resurrection of Apache CF-KFX+ Alaska Crash Landing + Grumman Albatross Revival? + Pierre Gillard Blog

Martin Mars … Many older fans have been watching the great Martin Mars story since several Mars came to Canada in the late 1950s. Lots of us eventually made the pilgrimage to Port Alberni, BC to photograph these giant beauties. Today, two Mars remain at their Port Alberni base, but they’ve been dormant for years, bypassed by newer technology. Now, the last airworthy Mars is for sale. Here are all the details and much more about the classic Mars: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/martin-mars-for-sale-1.6317194

Today’s lead-in photos feature RCAF T-33 21500 and ex-Canadian Army Auster AOP Mk.VI CF-LPA. As young fellows chasing airplanes, we never passed on a chance to photograph a T-bird, but 21500 was especially enticing in its glorious Golden Hawks colours. We caught it “in glorious black-and-white” on the ramp at Trenton for Air Force Day June 1, 1963. Most recently 21500 was C-FUPO based in London, Ontario with the Jet Aircraft Museum. There’s a beautiful model of 21500 available — see aviationmegastore.com
From 1948 air observation post (AOP) Auster CF-LPA served the Canadian Army as 16675 at such bases as Rivers, Manitoba, and Camp Borden and Camp Petawawa in Ontario. When the Army began re-equipping with the Cessna L-19, the Auster fleet was sold by Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. Stored at the RCAF base at Mountain View (near Trenton) 16675 was sold in 1959 to the Brampton Flying Club for $200 less its Gipsy Major VII engine. The DOT opened its file for CF-LPA on April 22, 1959. All such ex-Army Austers then had long careers in civil aviation as club or private planes, and glider tow planes. In 1960 “LPA” was sold to gliding kingpin, Walter Chmela of Toronto, after which it towed for the Aero Club Harmony, a society of German-Canadian flying fanatics. In 1966 Walter (who now is a member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame) sold “LPA” to the Quebec Soaring Club. A list of owners ensued and accidents (naturally) followed “LPA”. But it always was thought to be well worth the effort to repair. In one prang, on May 28, 1990 “LPA” was cruising on floats around Mascouche, Quebec, when the prop flew off. Pilot Renald Gendron survived after force-landing on dry land — “LPA” ended on its back, but once again was repaired. Finally, in December 1998 this vintage Canadian Auster was sold to Stuart Bain in New York state. Its Transport Canada file finally was closed on January 6, 1999. By now a few Austers have popped up in Canadian museums. Here’s a typical ace of an Al Martin shot of “LPA” taken June 15, 1963 at the Oshawa Flying Club breakfast fly-in. This is from a big 3½ x 2½ Ektachrome, probably shot on Al’s 616 camera. If you search here for “Al Martin”, you’ll find many of his other wonderful photos from this era. Also see the special Al Martin section in Air Transport in Canada. The b/w view of LPA is my own shot taken the same day as Al’s with my trusty “120” Minolta Autocord.

A Bit of News – CANAV’s RCAF 1924-2024 Project

Hello to all our great fans keeping up with the CANAV blog. Nothing much huge to report this time, other than about how we are making solid progress with our 2024 book to cover the history of the RCAF in its 100th year. This will be the ultimate among all general RCAF books over the decades. If you have our 1984 60th Anniversary book Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 or any such other CANAV book (Canada’s Air Force Today, etc.) you’ll know what to expect. Our “2024” book will have no equals. So far we’ve laid the groundwork and roughed out our coverage of lead-in and interwar years chapters, and now are starting to put together the many chapters covering 1939-1945 on the homefront and overseas. In case you have anything that’s unique re. hardcore history (log books, other original documents) that you think might fit in, let me know larry@canavbooks.com

Back in the (Same Old) USSR?

Mr. Putin seems to be an old time Stalinist, so things could go hard on Ukraine, etc:

“The” Canadian Aviation Book Deals of 2021-22

Speaking of books (which is what we do, right) … we still have a few sets of our glorious large-format, hardcover Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace Vols.1, 2 & 3 (1072 pages) at the final give-away, all-in price per set of (always in Canadian $): Canada $75, USA $90.00, Int’l $180. Also, we’re down to the final part-pallet of Air Transport in Canada (2 volumes 1030 pages) now at the all-in price for Canada $65, USA $80, Int’l $160. Jump in for these world-class titles. Talk about ultimate VIP aviation gifts for this time of year! Order your books by PayPal or Interac paying straight to larry@canavbooks.com Questions to the same address.

Fighters of the Fifties

Nothing suited we airplane chasers from the 1950s-60s more than a chance to shoot some sleek jet fighter, and nothing was sleeker than Convair’s F-102 and F-106. On our airshow trip to Niagara Falls, NY on May 16, 1959, Mo Reddy and I couldn’t have been happier when we spotted a line of One-0-Twos appearing to be straight from the factory – shiny as could be and with no unit markings. Here sits 55-3418 as we shot it. It’s thought to have been with the 323rd FIS from Truax AFB, Wisconsin. ‘3418 enjoyed a long and interesting career, staying on the line into 1970, when it finally went for scrap. I note that on flicker there’s a photo of ‘3418 flying over Mount Fuji in Japan.

The First Generation Jetliners

In the early 1960s we still were shooting North Stars, Super Connies, Viscounts and all such propliners out at Malton airport (today’s YYZ). Suddenly, things started to perk up when BOAC started showing up with the Comet 4. Service was infrequent. Several times I hitchhiked out to Malton after school on Fridays to try to catch the Comet on its weekly run, but always missed it. It wasn’t ‘til a trip to Dorval on July 26, 1959 that I finally got to shoot Comet G-APDB. ‘DB was the first Comet that I got close enough to at Malton to catch the registration, that being on April 29 the following year. Then, on May 6, I spotted G-APDD. Still, I came away with no photos.

Finally, the first 707s and DC-8s started to appear at Malton, making for really exciting times. Now we were turning up our noses (like little idiots) at the propliners. The big jets had us mesmerized for a while. Here are a few of my early photos from this period.

The first big jet that I shot at Malton was BOAC 707 G-APFB with Rolls-Royce Conway engines. Here it is on arrival on Saturday afternoon May 22, 1960. BOAC’s first 707, it had been delivered a bit earlier on the 9th. This likely was BOAC’s first 707 service to YYZ. I saw it again here on July 2. ‘FB served BOAC into 1974, then flew in various other colours until going for scrap at Kingman, Arizona in 1979.
In September 1960 American Airlines took delivery of Boeing 720 N7520A “Flagship Alabama”. I caught it that winter on a sparkling day landing on Malton’s R28. My first AA Boeing jetliner photo. These still were the days when the common AA types here were the DC-6, DC-7 and the still new L.188 Electra. N7530A served into mid-1971, then was sold to the Dubai government. In 1985 Boeing bought it back to cannibalize for the USAF KC-135 program. It’s bones went for scrap in 1991. On this day, however, there couldn’t have been a more glorious sight at Malton for any airplane photographer. The horizon here looks towards narrow little old Airport Road — not a car in sight. In the distance you can see the newly- built Woodbine racetrack stands. Today? Airport Road is a 6-lane raceway. If you could match this scene today, you’d see a wall of industrial/commercial development, no horizon visible, mainly shoulder-to-shoulder high rise hotels and office buildings. A lot has happened at YYZ over 60+ years since N7520A came whistling in to land as a couple of keen young spotters lined up their shots on their twin-lens camera ground glass viewfinders.
On June 4, 1960 I caught a glimpse of my first TCA DC-8 CF- TJD, but couldn’t photograph it for some reason. Then, on Tuesday, August 16 I was back at Malton and there was “TJD” doing circuits and bumps on Runway 32. Wasting no time, I hustled out behind the old WWII hangar line and set myself up close to the runway. We had found a good spot there where we couldn’t be seen from the tower due to a hump in the runway. The WWII hangars also helped covered us. Of course, none of us had telephoto lenses back then, so we had to get fairly close to the runway. We always got away with this little skit out by R32, never were rousted. I sat on my spot watching ‘TJD make several touch-and-goes. All my shots turned out – they were real set-ups, as you can see by this one. Notice how there still were active farms right on the edge of the airport, no fences in view. ‘TJD had been delivered a few months earlier on February 7. Such training flights were essential, since there still were no DC-8 flight simulators in Canada (CAE at Montreal soon would fill that shortage). In 1977 “TJD” moved on the Air Ceylon and 2 or 3 other outfits. It went for pots ‘n pans in 1979. Aeroclassics has a 1:400 scale diecast model of “TJD” in these very colours.
On May 22-24, 1961 I was on a solo hitchhiking expedition from Toronto to Dorval. This trip paid off with a long list of great types to shoot from the Avenger to the C-46, Canso, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, North Star, Britannia, L.49, CL-44, Argus and F.27. In those days we never had trouble getting on the ramp at Dorval. Staff would notice us and if they came by it would not be to roust us, but to chat and even answer our questions or give us leads. Jetliners spotted on this trip included the 707 (BOAC and Air France), Convair 880 (EAL) and DC-8 (EAL). Here’s EAL’s “Golden Falcon” N8604 taxiing away from Dorval’s main terminal. N8604 had been delivered to Eastern in February 1960, stayed to September 1973, then flew for several other outfits until going for scrap at Smyrna, Tennessee in 1978.
CPA’s glorious new DC-8 CF-CPH “Empress of Winnipeg” at Malton on October 6, 1961. We soon realized that this slightly rear angle on a taxiing 707, DC-8 or Convair jetliner was quite nice, although the wing could obscure the markings, as in this case. However, this angle always showed us the registration and fleet number. “CPH” served CPA into 1980, when it was sold to a parts and scrap dealer, and cut up in Opa Locka, Florida in 1983.

C. Don Long — Aeronautical Engineer, CAHS No.104

One of the great early members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (Member No.104) was C. Don Long. From the first days of the CAHS Journal, Don contributed many authoritative articles, often covering the history of De Havilland of Canada, but also such special topics as the Toronto-Buffalo air service using Sikorsky amphibians c.1930.

Born in Toronto in 1911, Don was smitten by aviation as a boy. Cycling to old Leaside aerodrome, he got to know and photograph dozens of local and transient planes. Leaside, of course, had trained WWI pilots in 1917-18, then was home to the Toronto Flying Club from 1928, before being ploughed under for industrial use. Graduating in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto in 1933, Don was hired by De Havilland of Canada. Soon he was known as the go-to man whenever any UK DH type needed Canadian “mods” – winterized cowlings, skis, etc. Just before WWII, Don created the mods for the Canadianized D.H.82C Tiger Moth – its sliding canopy, brakes, tail wheel and skis. Next, he became chief inspector of Mosquito production.

Postwar, Don had positions with such other organizations as AVRO Canada, DH in the UK, Canadair, Spartan and the National Research Council. He returned to DHC in 1959, then joined the staff of McMaster University in 1970. Other organizations to which he contributed included the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and the Society of Automotive Engineers. Don died fairly young on May 18, 1972. Here are some of his wonderful pre-WWII photos. I don’t have many details about these, but here’s a chance simply to enjoy some historic photos taken around Toronto by a keen young spotter (probably before the term was in use). Most of these would have been taken at Leaside and the airports around what today is Downsview. One of these strips was the second home of the TFC, another belonged to International Airways. These all had disappeared by the time DHC had developed Downsview into a modern airport just before WWII. Sometimes Don could get his subject “in the clear”, but even if there was a mob scene he was keen to shoot off a frame. Thank goodness that he did.

A diligent spotter could catch the most exotic planes around Toronto 90 years ago. Don Long would have been excited about these two: Western Canada Airways’ Fokker F.VIIb triplane G-CASC and Ford Trimotor NC1076. Acquired by James Richardson’s WCA in December 1928, ‘ASC normally was in Winnipeg. It was lost there in a hangar fire on March 4, 1931. Don may have caught ‘ASC, when it was passing through Toronto on delivery to Winnipeg from the Fokker factory at Teterboro, New Jersey. NC1076 likely is seen at Leaside, where various Trimotors visited from the USA during Toronto Flying Club summer events, and during the 1929 Ford Air Tour. NC1076 came to an early end. Soon after taking off from Toledo, Ohio on an airmail run to Detroit on January 16, 1929, there was a fire, followed by a crash landing. The lone occupant, pilot J.L. Brandon, was injured and NC1076 was destroyed.
Another big modern airliner to visit Leaside was Curtiss Condor NC984H captained by Curtiss test pilot William J. Crosswell. The occasion was the 1929 Ford Air Tour. The tour’s 29 airplanes refuelled at Leaside on October 6 on their way to Ottawa. Thousands of visitors flocked to Leaside to watch all the action.
Famous Canadian Fairchilds shot by Don c.1930. G-CART was an FC-2W2 of the Canadian Transcontinental Airways fleet. It was delivered in July 1928, sold to Canadian Airways of Montreal in January 1932, then scrapped in 1933. Its wings were used in building Fairchild 71 CF-AUA in 1933. Then G-CATR of International Airways, a Toronto company carrying airmail, passengers and freight between Windsor and Montreal with intermediate stops. ‘ATR served International from August 1928 to November 1930, when it went to Canadian Airways. It was wrecked in a storm in Charlottetown, PEI on February 9, 1933. Finally, Canadian Transcontinental’s Fairchild 71 CF-AAT at Leaside. It was sold in 1932 to Canadian Airways in Montreal. On March 12, 1936 it was flying from Sioux Lookout to Red Lake (about an hour’s flight) when the engine quite and ‘AAT ended wrecked in the bush.

Short Flying Boats in Canada

In 1937 Britain’s Imperial Airways and America’s Pan American Airways began experimenting with flying boats on the North Atlantic. The dream for Britain was to add to its growing system of routes that eventually would encircle the world, bringing the old “Empire” closer together. Pan Am had its own global dreams. This challenging effort commenced on July 5/6, when 4-engine flying boats took off from opposite sides of the Atlantic — the Imperial Airways Short “C” Class “Caledonia” flying from Foynes, Ireland to Botwood, Gander Lake, Newfoundland; and the Pan American Airways Sikorsky S-42 going from Shediac, New Brunswick to Foynes. Canada was involved, having helped to finance facilities at both western termini. This was just as Ottawa, under the determined drive of J.A. Wilson (Controller of Civil Aviation) was on the brink of launching Canada’s national airline.

Establishing a North Atlantic air service was vital for Great Britain, which already had flying boat links as far as distant Australia. Now, Ottawa envisioned Canada being part of Great Britain’s globe-encircling plans. Meanwhile, France and Germany already were well-entrenched on the Atlantic, operating flying boats and Zeppelins. Imperial Airways, unfortunately, was at a disadvantage, since its Short “C” Class boats lacked range, so could not carry loads on the Atlantic. For its flights “Caledonia” had all excess weight stripped out and long range fuel tanks added, then it barely could make it across to Botwood. America’s Boeing, Martin and Sikorsky flying boats, on the other hand, were built from the outset for range and payload. Imperial Airways’ Short “G” Class flying boat, which would match the American designs, still was on the drawing boards.

After landing at Botwood, “Caledonia” pushed on to Montreal, where its arrival was a huge media event. Its sister ship, “Cambria”, already having made proving flights to the Mediterranean and Azores, also was involved, but its first crossing to Botwood was a near-disaster, when navigation and radio equipment broke down. Temporarily lost, “Cambria” finally reached Botwood. Next, it continued on a public relations trip to Montreal, then Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor and Hamilton. Cambria’s arrival in Toronto Bay was heralded by the local press: “The Cambria’s landing will be marked by a shrieking outburst from factory and locomotive whistles.”

Instead of boisterous headlines the next day, the front page of the “Toronto Daily Star” reported grim news. Front and centre was a large photo of “Cambria” floating cockeyed on Toronto Bay with the caption, “Flying Boat Soars above City, Breaks Pontoon in Landing”. On touching down on Lake Ontario in front of the Canadian National Exhibition, Captain Griffin J. “Taffy” Powell seems to have miscalculated, perhaps fooled by a crosswind. His port wing dug in, the huge sponson near its tip tore off, and the mighty flying boat slewed dramatically to a stop.

Once the situation was under control, “Cambria” was towed into Toronto Bay. A repair crew from De Havilland of Canada (including Don Long) was organized and eventually completed repairs (needed parts were shipped from Belfast aboard the Queen Mary and on by surface express to Toronto). On September 23 Captain Powell test flew “Cambria”. Next day he flew to Hamilton for a civic event, then left for the long flight home. “Cambria” landed in Foynes on September 28 after a record-setting 10:35 hours for the eastbound leg.

These C. Don Long photos of “Cambria” rarely have been seen. They show Don’s great facility with a camera, getting wide, medium and close-up views, taking it all in, as we used to say. I’m sure that somewhere there are other photos from this series, but these are impressive enough.

n.b. For the in-depth story of the “Cambria” in Toronto see Patrick Fitz Gerald’s 2005 history “The Cambria Incident: A Very Public Mishap” in the Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal Vol.43 No.4. Also see Ray Crone’s 1998 summary “Canada and the Short Empire Boats” in CAHS Journal Vol.36 No.4. For membership in the CAHS please go to www.cahs.com If you are not a member yet, you will thank yourself for joining.

This series of Don Long photographs shows “Cambria” moored in Toronto Bay. There were no telephoto lenses in everyday use in 1937, so this is enlarged from a small part of Don’s negative. Then, a series of photos of “Cambria” in the Toronto Islands lagoon near the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, where repair work was done. Any true aviation history fan will revel in these scenes. The cockpit photo will really get the flying boat aficionados going. I haven’t seen such a nice one.

In 2013 I was honoured by the CAHS with its prestigious “C. Don Long” award.

Toronto Bay History Treasure

Also among my small collection of C. Don Long negatives is this one of the Toronto Harbour Commission’s 214-ton tugboat Rouille. I’m guessing that it was named for Fort Rouille, the original European settlement here. Fort Rouille was a small French trading post somewhere on the Lake Ontario shore where York later was founded in 1793 by Governor Simcoe (York became Toronto in 1834).

Tugboat Rouille was built by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. in During WWII it was impressed by the RCN. Postwar, it worked for J.P. Porter and Sons of Toronto, but ended badly. On December 3, 1954 it was sailing from Sydney, Cape Breton Island to Rimouski on the lower St. Lawrence River, when it got into stormy waters. Just off Cape Smokey, about 60 miles north of Sydney, it sank, taking its five crew to their deaths.

Here, Rouille is tied up in the Keating Channel near the mouth of the Don River. To this day, the scene is not hugely different, although the Keating Channel is destined for a major facelift as the Lower Don is redeveloped. This photo exemplifies the stalwart photographer. Airplanes are of great interest, of course, but a fellow like Don Long always had his eyes open, looking for other fascinating subject matter. What great work such hobbyists do in preserving ordinary Canadian history.

Plane Spotting

Lately, the fabulous AeroTime News website has featured some items about the plane spotting hobby. Here’s the introductory part of it. What an excellent summary, but has the hobby ever changed since we old timers got interested. Who would have thought that a hobbyist could end in jail over his simple interest in photographing airplanes? Well, it’s happened, mainly because there actually are rules … and always have been. One day at Malton, for example, I had cycled up to the Avro end to see what there was to see. Spotting some CF-100s about a half mile away, I decided to have a go at them by trudging through some fields of thick grass and weeds along the Avro fenceline. We always had known about this spot, but had been warned by pals that Avro sometimes patrolled the fence. Finally I reached the CF-100s, which were parked on a run-up pad. Nobody was around, so I took a few snaps through the Frost fence. All of a sudden I heard yelling, turned and spotted a couple of uniformed Avro security cops huffing and puffing through the field heading my way. Soon they had me cornered and were giving me the gears. Who did I think I was, etc., etc. After confiscating my roll of 120 and jotting down my particulars, we parted on good enough terms. A couple of weeks later my negatives came in the mail, all of them, so Avro security had a heart after all. However, it had been a good lesson for a kid. After that I was a bit more cautious about when and where to push my luck at the airport. We had other even more exciting run-ins with airport security, about which I’ll write in a future book.

Planespotting … The Dos and Dont’s

Famous Central Airways Piper Apache Restored

About two years ago Don McVicar of Hamilton put a team together to restore Canada’s first Piper PA-23 Apache – Central Airways’ CF- KFX. “KFX” was brought into Canada by Central’s always forward-thinking owners, Bobby and Tommy Wong. This is really a newsworthy story that any fan will enjoy. It’s all about how CF-KFX recently has risen from the boneyard. There are many interesting threads and the project has spun off some worthwhile activity. In one case, it’s brought some old time Central Airways (Toronto Island Airport) staff and former students back in touch with each other. Here’s your link to this nifty story:

C-117 Loses and Engine at Anchorage

Click on this link to see the stills and action-packed videos showing the crash landing on December 9 at Anchorage airport. In spite of it all, this C-117 “Super DC-3” should be flying again before long:


Grumman Albatross Revival

In the late 1950s the RCAF ordered a small fleet (10) of Grumman G-111 Albatross amphibians for its search-and-rescue units. These replaced Canada’s long-serving Cansos and complemented the RCAF’s Otters, Dakotas, etc. doing SAR work. Retired in 1971, our Albatrosses returned to Grumman, then were re-sold, some to the Mexican military.

In 2022 the Albatross is having a revival. Many of the 466 built survive, and there is a plan to refurbish some, and maybe build new examples in Australia powered by Canada’s famous PT6 turbine engine. Will this actually happen? We shall see, as usual. Pratt & Whitney Canada’s recent press release explains (the PT6 stats are amazing):

The G-111T is the only large transport category amphibious aircraft for passenger, cargo and utility in the marketplace,” said Chairman of Amphibian Aerospace Industries, Khoa Hoang. “Because of its ability to land and take-off from both land and water, the G-111T is ideal for use in inland rivers, ocean rescue, mountainous terrain and tropic river basins.”

Pilots and operators fly the PT6A engine with confidence, even in the most challenging of conditions. The engine builds on the experience gained from more than 900 million hours of operation expertise across our portfolio and reliability of the PT6 family. With more than 50 years of experience in general aviation, the PT6A engine further benefits from 425 million flying hours – more flying hours than any other engine on the market – the PT6A is a proven engine and the most prolific in the segment.

PT6A-67F engines have been identified as the engine of choice from within the PT6A family for the G-111T aircraft application,’ said Anthony Rossi, vice president, Business Development, Pratt & Whitney Canada. “We have been working with Amphibian Aerospace for the past five years on this program and have developed an effective and productive relationship that bodes extremely well for the success of the program.

Pierre Gillard Blog

If you are not familiar with the superb aviation blog by Pierre Gillard, please take a look. This week, Pierre features a wonderful gallery of Nordair 737 photos:


*If you’re not exhausted by now, start scrolling back. You’ll find an encyclopedic amount of Canadian aviation history that you’re bound to enjoy.

Have a Look! CANAV’s Fall/Winter 2021-22 List — It’s a Blockbuster Season. Also … Norseman Update, CAHS History, Bill Wheeler, Neil A. Macdougall, Austin Airways, Fox Moth Discoveries, Les Corness Treasures, James Bay Airlift, Canadair CL-260 Re-Discovered, John Ciesla’s fantastic Transportation Files, Ghost Canso/Bush Caddy Update

Welcome to CANAV’s Fall/Winter 2021-22 booklist. As usual it includes all the standard CANAV classics, with some excellent deals, especially for Air Transport in Canada at a give-away, all-in price. There are numerous new offerings, all enticing for the serious fan. It’s hard to say which is the real standout of the bunch., but I’m tending (for one) towards Chris Hadfield’s The Apollo Murders. I’ve just started to read it and I’m reminded right away (as far as writing style and enticing content go) of Ernie Gann’s Fate is the Hunter. That’s about as grand a compliment as I could give any aviation/space author. I think you need this book, but so do you need a boxload of others from this fall’s list. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean … stock up for winter.

Hot Off the Press … Red Lake Norseman Project Finale!

Norseman CF-DRD finally has been fully refurbished and again graces the Red Lake waterfront at the head of Howie Bay. To see this week’s posting, google: Kim posted an update to Save DRD – Red Lake’s Norseman icon
Please drop a few bucks in DRD’s gofundme kitty while you’re there. How painful will that be? Not at all, but you’ll have helped push the project fund to its goal of $50K, a target that a couple of years ago must have seemed so impossible. Not today it isn’t! Cheers … Larry

Canadian Aviation Society: Beginnings

Canada’s premier aviation history organization for 60+ years has been the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Lately, I came across two historic documents that reveal some key CAHS history. Have a look at the minutes of the society’s original meeting, when it was known as “The Early Birds of Canada”. This was a name suggested by the original US-based “Early Birds of Aviation”, which included pilots who had flown prior to December 17, 1916. Soon, however, we realized that this name would restrict the breadth in coverage, so the more general, all-encompassing “CAHS” name was adopted at our second meeting. To my knowledge, none of those mentioned in the minutes are still with us. The second document from a few months later in 1963 is under the CAHS banner and states the society’s rationale. These documents were printed on a 1950s “spirit duplicator”, so it’s a miracle that they haven’t faded away to nothing by now.

A Few Photos by the Great W.J. “Bill” Wheeler, CAHS No.5

Bill Wheeler (right) and Neil A. Macdougall were two of Canada’s leading aviation writers, editors and historians. Rick Radell took this wonderful photo of them at the 2011 event at the CWH in Hamilton, when Bill so deservedly was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

Bill Wheeler (1931-2020, CAHS No.5, Member Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, etc.)) spent more than 40 years as editor of the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. As such, he really was the beating heart of the CAHS. He also spent a tour as CAHS national president. Residing in Markham since the 1960s, his day job in his younger years was commercial illustrator for such publications as Toronto’s legendary “Star Weekly”. He also produced some renowned book covers, and his illustrations fill our Journal from the early 1960s onward. For today, here are a few of Bill’s ordinary airplane photos, of which there are too many to count. We early CAHS members had much in common. While many had been involved in the development of early aviation, others were more the “arm chair” type, sharing such pastimes as reading aviation books and magazines, taking in airshows and CAHS events, being enthusiastic aviation photographers, etc.

When we met in 1962, Bill was still earning his living as an artist and illustrator. Happily, before long he got into teaching art, then enjoyed a long career at West Hill Collegiate in east Toronto, finishing as art department head. Over the decades as a hobby photographer he amassed other photos from countless sources. All these he kept lovingly in huge albums. For example, here’s a very rare photo that he saved ages ago of Leavens Brothers famous Pitcairn PAA-1 Autogyro CF-ASQ.

Leavens had started on a farm near Belleville, Ontario in the late 1920s, then moved to Toronto’s Barker Field and Pelee Island on Lake Erie. Leavens became legendary delivering supplies and mail to Pelee, teaching thousands of young Canadians to fly, and leading the way for years in spruce budworm aerial spray campaigns, and in aircraft sales and service.

Leavens’ sole Pitcairn had come to Canada in 1932, then spent more than 20 years doing everything from joyriding at country fairs to spraying and – as you see – banner towing. A bit of self-promotion is going one in this scene – Leavens always had a flying school. Thanks to Bill, this rare Pitcairn photo survives. I doubt that few in 2021 have ever before seen this one. Here also is an old b/w print from Bill’s collection showing a JN-4 on the Leavens farm in the late 1920s. One or more of the Leavens may have learned to fly on this old crate.

Here are three nice Bill Wheeler snapshots taken at Toronto’s Malton Airport c.1960. First is one of the Department of Transport’s beautiful little Piper Apaches, CF-GXV. This was an early Canadian Apache, having entered the CCAR in 1957. It served the DOT into 1965, then had a long list of operators including Calm Air in Manitoba and Drumheller Air Service in Alberta. It was missing from the CCAR by 1976. What was its fate, I wonder? Its registration eventually was assigned to a Maule. We always thought that this DOT colour scheme was the best over the decades. The only complaint here is the tiny registration. One would think that the DOT of all outfits might have known better.
Bill’s nice shot of a pair of DOT Beech 18s at Malton: CF- GXT is nearest. Just beyond is the old Canada Customs shack at Malton’s north end. Looming in the background is the recently built Skyport hangar. It’s still there in 2021 “GXT” was ex-RCAF 1540. It served the DOT 1957-69, then St. Félicien Air Services to August 19, 1971, when lost in a northern Quebec crash. Types like the Apache and Beech 18 were work-a-day DOT planes. Inspectors used them daily to travel around to dozens of airfields. They were used for check rides for private and commercial pilots getting qualified. They tested new radio or nav equipment, etc. As time passed, the Apaches and Beech 18s were replaced by newer planes such as the Aztec and Queen Air. This is one of those photos printed on a popular paper from back in the day that was somewhat mottled, so (as you can see) it’s not easy to read small details like registrations. Photographic paper makers were always trying out such new surfaces, looking for marketing gimmicks, but if only they’d stuck with a nice flat, glossy surface our photos would have more archival value in the 2020s.
Here’s a snap that Bill clicked off on the Genaire ramp at Malton showing one of the prototype Found FBA-2C bushplanes in the early 60s. CF-OZW crashed at Parry Sound on Georgian Bay in 1965. This really shows the Found for the tough little bushplane it was. It remains so to this day — a few of Founds built in the early 1960s still are at work in the bush. The first detailed history of Found appeared in Air Transport in Canada (1997). Then, in 2017 Rick Found wrote a further history – the “inside story” that he entitled Bush Hawk. With these two histories, the Found story is well covered.

Bill and Charlie

Charlie (left) and Bill out at Buttonville airport (near Toronto), where Charlie kept his beloved little CF-LVI. Looks as if this day he was doing some tinkering with LVI’s engine. Charlie was an ace of a tinkerer. Two finer Canadians one would be hard-pressed to find.

If the CAHS had two real pals from Day 1, those were Bill Wheeler and Charlie Catalano. While Bill was teaching, Charlie was a fellow who did almost anything. Once, he was managing a theatre where we held some early CAHS meetings, at other times he was repairing radios and TVs, yet again he was tinkering with a system of lights under the wings of his war surplus T-50. He’d fly over Toronto at night with the lights spelling out various advertising messages. Charlie was an innovative fellow. He and Bill were real CAHS stalwarts. There could have been no society without such members. For many years Charlie kept his own little 1945 Aeronca at Buttonville – CF-LVI. He flew it summer and winter. He and Bill made many a flight together. Here are shots that Bill took of Charlie’s “Airknocker” on skis, then towing a banner promoting a CAHS Convention some time in the 1960s. Last heard of in 2018, “LVI” was based in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

A History of Austin Airways

It was a big deal publishing CANAV’s short history of Austin Airways back in 1985, then adding to the details fairly substantially in Air Transport in Canada (1997) and The Noorduyn Norseman (Vol.2, 2013), but there’s much more to know about this great company than CANAV’s efforts. Long before I had a clue about it all, in the 1950s Neil A. Macdougall (1927-2021) of Toronto was covering the Austin story. By this time, Neil, having begun in aviation while in high school in Vancouver during WWII, was well known as a polished, professional aviation journalist.

On assignment from “ESSO Air World”, Neil did an in- depth study of Austin, visiting the company from its base at Toronto Island Airport to Sudbury and other points north. He talked to many of the key Austin people, flew in Austin aircraft, did all the photography, then put together this solid company profile. For the periodical genre, this is as good an air operator istory as you’ll find. If any writer in our so-shallow “social media” era could do half as well, he’d be a winner.

Here’s Neil’s finished product as it appeared in the January – February edition of the prestigious “ESSO Air World”. See what a professional writer and photographer at his peak could do out in the field 60+ years ago. Also, see Neil’s obituary at the end. Talk about a solid Canadian’s life well lived.

Fox Moth Discoveries

It’s always fun to come across any new airplane photo. Out of the blue, these two just popped up lately from Bill Wheeler’s files – a couple of D.H.83 Fox Moths. These planes were from the small batch built at Downsview in 1945-46 as DHC was getting back into civil aviation after its booming war years had come to a sudden halt in August 1945. Right away business in the north started to roll again, so airplanes were needed. While the DHC design team was working on what would evolve into the Chipmunk and Beaver, there was a small market for old pre-war Fox Moths. DHC turned out 53½ of these useful planes. Many went north, including one to Yellowknife for a young pilot, Max Ward.

I wonder who got this lovely air-to-air shot of Fox Moth CF- DIW? Notice the chief detail that makes this a Canadian-built version – its attractive sliding canopy. “DIW” was around Toronto when we were kids. Dave Marshall, a young fellow flying a DC-3 at Malton for the Abitibi Power and Paper Company, sometimes flew “DIW” (that looks like Dave in this shot). In 1959-60 it was based at Maple airstrip just north of Toronto. Its fuselage was red, the wings and tail feathers were yellow. I took a nice landing shot of “DIW” at one of the local fly-ins about 1960. Dave was flying that day. I happily used that shot in my first book, Aviation in Canada.

Fox Moth CF-EVK had a long career but it’s a bit of a complicated story. “EVK” had begun as the very prototype D.H.83 Fox Moth — G- ABUO. It came to Canada in May 1933, became CF-API, and that winter joined General Airways of Rouyn to toil in the northern bush. In 1937-39 it was in BC with Ginger Coote Airways, then returned to Ontario, where it hauled sturgeon in 1939 for Baillie-Maxwell of Nakina. Starting in 1940, it worked for Leavens Brothers from their Larder Lake base in northern Ontario. Damaged in a wind storm at Barker Field in January 1950, it was rebuilt by Leavens to D.H.83C standards, acquiring a new identity — D.H.83C No.54. This transpired when the salvageable parts of “API” were mated with the 54 th and last fuselage built by DHC. Re-registered CF-EVK, it appeared in DOT records as D.H.83C No.54. In 1959 it was listed in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register to L. Lavoie of Amos, Quebec. Its C of A was current to March 1960, so it’s sometimes described as Canada’s last commercially- operated D.H.83C. After 1960, nothing is known about “EVK”. I once heard that it was destroyed when the shed it was stored in burned. Here, “EVK” looks very spiffy on skis, place and date unknown.

Three More Glorious Les Corness Photos

As usual, hardly a week passes that I’m not salivating over another of Les Corness’ wonderful old black-and-whites. First is a really classic scene from the early years of “modern” air transportation in Canada. A crowd of well-wishers is seeing off TCA DC-3 CF-TDT at Edmonton’s famous downtown airport. Here’s your basic definition of “airport security” in Canada c.1950. Delivered initially to the RCAF as FZ558 in late 1943, “TDT” next served TCA 1946-61. I photographed it in Winnipeg when it was in its final weeks with the company in September 1961, just before it was sold to Matane Air Service in Quebec. Last heard if, “TDT was derelict in Nassau in 1971 as N7709.
Next is another classic Les Corness Edmonton airport scene c.1960 showing Wardair’s Bristol Freighter CF-TFX loading a Bell 47. Great ramp action and content, right, even it Les botched his focus a titch. Happily, “TFX” eventually was saved for posterity. Today, it flies on forever atop its pylon at Yellowknife.
Since Edmonton was an aviation crossroads, hardly a day passed that it attracted some exotic transient airplane. Les must have been on Cloud 9 when he spotted this beauty one day – N5546N, a rare civilian Martin B-26 Marauder executive conversion. Having originally been USAAF B-26C 41-35071, in 1946 it was acquired by United Air Lines, then other owners followed. In 1949 it participated in the Bendix Trophy Race. From 1951-56 (or so) it served the Tennessee Gas Corp. I suspect that this was the period it visited Edmonton – there was much oil/gas industry corporate air travel to and from Edmonton and Calgary from the 1950s onward (to the present). Eventually, N5546N was acquired by the Confederate Air Force in Texas and restored to CAF warbird standards. It flew again in WWII markings in 1984. Airworthy B-26s were so rare that it a grave shock when N5546N crashed near Odessa, Texas on September 28, 1995. That day it was airborne with the pilot and four others aboard. It seems that power was lost in at least one engine, causing the plane to go down uncontrollably. All aboard perished.

Northern Aviation in 1977

In 1977 Hugh Whittington, the renowned editor of “Canadian Aviation” magazine, asked three writers to cover Canada’s Northern and Arctic Aviation scenes. Hugh Quigley headed for Yellowknife, Ted Larkin for Resolute Bay, and I for the heart of James Bay country along Quebec’s Great Whale River. This was a super opportunity for us. Besides, it always was a privilege to work for Hugh and Canada’s premier aviation trade magazine.

To start, I connected with SEBJ – la Société d’énergie de la Baie James – in Montreal to make arrangements to fly into its vast hydro development region, get briefed about what was going on up there, and how my transportation and lodging would go. In a few days I was at Dorval, where I met the man running SEBJ’s air transport operation, the legendary Frank Henley. A hardcore aviation fan and renowned aviator/businessman, Frank was keen to fill me in and get my flight north organized. Only recently he had set up an exclusive SEBJ corporate air operation using several Convair 580s. Their main task was to fly personnel, freight and mail back and forth between Dorval and SEBJ, with stops at Quebec and Bagotville.

This assignment was one of my first big breaks in aviation journalism. Even though I was getting published in the aviation press, there rarely was more than a few dollars in it for any piece of work. By comparison, Hugh was offering $750 for the SEBJ assignment. Our stories appeared in his November 1977 edition. My trip really panned out, including some very good flying in the Convairs, a couple of commercial Hercules, and some Bell choppers. I had one heck of an exciting few days. Here’s what I turned out for Hugh:

Forty-four years later? By now, the SEBJ that I saw in 1977 long-since has been producing hydro electricity for Quebec, New York and Ontario. The project has gone on to additional phases and still is on-going. Of course, the aviation scene is much changed. Long gone are the Convairs, DC-3s, Otters and Hercules. Today, such types as the PC-12, King Air and Dash 8 serve the region. Many of the fellows I met also have departed, from Frank Henley to Blake Smiley and Roy Heibel. Frank’s now a member of Quebec’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Roy later died in a helicopter crash.

Some of the SEBJ aircraft came to dramatic endings, including CF-DSX. Following SEBJ and other northern projects, in 1984 it became N39ST with Trans America, then was S9-NAI with Transafrik working in diamond mining regions of South Africa. On April 9, 1989 “NAI” was hauling fuel for the Angolan Air Force when it came under fire near Luena airfield. With two engines ablaze, it crash-landed. The 4-man crew survived, but that was the end of what once had been a famous Canadian Hercules.

The other “Herc” that I flew in on SEBJ, PWA’s CF-PWN, also had a bad ending. As N920ST, by 1989 it was doing shady work for the CIA. On November 27 that year was approaching Jamba airport in Angola. The “Aviation Safety Network” summarizes what happened: “The aircraft, flown by Tepper Aviation’s chief, reportedly was carrying out a flight on behalf of the CIA to provide the Angolan UNITA guerrilla forces with weapons. It crashed while coming in to land at Jamba. These flights were flown at night at a very low altitude to avoid MPLA radar detection. The runway at Jamba was dirt, the approach was over trees, and the portable runway lighting was probably marginally adequate.”

Here’s a page from Air Transport in Canada with photos of some commercial Hercules having Canadian connections, some quite sad. These days you can order “ATC” at a real bargain. Get this 2-volume, 5 kg, 1030-page treasure (usually $155++) for these all-in prices (pay by PayPal, etc. in Canadian dollars): Canada $65.00, USA $80.00, Int’l $160.00. No one ever has regretted having “ATC” on his/her bookshelf, and what a spectacular gift this duo always makes.

Canadair Revelation

Back in 1995 we published one of the grandest corporate aviation histories – Canadair: The First 50 Years. It really is a lovely book and will be treasured for decades by those who own the 24,000 copies that came off the bindery at Friesen printers in Manitoba. However, there’s always the reality that no matter how we try, we never really can produce the “all singing, all dancing” aviation book. All that our Canadair can do it whet a reader’s appetite for more. Well, today here’s a bit more for the avid fan.

Just like all aerospace companies, Canadair created hundreds of projects “on paper”, few of which ever developed. That’s too bad in some ways, for some of these surely would have made grand successes.

Out in today’s aviation boonies are hundreds of Cessna Caravans, DHC Beavers, Otters and turbo Otters, Kodiaks, AN-2s and other such common workhorses. They serve niche markets in a hundred-and-one ways. They’re absolutely indispensible for isolated northern communities from Labrador to Alaska, across Africa and Latin America, in the Aussie outback, in Siberia, etc. Each type has its general history, even some fame and glory, but who knew, for example, that the Caravan had its beginnings in the late 1970s as a glint in to eyes of Dick Hiscocks and Russ Bannock of De Havilland Canada in Toronto? Strange but true. The fellows envisioned an Otter replacement, took their idea to Wichita, and the rest is history (you might not see this part of the Caravan story in any official Cessna history).

All very interesting, but did you know that the first such brilliant and serious idea for an Otter replacement hailed not from Hiscocks/Bannock, but from Canadair at Cartierville in suburban Montreal? This was the Canadair CL-260 utility plane of 1970. As a builder of Sabres, Argus and CF-104s, who would expect the great Canadair to be dabbling with such a “small fry” project? That I do not know and nearly all the Canadair old boys from that era by now have passed. Does anyone out there know the details? Failing all else, here’s a nifty bit that emerged lately from the depths of the CANAV archives.

CL-260 Turbine Otter Caravan

Wing Span: 54’ 58’ 52’1”

Length: 43’2” 41’10” 37’7”

All-up Weight: 8000 lb 8200 lb 8000 lb

It’s just another fantasy airplane by now, but “what if” Canadair had produced the CL-260? Would it have changed the world long before the ubiquitous Caravan, and the other light utility planes that serve today? It’s always fun to speculate. Anyway, here are the GA drawings direct from Canadair. Who will be the first keen modeller to give this one a try? If you dare try and follow through, please send me some photos for the blog.

JFCiesla’s albums | Flickr

Have a look at John Ciesla’s fantastic transportation files. Lots of wonderful Canadian content from the great airliners of the 50s-60s to streetcars, busses, you name it. Many a trip down memory lane!

Bush Caddy Update

The last time I updated the story of the “Ghost” Canso of Gananoque, one of the photos (taken by Nick Wolochatiuk) shows a bit of a sorry-looking yellow Bush Caddy in the hangar beside the Canso. CANAV reader Jim Golz has found the story behind this interesting airplane. It’s a classic “cautionary tale” in detail, including some questions about of aircraft certification competence at Transport Canada. Use the blog search box to find our original story by entering “Bush Caddy”. Here’s the link that reveals this really amazing story … not to be missed by any true history fan, or anyone who aviates in kitplanes: https://www.eaa.org/eaa/news-and-publications/eaa-news-and-aviation-news/bits-and-pieces-newsletter/12-25-2019-wing-spar-failure-on-a-bushcaddy-l-164