Good day CANAV supporters … here’s the next action-packed session on the CANAV Books Blog, but before getting into our lead story covering “Operation Preserve”, here is some important information and some fascinating bits of history.
D-Day Celebrations at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton
D-Day was so well covered this year, whether locally in one Canadian community after another, or in Normandy itself. As is a tradition, the fantastic Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton went all-out, especially with its fly-over program. Gus Corujo was there with his cameras – Gus rarely misses any aviation event in his wide-ranging travels around Ontario. Here is his CWHM D-Day 2019 presentation for you to enjoy: http://gusair.com/htdocs/Airshows/2019/19D-DAY/19d-day.html
Unless someone pulls a mighty impressive new book out of the fire, Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 will remain Canada’s aviation book of the year through 2019, likely into 2020. “FPO” is a treat for any serious aviation reader. It will you give years of enjoyment and your order will help CANAV to get ahead with Vol.9.
Here’s what the great Denis J. Calvert writes about “FPO” in the May 2019 edition of “The Aeroplane”: “This is volume eight in CANAV’s series detailing Canada’s aviation heritage. Those who have read – or own – earlier volumes will be familiar with author Milberry’s style of writing, which strikes the happy, but all too rare, balance between being easy to read and rigorously detailed … Illustrations are excellent.” Here are two other reviews to check out: “Britain at War” (November 2018) and “Flypast” (March 2019). Don’t sit on your hands, get your order in today! Meanwhile, I also attach CANAV’s current booklist – it’s well worth a look. It’s packed with a best in aviation reading, the sort the will keep your attention span being reduced to 3 minutes (by playing around way too much on the internet, right). FYI … CANAV’s Curent Booklist is right here: 1 CANAV Booklist Spring_Summer 2019
The Rock of Gibraltar + Some Alberta Treasures
Next … recently I came across these old photos of RCAF aircraft at Gibraltar in the 1950s-60s. If there isn’t a book full of such “Rock of Gibraltar” airplane photos, someone needs to do one. Shown first is one of RCAF Air Transport Command’s famous Canadair North Stars from the 1940s-60s. Then, a “Wilf White Collection” Kodachrome showing RCAF Argus 20737, likely coming or going re. some Cold War anti-submarine exercise. I wouldn’t be surprised in the 2010s to see photos of RCAF Auroras, CF-18, Hercs, etc. with “The Rock” as backdrop.
The RCAF had first started using “Gib” in WWII, when it operated a mail service from Ottawa (168 Sqn) all the way through to Cairo, mainly using B-17s converted to transports. This pioneer effort turned into an RCAF gold star success.
As I was writing the history of Canada’s vast air transportation heritage in the 1980s-90s, I decided to include a gallery of original aviation art. Always fascinated by the amazing overseas work of 168 Sqn, I commissioned my great friend, artist and photographer, the late Robert “Bob” Finlayson, to paint a 168 Sqn B-17 over “Gib”, since 168 on the Mediterranean route stopped there countless times going and coming. To this day I count Bob’s painting as one of the treasures in Canadian aviation art. He always seemed to pull a piece together so nicely. He did his research thoroughly, then got his plane, sky and background nicely together on his board. After decades of work, I finally got the book into print – Air Transport in Canada. You can find the details in the CANAV 2019 booklist above. This is another Canadian aviation heritage book that you definitely will treasure.
Alberta Snapshots Surface
Fascinating historic aviation photos keep surfacing as the years pass. This spring Ken Townend of Calgary (one of CANAV’S earliest readers) sent me these b/w prints. First are two photos that he took of RCAF Hurricane 5414 (then with 135 Squadron at Tofino) in Edmonton in April 1945. This was a Victory Loan event on the east side of 101 Street south of Jasper Avenue. People going by could get a close look at a Hurricane, at this time frontline RCAF equipment. You can see that the passersby were keen to have a look. Notice the “Let’s Make a Clean Sweep” propaganda billboard on the street corner. In a few weeks the jig would be up for the Germans, and the Japanese soon would follow. Clean sweep accomplished!
Here’s one of Ken’s shots from a visit to Edmonton airport in the late 1940s. Shown are RCAF Mosquito KA115 and one of the RCAF’s first two Gloster Meteor jet fighters. Next, a closer view of KA115, which was struck off strength in June 1948. Notice the airport elevation on the hangar across the field – 2185 feet above sea level.
American military planes had been passing through Edmonton flying to and from Alaska since the 1920s. One day Ken Townend got to watch a squadron of USAF F-80 Shooting Star jet fighters during their refuelling stopover. Ken notes, “The US F-80s shot up the airfield, then landed from the north. At least two of them were unable to slow down sufficiently to turn off at the end of the runway, so got stuck in the gopher holes and grass. I clambered over the fence and took a couple of photos.” This view is really interesting for the Edmonton background. Since the airport closed a few years ago, nothing much remains of the old hangars, etc. The final shot is another F-80 taken at Edmonton about the same time by Leslie Corness.
Ontario Regiment Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Museum Annual Open House “Aquino Tank Weekend”
On Saturday, June 9 we attended this year’s Ontario Regiment RCAC Museum annual weekend open house at the museum’s Oshawa airport location, about an hour’s drive east of Toronto.. This was one of the most fantastic armoured history events anywhere on the globe for this season. I’m not particularly a tank/armour history follower, but certainly will be showing a lot more interest from now on. For this blog item, I’ll simply show you photos of a few vehicle types that were operating among what must have been 50+. Also … some misc. displays.
At one point alone there were five operating ex-Canadian Army Leopard I main battle tanks on the field. There were numerous Allied and German tanks, tank destroyers, armoured personnel carriers, jeeps, artillery pieces, etc. all manned by expertly-trained operators, There also was a mass of Gulf War equipment, and Allied and German re-enactors put on a mock battle based on one of the Canadian engagements during the Liri Valley battlefield period in WWII Italy – the Battle of Aquino, May 14, 1944 (see Wiki, etc.). Here are a few photos to whet your appetite for a visit to this magnificent museum. “Impressive” does not begin to describe this museum adequately.
Thousands of these Commonwealth “Bren Gun Carriers” served the Canadian Army in WWII. Some 29,000 alone were built by the Ford Motor Co. in Canada. You can find all the details for such vehicles by checking on Wiki, etc. Besides all the “heavy metal” roaring around on the display grounds, there was at least and acre of fascinating static displays. Above is the artillery piece being towed by the Bren Gun Carrier.
Typical German hardware of WWII. The Allies had to confront such formidable armour wherever they fought from North Africa early in the war on to north Germany into May 1945.
Canada operated the British-built Centurion main battle tank (static view above) through the Cold War. It finally was replaced by the German-designed Leopard I. Next … two of the five operating Leopard Is on the field this day.
A wide view of some of the vehicles that we saw in operation during the morning action.
Several of Canada’s D-Day veterans were present. After being introduced, they made the circuit of the grounds in several types of wartime vehicles.
A German medium tank and tank destroyer on the move. Then, “German” re-enactors dismounting and setting up to drive the Canadians from Aquino airfield. This fellow is ready to create mayhem for the Canadians with his MG42.
A Bren Gun Carrier arrives with Canadian troops.
Stewart and Chaffe tanks roll out, then one of the museum’s mighty Shermans.
Canadians on the defensive. All the weapons here were operable and 100s of rounds were banged off in these realistic demonstrations. Lee Enfield rifles, Thompson submachine guns, Bren guns and side arms all were fired. Then, a German half-track on the attack.
This Canadian Army Chevy truck tows a 25-pound (87.6 mm) artillery piece and ammunition limber. The 25-pounder fired several blank rounds.
This current Leopard II recovery tank came in from CFB Borden. Then, yet another piece of heavy WWII German equipment.
Radio-controlled scale model tanks; then the large battlefield diorama where they were rolling around all day.
Some of the amazing Gulf War armour on show including (last shot) a Russian T-62 main battle tank, the much-feared type still used by Russian client states.
Nearby the tank museum (which is at Oshawa airport) is an important RCAF monument – a sparkling Canadair F-86 Sabre V. (Photos by Shannon and Marin Milberry; Blog Master, Owen Milberry)
Now … Djibouti 1991
CanForces C-130 Hercules 130326 taxis through the pigeons at Djibouti (formerly French Somalia) in November 1991. It was headed out on one of hundreds of “Operation Preserve” missions on behalf of the UN World Food Program. Then, Herc 130333 loading at Djibouti for yet another trip into the Ethiopian “outback”. All this food aid arrived in Djibouti by sea, then was trucked to the airport. This brought employment and cash into the local economy and organizers made the most of it. Loading a Herc with as much as 22 tons of grain or corn was never a speedy process, since it was being paid for at an hourly rate. At the offloading end, the locals weren’t in it so much for the money, so could empty a Herc in 10-12 minutes (the record during Operation Preserve was eight minutes).
Region in Turmoil
The Horn of Africa has been in turmoil for centuries. In more modern times, there was a horrendous 3-decades war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 2018 the warring parties finally agreed to a peace. In another infamous case (1977-78) there was all-out war between Ethiopia and Somalia, backed, respectively, by the USSR and USA. The opposite recently had been true, so the Soviet-backed Ethiopian air force went to war with US-made Northrop F-5s, while the US-backed Somali air force flew Soviet MiG-21s. The “MiGs” soon ruled the skies. The main fighting took place in the northern Ogaden region lying between the two countries: Having a dream of a “Greater Somalia”, in 1977 President Siad Barre launched his attack on the Ogaden, looking to annex this ethnically Somali territory, where the main centres were Diradawa and Jijiga. Not far across the border in Somalia was Hargeisa. Barre’s forces ploughed ahead. Just as Ethiopia was near defeat in 1978, however, it was massively reinforced by Cuban, South Yemen and the USSR. Ethiopia now turned the tide, Somalia withdrew and Ethiopia retained the Ogaden (see Wiki, etc., for all the details, e.g. such items as “Somaliland: Hargeisa – The Invisible City”). Humiliated, President Siad Barre punished his own military in the north, having many top officers executed. Like a mini-Stalin or Mao, he also led a campaign to exterminate Somali clan resistance, starving to death and mercilessly bombing his own people. This led to unrest among northern Somalis. A revolution ensued, the north eventually declaring independence as Somaliland, having Hargeisa as its capital. Barre then used his artillery and tactical MiGs to destroying much of Hargeisa. In 1991 Barre was overthrown and eventually replaced by another strongman – Mohamed Farah Aidid. Aidid ushered in his own reign of terror during another ugly period of Somalia clan violence. The United Nations interceded, establishing UNOSOM – United Nations Operations in Somalia, which would count heavily on Canada. For today, however, let’s go back to 1991 when the Horn of Africa was not so much at war (although clans still were at each other’s throats) as it was starving due to crop failure caused by drought.
At the UN’s behest, beginning in August 1991 Canada began flying food aid to Ethiopian centres from its ALCE (Airlift Control Element) at Djibouti International Airport. This was known as Operation Preserve. The mandate was to fly four relief missions per day, each carrying as much as 22 tons of food. Three CC-130 “Hercs” from Air Transport Group at CFB Trenton were provided – two for daily operations plus one back-up. The Hercs were crewed from ATG’s various squadrons and supported by about 60 personnel – airframe and engine techs, logistics people, administrative and medical staff, etc. The ALCE “opened for business” on August 7, the first mission being flown five days later. Destinations were in the Ethiopian provinces of Bale, Hararge and Tigre. “Preserve” was planned for three months, but Canada later responded to a UN World Food Program plea for an extension. In November, I was invited to visit the operation to report first hand. I had a week to get everything organized – gathering the paperwork that DND needed, studying about the Horn of Africa (geography, weather, cultures, etc.), checking out camera equipment, stocking up on film, etc. Finally, on November 24, I rendezvoused with the CF public affairs co-ordinator in Ottawa for the first leg of the trip – a 6.5-hour flight to Canada’s airbase at Lahr, Germany on a DND charter. Our transportation was Nationair’s C-GMXY, an old DC-8-62 that had begun with Swissair in 23 years earlier. The trip started in leisurely fashion, since we had some time to enjoy Lahr and the Black Forest area. Then, on November 28 we set off in 436 Sqn C-130 130323 (UN Flight 6165) with Capt Dave Ross and crew. Our destination was Iraklion, Crete, where a few hours later we landed for fuel in the dead on night.
CanForces Herc “323” during our night refuelling stop at Iraklion, Crete. Delivered to the RCAF in 1967, “323” would serve Canada for some 44 years before retiring in 2012. Within an hour we were airborne for Djibouti, where we landed at 0940 (local) after a trip from Lahr of some 3000 nm. Shuttled downtown to the Sheraton Hotel, we started with a detailed briefing from ALCE commander, LCol Marc Dumais, who also organized a bus tour of the city to get we media people oriented.
A aeronautical map section of the general area being supplied by Operation Preserve during its final weeks. The main centres that I visited are to the south – DireDawa, Jijiga and Hargeisa.
Canada’s makeshift ALCE comprised a few sea containers and tents in a grubby corner at Djibouti International Airport. Canada’s military is famous for getting the job done in such barebones set-ups. This goes back at least to the Korean War when the RCAF’s modest fleet of North Stars made hundreds of trans-Pacific supply, passenger and medevac trips with little fanfare. On any day it may have had 10-12 North Stars available. So busy were they that the USAF assumed that the RCAF must have had hundreds. So it usually goes with a Canadian ALCE – no fuss no muss, just get the job done to specs.
The inevitable crazy signpost seems quickly to appear at any distant ALCE.
The ALCE seen from a giraffe that I briefly commandeered. A spare engine (lower right) and prop always are essential for such an operation.
A few steps from the ALCE, CanForces Herc crews chitchat between missions. The Operation Preserve Hercs this week were “326”, which had an airframe time of 30,433.1 hours as of December 1; “333”– 19,325.6 and “337” — 9445.7. There’s plenty of fun on such an operation. Some cocky 429 Sqn graffiti artist sent this message to the other squadrons at Djibouti.
ALCE commander LCol Dumais (right) with some of his staff at Djibouti.
My first trip from Djibouti began at 0400 on November 30 with a bus ride to the airport with the Dave Ross crew. Things were a bit dicey right away, since some rough-looking airport security fellows with AKs pulled me into a guardhouse, while the crew went ahead. Problem? Who was this Canadian not in uniform? After a few minutes, one of my crew returned to straighten things out. Soon I was around the table at the ALCE taking in the briefing. It was still dark as we climbed out of Djibouti en route to Jijiga, a distance of 144nm. This is how most days began – get out of Djibouti ASAP, so as to land with at destination just about sunrise.
Capt Dave Ross (right, aircraft commander) during mission planning about 0500 just before we headed for Jijiga on November 30. Left is S/L John Barras (nav, RAF on exchange with 436 Sqn). Standing is Sgt Dave Preston (ALCE operations), then, Capt Pete Stolz (pilot). Next, three fellows from the other early crew: LCol Jim Skinner (OC 413 Sqn), Capt Frank Costello (nav) and Capt Vince Schurman (pilot). An old joke about flight planning and paperwork noted that a Herc would not be dispatched ‘til the weight of the paperwork equalled the weight of the plane itself!
Under call sign “Canuck 36”, the Dave Ross crew was airborne at 140,000 lb at 0545. We touched down on Jijiga’s rough little strip (Runway 03-21, barely 2500 feet) at 0630. One of the first things that caught my eye was a crowd of local men heading towards us out of the dusk. These fellows were keen to load the trucks with the 19 tons of corn we had just flown in.
Workers get busy offloading 800 x 55-lb bags. Unloading was competitive, each man hustling as many sacks as quickly as possible. Sightseers from nearby were milling around taking in the excitement on which – in a way – their lives depended.
Herc “333” soon joined us at this dusty airstrip.
S/L Barrass and Capt Ross inspect one of the many dud artillery and tank rounds scattered over Jijiga airport, where fighting during the earlier Somali invasion had been intense.
The flight deck of Herc “333”at Jijiga with flight engineer Don Levins, pilots Rich Pittet and John Pedneault of 435 Sqn, plus UN field worker, Tracy Buckenmeyer.
Our visit to Jijiga soon shaped up beautifully for photography. Here are two more views of “326”. In the second, S/L Barrass is monitoring the start-up. We were airborne again at 0700 this time at 98,000 pounds heading back to base to collect another load. The return trip totalled 1.7 flying hours.
Capts Ross and Stolz in their front office – best seats in the house! As a rule, pilots alternated seats on each leg.
Typical desert between Djibouti and Jijiga. In a good season, this land could produce plenty of food, sometimes even a surplus. In 1991, however, draught was the problem, so there was little sign of any crops or anything green. Notice the small family farm enclosures. The homes are rounded huts mostly made of local materials.
Back at base I joined “Canuck 29” 130333 bound for Diredawa with a 429 crew under Capt Vince Schurman with LCol Skinner of 413 Sqn. Here, “333” loads at Djibouti. We departed at 0845, landed at Diredawa (a distance of 135 nm) at 0930, left again at 1005 and were wheels on back at Djibouti at 1045.
LCol Skinner piloting “333”. Our load in this trip was 20 tons of wheat (400×110-lb bags). Then, a grab shot as we scorched across Diredawa, a city (at this time of some 350,000. Notice the Dechatu River and the railroad (one of few in this part of Africa), which connects Diredawa to Djibouti.
Offloading scenes at Diredawa on November 30. It wasn’t always clear where all this food aid ended. Word was that some was regularly siphoned off to local bandidos, according to accepted local customs. Hauling food grains around was not the best thing for the “care and feeding” of a C-130. S/L John Barrass told me one day about how loose grain readily germinated under a Herc’s floorboards. This could cause damage and expensive clean-up. I no longer wondered why loadmasters sometimes were seen vacuuming the heck out of their Hercs. Another issue was insects, which thrived in sacks of grain and inevitably infested airplanes, making fumigation necessary.
Diredawa was another good place to photograph the CanForces at work, but something else caught my eye. The place was a major military base. There were fighters all over the place, but how to get access? Someone got me an escort onto the MiG-21/MiG- 23 tarmac, but no photos allowed. I could see that there was no activity– the MiGs simply were basking in the sun with nobody in sight. I heard that these MiGs had been used on some recent operations flown by Communist Bloc mercenaries. Apparently, the jets were some sort of rentals, and always ready to relocate to the next war or uprising. There’s a story here, but someone “in the know” will have to write it. In the distance I also could see MiG-15s and -17s. What a hot spot for the aviation geek, eh! Here’s a view of 8800×150 foot Runway 15-33. Notice the MiG compound in the mid distance.
It was OK to photograph this abandoned Aeroflot MI-8 at Diredawa. The MI-8 first flew in 1962. Some 7300 of this astoundingly versatile and reliable helicopter were manufactured. Many were exported to USSR client states and still do great work.
On departure in “333” I was able to grab some “quickie” shots of the MiGs. I wonder if those 15s and 17s are still there? Warbird collectors would go wild if there was a chance of an acquisition.
Our shadow rips along a dried river bed around Diredawa. Back at base I quickly teamed with ”Canuck 29” for another trip to Jijiga in “333” with the Dave Ross crew. We departed at 1245, were airborne for home from Jijiga at 1350 and back at “Silo Ops” (the ALCE ops tent) at 1545. Along the way I learned a few interesting bits of trivia, including how Op Preserve’s C-130s had been lightened from a basic empty weight of 82,000 lb to 75,000 lb (so they could carry more payload); and how there was a strict notice that no aircraft enter Djibouti air space below 15,000 feet (without prior notice). Any lower and who knows what might happen. Maybe an intercept by the French AF Mirages based at Djibouti?
Crew do some on-the-spot fix to “326” while we were at Diredawa on December 1. Ingenuity is the mother of invention, as they say, but this was not a job for strict union workers, that’s for sure. I also made a trip this day to Jijiga in “333” with the 435 Sqn crew of Capt John Pedneault. Here they are at day’s end back at “Silo Ops”: Capt Rich Pettet (pilot), Capt Rolly Tassé (loadmaster), Capt John Pedneault (aircraft commander), Maj Tom Whitburn (nav) and Sgt Don Levins (flight engineer). Although I met many young aircrew on this operation, at this time Capt Tassé was one of four ATG commissioned “loadies” and talk about experience. Having joined the RCAF in 1955, he transitioned from the C-119 to the C-130 in 1962. Prior deployments included Biafra, Congo, Gulf War I and Peru on earthquake relief. By now he had 6200 flying hours on Hercs plus about 2000 on Cosmos. He also had been chief loadmaster instructor at the CF Tactical Airlift School in Edmonton. Where could the RCAF get such experience today? Pretty well impossible.
Herc 326 departs Jijiga on December 1, 1991. Aircraft take a good beating on such operations, where landings and takeoffs always are “max” efforts, e.g. full brakes, flaps and reverse props for landing after landing. Once our Hercs finally go home to Canada, you don’t even want to hear about the cost of repairs.
December 2 was an exciting day. At 0525 we were off Djibouti in “326” as “Canuck 36” under LCol Dumais with Capt Jacques Dufort, the rest being from Dave Ross’ crew. At 0600 we landed at Jijiga, where the runway was one long mud puddle after heavy overnight rains (we might have gone through with this landing because of low light masking the ugly runway conditions). A few minutes behind us, along came “Canuck 29” under Capt Vince Schurman, who first did a low pass to inspect conditions. We on the ground all were watching with interest. Would “Canuck 29” give it a go? Someone commented, “We’d be hard-pressed to find anything around here to drag them out of the mud – if worse comes to worse.” Here (in the distance) Vince banks into his downwind leg to try a landing.
Here’s part of the scene as “Canuck 29” splashes down, slithers through a mass of giant birds and mud, then gets squared away and taxies in behind “326”. Nothing to it, right! Someone reported later that several birds had left wings, fuselages, undercarriages, etc. on the runway. These photos were hard to really wire, considering the poor light, also the limits of 25 asa and 64 asa Kodachrome back in these prehistoric days of (actual) photography. Our own departure from Jijiga was briefed as a “soft field takeoff, 95,000 lb” with a proviso: “We’ll only return to this strip if we really, really have to”. On leaving Jijiga, LCol Dumais detoured to Degeh Bur for a low-level inspection and video of the runway re. possible relief flights. We noticed the wreck of an old DC-3 beside the runway. LCol Dumais did a touch-and-go to get a feel for the runway surface, then turned north for Djibouti.
LCol Dumais flies “326” to Degeh Bur on December 2, as RAF S/L John Barrass (nav) looks on. Then, Capt Dufort at the helm on the same trip.
On Day 1 at Djibouti I spent some good time watching the technical staff change an engine on Herc “337”. Here they were in a remote place doing sophisticated work out in the blazing African sun, but this really was no big deal for ATG. After all, what’s it about? Training, experience and dedication, three hallmarks of Canada’s military. First, here’s the big picture with “337” on the ramp. Then, MCpl Bob Gauthier atop the troubled engine, and Cpl Jeff Hamilton gathering some wrenches.
Contemplating the new engine. Then, the prop is readied for installation. Finally, the new 4000-shp Allison T56 engine is run up for the first time as the airport fire brigade stands by. Job in the bag in 12 hours, no sweat!
Djibouti is a fascinating place. Take some time and read up about it in the “interweb” (the world of the 3-minute attention span, right). This is a place where, in the main market, we saw such eye-popping displays as AK-47s for sale for a few American dollars, gold in any form one might desire, and raw elephant tusks stacked up ready for anyone with the cash – save the elephants be damned. It’s also where we enjoyed a pizza one evening where our host was a retired Foreign Legionnaire. On the wall was a pair of snowshoes that, as a young soldier on winter exercise in northern Quebec one year, he had brought home. Yes … Djibouti is “something else”. But it must be much changed today, when the main foreign influence is China, not France. The airport itself is a busy hub with many civil and military aircraft to photograph. Djibouti being a former French colony and still (in 1991) a French Foreign Legion outpost, I wasn’t surprised to see this 747 “Classic” on the ramp. F-BPVA was Air France’s first 747, having been delivered in March 1970. Majestic as it was, it went to the boneyard in 1994.
The French military also was evident in Djibouti, but I couldn’t get permission to visit. Mirage fighters were coming and going on some sort of counter-insurgency missions, and this Breguet Atlantique was present, patrolling the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. There also were some Transals. One day I watched one of these “mini Hercs” take off and disappear into low cloud. Not long afterwards, a large number of Foreign Legionnaires came floating down onto mid-field, having completed a jump in complete “IFR” conditions.
Ethiopian Airlines seemed almost to be Djibouti’s national airline. Seen are 707 freighter ET-AIV, 727 ET-AHM and Lockheed L-100 Hercules ET-AJK. Delivered originally to Braniff in 1967 and later with Trans Mediterranean, “AIV” served EAL 1985-98. Sold then into the DRC, it was wrecked at Kinshasa in Y2K. 727 “AHM” came new to EAL in 1979, serving there into 1992. It migrated to Canada in 1997, where it served Cargojet of Hamilton as C-GUJC into the 2010s. Herc “AJK” was a jack-of-all-trades, frequently doing UN relief operations.
Alyemda was operating scheduled Dash 7 service across the narrow straight from Yemen to Djibouti. 7O-ACM had been sold new to Alyemda in 1980. Dash 7 No.31 (of 113 built in Toronto), “ACM” lasted into the early 2000s, but eventually went for scrap.
Originally delivered to Yemen Airways in 1976, 737 “200 Series” 7O-ACU was seen almost daily at Djibouti. It served into the early 2000s before retiring.
By 1991 the impressive Cessna 208A Caravan was making welcomed inroads throughout Africa. 5Y-ZBZ (s/n 201) had arrived in the region on October 24 for Mission Aviation Fellowship. Using long-range tanks, Tony Pettinger had ferried it across in 46 flying hours. First, he collected “ZBZ” from Cessna in Wichita, then flew it to Bangor, Maine, where two 180 gallon ferry tanks were installed in the cabin. These supplemented the 165-gallon tanks in each wing tank. He next flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland, then to Birmingham in 12:05 hours, finally on to Southend, Luxor and Nairobi. For another Caravan (HB-CKK, Red Cross) also doing relief duty here, the engineer was Anil Patel of Montreal. A graduate of Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Anil previously had worked for Bearskin Airlines and norOntair in NW Ontario, then went to Africa in 1984. He noted that there were about 100 Canadians doing relief work at this time for NGOs in this region. These seemed to be loosely under the “Horn of Africa Committee” of the Canadian International Development Agency in Ottawa.
Another bit of “Canadiana” at Djibouti in 1991 was this clapped out DHC-4 Caribou. Delivered new in 1971 as JW9013 to the Tanzanian Air Wing, nobody around the airport seemed to have any history for it, other than that it had made a very hard landing here one day. The airframe was hopelessly bent, so the Caribou was abandoned. At this time, several local young men were using “9013” for low cost housing.
Off the end of Runway 09 at Djibouti in 1991 lay another off-beat bit of aviation history – some superannuated French Air Force F-100 Super Sabres cooking in the Africa sun. Look at the massiveness of this scrap yard. I wondered why the local government hadn’t turned all this into millions of dollars in scrap business? Since China now holds sway in Djibouti, perhaps it’s finally been shipped off for recycling. You can see that a lot of the photos that I’ve used here are grab shots. As any day unfolded, there were endless subjects to photograph, so I had to have cameras ready. Things could come and go in a flash. This was not a great job for the photographer who is anal about photographic form. For me? I was happy, since I’m mainly content-minded. Shoot first, shoot fast!
Around the pool at the Sheraton one evening I met some fellows from the Mission Aviation Fellowship, a Christian organization doing good works in the Horn of Africa with Caravan 5Y- ZBZ. Eventually, I asked about a flight to see what was doing with the MAF, and this quickly was OK’d. Early on December 3, I met my MAF contacts at the airport – Ramesh Peshavaria (seen at the controls of “ZBZ”), Tony Pettinger and Tad Watts. At 0905 we took off on the 133 nm flight to Hargeisa, capital of the unrecognized state of Somaliland (formerly Italian Somalia). We climbed to 10,000 feet, cruised smoothly along, then landed at 1000. Here “ZBZ” sits at the Hargeisa terminal.
What caught my eye instantly as we taxied in at Hargeisa was a row of three Somali AF F-6 tactical fighters (Chinese-built MiG-19s). The story behind these old warbirds was not a pretty one, for they had been “flying artillery” for Siad Bari’s repressive regime, bombing nearby Hargeisa into rubble in recent times. An F-6 could make bomb run after bomb run through the day, since its targets were just a few seconds/minutes away. Nobody was around who could give me any actual details, although a very poor- looking fellow on crutches told me that he had been an F-6 pilot “back in the day”. It’s not always too easy to get people in such countries to talk openly.
MiG and a Mil-17 hulks at Hargeisa. As I polked around this corner, some friendly fellows in the distance yelled for me to clear off, warning that there still were land mines in this patch of the airport. I made my way back to the tarmac taking very long strides!
A bird’s eye view of the airport terminal from “ZBZ”.
General views around Hargeisa on December 3, 1991. The city had been a ghost town since 1988, the main population having fled across the border to Ethiopia. We were told that the population was about 70,000, but this was starting to rise as people began filtering back home. Thousands had died here, but the survivors were set on making a new beginning. First, an aerial view from “ZBZ”. This neighbourhood still looked uninhabited. Today, Hargeisa is home to more than 600,000 and has great prospects.
A local fellow with his camel. Then, two young men employed in Hargeisa’s de-mining “industry”. Many Somalilanders had become land mine victims during the region’s horrible times, as in 1988-91. One-legged people were everywhere, and humans and animals still were been killed by mines in and near Hargeisa. Alf Slingsby of the UK de-mining company Rimfire showed us samples of neutralized mines supplied to Siad Bari’s brutal forces by arms dealers from many nations. His teams were recovering about 1000 mines per month, and there was no end in sight for the process.
While climbing out from Hargeisa bound for home base, we spotted a herder with his goats. Raising and dealing in goats, cattle and camels remains the region’s chief economic activity. Then, a typical scene en route. This area is desert and mountains with the prominent Durdur River system. This is really wild country. We were back at Djibouti at 1415 to face the only glitch of the day – Djibouti customs officials were unhappy that I had “illegally” crossed into the non-existent nation of Somaliland. My passport was confiscated, but was returned later in the day for a small fee.
Another day I joined a convoy driving across the back country to a vast refugee camp in the middle of nowhere – Dharwanaji six miles from the Somaliland border. The place housed 121,000 homeless people, but was overseen by armed hoodlums. Here’s a grab shot looking ahead at our convoy just as there was a panic about a possible ambush. Our “guns-for-hire” suddenly were fanning out, weapons ready.
The panic arose due to a traffic hold-up at this crossing, where a heavy water truck headed for Dharwanji was bogged down. All was well. Note the machine gun atop the pick-up, and the camels in the distance.
Even out in such sparse backcountry there was plenty to see. We passed a battleground littered with Soviet-era tanks destroyed during the recent Ethiopia – Somalia shoot-out. Cameras were not welcomed, so I kept a low profile. Here, we pass a pick-up loaded “to the gunwales” with militiamen.
En route we stopped briefly in the hamlet of Lafaisa. First, a street scene as a local water cart passes on its rounds. Then, typical Lafaisa housing, boys tending cattle, and camels at work. Little wonder that wherever we travelled, people would shout “Canada (or USA) Number One” and sometimes ask what we could do to help them get out of wherever they were stuck.
Finally, we reached Dharwanaji. This is what we saw spread out to the horizon — thousands of grubby little huts called “akuls” or “aqals”, and people mainly just waiting passively for their next meal.
Just inside the gate sat a mountain of thousands of grain and corn sacks. We heard that the camp had formed when refugees poured in from Somalia starting in February 1991. Under the gaze of the “camp mafia”, the UN was feeding the place. There was a daily limit of 500g per person, except for children and pregnant women who received a bit extra. People were dying almost daily of starvation and disease. Armed militiamen guarded the food aid and seemed to have control as to how it all got distributed.
A couple of Dharwanaji honchos guard the entrance to the camp strongman’s office.
Keeping more than 100,000 desperate people alive … this is what it was all about, including what Canada’s Hercs were doing so far from home. This was the scene at one of Dharwanaji’s six feeding centres. Mothers and children are having their turn in this session. But things perpetually were on the edge. In the second photo, an infant has just been declared dead, said to be from malnutrition.
Food prep in the kitchen tent; then a scene in the medical clinic. Among people’s endless health issues at Dharwanaji, tuberculosis was rampant.
Other camp scenes. You can show your kids these pictures next time they start complaining about anything, right! Besides barebones care provided by the UN and NGOs in this region in 1991, there was a longterm effort to resettle the refugees. Most of those at Dharwanaji in 1991 gradually returned to Somaliland, from whence they had come.
My visit to Djibouti ended on December 4 when I boarded Herc “334” at Djibouti (UN Flight 6166, Major Wayne Davidson and crew). First we flew to Larnica on Cyprus (7 hours) to pick up passengers and fuel, then continued to Lahr (Capt Pedneault and crew, 5.5 hours). I continued back to Ottawa on December 6 aboard Nationair 757 C-GNXU.
Operation Preserve summary: flying from their Djibouti ALCE, from August 12 to December 12, 1991 Canada’s C-130 Hercules flew 853 food aid missions to points in hard- pressed north Ethiopia. Some 16,000 tons of grain and corn were delivered. Summarizing things, LCol Marc Dumais noted, “The operation was an overwhelming success thanks to the planning that went into the initial recce and to the professionalism and positive attitude of the personnel who were assigned to the mission”. Canada’s air force would go on to many further such humanitarian mission from the collapse of Somalia, when the warlords took over, to Rwanda, hurricane relief in Honduras … on and on to the present. Through the week of June 3, 2019, RCAF Hercs were busy evacuating forest fire- threatened Pikangikum, a town of 3800 in Northwest Ontario (55 miles north of Red Lake). One of the great aspects about travelling around the world with the Canadian Forces was meeting so many exemplary Canadians proudly wearing the uniform. It’s been fun keeping in touch over the decades and seeing how people finished their careers. LCol Marc Dumais, for example, retired to “Civvie Street” in 2012 as MGen Dumais, Commander of “Canada Command”.
Over the decades I travelled the world covering aviation in all its fascinating variety. It was a gypsy’s life with lots of work, but the results were well worth the effort, whether I was hosted by the Canadian Forces to cover some NATO fighter meet, Canadian UN transport operations in the Sinai or Horn of Africa, the final return home of Canada’s 1CAG NATO CF-18s, visits across Canada to every Canadian Armed Forces flying base, flying in most CanForces airplane types, or spending two years as a Snowbirds civilian photographer. Then there was a host of other fun including Arctic adventure, and US military activities from flying on a B-52 mission to “famil” flights in everything from the Huey Cobra to the F-106 and F-16, and flights with the US Marines in the Indian Ocean, including accompanying the Marines from the USS Wasp on a beach assault in Somalia “flying” aboard a Bell LACV-30 hovercraft. It’s been the best of fun since my first flight as a 12-year old Air Cadet in 1956. Most of these adventures resulted in material for magazine stories and raw material for one book or another. This is a good time to look back on one of my African trips.
Already I have heard from many readers about this important world history, so thanks as always for tuning in and reacting. One review comes from aviation writer Andy Wright in Australia. He adds the attached important file covering the Australian side of Rwandan relief. This occurred in the aftermath, and illustrates just how merciless the Tutsi were in taking their revenge on the Hutu, following the initial events of April 1994. The Aussies knew what happened in this instance, even if the United Nations and the Paul Kagame government to this day lie about the actual results. Please be forewarned — this item is not for the feint of heart. This is the link from the Australian War Museum: https://www.awm.gov.au/wartime/39/bravery
Horror in Rwanda
It was 25 years ago that insanity took over in Rwanda. A tribe-on-tribe genocide arose with Hutu cutting down every Tutsi in sight. All this was manipulated by shadowy figures. The UN was present with UNAMIR – UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, trying to bring some sanity to what was shaping up to be genocide. UNAMIR fell short and the First World was slow to react, but Canada stood out as an exception. When the slaughter moved into high gear on April 6, 1994, Canada quickly set an example, dispatching a C-130 Hercules from Italy to Nairobi on April 8 to bolster UNAMIR. Staging out of Burundi under Maj Ken Pfander, this “Herc” flew its first operational trip on April 10, landing at Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Carrying extra armour plate, anti- missile electronic counter measures plus flak jackets and helmets for the crew, the Herc was well equipped, for Rwanda clearly was a war zone. On approaching Kigali, the Canadian crew could see exploding mortar rounds and tracer fire around the airport. Nonetheless, the mission was successful. This was the first of many by Canadian Hercs under what famously became CanForces “Operation Scotch”. The CanForces dispatched a second Herc to Nairobi on April 11. Soon, a major worldwide relief mission was underway, but Canada had led the way. The books still are being written and the academic debates and conspiracy theories continue. A seminal book is Shake Hands with the Devil by Canadian Army LGen Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN forces in Rwanda in 1994. A new book worth your attention is Allan Thompson’s Media and Mass Atrocity, which analyses the role of the media in as much as it largely was conspicuous by its absence in getting the story covered before and during April 1994. (Canada’s CBC was too busy covering the totally predictable election in South Africa to send reporters to Rwanda in the early days. During my visit in July/August, I didn’t bump into any news reporters from anywhere. A few must have been around, for I always would see them in the field or at bar in other conflict areas, etc. Not this time.) This April (2019), the TVO network in Toronto aired a very good Rwanda 25-year retrospective with host Steve Paikin. Try to track this down via TVO.org. Another good summary is provided by RCAF wartime navigator and prolific writer, George Sweanor, about whom I’ve written in earlier books. Soon to turn 100, George keeps a superb blog, one of his latest topics being his Rwanda analysis. See this at www.yeoldescribe.com. Also … in my own book Air Transport in Canada (a few copies still available — usually cheaper than used sets on the web) you’ll find a hefty section with info and photos from Rwanda. For more such background, simply google “Rwanda 1994” and you’ll find endless sources, one essential backgrounder being Rwanda – UNAMIR www.un.org/Depts/DPKO/Missions/unamir_b.htm
Entebbe-Nairobi-Mogadishu-Kigali-Goma … Air Transport Overview, 1994
My involvement in Rwanda came about when Ken Swartz, then with the Toronto-based UN air charter company, Skylink, got me a place aboard an Antonov AN-124 under UN contract to fly from CFB Trenton to Entebbe, Uganda via Mirabel, Tenerife and Lagos with a load of heavy equipment for Rwanda relief. My simple job in return was to cover the airlift for Skylink. That done, I remained in the region to cover the Canadian Forces relief airlift and see what all else was going on air transportation-wise. In going through hundreds of long-forgotten Kodachrome slides lately, details of the trip flooded back to mind. I decided to do a blog item covering the aviation photography side of my trip and say a bit about the daily adventures of a roving journalist. The “slide show” that follows is a Kodachrome review featuring many of the aircraft photographed along the way from when our “1-24” groaned into the air at Trenton on July 29, 1994 to when I landed back in Canada on August 10 aboard a CanForces CC-150 Polaris. The captions give you the details, then you can delve deeper on the web, as you wish. Have a look and enjoy, but then do some further reading into the bigger story 25 years down the line:
(Click on any photo to see it full screen) Our Ukrainian-registered Antonov 124-100 “Ruslan” UR-82008 at CFB Trenton on July 29, 1994. Operated by the Antonov Design Bureau and its UK agent, Airfoyle Heavylift, ‘008 was here to load 85 tons of heavy equipment for the UN Rwanda relief mission, then getting underway (the genocidal Hutu had been defeated and driven into exile in Zaire by the Tutsi “Rwandan Patriotic Front” on July 19). Wherever a 1-24 appears. it creates a buzz. People swarm out to the airport to catch a look and maybe get some video. If you google “UR-82008” you’ll find photos of it taken over the decades at airports everywhere in the world. I hear that ‘008 still in service in 2019.
Here’s a nifty souvenir – my AirFoyle AN-124 boarding pass.
First flown in 1982, the 1-24 has a stated all-up weight of 893,000 lb. It can carry as much as 150 tons of cargo. Depending on what interests you have, you can dig into all the fine details by checking on Wiki, etc. These views emphasize the ease of loading this mighty air freighter. Some 55 – 60 1-24s have been delivered (UR- 82008 is No.2). Ukraine has been talking in recent years about a new production run. 1-24 lore is amazing. These planes have been everywhere carrying astonishing loads. One story has the Sultan of Brunei – nasty fellow that he is – doing his festive-season shopping in London, then sending all his spoils home in a 1-24 – gold-plated Mercedes, private helicopters, etc.
This contingent of CanForces personnel accompanied us on the short leg to Mirabel. There, they decided that accommodations in the 1-24 pressurized crew compartment away up at the base of the fin were inadequate, so they decided to go no further on the Antonov. That left me as the sole passenger among about 15 Ukrainian crewmen. I was well cared for and enjoyed every hour along the way, even though conditions actually were a bit “basic” (the CanForces people had made a wise decision).
Inside UK-82008 at Trenton – the packed cargo bay and the cockpit. I was invited to ride on the flight deck by co-captains Anatolii Khroustitskii and Valeri Shlyakhov for our short hop (46 minutes) to Mirabel, where the main fuel load was taken on. I heard en route that both captains were the best in their class. Anatolii recently (June 30) had made the first flight of an AN-30 retrofitted with Garrett engines.
While we fuelled at Mirabel, I spend my time photographing the wonderful “airshow” underway there featuring all sorts of airplanes – a second 1-24 included. These photos are in random order, starting with a pretty little Kitty Hawk DC-9-15 freighter – N564PC. Having begun with Trans Texas Airways in 1968, it would eventually have a host of owners. It first flew as a freighter with Purolator in 1984. It joined Kitty Hawk in 1993, had a sojourn in the desert in 2001, then became HK-4246H in Colombia. On December 18, 2003 it was approaching to land at Mitu in the Colombian interior, when it crashed in mountainous country with loss of the three crew.
Another nice surprise was catching this attractive Air St. Pierre ATR-42 in cargo mode. Note the French civil registration, St. Pierre and Miquelon being the French overseas department just off Newfoundland’s south coast. In 2019 this 1992-model propliner was in Nicaragua as YN-CHG.
Our 1-24 companion at Mirabel on the 29th was Volga- Dnep’s RA-82047, but I didn’t get any info about its mission. Checking on FlightAware, I see that ‘047 made a short 1:20-hour trip on April 5, 2019 from Chalons Vatry in NE France to Leipzig, Germany. So it’s still “on the go”.
Another grand old Soviet era jetliner at Mirabel was this Aeroflot IL-62 with Russian registration RA-86534. First flown in 1963, the “62” carried about 200 passengers, making it competitive with the West’s 707 and DC-8. Its inaugural passenger service was Moscow to Montreal on September 15, 1967. About 290 examples were delivered, most (if not all) of which by now have been scrapped. All things considered, the IL-62 proved to be a safe and reliable design. It’s history on Aviation Safety Network shows that it was pretty well as safe as any of its Western contemporaries. Built in 1983, ‘534 was scrapped in 1997.
Another relic of sorts at Mirabel were these tarmac busses used to get passengers to and from their aircraft and the terminal. These intricate and bulky machines always fascinated passengers and visitors at Mirabel. Other than maybe at Dorval, I don’t think they had regular use at any other Canadian airport.
Air France 747-400 F-GITB arriving from overseas. It had been in the fleet since 1991. Retired in 2010, by now it may have been scrapped. Then, an Argentine 747 “Classic” on arrival.
One of Mirabel’s resident Air Transat (ex-Air Canada) L.1011s. Then, A310 C-GCIT of Mirabel-based and short-lived Air Club. Originally with PanAm, “CIT” later served Delta before coming to Air Club a few weeks before my visit. In 1997 it joined the Spanish operator Air Comet, but since has gone for scrap.
Lufthansa’s A310 D-AIDN taxis in after a trans- Atlantic trip. Built in 1991, this great ship served into 2004, then became C-GTSH with Air Transat, where it flies to this day. As I put this info down on April 20, “TSH” was operating as Air Transat TS725 from Glasgow to Toronto.
After an enjoyable few hours on the ground at Mirabel, we had a smooth 7.5-hour flight (about 3300 sm) to Tenerife South. While the tech crew checked out the aircraft systems, emptied the honey bucket (no kidding – that was the toilet system) and refuelled, I enjoyed a drive around the island and a nice overnight to be ready for what April 30 might bring. Our next leg was to Lagos (about 2000 sm), which ‘008 covered in 5.2 hours. Landing there on a very humid night, the chief duties again were to refuel and make sure to empty the honey bucket. Here, BP refuels ‘008 at Tenerife. I don’t know the fuel we took on here, but at Lagos our total was 118,000 liters, or about 26,000 Imp. gallons/190,000 pounds by weight.
Again topped up, on July 30 ‘008 carried us in 5.5 hours to our off-loading destination — Entebbe, Uganda, a distance of about 2100 sm. The airport was swarming with UN activity generated by Rwanda. Here, ‘008 starts to offload. Look how easily heavy vehicles can roll off a 1-24. That’s an old An.12 “Herkski” in the background. These seemed to be everywhere in Africa back in this era, often on UN contracts, otherwise doing anything from supplying remote mines to smuggling illegal weapons and who-knows-what-else (don’t ask, right). In the second view, Canadian soldiers manoeuvre personal lockers belonging to the troops who (wisely) had left us at Mirabel. A huge US Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53E is in the background.
The USMC CH-53E contingent at Entebbe. In chatting with some of the crew, the best info I could glean was that they were on medevac, combat SAR and “QRF” (quick reaction force) duty. This made sense, there being so many US military aircraft in the region. If something like a C-130 went missing, it would be vital to have SAR resources right there.
The first Antonov An-12 flew in 1957. Production continued into 1972 by when about 1250 had been delivered. Seen at Entebbe on July 30, AN-12 RA-13341 had begun in 1969 with the Russian carrier Gagarin Avia Enterprise. In 1993 it joined Amur Avia, then spent years on UN contracts. Finally, it was UR-CAG with Ukraine Air Alliance. On August 9, 2013 it was destroyed at Leipzig, Germany when fire erupted during start-up. Aviation Safety Network describes what happened: “Loading operations commenced at 23:30 and were finished at 01:00. The cargo consisted of almost 49,000 day old chickens, weighing 3061 kg. The airplane was then fueled with 22,908 litres … for the flight to Mineralnye Vody Airport (MRV), Russia. Fueling was completed at 01:21. Planned departure time was 02:15. At 02:01 the controller at Leipzig cleared the crew to start the engines. The APU was started, followed by the No.1 engine. During the starting process of engine No.4, the crew heard a muffled bang and the airplane jerked. The co-pilot, who was monitoring the instruments during the starting process, had observed variations in APU speed and an increase in temperature. Immediately the APU fire warning flashed. The crew shut down both engines and activated the fire-extinguishing system of the APU. A flight mechanic then opened the emergency hatch located below the flight deck and observed the fire in the area of the APU. Other crew members handed him three fire extinguishers that were located on the flight deck. The flight engineer and two flight mechanics then proceeded to the fire and emptied the extinguishers. The captain meanwhile instructed the radio operator to warn the tower controller about the fire. The controller was contacted at 02:07. He activated the fire alarm at 02:08:00 and reported the location of the fire at 02:09. The first crash tender reached the airplane at 02:12 and began an attempt to put out the fire. By then all crew members had evacuated through the emergency exit below the flight deck. The airplane burned out. Due to the high degree of destruction it was not possible to determine the exact cause of the fire. It is possible that the compressor wheel had burst.”
Ilushyn IL-76 UR-76323 loading food aid on a UN World Food Program contract. I haven’t found any info for this registration. The IL-76 first flew in 1971. Some 950 were manufactured at a facility in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where the last few were delivered to China c2005. Subsequently, a few IL-76s have been manufactured in Voronezh, Russia. All things considered, the IL-76 has proven to be a superb transport over the decades and many remain in use.
A view from the other end of the Entebbe flight line with USAF VC-137B 58-6971 shining in the foreground. I didn’t find out what this VIP “707” (one of only three VC-137Bs) from Andrews AFB, Washington, DC was doing at Entebbe this day. ‘6971 served from 1959 until retired to desert storage in 1998. Today it can be scene at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson. Any time the President of the United States was aboard a VC-137B, the aircraft was designated “Air Force One”. It was great fun being able to wander up and down this ramp at Entebbe with no one yelling or pointing a gun at me. If you were on the ramp this day, you were assumed to be “legal”. When someone warned me not to go into the main terminal, or I would have a lot of trouble getting back out to my airplane, I took this seriously. Later in the day, ‘008 carried us the (approx) 570 sm to Mombasa, a flight of 1.5 hours. This was the first bumpy part of our travels so far. On arrival in the Mombasa terminal control zone the weather was extreme. The pilots struggled with 3 or 4 approaches that had the mighty 1-24 heaving and complaining violently. Finally we touched down. Torrential rains were lashing the area and lightning was everywhere. The airport was flooded and the lights were out — even the runway lights. Kudos to our pilots, that’s for sure (i had noticed some of our crew in the back looking pretty worried as our pilots struggled with the nasty conditions). That’s another thing about usual 1-24 operations. The crews (back then, anyway) were hardcore types mainly with long years of military flying, and the 1-24 is amazingly strong and airworthy. Only four total hull losses with fatalities have occurred. Aviation Safety Network lists only 12 An-124 crashes and incidents, the most recent involving ‘008 at Antigua in 2017 — there was costly damage when ‘008 clipped a lighting pole. (Below) A distant view of the old Entebbe tower, site of the 1976 hijacking drama (see “Operation Entebbe” on Wiki), where Israeli commandos rescued more than a hundred hostages aboard an Air France A300. I don’t have the story about the derelict jetliner rotting away nearby. A US Hercules squadron was temporarily based on the adjacent tarmac.
The trip to Mombasa was mainly for crew rest. We stayed in a the Nyali Beach Hotel, a top beachside resort. The crew was returning to Kiev, invited me to come along, but I had my East Africa mission ahead (and no visa for Ukraine). We parted company and on August 2 I boarded Kenya Airways KQ605, a 737 for Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – a hour’s flight. I got downtown and checked in to the Nairobi Safari Club, one of the decent spots, then made some connections that Ken Swartz had provided, one being a UN staffer who could get me on some flights. Right off the top I was able to arrange a mission aboard an IL-76. Next morning I rendezvoused with the crew of IL-76MD UR-76443. While waiting around I photographed IL-76 UR-76393 on a Red Cross contract, and N918SJ — one of the ubiquitous (in Africa) Southern Air Transport L.100 Hercules. One never knew exactly what the SAT “Herks” were doing, but it was common knowledge that they flew a lot for the CIA. N918SJ later was with Safair as ZS-ORA.
After meeting my crew (who couldn’t understand why some wandering Canadian would voluntarily go flying with them), we set off on the first leg of the day, being noted as UN flight number UN392. This was to Mogadishu about 625 sm up the Indian Ocean coast to deliver 13 tons of food aid (bagged cereal). I was curious to see what was new around “Mog”, where I had visited a few years earlier. Here you see the cargo hold on ‘443 before we set off. Then, a flight deck view as we flew north towards Somalia. The trip took 1.6 hours.
Views of ‘443 at Mogadishu on August 3. After delivering our cargo for whichever client, 28 tons/8 pallets of old US military MREs (“meals ready to eat”) were loaded for Kigali, Rwanda. Some crusty fellow observed that these dusty MREs more accurately could be called “Meals Rwandans will never eat”!
“Mog” still was a busy base for UN operations in the summer of 1994. As usual, helios were thumping around, including 9Y- TIL, a Trinidad & Tobago-registered Bell 212. After serving under many flags, “TIL” now is in Canada as C-FTLR with Calgary-based LR Helicopters.
Some of the UN troops and equipment at the airport this day.
No big surprise to see a DC-3 at “Mog”, in this case ex- Royal New Zealand Air Force NZ3552, by this time ZK-BBJ with some oddball window mods. Last heard of in the early 2000s, “BBJ” was derelict at Mombasa.
“Mog” always seemed to have an interesting boneyard. One year I photographed several abandonned MiG-21s there. For August 3 all I spotted was this derelict ex-Somali National Police Dornier Do.28. I didn’t spend much time snooping around on the edges of the airport after some rough-looking young fellows with AK47s started to look me over.
Finished at Mogadishu, we flew off for Kigali 1100 sm southward, a flight of 2.5 hours. It looks as if our turn-around was quick, since I have few photos to show. Here’s a vintage Angolan 727- 100 at the Kigali terminal. D2-FLZ had begun in 1968 as American Airlines N1965. It left AA in 1993 for the Angolan outfit and last was heard of about Y2K.
I often spotted French and German Transall medium transports during this trip around East Africa. This one was at Kigali on August 3. Also often seen were USAF C-5 Galaxys – the main rival in size to the AN-124. During this visit it was clear that the Americans were the most involved in supporting the Rwandan recovery, when one would have expected the French and Belgians to be at the forefront. But isn’t this the usual story – wherever there’s a disaster, look to the USA to get right in there with the aid. The Brits were also committed in Rwanda. Here is Royal Air Force Hercules XV210 at Kigali. Note its aerial refuelling hardware. XV210 was withdrawn from use and scrapped in 2003.
Our last leg for the day on the IL-76 was Kigali to Nairobi, a distance of 470 sm covered in 1.2 hours. What a fantastic day I had had, and what great info and impressions had been gathered about an IL-76 operation, and what was starting to shape up for the Rwanda international relief mission. Back at JKIA I noticed how the whole scene on the ramp was new, so snapped a few final shots. Included was another ancient 727 parked next to our IL-76. This was N723JE in Air East Africa colours. Originally with South African Airways in 1965, this early 727 ran through a host of operators. It flew back to the US in 1998, then was scrapped in Miami in 2001. I also shot SAT “Herk” N901SJ loading for the Red Cross, and Transafrik L.100 S9-NAJ.
Early next morning I introduced myself at the CanForces/Air Transport Group “ALCE” (Airlift Control Element) at JKIA. This was a component of the overall CanForces operation in Rwanda – “Operation Scotch”. At first, however, no one at the ALCE had ever heard of me, so I had to cool my heels until BGen Jeff Brace of Air Transport Group HQ, CFB Trenton faxed the ALCE commander: “Mr. Milberry is authorized to fly on any ATG aircraft in theatre and is also authorized to return from Africa to Canada on a space available basis”. I was in! Here’s a candid scene at the ALCE as a crew waits between missions.
On Day 1 from Nairobi I flew on two C-130 return trips: first to Goma in Zaire return, then Nairobi-Kigali return. On the first trip we were airborne for Goma at 0810 at 144,000 pounds (pretty well all-up weight). Both were with Capt John Stevens and crew in C-130H 130337 carrying personnel and cargo. John had begun as a young commercial pilot, but the hours and pay were making no sense – – he was flying hard but earning just $200 a week, so decided to give military life a go. In eastern Zaire, Goma was a Rwanda relief mission airhead where masses of materiel came in by air for redistribution, but it was not easy to figure out exactly what was going on. After all, Zaire itself was in turmoil and within months would be collapsing, only to re-form as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Armed Hutu cadres were harbouring around Goma from where they were launching raids against the newly-ascended Tutsi forces of Paul Kagame in Rwanda, and there were many nearby refugee camps run by the Red Cross and various NGOs (some 2 million Rwandan refugees then were in eastern Zaire). On the whole, things were messy around Goma. Any CanForces crew had to be ready at a moment’s notice to jump to “Plan B”, e.g., perhaps suddenly having a mob of passengers appear out of nowhere. This made for exciting days on the job for the Canucks. We landed at Goma at 10:13 and quickly off-loaded 31,000 lb of food and water on three pallets plus a pallet of rubber boots. Here are two candid shots of our mighty ‘337 at Kigali on August 4. Then, Capt Stevens on the job. We were airborne empty out of Goma at 11:18 and landed back at JKIA at 12:54. Aircrew had been warned to expect anything at Goma, but on the way home someone remarked, “I don’t get what the big hassle at Goma was supposed to be.” On a later flight that I was on, the pilots would beg to differ. Later (August 25), a CanForces 707 from Trenton landed at Goma with 27 tons of supplies for the refugee camps. Before departing, a group of 15 stranded media people appeared, hoping to get onboard, wherever the 707 was headed next. In true Canadian fashion, they were taken onboard.
In this period Goma was the Grand Central Station of Central African airports, with transport aircraft from all over the world coming and going steadily. Heavily armed troops were everywhere, and the tarmac and surrounding open spaces seemed chaotic. Here’s an everyday (August 4) scene with Air Zaire 737 Combi 9Q-CNI on a turn-around. Everyone in town seemed to be milling around in a party- like atmosphere. Who are these fellows with guns watching for, I wondered? Built in 1973, 9Q-CNI ran into bad luck at Kinshasa on January 2, 1995. On landing in bad weather, it left the runways and was damaged beyond repair.
Our C-130 waiting at Goma on August 4. ‘337 previously had served the Abu Dhabi government before joining the CanForces in 1986. Then, our aircraft security officer WO Don Drennan on the job. He was our only armed crew member.
Wherever one turned there was something else to photograph at Goma. This Israeli military 707 was present on August 4, but I couldn’t determine much about its mission. Someone thought that Israel was supporting the field hospital at Goma. Notice the huge rubber fuel storage bladders in the foreground. These would ease any refueling crisis that might arise. Then, a Tunisian military C-130H. The crew in the foreground is busy with their mobile satellite communications system, then hottest deal in voice communications.
Veteran IL-76 RA-76389 awaits at Goma. Sometimes it wasn’t clear which aircraft had anything to do with Rwanda relief, since an aircraft could be in Zaire for one of many reasons. ‘389 later went to Armenia as EX-093. On May 10, 2007 it was destroyed by fire while loading at Pointe Noire on the coast of DRC. Then, Aeroflot’s impressive RA-76527.
Smaller aircraft types were always buzzing around at Goma. DHC-6 Twin Otter 9Q-CBO was coming and going all week. Originally delivered to Air Illinois in 1980, it ended in Zaire in 1980 with TMK Commuter. Sad to say, it crashed on September 12, 1997 after leaving Bukavu, Burundi for Uvir, DRC. All 19 aboard died. Then, superannuated DC-3 9Q-CAM. Looking at the entry for it on p.632 of the great Air Britain history by J. Gradidge, DC- 1, DC-2, DC-3: The First Seventy Years, 9Q-CAM began as USAAF C- 47 45-1139. It was delivered in November 1945, retired from the USAF in 1963, then went to Zaire the same year. It looks to have been the very last new DC-3 ever built. The dogged plane spotter never knows what he’ll run across next!
Helicopters were constantly in the air around Goma. These photos from August 4 show the compound for the French Army’s Pumas and Gazelles.
This derelict 707 at Goma had begun with VARIG of Brazil in 1963. Retired from that fleet in 1979, it became 9Q-CMD with a company having the amazing name “Business Cash Flow Aviation”. On November 27, 1991 “CMD” somehow was damaged at Goma and had been lying there ever since.
Some grab shots taken from the flight deck of ‘337 as we flew back and forth to Goma on August 4. The roads and small settlements of Rwanda were ominously quiet. After all, as many as a million Rwandans of a national population of 7 million (92% rural) recently had been butchered (Hutu had comprised 85% of the population, Tutsi 15%).
An aerial view around Kigali on August 4. Where were all the people on such a fine day?
Another Kigali neighbourhood. Then, the flight deck on one of our legs this day, including a snapshot of your scribe on the job aboard ‘337.
Canadian Forces military staff deployed at Kigali manoeuvre a load for ‘337 on August 4. Then, WO Drennan briefs some passengers. Beyond, an IL-76 waits at the Kigali terminal. Someone mentioned that this attractive building had been designed by Canadians. I have yet to confirm that.
A closer view of the terminal.
130337 delivers an Isusu Trooper to the UN at Kigali. Note how on a specific UN mission, aircraft fly the UN flag on the tail.
Belgian national Thierry Vanneste, who worked in Kigali for SABENA, had been among thousands of Europeans hustled out of Rwanda in the early days of the Hutu genocide against the Tutsi. He recently had returned to find that his two dogs, which had been left to fend for themselves, had survived in the streets of Kigali in spite of a sport that had arisen among the locals of using dogs for rifle practice. He and his dogs were about to board ‘337 for a trip back to Nairobi.
This BelAir IL-76 also was on duty at Kigali on August 4. Our Nairobi-Kigali return operation this day totalled 3.8 flying hours (about 470 sm each way). Our Goma trip took 4 hours (about 530 sm each way), so by day’s end I had spent 7.8 exciting hours aboard 130337.
If August 4 was fun, next day was even more so with 8.1 hours aboard 130337. Things started at Nairobi where I joined a CanForces crew under Capt Mike Biehl. First we flew to Kigali, then Entebbe, back to Nairobi and another leg to Kigali. There I decided to leave ‘337, do some photography, then return to base on ‘315, which I’d heard was likely to show up. To start this little album, here’s the scene at Entebbe with two world class Lockheed airlifters: C-130 ‘337 beside a USAF C-141 from the 452 nd Air Wing at March AFB, California. If the AN-12 is jokingly sometimes called the “Herkski”, is there a nickname for the IL-76, which roughly resembles the C-141? Then, a view down the same ramp where the VC-137B was sitting when I passed through here a few days earlier. Dominating on August 5 were two lovely IL-76s, then an AN-12 beside a C-130.
A standard ¾ front angle of Bulgarian-registered Air Sofia AN-12 LZ-SFL at Entebbe. Not sure if “SFL” is still around. I see reports on the web that it was hauling tuna in Australia c2004. Along the way, apparently, Air Sofia was turfed out of Bulgaria, then resettled in Serbia.
Back at Kigali it would be a busy afternoon, especially since I had access to the tower, the best vantage point in sight. Here’s one scene showing 130337 taxiing for Nairobi, then two photos of ‘315 on the ramp. In 2005, ‘315 became the first military C-130 to reach 45,000 flying hours (not a high number for a commercial Hercules).
A fuel transfer under way at Kigali between a USMC CH-53E and USMC KC-130. The helio unit was HMM-166 of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, California. The overall US operation in Rwanda was called “Support Hope”. HMM-166 now flies the Osprey tilt rotor.
Aeroflot IL-76 RA-76527 has just off-loaded at Kigali. A USAF C-141 is seen arriving. Such flights carried either food relief for refugees (WFP, Red Cross, NGOs), or general supplies to support the thousands of peacekeeping personnel.
Volga-Dnieper AN-124 RA-82046 touches down at Kigali on August 6. A couple of teenage RPF soldiers decided to let me walk out to the runway to see if I could catch this arrival. Then, ‘046 ready for off-loading.
AN-12 RA-13341 (which I had seen earlier at Entebbe) during a Kigali stopover on August 5.
Shoved into the weeds at Kigali was this worn out Noratlas, a type provided long ago by Belgium to Rwanda’s fledgling air arm.
This 1963 ex-American Airlines 707 was one of the oldest of its type still in service when I photographed it delivering cargo at Kigali on August 5. Already having served a long list of operators, in 1988 it came to Sky Air Cargo of Liberia as EL-JNS. Last reported, it was at Sharjah in the UAE in the early 2000s, but likely has by now gone for scrap.
These Canadian Helicopters Bell 212s were at Kigali supporting a project to renew communications across Rwanda.
A US Army contingent pulls in at Kigali airport to establish a temporary bivouac.
UN troops make do in Kigali’s control tower. The place had been badly shot up in the battle between Hutu and Tutsi forces 2-3 weeks earlier. The Hutu were routed.
From the tower I spotted 130315 landing, so hurried down to connect with the Capt Jim Bertrand crew. Soon we were headed back to base, where we landed 1.8 hours later. Here’s the crew of ‘337 chitchatting at JKIA following their own interesting day “on the road”.
One of the CanForces Herks at day’s end beside Air Madagascar’s 747 Combi 5R-MFT. This old Boeing was scrapped in the UK in 2005.
A couple of interesting last-minute “grab shots” this day show Canadian and Ukrainian techs changing tires after all the planes had made it home. But, as usual, the technical crews had a lot to do to check out their aircraft, before finally getting downtown for supper and a beer or two.
Last but not least on the 5th I photographed this US- registered DC-4 being tweaked up for its next cargo run – it was mainly on a run from JKIA to Burundi. The old crate had been in Canada 1979-84 as C-GCXG. It was Liberian-registered and supposedly Miami-owned when impounded at Luanda in 1998. It’s never difficult for any such old “tramp steamer of the air” to get in trouble with the law in Africa. I remember chatting with its captain at JKIA, but he wasn’t too interested in answering questions from anyone with a pen, notepad and camera. Failing all else, however, he and his boys were keeping “the old gal” looking sharp.
On August 6, I flew two trips to Kigali, two more on the 7 th . There always was something to photograph, but after a few days there was a certain amount of “repeat business”, so this nice scene was welcomed – a USAF C-130 and a Luftwaffe C-160 Transall. Across the field you can see the old Noratlas. I was told that that big hangar had been the base for the Rwandan Falcon executive jet shot down in April – the event that became the pretext for slaughtering the Tutsi.
After August 7 it was expedient for me to avoid Kigali airport. Here’s the story: Covering the excitement there that day had me going all out. I went up to the tower a couple of times, which always was OK by the ATC staff. Then, while re-entering it again, I was confronted at the door by a young RPF soldier who stuck his AK in my back. He was very clear (in good English) – what was I doing here, why didn’t I stop when he called me (couldn’t hear him due to a taxiing C-130), what was I doing with the cameras, etc? Needless to say, I was on my best behaviour. I handed over my passport. The soldier then pulled a sat phone from his pant pocket – he was well equipped. Speaking a local dialect, he talked to his superior while keeping an eye on me. In a few minutes, a shiny new jeep arrived with a very sharp-looking RPF officer – the RPF had me impressed so far. Speaking French, the major reviewed my papers. Happily, before leaving Toronto I had contacted RPF HQ in Belgium and secured a laisser-passer for my Rwanda trip. This was signed by none other that Paul Kagame, head of the RPF and (to this day) the hard-fisted dictator of Rwanda. Inspecting my pass, the major lowered the heat and directed me to a tent on the tarmac. Someone else would follow up with me there, he advised. At the tent I noticed that a USAF transport operation was next door. I chatted up one of the USAF noncoms on duty, then was elated to see 130315 taxiing in. The noncom agreed to walk me out to the Herc, where I spoke to the Capt Jim Bertrand crew. All was well – I was OK to jump aboard. Thus did I slither around the next step in my RPF adventure. We soon were back at base.
Here are two views around our busy ALCE on the 8 th . The ALCE was sometimes a quiet place, but suddenly would be booming as loads of people and trucks piled with freight came out of nowhere. The Canadian Herks usually carried both freight and passengers. Who were they all? Some clearly were military people, others were diplomatic and UN staff, there sometimes were families, missionaries, media folks and all sorts of others. One day I met a retired physician aboard our flight. He recently had come down from Sudan to help out. Up in Sudan he once had been kidnapped, cleaned out of his belongs, then released by some bandits. I guess he just couldn’t get enough of Africa. Another day I bumped into a group of nuns sitting primly in the Herc’s austere bucket seating. On the 8 th I flew two more trips to Goma to see what was new there.
Canadian ALCE commander, LCol Joe Calleja, on the ramp at Nairobi on August 7 with Herc pilot, Maj Brian Jossul.
Another day in our travels someone arranged for a pizza with cold pops. Usually the indispensible Herc “loadies” (load masters) performed such miracles.
Three more vintage airliners at Goma in August. First, Shabir’s 727 9Q-CAV. It had begun with Eastern Airlines in 1966. For 1989-91 it had been with Trump Shuttle as N906TS, about which Wiki notes (I know … I digress), “Trump pushed to make the new shuttle a luxury service and a marketing vehicle for the Trump name. Its aircraft were newly painted in white livery and the interiors redecorated with such features as maple wood veneer, chrome seat belt latches, and gold colored lavatory fixtures…” This orphaned N906TS. As so often happens with such airliners, it then made Africa its last stand. “CAV” long since has gone “for pots and pans”. Notice the typical Goma “crowd crush” around the 727. I noticed that there always were people in such a crowd openly carrying weapons. This kept the mob in line. Then, EL-AJO, a Liberian DC-8-55 tramp freighter. It originally (1964) had been a “Queen of the Skies” with KLM, named in honour of Alfred Nobel. In 2003 it was registered in DRC to Kinshasa Airways, but soon afterwards disappeared to some boneyard. Finally, a rare visitor about which I didn’t learn much at the time – IL-18 SP-FNB of the Polish cargo company Polnippon. The IL-18 was the USSR’s answer to such Western airliners as the Britannia and Electra. A very tough design, a few still operate. I don’t know what became of this one.
In another corner at Goma were several smaller planes rotting away. One wonders how something as nice as a Beech Bonanza could end up in such a pitiful state.
Goma to the normal eye was a bit of a crazy place. Families were squatting all around the airport, to say nothing of how the city pressed right up along the runway (R17-35 at 5000’ ASL and 6500’ long). If you google “Goma Airport” you can study the satellite imagery – it’s worth a look. I wonder if the folks lounging around the runway included a lot of displaced Hutus on the run from the RPF? Anyway, they were everywhere. Airplanes were coming and going steadily as folks ambled across the runway and along its edges Gamins were having extra fun playing chicken with planes landing and taking off. One day there were so many people on the runway as we approached, that our Herc commander decided, “Nuts to this, we’re going back Nairobi”. Here, a Transall gets into the air, then a UN King Air flares to land. The pilots would have been watching like hawks, but the “runway people” seemed oblivious. Don’t worry, be happy, right! Finally, a general scene along the runway. Somehow, this works OK for Goma.
I was so well treated by the CanForces crews with whom I flew during this trip. Typical was this crew who were from 429 Sqn at Trenton. I set this shot up back at base at day’s end on August 8. In front is Sergeant Marc Kovacic (flight engineer). Standing are Captain James Pierotti (navigator), Master Corporal Dave Hutchinson (load master), Captain Rob Butler (pilot), Captain Jim Bertrand (aircraft commander), Master Corporal Denis Culver (load master) and Master Corporal France Dufort (aircraft security officer).
My last flight “in country” was with the Bertrand crew in 130337 operating Goma to JKIA on August 8. Next day I boarded CF6129 C- 130 130327 of 436 Sqn under Capt Yannick Pelletier headed for Souda Bay, Crete –first stop on the gruelling trip back to Trenton via Souda Bay, Prestwick and Gander. However, while staring out a window I saw what looked like fuel streaming from No.4 engine. I reported this and the flight engineer and others started observing. They soon concluded that something was amiss. We turned around and landed back at JKIA after 1.7 hours. Back we all went to the Nairobi Safari Club. Next day (August 10) I returned to JKIA. 130327 still was unserviceable, so, instead, I boarded 437 Sqn CC-150 Polaris (A310) 15005 under Maj George Urquhart. We flew first to Ancona, Italy (7.5 hours) for fuel. Everyone was happy to get away from Ancona, where the temperature was in the high 30s C. For the next leg we had a new crew under LCol Rapanga, destination CFB Trenton, where we landed at 0200 local time after 9.1 hours. I then caught a local 0305 bus for Toronto International Airport, a downtown bus from there, then the streetcar back to my neighbourhood. So ended another whirlwind adventure. My total flying for the trip in 30 flights was: 21.5 hours AN- 124, 1 hour 737, 6.1 hours IL-76, 29.9 hours C-130, 16.6 hours CC- 150 for 75.1 hours. As for “Operation Scotch”, it continued usefully until September 28, when the last of 312 sorties was completed. The simple stats to then included: tons carried by CanForces C-130s 2935.6, passenger carried 6340, hours flown about 1200.
Introducing two gorgeous publications for every serious reader of aviation history
Gallantry in Action by the renowned Norman Franks is an amazing new history of bravery in the air among RAF and Commonwealth airmen from WWI, through the interwar years and WWII, then in the postwar era. “Gallantry” gives the reader all-encompassing, in-depth coverage for each of the 60 skillful and brave young men who put it all on the line. From those who fought in the Camel, Hart, Hurricane, Spitfire, Kittyhawk, Tempest, Stirling, Manchester, Lancaster, Halifax, Beaufighter, Mosquito, or whichever combat type, this is a book honouring 60 astounding aviators who excelled in daring and leadership. What is so special about these fellows? You won’t believe it, but each man was three times decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Each man’s life is carefully summarized by historian Franks, and the various gallantry citations are reproduced. Altogether a lovely book for summer reading, it’s also one that you will treasure for years. Such outstanding Canadians as Johnny Caine (Mosquito), Dave Fairbanks (Tempest) and aces George Hill and Buck McNair (Spitfire) are included. 220 pages, hardcover, photos, index. A wonderful book for your library, so jump in with your order. Canadian orders $43.00 all-in. USA or International CDN $48.00: Order on line here, or, PayPal to email@example.com, or, cheque (on any Canadian or USA bank) to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6
It has arrived in Canada! With “Propliner 2019” the creators of this magnificent classic journal have outdone themselves. I’ve gone through this year’s stunning edition and must admit that I haven’t seen such a Propliner since the great Stephen Piercey started it all in the early 1980s. Editor Tony Merton Jones receives a medal for “2019”.
If the photo on the cover doesn’t crank you up, I fear that you must have died years ago and your friends have forgotten to bury you. Start turning the pages of “2019” and you’ll see page after page of this sort of visual content packed in around the best writing about the state in recent times of the old propeller-driven airliners. For example …
Arctic pilot Tony Jarvis’ detailed story about his current favourite propliner — the Buffalo Airways Lockheed Electra that he and his lucky pals get to fly all around the Arctic (as we speak) from Yellowknife
– the great Peter Marsen’s history of the Skyways Lockheed Constellation fleet
– Eamon Power’s history of the Aer Lingus Viscount fleet
– a story about the woes encountered by the propliners of the Fifties — it sure wasn’t all rosy
– a fellow looking back on his boyhood infatuation with the airliners of the Fifties
– a history of the HS 748 in the USA (little known while the 748 excelled in Canada for decades)
– two important articles about water bombers (P2Vs and DC-7s)
– stories about South African DC-4s and Australian and New Zealand airlines of years gone by
– galleries of glorious photos, a year’s resumé of crashes, much other news and gossip. 142 pages that will keep you enthralled for months of enjoyable reading (this is a journal that you’ll be loath to lend to your best pal). Canadian orders $40.00 all-in. USA or International CDN $43.00: Order on line here, or, PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org, or, cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6
Wing Commander Eric G. Smith, Distinguished Flying Cross, United States Air Medal
Eric Smith as a young wartime Mosquito pilot in the UK with 107 Squadron.
One of the very fine men of the RCAF died in Navan (near Ottawa) last week. Eric G. Smith plain and simply was a gem of a Canadian, so please take a moment to read about him below. I was honoured to have met Eric in the early 1980s, when starting research for a history of the Canadair Sabre. Eric could not have been a friendlier and more encouraging fellow. He put up with my phone calls, letters and visits, helping to ensure that the book eventually would be a good one. In all the subsequent years, he and I kept in touch and had many a pleasant time together at such events as the annual BBQs of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association, Commonwealth Aircrew Reunions, or at one thrash or another at the Gloucester Mess in Ottawa. Here is a summary of this fine gentleman’s life:
These first two photos of Eric appear in Vol.2 of Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace. I’ve left the caption in for this one, so that you can get a sense of what such young Canadians were doing to help shorten the war. If it meant giving your life, then that was part of the deal.
Eric’s obituary: Eric George Smith S/L (Ret’d), loving husband of 65 years to Dinah Rosaleen (Cole), passed away peacefully March 30th, 2019 at the Ottawa General Hospital in his 99th year. He was a loving father to Erin Zintel (Smith) and a kind-hearted father-in-law to Bob Zintel. Eric was a proud and loving Grandpa to Sarah and Kristen Zintel. Eric will be remembered by his many nieces and nephews. Eric was a friend to so many who remember his sense of humour, storytelling and how he always had time to have a conversation. Predeceased by his parents George and Mary Ann Smith; his brother Sidney (Thelma); sisters Inez McFadden (William), Muriel Greenidge (Herbert), and Mavis Rothwell (Norman). Born January 26th, 1921 in the town of Navan, Ontario, Eric was educated at Navan Continuation School, Vankleek Hill Collegiate and the Ottawa Normal School (Teachers College). Eric taught school in Carlsbad SS#12 when he was 19 years old. In 1940, Eric assisted the Police in apprehending John Miki who murdered police officer Harold Dent in Navan. On July 1st, 1941 Eric enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He reported to the Manning depot, Toronto on August 27th, 1941. He was then transferred to Trenton, Belleville, Portage La Prairie and Camp Borden where he received his flying wings. Eric was commissioned on July 17th, 1942. In April 1945, Eric received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). His citation reads as follows: “This officer has completed a large number of operational sorties. He is pilot of exceptional ability who has never let either adverse weather or enemy opposition deter him from completing his allotted tasks. He has inflicted considerable damage on enemy lines of communication, mechanical transportation and rolling stock. He has at all times exhibited great determination, initiative and daring and set an inspiring example by his fine fighting spirit and devotion to duty”
Eric while on secondment in Korea with the USAF in 1952. Then, a page from his log book in that period, when he was flying the F-86 Sabre, battling it out with Chinese air force MiG- 15s.
While he was Chief Flying Instructor with No.1 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Chatham, teaching young pilots to fly the F-86, F/L Smith and the OTU Commander, S/L Bill Smith, flew this suitably painted “The Smith Bros” Sabre. These two photos can be found in The Canadair Sabre.
In 1952, Eric began instructing on Sabre F-86 jets and was invited to participate in the Korean War as an exchange pilot with the U.S. Air force going up against Russian MiG’s. In 1952, the U.S. government decorated Eric with their U.S. Air Medal : “Squadron Leader Eric G. Smith distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial combat as a pilot of an F-86 aircraft, 4th Fighter interceptor Wing, Fifth Air Force, flying missions against enemies of the United States, from 10 September 1952 to 14December 1952. While flying combat air patrol and various other type missions deep into enemy territory, many times against a superior number of enemy aircraft, his dedication to duty and demonstrated skill were a magnificent contribution to the successful completion of the assigned mission. As a result of his fortitude and courage on these occasions he has brought great credit upon himself, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Air Force.” Eric was the Commander of Sqn. No 413 from January 12th, 1959 to February 2nd, 1961. Over the course of Eric’s distinguished military career he was honoured and awarded the following medals: • Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) • 1939-45 Star • France and Germany Star • Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp • Volunteer Service 1939-45 • Korea Medal • Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for Korea • United Nations Korea Medal • CD Canadian Forces Decoration • United States Air Medal • Korean War Veterans Association Medal • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal • French Legion of Honour at the French embassy in Ottawa. In March 1953, while stationed in Chatham New Brunswick, Eric met Dinah Rosaleen Cole. They were married in Toronto on May 16th, 1953. Eric retired from the RCAF in August 1968 and moved to a farm 7 miles south of Kemptville where he and Dinah took up farming. Eric sold real estate for Albert Gale Real Estate from 1971 until his retirement in 1991. In May 2001, Eric and Dinah moved back to his home town of Navan. Eric enjoyed both playing and watching hockey. Eric played hockey for the winning Navan team in the 1946 Bradley Cup in which he scored five goals. Eric’s other favourite sport was curling which he played up until 2015. Eric was a proud member of the RCAF, SPAADS, Branch 632 Canadian Legion, Orleans, 410(William Barker VC) Wing RCAFA, Knights of the Round Table, Masonic Lodge Maitland Chapter, Tunis Shriners, Legion of Honour and the Navan Curling Club. The family would like to thank the Ottawa General 5th floor nurses and doctors and Eric’s family doctor – Dr. Bujold. The family would also like to thank the care at home from SE Health/Access Care and Champlain LHIN. Family and friends are invited to visit at the St. Laurent Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 1200 Ogilvie Road (at Aviation Parkway), Ottawa, on Friday, April 5, 2019 from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm. A Funeral Service will take place at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, 3480 Trim Road, Navan, on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 11 am. As an expression of sympathy, donations to St. Mary’s Anglican Church would be greatly appreciated by the family: P.O. Box 71, 3480 Trim Road, Navan, Ontario K4B 1J3. Interac transfers can also be sent at St.Marys.Navan@outlook.com.
Eric and I while visiting the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa for D-Day celebrations on June 6, 2014.
On April 19 the Ottawa Citizen followed up this very nice tribute to Eric written by staffer Andrew Duffy:
Navan’s Eric Smith among only Canadians to fly combat missions in both WWII, Korea
Even among fighter pilots, Eric Smith was a rare breed. The Navan, Ont. wing commander was one of the few Canadians to fly combat missions in the Second World War and Korean War — and receive decorations for both. “He was in an exclusive little club,” said Canadian aviation historian and author Larry Milberry.
Smith received a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for the valour he showed in flying more than 50 low-altitude night fighter missions over France, Belgium Holland and Germany during the Second World War. He received the U.S. Air Medal for “his fortitude and courage” in flying 50 combat missions in the Korean War while on secondment to the U.S. Air Force.
Smith died last month at The Ottawa Hospital from pneumonia. He was 98. “I liked everything about him,” said his widow, Dinah Smith, 87. “He could talk to anybody from the lowest rank to a general.”
Eric George Smith was born on Jan. 26, 1921 in Navan, Ont., about half an hour east of Ottawa. His father was a farmer and a veteran of the First World War. Eric often accompanied him as he delivered milk and cream by horse-drawn wagon to Ottawa. An accomplished student, Smith graduated from teacher’s college, Ottawa Normal School, and took a job at a small schoolhouse in Carlsbad Springs. The Second World War interrupted his fledgling career.
In July 1941, at the age of 20, Smith enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force, determined to be a pilot. At 5’6’’, he narrowly met the height requirement. “If he wasn’t going to be a pilot, he didn’t want to be anything else,” said his daughter, Erin Zintel. Smith had heard his father’s stories about the mud and misery of trench warfare, she said, and he wanted nothing to do with the regular army. He trained in Toronto, Trenton, Belleville and Portage La Prairie before earning his pilot’s wings at Camp Borden. After still more training, Smith became a pilot instructor at No. 2 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Station Uplands — one of 231 sites opened in Canada to train pilots, navigators, gunners and flight engineers for the war.
Smith spent more than a year instructing young pilots before preparing for his own combat duty: He was sent to England in early 1944 to learn the dangerous art of low-level flying. Posted to No. 107 Squadron RAF, Smith flew his first night sortie over occupied France on Aug. 26, 1944. It was his first experience with night fighting. Smith’s logbook — he flew 58 missions — shows that he attacked troop transports, rail yards, warehouses, ammunition dumps, boats, trains, even a V-1 flying bomb, often while under attack by German anti-aircraft units. “Every one of these trips was literally death-defying: low-level Mosquito missions at night looking for anything German that moved,” said Milberry. “A lot of Mosquitos didn’t come back because they flew into wires or trees or towers.”
On the evening of March 5, 1945, Smith was one of only two pilots to get into the air because of dense, low-lying fog. The other pilot died that night in a crash landing. In April 1945, Smith was awarded the DFC with a citation that read: “He has at all times exhibited great determination, initiative and daring, and set an inspiring example by his fine fighting spirit and devotion to duty.” After the war, Smith returned to Canada and enrolled in university. But after a year in school, he decided to return to the air and to the RCAF. In 1952, he accepted a secondment to the U.S. Air Force to fly in the Korean War. Smith flew an F-86 Sabre jet on 50 combat missions, which took him deep into enemy territory and pitted him against Russian-built MiG fighters. Then a squadron leader, he was one of 22 RCAF pilots to fly in Korea. It’s believed he was the last surviving member of that exclusive group. Smith once told an interviewer how the high-flying MiGs would attack from out of the sky. The MiGs could climb to 50,000 feet while the Sabres couldn’t get above 42,000. On one sortie, he said, a MiG dropped right onto his tail. “But he was a very poor shot I guess,” Smith said of his narrow escape.
After returning to Canada, Smith was stationed in Chatham, New Brunswick, where a late season blizzard changed his life. In March 1953, during the storm, he crashed his car into a snow bank on RCAF Station Chatham. Two women went to see if he was OK. Dinah Cole, on her way home from the midnight shift as a fighter control operator, was one of them. “He ploughed into a snowbank right in front of me,” she recalled. “I opened the car door, and I said to him, ‘Can I help you? Can I phone somebody to pull you out?’ “He took a look at me and said, ‘No, but you can keep me company until someone comes, though’ … That was smooth.” The two were married five weeks later. Cole, then 21, had to quit her job since Smith was her senior officer.
Smith went on to serve in the RAF Air Ministry in London and to command RCAF’s Squadron No. 413 at CFB Greenwood. He retired as a wing commander in August 1968 and bought a property in Kemptville so that he could return to farming. He also sold real estate. In May 2001, Smith and his wife moved back to Navan to be closer to their only daughter, Erin, and their grandchildren. Smith continued to curl — it was his favourite sport — and to collect stamps and coins well into his 90s. During his career, Smith flew more than 30 airplanes, including the CF-100 twinjet fighter. “He knew how to fly and he knew his airplanes inside out,” said Milberry. “Like any of the good ones, he could fly anything.”
Fighter Pilots and Observers Updates
Since we launched Fighter Pilots and Observers last October, our readership has been pleased overall with the book. Of course, there are bound to be a few questions and comments about factual details. WWI aerial warfare historian, Colin Owers, in Australia, makes these points: For the photo of the L.V.G. on page 39, Colin points out that the airplane shown actually is a modified postwar example: “This is a civilian L.V.G. C.VI post-Armistice. Note the extra person in the elongated cockpit.” Next … for what I call a D.F.W. on p.64, Colin notes: “I am sure that the aircraft in the bottom photo is an L.V.G. C.V.” The same goes for p.106: “This is a D.F.W. C.V.” Thank you for this, Colin. If anyone can add further regarding updates/errata, please drop me a note — email@example.com
Why Are People Arguing about Books These Days? It’s Getting a Bit Dumb, Really
There’s always some good chitchat around the circuit about books – those beloved emblems of wisdom, knowledge, art, sheer beauty and pure joy. Books have been with us for millennia. Anyone with half a brain knows that they never can be replaced, no matter how many dunderheads rant and rave against them, try to belittle publishers and authors, and boringly spew that old rot about “everything” being on the web. What a farse, eh, and talk about pitiful!
Here’s a good one from this week’s “Toronto Star” (March 27, 2019). Columnist Heather Mallick is on a bit of a book tear, pointing out how, try as she might, she can’t give her personal books away, not even to the local USED bookseller. She admits, “so I’m bagging them … and dumping them beside the blue bin”. Gads … what sort of books does she read or are they contaminated by the plague? Here at CANAV, used books are beloved, and sales have been a key part of the operation for decades. These sales help greatly in fundraising to finance the next CANAV project. Thank you, devoted readers, who can’t wait to see what’s lately been added to the CANAV used book list. Anyway, Mallick wonders if books have become “a social embarrassment to be disposed of by stealth in the dark of night”. There’s a buried suggestion here that no one with any sense would be caught with a book in the house. She mentions that, apparently, it’s now a big thing with real estate agents and house stagers to get every book out of sight when preparing a house for showing. Books just spoil everything, don’t they. Finally, Mallick drops books and wanders off to chatter about her minimalist lifestyle, the woes of Trump and China, and other far-out stuff.
There’s an revealing thing about this edition of the “Star”. After plodding through the Mallick column, I flipped a few pages only to find a “Wall Street Journal” story about Michelle Obama’s recent life’s story, Becoming, published by Penguin Random House. Sales have topped 10 million copies in 5 months – a world record for this genre through all the centuries of books. So … methinks the book is probably in OK shape for at least a little while longer. Ergo … will you strange people out there please stop bothering us about the book supposedly being “dead”, “useless”, “environmentally hazardous”, etc? I doubt that you could even get Homer Simpson to agree with your moronic campaigning.
Some More Kings of Canadian Aviation
Speaking of books … probably 98% of recorded Canadian aviation history is found on the printed page. So, if you don’t have a good library of Canadian aviation books, basically, you’re in the dark about the topic. CANAV has published almost 40 titles since 1981. On the whole, these all are about people first, i.e., the folks who designed, built, flew and maintained the planes. I’ll never live long enough to write about all those who still have not yet been covered. I still have innumerable photos of these fine citizens and every once in a while, like to show you a few on the blog. That gets a little more of the story told. Here are some old photos that recently popped up. First, seen at a CANAV book launch in 1991 are two of the most important figures in Canadian aviation history. On the right is K.M. “Ken” Molson (1916-1996), the most influential man in all of Canadian aviation, when it comes to history.
Having moved to Toronto as a boy from the “Montreal Molsons” (following family tragedies in the 1930s) Ken went on to earn his aeronautical degree at the University of Toronto. His first job was working on the Lysander line at National Steel Car at Toronto’s old Malton airport. There he remained through the CF-100 and CF-105 eras, then went to Ottawa to establish Canada’s national aeronautical collection. As the collection’s first curator, Ken set the tone that you still get when touring it more than half a century later. It all starts with the magnificent collection that Ken passionately assembled of the classic planes that “made” modern Canadian aviation back in the day – the HS-2L, Bellanca, Fairchild, Junkers, then on to the Norseman, Stinson, Beaver, Lockheed 10, DC-3, etc. Ken also laid the foundation for such other museum themes as the great aircraft of WWI. His influence is astounding.
The museum as you see it today is a glorious tribute to Ken Molson, but you’d hardy know it – the man barely (maybe not at all?) is even mentioned in the place, considering that it ought to be named in his honour. Ken also wrote several of the seminal histories of Canadian aviation, books that should be on your shelves. If you don’t have them yet, check under “K.M. Molson” at http://www.abebooks.com, where you can also order your personal copies. Ken became a true supporter of my own efforts. As the years passed, he was gradually keener to supply material I needed for various projects (it took a few years for anyone to be embraced by Ken). Here, Ken is chatting with another King of Canadian Aviation, Robert “Bob” Bradford, who succeeded Ken at the museum. A wartime RCAF pilot and to this day an active aviation artist in his 90s. Bob has an Order of Canada and is a member of Canada‘s Aviation Hall of Fame. There’s finally a move afoot to get Ken inducted in the Hall. Strange that he’s not yet a member, right. The funny thing is that he only recently was nominated and you can get in until someone starts the ball rolling.
Here’s another old snapshot that grabbed my eye lately while flipping through some files. This one dates to our 1990 book launch for The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945. On the right is William Harold David “Wild Bill” Meaden, DFC, whose story as a Bomber Command pilot is told in the book. On the left is the great aviation artist, Ron Lowry, who painted the front cover art of this best-selling title. Centre is Robert Finlayson, who painted the back cover art (which depicts a scene from Bill’s tour – the night his crew shot down a Ju.88). All three of these fine citizens have left us. Such old pictures are intrinsically important, but sure can be melancholic at the same time.
Last Saturday (March 23) we attended Carl Mills’ funeral. Carl saved so much of our history from the trash heap, as with his magnificent history of the Banshee jet fighter in the RCN. He also did a massive amount of original work unearthing all the details about Canada’s airmen who fought in Korea. In recent years he had been working diligently on the history of 400 Squadron. Included in that task, he built several important scale dioramas (masterpieces of art) and commissioned several wonderful paintings by some of Canada’s top aviation artists. Just a few days earlier, I learned that the great Peter Mossman, the artist who painted the cover art for our first three books, also had died.
The Canadian Aviation Historical Society was founded in 1963 to preserve Canada’s aviation heritage. I attended the second ever CAHS meeting and have membership No.11. The society thrived through the decades with chapters across Canada, a magnificent quarterly journal, newsletters and annual conventions. Sad to say, but the CAHS has been up against a lot in recent years. Like many such organizations, it’s hard hit by the aging (and passing) of members, and the difficulty of pulling in new members. Not helping matters, the society was riven by unnecessary internal strife in more recent times. How dumb was that, just when CAHS people should have been extra supportive and out there beating the bushes for members, etc., instead of fomenting civil war in its own ranks. But such things happen when folks lose sight of the big picture and start beating their own irrelevant little drums.
Here’s a historic photo going back to early CAHS days (1960s) in Toronto. In front in this group of CAHS pioneers are Art Marcopoulis, John Ham, Roger Juniper, Charlie Catalano, Bruce Gowans and Doug MacRitchie. Behind are (standing) Ernie Harrison, M.L. “Mac” McIntyre, Jeff Burch, George Morley, Al Martin, Frank Ellis, Elsie Ellis, Terry Waddington, Clint Toms, Bill Wheeler, Don Long (in front Bill) and Boris Zissoff. Each of these brought a unique aviation background to the society, and each worked diligently to build the society into a world-class organization. To my knowledge only Bruce, Ernie and Bill are still with us in 2019.
Love the Beech 18? Then This Is for You!
If you scroll back a few pages you’ll see our blog item “The Enduring (Indestructible?) Beech 18”. Well, as any true fan knows, we can never get enough Beech 18 coverage, so this week I’ve put together a series of superb photos taken mainly in the 1970s by the great Toronto-based photographer, Joan Turner. Almost annually, Joan and her brother, Bill, would make a driving tour across Northern Ontario to cover the bush flying scene. Invariably, they would find a good number of Beech 18s. Of course, they could be sure of finding the usual old standards, as they clocked up the miles from Sudbury westward – to Chapleau, Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, around Lake Superior to the Lakehead, then westward to such haunts as Ignace, Fort Frances, Nestor Falls, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake. The whole experience must have been 100% fun. Take a look at these wonderful stock Joan Turner photos.
Some 50 years later, several of the fine old Beechcrafts that Joan covered are still at work, still turning heads with their classic great looks … and still making money, right. As to the captions, you might wonder from where so much Beech 18 trivia possibly could originate. There are many important sources, as any aviation bibliophile will know – just look in the books. Yes … in those actual amazing things made out of paper, ink and glue. Try on Air Transport in Canada, for example, where you will find 100s of references to Canada’s Beech 18s (ATC presently is on sale at CANAV Books at $60 off, check right here: 2 Blog CANAV Booklist Spring_Summer 2019 Then (as mentioned in our earlier Beech 18 item) there’s the world’s top Beech 18 book, Beech 18: A Civil and Military History by Robert Parmerter. By far the single most important website is that of Australian historian, Geoff Goodall. For this goldmine, google “Beech 18 Production List”. There are so many other sources for the keen reader and fan (weenies need not apply, of course). So … strap in good and tight, here comes “The Joan Turner Beech 18 Gallery”. To see a photo full screen, just click on it.
One of Canada’s Beech 18s that served longest with the same owner was CF-HHI, which had served originally with Florida Airways in 1946. Having joined International Nickel/Canadian Nickel Air Services of Sudbury in 1953, “HHI” served the company in the exploration and executive roles into 1974. The great George Cramer, who had flown Sunderlands through WWII, was chief pilot for most of this Beech’s career. Today, “HHI” is C-GZCE. Painted in RCAF wartime colours, it flies airshows and hops passengers with the Canadian Warplane Heritage of Hamilton. Joan photographed “HHI” at Ramsay Lake, Sudbury on August 8, 1970.
Visiting Sudbury on August 5, 1972, Joan photographed this lovely privately-owned Beech “Super 18”, CF-ZYT. Built in 1960, it initially had been N9941R with Wiles-Holloway Inc. of Baton Rouge. It next served a Houston drilling company, then was sold to Don Plaunt of Sudbury, whose business interests ranged from forestry to radio/TV to a mysterious fleet of DC-6s in California. In 1977 “ZYT” was sold in Alaska, becoming N741GB. Soon after, however, it suffered a forced landing and never flew again.
On September 16, 1977 Joan found George Theriault’s lovely Beech 18 CF-KAK looking photogenic at the dock at George’s tourist base near Foleyet, northeast of Chapleau along Hwy 101. “KAK” is a really historic Beech, having begun in 1944 as RCAF 1418. After serving several other carriers over the decades, in 2019 “KAK” was with Pacific Seaplanes of Nanaimo, BC. In 1994 George Theriault published his personal story all about life and flying in the Canadian Shield. I recommend that you track down a copy — Trespassing in God’s Country: Sixty Years of Flying in Northern Canada. It’s a beauty.
Much earlier (September 12, 1971) Joan had spotted “KAK” at Toronto YYZ soon after George Theriault acquired it from Keir Air Transport of Edmonton. “KAK” was always noted for its pointed nose — different for the average Beech 18. Retired bush pilot Joe Sinkowski of Red Lake points out that Green Airways’ Beech CF-GNR also had this off-beat mod.
CF-PSU coasts in to the Air-Dale dock at Sault Ste. Marie on September 2, 1972. “PSU” had begun with the USAAF in 1944. Once surplus, it was purchased in 1956 by the Aircraft Instrument Co. for $6125 and became N8011H. Having served various US owners, it came to Air- Dale in 1963. Serving there reliably until 1979, it migrated to Alaska as N1047B. After many adventures, it ended in Anchorage at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. The museum website notes: “The Beechcraft Model or Twin Beech, as it was better known, first flew on January 15, 1937. It was configured to carry between 6 and 11 passengers. The aircraft was in production for 32 years, with over 9,000 aircraft being built. N1047B arrived in Juneau, Alaska in 1979. After some modifications it was sold to Alaska Coastal Airlines Corporation of Juneau in 1982. On Sept 30, 1987 N1047B was sold to the Alaska Aviation Museum and flown to its current home at the museum. The aircraft … is installed on Edo floats and represents the configuration the aircraft was in while assigned to the 10th Search and Rescue Squadron at Elmendorf AFB during the 1940s.”
That same day at Air-Dale (always a key stop for any spotter touring Northern Ontario), Joan photographed CF-AIR-X. “AIR” had begun in 1952 as RCAF Expeditor 1506, and first appeared on the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register in 1967. By this time it had been consigned to the weeds at Air-Dale. Why it carried an “X” registration isn’t know. However, take a look at the airframe. It looks as if it might comprise two different Beech 18s. Something like that could have required an “X”. The rudder paint job suggests a former Royal Canadian Navy Expeditor. There always are these mysteries for the spotters to research.
Westward we go … another Beech 18 in Joan’s files is CF-YQB. She took this shot on September 27, 1976 at Thunder Bay/Lakehead Airport. “YQB” had been RCAF 1553 from 1952 to 1968, when it was declared surplus. In 1970, O.J. Weiben (Severn Enterprises, Superior Airways, etc.) of Thunder Bay acquired it from Crown Assets Disposal Corp. — the government agency in charge of selling off surplus Canadian military equipment. In this period Beech 18s were selling for as little as $2000. “OJ” operated “YQB” in the bush until selling it in Florida in 1987. There it briefly was N9062Z, then returned to Canada a year later, picking up its former ID. Based at Inuvik near the Arctic coast, it operated under various banners, finally being with Arctic Wings and Rotors. In July 1994 it was reported destroyed by fire.
Formerly RCAF 2379, CF-ZQH was another of the many Expeditors acquired cheaply by O.J. Wieben. This Expeditor must have been extra nice, for “OJ” used it as his personal plane from 1971. “ZQH” crashed on October 4, 1981. Retired bush pilot, Joe Sinkowski, recalls: “It was Orville’s personal airplane for getting around from Thunder Bay to places like Pickle or Wiebenville. There were very few whom he trusted to fly it, mainly some of his DC-3 captains. ‘ZQH’ was operated only on wheels. It was sold with the company after Orville passed away. I can’t recall the exact details, but someone put it into the bush somewhere north of Armstrong, when flying from Fort Hope to Thunder Bay.” Joan photographed “ZQH” at Thunder Bay on September 27, 1976.
Beech 19 CF-RVR of Slate Fall Airways at Sioux Lookout on September 19, 1977. “RVR” began in 1944 as a USAAF UC- 45B, then was delivered under Lend-Lease straight to the Royal Air Force. Next, as fast as the paperwork could be stamped, it was transferred to the RCAF as Expeditor 1402. It served into 1964, then was struck off charge. It was purchased in 1965 via CADC by Manitoba’s Ilford Airways. It next served Slate Falls (1970-84), then other outfits until joining Air Rainbow of Nanaimo, BC in 1991. While taking off from Nanaimo on January 27, 1992, it crashed disastrously, killing seven of the nine people aboard.
Airplane boneyards are always fascinating places to visit for spotters, photographers, artists and other aviation fans. On September 19, 1977 Joan Turner dropped by this old bushplane “cemetery” in Sioux Lookout. Included in the general mayhem was a Cessna, a very tired old Norseman, and Slate Falls Airways Beech CF-DLN (ex-RCAF 2334 1952-70).
Joan photographed Green Airways’ famous Beech 18 CF-GNR in its yellow-and-green paint job at Red Lake on September 20, 1977. Formerly RCAF 2318 (1952-65), “GNR” later served Larry Langford’s Vancouver Island Air. In August 2013 it was noted as having logged 18,173 flying hours. In 2014 it was sold. At that time, Larry told me, “Our last Beech C-FGNR went to a collector in Belgium of all places. She flew 50 hours on that trip without a problem. Longest leg was over 8 hours Iceland to Scotland. Owner, Taigh Ramey, and a Canadian pilot, Brad Blois, did the trip. Still the nicest aircraft on floats I have flown.” With this odyssey “GNR” became the only Beech 18 to have flown the North Atlantic on floats. Its registration today is N1XW.
CF-XUO of Ontario Central Airlines at Red Lake also on September 20, 1977. Ex-RCAF 2329, it served OCA 1974-84, then wandered all over the place from Nunasi-Central Airlines to Green Airways, Pickle Lake Air Service, Kelner Airways, Beaver Air, Ignace Airways and (today) Showalters Fly-In of Ear Falls not far south of Red Lake.
Yet another clapped out ex-RCAF Expeditor (or, “Exploder”, as some called it back in RCAF days), CF-ZNQ had been RCAF 2339. It briefly was listed to Pembina Air Services of Morden, Manitoba in 1972, then joined Harvey Friesen’s Bearskin Airlines in 1974. Joan saw it at Red Lake/Cochenour airport on September 20, 1977. Doesn’t look as if Bearskin ever flew it, but probably just used it for spare parts.
CF-PVC was another well-known northern Beech 18. As RCAF 1546 (then 5186) it was one of the last RCAF Expeditors in service. From Crown Assets Corp. storage in Saskatoon, in 1971 it was sold to Northern Stores, mainly to serve the 219 nm route between Red Lake and Big Trout Lake, hauling groceries and supplies. Here it is derelict at Red Lake on September 20, 1977. It’s a fair guess that it finally went for pots and pans.
Lake-of-the-Woods country. One of Rusty Myers always-handsome Beech 18s: C-FERM at Fort Frances on September 25, 1976. “ERM” had been RCAF 1487 from 1951 to 1967. Rusty Myers picked it up in ’67, then operated it into the 2000s. It was only the advent of the Cessna Caravan that spelled the end of the classic Beech 18 at Fort Frances. To this day “ERM” sits derelict at Fort Frances alongside “BGO”, “RVL” and “ZRI”.
Ex-RCAF 2336 CF-BGO at Fort Frances on September 23, 1977. It served Rusty Myers from 1970 until a disastrous accident on July 6, 1996. I don’t know the details other that that “BGO” apparently crashed in the bush. Happily, all 5 aboard survived.
An unknown ex-RCAF Expeditor at Fort Frances on September 23, 1977. At this late date, this could only have been a Rusty Myers “hangar queen” used for the occasional spare part. Joan walked around it looking for any sign of former ID, but found nothing. When tallying all the superannuated RCAF Expeditors in Canada, it’s clear just how resourceful/prudent Canada’s (usually tight-fisted) northern air carriers were when it came to an opportunity such a military surplus Beech 18s. Everyone knew how tough and reliable the Expeditor was, and how cheap it was to buy in via Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. Also, by 1968 people knew how a Beech could do just about any ordinary job on floats or skis, whether on the BC coast, in the mountains, across the prairies or anywhere northward all the way to the Beaufort Sea or Ungava. Just for fun, if you check the March 31, 1972 Canadian Civil Aircraft Register you’ll see the following Beech 18 versions listed: AT-11 – 3, C18S – 7, C-45 – 13, D18S – 40, E18s/G18S – 12, ex-RCAF 3N, 3NM and 3T trainers – 62. Total 137. These were based everywhere from Victoria to Prince George, Watson Lake, Calgary, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Winnipeg, Morden, Pine Falls, God’s Lake Narrows, Flin Flon, Fort Frances, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Kenora, Big Trout Lake, Pickle Lake, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Sudbury, Toronto, Ottawa, St. Félicien all the way east to Gaspé and Dartmouth. Truly, the Beech 18 deserves its place as one of Canada’s great general-purpose air transports and bushplanes.
CF-GXD in Rusty Myers’ “Back 40” at Fort Francis on September 23, 1977. I can’t find much about this Beech 18, other than that it had served Canada’s Department of Transport in the 1950s-60s (it’s still in the standard gray-with-white-and-yellow DoT colours). Its Rusty Myers stint was 1970-76.
C-FTBX was flying for Canadian Voyageur Airlines when Joan spotted it at the dock at Fort Frances on September 26, 1976. A 1952 Model D18S, it began as N481B with Ohio’s Aetna Freight Lines. Owned these days by veteran bush operator Neil Walston, “TBX” has been dormant in Nestor Falls in recent times, but can quickly go back to work any day some work materializes.
Joan photographed this attractive Beech at Fort Frances on September 23, 1977. “XIR” initially was a 1944 USAAF UC-45F, then had a civil aviation career in the US. As N963J, for example, it served Four Lakes Aviation in Wisconsin. It came to Canada for Rainy Lake Airways in 1968, serving there into 1984, but subsequently was scrapped. Some tales of “XIR” + such other Beech 18 horror stories (and much, much more of the Norseman, DC-3, 748, etc.) as the 1975 crash of OCA’s Beech “XVF” are extremely well told in Sam Cole’s wonderful book covering a bush pilot’s “life and hard times”, Switches, Instruments, Radios and Rudders. This is another “must read” for anyone with a love for northern aviation. I’ll mail you a copy for $48 all-in. Simply email this amount by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
A fine view of CF-SRE (ex-RCAF 1486) at Nestor Falls, Ontario on September 25, 1976. Since joining Silver Pine Air Services of Pine Falls, Manitoba in 1970, “SRE” has been hard at work. It’s presently dormant at Selkirk, Manitoba.
C-GEHX in the colours of Warren Plummer’s famous NWT sport fishing operation, Great Bear Lodge. “EHX” had been RCAF 1512 from 1952 to 1968. It later was listed to Minto Airways of Edmonton. I’m not certain about the lineage thereafter, but Minto seems to have owned the plane to about 1986, leasing it out to such operators as Silver Pine Air Services, Sabourin Lake Airways, North Caribou Flying Services and La Ronge Aviation Services. In this period it might have been on a sub-lease from Silver Pine to Plummer. Joan photographed “EHX” at Pine Falls, Manitoba on September 4, 1982. It’s presently based at Nestor Falls and expected to be at work this season.
The famous Arthur Fecteau operated various Beech 18s over the years from his base in Senneterre, Quebec. These would have been important connecting his mining industry clients (and others) with Quebec City, Montreal, Noranda-Rouyn, Timmins, etc. Here is his Beech 18 CF-JIR at Amos, Quebec on August 19, 1954. Too bad for us, but Joan didn’t often get into Quebec. Who was covering that vast domain aviation-wise? “JIR” was ex-RCAF/RCN 1449. Arthur operated it from 1974, then sold it to George Theriault. George quickly sold it to a US buyer, Jeno F. Paulucci, a famous Beech operator in Florida. After many years as freighter and tanker N792LP in Florida, it made its way to Minnesota in 2006. Alongside Beech 18 N33JP, it still spends its summers serving the tourist trade from its base near Duluth.
One of Canada’s great Beech operators was Carl Millard of Toronto. I saw the first of Carl’s “18s” on my earliest visits to Malton airport in 1955 and they still were there right into the 1990s. Joan photographed CF-WGP at Malton/Toronto/YYZ on September 12, 1971. “WGP” had started in 1946 as executive Beech NC44631 with Stanolind Oil & Gas in 1946. Carl acquired it in 1967, then operated it into 1992, when he sold it stateside. As N70WW it was seen derelict in Oregon in the early 2000s. For the story of Millardair you really need a copy of Millard and Me: A Young Man’s Journey from Turbulence to Triumph. Included in this ace of a book is a ton of hardcore and hugely entertaining Beech 18 history for the serious reader, along with much lore of Millardair’s DC-3 and DC-4s. If you’d like a copy, email $36.00 (all-in price) by PayPal to email@example.com
Millardair’s CF-SIJ (ex-RCAF/RCN 2312) at Toronto YYZ on July 5, 1969. Check all the re-skinning recently done, plus the newly-installed cargo door (the RCAF did not have cargo doors on its Expeditors). Carl Millard also beefed up his Beech 18 wings with a wing spar mod developed by his old pal, Dave Saunders, one of Canada’s genius aeronautical engineers (father of the Saunders ST-27, etc.). “SIJ” later had a string of Quebec operators from Airgava of Schefferville to Transfair of Sept- Iles, Para-Vision of St-Jérome and finally (in the 2000s) Aero-Dynamic of Mascouche.
What in the world, eh! This super-modified Beech 18 had been RCAF 2301 in 1952-66, then became CF-URS with Joe Lucas’ Aircraft Industries of St. Jean, Quebec. This company had a dream of offering the old Expeditor –- so many of which were flooding the market –- in a revitalized form powered by Canada’s new PT6 turboprop engine. Although several US-made PT6 Beech 18 would follow, “URS” was the original. First flown with a pair of early PT6A-20s, “URS” was called the Jobmaster. Later, it was converted to Volmar tricycle undercarriage. Aircraft Industries, meanwhile, folded its tent after many years as a Canadian leader in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul. “URL” migrated to the USA in 1970, becoming N10VT. It went into the air cargo business and, oddly, reverted to its tail wheel configuration. The Hamilton Aircraft Co. extended nose was added in 1976. On June 19, 1978 N10VT (operating with Great Western Airlines) had an engine failure and crashed on nearing its destination of Windsor Locks, Connecticut from Albany, NY. The crew survived. The turbo-Beech 18 really was not a huge success. The mod cost a pile of money and the PT6 burned a lot more fuel than a Beech 18 with standard R985 engines. In this Joan Turner photo “URS” is at Hamilton, Ontario on September 7, 1968.
Beech 18 N3199 owned by K&S Aircraft of Fort Lauderdale at Cape May, New Jersey on August 23, 1971. N3199 had begun as a wartime USAAF AT-7. The USAF had it remanufactured in 1952, then it became N3198G in 1959 with the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. It may have been converted to a tri-gear Beech in that period. In 1972 it became N106A and disappeared from the US Civil Aircraft Register in 1988. There were not that many tri-gear Beech 18s by comparison with the standard tail draggers. Another visible mod with N3199 is the 3-bladed props.
Joan Turner always was happy to photograph anything with wings. This set her apart from (and above) those photographers who would boast “I only shoot Canadian civil” … or US military, or F-16s, or B-52s, or airliners. You get the idea. These latter would never know the enjoyment that Joan got in shooting homebuilts, Aeroncas, Bellancas, Cessna, Pipers, and – if the chance arose – a B-52. So the sight of a US civil Beech 18 was a pure opportunity. While Joan was revelling in Hamilton, Ohio at the Waco convention on June 29, 1980, she happily shot off a few frames on this E18S Super 18. N87HA had begun in 1956 as N3787B with Southern Airways. It joined Hogan Air in 1980, hence the new registration with an “HA”. In 2019 this historic Beech is N8711H in Puerto Rico with Seven Stars Air Cargo. As I was writing this on March 27, FlightAware noted that N8711H that day made a return flight from San Juan to Beef Island, logging 1 hour 16 minutes.
Another remanufactured wartime Beech, this example served the US military again from 1953. In 1960 it became N3734G then quickly came to Canada and was converted for aerial surveying by Spartan Air Services. I first photographed “MJY” at Kenora on September 6, 1961. Joan’s shot dates to Ottawa International Airport on September 9, 1973. Looks like a derelict Queen Air just beyond. You can see “MJY” today on display at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage in Sault Ste. Marie.
Through the 1970s-80s ex-RCAF Expeditors could be spotted from coast to coast. Some went on to useful careers in civil aviation, but many eventually were parted out and scrapped. While visiting Rockcliffe airport in Ottawa on June 4, 1972, Joan spotted CF- ZYH and ‘YI. Here is “ZHY” still bearing RCAF serial 2302. Note the lovely Citroen Ds19 in the background. “ZYH” seems to have done no further flying, but “ZYI” was sold into the US in 1994, becoming N20R. It’s listed as struck off the USCAR in Mission, Texas in 1991.
Former DoT Beech 18 CF-DTN was in Joe Kohut’s Capital Air Surveys markings when Joan saw it at Carp on August 22, 1970. Earlier, “DTN” had been RCAF 1500 (1951-1959). Following a contract somewhere in Africa, it ended in Scotland and today is G-BKRN over there, painted in US Navy colours (google Beech D-18S G-BKRN Naval Encounter).
Another important Beech 18 operator in Canada was Bradley Air Services of Carp, Ontario – an airport a bit west of Ottawa. Bradley pioneered in the Arctic starting in the 1950s, then built up its fleet to include the DC-3, Twin Otter and HS748 (see Air Transport in Canada). Bradley eventually evolved into today’s First Air of Ottawa. Joan Turner saw CF-TAE at Carp on October 9, 1972. A G18S “Super 18”, “TAE” had come to Canada in 1960 for Transair of Winnipeg. It later served Bradley 1970-85, so would have had enough adventures to fill a book. In 1985 it joined Toronto-based Air 500, a small company set up by former Millardair pilot Dennis Chadala (author of Millardair and Me). Having been parted out due to wear and tear, “TAE” was struck from the CCAR in 1989.
Being expert in the air photo business, Bradley made good use of the AT-11, the WWII US military bombardier/gunnery/navigation training version of the Beech 18/C-45. It acquired CF-KJI in 1957 and seems to have operated it for about a decade. Joan photographed it derelict at Carp on October 9, 1972.
Even in the 2000s the bones of a Beech 18 sometimes still can be found moldering away. Joan photographed these ruins at Carp on August 22, 1970. You can see how the good old phrase “in the weeds” applies in this case.
The founder of Bradley Air Services, Russ Bradley, had a partner, Weldy Phipps. Weldy eventually left to compete in the Arctic with Bradley as Atlas Aviation. Not surprisingly, he made good use of the Beech 18. Joan spotted Weldy’s Beech CF-AMY at Ottawa Uplands on August 21, 1970. “AMY” had begun in 1946 as NC44639 with the State of Illinois – it was the governor’s VIP plane. It came to Canada in 1958 for Automotive Products of Rimouski, then joined Atlas at its Resolute Bay base in 1966, from where it operated to about 1974. Last heard of in the 2000s it was stored somewhere around Winnipeg. Norm Avery wrote the Weldy Phipps biography – Whiskey Whiskey Papa. Used copies of this excellent book can be found at http://www.abebooks.com
Recently, the intrepid Pierre Gillard of Longueuil was wandering around in the great southwestern desert enjoying the natural environment and great food & hospitality to the fullest. But he also was covering (in his usual scrupulous detail) the local aviation scene. Here is just a small sample of what Pierre found to photograph this time. It’s a formerly busy water bomber base, but now more of a boneyard – Gila River airport in Arizona. You’ll be amazed at what old airplanes still can be found, so google here to see it all: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html
Civilian Canadair Sabres
Not long after the RCAF declared its classic Canadair F-86 Sabres surplus in 1968, a large flock of them was bought up by civil operators. Most migrated to California, where they became target drones, chiefly for Flight Systems based at Mojave. Many of these eventually were shot down during “SAM” (surface-to-air-missile) development trials. Others ended with museums and warbird collectors, and even found work as chase planes. Boeing operated both the Canadair Sabre and Canadair T-33 as chase and photo planes during many airliner development programs from the 747 onward. Lockheed used an ex-RCAF Sabre chase plane during the L1011 program. Show here from the CANAV Books Collection is Boeing Sabre Mk.6 N8686F (ex-RCAF 23363) accompanying 747 prototype N7470. If this was on the first flight, the date was February 9, 1969. The 747 is hanging its gear, so the Sabre is using loads of flap plus speed brakes for low-speed control. Both these super-historic airplanes now reside with the Museum of Flight in Seattle. In the second photo, L1011 N31001 is accompanied by Sabre Mk.5 N8544 (ex-RCAF 23241). This was the second L1011 to fly (first flight February 15, 1971). It later served Eastern Airlines, then a list of other global air carriers. It was scrapped in Miami around Y2K. While on some sort of a mission from Mojave on March 23, 1986, N8544 was damaged and subsequently scrapped. Several ex-RCAF Sabres still fly as warbirds in the US. If you’d like an autographed copy of CANAV’s best-selling book, The Canadair Sabre, order using PayPal via firstname.lastname@example.org The all-in price with this offer is $46.00. The Canadair Sabre often has been described (all things considered) as the best of the world’s many F-86 Sabre books. I still like what France’s prestigious “Air Fan” journal said about our book when it first appeared. To “Air Fan” The Canadair Sabre was “The aviation literary event of the year”. If you still don’t have a copy, you’ll thank yourself for ordering one today at the price of a few beers.
Some rusty remains of CF-AIR-X still could be found at Air-Dale in 2009. (Ian Macdonald)
Some Beech 18 fans speak up … Readers have been enjoying our blog of late, and quite a few have commented. Here’s some Beech 18 input. Ian Macdonald adds a bit for CF-AIR-X, noting that some parts (a wing section included) still were sitting in the weeds at Air-Dale in 2009. If memory serves Ian correctly, the “X” in the registration possibly had to do with float or ski trials. John Gilbert writes, “Great pics of the Beech 18s, Larry. I see DTN is among them. When I worked at the Aircraft Radio Workshops (Ottawa 1959-61, Toronto 1962-66) we had several Beech 18s used for flight checking. Thanks for the memories (and for all the good books).” Clarke la Prairie adds, “Thanks Larry. That’s a fascinating read on your blog. I followed the link to order the book Whiskey Whiskey Papa. Looking forward to this read about Weldy Phipps.”
Blain Fowler was reminded of his own Beech 18 love affair: “My first airplane ride was as an Air Cadet in 1958. We flew in an Expeditor at CFB Penhold. Quite a thrill. I was hooked. I remember looking down at swathed grain fields and thinking they looked like giant finger prints. About thirty-five years ago, I bought ex RCAF Expeditor 3NM, 2344, out of a farmers field north of Edmonton. It looked similar to 2302/ZHY in your photo collection. It had been given to a composite high school by the air force and was subsequently acquired by the farmer. He had taken very good care of it, although it had not flown or been on the civil register since SOS. Both engines had been run frequently and were in beautiful shape, as was the whole machine. Everything worked, not even a burned out light bulb! Since this was just before I bought the Corsair, I never got around to getting it flying and finally sold it to another Warbird fellow. Had a bit of fun with it while I had it, loading it up with “the boys” occasionally, everyone with a headset, and taxyed it up and down the runway. Round engine fans are a bit crazy! Loved your blog.”
Paul Manson, who once commanded Canada’s air force, writes to us: “I really enjoyed your latest blog. As always, so much good reading, and superb photos, especially the material on the old Beech 18/C-45/Expeditor. Back in 1962/3, when I was a student on the Specialist Navigator course in Winnipeg (as a token pilot), I did much of my practice flying on the Expeditor as co-pilot. Just checked my log book to see that I had time in the following C-45s: 2334, 1567, 1598, 1461, 2351, 1489 and 1502. Great experience for a jet fighter pilot!”
Wayne MacLellan reports: “Thanks Larry … that brings back memories. We had three Expeditors at Portage-la-Prairie, when I was a T-33 instructor there. As I remember, they were used for senior officer flying proficiency (with a qualified pilot), x-country training (picking up lobster on the east coast, transporting curling teams, etc). When I got my pink slip from Mr. Hellyer I manged to get a Beech rating towards my civilian commercial ticket. When I got to Qantas and they spent three months teaching me how to build and fly a DC-3, my 200 hours of Beech experience came in handy.”
Bob McCaw, one of the many solid Austin Airways people from post-WWII years, mentions two things regarding the blog. First … that Austin didn’t operate the Beech 18. Second … that around the time Stan Deluce’s White River Air Service bought out Austin, White River was operating Beech E18S CF-ANA on a passenger sked between Timmins and Kapuskasing (it’s a hop, skip and a jump between these two centres). Before long, White River became the main contractor in the Ontario Government’s NorOntair, and the Twin Otter took over on all such routes. “ANA” served White River 1970-74, then flew with various operators from Laurentian Air Services of Ottawa to Skycraft of Oshawa. In 1993 it became N5847 with “One Way Ride” in Pennsylvania (let’s go flying with them eh!). Today it’s privately owned in Vacaville, California as N5867. Here’s a photo of “ANA” that I took Toronto YYZ on May 15, 1971. While in Air Niagara colours, it apparently was owned by the Port Colborne Flying Club, which in turn had it on lease to White River. It’s not always easy to figure out such a plane’s historic details. For example, in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register 1970-74 “ANA” is listed as owned by White River.
After enjoying the blog, Ken Pickford was reminded of his boyhood days watching the planes at Edmonton Municipal Airport — “The Muni”: “Thanks, Larry. When I was growing up in Edmonton in the 1950s I remember the RCAF Expeditors coming and going. I lived within bike riding distance, so so spent a lot of time on the observation deck. One difference in those days is that you could identify most aircraft by engine sound alone. Not possible today! Then, I just had to hear 5 seconds of the engine sound as the aircraft passed my bedroom window a mile or so away on final approach (or after takeoff) and could say with about 90% accuracy whether it was a DC-3, North Star, DC-6, Expeditor, Harvard, etc. The North Star could be a little tricky as there were still a few Lancasters in use by the RCAF on a project involving mapping of the Arctic regions, also several Avro York freighters busy on the DEW Line. When I think of the Beech 18, the famous stunt flying scenes from the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” come to mind. In the movie, the famed stunt pilot Frank Tallman piloted a Beech 18 through a billboard and a hangar. Such scenes today would be done using computer-generated imagery, but in 1963 it was the real thing.” (To see what Ken means, check out these film clips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlC1Fboq5vI and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsu3hiP1ikQ)
One of Canada’s leading aviation journalists and publishers was Robert G. Halford of Winnipeg. Having served in the Merchant Navy in WWII, Bob learned to fly, then was a cub reporter in Dryden in Northwest Ontario. In the late 1940s he became a junior writer at “Aircraft and Airport” magazine in Toronto.
Bob Halford as a young man in the Canadian Merchant Navy. Then the famous quartet with whom I enjoyed many an inspiring lunch at The Brogue in Port Credit: Fred Hotson (DHC, nearest) and Ron Picker (Canadair) on the left, and Bob Halford (nearest) and Dave Clark (Canadair) on the right. When “Aircraft” magazine folded, Bob and his wife established The Canadian Aircraft Operator in Mississauga, a solid publication for readers in all aspects of aviation. “The Operator” continued to about 1990, when the Halfords retired. A few years later, Bob handed over his complete aviation archive to me. Many CANAV Books titles are the richer, thanks to Bob’s thoughtfulness. De Havilland Canada had figured hugely in Bob Halford’s world, beginning with the little DHC-1 Chipmunk in the late 1940s. This week let’s have a look at a fraction of the photos comprising the Halford/CANAV Books Collection:
With wartime contracts cancelled and most employees laid off over the summer of 1945, de Havilland of Canada had to scurry to keep its doors open. The old pre-war Fox Moth was reintroduced, some Mosquitos were sold to Chaing Kai-Shek’s army fighting Mao Tse Tung, and some PBYs were civilianized. But something more future-oriented was needed. The solution was a new basic trainer to replace the old wartime Tiger Moth. This project became the DHC-1 Chipmunk. Shown is the beginning of Chipmunk production at DHC. The Chipmunk first flew on May 22, 1946.
Details of this era are best found in Fred Hotson’s landmark book The De Havilland Canada Story (later revised as De Havilland in Canada). Copies can be found at http://www.abebooks.com … no kidding, you need this one.
Sleak and shiny Chipmunk No.1 CF-DIO-X at Downsview in 1946 with a crowd of proud DHC fellows. A.F. “Sandy” MacDonald is 2 nd from the right, then are W.J. “Jaki” Jakimiuk, P.C. “Phil” Garratt and W.D. “Doug” Hunter.
Chipmunk CF-FHY in the early years at DHC. Note how the canopy had changed from the squarish look to the bubble type. Most Canadian Chipmunks featured the bubble, while those built under licence in the UK, India, etc. had the squarish look.
A pair of early Chipmunks on a bright winter’s day at Downsview. Then, a fine air-to-air shot of CF-CXB, part of a batch built for the Canadian Flying Clubs Association.
Following the Chipmunk came the DHC-2 Beaver. First flown on August 16, 1947 by Russ Bannock, the Beaver went on to global fame as one of the great bushplanes. I found this historic view of prototype CF-FHB-X in Bob’s DHC files. It was taken a few minutes before Russ fired up “FHB” on first flight day at Downsview. The crowd would have been anxious to see how “their baby” was going to fly! Where is “FHB” today? Thanks to the stalwart efforts of the very founder of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ken Molson (nothing seems to work to get Ken inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame) “FHB” today is a premier display at the CASM in Ottawa.
The Halford files have endless surprises. For example, I only lately noticed this photo – “FHB” with an early Chipmunk.
Beaver production gets under way. Some 1600 eventually would be built. Beavers remain popular far and wide to this day and come in many versions compared to the “basic” old DHC-2.
The standard Beaver cockpit set-up c1950.
People around “de Hav” were known as a jolly bunch, who loved their jobs. Here’s a typical scene from early Beaver days. Test pilot Russ Bannock, “big boss” Phil Garratt, and some co-workers are getting a good laugh out of something. Russ was a famous WWII Mosquito ace, while Phil had been a WWI DH bomber pilot.
Here’s the “big picture” at DHC in the early 1950s. We’re looking north. At the bottom is some of the new housing spurred on by jobs at DHC. Notice the tightly-packed parking lot – things were hopping. You can see the big new post-war DHC factory in the middle ground. Across the field are the wartime hangars where the Mosquito was built. See the twin white towers to the left of there? Those were newly-erected jet engine test cells needed to support DHC’s contracts overhauling jet engines for the RCAF. These solid concrete structures still stand as artifacts of a forgotten era. Much of the land in the mid-part of this scene today comprises Downsview Park. New production bays have been added over the decades. Today, these turn out Bombardier Q400s and bizjets.
Here’s a lovely 1951 Beaver pose: Serial No. 19 CF-FHF purring over Toronto Bay with the city’s iconic islands below. Soon “FHF” was delivered to the BC Pulp and Paper Co. Sadly, it would crash disastrously in Labrador in 1996. As often happens with wrecks, however, it was recovered, rebuilt, and flies to this day back on the BC coast.
There were many Beaver R&D projects, including CF-GQE with its ungainly empennage. This was the prototype for the Beaver with a 550-hp Alvis Leonides engine (vs the standard 450-hp P&W R985). After years in the UK, “GQE” served on missionary duties in South America. It later had a Polish PZL engine. In the 2010s it was in Saskatchewan as C-GHGN. Really … Beavers do have their stories to tell. Happily, these are beautifully covered on Neil Aird’s website dhc-2.com … make a point to visit!
Fred Hotson writes hilariously about efforts one day to launch a Beaver from a makeshift dolly. But dolly takeoffs soon became common. Here, the Ontario government’s CF-OBS (Serial No.2) “has a go” at Downsview. “OBS” today resides in the Bush Plane Heritage Museum at Sault Ste. Marie.
Beavers quickly were at work around the world, whether as US Army L-20s doing air ambulance work in Korea, spraying the dreaded spruce budworm in New Brunswick, or as “ag” planes dropping fertilizer on sheep grazing lands in New Zealand. Fieldair’s ZK-CKC had begun as a 1956 US Army L-20, then reached New Zealand in 1964 to do ag work. It was wrecked in a 1968 prang. ZK-CLP (beyond) had also been a military L-20. It was destroyed by fire in a 1969 ag accident.
Beaver No.500 at Downsview in May 1962. It may read “For Export” on the side, but No.500 became CF-MAA with the Manitoba government. Today it resides with the (presently dormant) aviation museum in Winnipeg.
DHC-3 Otter prototype CF-DYK-X ready at Downsview for its first flight on December 12, 1951. The great test pilot, George Neal, did the honours that day. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did. Note DYK’s small vertical tail. This quickly was redesigned to give a lot more area. “DYK” later was RCAF 3667 used for some exotic flight test programs at DHC. From 1965 it was CF-SKX for further trials, then was sold to Lamb Airways in 1969. While with Laurentian Air Service, on May 1, 1970 both wings came off “SKX” during a fatal test flight from Ottawa.
Even by May 1951 DHC still was referring to the Otter by its original name — King Beaver. This diagram shows it configured for aero medical evacuation.
One of many US Army U-1A Otters from the 1950s. 55-3290 shows how it could carry a ready-to-fight squad. U-1As served in many theatres and were (along with L-20s) prominent in the Vietnam War. “3290” eventually ended back in Canada – at Kenora on Lake-of-the-Wood as C- GCQK with a 1000-hp PZL engine. In 2004 it migrated to Alaska to work as N560TR. By that time it had logged more than 15,000 flying hours.
Otter No.45 at Downsview on wheel/skies in 1954 ready for delivery. RCAF 3654 would have a short life. While on a supply run on the Labrador coast on December 15, 1956, it cracked up on landing. The damage was severe, so 3654 was “written off” as a dead loss.
Otters would serve on every continent. PAL Otters PI-C51 and C-52 were welcomed when they reach the Philippines in 1955 to serve remote communities. The great Otter aficionado Karl Hayes explains, “The benefits of these Otter services were clear. The land journey from Gingoog to Buenavista took five hours by car and cost 40 pesos. The Otter took 20 minutes and the fare was 9 pesos. Bislig to Davao was a 50 minute Otter flight – the alternative was a week on a coastal freighter, which sailed once a month. North from Lianga, the flight to Buenavista took 30 minutes by Otter and there was no land communication except a three-day foot trail.” On June 21, 1957 PI-C52 had to make a forced landing on a road due to engine failure. Both wings were torn off in the attempt, C52 was a complete loss, but all eight aboard were OK. Sadly, on May 20, 1954 PI-C51 crashed, killing all 11 aboard.
Otter production at Downsview.
Many Otter mods were devised over the decades. Today, most Otters use turbine engines, mainly the PT6 or Garrett. The first such conversion was done in the 1970s by Ray Cox of Edmonton. The Halford Collection includes this lovely air-to-air photo of his prototype C-FMES-X. Originally (1961) with McMurray Air Services, “MES” next served Gateway Aviation, which crashed it badly near Cambridge Bay in 1973. Cox bought the wreck, repaired it and installed a PT6-27 to prove his brilliant idea that the turbine engine was the way to the Otter’s future. “MES” later was N4247A, when Cox moved to Seattle. On December 19, 1984 it crashed near Boeing Field. There were no injuries, but Cox then was forced to leave his vision behind. Others soon picked up on his PT6 idea and the “DHC-3T” now rules Otter skies.
Here are a few miscellaneous DHC photos from my Halford files. This of CF-AGL is a rare one (aviation fans just love oddball conversions, right). In 1930 DHC executive Phil Garratt had this Gipsy Moth modified so he could more conveniently make the flight to his Muskoka summer cottage from Downsview. “AGL” simply was mounted to a centerline float and used underwing sponsons for stability on the water. Now, Garratt could take off from Downsview on wheels and land on the lake at his cottage. Later that year “AGL” was sold in Newfoundland. While on a 1932 flight, it disappeared forever. In later years, DHC provided Garratt with Beaver No.1000 CF-PCG, which he flew for years on his Downsview-Muskoka cottage get-aways.
Even in tough Depression times, DHC kept its doors open. One profitable sale was of several D.H. 90 Dragonflies to the RCMP. This was the beginning of the now-famous RCMP Air Division. Here is the first aircraft awaiting delivery at Downsview in 1937. CF-MPA served into late 1942, then went for scrap.
The Sparrow glider was designed and built during the war by members of the DHC gliding club. Members included W.J. Jakimiuk, who later headed the Chipmunk design team; and Walter Czerwinski, who would create the project-saving fix when a grave design flaw arose with the CF-100 wing-to-fuselage attachment.
As so well told in Fred Hotson’s book, DHC was swamped with work through WWII. Tiger Moths were mass-produced for the wartime air training plan, then a Mosquito line was established. Meanwhile, much overhaul work was completed. When the war ended, all this came to a screeching halt. To keep something going, the last few Mosquitos were completed while, behind the scenes in Ottawa, a deal was made with Chaing Kai-Shek for about 200 Downsview-made “Mossies” (mainly RCAF aircraft in postwar storage). This rare view shows the last of the DHC Mossies being completed. Beyond, you can see some war surplus PBYs being converted for commercial operators. This “busy work” served its purpose until DHC could find its way in the new peacetime economy.
Also in this period, DHC took the ancient D.H.83 Fox Moth, engineered a few improvements, and offered it to commercial operators. 54 were sold, mainly to Canadian bush operators, but a few were exported as far away as India and Pakistan. Using a bank loan, a young Max Ward purchased a new Fox Moth, set up in Yellowknife, then went on to build Wardair into a respected global airline with 747s. Shown at DHC in August 1946 is postwar Fox Moth CF-DIR. Within a year it was with Nalanda Airways in India.
In 1946 the RCAF acquired its first jets – two Meteors and a Vampire. It then ordered 85 Vampires — its first operational jet fighters. These were assembled at Downsview and, later, went back and forth there for overhaul (D.H. Ghost engines included). Shown at Edmonton is TG372 — the first Vampire in Canada. TG372 remains in storage at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Its experience with the Vampire engine likely helped DHC win major overhaul contracts involving the GE J-47 and Orenda series engines used by the RCAF.
A busy scene in the DHC engine shop. These look like D.H. Goblins used in the Vampire. For this little-known DHC story see Fred Hotson’s book pages 141-143.
The Boeing era at DHC in the 1980s involved several R&D projects including a VTOL fighter project (about which little is known). Looking over an engineering model of this design in 1988 are veteran DHC men, Don Whitley, Director of Advanced Projects, and Mike Davey, VP
Cold War Shield, Vol.3 Is Still Available
Cold War Shield is one of the glorious books covering the post-WWII RAF. A massive, very nicely-produced hardcore history, “CWS” is worth every penny. A few copies still are available. Compiled over a lifetime by renowned UK RAF historian Roger Lindsay, Vol.3 covers the colourful and exciting era of the Swift, Hunter, Javelin and Lightning. For more info, go to www.coldwarshield.co.uk
Published last October, Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by now “getting out there” and making a firm impression one reader at a time. Here’s a sampling of some of the notes I’ve received so far. Talk about encouraging, right!
“Your latest book is a treasure. Congratulations!”
“I want to express my appreciation and that of my colleagues for your championing Canadian aviation history. Thank you for your dedication.” “Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever and people will thank you for the photographic research and the captions for years to come. What a great Christmas present it will make.”
“Rich, nutritious, satisfying.”
Another happy development is the appearance of some fine recognition via the media. For any small Canadian publisher, that’s not the easiest thing to win, especially since many daily newspapers no longer review books. (What? Water down your paper’s intellectual content to save a bit pf space for a few more more adverts?) Happily, this trend is not everywhere. On December 31, for example, the Ottawa Citizen (traditionally a friend to Canadian arts and culture) published this succinct commentary under the banner, “New Books of Interest on Military and Foreign Affairs”, by journalist David Pugliese:
Aviation in Canada: Figher Pilots and Observers 1915- 1939 By Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday
This book honours Canada’s First World War pioneers of aerial warfare and includes extremely rare photos of some of those young men who were the leaders in the country’s aviation development. There is information on the more famous pilots, such as Victoria Cross winner Billy Bishop but equally covered are those who are no longer well known. The book also covers the interwar years when, following Nov. 11, 1918, some Canadian airmen fought in the Russian civil war. Some of these pilots went on to become Canada’s first bush pilots, helped establish the country’s aviation industry and of course aided in the development of the RCAF . This is another quality product from CANAV Books, with detailed information and an eye-appealing layout on high gloss paper.
Next, on January 9 the Sault Star published an in-depth feature by reporter Brian Kelly. After reading Fighter Pilots and Observers, Brian was especially interested in a former Soo resident whom we cover: Basil Hobbs was a WWI pilot and (postwar) a bush pilot and RCAF officer. Here’s Brian’s nifty story:
Sault’s Basil Hobbs Downed Zeppelin
Bringing down a zeppelin that bombed England during the First World War was a pretty big deal. Sault Ste. Marie resident Basil Deacon Hobbs did just that in June 1917. The British native co-piloted a Curtiss flying boat that brought down the German raider when returning from a patrol over the English Channel. His accomplishment is detailed in Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday. The airships were a “terror weapon” which caused “an awful lot of death and destruction” in Great Britain. “The Brits considered themselves for thousands of years to be invulnerable,” said Milberry. Great Britain was “the safest place to be” until these “massive aerial weapons start showing up.” Zeppelin raids killed more than 550 and injured nearly 1,360.
“For a couple of guys to go up in a flimsy old airplane and shoot down one of those things, they were national heroes,” Milberry told The Sault Star during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto. “(Hobbs) was an exceptional Canadian airman in the First World War.” And, probably like many other Canadian aviators [Milberry] and Halliday detail in their new work, the public profile of Hobbs a century after the First World War ended is non-existent. “(He) is well known among people like myself, but to the general public he’s long, long ago forgotten,” said Milberry, publisher of CANAV Books.The Curtiss aircraft Hobbs co-piloted carried a crew of four. A wingspan of nearly 93 feet provided “an immense amount of lift,” said Milberry. Flying boats would usually patrol before sunrise in the area of the Frisian Islands watching for zeppelins returning from night-time missions. “Most days nothing happened,” said Milberry of the patrols. It was “just the luck of the draw” Hobbs and his fellow crew spotted the zeppelin on that mid-June day. “Advancing his throttles, Hobbs soared from 500 to 2,000 feet, then dived for the tail of the unsuspecting ‘zepp’,” Milberry and Halliday write in their 184-page hardcover release. Two fellow aircrew members opened fire with the zeppelin “immediately falling in flames.” Hobbs, who trained at Wright Flying School in Dayton, Ohio and sailed for England in December 1915, is also credited for sinking two German U-boats while serving with Royal Naval Air Service. A 1987 inductee to Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, Hobbs’s other honours included a Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order and Officer, Order of the British Empire. “This man truly reached for the stars and through his flying achievements and ability in peace and war brought honour to the aviation fraternity of Canada,” the Hall of Fame says. “His tigerish spirit” made him stand out, says Milberry. That includes attacking a German submarine under fire. “He was not a shirker,” said Milberry. “He took his job seriously.” In 1920, Hobbs was part of the first trans-Canadian flight. The cross-country effort in a F-3 seaplane stopped in the Sault in October of that year, landing at Imperial Oil’s dock at the foot of Lucy Terrace. “The reception given the intrepid occupants of the plane was a hearty one,” The Sault Star reported at the time. “The large crowd pressed around the aviators admiringly, while cameras and moving picture machines clicked.” Hobbs, who came to the Sault in 1900 and lived in Korah township, died in 1965. A plaque honouring him was unveiled at St. Luke’s Cathedral in February 1973. Propaganda “on all sides” of the First World War suggested an atmosphere of chivalry in the skies above No Man’s Land. The reality was much more ruthless with pilots seeking advantage by attacking their foes from the rear and centring their fire on the cockpits. Getting out of the trenches was one draw for men to become pilots during the First World War. “Better to have the relatively comfortable life of the airman, while risking the airman’s shortened existence and the likelihood of a fiery death, than continue in the horrible trenches,” said Milberry. Aviation also offered the lure of a type of combat that was “something totally new and exciting.” “Patriotism was always a factor in drawing young men into the military,” said Milberry. Lack of experience meant most new pilots would die in the first four to six weeks of aerial combat. “You had to be lucky to live long enough to get the experience,” said Milberry. “Once a fellow was experienced, and he knew the rules of the game, he had a much better chance of surviving.” “A good half” of the Canadian pilots Milberry and Halliday document in their new book do not appear in any other contemporary books about the country’s military aviation history. Now’s time for younger Canadians to get to know them, says Milberry. “Let’s resurrect some of these great young men,” he said.
The Aviation Press Comments
It’s odd, but for quality aviation book reviews/critques, the Canadian book publisher usually must look abroad. Inexplicably, our homegrown aviation press (even some historical journals) have little space for books. Happily, though, elsewhere in the world the aviation book still is revered. This goes especially for the UK, EU and Down Under. So it is that the first reviews for Fighter Pilots and Observers in the dedicated aviation press are not from Canada, but from the UK. The respected journals “Britain at War”, “Cross & Cockade” (the journal of First World War aviation) and “Flypast” have taken very positive note of “FPO”. Here is what I recently found to my delight in “Britain at War”:
An Ontario Senator says defence procurement needs better oversight and an improved process if it is to avoid the problems affecting the government’s efforts to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 fighter jet fleet.
“The fiasco of fighter jet replacement is the best example of a procurement system that is cumbersome, bureaucratic and beset by political interference,” Senator Nicole Eaton wrote in an article originally published in The Hill Times.
“Unless ministers start to devote close attention to the management of major projects, or until the process is overhauled, Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars.”
Eaton is a member of the Senate National Finance Committee, which launched a study last fall into the processes and financial aspects of defence procurement. It held its first hearing on Oct. 30 and expects to conclude later this year.
In her article, the senator critiqued the process by which Conservative and Liberal governments have struggled to replace the aging CF-188 Hornets, noting that while both Canada and Australia are members of the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter program to develop the F-35, Australia received its first two operational F-35s in December while Canada, as part of an interim measure, is poised to take delivery of the first of 25 “well-used” Australian F-18s.
“As we take possession of Australia’s scrap, Canada is in the early stages of a minimum five-year-long process to pick a replacement for the F-18, which will be more than 50 years old before it is retired in the 2030s,” she wrote.
The current government bears blame for creating some of the problems with the fighter file, she wrote, but “military procurement has bedeviled successive governments, Liberal and Conservative alike.”
She attributed part of the problem to political interference for both partisan advantage and regional turf protection, but said the main reason for “paralysis in military procurement in Canada is it is too cumbersome and bureaucratic. Process is paramount and results are secondary.
“There are layers of committees, depending on the size of the project, with membership from Public Services and Procurement Canada, National Defence, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development,” she wrote.
“The consensus-based decision-making process on which these committees operate is supposed to avoid a big mistake — no doubt an appealing quality for a risk-averse bureaucracy, but the downside is the system is not conducive to fast action. Simply put, the buck stops nowhere.”
Eaton suggested that bureaucratic morass has resulted in an inability to spend allotted project budgets, an indication the government could struggle to fulfil the commitments laid out in its 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE).
“In the last fiscal year, the policy projected capital spending of $6.1 billion, yet only $3.7 billion was spent. This year, $6.55 billion is called for under SSE, but total appropriations to date amount to $4 billion,” she noted. “Given this poor track record, the idea that military spending can be cranked up by 70 per cent over 10 years, as envisioned in Strong, Secure, Engaged, looks increasingly fanciful.
At the Finance committee’s first hearing on the procurement system, Patrick Finn, assistant deputy minister, Materiel at the Department of National Defence, and André Fillion, assistant deputy minister for defence and marine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, faced a barrage of questions on ongoing participation in the F-35 program, the authorities and mandates of interdepartmental committees involved in military procurement, and about the challenge of balancing military requirements with equipment costs and opportunities for Canadian industry.
“Buying a fighter plane isn’t like buying a compact car, and the role of the government is very important. We had to adapt our method of supply to the context of fighter jets,” Fillion told the senators.
He said a draft RFP released in late October “was the result of many months of consultation on all five potential options (to replace the CF-188s).
“There has been a lot of back and forth over the last several months to make sure that what we are asking meets the requirements of the Air Force and ensures that we do not inadvertently limit the competition. I feel very confident that what we’ve put together is fair, open and transparent to all the potential suppliers.”
Finn said the government had met with and learned lessons from allies who had conducted similar fighter replacement programs. He also dismissed some of the concerns about acquiring used Australian aircraft to fill a gap while the government proceeds with the replacement project.
“In our opinion, Canada has the best expertise related to this type of aircraft. Some companies in Montreal do maintenance for the United States and other countries because they have the necessary knowledge,” he said.
“This aircraft will really increase our fleet, and it is not the number of aircraft that counts; it is rather the hours of use in the future. We are looking for an aircraft that will remain in service for another 14 years. What is needed is enough hours on the structural side. We will be able to use these aircraft until the entire fleet is no longer in service.”
Delta Airlines Becomes North America’s First CSeries/Airbus 220 Operator
Take a look here View this email in your browser (then click on the link) to see how Delta of Atlanta is introducing the A220 to North American cities. When you notice “Watch the first episode here”, click, then just enter A220 in the search box and you’ll find several excellent video shorts that will show you a lot about this fantastic airplane — the one that got away — but that’s another story, right. A220 production is still centred in Montreal, but a new factory is being built in Alabama (google “Airbus’ U.S. A220 Manufacturing Facility – Let the Construction Begin”). And … on February 7, 20`9 Delta reported this g=huge news:
Delta’s long-anticipated A220 debut finally takes off
Image : Delta News Hub On February 7, 2019, Delta took its brand new A220-100 to the skies for the very first time. The introduction of the new aircraft type to its fleet has, of course, now gains its own momentum for the U.S. airline. But the fact that precisely this deal − Delta’s A220s order − had previously sparked a trade war between North American plane makers Boeing and Bombardier, makes the event even more significant.
Flight 744 took off from New York’s LaGuardia airport (LGA) in the early hours of the morning, marking the official debut of the state-of-the-art A220-100, Delta proudly announced on the day. The airline is not only the pleased owner of the aircraft, but also its biggest customer worldwide (based on Airbus orderbook as of December 31, 2018).
It is also the first airline in the U.S. to take delivery of the A220, after it was rolled out of the painting hangar in Delta’s signature livery at the A220 final assembly line in Mirabel, Québec (Canada), the European plane maker announced in September 2018. Having recently shaken up and expanded its initial order, Delta is now expecting to eventually have 90 A220s of both available variants in its fleet. Now belonging to Airbus, the aircraft had a different manufacturer and name when the U.S. legacy carrier first ordered it in 2016. Delta placed a $5.6 billion (at list prices) order for 75 Bombardier SC100s around the same time it cancelled another aircraft order from Boeing, sparking a legal war and tariff battle between the two planemakers. Boeing accused the Canadian government of illegally subsidizing C Series program and launched a trade dispute against Bombardier in 2017 – pointing to Delta’s deal. Consequently, the U.S. government imposed 300% trade duties on C Series planes, but the decision was eventually overruled in 2018.
CANAV Classics Keep Rolling On
The heart and soul of CANAV Books never changes — it’s our readers. Quite a few names on our list go back to CANAV’s origins in 1981, when those sharp readers ordered our first book, The Avro CF- 100. These solid citizens are still behind our efforts after the better part of 40 years. Even if a title hasn’t quite been “up their ally”, these true supporters invariably order a copy just to show their loyalty. Imaginez-vous! Here are two good examples of reader interest from one recent day on the job here at CANAV — January 22, 2019.
First, from Manitoba came an email from a long-term reader who, having started as a junior Norseman pilot, ages later retired as a captain off wide bodies. Summarizing his take on Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, he concludes. “Finally finished working my way through the CAE book. What a great amount of material! I don’t know how you do it, just superb. The corporate coverage is a real eye opener as to how things are accomplished. Also, the details about the people involved are fascinating. Well done, for sure! You mention on p.53 about the twin engine trainers. We have two of those in storage out here.” Little by little, our readers are discovering that The CAE Story is one of the more important and beautifully-produced CANAV titles. I hope you have yours by now. Otherwise, go to www.canavbooks.wordpress.com where you can order on-line. You’ll revel in this book, even if you have to be dragged to it screaming in protest.
Next, along came Canada Post with a wonderful letter from Peggy, the widow of renowned Canadair tech rep, Jim Fitzpatrick. Jim worked for Canadair/Bombardier 1951 to 1996. Peggy mentioned how she recently received a copy of The Canadair Sabre and simply had to tell me what this meant to her. She related how she, Jim and their children lived all over the planet, two years here, three years there, while Jim handled tech rep and other company business. They roughed it in Colombia during the FAC’s Canadair Sabre 6 years, later were in Spain supporting the CL-215, in Germany with the Luftwaffe’s Challengers, and elsewhere (people used to have real jobs, remember). Commenting about The Canadair Sabre, Peggy begins, “I wish to thank you for all your hard work putting these 372 pages together … I spent three hours going through the pages starting the moment I opened the box.” Coming from someone who was right there “back in the day”, I’m humbled to hear from this stellar Canadian. It doesn’t get much better for an author. Besides The Canadair Sabre being perpetually “in the moment”, two of my other personal favourites from the CANAV backlist are the Leslie Corness and Wilf White propliner books. These are absolute gems for anyone looking for the ideal gift for any aviation fan. About The Wilf White Propliner Collection, the much-respected journal, “Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”, commented, “Milberry’s treatment of his subject is personal and meticulous, the photo selection is eclectic and evocative, the captions knowledgeable and informative … thoroughly enjoyable…””Air International” also loved the book, concluding its review: “You will love this book”. Adding to the wave of such reviews, here is what Denis J. Calvert had to say in the November 2006 edition of “Aircraft Illustrated”
The Enduring (Indestructable?) Beech 18
An impressive view showing the packed Beech 18 final line at Wichita c1946. From 1937, Beech delivered 100s of these superb airplanes to Canadian operators. The last of 9000+ Beech 18s went to a Japanese customer in 1969. *Click on any image to see it larger. (CANAV Books Col.)
From Piper J-3 to DC-3 and 787 there’s a long list of great airplanes that have served Canada. If these go by general importance, near the top will be the Beechcraft Model 18. Commonly simply called “Beech 18”, “Beech” or (in the RCAF) “Expeditor”, the first of hundreds came to Canada in December 1937 for Starratt Airways of Hudson, a key transportation hub in northwest Ontario. Always forward-thinking, Starratt recognized the potential of Walter Beech’s new design (first flight at Wichita in January 1937). Registered CF-BGY, Starratt’s Beech 18 revolutionized bush flying. Below are three photos of this historic Canadian bushplane. These pix are lifted from p.128 of Air Transport in Canada (no other Canadian book has so much Beech 18 history – “ATC” has more than 80 Beech 18 entries in its index).
Other “Beeches” soon were in service across Canada with such operators as Canadian Airways, the Hudson’s Bay Co., John David Eaton, and Prairie Airways. Then came WWII, when the Beech 18 became a prominent RCAF utility and training plane. About 150 were taken on RCAF strength in 1940-45.
An RCAF Beech 18 “Expeditor” in wartime colours at RCAF Station Centralia. Then, a standard looking postwar Expeditor at RCAF Station Winnipeg in 1963. (CANAV Books Col., Hugh A. Halliday)
Happily, the ultimate book about our subject is still available – Robert Parmerter’s spectacular Beech 18: A Civil and Military History. This book is essential for any reader with a healthy interest in general aviation history. You can order a copy through the Beechcraft Aviation Museum: email@example.com
Also in today’s blog are two of my own early Beech 18 photos. Here’s a one that I took at Toronto’s old Malton Airport (today’s YYZ) over the winter of 1959-60. Beech D18S CF-HXU had been built in 1946 for Robinson Airlines of upstate New York. In 1955 it came to Canada for Canadian Aircraft Renters, which operated from Toronto Island Airport as Southern Provincial Airlines (the colour scheme was red, black and white). When “CAR” folded in 1960, CF-HXU migrated west for Saskatchewan Government Airways to do air ambulance and general duties into 1972. Then, it just disappeared, likely going for scrap. Check out the Beech 18’s beautiful lines. Powered by 450-hp P&W R-985 engines, aviation couldn’t have had a finer light twin.
The Beech in Corporate Aviation
Corporate aviation in Canada dates to post-WWI days, when war surplus airplanes such as the Curtiss HS-2L flying boat were adopted by forestry and mineral exploration companies. Since then, business (always keen to use aviation to its benefit) has kept informed about developments. Not surprisingly, when Walter Beech introduced its Model 18 in 1937, business took notice of the attractive and speedy new all-metal twin. Two of Canada’s original corporate Beech 18s flew with the T. Eaton Co. (Toronto) and the Hudson’s Bay Co. (Winnipeg). Subsequently, the Beech became one of Canada’s popular business planes. The first I noted during my airport visits back in high school days was at Dorval in July 1959 — CF-IZO owned by a Quebec real estate company. Others that we would spot back then at Malton were CF-AMY of Automotive Products (Montreal), CF-ANT of furnace manufacturer Anthes-Imperial (St. Catharines), CF-FEM of Federal Equipment (Toronto), CF-GJS of Alnor Construction (Oshawa), CF- HOP of Canadian Breweries (Toronto), CF-JNQ of Chelsea Holdings (Montreal), CF-KJX of J.M. Gardner Ltd. (Noranda) and CF-LPC of International Harvester (Hamilton). Happily, after more than 80 years, several Beech 18s remain airworthy in Canada, mostly as work-a-day floatplanes in the bush.
Here is CF-MCH at Malton over the summer of 1959. Having begun with the US military in 1943, it was N6424C after the war, then became “MCH” in 1956 with Charlottetown- based Maritime Central Airlines. In 1960 it joined Curran and Briggs, a Toronto construction company that had gotten a big boost in WWII building RCAF airfields and working on the Alaska Highway. Postwar, the company had contracts from 401 Highway in Ontario to the Churchill Falls hydro project in Labrador. With work all over Canada, having a company plane made sense. However, once business receded, “MCH” was sold. Its eventual fate isn’t known, other than it disappeared from the civil aircraft register in July 1964. “MCH” looks spiffy here in its shiny aluminum finish with white top and forest green trim. Note the company logo on the nose. Next time around, I’ll feature a bit more about the always-fascinating Beech 18.
The Avro CF-100 was the first title published by CANAV Books. That was eons ago in 1981. I still love the gorgeous cover art done by the great Canadian aviation artist, Peter Mossman. Ultimately, the book sold out three printings totalling about 6500 copies, and now is a serious collector’s item. If you need a copy, your best source is bookfinder.com or abebooks.com. One day lately I checked on the former to find 65 for sale at an average price well over US$100. Failing all else, this shows that it pays to buy early, right!
Each year the fascinating history and lore of Canada’s renowned CF-100 spreads wider and wider. Recently, there’s been increased interest in this fabulous “Fighter of the Fifties”. The City of Mississauga has done a total clean-up of its CF-100 Mk.5 18619 near the old town of Malton, and CF-100 Mk.5 No.100760 moved from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa for restoration at the Quebec Aviation Museum (http://www.maq-qam.ca/index_EN.html) at YHU Longueuil airport. COPA reported on “760”: https://copanational.org/en/2018/11/08/new-quebec-museum- receives-avro-canuck/ More recently, a tired-looking CF-100 Mk.3 18126 (painted in ersatz prototype colours) received a boost, as reported by the Calgary Herald on January 23, 2019 (also see www.thehangarmuseum.ca):
Restoration of a Cold War-era fighter has been given liftoff by a city funding commitment, says the head of the Hangar Flight Museum. Although an $82,000 undraising effort fell $20,000 short of its Dec. 31 deadline, the city has agreed to nject $243,000 into repairing a 1950s- vintage Avro CF-100 Canuck fighter plane, said museum executive director Brian Desjardins. The relative success in collecting $62,000 in just two months was probably a factor in the city’s decision, though fundraising continues for the project, he said. “I have every confidence the restoration will now proceed,” said Desjardins. The twin-engined interceptor jet has been sitting exposed to the elements for decades and has been deteriorating from the inside out, due to its unique metallic composition. It will probably take three years to restore the plane, which will be housed in a large tent hangar on the grounds of the northeast museum, said Desjardins. The museum is also seeking a grant from the province’s Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. “We have to show this is an aircraft that’s been important to the aviation industry in Alberta,” said Desjardins. “It looks like our project is a perfect fit for that program . . . it’s been here for 64 years.” The particular CF-100 came to Alberta with Canada’s armed forces in 1955 and eventually became a static display outside the Centennial Planetarium beginning in the early 1970s. Its fate struck a chord with individual donors with a family connection to the type of aircraft, said Desjardins. “Sons, daughters and families have made personal donations because their fathers had flown the CF-100,” he said. The museum is also expecting to take possession of a Second World War Hawker Hurricane single-engine fighter this spring, after its restoration in Westaskiwin. Also this year, the museum will mark the return of a 1930 de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer. The facility also recently saw its operating budget almost doubled by city officials to $475,000, which will enable it to better curate its collection by hiring a full-time collections manager, said Desjardins. “That’ll help immensely because we have not only our aircraft but other artifacts we need to have documented,” he said. “We’re happy with that, though we still have the smallest city budget among these kinds of organizations.” The museum is also examining the cost of expanding its tent hangar, which is aging and in need of frequent repairs, said Desjardins. BKaufmann@postmedia.com
CANAV’s “Aviation in Canada” Series … Give
Us Your Support, SVP
So far CANAV has eight spectacular volumes in print in its seminal “Aviation in Canada” series. These books have been produced without a penny of your tax dollar – no government publishing grant has been so much as been applied for. No such aviation books have ever before been produced in Canada – nothing compares, not a chance. Above is the detailed coverage of our efforts (click on image to see larger). Make sure that you have your personal set up-to-date. Failing all else, print off this info sheet and show it to your local public librarian with a strong recommendation to order these important books (to supplement what in most Canadian public libraries is a shelf heavy with “Made-in-the USA” aviation books). Scroll on down a bit to the next item …
SOMETHING NEW … A Tour of the Montreal Aviation Museum Pierre Gillard of Longueuil offers this outstanding “virtual visit” to the long-standing “MAM”. Check at his blog to see what a fantastic job the museum has been doing over the decades. Next time you are passing through the western reaches of Montreal, perhaps plan to drop by. You can use google to get the MAM co-ordinates and other basic info. Here’s where to enjoy Pierre’s wonderful presentation:
***********************************************************************************“And CANAV’s “And I Shall Fly” Book Launching 1985
Lewie Leigh’s wonderful 1985 autobiography And I Shall Fly. The cover photo shows him and wife, Lin, c1930 with Lewie’s Waco GXE CF-AOI. Then, Lewie’s Waco replacement: 3-seat Command-Aire CF-APQ, in which he barnstormed around Alberta for a few months in 1931. Too bad, but he doesn’t mention anything about his planes’ colour schemes. “APQ” last was heard of around Calgary in 1937.
The early years at CANAV Books were filled with challenge and excitement. A big part of it all was the honour of meeting the leaders of Canadian aviation, then getting to count so many as true friends. All that was 35-40 years ago. Few of these great old pals are still with us, sad to say. Lately, however, I came across an envelope of aging colour negatives labeled, “Lewie Leigh’s Book Launching at Wess McIntosh’s June ‘85”. I had a look and soon was scanning away with a blog item in mind.
Lewis at home in Grimsby c1975.
“Lewie Leigh” was Zebulon Lewis Leigh, born in the UK in 1906, raised on the Canadian prairies and destined for great things in aviation. Having retired from the RCAF in 1956, Group Captain Leigh and Lin settled in Grimsby in the Niagara district, where they enjoyed many years on their hobby farm. In late 1960s Lewie started on his memoir. Eventually, he met Hugh Halliday, a former historian in the RCAF history section, by then teaching at Niagara College. Hugh streamlined Lewie’s manuscript.
One day Lewie called to ask if I would publish his project. I consulted with my literary guru, Robin Brass, who concluded that the manuscript had everything to make a solid book.
Lewie had lived a fantastic life in aviation from early bush flying days to joining newly-formed TCA in 1937 to commanding the RCAF overseas airmail service during WWII. In 1945 the latter evolved into RCAF Air Transport Command, with Lewie as its first commander (not that he is known in today’s RCAF for this fantastic effort). All through his RCAF career, Lewie would battle uphill due to his background as an ordinary airman who had “made good” in an RCAF where none but the graduates of Royal Military College aspired to air rank. Harbouring a bit of resentment about this to the end, Lewie retired as contentedly as possible as a “Groupie”.
In the spring of 1985 Lewie’s wonderful life story, And I Shall Fly, came off the bindery at T.H. Best printing in Toronto. Lewie took 1500 copies, CANAV took 500. I could market my 500 once Lewie’s were sold. This proved to be a good deal. Lewie’s stock soon disappeared in a phenomenal burst of interest. In 1985 he had been Grimsby’s “Man of the Year”, so sales in town were a breeze – the local stationary store sold 700 copies. Meanwhile, Lewie had gotten in touch with good friends in Fort McMurray, where he had flown as a bush pilot in the 1930s. Hill’s drug store there, on which was painted a mural showing Lewie and his old bucket of a Fokker Super Universal circa 1930, sold a further 700. My own stock also disappeared, so we considered our project a grand success. Adding to the fun, in 1989 McGraw Hill- Ryerson of Toronto undertook a 2000 reprint. Lewie’s little $12.95 book had become a blockbuster as far as such Canadian books went at the time (by today’s pitiful standards it would be a mega-success). Although long out of print, And I Shall Fly still can be found. It’s solid “Canadiana” for any sincere aviation reader — the straight goods all the way. There always seem to be copies available on such websites as www.bookfinder.com so why not treat yourself? With that bit of background, here are some of the photos from our book launching 30+ years ago. It was a memorable evening with so many great Canadians present. The captions identify the people about whom I know a bit. Too bad, but our pre-digital photo quality is a bit spotty, but the point here is “content over form”.
Autographs that I collected through the evening at our And I Shall Fly book launch. I did OK, but missed such greats as A/V/M J.L. “Johnny” Plant. Books are fun in so many ways. Naturally, such a one-of-a-kind copy eventually becomes collectable — there still are lots of hardcore aviation bibliophiles around with a passion for the autographed copy. Autograph’s obviously drive up the desirability of a book, but who knew that typos (every decent publisher’s bane) could do the same? Don’t laugh. For the 2018 Boston Book Fair, Oak Knoll Press promoted a 1917 first edition of Parnassus on Wheels. Because of imperfections, Oak Knoll priced this book at US$2500. This is how one of the book’s flaws is described: “First edition … missing “l” from “goldenrod” on page 169, line 11.” That’s a good thing? Yes … to the rabid collector.
Lewie (left) chats at the book launch with his great role model, Johnny Plant. This reminds me of another anecdote. As my first book (Aviation in Canada, 1979) was nearing completion, McGraw Hill- Ryerson asked me to find someone to pen a Foreword. I forget how it happened, but Lewie Leigh agreed to do this, even though I barely knew him. After reading the manuscript, he concluded, “The end product is a well refined story of aviation in a country where the airplane has been prominent for so long.” Thank you for that, Lewie – the book went to 5 printings. A few years later, just before my fourth aviation title (Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924- 1984) was ready for press, I approached Air Marshall (Ret’d) Hugh Campbell for a Foreword. I visited the great man at his home in Ottawa and he agreed to do the job. However, long afterwards I learned a little secret (Lewie spilled the beans one day). A/M Campbell on the sly enlisted his former transport commander, G/C Z.L. Leigh, to do the actual writing. Further down the line, I convinced A/V/M (Ret’d) Plant to write a Foreword for our 1990 book, The Royal Canadian Air Forces at War 1939-1945.
Wesley and Joan McIntosh of Toronto hosted our book launch on June 11, 1985. Here they are in a candid shot with Joan splitting her sides over whatever Wess (left) has just said. Their good pal, Charlie Vaughn, is centre. Wess had his own amazing aviation career, starting in Manitoba pre-WWII. When war broke out in 1939, he became one of the first pilots recruited as an RCAF instructor. He later joined Lewie’s premier 168 Squadron based in Ottawa flying the B-17, B-24, Dakota and Lodestar on airmail duties. Postwar, Wess excelled in civil aviation (famously with Hollinger Ungava Air Transport 1948- 54). In retirement he ferried airplanes all over the world. Wess invited me on one of his final jobs, delivering DC-3 C-GWUG on October 30, 1989 from Kitchener to Kelowna (I got off in Winnipeg where I had some other duties). Wess never met an airplane that he didn’t enjoy. His own well-told story is Permission Granted: Slipping the Surly Bonds of Earth. Charlie Vaughn also excelled as a ferry pilot. His story is Don’t Call Me a Legend. You can (and ought to) have these two top books. Find them easily on the web.
Allan Coggan (left) chats at the book launch with Jack McNulty. Alan flew Dakotas in India-Burma in WWII, put in some postwar time with KLM and HUT, then had a long career in corporate aviation with Algoma Steel of Sault Ste. Marie, where his aircraft included the Beech 18, DC-3 and Gulfstream. Allan penned two books, including his superb memoir of the air war in India-Burma, From Wings Parade to Mandalay (also easily found by googling). Jack McNulty (as any CANAV reader knows) was one of Canada’s most diligent hobbyists chasing airplanes with his cameras. A Hamilton boy and steel worker, Jack encouraged we younger fellows coming up in the 1950s-60s, and always shared his knowledge and photos. Most of his collection resides at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.
Three other Canadian aviation greats at the book launch: Gordon Schwartz, Stu Parmalee and Bob Heaslip. Gordon’s many accomplishments included his early support post WWII of the Toronto Flying Club and his partnership in companies that imported some of Canada’s early Aero Commanders and Lear Jets. Stu spent his early years with RCAF Air Transport Command. One 1970 adventure was captaining the 437 Sqn Yukon that carried some FLQ terrorists from Canada to Havana (these losers eventually were welcomed back by Canada). At this time, Stu was busy bringing Cessna Citations into Canada. Bob Heaslip had a storied RCAF career that included commanding 108 Communications Flight, operating helicopters during the Mid Canada Line construction phase. Recipient of the McKee Trophy, Bob finished his aviation days as a vice- president at De Havilland Canada. For more about these fellows, see Sixty Years and Air Transport in Canada. If you are age 60 or less you may well not have these essential Canadian books. If so, here’s where to shop: Preview attachment Booklist 1 Fall:Winter 2018.pdf
Frank “FEW” Smith and Al Coggan sign copies of And I Shall Fly, as retired TCA pilots Don Patry and Gus Bennett stand by. In the 1980s Frank wrote a detailed history of CALPA(R) – the Canadian Airline Pilots Association (Retired) – but died before it got to press.
K.M. “Ken” Molson talks some history with Frank Russell. Both of these giants of Canadian aviation long since have passed. Ken is in a class of his own in Canadian aviation. From the Montreal Molson’s, Ken studied pre-WWII at the UofT, worked at Victory Aircraft (beginning on the Lysander), then stayed on through the Avro era at Malton to 1959. A dedicated history man, he was the founding curator at Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. He authored several books that each reader here should have: Canadian Aircraft since 1909, Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport, and Canada’s National Aviation Museum. Copies usually can be found at bookfinder.com, etc. Ken’s archive resides in Canada’s National Aviation Museum. Frank Russell joined Austin Airways in the 1930s. There he remained, spending most of his career as the company’s chief of maintenance. In his retirement in Grimsby, Frank devoted himself to restoring the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Lancaster.
Canadian Aviation Historical Society members George Fuller, Fred Hotson and John Biehler enjoy the book launch evening. From Whitehorse (but a long-time Montrealer), George continues to this day to record Montreal’s earliest aeronautical history, going back to 19th Century ballooning. Having built his own Heath Parasol kit plane as a high-schooler in 1930s Fergus, Ontario, Fred went on to a stellar flying career, including as a WWII Ferry Command pilot (making at least 20 deliveries), bush pilot (a Fairchild Husky man), long-time corporate pilot (DC-3 and Mallard), then demo pilot for de Havilland Canada during its Twin Otter heyday. Fred served the CAHS as national president and authored several renowned books from The De Havilland Canada Story to his award-winning The Bremen to his Grumman Mallard: The Enduring Classic. From Hamilton, John served the RCAF in WWII as a fearless Coastal Command Beaufighter pilot, (254 Sqn) then postwar in accident investigation, before joining Dominion Bridge.
Wardair’s famous captain, Ab Freeman, with Johnny Biehler. In The Max Ward Story Max describes Ab as, “a fine pilot and a meticulous and fair manager of other pilots … a strength for our crews and company”. Johnny’s terrifying wartime service is described in The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945.
James C. “Jim” Floyd (left) with Don “Smoky” Patry. Jim joined Avro Canada early after WWII to become chief designer of the C.102 Jetliner and CF-105 Arrow. Wiki has a good bio for Jim, who was still with us in 2018 at age 104. Jim’s The Avro Canada C.102 Jetliner is one of the most sought-after out-of-print Canadian books. A copy today at US$100 is a bargain.
Mick and Ann Saunders in good spirits at the book launch. Having survived his tour flying Typhoons in WWII (including a horrendous crash), Mick had a distinguished career as a test pilot at de Havilland Canada. Long after retirement, he died in the UK when the Dash 7 that he was test flying went down (Mick’s fellow pilot that day blew it). Mick first took me flying in Otter CF-HXY on June 12, 1961 (my first takeoff in a float plane). I scrounged another ride with him in “HXY” on August 31. Later, he took me along in Caribou “LAN” (August 30, 1962) and Beaver “GYR” (June 15, 1963). All the DHC pilots were keen to encourage any schoolboy showing an interest in aviation. Without this sort of support, most of us would never have been heard of anywhere in aviation.
Equipped with copies of And I Shall Fly and The De Havilland Canada Story, the great Archie Vanhee (1909-2009) chats with Mick Saunders. Frank Russell and Johnny Biehler are behind. Having learned to fly at Cartierville on the JN-4 in the 1920s, Archie had a storied career as a pioneer bush pilot, then as CO of a Canso anti-submarine squadron in WWII. With CPA in 1949, he co-captained the first CPA Canadair C-4 flight into Shanghai just as Mao’s forces were overrunning the city’s suburbs. In later years, Archie flew Field Aviation’s ice patrol DC-4s in the Arctic, flew for his good pal Carl Millard, then finished his flying days as a Twin Otter captain with Austin Airways. Archie is covered in such books as The Canadair North Star and Austin Airways: Canada’s Oldest Airline. By googling you can find Archie’s detailed obit.
Des Chorley, myself, aviation enthusiast and Air Canada tech Dave Thompson, and Jack McNulty. Des had been an RCAF CF-100 pilot, then made a bit of a living in aviation journalism. Any Chorley story could be counted on for high interest and accuracy. For one journalistic assignment, Des became the first Canadian civilian cleared by the Pentagon to fly on a SAC B-52 mission.
Gus Bennett and Harry Holland of TCA fame chat with W.H.D. “Wild Bill” Meaden, DFC. Gus had spent his war teaching flying, then joined TCA. He retired in 1979 as Air Canada’s 747 chief pilot. During the war, Harry had flown Halifax bombers, while Billy was a Lancaster man. Their stories are included in such books as The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945 and Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945. Most such wartime pilots had exciting tales to relate. In one case, Harry carried a bomb home that, dropped from above, imbedded itself in his Halifax’s wing. Another time, he saved the day at Toronto’s Malton airport, when an engine on his TCA Viscount tore itself from the wing. Out of options, Harry crash-landed. Billy often had returned from operations with his Lancaster peppered by flak. One night his “Lanc” was attacked by a Ju.88, but his sharp tail gunner shot it down. A few missions later, however, the same young man died when he unthinkingly walked into a whirling propeller.
Canadian Aviation Historical Society stalwarts Sheldon Benner and M.L. “Mac” McIntyre. To this day, Sheldon does valuable work for the CAHS “National” and the CAHS Toronto chapter. Few have served the CAHS so faithfully. A superb aircraft mechanic, Mac was especially famous for his wood-working skills. He contributed to various replicas and restorations, including George Neal’s Sopwith Pup, Hawker Hind and Gypsy Moth CF-AAA, all of which reside today in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. In the 1960s, Mac’s efforts were invaluable, when a historic Curtiss HS-2L flying boat was being salvaged from a northern lake. This aircraft also may be seen at the CASM.
Geologist George Werniuk with Dave Thompson and Milberry sons Matt (behind) and Simon. Matt went on to a career in software development, while Simon is a ReMax agent.
George Werniuk and Des Chorley. The always-congenial artist Robert Finlayson (right) completed several CANAV Books aviation commissions.
Having begun as an RCAF Spitfire pilot, Ray Munro was invalided home after a crash. Postwar, he had many interests. He avidly collected stamps, coins and medals, parachuted at the North Pole, flew his own aerobatic plane, was the doorman at a ritzy downtown Toronto restaurant, formed an exclusive club into which he inducted a few select pals, and laid the groundwork for what today is Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. In honour of his best friend (Lewie Leigh) Ray had licence plate “ZEB 2” on his Mercedes sports car, and even changed his name (legally) to Raymond Zebulon Munro. Yes … Ray was an eccentric, but the world needs a few, right. Ray’s book is The Sky’s No Limit. We used to tease him about how 23 of the book’s 26 photos were of himself, one of the other three being of his twin brother!
Book editor and graphics guru, Robin Brass, with Lewie at a slightly later event. CANAV could never have gone far without Robin’s creative input. Then, Lewie and I. Having moved into a senior’s residence in the early 1990s, Lewie died of Alzheimer’s on December 22, 1996.
The great Z.L. Leigh’s obituary.
Brilliant Gift Giving Ideas
Christmas a.k.a. the Holiday Season is upon us. You’ll be needing some special gifts for your aviation pals and relatives (of course you will, right!). What better gift than a world-class aviation book from CANAV? Here are two of this year’s A-1 choices. You can order right here on the blog homepage.
Interesting photos crop up every day as I cull through filing cabinets and boxes. These two are worth an airing after so many years being squirreled away. First is a photo taken about 1985 at some gathering of TCA North Star pilots to which I was invited. Could have been something to do with my book about the old North Star, since a lot of these fellow had contributed. In the back row are Ron “RAC” Dennis, John Higham, Don Lamont, Lyle Greenlaw, myself, Don Lowry, Don Mclean, Gus Bennett and Glen Cawker. In front are Gerry Lloyd, Art Bush, Bob Penrose and H.P. “Harry” Clarke. If “FEW” Smith’s manuscript ever comes to light, we’ll know quite a bit about this bunch of great Canadians, most of whom have since passed.
This “group of four” was taken in the main passenger terminal at YUL Dorval c1982, just about the time I published The Canadair North Star. The great lady here is Beth Buchanan, who was so supportive while I was researching North Star history. For decades, she had been TCA president, G.R. McGregor’s, executive assistant and had ghost written his book, The Adolescence of an Airline (1970). In this era Air Canada maintained a magnificent corporate library and archive at company HQ – 1 Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal. In her later years, Beth oversaw these priceless Air Canada assets. Beth encouraged my efforts, making sure (for example) that I had Air Canada passes to get back and forth between Toronto and Montreal. When the book came out, she arranged a book launching lunch at Dorval. Many TCA old timers attended; so did Air Canada president Claude Taylor (those were the days when top executives in aviation actually had in-depth knowledge of and respect for Canada’s aviation heritage, so were not too “important” for such an event). Here is Beth with Air Canada PR man, Harold Dondenay (left), the great Don McVicar and I. This event had something to do with the plaque behind us honouring Ferry Command, where Don had played such a key wartime role. Don later operated World Wide Airways, a major Dorval-based DEW Line contractor with C-46s and DC-3s. Later, WWA had Super Constellations doing trans-Atlantic passenger charters, before folding in the mid-1960s. In his retirement, Don wrote some of the best “I was there” books about Canadian aviation. Several were published by prestigious Airlife of the UK – North Atlantic Cat, Ferry Command, More than a Pilot, etc. All are well worth tracking down. Don later published other books, including a rare history of Dorval Airport. Don died in 1997. His wake at the Dorval Canadian Legion was one of the more colourful aviation events of the year. Rarely have there been so many Canadian aviation “characters” in one place having such a good time. Years ago Don was nominated for membership in Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. He’s still not inducted, so people need to have another go at the process. For more about Don see donmcvicar.com as well as rafferrycommand.com/capt-don-mcvicar. Ref. the Air Canada library and archives. About this time (1982) the corporate bean counters in Canada were taking charge of day-to-day affairs and there was great joy being taken by them in “saving” money. What ensued was a diabolical wave that swept the country whereby the bean counters convinced corporate boards that libraries and archives were a waste of money. Within a few years most major Canadian corporations had shut their libraries and archives. To Beth Buchanan’s horror, this happened at Air Canada just as I was finishing my North Star research. One week there were notices placed around Place Ville Marie announcing that employees wanting free books could visit the Air Canada library and help themselves. Within days one of the Canada’s finest corporate libraries simply walked out the door to be scattered forever in a flash. Happily, most of Air Canada’s archive (photos and movie film included) was shipped to the national aviation museum in Ottawa. There it sits to this day largely still unavailable for researchers. However, at least it didn’t go to the dump, as did the archives of other companies in this period. Aren’t bean counters a breed unto themselves, and where was that highly-touted genius of Canada’s boards of directors when it was needed?
Annual Beechcraft Fly-In … This year’s famous Beechcraft fly-in in Tennessee was a huge success, a fantastic event from biplanes to Starships (I had no idea that any Starships remained airworthy). Take a look: Starships, Bonanzas, Staggerwings and more flock to Beech Party Also, you can scroll back here (or search for) our detailed Canadian Beech Bonanza blog item.
CANAV’s 2018 Highlight! On October 4, 2018, CANAV Books launched Vol.8 of its “Aviation in Canada” series – Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. That pushes our series beyond 2000 pages and thousands of photos. This year’s event was held at Toronto’s historic Royal Canadian Military Institute.
Fighter Pilots and Observers was decades in the making, then a push was made in the last three years. With Hugh Halliday turning up historic files and photos in Ottawa’s various archives, proof reading, etc., me piecing together all our raw material, and Linda Irvine doing the precision layout, the project finally came together and went to the printer in August.
Fighter Pilots and Observers is the first CANAV project where I did not visit the printer to do press proofs. Technology has made these visits optional. That said, it always was an adventure visiting Friesen Printers in Altona in southern Manitoba (see earlier blog items). So, with some trepidation I sat in Toronto receiving notice of this last- minute change and that by email from Altona. This turned out to be a serviceable process.
On October 2 my warehouser reported that I had two pallets of books just arrived from the west. From that moment, it was onward in a bit of a panic to the book launch two days later (we little publishers live on the edge). Those who joined us at the RCMI were CANAV fans and supporters having the right stuff (loyalty comes to mind). Three great Canadians in their 90s even showed up, having come down to the RCMI by public transit.
Consulting RCMI catering (such professional people), I had ordered food for 75. This panned out to a “T”, for by the time our 5- hour gig was done, the last treat from the kitchen had disappeared. In the end we all had a super time. Through the afternoon, the inimitable Gus Corujo was our event photographer and here is a selection from his camera:
What a super job, Gus, so thank you again for your contribution. And … thanks once again to all who supported our project over the years.
Early Reader Reaction
So far our readers are pleased with what they’ve seen of Fighter Pilots and Observers. One long-time bibliophile sums up the book in 3 words: “Rich, nutritious, satisfying.” Another old hand writes: “Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever and people will thank you for the photographic research and the captions for years to come. What a great Christmas present it will make.” A hardcore aviation bibliophileand CANAV fan adds: “Thank you very much for your efforts to capture and chronicle Canadian aviation. Your latest book arrived over the weekend … There’s something to be said for opening a package and breathing in a newly printed book. It brings a nectar of excitement. I thumbed through it and you have a wide array of great photos and the stories you’ve captured are outstanding.” Finally for today, Bill Wheeler, who edited the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Society for more than 40 years, writes: “The text is comprehensive and flows as would be expected of two such knowledgeable and accomplished authors. Although weighty, their book that is hard to put down.”
New Booklist: Fall/Winter 2018/19
CANAV Readers … Here’s your copy of this season’s CANAV choice of the best in aviation books. If you’re looking for some top reading or for a gift for some special aviation fan, you can’t have a handier solution than right here. Besides … doesn’t a good book still make the best, most thoughtful present?
Walter Eichhorn taxis Cornell CF-EHH at Toronto Island Airport on November 20, 1960. With him is his wife-to- be, Liesel. (photos by Larry Milberry) One of aviation’s well known warbird and airshow personalities is Walter Eichhorn. Born in Germany in 1936, Walter emigrated to Canada in 1955. As a truck mechanic for Loblaws his wages were skimpy, but he saved enough to pay for flying lessons at Central Airways on Toronto Island Airport. Then, to build hours, he bought Cornell CF-EHH for $1000. That’s when I bumped into him one day, while I was photographing at the island. Coincidentally, during my Air Cadet days I had acquired a set of Cornell pilot notes. Walter was keen about these and I was happy to do a trade in exchange for a flight. So it was that on November 20, 1960 I had my first Cornell ride. It was cloudy and a bit windy, but we flew over to Kitchener, where I photographed some interesting planes before we headed home. Walter soon stepped up to $2000 Harvard CF-MTW. Suddenly, however, he was called by Lufthansa, where he had applied for work. He sold “MTW” for $1500 and returned to Germany to begin a career flying airliners starting on the Convair 440, ending on the 747-200. Along the way he also excelled at his sport parachuting hobby, leading the West German national team to some firsts at home, also competing at the world level. Meanwhile, he was moving up on the warbird scene. Eventually, he flew Bf.109s at the Willy Messerschmitt Museum at Manching, and appeared in such big screen movies as “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise, and in the classic television series “A Piece of Cake”. Over the years he also flew a Ju.52, including on a North American tour. Meanwhile, Walter and his son, Tony, became well- known flying matching Harvards at airshows around Europe.
Walter flies a “109” (red nose) during the shooting of “A Piece of Cake” in the 1980s. These were former Spanish air force planes powered by Merlin engines.
The renowned Willie Messerschmitt Museum at Manching near Ingolstadt, Germany. Then, Walter in the cockpit of museum Bf.109 “Friedrich Karl Muller” in October 2002.
In October 2002 I met Walter at Manching, Germany during a visit to the EADS Eurofighter factory and test flying facility. My visit had been organized by Billie Flynn, former CO of 441 Sqn, but by this time Eurofighter test pilot. I’m not sure how this happened, but EADS learned that Walter and I knew each other. On October 10 Walter flew in from Frankfurt. Bf.109G-10 D-FNME was ready for him and I was driven to mid-field. Soon, Walter was putting on a fantastic “109” display, followed by Billy Flynn showing off one of the prototype Eurofighters.
Walter taxis the G-10 at Manching. Then, he and I on the ramp.
Billie Flynn (in the cockpit) ready for a test flight in Eurofighter prototype No.5. In 2018 Billie was at Lockheed Martin flying the F-35.
In June 2, 2005, when Walter was flying a Bf.109 at Ed Russell’s strip in Niagara, I got to fly again with him and fellow warbird pilots John Romain and Alan Walker in Ed’s Harvard. It was a great day shooting air-to-airs of the “109”, Hurricane and Spitfire:
Walter fires up Ed Russell’s Bf.109E C- GIPB, then goes flying. Having fought in the Battle of Britain, this “109” now resides at historic Biggin Hill airfield near London.
More recently, Walter and I have visited during one of his annual trips to Canada. He almost got to our 2018 book launching at the RCMI, but a delayed flight made him an hour too late. Two days later, however, we got together for a visit to the Canadian Warplane Heritage at Mount Hope.
Walter with Leon Evans and Dave Rohrer (CWH President and CEO). Leon and Dave fly the CWH Lancaster. Next, Walter and I on the hangar floor, and him sizing up the (very tight) CF-100 cockpit.
For nostalgia’s sake, I got Walter to pose by a CWH Cornell.
In 2016 Walter’s life in aviation was published (in German). This is a very neat example of the genre “aviator’s personal stories”. It’s packed with solid history and beautifully designed with many colour photos. Any airman contemplating a book would be smart to use Walter’s book as a model. Copies can be ordered from firstname.lastname@example.org . Walter’s latest honour came in 2018, when he was inducted into “The Living Legends of Aviation” at a gala event in Salzburg, Austria.
North Star Update: CF-TEL Ends Badly
As serious authors know, no sooner is any history book in print than information arises that just missed publication. “C’est la vie, c’est la guerre”, as we say, and so goes the history process. However, not everyone gets this. My files include many letters from sorehead readers complaining bitterly about my supposed sins of omission, such as, “Why did you not include my own great deeds of aviating prowess? Your book isn’t worth a nickel.” So it has gone regarding the history of the Canadair North Star, ever since CANAV’s book about this famous propliner was published in 1982 (you can scroll back to see that interesting story on the blog). News items re- surfaced lately about the disastrous arrival on that August 12, 1948 at Sydney, Nova Scotia of TCA North Star CF- TEL. My book briefly mentions this on p.46, but here is a more detailed report from the Globe and Mail of August 13. Such old reports open any reader’s eyes to the high standards of newspaper writing in former decades. Look at all the personal (and meaningful) data and the sense of excitement and imminent doom that the reporter created. All such info then was considered essential to good reporting. Also, by today’s lame newspaper standards, the reporting is quite politically incorrect, e.g., imagine a reporter today referring to a stewardess as “attractive”. Horror of horrors!
The ill-fated CF-TEL that crashed on landing at Sydney, Nova Scotia on August 12, 1948. (CANAV Books Col.)
(2 items below) A front-page spread from the Globe and Mail a day after the Sydney disaster. Then a photo of what was left after CF-TEL had burned out. All aboard were saved by the cabin crew reacting instantly and professionally.
To show how (ages before the internet) news could spread within minutes across Canada, this is how the Regina Leader-Post covered the story on the very day of the crash. The event must have been hugely traumatic for all aboard, but in 1948 the impact on survivors’ lives rarely was reported upon. Notice the quality of the reporting – good, straight news vs today’s all-too-routine fake daily news:
A Trans-Canada Air Lines stewardess calmly led 11 passengers to safety early from a flaming four-engine North Star aircraft. The five other crew members also escaped uninjured when the big trans-ocean plane burned after touching down at the nearby reserve airport at 1:45 am MDT. Miss Rita A. Meyers, a native of Kitchener, Ont., led the passengers to the emergency exit as flames licked at the opposite side of the aircraft. Purser-steward Jack Triggs of Montreal stood on the ground and caught the passengers as they leaped 15 feet to the ground. The collapsible ladder used to descend from the exit would not work. The pilot was Doug Holland of Montreal.
Trans-Canada Air Lines issued the following statement: “En route flight 210, destined for Prestwick, the aircraft made a normal approach for landing, and it is thought that the right wheel struck a mound of earth approximately 20 feet from the end of the runway. Ditching is being carried out all along the end of the runway. Impact of the wheel striking the mound split a gas tank and, as the plane landed, gasoline was running out of the tank along the runway. After landing the right wing caught fire." Members of the crew, besides Triggs, Holland and Miss Meyer were: Flying Officer Bob Penrose, Navigating Officer Gil Evands and Radio Officer Bob Wright all from Montreal. Another North Star from Montreal was used to continue the flight to Scotland, but first, the passengers were issued with new clothing, passports and luggage. Everything aboard the aircraft was lost. We have no other information regarding this incident.”
Tom Wheler, DFC, Passes On
One of Canada’s last wartime Spitfire pilots, Thomas Wheler, DFC, died in Toronto on October 12, 2018. His funeral in Scarborough, Ontario was a standing-room-only affair with such great Canadians in the pews as LGen Richard Rohmer, Honourary Lieutenant General of the RCAF. Tom was a solid supporter of my efforts over the decades. Here is some story material that I put together about him for CANAV’s 1990 title, Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945.
F/L Tommy Wheler while gunnery flight lead with the Sabre OTU at RCAF Station Chatham in 1952. Later, Tom flew in NATO with 444 Squadron. A man of many accomplishments, he was a very fine artist using several media. At 444 he designed the squadron’s famous cobra emblem that distinguished the “Triple Four” Sabres for years in the RCAF Air Division. (DND)