RCAF Lancaster FM104 Update + CATP Museum Tour + Air Cadets Update (Must Read) +”A Tradition of Excellence” — a Book for Any True Fan + Good News from Harbour Air

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Here’s one of the vintage b/w photos that I took at the Lancaster retirement weekend at Downsview on April 5, 1964. That’s search and rescue FM104 in the foreground with “long nose” reconnaissance KB976 beyond.

Aviation fans everywhere love the Avro Lancaster. Canadians had begun crewing on Lancasters with RAF Bomber Command as soon as the “Lanc” began operations late in 1941. The distinct RCAF bomber group formed a year later (No.6 Group) was flying Canadian-built Lancaster Xs by war’s end.

Today, I’m looking back to April 4/5, 1964 in RCAF Lancaster history. That was somewhat melancholic, being the week the RCAF retired its Lancasters. For the occasion, Lancasters KB882 and KB976 (both the long nose, Arctic reconnaissance version) and FM104 (search and rescue version) had starring roles at RCAF Station Downsview in Toronto. Many RCAF veterans attended to honour their beloved “Lanc” and walk around it on the ramp for one last time. Thanks to “Lancaster KB976 – The Full Story” (you can google it) we know all about KB976. For KB882 see such sites as Lancaster KB882 – National Air Force Museum of Canada

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A shot I took of FM104 in Coronation Park on July 31, 1967. It still was looking impressive, but the following years to 1999 would be hard on this famous wartime treasure. Birds nested in it and human squatters even moved in — talk about pitiful. eh. Notice the Sherman tank and artillery display beyond.

What about FM104? Although it had gotten to the UK in 1945, it arrived too late in the war for bombing operations. It soon flew home to spend several years in storage, before being converted for its important SAR role. FM104 then put in several years at Torbay, Newfoundland patrolling Eastern Canada and the NorthAtlantic with 107 Air Sea Rescue Unit. Once retired in 1964, it was acquired by the RCAF Association and displayed for decades atop a pylon in Coronation Park on Toronto’s downtown waterfront. Nearby were some other important emblems of Canada at war – the famous RCN destroyer HMCS Haida,a Sherman tank, and an artillery piece. Eventually, Toronto’s anti-war city councilors prevailed and all these historic reminders of Canada’s revered (by most decent citizens) military past were removed.

Happily, FM104 was saved. In 1999 some avid Toronto Aerospace Museum volunteers dismantled it and moved it to Downsview airport in north Toronto for gradual restoration. Some solid progress was made, then the museum suddenly folded. Inevitably, a discussion arose about FM104, ownership of which by then was with the City of Toronto. Various museums made cases for acquiring FM104. For a few months the story became a bit of a media sensation, especially when the British Columbia Aviation Museum made its proposal. Some factions in eastern Canada campaigned to “save” FM104 from going west. However, eastern Canada already had nearly all of the country’s Lancasters. The only example in the west was in Calgary, but the West Coast had had its own impressive postwar Lancaster history. From 1952 to 1959, No.407 Squadron at Comox on Vancouver Island had operated Lancasters flying such important missions as anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and fisheries patrols. It made sense to me that FM104 should go to the BCAM, so on January 31, 2018 I wrote this letter:

To: Ms Gabrielle Major, Registrar, Toronto Museums and Heritage Services. Dear Ms Major … I have heard that the British Columbia Aviation Museum would like to acquire the City of Toronto’s Avro Lancaster WWII bomber. This brought me back to April 5, 1964, when I attended the official retirement at Downsview airport of this very Lancaster — FM104. Since then we enjoyed the sight of FM104 when it was on display for decades in Coronation Park down on the lakeshore. In more recent times, we watched as work was done towards its restoration at Downsview with the now-defunct Toronto Aerospace Museum. It would be good to get this Lancaster out to the West Coast, since the Lancaster made a major contribution towards Canada’s West Coast defense, and search-and-rescue in the postwar years. Yet, BC has no Lancaster, while quite a few are east of the Rockies. I hope that the BCAM can meet your standards for acquiring this piece of Canadian history. I have seen the high quality work that the BCAM has done on many restorations, so the museum has what it takes. Best regards and feel free to call any time if you have an aviation history query. Larry Milberry, Publisher, CANAV Books.

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One of the great photos by Grant Hopkins that you’ll see in the “Skies” magazine update covering the restoration of FM104 at the BCAM. FM104 now is 75 years old, but somehow seems to be getting a bit “younger” looking by the day.

Happily, FM104 today resides with the British Columbia Aviation Museum near Victoria International Airport. Who knows, eh, maybe CANAV’s letter helped the BCAM cause. You can see much about the museum and how FM104 is progressing by surfing the net. This week, Canada’s magnificent “Skies” magazine published the latest FM104 update. Be sure to take a look:

AIR CADET LEAGUE OF CANADA

ANNUAL FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN

Envisioned as Canada’s premier and world class youth development movement, the Air Cadet program seeks to encourage and enhance the development of well-adjusted, civic minded youth in undertaking leadership roles in a great Canada and a better world.  The Air Cadet League of Canada’s mission is to promote Canadian youth to develop an interest in aviation and aerospace and to provide opportunities to engage in enriching program elements such as physical education, music and public speaking.

Supporting Air Cadets makes a difference in the lives of young people.  Let’s work together to make sure that every Cadet has the opportunities – Donate Today!

Click Here to Support Air Cadets, Today!

Every cadet has a story …

“My name is Warrant Officer 1st Class Heather Blake. I am a member of 514 Air Cadet Squadron in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. When I joined cadets as a 12-year-old, thanks to growing up around members of the program, I already knew a lot of the opportunities that would be made available to me. What I could never have anticipated, however, is the way being an Air Cadet would make me feel. The camaraderie, the self-discipline, the adventurous spirit – but most importantly, the desire that comes only from the pursuit of your dreams. That is exactly what Air Cadets has allowed me to do – it not only gave me the opportunities, but it gave me the courage and the drive to both reach for my dreams and achieve them. I can never truly express how grateful I am for that.”Warrant Officer 1st Class Heather Blake (center of photo) 514 Kinsmen Air Cadet Squadron

Your Gift … Supporting Air Cadets makes a difference in the lives of young people.  Let’s work together to make sure that every Cadet has the opportunities that cadets like Heather are so grateful to have had – opportunities that shaped their lives!

Thank you for supporting our Air Cadets and a special thank you if you have donated recently. You can donate to the Air Cadet League of Canada online with credit card or by sending us a cheque with the printable donation form also found on our website. Together we can make another 78 years of excellence and innovation in youth development programming a possibility. Yours sincerely, James Hunter, CD

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A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage CANAV’s pleased to re-introduce you to Dan Dampsey’s ace of a book. Here at CANAV HQ, I have my autographed copy on a shelf with what I call “the finest aviation books in the world”. This truly is the most magnificently-produced Canadian aviation book, a treasure deserving a place of honour in your library. “TradEx” will give you decades of fabulous reading. Full coverage from 1919 into the 2010s of such great teams as Bishop-Barker, the Siskins, Golden Hawks, Golden Centennaires and Snowbirds. Everything from the Fokker D.VII to the Harvard, CF-100, Banshee, Sabre, T-33, Tutor, CF-104, CF-18, Kiowa – even such surprises as the Argus & Sea King in “demo” mode! Fascinating civil types also pop up. Some 2000 photos + 42 original paintings by the great Peter Mossman. You’ll revel in every page. Treat yourself & show your support for someone who put it on the line for Canada’s aviation heritage! 766pp, 4 kg, hc, 9.5×12 in., app’x, biblio, index. Your signed copy: all-in just $130.00 Order directly from Dan at afteams@gmail.com

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Reader comments: Ref. our 2015 blog item “A Few More Norseman Tidbits for the Fans“… our blog readers always provide valuable input, once they’ve had a look. Today, for example, I heard from someone who found an item on the blog that could make someone melancholic, but, in her case, happy, as well. She writes: “Thanks for this little bit. My father in law was the referred to S.B. Ladell. He suffered major injuries in the crash but did meet his future wife while in hospital.” There’s a lot more to aviation history than we sometimes realize, right!

Harbour Air Boosts Operations from Vancouver … Canada’s famed West Coast operator is edging back into the business. The CBC tells the story:
Preview YouTube video Harbour Air banks on B.C. tourists, adds routes

Gananoque’s “Mysterious” Canso + AN-225 Hotline + Conair from Stearman to Q400 + A Little-Remembered but Dramatic Episode of “Canada at War” + Reminder: “A Tradition of Excellence” — A Spectacular Canadian Book

For decades, many a keen member of “the aviation circle” has dropped in to the former British Commonwealth Air Training Plan aerodrome north of Gananoque, Ontario. The place had been built in the early 1940s as a relief, or, secondary field to serve No.31 service Flying Training School at Kingston (see “RCAF Station Kingston” on wiki). “Back in the day” No.31 SFTS was doing advance training mainly for RAF student pilots on the Battle, initially, then, on the Harvard, once they were available.

A relief field served several roles. Instructors could take students there from the busy Kingston circuit to practice “touch-and-goes” and other procedures; advanced solo students could do the same. If a runway incident closed a runway at Kingston, Gananoque would save the day, the same if local weather conditions closed Kingston, while Gananoque still was open. Such fields were bare bones. They had the standard BCATP runway layout, but usually just one small hangar, a few other basic buildings and a skeleton staff.

After the war most relief fields soon disappeared. Local farmers often bought the buildings and equipment (even some airplanes, if any were lying about), then the place normally reverted to agricultural use. It’s a bit of a miracle that Gananoque survived, certainly passed 1960. I don’t know how this happened, but a few such aerodromes did have temporary RCAF use postwar. Carman, Manitoba, for example, was used for aircraft storage into the 1960s. Does anyone know what purpose Gananoque served from 1945 into the 1960s?

One thing we do know is that – subsequently — the place was taken over for skydiving in 1971 when the Gananoque Sport Parachuting Centre opened. The company website is sparse about history, but does mention that in 2020 the founding family remains in charge. My last visit was in 2015, but Richard Mallory Allnutt visited in 2018, so has some more current info. His follow-up article is published on the web in “Warbird Digest”.  ere it is: http://warbirdsnews.com/warbirds-
news/the-ghost-of-gananoque-a-flying-boat-in-a-barn.html This is really tops — well research and smoothly written. Richard polished up his story with some good solid photography, so be sure to have a close read. You’ll love it! I like his reference to the old Hitchcock “North by Northwest” – the dusty road leading to the field would remind any film buff of that great classic flick. Meanwhile, here are a few of my Gananoque photos from my visit of August 23, 2015. Have fun … Larry

Gananoque Photo Tour

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Here’s your first general look at present day Gananoque once you pull in. This is the standard BCATP 2-bay aircraft hangar. After nearly 80 years not much has changed. Even the cladding is standard wartime cedar shingles. The ancient control tower really “makes” the scene. I suspect that most aircraft comings and goings at such a field were handled by controllers using an Aldis Lamp. It’s great how this wonderful WWII tower has survived. The tarmac at a glance appears to be original.
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Judging from the sign on the hangar, the club goes back a year or two (1971).
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Of course, what mainly draws the history buffs here is the Canso. I remember first visiting in the 1970s following up on a rumour about a possible Canso. This panned out – there it was, as Richard describes. Its original ID was RCAF 11093, which was built by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville in 1944. Richard outlines its basic military history. Very little has change here over the decades. Hard to believe, no! On earlier visits I always found the Canso inside with no lighting for photography. This time, however, I hit the jackpot, for 11093 was out in the air. This was a scenario that called for a series of photos.
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Postwar, the RCAF retained a fleet of Cansos for such duties as search and rescue, and supporting Northern and Arctic operations. As kids we always loved to see a Canso at the airshows, especially if a JATO take-off was on the program. In 1960, however, the Grumman Albatross entered RCAF service – the Canso was on its way out. The last went into storage in 1962, but soon were in demand by commercial operators, especially when the Canso’s usefulness as a water bomber was understood. The government’s surplus sales corporation, Crown Assets of Ottawa, quickly sold off the Cansos stored at such bases as Dunnville. It was a buyers’ market. Old time Canso man, Joe Reed, once told me that he flew a Canso out of Dunnville in the early Sixties, having paid a mere $1500.
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11093 close-up shots. Note how the wartime aft observation blisters have been removed and replace on both sides by cargo doors with small blisters.
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Anyone dropping in to see the Canso can’t resist spending an easy hour watching all the jump club activity. Jumpers are known for their hospitality, so no fear of being rousted off the ramp, etc. Here are some typical scenes. Sometimes 3 or 4 ‘chutes will be in the sky, if the single Cessna is the jump plane, but if the King Air or Skyvan are at work, the sky will be crowded with parachutes.
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Gananoque’s jump planes in August 2015 included this vintage 1965 workhorse in “Cabotair” colours. A Cessna 182H Skylane, “GDJ” looked about as well-worn as any typical jump plane. It came to Canada from the USA in 1991. Notice – pilot’s seat only, the rest stripped out to make room for the jumpers.
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Jump plane N32BA getting set for a circuit. It’s a 1969 Model B90 sn LJ475 with a pair of PWC PT6A-60A turbine engines. Then, Skyvan N192WW. Both planes were chartered from US owners and equipped for the para role. The pilots were very experienced at this demanding sport aviation specialty.
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The spacious Skyvan cabin. Then, jumpers heading out ready for their one-way Skyvan flight.
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The Skyvan back at base and taxiing by the Canso after another drop.
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Watching some happy jumpers on the way down.
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Some final views from my 2015 visit. I look forward to dropping by again to see “what gives” with Gananoque’s trademark Canso (there sometimes are rumours that it has been sold, etc.) and to enjoy all the jump school fun and games. Notice the tired old 1973 Piper PA-31 (C-GIRU) Chieftain in one photo. It had gradually been fading into the weeds. PS … yet another little know fact about Gananoque: if you drive downtown to the waterfront, you can see the old Link Trainer factory, now a condo development. Link manufactured some 5000 of its basic flight simulators here in the 1930s and through WWII.

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It’s printed off a bit of a dirty old “120” negative, but here’s a shot I took of “NJL” in the early 1960s when it was dormant at Ottawa “YOW”, before going into long-term storage at Gananoque

AN-225 … World’s Most Amazing Airplane!


AN-225 Hotline … Check out this world-class, one-of-a-kind, astounding airplane visiting YYZ Toronto 30 May 2020 . A couple of weeks ago the “225” was at Montreal Mirabel via Anchorage. Notice how antonov.kiev.ua and canavbooks.com are equally shameless in their self-promotional efforts! But … at least CANAV has flown a couple of AN-124 global trips, so all you poor little critics who don’t know the joys of a real Antonov adventure kindly bow your heads respectfully!

The great Gus Corujo also covered the AN-225 at YYZ this day. Few are able to capture such an event better than Gus. You really need to have a look: http://gusair.com/htdocs/Aviation/2020/20Antonov-225-CYYZ/20antonov-225-cyyz.html

Conair — A Great Canadian Company’s History in Fire Bombing & Aerial Application. Stearman to Q400 in 5 minutes: https://vimeo.com/421329061?ref=em-share

A Little Remembered but Dramatic Episode of “Canada at War”. How Canadian Paratroops Helped Save Denmark in May 1945. See ehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWcRl7Q7pGs  

A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage CANAV’s pleased to re-introduce you to Dan Dampsey’s ace of a book. Here at CANAV HQ, I have my autographed copy on a shelf with what I call “the finest aviation books in the world”. This truly is the most magnificently-produced Canadian aviation book, a treasure deserving a place of honour in your library. “TradEx” will give you decades of fabulous reading. Full coverage from 1919 into the 2010s of such great teams as Bishop-Barker, the Siskins, Golden Hawks, Golden Centennaires and Snowbirds. Everything from the Fokker D.VII to the Harvard, CF-100, Banshee, Sabre, T-33, Tutor, CF-104, CF-18, Kiowa – even such surprises as the Argus & Sea King in “demo” mode! Fascinating civil types also pop up. Some 2000 photos + 42 original paintings by the great Peter Mossman. You’ll revel in every page. Treat yourself & show your support for someone who put it on the line for Canada’s aviation heritage! 766pp, 4 kg, hc, 9.5×12 in., app’x, biblio, index. Your signed copy: all-in just $130.00 Order directly from Dan at afteams@gmail.com

CANAV’s Blog for May 9, 2020 … Where Have All the Airliners Gone? Gemini, AN-225 and Norseman Updates + Other Worthwhile History Bits

A Really Keen Photographer Covers the “Parked Airliners” Scene You’ll find it well worth looking at this outstanding album of fantastic photos. The man behind the lens  tells the sad story of what the C-Virus has done to World Air Travel. Here’s the link to open: https://www.businessinsider.com/inside-a-photographers-quest-to-photograph-hundreds-of-parked-planes-2020-5#though-initially-worried-about-heading-to-a-major-city-like-kansas-city-luten-described-the-measures-he-took-such-as-sleeping-in-his-car-and-wear-protective-masks-when-required-31

 

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Hundreds of you have been enjoying our recent item covering the wonderful photos of the great Al Martin. Here’s another of Al’s always-interesting shots. So far as we know, only two Miles Gemini light twins ever came to Canada. One (G-AJKS) returned to the UK, the other became CF-HVK. Al spotted “JKS” at Toronto Island Airport some time around 1950. Here’s the story:

First flown in 1945, the Miles Gemini 4-seat light twin looked promising. Then, as the initial surge in postwar Great Britain’s recovery cooled, Miles folded in 1947. About 150 Geminis were built. Initially, G-AJKS came across on a Miles demo tour. Its arrival was impressive, since it came aboard the RCN aircraft carrier, HMCS Warrior. Once Warrior was about 20 miles off Nova Scotia, demo pilot, Jim Nelson (an ex-RAF American), flew the little Gemini off the deck to Halifax. Can you imagine pulling off such a stunt in 2020? Not a chance, right! The Gemini visited Ottawa, Oshawa and Toronto Island Airport, then back-tracked to Montreal and on to New York City. The tour and a demo flight were written up in detail in the October 1947 edition of “Canadian Aviation” magazine. One comment may explain why no sales resulted – the Gemini carried a hefty price tag of $16,000. G-AJKS was shipped home where, among other owners, it served Eagle Air Services of Baginton airport from 1955-59. Too bad, but it was scrapped in 1965.

Nothing else was heard of the Gemini in Canada until 1955, when John E. Pitt of Montreal ordered one. Pitt hoped to fly his new plane across the North Atlantic to Montreal. Happily, sanity prevailed, and the Gemini was crated and shipped by sea, then assembled at Dorval around June/July 1955. Registered CF-HVK (previously G-AJOH in UK), it sounds by the archival paperwork that Pitt hoped to convert it to US-made Continental engines. By late 1955 “HVK” was resident at Cartierville airport a few miles from Dorval. How did this unusual Canadian light plane end? Not well, but its final days suggest that John Pitt really was an adventurer, who probably would have tried an Atlantic crossing if allowed. In March 1958 he had “HVK” in Mexico. Such a long flight from Canada to Mexico in a tiny plane was uncommon in those times. Was Pitt on an exotic vacation? Was he in Mexico to sell his plane? The sad thing is, while taking off at Mexico City on March 28, 1959, he had an engine fail and crash-landed. Nothing further is known about “HVK”.

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Here are two rare colour shots of “HVK” at Dorval c.1955. These were taken by the renowned John Caron of Montreal, one of the early supporters of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, and of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Notice the great setting, including the Dorval Air Transport C-46 CF-FBJ and a T-50 still in RCAF yellow. I photographed “FBJ” on the same ramp just a few years later. Sadly, it crashed disastrously in Lac St-Jean country when it got entangled in a fierce thunderstorm. Cessna Crane N60536 had been RCAF 8662 during the war. Montreal surplus airplane kingpin Wally Siple acquired it, then sold it to a US buyer. As usual, there’s often more to an ordinary airplane photo than the foreground, right!

Reader Update

Further to our Gemini blog item, Ian M. Macdonald already has been in touch. Ian had done his own research into this interesting little plane. He reported his findings in the March 2010 edition of “The Observair” (newsletter of the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society). Ian learned that in 1946-47 a third Gemini was destined for Canada. The registration CF-EMW was reserved for it for the Bata Shoe Company of Batawa, Ontario. However, for some reason the Department of Transport in Ottawa denied importation authority, so “EMW” remained in the UK.

Ian also clarifies that for the planned trans-Atlantic delivery flight of CF-HVK, an inexperienced ferry pilot was hired. This likely explains why the DOT nixed the flight. Another Gemini did, however, reach Canada, but this story ended badly just a few hours after the plane entered Canadian air space. As Ian explains, Thomas James Binderman of Montreal purchased Gemini G-AKFU in the summer of 1965. A low-time private pilot, somehow he was authorized to fly the North Atlantic to Canada:

On August 14, 1965, Binderman left Narsarssuaq, Greenland, at 0758 for Goose Bay, NL, a 685-nm leg. His last radio communication was with Cartwright, NL, at 1425, and at 1528, fuel was considered exhausted. An RCAF 107 Rescue Unit Albatross crew spotted G-AKFU five days later; 65 miles east-south-east of Goose Bay, overturned in a bog after attempting a wheels-down landing. The pilot had survived apparently uninjured, and spent one night with the aircraft before walking away. A helicopter and foot search in all directions yielded nothing, and the search was reduced on 28 August 1965. Pressure from family and friends caused the search to restart on 3 September, and Binderman’s wife flew to Goose Bay, but he was never found, the search finally being abandoned on 11 September 1965. A number of errors were found in the navigation log and this quote from the accident report is telling: “… the distance between Narsarssuaq and Goose Bay was measured in nautical miles whereas the estimated ground speed was shown in statute miles per hour. This error in calculations would have shown the flight to be feasible; when the correct computations were applied it was evident that it was almost impossible … with the fuel available.

AN-225 World’s Biggest Air Transport Lands at Mirabel May 1, Offloads PPE,  Departs Next Day … Well Worth a Look. What a Magnificent Flying Machine!

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Norseman update: We haven’t featured much new about the Norseman for ages. Happily, Al Bieck – a renowned Ontario government pilot recently sent along this fine old snapshot of Slate Falls Trading Co. Norseman V CF-HPY upended at Big Trout Lake in NW Ontario on February 8, 1963 (the landing had gone badly due to a misaligned ski). Once inspected, “HPY” was found to be badly damaged, so never flew again. Eventually, it was acquired by aviation history aficionado, Joe McBryan, of Fort Simpson, NWT. Due to Joe’s efforts, “HPY” has been restored and may be seen today at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton. If you don’t have your set of Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman Story, you can order right here on the blog or via this booklist “1 CANAV Booklist Fall/Winter 2019-2020.jpg

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With 1040 pages, our famous title Air Transport in Canada has the best coverage of its subject matter of any book ever published. Since ATC was published in 1997, I’ve gathered vast amounts of subsequent material, including these historic old black-and-whites. First, CPA’s DC-3 CF-CUE on its nose. A note on this original print says “Yellowknife” (“CUE” is said to have been the first DC-3 to land at Yellowknife – I hope this wasn’t on that auspicious occasion!). “CUE” had served initially in the USAAF in WWII. At war’s end it was acquired by war surplus magnate Charles Babb, who sold it to CPA in January 1947. It moved to the Department of Transport in 1956 for a much more sedate existence, then joined Buffalo Airways in 1992. In 2020 “CUE” is in storage in Red Deer, Alberta.

 

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The Hudson Bay Company’s Canso CF-BSK burns furiously at Yellowknife in one of a series of dramatic snapshots taken on February 9, 1947. “BSK” had begun as RCAF 9797. By then having logged 1698 flying hours mainly with Eastern Air Command, and by then being surplus to RCAF needs, in April 1946 9797 was sold to Charles Babb, who re-sold it to the HBC in July 1946. The HBC christened it “Polar Bear” and planned to use it for supplying and communicating with its far flung Arctic trading posts. The fire is said to have been caused by static electricity during refuelling.

 

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In the 1950s-60s, the great Leslie Corness covered the Canadian aviation scene chiefly in Alberta and the Arctic. However, he travelled east and west on occasion. He would have been delighted one day c.1960 while driving through the BC interior to spot this Pacific Western Airlines Junkers W-34. Talk about a classic bushplane! CF- ATF had begun in 1932 with Canadian Airways. Some of its detailed history is covered in K.M. “Ken” Molson’s seminal book Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. Do your best to find a copy of the gem on the web (try such sites as http://www.bookfinder.com). Finally retired, “ATF” was acquired through Ken’s efforts for Canada’s National Aviation Museum, which he then was building up from scratch. That is where you can see “ATF” today in all its glory (even though you will be hard-pressed to find any mention of Ken’s great deeds in the present museum, nor anywhere else, officially, around the Canadian aviation museum scene). Happily, this is an active effort to have Ken inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

 

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While working on today’s blog, I also came across Leslie Corness’ dramatic aerial view of the crash of Associated Airways Avro York CF-HMY at Edmonton on May 26, 1955. This disaster is covered in detail in ATC and The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection. The accident resulted strictly from pilot carelessness. It’s fortunate that the York ended in the Calder rail yards at the end of the runway. Damage was great, but casualties were limited to the two pilots. The die was cast when the captain attempted takeoff on a 5700-foot runway, when aircraft weight and weather conditions clearly required at least 7100 feet to get airborne. Leslie heard about the crash on the radio, hurried to the airport, rented a small plane from the Edmonton Flying Club, then took off to shoot his series of now-historic photos.

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Speaking of Air Transport in Canada, in the fall of 1997 the great artist, Tom Bjarnason, and I visited Bill Wheeler (CAHS No.5) in Markham to show him Tom’s original artwork for the cover of ATC. If you search for Tom on this blog, you can learn a bit about him. A solid Manitoba Icelander, Tom truly was one of Canada’s great artists. I greatly treasure this lovely world class aviation painting. Tom also did wonderful paintings for Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command (cover), The Canadair North Star and De Havilland in Canada (cover).

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This is the last personal photo I have with Russ Bannock. One of Canada’s greatest aviation figures. Russ’ magnificent flying career spanned from before WWII to his fame as a leading Mosquito ace, to postwar at De Havilland Canada, where he rose to be President, to many subsequent productive decades in Canada’s aviation industry. Here is Russ in 2019 at age 100 with three of the Milberrys – Simon, Larry and Matthew. We were at the Toronto Hunt Club, where our Legion branch (Br.165) was having a monthly dinner. I first covered Russ in my 1979 book, Aviation in Canada. At the time he was President of DHC. When I asked for an hour of his time, he welcomed me instantly. We met in his office and had a fine session mainly flipping through his amazing wartime logbook. Back in the 1960s-70s, I was struggling as an upstart in the history business, so having the support of such aviation heroes and kingpins really was encouraging.

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Someone else who always encouraged me was a great Don McVicar 1915-1997. A leading pilot with Ferry Command at Dorval during WWII, Don got into the hurly-burly of ferrying airplanes at war’s end, did some bush flying down the Quebec North Shore and into Labrador, excelled in heavy transport once the DEW Line project got going about 1955, freighted to Cuba during the dicey days of the 1960s US embargo, then finished with a flurry doing trans-Atlantic passenger charters with Super Constellations. Ultimately, Don tread on far too many bankers’ and politicians’ toes, so he had to fold his renowned World Wide Airways. Having hid out for a few years in southern places, he retired with his lovely wife, Loretta, to a modest apartment in Dorval, from where he wrote several wonderful books. From More than a Pilot to North Atlantic Cat to Mosquito Racer and A Change of Wings these all are real gems. See what you can find on the various internet used book sites. Here is Don at some Ferry Command event we attended at Dorval c.1982. That’s the great Beth Buchanan of Air Canada. Beth was G.R. McGregor’s long-serving secretary at TCA and ghost-writer for his TCA memoir Adolescence of an Airline (1980). Later, she oversaw the Air Canada library and archives (sadly, later dismantled) in Place Ville Marie, and supported my Canadair North Star research project in the early 1980s. Without such backers, no such aviation history projects could ever succeed. On the left is Beth’s assistant, Harold Dondonez, I on the right. Then, Don McVicar at his home in Dorval not long before his passing. Don was always happy to have a visitor, so long as that conversation was about aviation. Other than that, as NWT Air/First Air/Buffalo Airways pilot Tony Jarvis and I recall, there was a small price of admission – a few Molsons and some Colonel Sanders chicken. Here’s Don in his glory at home, surrounded by his beloved aviation library. Notice that very impressive decoration — his “Distinguished Reading Cross”. Having created the “DRC”, he awarded it to a few particular characters. Rough and ready if it came to changing an engine on a C-46, Don was a class act an author, publisher and friend.

 

Hugh Fraser — He Got an Me.262

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It’s been such an honour over the decades meeting and working with hundreds of Canada’s aviation leaders, whether civil or military. Their photos keep popping up as I go through the CANAV Books Archives. Having lunch here with Canada’s renowned artist, Ron Lowry, is the great RCAF Typhoon pilot, Alexander Hugh Fraser, who had come to Toronto from Kingston to meet us at “The Feathers” pub on Kingston Rd. A Montreal boy, Hugh had excelled at flying the Typhoon with 439 Squadron. The highlight of his tour came New Year’s morning 1945. Hugh was airborne on a dawn patrol with three squadron mates when they heard on the “RT” that their base – Eindhoven, Netherlands – was being clobbered by swarms of Luftwaffe fighters. Back safely on the ground, Hugh reported to his Intelligence Officer how he just had scored two kills in the furious dogfight that ensued. He quickly had gotten on the tail of an Fw.190:

“I gave him a short burst at 10 degrees angle off and airspeed about 190-200 mph. Pieces flew off his aircraft, he caught fire, turned over on his back and went straight in at approximately E6715. By this time I had lost my leader. Somebody took a squirt at me … judging from the holes in my aircraft. At this time I saw four aircraft hit the ground, and one parachute. I was then at about 1500 feet and saw a long- nose Fw.190 in a shallow dive underneath me going toward Venlo. I dove after him. When he was about 100 feet above the ground, I was closing rapidly and took four short bursts at him. It was line astern shooting and my last burst was from about 50 yards. Pieces flew off his aircraft. I must have severed his elevator controls because he never leveled off. He went into the deck somewhere near a large windmill at about E7919. I had to break very quickly to avoid hitting the ground at approximately 400 mph. Pieces flew in every direction.”

The entire encounter (including the Typhoons briefly being jumped by some Spitfires) lasted from 0945 to 0950. Three of the Typhoons then diverted to the Allied base at Volkel. Sadly, their mate, F/L Angelini, did not survive the battle. On April 14, 1945 Hugh Fraser had another exciting operation. While on a patrol led by F/L Lyle Shaver, two Me.262 jets were encountered. Shaver quickly shot down one, Fraser the other.

In the second “Feathers” photo, Hugh is with (from his right) aviation aficionado Ralph Clint, me, Annie McKay (daughter of the great 438 Sqn Typhoon pilot, Ed McKay) and Ron Lowry. Hugh’s RCAF history is well told (along with much other wonderful material) by Hugh Halliday in our 1992 book, Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story. These two archival RCAF photos are included. First, the famous RCAF PR photo with Hugh in his beloved Typhoon 5V-X “Nicky”. Then, with 439 mates Lyle Shaver and Jim Beatty discussing their Me.262 kills. Hugh died at age 75 in Montreal on October 6, 1998.

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Aviation art … over the years I was honoured to work with many of Canada’s “modern” (post-WWII) aviation artists. This is a story for another day. Just for now, here’s an interesting bit of CANAV Books history. For the 60th anniversary of the RCAF in 1984, I published Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984. To this day, this massive and spectacular book remains the best ever history of the RCAF in a single volume. It’s also the most successful ever, having lasted through 5 printings and more than 20,000 copies. Sixty Years includes nearly 100 original paintings by those fine artists whom I was fortunate to meet at the time. Soon after the book was published, General Paul Manson, who then commanded Canada’s air force from his HQ in Winnipeg, contacted me about acquiring this collection of original paintings. We soon agreed. The paintings all went to Winnipeg, where they were framed and put on display throughout Air Force HQ. I haven’t seen the arrangement for decades, but one day while on a visit, I snapped this small plaque in the lobby. Beside it at the time was a typical piece from Sixty Years – a magnificent Ron Lowry colour profile of a post-WWI RCAF Avro 504. Nice, eh!

The Book Is Alive (No Apologies) + New Projects + Surviving in Canadian Book Publishing + A Reminder about the Ultimate history of the Bell 47+ A340s in Formation + Pandemics Today and Yesterday

Vol.8 ACFPO Dustjacket 400dpi

Be sure to check out Pierre Gillard’s wonderful aviation blog. Keep up to date with what’s going on anywhere from St. Hubert to points around the world where Pierre travels: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html

How are the airlines doing these days? Here is a very good overview: OPINION: Aviation is being reshaped, and governments are in control

How is the book doing these days? “Good question”, as the typical radio host would reply, right. Here’s one very nice little piece that helps explain: Mike Valenti sent along this interesting bit of “history of civilization” today (April 7). One of the fathers of the internet back in the 1960s was J.C.R. Licklider. Wiki describes him as “an American psychologist and computer scientist who is considered one of the most important figures in computer science and general computing history“. While he was envisioning the internet away back then, Licklider also correctly envisioned the future of the book, penning this succinct summary. This has proven to be true, at least for the brighter members of civilized society: “As a medium for display of information, the printed page is superb. It affords enough resolution to meet the eye’s demand. It presents enough information to occupy the reader for a convenient quantum of time. It offers great flexibility of font and format. It lets the reader control the mode and rate of inspection. It is small, light, movable, cuttable, clippable, pastable, replicable, disposable, and inexpensive.” Would Marshal McLuhan — along with CANAV’s advanced thinkers/readers — ever cheer at this brilliant little prophecy. Something to think about, as our mothers used to say.

There always are projects in the works at CANAV Books. Most eventually surface as books, while others are delayed (sometimes the holding pattern lasts for years). Other brilliant CANAV ideas fade into the sunset, although the raw research gathered for them often appears in later books. Meanwhile, our classic “old tyme” CANAV titles mostly soldier on. Today (April 14) I heard from one of my readers in Finland, reminiscing about The Canadair North Star, published in 1982 “I still remember when I finally got your North Star book. I was in Victoria BC visiting friends. We went to Tanner’s book store in Sidney to see if there was a copy available. There was and I was extremely happy! That was back in 1992. A beautiful book about beautiful aircraft!”

These days, CANAV has two big projects on the go: (1)Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1939-1945 and (2) a grand history for the RCAF 100th Anniversary. The former, obviously, is the sequel to Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939.

Ancient history: CANAV is a serious publishing house that does not exist — as do most Canadian book publishers — chiefly to collect government grants. Having published 37 titles since 1981, CANAV has yet to apply for any such government handouts. It’s just not in my nature to figure that my neighbours should be paying for my projects. Instead, CANAV survives by publishing good books for which serious readers actually will pay. For pretty well 40 years this has worked, but staying above water has been a dicey little game and the game gets no easier.

Many of you have our world famous RCAF 60th Anniversary title, Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984. This is the very best, single-volume, general history of the RCAF ever published. So, you know what you can look forward to with our sequel in 2024. Sixty Years comprises 480 pages of in-depth RCAF history, including something like 800 photos. It also has an aviation art gallery the likes of which has never been seen in any Canadian book. Noted the UK’s “Aircraft Illustrated” about Sixty Years: “One of those all-too rare aviation books … a delight to read and a joy to possess and to treasure… superbly produced and printed and is likely to become a classic collectors’ item … a masterpiece.” Added another renowned UK journal, “Air International”: “An outstanding product combining a fascinating, deeply researched text … the photographs alone are worth the price…” What aviation publisher receives such plaudits, so what RCAF fan couldn’t be won over?

It’s Up Hill A Lot of the Way

Over the decades I’ve seen many a dog-eared copy of Sixty Years. Readers sometimes contact me for a new copy, having worn out their 1984 “original”. With some 20,000 in print over 36 years, I call Sixty Years CANAV’s flagship book. Ironically, it’s sad how RCAF HQ remains fairly oblivious about such a downright glorious RCAF history book. I’m not making this up, but I never receive an order for any of CANAV’s RCAF books from anywhere at DND/RCAF, save maybe for a lonely, single copy when a book is new. CANAV survives, regardless, but sure could use some substantive actual air force support after our 40 year grind. Another Ottawa bureaucracy, the Canada Council, is just as discouraging. I’m not making this up either, but the Canada Council does not recognize CANAV Books as an actual book publisher. It has declared our beautiful books, that are applauded by serious aviation historians worldwide, to be inadmissible for a Governor General’s book award, explaining that CANAV has not published enough authors to be consider a “real” book publisher. What? Can you imagine such utter Ottawa arrogance/stupidity? CANAV has published 10 authors to date. How many are needed to be considered a “legitimate” Canadian book publisher? This gets more offensive when one looks at the annual Governor General’s book awards and notices how many are awarded to authors who have American publishers.

I once wrote (nicely) to the Governor General about this travesty. His reply was for me to contact the Canada Council. Fun and games with Ottawa, eh. This is all the more reason why your personal order for even a single book is extra appreciated these days. It directly helps CANAV to keep publishing. Now, let’s get “down to the nubbins”. If you don’t yet have Fighter Pilots and Observers or Sixty Years, or if you could use spare copies to use as gifts, this is your chance.

Sixty Years dust jacket 6-2019

Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939

CANAV published Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 in 2018. It’s Volume 8 and the latest in our on-going series (would I ever like to sell you a complete set, if you don’t have one). With its in-depth and original content, and magnificent photo collection, this is another grand CANAV effort. Both you and our always critical book reviewers tell me this, so I’m satisfied about this side of the business. Some readers comments about “FPO” include:

“Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever, and people will thank you for years to come for the photographic research, and the captions. What a great Christmas present it will make.”

“Rich, nutritious, satisfying.”

“I want to express my appreciation and that of my colleagues for your championing Canadian aviation history. Thank you for your dedication.”

“Your latest book is a treasure. Congratulations!”

The last of these comments is from General (Ret’d) Paul Manson, former commander of the Canadian air force in Air Command times. Paul has been a solid supporter since 1981, and in 1984 contributed the final paragraphs that you’ll read in Sixty Years (“What the Future Holds”) on pp455-6. Such support has helped CANAV squeak by in the tightest of times.

Besides all such wonderful personal comments, Fighter Pilots and Observers has been beautifully reviewed in the aviation press. In the prime UK journal, “Flypast”, historian Andy Thomas describes “FPO” as, “beautifully-produced”, then Andy adds: “This very readable volume features good quality photographs that will appeal to Great War ‘buffs’ as well as the more general historian, and as a reference for modellers. Highly recommended.” The renowned WWI aerial warfare journal, “Over the Front” observes: “This new book’s unassuming title modestly hides the treasure of photographic and text material stored within its large-format pages … One of the true joys of this volume is the wealth of original photographs, drawn from official and many private sources. These images portray the breadth of aircraft types and the variety of squadrons manned by Canadian fliers.” Finally, writing in the USAF “Air University Press”, Dr. J.A. Boyless concludes: “The authors’ information and anecdotes convey the glory and pain of flying … The book is a window of the past … The stories of the men and machines that fought the war came alive as I read … I don’t hesitate to recommend this volume … Understanding the past assists in applying the best to the future.”

Here’s a bit more “from the trenches” … A few weeks ago I heard about Fighter Pilots and Observers from John Wiseman, one of my long-time Québecois readers:

Your book has been open full time at the kitchen table where I get reading sessions at breakfast and lunch. Wonderful photos we see so rarely of this period and fascinating reading. Being more a student of WW II era aviation, I have limited knowledge of Canada’s participation in the aerial warfare of WWI, other than the classics, like Bishop. So it is somewhat of a revelation to read about Canada’s contributions to the air war and the efforts expended — and so much tragic loss of life. Incredible to think of the wild escapades so many young guys had flying those rickety early flying contraptions. Life expectancy was in very delicate balance and it seems just the luck of the draw for any that came out alive. If a fellow wasn’t being picked off by the enemy, his wings could be just as likely fall off!

Recently, Rob Henry, emailed from Alberta with some general thoughts about aviation books and history. Wow … talk about food for thought:

One tends to forget how sparse the Canadian aviation history scene was in book form before you started producing. While there have been some very good individual stories, there really weren’t the photographic histories (and no interweb back then). Computers have definitely brought a lot to light, but I am old enough that there is no satisfaction in punching keys and looking at a screen that even comes close to holding a book and reading it. I appreciate what you (and others) have done and enjoy every word and picture in the books and journals I have collected over the years.

So … in case you are in a mood to build up your personal aviation library, or just to treat yourself to a lovely autographed aviation tome, give this offer a thought. Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 is $50.00 ++ (all-in $65.10), while Sixty Years is $60.00, but on special at $25.00++ (all-in $38.85). Still not interested? How about both books all-in for $100.00? These two beauties give you 664 pages/3kg of the best in Canadian aviation reading. If ordering … you can pay using PayPal to this email address larry@canavbooks.com, or, mail your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6

The Bell 47 Helicopter Story … here’s a reminder about this extra special book. To be savoured by anyone with the remotest interest in aviation. Here’s a summary. For the full story, just search for the title (or … scroll back a mile): This landmark book has been very nicely printed and bound by Friesens of Altona, Manitoba. Bare bones it weighs an amazing 2.9 kg. It’s a hardcover with dust jacket. There are 730 pages with 1200 b/w and colour photos. Sincere fans of aviation history owe it to themselves to get hold of a copy … If you have not yet delved into helicopter history, a fast flip through this book will make a convert of you, so long as you have the least bit of gumption. Order your copy at helicopterheritagecanada.com or e-mail author Bob Petite in Leduc at bpetite@telusplanet.net

Something else exciting to watch … South African Airways recently folded. Here’s some wonderful footage of two SA A340s doing some very impressive formation flying in 2019: https://youtu.be/SN5ORNXlSqw

Al Martin Photo Collection — Reader Input

One of our more popular recent blog items features the wonderful 1950s b/w photos of Al Martin. One reader sums up his impressions:

I enjoyed reading your blog and looking at Al Martin’s photos. I actually had to spread it out over 72 hours and finished last night. I certainly see why you published them and  enjoyed the commentary … What I really like is how the B&W photos seem to capture not only the aircraft, but a point in time. Years ago I read an article about a modern landscape photographer who chose the B&W medium because it forces the viewer to think. Normally, I wouldn’t have looked any further at Tiger Moth CF-CHM and noticed the distant A.V. Roe hangars, if you hadn’t noted that – but there they are clear as day!

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We do really need fundamental Coronavirus info. Happily, we receive good daily updates – there’s no shortage of news. Ironically, we also can get pretty maxed out with all this. To level things out a bit, maybe some historical context about “C-Virus” will be of interest. Here’s the thing — for centuries we’ve had to face epidemics. Nothing new, right. Once you’ve read this over, you may wonder a bit about a few things, such as Ottawa’s slackness in warning and protecting us in the early days of C-Virus. Of course, Ottawa already has absolved itself, and gets rewarded for its incompetence with a pay raise. Leave it to the MPs to take good care of themselves. The Toronto Sun’s Brian Lilley explains. “Well, add another roughly $2,800 to their annual salaries. For the Prime Minister, who earns double what an MP makes, his annual salary of $357,800 is about to go up by almost $5,700. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, it makes no sense and has them all looking a little out of touch.” Lilley is very kind,

Get Yourself Informed

Back to some history … if I can recommend a book for understanding today’s predicament, it’s John M. Barry’s bestseller The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Barry covers the horrible 1918-19 epidemic in tiny detail. You’ll absolutely revel at his in-depth treatment, although you may be frustrated that pretty well no one in Ottawa actually knows beans about this quite recent pandemic. Besides the book (your No.1 source), see the Smithsonian documentary series “America’s Hidden Stories”, then scroll for the episode “Pandemic 1918”. Well worth a look. This is the bumph for this episode: “The Spanish flu was one of the most devastating natural disasters in history, an unstoppable virus that swept the planet in 1918, killing tens of millions of people. New evidence suggests the possible birthplace was actually in America’s heartland. Witness a globe-spanning story of death and denial on an epic scale, as we visit a mass gravesite, pore over old medical records and diaries, and use cutting edge scientific research to reveal the horrific truth behind this deadly pandemic.” The 1918-19 plague ought to be the “model” and what every federal, provincial and municipal health department should have been studying since January this year. They’ve all missed this boat — big surprise.

Decades ago Canada could design, build and fly something astounding like the Avro Arrow. Now look where we’ve ended? Here we are a supposed “First World” country that’s incapable of producing something as simple as a fabric face cover. Talk about a national a disgrace! Happily, someCanadian  tech companies have been scurrying to close this gap.  Anyway … you can find an affordable copy of The Great Infuenza at www.bookfinder.com or at www.abebooks.com. Well worth your time and minor investment. You’ll be amazed at what Brown covers. For example, it’s shocking, but US Army high command tended to belittle its own Surgeon Generals in the early 1900s. Washington starved Army medical development well into the WWI years. One interesting point Brown makes contrasts this with Canada. While the US Army was establishing huge training camps on the edges of disease-infested swamps, and sending trainloads of infected recruits cross-country on packed trains, then aboard troopships for already-beleaguered France, look what Brown says about Canada: “Since 1916 the Canadian army had segregated all troops arriving in Britain for twenty-eight days, to prevent their infecting any trained troops ready to go to the front.” US Army Medical Corps kingpin, William Henry Welsh, urged the US Army to do likewise. Sadly, the Medical Corps still was not being taken seriously by US Army command. This book is hugely recommended.

London 1665

Plagues have been written about for millennia and the story from one to the next is similar. I’ve been reading Jonathan Bastable’s wonderful book, Voices from the World of Samuel Pepys. Included is much excellent coverage of the Great Plague of London in 1665. This is another book that you can find on the web, usually cheaply (under CDN$10 today April 3). You’ll learn here how similar were the problems and solutions to an epidemic in London 350+ years ago, compared to C-Virus today. People stayed at home, used whatever “medicine” was available, practiced social distancing, left town for their summer homes, even washed their hands if they knew about this practice. However, the quarantine was rather brutal. If the plague appeared in a family, its house was marked with a red cross and an armed guard was posted to prevent any comings or goings. Often, all within died horribly and alone. Here’s a brief excerpt written in 1665 by a London churchman, Thomas Vincent. Sound in any way familiar?

Now the highways are thronged with passengers and goods, and London doth empty itself into the country. Great are the stirs and hurries in London by the removal of so many families. Fear puts many thousands on the wing, and those think themselves most safe that can fly furthest off from the city. In July the plague increaseth and prevailest exceedingly. The number of 470, which died in one week by the disease, ariseth to 725 the next week, to 1089 the next, the 1843 the next, to 2010 the next. Now the plague compasseth the walls of the city like a flood, and poureth in upon it … Now the countries [country people] keep guards lest infectious people from the city bring the disease unto them … the poor are forced through poverty to stay and abide the storm.

Canada and the 1918-19 Epidemic

A final note … the Canadian newspapers from 1918-19 covered the rise and gradual decline of the horrendous flu epidemic in that period. With my Toronto Library card I can access (free) the “Toronto Daily Star” and “The Globe and Mail” archives to see each day’s news in 1918-19. Perhaps where you live, some similar public library free access to local newspaper archives exists?

It’s interesting to see how (as a rule) little epidemic news existed in 1918-19. Attached, however, is one very open account of the flu as it started to decimate Toronto in October 1918. Most of the page is devoted to the epidemic. Normally, however, all one finds in the newspapers is a tiny squib that overnight another 65 died of the flu in Toronto, etc. This was wartime-level censorship in action, and this continued for a year after the Armistice of November 1918. Have a look at the attached excerpt. Notice how familiar this all sounds, including the gutless waffling of the politicians and even some medical people; then the grassroots concerns of regular citizens about school closures and everyday issues. Thanks again and all the best … Larry

PS … failing all else, please take a look at CANAV’s great (attached) list of misc. books. It’s the best you’ll find in Canada and you probably have a bit of spare time for reading these days. No? CANAV needs and appreciates your support as always.

Flu 1918 Toronto Star October 7, 1918

2 CANAV Booklist Special Items March 2020

 

Light Planes: Al Martin’s Photographic Handiwork from the 1950s + Some Reader Reaction

In January 2006 the great Fred Hotson handed over part of his
archives to me, including what he had of the Al Martin aviation photo
collection — prints, negatives and transparencies. Fred had retrieved
Al’s collection from a garage in BC, and earlier had shared it with me,
as I researched for what in 1997 became Air Transport in Canada.
Al was born Elmore Owen Martin in Ontario’s Niagara region on
February 2, 1923. During WWII he trained in the RCAF as an air
gunner and served a tour in Bomber Command. Postwar, he became
a private pilot. We had met Al about 1960, back in the days when my
pal, Merlin Reddy, and I were spending a lot of time at Toronto’s
Malton Airport spotting planes and photographing. Al then was a
passenger agent for Trans-Canada Air Lines. He gave we newer
spotters good tips about photography and always was emphasizing
the importance of Canada’s aviation heritage. He had great tales
about such things as attending the rollout of the Avro Arrow in 1957,
and would phone us with tips that this or that exotic airplane would be
visiting Malton. In his TCA uniform, he could escort us onto the
tarmac in front of the terminal to photograph the airliners. One day he
invited us for the visit of a Lockheed 10A on the 25 th anniversary of
TCA. Another time it was about the visit of the Vickers Vanguard
demonstrator. Another day he even got our sidekick, Nick
Wolochatiuk, a press flight aboard a new American Airlines Electra
during a 1960 PR visit.

Al knew the great names circulating in aviation photography from
Howard Levy to Ken Molson, Jack McNulty and Harvey Stone. In
1962 he told us about an effort to form an aviation history group. This
developed into the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. He put the
squeeze on us to attend the society’s second ever meeting. There,
Nick Wolochatiuk, Paul Regan and I became CAHS members 9, 10
and 11.

By the late 1960s Al had moved into public relations with what by
then was Air Canada. He was downtown, now, so we didn’t see so
much of him. Nonetheless, he still got some things organized,
including the week an American Airlines Ford Trimotor visited Toronto
and Al got a crowd of CAHS members out on the ramp to photograph
the Ford. Retiring from Air Canada in 1985, he moved to the West
Coast. He died at age 71 in White Rock, BC, on May 9, 1993. Fred
Hotson tracked down Al’s sister in Vancouver and retrieved his
aviation collection. If you have a set of Air Transport in Canada you
can see some nice spreads of Al’s wonderful photos on pages 718-
723.

We early Malton spotters photographed every type of airplane,
but each fellow usually had some favourite categories. Al’s included
light planes, the types he grew up with as a boy in Niagara. He
revelled in something like a club fly-in where 200 – 300 light planes
would turn up. When I bumped into him at the 1961 Kitchener-
Waterloo fly-in, Al took me up in Cessna 172 CF-JBS to shoot some
aerial photos of the whole scene. For this blog item, I’ve decided to
feature Al’s wonderful collection of light airplane photos. There’s no
great plan to this, so, if you wonder where are the photos of the
Helios, Jodels, Mooneys, etc., it’s because I haven’t yet found these
among Al’s material. It all starts right here. Enjoy the show!

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Some of the first members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society at an early meeting in Toronto in 1962. Al Martin was instrumental in the formation of this pre-eminent group. Shown are Jock Forteath, Al, George Morley, Bill Wheeler, Herman Karbe, Jeff Burch, Charlie Catalano, Harry Cregan and Roger Juniper. Then, CAHS member Sheldon Benner’s wonderful historic photo mainly of CAHS people at Malton airport during the visit of the American Airlines Ford Trimotor on June 30, 1964 (today it’s in the Smithsonian Institution). Standing are Bob Bradford, Charlie Catalano, Fred Guthrie, Terry Judge, Bill Wheeler, Peter Mossman, M.L. “Mac” McIntyre, 2 unknowns, Jack Phipps, 2 unknowns. Kneeling are the American Airlines people and (from the little boy) Sam Schlifer, Boris Zissoff, Clint Toms and Al Martin. Of these, Bob, Terry,
Jack and photographer Sheldon are the survivors 56 years later.

The War Surplus Years

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At war’s end when the RCAF disposed almost overnight of thousands of surplus airplanes, the commonest to reach Canada’s civil aviation market was the de Havilland Canada D.H.82C Tiger Moth. This is not surprising, since the RCAF had taken 1546 on strength from just before WWI to 1941, when production in Toronto ceased. As soon as the Tiger Moths were offered by Ottawa’s War Assets Disposal Corporation, they were snapped up, whether by individuals for a few hundred dollars, or by companies wanting parts (especially engines) and scrap metal. Others were donated by Ottawa to Canada’s many flying clubs that were being revived, now that the war was over. We always enjoyed these interesting ex-military trainers. Al Martin photographed CF-BQT at some event at Toronto’s Malton Airport early after the war. “BQT” had been RCAF 4198. It spent its war with 15 Elementary Flying Training School in Regina, where it logged some 2143:15 flying hours. In June 1945 it was released as “free issue” to the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association (RCFCA) and in July the following year joined the Ontario County Flying Club in Oshawa, a few miles east of Toronto. “BQT” flew there until sold in 1952. Various owners followed, including de Havilland Canada test pilot, George Neal, who owned “BQT” 1968 to 1986. George sold it to Mr. Hindmarsh of Toronto Star fame. Sad to say, but he crashed fatally in “BQT” near Goderich on November 25, 1994. This interesting scene shows many of Malton’s wartime British Commonwealth Air Training Plan buildings. These served No.1 Air Observation School, which trained navigators on Ansons. These buildings all soon were demolished. On the far left you can just see the top of Malton’s 1938 TCA hangar, used later into the 1970s by Genaire Ltd.

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Originally RCAF 3900, Tiger Moth CF- CHM went to the RCFCA in August 1945, moved to the Barrie Flying Club in July 1946, then was sold in January 1949 to Doherty Air Services of Gravenhurst. Other owners ensued including (July 1952) Charlie Catalano of Toronto. Charlie was doing aerial advertising using towed banners, but also had rigged a system whereby he could use rows of lights under a plane’s wing to flash advertisements after dark. Charlie was a keen supporter of general aviation and for many years flew his own Aeronca from nearby Buttonville Airport. He also was an enthusiastic member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Sadly, his Tiger Moth came to a bad ending on August 23, 1952. By some arrangement that day, Charlie had loaned “CHM” to ex-wartime pilots Charles McKay and John Pretner. A few minutes after they took off from Toronto Island Airport, the plane spun into a backyard on Markham Street in a crowded downtown neighbourhood. Both men died. Al photographed “CHM” at Malton Airport. You can see the big “A.V. Roe Canada” sign on the distant hangars.

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Since the Tiger Moth was happy on wheels, floats or skis, quite a few ended as useful bushplanes after the war. We sometimes saw one on floats at Toronto’s famous island airport. Ex-RCAF 3975 CF-CKW had spent its war at 7 EFTS in Windsor, Ontario before being donated by the government in June 1945 to the RCFCA. It served first with the Hamilton Flying Club, then had a list of private owners. Some time in the early 1960s it was sold in the USA. Al photographed it on Hamilton Bay with a Hornet Moth and a Cub. In this period there were frequent advertisements featuring such war surplus aircraft for sale. This one appeared in the “Toronto Star” of November 7, 1952: “D.H. Tiger Moth in good shape. Engine 700 hours until major, airframe, fabric, instruments and tires in good condition. Range receiver installed. C of A due March 11, 1953. Price $550. Box 65, Toronto Star, Hamilton.” A few years earlier this Tiger Moth might have be purchased from WADC for as little as $50.00. Today, a nice Tiger Moth can bring US$100,000.

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In 1928 Consolidated Aircraft founder, Reuben Fleet, founded Fleet Aircraft of Canada in Fort Erie, Ontario at the US border. Here, Fleet manufactured his proven line of biplane trainers and sport planes. The RCAF had acquired 51 of the trainers by the time WWII began, then added a further 431, those being the Model 16B Finch. By war’s end the surviving Finches went on the surplus market, but were never as popular as the Tiger Moth. The only Finch we used to see around in southern Ontario was CF-GDM, which had begun in November 1940 as RCAF 4683. On June 4, 1942 it survived a serious accident at 22 Elementary Flying Training School at Quebec City, but was rebuilt. Declared surplus, it was purchased by Marc Cinq-Mars of Quebec City. “GDM” had other owners in Quebec, one being Arthur Marsh in distant Sept-Iles. In October 1950 he sold to Roy McIntosh of Stony Creek, near Hamilton. However, McIntosh seems to have abandoned “GDM”, which sat until sold in 1953 to Russell Norman, a flier who later was famous in the homebuilding world. From 1955 (when it still didn’t have even 200 flying hours) “GDM” would have a host of owners. In one case, vintage plane connoisseur, Cliff Glenister, operated it from Maple, Ontario from 1968-73. In 1991 “GDM” was sold south of the border, becoming N116TR. It last was heard of in Sandwich, Illinois.

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On July 9, 1942 the RCAF took on strength its first of 1555 Fairchild Cornells. These were known in the USAAF as the PT-26, and were built under licence by Fleet in Fort Erie. The Cornell proved ideal as a BCATP training plane — the perfect replacement for the those well-worn Finches and Tiger Moths. Most Cornells flew over the prairies from such places as Virden, Manitoba. As soon as the war ended, many private pilots rushed to get their hands on a Cornell for a few hundred dollars. Al Martin photographed CF-FEA at Toronto Island Airport in the 1950s. Having begun as RCAF FV688, it was on RCAF strength from September 1944 to May 1947, then became one of 51 Cornells donated under Ottawa’s “free issue” program to Canada’s flying clubs. As such, in May 1947 it went to the Brantford Flying Club in Ontario. “Free issue” proved important at this time in getting Canada’s flying clubs back in business training the next wave of fresh pilots. In September 1949 “FEA” was bought by Jim Leggat, who recently had founded a general aviation company at Toronto’s Barker Field. John re-sold “FEA” to Sidney Klein, then a series of owners ensued. Vincent Clothier of Toronto owned it in 1955-61. Then, it fades into oblivion. In a way this is a typical scene for a war surplus ex-RCAF trainer. Note how the weeds are growing tall and “FEA” doesn’t look too active. The fellows who enthusiastically purchased such planes, often soon lost interest. The great Canada Malting Co. elevator beyond is still standing in 2020. Maple Leaf Stadium, just visible to the left, is long gone.

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Another of Al’s Cornell photos from Toronto Island shows CF-GIQ. All I can find about it is that it had been RCAF 10534, and that its RCAF dates were 28-12-42 to 21-8- 46. In one War Assets Disposal Corp. advert from 1947, Cornells were offered at $650 each. The advert noted: “Single engine, low wing monoplane, fabric covered, tubular metal fuselage with plywood covered wooden wings … Adaptable for private ownership, club or school use, or light executive transport.” Re. such war surplus planes, not all who bought one were experienced, so aircraft suffered from rude usage. Although the planes were bought “for a song”, owners soon faced expenses from engine maintenance to insurance, so, many fellows quickly tired of their “prizes”. Something like a Cornell would go from one owner to the next, the price always falling. Before long, the engine would be causing problems. Wings being of wood, the weather soon was burrowing into them. Once a wooden wing spar started to go, something like a Cornell was pretty well kaput. By about 1960 when I was getting into photography, there were few Cornells, Finches, etc. left, other than a few sitting around in the weeds.

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Al’s lovely photo of Cornell CF-GDG, ex- RCAF 10676, dates 30-4-43 to 8-11-46. I remember seeing “GDG in the early 1960s at its Mount Hope, Ontario base. It fooled the experts, becoming one of the last surviving airworthy Cornells in Canada. For many years it was base in Rouyn, northern Quebec with Laurent Balaux. He finally sold it to Mssrs Glover and Upham in nearby Val d’Or. The Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) finally expired in May 1974.

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There also were war surplus RCAF Harvard trainers, but there’s a different story to these. To begin, the RCAF retained hundreds of Harvards for postwar requirements. Then, it was big companies such as Aircraft Industries and the Babb Co. with Montreal offices that scooped up most Harvards from WADC. These outfits then made quick sales of shiploads of Harvards to European militaries starting to rebuild after the war – Netherlands, Norway, etc. However, there were some Harvards for sale on the general market. One 1947 WADC advertisement offered Harvards at $800, noting, “Adaptable for executive work or sportsman pilot”. The main problem with a Harvard compared to a primary trainer like the Cornell, was its complexity. Few private flyers dared step up to the hefty Harvard with its 600 hp compared to 200 hp in a Cornell. Other issues included much higher maintenance and operating expenses. On the whole, Canadian private flyers steered away from the Harvard until a new wave was released by the RCAF starting around 1960. Here’s Al’s photo of one of these. As far as he was concerned, other than a standard straight side view, this was a fine angle for shooting a Harvard on the ground. A slightly rear angle also worked well. CF- HWX had been built by North American at Inglewood, California in 1941 for the French military. By then, however, France had been overrun by Nazi Germany. The RAF then took the plane from Inglewood and somehow got it onto RCAF strength in July 1941 as AJ583. Thenceforth, it served into June 1960 when Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (new name for WADC) sold it to J-P Rheault of Trois-Rivières for $750. Various owners followed until 1986 when “HWX” joined the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association of Tillsonburg, Ontario. It flies annually with the CHAA in its original RCAF “Yellow Peril” markings. A nice Harvard these days sells for around US$200,000.

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While Canada was flooded by surplus ex- RCAF training planes, a Consolidated BT-13 Valiant was a rare sight. The reason was simple – the BT-13 was not used in Canada, but was an American wartime trainer. Even so, a few trickled into Canada after 1945, some purchased just for their P&W R-985 engines. With the engine removed, the airframe would be scrapped. I found these rare photos of an Edmonton-based BT-13 in Al’s collection. I have little info, except that “GVS” was used by Dominion Skywriters of Edmonton for sky writing in smoke, and aerial advertising using an under-wing light array (in these two photos you can see this odd installation). “GVS” is listed in the 1956 CCAR, but is missing thereafter. The men behind this business were A.J. Laing and W.L.G. Greenaway. Let’s hope that someone will come up with the history of this operation. Another BT-13 was operated (1954 to around 1960) by Superior Airways in Northern Ontario to haul fish from northern lakes to Fort William for sale. I’m not sure how Al would have gotten such Western Canada pictures. We heard that he had been a ferry pilot after the war, so may have photographed such planes in those travels. Or … maybe he got to such places as Edmonton and Vancouver on his airline pass once he joined TCA. “GVS” Update: On April 8, 2020, CANAV reader, Trevor McTavish, wrote from Alberta about “GVS” having operated overhead during the Calgary Stampede. Trevor notes: “The message flashing on the light-rig beneath the wings advertised BA gasoline – a major automobile and aviation fuel dealer at the time.” That of course was the British America Oil Co. As a boy 7 or 8, I clearly remember the same basic  “BA” message. However, what we kids were watching (to our great amazement) was “BA” being painted in the skies over Toronto by some hefty biplane.

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Al spotted this BT-13 at Calgary in the 1950s. Trevor McTavish has determined that CF-DRN was Consolidated serial number 7704. So far its military identity is unknown, but postwar it became N68007. It was sold in February 1953 by a Virginia Knechtel to Skyway Air Services Ltd of Langley, BC. In March a permit was issued to Skyway to ferry N68007 from Bremerton, Washington to Vancouver. After clearing customs, it flew on to Langley. “DRN” next is noted as registered to Chinook Flying Services Ltd. of Calgary as of November 13, 1956. It then fades from the CCAR. Trevor adds, “It was purchased by Franz McTavish of Calgary’s Chinook Flying Services as a source for a spare R-985 Wasp JR. motor for the company’s Avro Anson. As there were no plans to use ‘DRN’ in either the flying school or charter operations, the otherwise intact airframe was pushed into the weeds beside the fuel shack. There it became a play-toy for my father, who was a little boy at the time.” In the 2010s “DRN” was under restoration in Alberta, destined to fly again.

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In 1949 this oddball BT-13 appeared across Canada during an effort to fly around the world soon after WWII. A 25-year-old Britisher, Ricarda “Dickie” Morrow-Tait (1923- 1982) was behind this, flying a Percival Proctor with companion, Michael Townend. Departing the UK from Croydon (London) on August 18, 1948, they flew eastward to India and Japan. Next they reached the isolated Aleutians and Alaska, but the Proctor would go no farther, as explained in a caption in the “Globe and Mail” of December 1, 1948: “Their plane crashed on the Alaska Highway 230 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Townend is flying to Toronto to arrange for new wings and landing gear, and Mrs. Morrow-Tait intends to get a job in an Anchorage night club to get funds to pay for them.” This got even more complicated and the Proctor was abandoned. To further her mission, Richarda tried fundraising by speaking engagements, firstly in Calgary, but this did not pan out. The duo returned to the UK, then some 1949-style “crowd-funding” resulted in the donation of N54084, a surplus 1942 BT-13. After a few months, the odyssey re-started in Edmonton (where my old pal Les Corness took his own wonderful photo N54084). This time Richarda had a new second pilot, Jack Ellis of Seattle. They flew eastward, but there was trouble here and there, as in Chicago when the local FAA grounded the plane due to fishy paperwork. When things were quiet on May 28, however, Richarda and Jack fired up, regardless, took off and flew to Toronto, where they landed without contacting the control tower (this led to a scolding, but Richarda’s radios had been u/s). At Malton it was clear that N54084 had no C of A and its ownership was unknown. The G&M reported, “There was the fact … that a British- licenced pilot was flying a U.S.-registered plane in and out of Canadian airports. The confusion knew no bounds.” The story gets crazier for, somehow, Richarda ferried the BT-13 to Buffalo for maintenance. Meanwhile, Townsend returned to replace Ellis. At some point, Richarda flew on to Montreal, then Goose Bay. Here, Richarda again stomped on the toes of officialdom. While there for fuel and rest, she had been ordered to fly to Bangor, Maine, and forget about the north – Canada’s DOT declared that such a flight (eventually) across open northern seas was illegal for a single-engine plane. Richarda agreed, but once airborne thumbed her nose at her orders and turned north. Some 7:25 hours and 800 miles later the BT- 13 was at Bluie West 1 in Greenland. For 1949 this was an unheard- of, amazingly skillful and gutsy venture in a rickety plane. A long- range RCAF Lancaster had escorted her all the way to BW-1 regardless of the nuttiness of it all. Townsend later glibly reported, “We had a straight-forward flight. Once out of Montreal we had the best weather … on the Atlantic route.” On August 18 the G&M reported that the adventurers had reached Keflavik, Iceland, then they pressed on the Scotland and south to Croydon, landing there on August 19, 1949 a year and a day after setting out in the Proctor. Richarda thus became the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe. Hereafter, things were not perfect for her. In 1950 she bore a son by Michael and divorced her husband. You’ll have to dredge around on the web to see how her life went thereafter. She died in 1982. I wonder what ever happened to Richarda’s old clunker of a BT-13? FAA records show that its registration was cancelled in 1955. Why is there no Hollywood blockbuster movie about all this!

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Soon after the war, the Canadian Army acquired Auster Mk.VI liaison aircraft. By the time I started shooting airplanes, however, these had been replaced by Cessna L-19s. Starting around 1960, I was photographing these same Austers in civil markings. Austers were always a special treat to see. You can tell by the background where Al shot Army Auster 16663. Retired in 1957, it became CF-KJP. It was flown for the next few years by Norman Corp of Campbellville, Ontario. “KJP” last operated from Selkirk, Manitoba. Its C of A expired in 2011. “KPJ” is now with the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.

Civil Light Planes

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Many new light plane designs appeared immediately after WWII, including some interesting little single-seaters. These were attractive, especially with their low “sticker” prices, low operating costs, and ease of flying. One of the more revolutionary designs was Al Mooney’s 1946 M18 Mite. Powered by a 65-hp engine, it was just 18’ long with a wingspan of 26’10”. All-up weight was 850 pounds, so “Mite” was a good name! Top speed was 138 mph, making a Mite speedier than most personal planes of the day. In the end, however, just 283 were built by the time production ended in 1954, although a few later were made as kit planes. Regardless, the Mite led the way to the classic Mooney 20 and all its follow-on versions. The first Canadian Mite was CF-HFN, seen in these Al Martin views taken on different occasions at Toronto Island Airport. Local pilot, Frank Ogden, had ordered “HFN” from Mooney in Kerrville, Texas, then took delivery in August 1953. The basic list price at the time was a fairly hefty $3695. The “3” in the side suggests that “HFN” had been in some sort of an air rally. “HFN” had a busy life in Canada, including four accidents all involving a collapsed undercarriage (these were pilot related mishaps). It looks as if Frank Ogden let a lot of pilots try out his nifty little plane, some of whom were not too skillful. Several others owned “HFN” after Ogden sold it in July 1956. Little is known of it after it moved to Quebec in 1963. It disappeared from the CCAR in 1968.

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The rare Culver V traces its origins to the 1930s when Al Mooney teamed with K.K. Culver to form Dart Aircraft at Port Columbus, Ohio. Their little “Dart” 2-seater had limited success. In the late 1930s the Dart evolved into the Cadet, but early sales were only in the dozens. With WWII, the US Army adapted the Cadet as the PQ-8 target drone, about 400 of which were built by Culver Aircraft Co. Predicting a booming post-war market, Culver then introduced its Cadet V – “V” for victory – based on the PQ-8. Culver thought that the market would be insatiable for its greatly improved little cutie. Introduced in September 1947 at a $3589 sticker price, the Culver V went nowhere, only about 100 being built at the company’s Wichita factory. Culver quickly folded, its people dispersing to look for opportunities. Al Mooney, for example, went off to design his “Mite”. Two or three Culver Vs made it to Canada, CF-EHG. W.B. Riggs, F.L Wood and J.R. Wood of Windsor, Ontario imported “EHG” in April 1948. I don’t know the price paid, but about a year later the fellows must have been happy to forget about “EHG”, when they sold it to Robert J. Henderson of Willowdale (a Toronto suburb) for $800. He resold it quickly to Clyde Thorpe of Toronto. Other owners ensued, including Sten Lundberg, a former Spitfire pilot of Blind River in Northern Ontario. The last known owner was S.D. Archer of Dorval, Quebec in 1966. “EHG” last was spotted in a Quebec junkyard in 1973. Al’s photo shows it at old Hamilton airport. Al also photographed the unknown fellow on the wing at time, but he didn’t leave a note about whom this is.

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Homebuilt aircraft fascinate every versatile aviation fan, and Knight Twister CF-GRK-X is an exceptional case study. This exotic little biplane racer was designed in Chicago in 1928 by Vernon Payne and first flown in 1932. Few were built and the plane’s reputation was one of being “a bit too hot”. Leon Beliaeff built “GRK” in 1949, then flew it for a few years from Cartierville near Montreal. In 1954 Beliaeff sold “GRK” to William Zegil of Fort William. While taking off there on June 13 that year, the plane was badly damaged. Al Martin saw “GRK” at Toronto Island Airport, perhaps while it was en route to Fort William. However, there’s a comment in the DOT files that “GRK” was trucked to Toronto after its accident. So … maybe this shows it after being repaired at the island? The DOT files close with a comment that the Knight Twister was sold in the USA. Plans for this vintage design still are sold by Steen Aero Lab of Palm Bay, Florida. The company notes: “The Knight Twister in any version is a true thoroughbred. While it is not like the average trainer in control response, the fact is that the design simply doesn’t need to be horsed around the sky. It is the kind of plane that thrives on smooth control inputs, and in return she will reward the pilot with smooth, perfectly-balanced performance. Properly-built Twisters tend to be very straightforward and easy to fly airplanes with excellent performance, which give great enjoyment to their pilots.” If you get curious about the Knight Twister, the Steen Aero Lab website is worth visiting. Of special interest under “History” is a 1985 letter from Vernon Page to the great Pete Bowers, designer of the Bowers Fly Baby homebuilt and a renowned aviation photographer.

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Around 1960 most of us were keen on the homebuilding movement. Of course, Canada’s first powered airplane – the “Silver Dart” – itself was a homebuilt, so we took the homebuilts seriously. Through the 1920s-30 many Canadians had built single- seat kit planes. Typical was young Fred Hotson who eventually finished a “Heath Kit” plane, most of which he bought while in high school in Fergus, Ontario. When he had a few dollars, Fred would order some more bits and pieces from the US. These would come by mail. The day finally came when his little plane, CF-BLS, took to the air. It flew very nicely. After WWII the homebuilding movement really took off, encouraged especially by the US-based Experimental Aircraft Association. Knight Twister CF-GRK-X was a pioneer Canadian homebuilding project, its owner, Leon Beliaeff, being years ahead of the official movement. About 1957 the DOT set aside the “R” registration series for these “restricted” aircraft, the first of which started appearing in 1957 (the DOT officially categorized these planes as “ultra lights”). Some designs were homebuilts from the plans, others ere highly modified production planes. Many soon were turning up at the summer fly-ins we attended – modified Aeroncas, Corbens, Druins, Emerauds, Fly Babys, Jodels, Pietenpols, modified Pipers, Stitts, Whites, etc. We knew them all as well as we knew an F-86 or a Super Constellation. After all, Al Martin had taught us to be aviation “generalists” (we didn’t think too highly of any spotter boasting about being a “specialist”). One of the first “R’ series homebuilts that we saw was this Stitts SA6B Flt-r-Bug — CF-RAK, built by P.M. Prisner in Chatham, Ontario. Many others later had the pleasure of flying this fine little 2-seater. Last heard of, “RAK” was flying from Anola, Manitoba in the 2010s, having by then been on the go for about 60 years. In 2020 it’s still flown by Jeremiah Mustard from Anola, Manitoba. The website “As cute as a bug: The Stits Flut-R-Bug – General Aviation News” tells the Flut-r-Bug story very nicely.

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Two other top postwar light planes were the Ercoupe and Globe Swift. These were among the avalanche of fine new American types vying for attention in 1946-48. The general info about these can be found by going back on this blog (use the search box) to our item The Beech Bonanza at 70 and the Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes , then scrolling passed the Bonanza to find the Ercoupe and Swift. However, to save you the trip, this is the ERCO text you’ll see there: “Two especially beloved, all-metal, 2-seat light planes mass-produced in the 1940s are the ERCO 415 Ercoupe and Globe Swift. The Ercoupe first flew in 1937. It went on sale in 1940, but the advent of war delayed production until 1946, when the Model 415 appeared with a $2665 sticker price ($35,250 in 2020 dollars). When the postwar light plane boon faltered, ERCO ceased production, having turned out an astounding 4311 Ercoupes. Happily, others took an interest and, over the decades, more were built under such banners as Forney, Alon, even Mooney. Some 5700 Ercoupes eventually flew…” Shown is Ercoupe CF-HOL which was registered in Canada on August 26, 1954 to D.E. Wilson of Springford, Ontario. Thereafter, it served many owners in Southern Ontario until listed as “Cancelled 2001-06-25”. At the time it was owned by ex-RCAF wartime pilot J.F. “Joe” Reed, one of a real “characters” of Canadian aviation. The natty Globe GC-1 Swift also was a pre-war US design, which had to wait for 1945 to get going. After rushing out more than 1200 Swifts, however, Globe ran out of money and was sold to Temco. Temco added 260 more Swifts, before ceasing production in 1951. “DXZ” was registered in Canada on September 11, 1947 then flew for some years with Fred Oystrick of Toronto. Al photographed “DXZ” at Toronto island in Fred’s “Electric Motor Service” markings and with a dedication to “Maria” on the engine cowling. It was still current about 1980, then faded. In 1989 a Bell Jet Ranger assumed its registration.

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There still were many planes from the 1930s active in Canada when Al and the rest of us were avidly taking pictures in the 1950s-60s. Here’s 1937 Waco ZQC-6 CF-BDO that Al shot one day at Toronto island. Behind is the famous 1938 hangar that’s full of airplanes to this day. “BDO” first was owned by Laurentian Air Services of Ottawa, a prominent air charter and bush flying outfit. Sold in 1951, it flew a bit longer privately, then went to the Blount Feed Co. in Rhode Island, becoming N1130.

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The Beech 17 Staggerwing is one of the loveliest personal planes of all time. The first of Walter and Olive Beech production planes, it first flew in November 1932. It continued being built into 1948, by when the Bonanza had totally overshadowed it. Some 781 Staggerwings were built. Many came to Canada beginning with CF-BBB of Mackenzie Air Service in late 1936. These served well in the bush and also were some of Canada’s first executive planes with such owners as the Eaton department store family, and Imperial Oil. Here is Al’s photo of Beech D17S CF-GLL early in the 1950s, when the owner was Lodestar Drilling Co. (this company still exists in Texas). “GLL” had served the US Navy in 1944-45, was sold surplus in 1946 as N67737, then became “GLL” in 1951. The 1955 CCAR notes the owner as Montague S. Hall of Hope, BC. Various owners followed until “GLL” disappeared from the CCAR in 1975. It next emerged in Colorado, where it was refurbished and became N35JM. Most recently it was on show at the Historic Flight Foundation in Seattle.

Cessna Takes Canada by Storm

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Prior to WWII only four lonely Cessnas had been registered in Canada, but come 1946, this changed electrically. Cessna was ready for the peacetime market with three lovely new products – the Ce.120, Ce.140 and Ce.170. The Ce.120 2- seater went on sale in 1946 at $2695. There were 2172 delivered, but at the same time the company was marketing the more sophisticated Cessna 140 (1946 price $3245 with 4904 built). Both types were phased off the Cessna lines in 1949. The further improved Ce.140A then was built into 1951 (525 delivered). Many Ce.120s/140s came to Canada for use mainly at flying schools. Al Martin photographed this little beauty at Toronto Island Airport. The famous Wong brothers of Central Airways had brought it in new in April 1950. Hundreds of student pilots won their wings after training on “FPW”. It served the Wongs into 1961, then had a list of owners until disappearing from the CCAR in 1971.

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As noted, Toronto Island was a busy general aviation airport with plenty of interesting aircraft to photograph. This was especially so from spring through fall, when many float planes could be found at the buoys and docks. Al Martin caught this typical scene c.1955. It’s a beautiful Cessna 170B with the city skyline beyond. To the right is Toronto’s tallest building of the day, the Bank of Commerce. Beside it is the massive (for the times) Royal York Hotel. Looming just ahead of the tail is the Canada Life Insurance building on University Ave. All three stand to this day, but that massive grain storage and milling complex was gone by about 1990. The 4-seat “1-70” was introduced in 1949 at $5995. Production ended in 1956 with 5173 delivered. Many remain in use in 2020. From what little I know of CF-HXK, Carl Millard imported it in 1955, then sold it to a local company, Murfin Sheet Metal Works. Last heard of around 2010 “HXK” was based at Hearst in Northern Ontario.

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The “Cadillac” of post-WWII Cessnas was the Ce.190/195 series. Powered by radial engines (Ce.190 Continental 240 hp, Ce.195 Jacobs 245/300 hp), these all-metal beauties had roomy, 5-seat cabins that appealed to families and small business operators. The introductory price for a “190” in 1947 was $12,750. Some 1200 190/195s were delivered. Over the decades many served in Canada. An early example was CF-HXT, a 1951 model (sn 7679) registered first by the DOT on February 21, 1955 to Carl Millard in Toronto (Carl brought hundreds of light planes into Canada over his long career). “HXT” had various owners over the decades, including Toronto funeral director, John A. Jerrett. On May 25, 1963, he ground looped “HXT” on landing at Malton, damaging the undercarriage, wing and tail. Many such airplanes have at least one such event noted in their logbooks. “HXT” last was heard of in Courtenay, BC around 2016.

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Ce.195B CF-FRO in Vancouver on September 25, 1956. For years this handsome plane served the Finning company, which had a Caterpillar equipment franchise in BC. Following an accident of October 23, 1972, “FRO” was sold to a buyer in Kent, Washington. The last heard of it was a 1996 notice in the Ce.195 club newsletter that a few of its bits and pieces were for sale. Parked behind and to the right in this fine view is a 1951 Nash Ambassador. Keen aviation fans like Al Martin revelled in everything to do with something like the Cessna lineage. They followed the least model upgrade (Ce.195, Ce.195A, Ce.195B, etc.) or local “mod”, and were sure to photograph any such changes.

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In late 1955 the Ce.170 was replaced by the Ce.172, a design that brought a whole new look to the Cessna line. Gone were Cessna’s classic curved “tail feathers” and “tail dragger” look. As you can see in this view, Cessna switched to a new squared-off look, plus tricycle gear with steerable nose wheel. The new plane came on the market at $8750. The Wong brothers of Central Airways were quick to recognize where things in their world of aviation were heading, so immediately ordered one of the first 1-72s — CF-IKB. Current owner, Jim Bray, notes, “IKB came off the line at Cessna on October 28 and left for Canada on November 3, 1955”. Al’s view includes the Central Airways office. He probably set this up deliberately. In 1956 I was in Air Cadets in Toronto at 172 Squadron. My first ever airplane flight was in “IKB”. Today,  Jim, who has owned it for 35 years, keeps “IKB” at Brantford, Ontario. In 2020 its airframe time is a bit less than 6000 hours. The initial production batch of 1- 72s totalled 1178. Since then more than 45,000 have been delivered.

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Cessna introduced a host of new produces in the early 1950s, the 4/5-seat Ce.180 included — one of the great light aircraft of all time. First flown in 1952, this all-metal workhorse was produced into 1981, some 6200 eventually coming off the Cessna line. Powered by a 230-hp Continental O-470 series engine (145 hp in a 1-72), the “1-80” soon was beloved in private and commercial use. It especially excelled in the bush on wheels, skis or floats. Many Canadian operators got in on the earliest deliveries (1954-56: 2003 aircraft). Al photographed CF-ICE at the island in the mid-50s. He would have been extra interested to see this lovely plane on amphibious floats. “ICE” had been registered in Canada on May 19, 1955 to the McNamara Construction Co. In 1958, however, it was listed to Executive Air Services at Malton Airport. Here it bears the company logo of Federal Equipment of Montreal (in the 1950s Federal was a key DEW Line contractor, which might have had a lease on “ICE”). For several years after 1958, R.J. McCullough of Toronto owned “ICE”, then followed various owners. “ICE” was active as recently as 2016.

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Another early Cessna 180 was CF-IIX, which Al Martin shot at Vancouver. It had come to Canada in 1957 for Vancouver-based Canex Aerial Exploration Ltd., but faded from the CCAR in 1963. Survey aircraft led rough and ready careers – it was a dangerous field of operation, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that “IIX” had ended badly. Canex also had Beaver CF-JOE, which itself was wrecked in 1957. These days C-FIIX is a BC-based Cessna 182D. PS … in this view notice the beautiful “torpedo-back” in the background.

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Al Martin photographed Ce.180 CF-HEF in Vancouver in early 1-80 times. The Bourne and Weir tire company had purchased in 1953, then operated it into 1960. It then was sold to Island Airlines, a small Campbell River operators destined to become famous on the coast. A dedicated general aviation fan such as Al could never pass up a nice set-up shot like this, especially since “HEF” bore the company name and logo so prominently. By 1966 this 1-80 was with Leask Lake Logging of Campbell River (logging companies quickly gravitated to the versatile, speedy and economic 1-80). For some reason, “HEF” is absent from 1968 onward in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register. Often, the reason was an accident, although a plane also faded from the register if sold into the USA. Many Ce.180s still operate daily in Canada, often “out in the boonies”, where they always have been at home.

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Cessna introduced the Ce.182 Skylane in 1952. A tri-gear spin-off from the 1-80, it appealed to those looking for a high-end light plane (list price was $13,750). Cessna delivered 844 in Year 1. For 1957-58 it added a further 1713. Originally N6320A off the line at Cessna, Skylane CF-IUE (perhaps Canada’s first 1-82) is seen at Toronto Island Airport when new. Keith Hopkinson of Sky Harbour Aircraft at Goderich, Ontario had imported it in 1956, then operated it for 2-3 years on behalf of the Iowa-based Sheaffer Pen Company, which had a Goderich plant. “IUE” then had a long career serving several owners in the Toronto area. Latterly, it was with North-Way Chrysler in New Liskeard in Northern Ontario. However, its C of A is listed as cancelled in 2018. For the best in Cessna history, I strongly recommend that you track down copies of Edward H. Phillips’ classic 1984 book, Cessna: A Master’s Expression, plus his follow-up (1986) title, Wings of Cessna: Model 120 to the Citation III. You are far better off with such books than depending (lazily) on google.

Stinson Endures, Piper Forges Ahead

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The first Stinsons started appearing in Canada in the mid 1920s. There were four of these, all Stinson SB-1 Detroiter commercial planes (Stinson was based in Detroit). One was G-CAFW purchased for Patricia Airways and Exploration to serve the Red Lake region during the gold rush there of 1925-26. The others trickled into Canada, but accidents soon claimed them. Late in the 1930s, however, a new Stinson type was turning heads – the Reliant. With more efficient and reliable engines, and good load-carrying ability, these became popular. Then, for wartime use the RCAF acquired 25 little Stinson HW-75 Voyageurs (also known as the Stinson Model 10 and Model 105). Most of the 25 survived the war and soon were turning up in civilian markings. Here’s a typical example that Al photographed at Toronto island. You can see that the HW-75 was a bit on the dumpy side for looks. Having come to Canada in the spring of 1941, CF-DTH served the RCAF very briefly as 3487, then joined the Department of Transport in Moncton. It seems to have served there to war’s end. No longer needed, it was sold for $750 to Paul Huot of Ottawa. He quickly re-sold it to nearby Bradley Air Services. In November 1954 “DTH” was acquired by Harold Meiteen and Harvey Zellan, who flew it from Toronto Island. “DTH” faded from the CCAR by 1958.

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Stinson was busy near war’s end planning its own return to the peacetime world. A quick solution for making the transition was to modernize the little 2-3 seat Voyageur. The sharp-looking Model 108 4-seater was the result. Al Martin photographed this one at Malton airport. Having come off the Stinson line in July 1947, CF-EYG was ferried to its first owner, Curtiss-Reid Flying Service of Cartierville Airport near Montreal. Within a month, however, “EYG” was with Cranbrook Flying Service in BC. Later it served the Aero Club of BC into 1956, when it was sold to Abbotsford Machinery Sales. On that July 5 it was wrecked in a takeoff accident at Vedan Lake, BC. Notice the Fleet Canuck and DHC-1 Chipmunk in the background – two other typical light planes of the times. Stinson would turn out more than 5000 “1-0-8s” in several versions with a range of engines. Many served in Canada and a few survive. A nice 1-0-8 today sells starting around US$40,000.

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Another fine Al Martin Stinson 108 photo. CF-FJW was registered in Canada on May 23, 1947 for Imperial Oil Ltd. This company had been boosting the airplane for business use since 1920, when it imported two rugged little Junkers bushplanes to explore for oil in the Northwest Territories. Note the prominent Imperial Oil Ltd. markings on “FJW”. By 1955 it was in far away Norman Wells, NWT with R.G. Hattie. After moving to Taylor, BC, it went missing from the CCAR in 1960. Most recently (2005), this registration was on a Piper Navajo in Quebec. Toronto Bay in the 1950s usually was filled with floatplanes. Today, few ever are seen, other than runway-bound planes at the island on amphibious floats. In the distance across the bay in this scene is the spire (still standing in 2020) of St. Mary’s RC church on Bathurst St.

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Al also caught this fine 1-0-8 at the island one day. CF-GZI was a Stinson 108-3 “Flying Station Wagon” – the last production model before Stinson was taken over in 1950 by Piper and easily recognized by its enlarged tail feathers. Imported in May 1955, “GZI” belonged to the St. Lawrence Starch Co. of nearby Port Credit – the makers of a product that in those days was in every kitchen in the land – “Beehive Golden Corn Syrup”. “GZI” was beloved at the starch company, where it served into 1965, likely as a company luxury item that got “the boss” and company executives and clients to cottages and prime fishing and hunting spots “up north”. From 1965-71 “GZI” was owned in Sioux Lookout by a well-known local operator, Norm Otto. Later, it went west to places like Uranium City, La Ronge and Yellowknife. I don’t know where it ended, but today C-FGZI is a speedy little Douglas A-4 Skyhawk electronic warfare trainer owned by Montreal-based Top Aces.

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Stinson 108-3 CF-HOS runs up at Toronto Island Airport. Originally registered in Canada on September 9, 1954, it was owned by Reilley’s Lock Corp. of Toronto into 1967. Some 1760 were produced. In the mid-1970s “HOS” was in Haileybury with Carrier Industrial Supplies, but later in the 1970s I lose track of it. These days “C-FHOS” is used on an Air Canada Embraer EJ-190 jetliner. If Al had a chance to re-take this photo, I bet that he’d take 1-2 steps to the right so he could include the tip of the fin. Usually, we were a fussy about such matters of “composition”, or, “form”.

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There are so many Pipers in Al’s files that I was a bit bamboozled. Let’s start with one of the oldest examples, Taylor J-2 CF-BED. In April 1937, F.H. Armitage of Hamilton imported this fine little J-2, or, “Taylor Cub” from the US. A popular Depression- era design, the J-2 had come about through a collaboration between designer Clarence Gilbert Taylor and businessman William Thomas Piper. The first successful Cub, the E-2 went into production at Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1931 at a list price of $1325. In 1935 the improved J-2 Cub appeared at an even lower price of $1270. Eventually, Taylor and Piper merged into the Piper company. More than 1200 J-2s were built, a few making it to Canada. What became of CF-BED? Nobody seems to know other than that it faded from the CCAR in 1947. The Cub story is especially well told by Edward H. Phillips in a wonderful book, Piper: A Legend Aloft. Do yourself a big favor and track down a copy.

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The J-3 succeeded the J-2 at Piper. Al spotted this fine-looking example at the old Hamilton airport early after WWII. The earliest info I could find for CF-DSI is that it was registered with the DOT on August 19, 1946. I’m guessing that it was built here early after WWII by Cub Aircraft of Canada. In 1955 it was owned by a John Morris of Hamilton. From 1959 to about 1965 it was with the Halifax Flying Club, but thereafter is absent from the CCAR. Aviation fans of the day rarely could resist photographing such an inviting scene – a pretty little plane sitting well lit in the open and with an interesting background. In these days Al still was an active private pilot, and certainly would really have enjoyed flying any such Piper.

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Piper L-4B CF-EEG was manufactured in Canada in 1946 by Cub Aircraft of Canada at old Hamilton airport. Happily, in his seminal book Canadian Aircraft since 1909 (get yourself a copy, this book is 100% essential for your library), the great K.M. “Ken” Molson includes a short history of this operation. The L-4 series had been used by the US military in WWII chiefly as an artillery spotting aircraft (it was a slightly modified J-3). Piper delivered almost 5000 by war’s end. To keep itself involved once wartime contracts had expired, Cub Aircraft adopted the L-4 for Canadian use. This likely was easy to arrange, since there were masses of surplus L-4 components at Piper in Lockhaven, Pennsylvania, which Piper would have been happy to ship to Hamilton. Cub Aircraft of Canada delivered 128 L-4Bs from 1945-47, promoting the type as the “Prospector”. Typical was “EEG”, which was registered with the DOT on May 22, 1947. It was part of an almost solid block of Cub Aircraft of Canada Pipers CF-EEA to CF-EEZ. All were listed as J-3C-65s except for “EEG”, the sole L-4B. From this batch the only one that seems to still be flying in 2020 is “EEI” in NW Ontario. In the first of my old copies of the CCAR (1955) “EEG” was with Gananoque Air Services in Ontario’s Thousand Islands region. By 1958 it was with the St. Maurice Aero Club in Trois-Rivières. From 1962 to at least 1979 it was with Roland Verville of Sherbrook, Quebec. He must have had countless enjoyable flying hours in this little classic. Transport Canada lost track of “EEG” years ago, but such mysteries sometimes get resolved. Such aircraft sometimes still turn up in garages and barns decades after disappearing.

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J-3C-65 (65 hp) CF-DCS was assembled in Hamilton and registered on April 30, 1946. The “C” in the type indicates made in Canada. When Al photographed it around 1955 it had been converted as a dusting plane by Leavens Brothers Air Services. Each year in this period, Leavens (one of Canada’s oldest air services) had farm and forest contracts to keep several J-3s busy (these usually had been upgraded to 85 hp). This also gave many young pilots some valuable (if dangerous) flying experience. About 30 years ago Paul Apperly told me a bit about this for some brief bit I was writing that never came to light. This is that: “Beginning about 1946, Leavens converted several 85-hp J-3 Cubs and 65-hp Aeronca “Champs” for aerial spray and dusting work. Spray bars and hoppers (200-lb capacity) were installed at Barker Field. The flying was done mainly in southwestern Ontario spraying tobacco (main base at London, George Walker manager), but there also was work in the Quinte area, treating fields of corn and peas. The Champs soon were withdrawn from ag services, since the Cubs had better maneuverability, plus 85 hp. Rock Hodges and Paul Apperly were two prominent young Leavens’ pilots in this era, flying such spray Cubs as CF-BUG. When bigger contracts were under way, Leavens brought in US sprayers to help, as with Cub NR35320 of Milwaukee-based Fliteways. Hodges would go on to found General Airspray in St. Thomas, Ontario, while Apperly joined to RCAF to fly Sabres. Many lessons were learned in these early years. Liquid fertilizer, for example, was found to be corrosive on hoppers and spray components. Overall, Leavens found the ag business a hard sell — few farmers yet were ready to accept aerial application as a practical or affordable process. To offset this, Leavens found other work. In 1951-53 it used J-3s on floats and a Seabee on Ontario government contracts spraying against mosquitoes in the Muskoka region. Ontario Hydro hired Leavens to spray herbicide along rights of way to keep them weed free. Leavens also operated in Quebec and New Brunswick during Operation Budworm. For a mosquito spraying contract at Forestville on the Quebec North Shore, it converted Cessna T-50 CF- BRK. This was on-going for several years until July 11, 1958, when ‘BRK crashed fatally on operations. In 1952 Leavens ran a course at London to train 12 prospective ag pilots in all aspects of the trade, from handling chemicals to the special flying skills required. For 1953 Leavens recorded 5840 flying hours, 64% in flight instruction, 12% in spraying and dusting. The fleet included 35 aircraft of many types including three Cranes, four Stearmans and seven 85-hp Cub spray planes. In 1953 Leavens changed its focus from flying to overhauling aircraft, propellers and accessories; component and materials sales; and light manufacturing. In the 1950s it produced the last 26 Fleet Canucks. In 1972 it moved into a new facility near Toronto International Airport. In later years Leavens, always supportive of Canada’s aviation heritage, restored and flew a Waco 9 (G-CAII), which the company later donated to Canada’s national aviation museum. The museum displays another aircraft with Leavens Brothers’ roots. Its Taylorcraft BC-65 CF-BPR, restored by Harry Drover and donated to the museum in 1999, originally had been imported to Canada by Leavens 60 years earlier. Leavens closed its doors in 2012 after 84 years of service. As to “DCS”, it had various post-Leavens owners. Last heard of in 1967 it was owned by Wesley Howe and Earl Ethier in Sudbury. I don’t yet have a date, but “DCS” came to a bad ending. Wes Howe was buzzing his house near Azilda one day when he struck wires and crashed, killing himself and his passenger.

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Piper introduced the PA-18 “Super Cub” in 1949. Improvements over the ubiquitous J-3/L-4 series included a 105-hp engine (compared to 65 hp) and three notches of flap. Larger engines gradually became available – 125-hp, 150-hp. The Super Cub became more of a utility plane, being so useful as a bush and agricultural plane. Many Super Cubs still operate in Canada. “GOJ” was registered on July 10, 1952 and last appeared in the 1974 CCAR.

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PA-18A Super Cub CF-JAG came into Canada in 1957-58 for Sulo K. Korpela of Kormak Lumber Co. based near of Chapleau, Ontario. Not long afterwards it was with Thessalon Motors of Thessalon, a town between Sudbury and Sault St. Marie. In 1964 it was sold to Ross McNeice and R. Smith of Sudbury. In 1966 it went to Georgian Bay Airways of Parry Sound, but is absent from the CCAR from 1968. The unusual undercarriage here is a system designed by Art Whitaker of Portland Oregon. It was designed for extra rough take-off and landing conditions. I found this comment on the web from stoney727, “Art Whitaker developed the tandem landing gear right here at my home drome, Pearson Field in Vancouver WA. Before the oversized, low-pressure tires came along this was thought to be an answer for landing on rough, unimproved terrain.” I wonder if “JAG” made much use of its Whitaker gear? Canada still has many PA-18s in private and commercial use.

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Besides avidly taking airplane photos, most of us back in the 1950s collected all sorts of other aviation things of interest, post cards included. Here’s a typical example that I found in one of Al’s shoe boxes that features the famous float base at Owen Sound on Georgian Bay. Shown are Piper PA-12s CF-FIZ and PA-12 CF-EUR, and Fleet Canuck CF-EBO. I can’t find any info for “FIZ”, but know from Terry Judge’s research that “EUR” came new to Canada in 1947 for Cub Aircraft of Hamilton. Cub sold it to Peninsula Air Services, a famous local operator. PAS re-sold “EUR” to local flyer N.P. Boychuk, who flew it into 1952, then sold to Owen Sound Airways. There were many subsequent owners, including one renowned fellow whom I knew – J.F. “Joe” Reed. Joe had “EUR” at Toronto Island Airport for a while in 1954-55. Eventually, it had a sticky ending. On landing on Gull Lake, Ontario on May 17, 1959, it crashed, then never re-appeared.

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Piper PA-22 TriPacer CF-FVW at Toronto Island Airport. One of the truly beloved postwar Pipers, the TriPacer evolved from the PA-20 Pacer “tail dragger”, and first flew in early 1951. Sales instantly took off, outnumbering the Pacer 6-to-1. Production continued to 1964 by when some 9400 had been delivered. That year the TriPacer was replaced on Piper’s Vero Beach, Florida production line by the first of what would become an even more popular type – the PA-28 Cherokee. Hundreds of TriPacers came to Canada, where many still operate. “FVW” originally was owned by the Carl Millard of Toronto, Carl having purchased it from Safari Flying Services in the USA in September 1952. The same month Carl sold “FVW” to Len Ariss, a keen private flier who had developed the airstrip at nearby Guelph. Thenceforth, this fine little 4- seater had a long list of Ontario owners from Chatham to Blind River, Hamilton, Brantford, Centralia, North Bay, Sudbury and elsewhere. It seems to have remained in use at least into 1991, when a note in one record states that it had flown more than 2400 hours. However, “FVW” is absent from the CCAR after 1975. TC says that its C of A was cancelled in 2002.

Canada’s Own Fleet 80 Canuck

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One of the big stories in Canadian aviation immediately after WWII was the Fleet 80 Canuck. Evolved from a 1940 design by Bob Noury, which Fleet bought in 1945, production initially was brisk. Fleet had just ended its Cornell production, so had the space, labour, tools and equipment, plus the incentive to jump right into what management envisioned as a strong postwar economy. Nearly 200 Canucks were sold to private and commercial operators, the sticker price initially being $3495. But production tapered as such other new civil light planes as the Aeronca 7, Cessna 120, Ercoupe, Globe Swift and Piper PA-12 began flooding Canada. Fleet, which had been so busy through the war building Finches and Cornells, lowered its asking from to $1600 when sales stalled, then abandoned the Canuck altogether. Carl Millard of Toronto bought up dozens at $1500 each, then re-sold them slowly at a profit of about $1000 each. Eventually, Leavens Brothers Aircraft of Toronto bought the Canuck rights and hand-built a final few. Nonetheless, the Canuck proved to be a gem of a 2-seater. Companies such as Central Airways at Toronto Island Airport trained thousands of young Canadians to fly on the Canuck. Al Martin photographed CF-DEE (sn 16) at Toronto island about 1950. First flown at Fleet’s Fort Erie, Ontario field on October 6, 1946, in August 1947 it was sold to Barrie Aircraft and Supplies of Barrie, Ontario. Thereafter, it had a long list of owners and many adventures. One owner (1951-53) was John Roberts, who kept “DEE” at Toronto island. He sold it to Carl Millard, who quickly flipped it to Roy Brett in British Columbia. Henceforth, “DEE” had a long list of BC owners. Today, it resides in Langley, BC.

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Fleet Canuck sn10 at Toronto Island Airport in Lome Airways markings. Lome was a versatile operator in the early 1950s with such diverse interests as teaching basic flying with the little Canuck to hauling heavy loads in its gigantic Avro Tudor freighter. Having first flown on May 14, 1946, “DDY” went initially to Aero Activities of Toronto. Then, it joined Lome early in 1949. It flew there into October 1952, when sold to Trans Aircraft of Hamilton. “DDY” last appeared in the CCAR in 1958. Behind is the original Toronto Island Airport terminal, which survives and awaits restoration.

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CF-EBE was famous enough for decades around Central Airways in Toronto, but is even more so today as “the” Fleet Canuck that you’ll see when visiting Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. The great Ken Molson writes about “EBE” in his classic book, Canada’s National Aviation Museum: Its History and Collections: “After almost 24 years service with Central Airways, the aircraft was sold in 1971 to Dr. J.D. Robinson of Flesherton, Ontario, who after two years passed it on to Ernest Weller of Port Loring, Ontario, from whom the museum bought it in 1974.”

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Once again, Al is docked a couple of marks for clipping off the tip of the tail of Central Airways Fleet Canuck CF-EOH sn 206. It’s in a typical Toronto Island Airport scene in the early1950s. The paint job was yellow and dark blue. “EOH” was one of 26 Canucks assembled by Leavens Brothers from leftover Fleet parts. Its first flight was February 22, 1952. Central Airways, operated by the famous Bob and Tom Wong, purchased it in April that year. As with many such little planes that had long lives, “EOH” had the occasional “fender bender”. In one case, on September 25, 1964 pilot Ricky Hicks had his engine quit. Following the forced-landing instructions that the Wongs had taught him, Ricky set down OK on the exhibition grounds close to the island airport. In 1967 “EOH” started a new career with the Edmonton Flying Club. Over the years there it suffered 7 – 8 minor accidents. In one case, on April 5, 1980, while the pilot was practicing touch and go landings on a soft grass strip, “EOH” struck a bank of crusted snow, damaging the left main gear, left wing tip and prop. On September 8, 1982, while the pilot was near Smokey Lake south of Edmonton, he landed “EOH” in a farm field with low fuel. In the process, he bent the propeller and broke off the left landing gear. In 1986 “EOH” was sold to Peter D. Moodie in Winnipeg, who continued into 2020 to enjoy this magnificent little Canadian plane.

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Fleet Canuck CF-HOU sn 220 (the second last built by Fleet) at Toronto Island Airport. Wouldn’t this have made fine subject matter with Kodachrome! But … black-and-white film remained the standard in early post-WWII times, since colour film cost “an arm and a leg” back then. Canadian Aircraft Renters was another island airport resident in the 1950s. Its Canuck earned its keep in pilot training, doing tourist flights, etc. Meanwhile, the company had such bigger types as the Beech 18, Goose, Lodestar and DC-3 CF-CAR. By 1960, however, “CAR” and many similar air services across Canada had disappeared. “HOU” later was with Sudbury Aviation, then a final private owner. It faded from the CCAR in the mid-70s, after the owner discovered too much corrosion for “HOU” to be worth repairing..

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Fleet Canuck CF-DQE sn 057 first entered the CCAR on June 22, 1948. Lome Airways kept it on floats at Toronto island over the summer. Those ridges on the floats identify the floats as Fleet’s own design. Many owners have enjoyed “DQE” over the decades, including (in the 2000s) aviation history researcher, Robert Stitt, on Vancouver Island.

Other Great Types of the Era: The Aeronca Line

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The rugged and ever-reliable Aeronca Model 7 Champion series first appeared in May 1944, then was publicly revealed in San Diego in November 1945. With a sticker price of $2095, it was a rival for the revered Piper J-3 and such similar post-WWII types. Hundreds of “Champs” soon were in Canada whether as private or commercial planes. In April 1946 “Champ” CF- DFL came to Canada new via the busy dealer, Leavens Brothers Air Services, at Barker Field in Toronto. Leavens sold it to C.M. Birchard of Oshawa, who sold it in 1948 to the Ontario County Flying Club at Oshawa airport. There it toiled as a training plane into 1962, when it was sold to Carldon Aviation. Many owners ensued. For several years since 1992, “DFL” was owned by Jerry Billing (1921-2015) of Essex, Ontario, near Windsor. Jerry was a renowned RCAF Spitfire pilot during WWII and had pioneered postwar with such jet fighters as the Vampire, Sabre and Swift. For many years Jerry also flew a lovely Spitfire owned by actor Cliff Robertson, but he still used to crow about his Aeronca.

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According to Department of Transport records, Aeronca 7CCM CF- FMK came to Canada in June 1948 for Leavens Brothers Aircraft of Toronto. Not long afterwards, Al Martin photographed it in Calgary with Chinook Flying Service Ltd. Other info says that “FMK” was purchased new by Chinook Flying Service of Calgary in 1946. There it operated as a primary trainer, rental plane, crop sprayer and even flew on floats while being used by a movie maker on a film project in the North. “FMK” holds the distinction of being the only airplane to land (on floats) on the water hazard at McCall Lake golf course immediately south of today’s Calgary International Airport (YYC). It later passed through a number of private owners and was still flying in recent years. Some 8000 Aeronca-built “Champs” were manufactured from 1945 to 1951. Others were built when Champion Aircraft, Bellanca, and American Champion had production rights.

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Pacific Wings of Vancouver brought Aeronca 7AC CF-HUU to Canada in 1955. It likely was used for float training for junior pilots, and local light duties. It operated with several private owners into the 1970s. We used to loath having to take such a photo, which we classified as “cluttered”. Besides being driven by “content” when photographing, we also were “form” guys, so this shot of Al’s is a good example in any such discussion. But … better to take the shot and preserve the scene, than worry about a debate. Besides, airplane fans normally also love cars — check out that beautiful new 1955 Plymouth Belvedere (also the interesting “Warning” sign).

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Pretty little Aeronca 11CC “Chief” CF- ICD at Toronto Island Airport in the early 1950s. This model appeared in 1945 and was widely sold until production ended in 1950. The Chief shares about 75% parts commonality with the Model 7 Champion, but is a side-by-side 2-seater compared to the “Champ” with its tandem seating. “ICD” first came to Canada in 1955 for Clayton Hutchings of Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Thereafter, it spent from 1957 into the late 1970s with the Barnard brothers (Cheminis Lumber Co.) of Kearns in Northern Ontario. I don’t know about its fate.

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While most of Aeronca’s post-WWII production at Middletown, Ohio centred on the 2-seat Model 7s and 11s, the Model 15 4-seat “Sedan” also contributed to the company’s stellar success in the late 1940s. First flown in 1947, some 400 were produced to 1950, when production ended. The Sedan proved popular as a “family” plane, but also commercially as anything from an air taxi to a rugged bushplane. Several still operate in Canada, but the Sedan now is more of a collectors “antique”. Based in Wisconsin, the first Sedan — N1000H — is still was airworthy in 2020. A nice Sedan today sells for about US$30,000 (1948 price was about $4500). CF-DDA came to Canada in January 1949 for Leavens Brothers Air Services, then was sold to John H. Neilson of Toronto. He flew it into 1955, after which it had various owners. Typically, such a plane did not depreciate much. Having come to Leavens for about $5000, when it was sold in 1956 by Len Ariss of Guelph to the Brant Norfolk Aero Club of Brantford, it went for $3950. In December 1958 Canadian Airmotive of Hamilton sold DDA to Testex Ltd. of Toronto for $5950 (perhaps the price went up due to floats being included, or maybe some pricey new radio or avionics equipment?) About two years later “DDA” was sold to Victor Parentau in northern Quebec. He crashed it into a swamp on July 22, 1961, after which it was repaired and sold to Roger Coulombe of Senneterre. Later that year Roger reported to the DOT that “DDA” was a dead loss after sinking in a lake. Over the years “DDA” had logged about 1500 flying hours.

De Havilland Chipmunk

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While Fleet had a spurt of activity building the Canuck in 1945-46, De Havilland of Canada introduced its own light plane – a trainer for the RCAF to replace the obsolete Tiger Moth. UK test pilot, Pat Fillingham, flew the first example at Downsview on May 22, 1946. Production ensued, the RCAF and Canadian Flying Clubs Association receiving 113, while others were exported as far away as India. Soon UK and Portuguese manufacturing ensued, the licence-built total exceeding 1000. Al photographed the first RCAF Chipmunk at Downsview c.1950. 18001 was taken on RCAF strength on April 1, 1948, then was struck off on May 6, 1959. Its activities are unknown to me thereafter until it was acquired by the great aerobatic pilot, Art Scholl, in 1968. Art modified it greatly for air show purposes, then flew it for many years as N13Y. We used to see it at the Toronto airshow in the 1970s-80s. Today, N13Y may be seen at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution near Washington, DC. Essential books regarding the Chipmunk are Fred Hotson’s De Havilland in Canada, Hugh Shields’ The De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk: The Poor Man’s Spitfire, and the Air-Britain title, Chipmunk – The First Fifty Years. I recommend all three very highly – your library will be the richer if you can find these books (and don’t give me that pitiful old complaint that books are “expensive” – how pitiful that is, eh).

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Chipmunks 18012, CF-CYB and 18001 in another Downsview scene. 18012 served the RCAF into the 1960s and last was heard of as C-FCYK in Manitoba in the early 2000s. “CYB” crashed near Caledon, Ontario on September 18, 1957.

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Chipmunk CF-CXQ at Toronto island. It was one of a batch loaned by the DND to Canadian flying clubs to be used by wartime pilots to “keep current”. “CXQ”, by then privately owned, had a bad ending at Vancouver airport on February 7, 1968. That day a Standard Airways 707 on lease to CPA was landing from Honolulu, when pilot disorientation due to a sudden fog resulted in a dreadful crash. The 707 went out of control, careered across the airfield, ploughing up cars, parked planes and buildings – “CXQ” included. A “Globe and Mail” report quoting the head of Standard Airways said, “Neither [the captain] nor the control tower had been aware of this fog. Then, suddenly, all hell broke out.” The report adds, “The plane slewed right, away from the terminal, crashed through a wire fence, burying its nose in the Aviation Electric Pacific Ltd. building.” One of the 707 crew and a man on the ground were killed.

Some Other Beloved Types

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On the same day that Al photographed Cessna 170B CF-HXK, he clicked off a frame on this lovely little Luscombe 8F bobbing at Toronto Island Airport. CF-IBH was a Lucombe 8F owned in the mid-1950s by Michael C. Sawchuk of Toronto. The following year, however, it went to D.A. Yanta in Chapleau in northern Ontario. Charles Gareau of Sudbury had it in 1961, then it suddenly disappeared from the CCAR. Luscombe is one of the great stories in the light plane universe. See if you can find a copy of John Swick’s ace of a book, The Luscombe Story. Otherwise, the story is very covered in Joseph P. Juptner’s indispensible US Civil Aircraft, Vol.7, an essential series for any serious aviation buff. The renowned Luscombe 8 series dates to 1938. About 1200 were built in New Jersey and Texas before the US entered WWII. The Luscombe really took off in 1946, a big attraction being its metal fuselage and metal-framed wing (at a time when most light planes still were fabric covered). Serial numbers since war’s end run from 1934 to 6774 (“IBH” was 6746, so was one of the last from Texas in 1950, when the original Luscombe closed its doors). The post-WWII rush to build light planes proved to be a huge flash in the pan. By 1948 most types were out of production and their manufacturers either “bust” or focusing on other products. In these years Luscombe had Canadian distributors from BC to the Maritimes, one being the great Don McVicar on Montreal. The last few Luscombe 8s (86 aircraft) were completed in Colorado in 1960. For a bit more about this general era in aviation, search at this very blog for “The Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes”. You’ll really enjoy this item.

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A very spiffy looking Luscombe, which Al Martin photographed at Toronto Island Airport in the early 1950s. Could there be a cuter little 2-seater! So far I have no data about “GVX”, which is absent from the 1955 CCAR onward. The stylized “S” on the wheel pants and fin stood for “Silvaire”, Luscombe’s name for the Model 8. Of the many Luscombes in Canada over the decades, according to the Transport Canada CCAR website only about 10 have current C of As.

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Luscombe CF-GJB served Gateway Aviation of Edmonton in the mid-1950s, then was with Central Aviation in Wetaskiwin, Alberta for many years into the early 1970s. “GJB” looks at home on skis on what likely was a very chilly Edmonton day. Its registration later was assigned to a PA-28 Cherokee.

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Also keen on the personal plane market was Ryan, which built the 4-seat Navion. Designed by North American, its looks are reminiscent of the wartime P-51 Mustang. But North American decided not to challenge the postwar civil market after all, selling the Navion to Ryan in 1948. About 1200 were produced before Tusco took over c.1955 and kept the Navion alive a bit longer, modernizing it mainly in the form of the handsome Rangemaster, which endured into 1976. In the 2000s there still was interest in this fabulous design from Sierra Hotel Aero Inc. in Minnesota. SHA’s website notes: “As holder of the type certificate for the Navion, Sierra Hotel Aero, is dedicated to improving the safety, support, performance and preservation of all Navions worldwide.” See info@navion.com. As with most of the great light planes of the 1940s, there also is a Navion owners club. See navionx.org and look for the many other Navion-related sites. Shown is CF-GIY of Chinook Flying Services, Calgary. It was registered in Canada November 5, 1948. Trevor McTavish adds about “GIY” on April 8: “Chinook used GIY and its processor, Navion CF-FJC, on a variety of missions – usually general charters and sightseeing trips. Both also were used as air ambulances, as Chinook had the contract from the Alberta Air Ambulance Service. At a time with few hospitals offering specialized treatments, stable patients would be strapped to a litter and flown to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The Navion was also well-used on powerline patrols in the Alberta Rocky Mountains on a route running west from Calgary into the mountains, down the Spray Lakes to the BC border at Blaremore (Frank Slide), then back to Calgary. Chinook sold GIY in 1954 and replaced it with civilianized Beech AT-11 CF-IBT (see Air Transport in Canada p.723). Like most planes of the era, “GIY” migrated to various owners. In 1961, for example, it was in BC with the Victoria Flying Club. Last noted by Transport Canada, in the early 2000s it was registered in Alberta to Golden Valley Grain Ltd.

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Al Martin’s nice set-up shot at Toronto island of St. Catharine’s Flying Club Navion CF-HJI, which was registered first in Canada on December 15, 1953. Later owners from Quebec to Saskatchewan enjoyed this fine airplane. In recent years it was listed in Westlock about 100 miles north of Edmonton.

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Always nice to see in our airport travels was any Beechcraft Bonanza. For a good overall coverage of this phenomenal airplane, search at this site for item The Beech Bonanza at 70 and the Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes . I can’t tell where Al photographed CF-HIB, but it’s a typical lovely looking Beech C35 “V-Tail” – sn D2948. Built in 1951, it was registered in Canada on November 23, 1953. Initially, it was flown by the great John Bogie (Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, etc.) of Ottawa-based Laurentian Air Services. Many other Canadian owners ensued. After all its decades in Canada, D-2948 today its back in the USA as N673D.

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Of all the new light planes of the mid-to-late 1940s one of the most representative is the Republic RC-3 Seabee. Invariably referred to as “an ugly duckling”, it’s endured and is greatly sought-after by sport aviators. Being all-metal, rugged and amphibious, the Seabee originally found eager fans among sportsmen, cottagers, and bush and coast air taxi services. Designed in 1940 by Percival Spencer, who first had flown in his own hang glider in 1911, the Seabee flew in December 1945. It immediately entered production at Republic, which recently had been churning out P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. Production suddenly ceased in October 1947 at 1060 aircraft, many of which were sold in Canada. Republic then concentrated on mass-producing F-84 Thunder Jets for the USAF. Subsequently, many Seabee survivors have been restored, especially with modern engines, e.g., Eric B. Robinson of Lindsay, Ontario has turned out several “new” Seabees powered by the 425-hp Corvette V-8 engine (the Seabee originally came with a 165-hp Franklin), plus other upgrades. Shown at Toronto Island c.1950 is Orillia Air Service Seabee CF-GAF. It came to Canada officially on March 30, 1948 for Leavens Brothers Aviation, a Seabee distributor. This is one of my favourite Al Martin Toronto scenes. In 1955 it was with Allan A. McMahon of Creighton Mines (near Sudbury), Ontario. McMahon ran a small local air service. Everett Makela on Sudbury told me lately that on October 14, 1954 (the day before Hurricane Hazel) he had a trip in “GAF” to a camp on Tooms Lake near Kormak northwest of Sudbury. The winds already were well up and “on the nose” as “GAF” hammered along. It took “Ev” almost three hours to make this trip and he used most of his 60 gallons of fuel. He borrowed what he could in fuel from a nearby lumber camp — 15 gallons. He then raced back to Sudbury in 45 minutes, thanks now to a helpful tailwind from pending Hurricane Hazel. That winter “GAF” was wrecked while taking off on skis from Rome Lake north of Sudbury. The cause might have been overloading, since there were four people aboard with their kit and the ski installation weighed 250 pounds. Everyone survived, by “GAF” was a dead loss. Ev and some pals later went into the bush to salvage the engine and propeller.For all the latest Seabee news visit this wonderful website http://www.seabee.info .

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Seabee CF-GZX taxiing in front of the old Malton airport terminal building c.1955. Originally (1947) NC6364K with Livingston Airways of Waterloo, Iowa, it first was registered in Canada on May 28, 1951. In 1955 it was owned by C.V. Thornton of Toronto. It’s nifty how he had added some nose art. James Alton of Willowdale (near Toronto) took over “GZX” in 1957 and still had it in 2004! In modern times, “GZX” was converted to a “Beeboyz” Seabee with a GM LS2 Corvette sport scar engine, so was re-categorized as an “amateur built” plane. Last heard of in 2011 “GZX” was based at Baldwin, Ontario.

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One final Al Martin Seabee … why not, right! Al shot CF-ECX at Malton at the Toronto Flying Club annual fly-in on May 15, 1951. The Seabee appealed to many small operators such as Port Colborne Air Services. “ECX” had begun with Curtiss-Reid Flying Service at Cartierville, Quebec. By 1955 it was owned by L.E. Force of Norwich, Ontario, then knocked around for years in Quebec. By 1979 it had moved to Pickle Lake in Northwest Ontario, after which I have no other info. These days C- FECX is a Cessna 185.

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As high school kids in the late 1950s, I and my pals were just learning the ins and outs of aviation photography, how to keep notes and how to do research. Happily, we had some people to look up to about all this. Around Toronto at the time were Al Martin, Jack McNulty and Harvey Stone. These fellows all had wide- ranging interest, while ours at first tended to centre on military and the airlines. Sabres and Super Constellations were what we wanted to shoot. Learning to branch out was a slow process for us. I remember seeing Cole Palen’s Avro 504 A1996 at the Oshawa fly-in on June 15, 1963, but wasn’t really impressed for some dumb reason. But Al Martin, Ken Molson and the more mature fellows were all around it, looking closely at every detail. These fellows always would try to get us interested, but we could be slow learners. Happily, I did shoot off a few frames of A1996 and Cole’s other plane that day, his Sopwith Snipe. A1996 today belongs to Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. This is a good example of a well-composed view of the “504”. It looked especially nice anywhere from a slight ¾ front angle right around to a fairly extreme rear angle. If shot from too sharp a front angle, of course much of the fuselage and tail would be obscured. The “old timers” like Al would always point out such details to us until we finally caught on. Note also how Al came in quite tightly on the sides in order to maximize the detail. Not having people standing around also made for what the experienced photographers considered to be a solid “set-up shot”. We all eventually became a bit fanatical about this and even would shoo people away (politely, of course) in order to get the ideal photo.

That’s it for this blog item. I hope you have enjoyed Al’s great photos of Canadian light planes along with the commentary. I’ll see about dipping again into Al’s wonderful negatives and prints. Meanwhile, if you have Air Transport in Canada, you can see several pages of additional Al Martin photos in several different categories.

PS … As usual, my blog readers started enjoying this item almost from the minute it appeared. Rob Henry from Alberta is typical, writing on March 25, “Fantastic photos Larry. Amazing how pictures from the 40s, 50s and 60s seem to make even the simplest Cessna or Piper look exotic. The work of yourself and some of the others from then (and now) have captured so much of the way things were, not just the planes, but the backgrounds, vehicles, buildings and so much more. Fascinating to look back and I hope the next generations find these just as important. Rob”

Books, Books, Books!

“For your edification”, attached here are the current CANAV Books lists. Feel free to treat yourself to some of these wonderful prime sources of aviation history (in a class by their own compared to the internet’s endless “quickie” info sources. Books give the true fan the solid “gen” by comparison, and the shear joy of handling an actual book. If ordering from the 2 nd list, please get in touch to ensure that your choices are still available. If outside Canada, please ask me for a postal rate. Thanks and I hope that 2020 so far is going well for you. Cheers … Larry Milberry larry@canavbooks.com

Book list 1

1 CANAV Booklist Fall_Winter 2019-2020 Goes at the END

2 CANAV Booklist Special Items March 2020

PS …Our “2 CANAV Books list” is the best and most surprising such list in Canada. Failing all else, you’ll find that it has its own built-in entertainment value! Better to spend your spare time here than on some mindless video game (so says ye olde scribe — your inveterate publisher).

Special publications offer … “The Aeroplane Spotter” … A collection of about 200 nice copies (4.5 kg) of this renowned British weekly news sheet from “The Aeroplane” magazine. Issues are dated from 1941-48 (Vols.1 to 9), but this collection does not include complete annual sets. These newsprint issues are in good condition considering their age. Seventy+ years ago, this beloved 7.5×11.5 publication kept everyone in the business, and, all the general fans current about developments in industry, in the air war, about the airlines, airport movements, etc. The wartime issues are big on aircraft recce and military intel. Postwar, military content holds its place, while there’s more about civil aviation’s resurgence. This lot is for some serious collector starting an “Aeroplane Spotter” collection. Lot only CDN$125 + shipping. A nice price if you’ve been shopping for this publication on the web. Serious enquiries to larry@canavbooks.com

The Fans Respond to the Al Martin Photo Presentation:

Taylorcraft in Chilkat River

CANAV’s blog publications invariably bring forth some thoughtful and informative comments from my readers. You sure have been enjoying the Al Martin item so far, but what’s not to like about such a special aviation hertitage collection, right? Here are some wonderful memories from Dennis Bedford in Alaska, that Al’s photos have stirred up:

Finally found time to sit down and read the latest on the Al Martin photo collection. All these photos and captions have brought back a lot of memories. My Dad worked for Alaska Coastal Airlines mostly on Gooses and PBYs, but he spent a lot of his “off” hours working on the types that Al photographed. Our family aerial chariot was a 1946 T-craft on floats. The airplane is still in the family, though not flying and in need of restoration. My father bought it in the late ‘40’s, used it on the first “date” with my mother, then on their honeymoon to fly the length of the Yukon river. In the attached photo from long ago, you can see dimension lumber strapped to the floats. Plywood was carried in full sheets strapped to the spreader bars. I wanted to move plywood into the lake recently and asked several seasoned float pilots what they thought about tying it onto the 185 — they all thought yjis was a really bad idea. Dad also flew in a small, wood burning “cookstove” and whatever else was needed. He said his worst load was a mattress wrapped in visqueen (plastic wrapping), which started to come loose and billow in the slipstream. It took all 65 horses for the T-craft just to stay in the air. 

Another of my memorable learning experiences was driving a Crosley car around the yard long before I was legal on the public roads. The first Mooney Mites used a Crosley car engine with a reduction unit.

Alaska Coastal Airlines bought a lot of something like 50 BT-13’s just for the R-985’s for use in Gooses. As I recall, these airplanes were located somewhere in the central U.S. Oklahoma. Coastal paid a contractor to remove and ship the engines and propellers, then to scrap the rest of the airplanes. I also recall the hulk of a BT-13 being back in the woods near Yakutat. It’s my understanding that it had been used to haul fish.

For something like $400 – $600 each, Coastal also bought a lot of R-2600’s from somewhere in central Canada, maybe Calgary.  I think there were 110 of them. They were military surplus, freshly overhauled and packed in steel “cans” charged with nitrogen. There was a road that ran off to the east of the Coastal hangar at the Juneau airport and they were stacked 2 high “as far as the eye could see” along the road. Coastal used them all up before they ceased PBY operations in the early 70’s. I think TBO (time between overhaul) was 1100 hours for the R-2600, but it was rare for one of them to make it that far. Lots of memories. Picture is the family T-craft hauling lumber for the family cabin near Haines. Thanks … Dennis

 

 

Cold Weather Storage, Testing and Photography: CLRVs to Jetliners

If you scroll back a few items on the CANAV Books blog, you can see our coverage from last summer of CLRV streetcars ready for disposal at the Toronto Transit Commission’s Russell yard (“Connaught Barns”) on Queen Street East in Toronto. That was a really enjoyable session, but it was a steamy day. Here’s a winter take on the same subject + a few winter scenes featuring Toronto’s new Bombardier cars on the 501 line during the same winter blow . You can also look back to our March 5, 2011 item about photographing airplanes in winter — it’s all great fun, right! (You can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.)

The snow was cutting sharply across Russell yard mid-afternoon on January 18, 2020. CLRV 4155 had been loaded earlier, so is ready for transportation to the scrap yard. Looks like 4043 and 4085 beyond. Then, a different angle that includes one of those heavy big main trucks from a CLRV.

Since there was such a good winter blow in Toronto on January 18, it seemed like a good idea to get out for some true winter photography, so I rode a Flexity car westward over to Russell, where I spent an hour slogging around in the wind and snowdrifts at both the Queen St. and Eastern Ave. sides of the yard. Here are a few of the photos taken with my trusty little Lumix pocket camera.

A wider view looking southwest across the yard. I didn’t make a count, but there were about 15 cars present.

Car 4024 was the only CLRV in motion at Russell this afternoon.

Views from the Eastern Ave. (south) side of the yard showing cars 4193 and 4053 nearest. Then, 4179 away up the line on this blustery day.

Next, I rode along to Spadina and Queen. It was a real urban transit mess, but somehow things kept rolling. I was amazed at the crowds out there — most of the Flexity cars were packed. Eventually, I was happy to get inside at the old Horseshoe Tavern to have a beer with some aviation buddies. I’m sure they figured I must be going around the bend. After all, what sense does it make to be out in a blizzard taking photos of streetcars!

While waiting at Queen and Greenwood for a car to continue my outing, I snapped TTC bus 8963 on its way back north to the TTC Line 2 Greenwood subway station. Then a hefty plow came by clearing this stretch of Queen.

A Flexity makes a stop on Queen west of McCaul. Regardless of the storm, people were out in their masses.

Car 4446 westbound on Queen approaches Spadina. Then, the general scene there looking east towards Soho St.

More snow removal action. Plows head north on Spadina towards Queen.

Car 4564 ready to pull out from Spadina going west on Queen. Amazingly, the system seemed to function reasonable well in this fair little Toronto blizzard. Cheers … Larry

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Airbus A220-300 in Yellowknife for Cold Weather Trials

Canada has a long tradition in cold-weather aeronautical testing. As early as the winter of 1926-27 a Siskin fighter conducted a host of demanding trials from the RCAF station at High River, Alberta. Subsequently, the RCAF and National Research Council did much pioneering R&D re. cold weather. The pace of all such science was spurred by the war. Postwar, the RCAF’s famous Winter Experimental Establishment tested a long list of aircraft in severe weather from such bases as Namao (Edmonton), Fort St. John, Cold Lake and Churchill. See Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 for a good history of WEE Flight. See Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force for further coverage in the pre-WWII period.

Yellowknife recently had a rare visitor and another chance to feature itself as a centre for cold weather trials. On January 12, 2020 Airbus A220-300 C-FFDO landed there from Winnipeg to undergo some special testing. On taxiing in at Yellowknife, “FDO” parked beside the Buffalo Airway Lockheed Electra, whose captain, Tony Jarvis, took this great photo. What a contrast in air transport history, right! (The Electra is C-GZFE, which  had begun in 1961 as N138US with Northwest Airlines. There it gave good service into 1971, then flew with operators from Air Florida in the US to Atlantic Airlines in the UK (it had become a freighter in 1977). Finally, in 2013 “ZFE” was acquired by Joe McBryan’s legendary Buffalo Airways. Today it’s one of those “lifeline” Arctic freighters, delivering groceries and all sorts of other supplies and equipment to the north’s many isolated communities and mine sites.)

That afternoon Yellowknife had a temperature of -45C, so no one could complain about conditions. “FDO” sat outside being “cold soaked” (sitting outside with all aircraft power turned off). Apparently, this testing was about increasing the A220’s certified cold weather operations limit from -35C to -40C. On January 14 “FDO” — by then thoroughly cold soaked — made a 49-minute local flight. Ground testing continued until January 18, when it departed for base at Wichita via Calgary and Kansas City.

A220-300 “FDO” was manufactured in Montreal in March 2016 as Bombardier CSeries CS300. Designated “Flight Test Vehicle 8”, to January 20, 2020 it had logged 77 flights/207.46 flying hours. Last week Air Canada introduced the A220 to its fleet, so we’ll soon be enjoying this great new airliner on Air Canada’s North American services.

A380 Cold Weather Trials at “YFB” Iqaluit

Early in 2006 John Graham, the airport manager at Iqaluit, gave me a heads-up that an A380 was coming to town for cold weather trials. This sounded like a great opportunity, so I organized a trip north from Ottawa on a FirstAir 737 for February 3. The A380 was due on the 6th, so I had time to cover some other aviation. On the 4th, for example, I went over to Resolute Bay and back on a FirstAir 748. Next day I spent around town and the airport, then the 6th dawned as a fine, clear day. John gave me the A380’s ETA, so I had time to set up at the arrival end of the runway. Here’s one of the shots I took as the mighty A380 (call sign “AIB501”) was about to touch down. This was the first ever A380 landing in “The New World”. The aircraft was F-WWDD sn004 (the 4th A380, now in a museum in France). Some cold soaking was conducted with “WDD” parked off the main ramp — see photo of it with the Lynden Air Cargo L.100 Hercules. Does this look cold enough for you? “WDD” also made 1 or 2 test flights that week. In the other photos, “WDD” looms across the snow-covered ramp as a FirstAir BAe748 and ATR-42 await their next trips. Finally, a scene with “WDD” being de-iced for a test flight.

After another wonderful Arctic trip, I finally got back to Toronto on February 13. Thanks to Tony Jarvis for cluing me in to the A220 at Yellowknife, which led to this little bit of CANAV blog history. Cheers … Larry

 

Last Lockheed JetStar Retires

In December 2019 the last flying Lockheed L-1329 JetStar retired to the Marietta Aviation History and Technology Center near Atlanta. The story recently was told by Marc Cook on the web at “Aviation News” (google “Last JetStar Retires”). The JetStar would have a prominent history in Canada as the country’s first corporate jet, and the first civil jet operated by the federal government. At a peak in the mid-1980s there were eight Canadian JetStars: C-FDTF, C-FDTX, C-FETN (Transport Canada), C-FRBC (Royal Bank of Canada), C- GATU (Cathton Holdings), C-GAZU (Allarco Group) and C- GTCP (Trans Canada Pipelines)

First flown on September 4, 1957, the legendary JetStar was designed for a USAF requirement for a small jet transport. When the USAF abandoned these specs, Lockheed pushed ahead to develop what became the first large jet for the corporate market. Lockheed was out on a limb with this exotic and expensive pioneer project, but pushed on to manufacture some 204 aircraft.

Flight and chase crew for the Jetstar’s first flight (s/n 1001 N329J). Note that the prototype had two engines vs four for production aircraft: Robert Schumacher co-pilot, Ernest L. Joiner flight test engineer, Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson head of design team, Jim Wood USAF test pilot, Ray Jewett Goudey pilot, Tony LeVier, Lockheed chase plane pilot. (Lockheed Martin archives)

The JetStar prototype flew first with a pair of British-made Orpheus engines, but Lockheed quickly shifted to using four smaller Pratt & Whitney JT12s, the design of which Canadian Pratt & Whitney had the lead role (see Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story). All the details of the Jetstar are available at Wiki and innumerable other internet sources, and in many valuable books, including Walter J. Boyne’s seminal Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story. Boyne concludes that Howard Hughes likely was the only one to make a profit from the project. Hughes had bought several production line slots when the plane was low-priced. Then, one by one he re-sold his JetStars at higher prices.

Canada’s first privately-owned JetStar was purchased by Toronto’s Eaton family of department store fame. Registered CF-ETN, it replaced the family’s renowned “Super DC-3” CF-ETE (search here to see the CF-ETE story in an earlier blog item). Seeing “ETN” at Malton airport in such early times was exciting for we local spotters. This was at a time when the speediest prop-driven corporate planes at Malton were J.F. Crother’s Gulfstream CF-JFC, Massey Ferguson’s Howard Super Ventura CF-MFL and Canadian Comstock’s OnMark Marksman A-26, CF-CCR. I first listed “ETN” in my spotter’s notebook at Malton on May 13, 1962, only noting that its paint job was similar to that on “ETE”.

The late, great Toronto aviation photographer, Al Martin, captured this fine view of “ETN” soon after its delivery to Malton. You can see that Lockheed built a glorious-looking airplane. I later used this excellent photo on p.480 of Air Transport in Canada.

DOT JetStar CF-DTX in a shot I took at Ottawa Uplands in the 1960s. Then, two snapshots of it by Al Martin at Windsor, Ontario in 1967. This classy DOT colour scheme of the 1950s-60s was fleet-wide from Apache to Beech 18, DC-3 and JetStar. Today, “DTX” belongs to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. There’s an ezToys 1:200 diecast model of “DTX” in its later red-and-white colour scheme.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Department of Transport was modernizing. With the growing amount of jet traffic in and over Canada (707, DC-8, etc.) the DOT was planning for a new world of air traffic control. Its aged Beech 18s and DC-3s could not serve indefinitely, as ATC technology evolved. Faster aircraft were needed to perform airport equipment (ILS, radio, etc.) calibration. Heading DOT flight operations in Ottawa was the great John D. “Jack” Hunter. He knew about the JetStar, was dreaming about one, but there was no budget. This obliged Jack (so he told me in a long ago interview) to get creative. The DOT just then was building a large hangar in Ottawa to house its fleet, including a new Viscount VIP plane. As the story went, Jack used some aspect from his hangar budget to pay for a JetStar – in the official paperwork, the JetStar appeared as something like an extra hangar door. Whatever happened, one day not long afterwards in 1962 JetStar CF-DTX landed in Ottawa wearing its handsome DOT colours. “DTX” was JetStar s/n 5018, “ETN” was s/n 5021, but I don’t know which was delivered first.

The DOT’s Jack Hunter accepts “the keys” to his shiny new JetStar CF-DTX at the Lockheed factory near Atlanta. If anyone can help with names for the other DOT men in this photo, please get in touch at larry@canavbooks.com. Then, a PR photo showing Canada’s Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, with US President, Lyndon B. Johnson, aboard “DTX” on a VIP trip (see caption at bottom). VIP duties seem to have been the raison d’être for “DTX”, although airways inspection and instrumentation calibration missions also were flown. (CANAV Books Collection)

 

Over the decades I photographed several JetStars. These below give you a sampling. Fishing around on the web, I have found little individual history for these aircraft.

After CF-ETN and CF-DTX, the next JetStar I photographed was N1 (s/n 1) of the Federal Aviation Administration. On this occasion, I was on a driving tour with fellow hobbyist, Nick Wolochatiuk. On July 3, 1966 we found N1 in the FAA hangar at Washington National Airport. Another classy paint scheme from a bygone era, right. “N1” appeared on a long series of FAA aircraft starting on a D.H.4 c1927; but it flew the longest on this JetStar (1963-86). N1 had been Lockheed’s No.1 production JetStar, the first with JT12s. With the FAA it mainly was in the transportation role. As late as 1978 it still was busy, logging 457 flying hours that year. In its March 1979 edition, “Flying Magazine” describes the FAA fleet in Washington, “Of the eight aircraft that currently call Hangar Six home, an ancient JetStar presides as queen bee over an orange and white hive housing a Gulfstream 1, Citation II, King Air 200, two Cessna 421s, Baron B55 and a Bell 206L helicopter.” Having by then been re-registered N7145V, JetStar No.1 left the FAA in 1990. Apparently, c.2006 it was purchased by White Industries Inc., a Bates City, Missouri company parting out and scrapping old airplanes.

Corporate JetStar N12R (s/n 5053) at Toronto Island Airport on June 4, 1966. The runway length at TIA in 1966 was 4000 feet, maybe a bit tight for a hefty JetStar. Eventually, due to noise restrictions, most jets were banished from the island. Today, the rule seems to be that only air ambulance jets can operate here.

One of the highlights for us during a trip to Buffalo, NY on May 20, 1967 was this gorgeous JetStar — N500Z s/n 5008. I found one historic reference to it in FAA document “FAA Aviation News” of May 1966: “The beginning of the switch to turbine aircraft for corporate business is generally logged as September 27, 1961, when Superior Oil of Houston put its brand on Lockheed Jetstar N500Z, which is still flying for the company.”

Amway Corporation JetStar N523AC (s/n 5013) on the Field Aviation ramp at Toronto YYZ on April 8, 1971. Built in 1961, N523AC is said to have ended as scrap at White Industries.

On the same ramp on March 24, 1972 I came across CF-DTF of Transport Canada (formerly known as the Department of Transport). On September 16 I spotted “DTF” at Halifax, by which time it belonged to the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum. How great that a few JetStars have found museum homes!

Great War Flying Museum

Special Notice I Happy 2020 to all you fine, solid friends of CANAV Books. Many of you  have been behind my efforts going as far back as 1979. Gives new meaning to that old saying, “Keep on truckin'”. Thanks for all your genuine support, especially with a book order here and there! There’s so much on the web for New Year’s Day 2020, but one item caught my eye this morning. Well worth a look, something from Chris Hadfield. Just google this and you’ll be there: “I made a video to celebrate the new year of amazing things happening on Earth – An Astronaut’s Guide to Optimism 2020. I hope you like it!” Special Notice II … Attention avid collectors. Below are a few special collector items (and other things) on offer for New Year 2020 — from a rare Great Lakes freighter’s log book to a wide-ranging “airliner” collection. Prices include shipping (“all-in”). Prices are firm. If you see anything that you like, contact me at larry@canavbooks.com Special Notice III … Feel free to scroll back on the blog. It’s packed with solid Canadian aviation history. Sometimes I do updates, as recently to this item — “Ancient CAE 737-200 Flight Simulator”. This “sim” is a real record-breaker, having been in use since “flight tested” at CAE 45 years ago. It’s still on the go at YVR! You’ll enjoy all such windows into our fantastic Canadian aviation heritage, just take a few minutes to browse. Cheers … Larry

SPECIAL ITEMS For Sale

Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story Hug Halliday’s seminal book covering this important part of the WWII air war in the UK and Europe. Canadians fight and die flying the renowned Typhoon and Tempest on the most dangerous of operations. Writes the Calgary Herald: “A splendid book … pure history but … thoroughly readable… the book’s backbone is made up of those who climbed into the cockpits to dodge flak and telephone wires while taking out trains and tanks.” Very nice copy. 300 photos, app’x, maps, lists of aircraft, sqns, casualties, index. 208 pp, hc. Collector item. This copy autographed by 11 RCAF (+ 1 RAF) Typhoon pilots (all appear in the book) at a special get together on May 2, 2004: Bill Baggs 164 Sqn, Norm Dawber DFC 438 Sqn, Jock Duncan 440 Sqn, Norm Howe DFC 175 Sqn, Frank Johnson 174 Sqn, Graham Kennedy 137 Sqn, George Lane (RAF) 198 Sqn, Walter McCarthy 440 Sqn, John McCullough 439 Sqn, Ed McKay 438 Sqn, John Thompson 245Sqn, Wally Ward 440 Sqn (John Thompson is the only survivor in 2020). Very nice copy. $350.00 A

Air-Britain News The first 4 volumes complete from Vol.1 No.1 January 1972 to Vol.4 No.12 December 1975. A very nice set. These were the early days of the 12-page 7×10 inch plain pamphlet format. Strictly for the collector. Set only $85.00 all in

Great Lakes History … Log book for the famous “laker”, SS Victorious Upper Lakes Shipping Co. This laker’s log from Trip 1 1966 to her final sailing – Trip 18 1968. Vessel then was sold and used to help form a breakwater at Ontario Place, Toronto. All entries made in hand, showing departure and destination ports, cargo in detail by hold (Durham No.5 wheat, bushels per hold, coal (by type), salt) tons per hold, draft fore & aft, loading & discharging times, etc. Each page signed off by such officers as D. Fenton, H. Freeman, C. Hiscock, R. Smith. 198 pages, hardback logbook, first 74 pages are used for entries. Also includes various receipts for movements and transactions with such companies as American Grain Terminals Inc, Canada Department of Agriculture, Toledo Board of Trade. Great Lakes collector item only. Nice condition. CDN$150.00 all-in

Five Years of NATO: A Report on the Atlantic Alliance As it says. A very nice original 48-page history of NATO to date. Magazine format. Many fascinating topics from an overall 1954 summary to “Guarding the Seas’, “Strategic Air Power”, “Canada’s Contribution”, “Belgium’s FN Rifle”, reviews from the various members (e.g., “Norway: The Northern Flank”, and a very interesting (now outdated) overview of Turkey that suggests a future with such nations as Iran and Iraq also becoming NATO allies. Photos, chart, nice copy for any serious collector. $50.00

RCAF Meteor Mk.III EE361 Daily Reports The original hand-written, work-a-day, hardcover RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment log book for this famous RCAF jet fighter from November 20, 1946 to the last entry February 28, 1927: “A/C flown steadily since 16th of Feb. OAT -20C, no hydraulic troubles. Fuel consumptions tests, engines OK. Fuel very dirty from barrel and ice deposits. Streamline filter renewed in bowser …” Last page of the book lists “Ground Running Time” port & starboard engines Nov.5 1947 to January 10, 1948. This is an original RCAF “T35 Note Book for Workshop and Laboratory Records”. This item only for the serious collector deeply interested in the RCAF’s initial “hands on” experience with the jet fighter. Nice item just as it was on its final day of use in 1947. About the first ½ of the book has entries, the rest is blank. You have seen this diary referred to in CANAV’s books Sixty Years and in Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace, Vol.3. EE361 was on RCAF strength March 14, 1946 to March 5, 1948. CDN$250.00

Airy Somethings: The Extraordinary Life of the Aviation Pioneer Horatio Barber New book … Terry Grace and Maggie Wilson have thoroughly researched the life of this eccentric Englishman and his many interests. In his global travels in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Barber spent time in the Australia, USA and Canada too often getting into trouble with women and business ventures. In California he swindled investors in a ranching scheme; in  Canada, his chief focus was hustling shares in northern mines. Back in the UK he spent years promoting pioneer aviation ventures, earned Royal Aero Club licence No.30, promoted airplane designs and sales, sold aviation insurance, and served in the RFC in WWI, supposedly even being in America for a time promoting what became the hugely successful RFC training plan. The book concludes with all Barber’s shady schemes in the 1920s-50s to his death in 1964. A fascinating, through, most interesting and important biography. 236 pages, large format, softcover, photos, diagrams  throughout, bibliography, index. $55 Canada, $65.00 USA/overseas

Aerophilatelic Collection 12 cerlox-bound histories of postal crash covers. The amazing stories of pieces of Canadian airmail recovered from airplane crashes in Canada and around the world 1920s-60s. Each folder about 20 pages, all in fine condition, well illustrated. All research by renowned aero-philatelist, R.K. Malott. Collection only CDN$100.00

The Norman Flayderman Collection of Vintage Aviation Memorabilia, Tuesday, November 14, 2000 in San Francisco A magnificent catalogue from this huge auction. Beautifully produced 280pp, lf, sc, colour catalogue listing and showing 100s of items for sale up to a complete JN-4 Jenny. Nice collector item. For more info, google “Auction of Legendary Dealer Norm Flayderman Brings $1.1M” $65.00

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The Great War Flying Museum: If You Haven’t Yet Visited … Make the Time!

Located at Brampton Airport northwest a bit from Toronto, the Great War Flying Museum is one of Canada’s extra special aviation history destinations. The GWFM website https://greatwarflyingmuseum.org  (be sure to take a close look) nicely describes the museum in a few words: “Our mission is to provide the finest local presentation of World War I aviation history by acquiring, building, maintaining and flying representations of period aircraft as well as displaying period artifacts for the education, entertainment and benefit of our members and the visiting public.” At all this the GWFM succeeds eminently, as you’ll see in the following photos by grandsons Owen, Foster and Shannon Milberry and taken at various GWFM’s events in recent years.

The Setting

The Great War Flying Museum is at Brampton Airport, a short drive up Hwy 10 (Hurontario St.) from Mississauga/Brampton. The first aerial view here shows the museum hangar near the end of Runway 08. Just passed it is the Brampton Flying Club complex with wide ramp area and rows of hangars. You can tell it’s an open house weekend by all the cars in the foreground. Then, a photo of the GWFM hangar with the museum building on its left and several WWI replica aircraft ready for the day’s flying. The flying club parking lot is mainly reserved for the vintage vehicle turnout. Third, the main building seen from the 892 (Snowy Owl) Air Cadet Squadron lot.

Many start their day at a GWFM open house by enjoying breakfast at the Brampton Flying Club. Here Foster and Owen get a start on their “Lancaster Bomber” platters. Then … they’re ready to roll.

The Collection

On a sunny day such as this, the fans flock to the GWFM to get a close look at its wonderful collection. Here, people mill around the museum’s replica Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter. This type was one of the first 2-seater multi-purpose combat planes — in a way the CF- 18 of its day. Many Canadians crewed on the 1½ Strutter, especially doing bombing raids on enemy installations in eastern France, even into Germany. The 1½ Strutter also could dogfight if attacked by enemy scouts. The archival scene shows a line of Royal Naval Air Service 1½ Strutters in France c1916. More than 5000 of these versatile planes were built during WWI. Visitors can buy a ride in the GWFM 1½ Strutter. What a great way to get the feeling first hand of WWI aviating!

The GWFM 1½ Strutter sets off on a passenger flight. The “gunner” in the rear cockpit already appears to be into the right spirit.

The 1½ Strutter taxis by. Then, ersatz gunner, Larry Milberry, ready for a flight. His books The Pioneer Decades, and, Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 cover this era in Canadian aviation history, the 1½ Strutter included. These are the best books on the shelves today covering Canada’s role in the air war a century ago. Notice the (replica) Vickers and Lewis (rear) machine guns. These famous weapons made such British 2-seaters into formidable fighting machines.

Always a real show-stopper at the museum is its replica of the Fokker Dr.1 Triplane, the dreaded fighter flown over the Western Front by “The Red Baron” – Manfred von Richthofen, the greatest ace of WWI. Here’s the Triplane in flight near Brampton. Then, German ace, Rudolf Stark, with his personal Triplane somewhere on the Western Front.

More views of the Triplane. Everything about this historic little beauty of a WWI scout is fascinating. But why was the Dr.1 so short-lived? Armed with just one machine gun, it quickly was outmoded when the British introduced their 2-gun Camel and SE.5.

The GWFM also operates a replica of the Fokker D.VII. The D.VII was another superb WWI single-seat scout. The museum’s example had been dormant for years pending a rebuilt, but came back onto the flight line for the 2018 season. Built to scale, it’s powered by a 200-hp Ranger engine. In the next photos it’s seen firing up for a flying display, taxiing out, then doing a fly-by.

A typical D.VII in wartime service. Then, D.VII 7685. In 1918-19 many Canadians got to fly captured D.VIIs, several of which came to Canada as war prizes. Standing beside 7685 is the revered WWI Canadian ace, C.M. McEwen, who is being inducted in 2020 into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. The sole surviving Canadian D.VII may be seen in the Brome County Museum in Knowlton, Quebec.

A GWFM D.VII detail.

The GWFM also operates the famous Royal Flying Corps SE.5 scout. Along with the Sopwith Camel, the SE.5 turned the tide against the Germans in the skies over France and Belgium in 1917-18. Many Canadians flew the SE.5. Several became aces. The museum flies both full scale and scaled down versions of the SE.5.

This is an actual SE.5A with the instrumentation, gun sight and Vickers gun well shown.

Canadian SE.5A pilots Harold Molyneux and Ken Juror of 56 Squadron. Ken was killed in action. Harold survived to serve in the RCAF during WWII. Their stories are told in Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939.

A typical operational SE.5A, this one of 85 Squadron on which many Canadian flew in WWI. Then, SE.5A F9029 of Canadian Air Force No.1 Squadron in the UK in 1919. Captain W.R. Kenny, DFC, is in the cockpit. Veteran CAHS member and dogged recorder of each and every civil-registered Canadian civil aircraft, Terry Judge, adds about this nice set-up shot: “The photo of SE5A (my favourite WWI aircraft) F9029 was taken at the historic Shoreham-by-Sea airport. On the horizon, above the serial, is the Lancing College Chapel. I grew up in nearby Hove so knew this airport well.”

The reality of the first great air war — how hundreds of SE.5s ended on the Western Front in 1917-18. This one is being gloated over by some Germans from local units. Pilot Harry Spearpoint ended as a POW – one of the lucky ones, right.

The museum’s Nieuport 28 ready for its next flight at Brampton. This type of scout was especially famous with the Lafayette Escadrille – a French air force unit manned by America pilots (some of whom had  trained to fly in Canada in 1917-18). Many Canadians also flew Nieuports in combat, the most famous being W.A. “Billy” Bishop, VC, shown here demonstrating the Lewis gun.

Visiting Airplanes

Many local and visiting planes keep the crowd extra interested during any GWFM and Brampton Flying Club event. There’s usually at least one Harvard around. Here’s C-FRWN (ex-RCAF 3830 during WWII) as an SE.5 cruises by in the distance. Then, Auster C-FLWA, which formerly was Canadian Army 16671. “LWA” first appeared on the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register in 1960 and has been around southern Ontario ever since. I photographed it in black-and-white at the Oshawa fly-in of June 16, 1963. It was the same colour. To this day the colour scheme hasn’t changed much. It’s always great fun keeping an eye on such an airplane over the decades.

Homebuilts are always part of the scene at a GWFM fly-in. Here are Pitts S-1T C-GMMG and Rutan Varieze C-GNEZ in front of the flying club.

Cabin Waco C-FYOC visits the museum. Built in 1935, it was only in Canada 2013-17 before returning to the US. Such visitors add extra class to the whole setting.

Murray Kot’s beautifully restored Cessna L-19 in Canadian Army markings of the early 1960s period.

Ercoupe CF-IQA lands on Runway 08. Built in 1946 as N2227H, this little postwar beauty came to Canada in 1973 and has been around the Toronto area ever since.

Four Seasons Aviation’s big Sikorsky S-58T on display. A locally-based Tiger Moth is climbing out.

VAN’S RV-7A C-FVOS taxis for Runway 08 as Brampton Flying Club Cessna 172 C-GBNG lands.

Foster ready to do a photo mission in BFC Cessna 172 C-GBRF.

The Car Show

Besides all the great plane spotting around the GWFM, there’s plenty else to do. The annual vintage car turnout is fantastic. This Rolls-Royce 1924 Silver Ghost is treasured by owners Roger and Eleanor Hadfield of nearby Milton.

Some of the MGs arrive. Not to be outdone are the Morgan’s. Then another classic Brit gem – an early Jaguar XKE.

Two ’56 beauties – a Chevy and a Dodge.

“The Museum”

Apart from the hangar, the GWFM museum building is full of wonderful displays. As well, on special days re-enactors run a typical WWI medical field station.

What Else Goes On?

Music of different kinds adds to the ambience of a GWFM event.

Re-enactors are on hand to explain various WWI topics. Otherwise, there’s lots going on in the hangar.

Some of the Great War Flying Museum old timers. They always show up – thank goodness. Then, Foster and Shannon with Al Snowie, one of the chief movers behind the 2017 “Vimy Flight”. This important Canadian organization took several WWI replica fighters to France that year, then flew them over the Vimy monument on the 100th Anniversary of that seminal battle. Finally, at day’s end some of the GWFM staff “debrief” back in the shop.

There’s a Book about All This!

The story of Canada’s pioneers of aerial combat is best read these days in Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. Below is one of our typical book reviews, this one from “Britain at War”. This is a book for any fan of Canada’s great role in aerial combat in WWI. To order a copy go to www.canavbooks.wordpress.com . Or, make a PayPal transfer of $67.20 (all-in) to larry@canavbooks.com , or mail your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6. All the best as usual. Be sure to keep tabs with the Great War Flying Museum website and see you there next season. Cheers … Larry Milberry

The Reader Speaks Out

Other than such great book reviews, I’m always keen to hear from my readers — the real lovers and cognoscenti when it comes to such books. Any publisher needs first and foremost to pay heed to these important supporters. Just lately I heard from a typical such reader, who writes about “Fighter Pilots and Observers”: Your new book has been open full time at the kitchen table where I get reading sessions at breakfast and lunch. Wonderful photos we see so rarely of this period and fascinating reading. Being more a student of WW II era aviation, I have limited knowledge of Canada’s participation in the aerial warfare of WWI, other than the classics, like Bishop. So it is somewhat of a revelation to read about Canada’s contributions to the air war and the efforts expended — and so much tragic loss of life. Incredible to think of the wild escapades so many young guys had flying those rickety early flying contraptions. Life expectancy was in very delicate balance and it seems just the luck of the draw for any that came out alive. If a fellow wasn’t being picked off by the enemy, his wings could be just as likely fall off! In part, I replied: Great that there are a few readers left who still appreciate the book and its ancient magic of enlightening, while entertaining. But, it’s all still trending away from lovely books to the stultifying, 90-second “quickie” info bit. So sad watching those  stoned smartphone people gawking down obliviously all the time. Mesmerized by what? What pleasure is there in that, and where’s the long-term pay-off in actual knowledge and joy? It’s all mildly depressing, eh.

Canadian Car and Foundry and the Curtiss SBW Helldiver + Remembrance Day 2011 + Canada and USA Aviation Halls of Fame 2020 Inductees, Norm Avery Update

*For copies of the famous CANAV aviation booklists, drop me an email at larry@canavbooks.com*

The impressive Curtiss SB2C/SBW Helldiver final line at Fort William in 1944. Such glorious factory scenes give the impression of stretching to the horizon. The official CCF caption for this photo reads, “Every day three planes come off the line. Those in foreground are checked and inspected. In centre of group at left: W.C. Will, Works Manager, with G.H. Kells, Shop Superintendent, on his right.” Then, a closer view of one of the planes. If there were any identifying serial numbers showing on a Helldiver at this stage, as a rule the dark room gurus in CCF’s photography department would dodge them out for security reasons. Notice the plane’s massive Wright R-2600 engine. More than 800 Helldivers would roll off this line in 1943-45. Other Helldivers were built by Fairchild of Canada at Longueuil, near Montreal.

Background to the Canadian Car and Foundry Story

The twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur (today’s Thunder Bay) at the head of Lake Superior have a long, proud history as progressive industrial centres. Since the 19th Century, they have manufactured such products as Great Lakes freighters, railway rolling stock, busses and airplanes. They also were vital in Canadian agriculture, with the railroads annually carrying millions of bushels of prairie grain east to the “Lakehead” cities. There it was stored in the elevators lining the waterfront, then shipped down the Great Lakes for Canadian, US and international markets. The Lakehead also had a thriving forest industry, with huge mills turning out paper products and lumber; and supported much of the mining in the vast surrounding hinterland.

You should look into the basic history, geography, etc. of the Lakehead in the published literature (books are your chief source of knowledge if you are as on the ball as I hope you are), then such other sources as Wiki. What about the region’s particular aviation heritage? Your No.1 source is the marvelous Jim Lysun book, Aviation in Thunder Bay, published by the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society info@thunderbaymuseum.com This book is much more than a general treatment, but digs below the surface from pre-WWI to modern times. This is a book for any serious follower of Canada’s great aviation heritage. So … track down a copy. Other sources? Keep an eye out for Gordon Burkowski’s 1990 book, CanCar History. It’s out of print, but a copy occasionally pops up for sale on the web. Also, in CANAV’s 2018 book, Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939, I cover how Canadian Car and Foundry, having begun at Fort William in 1912, established an aviation division there in 1936 to assemble the obsolete Grumman G- 23 biplane fighter for foreign sale. The first fighter built in Canada, the G-23 flew initially at Fort William’s Bishopsfield aerodrome in February 1938. CCF also considered building a large passenger plane based on Burnelli’s flying wing concept, but this did not go beyond a mock-up (a smaller version was built in 1945, but that went nowhere, see Air Transport in Canada). CCF did, however, build prototypes of the advanced Gregor biplane fighter, and a biplane trainer known as the Maple Leaf. But, by the eve of WWII only the G-23 had succeeded. According to K.M. Molson in Canadian Aircraft since 1909 (another seminal CCF sourcebook), CCF turned out 52 G-23s, most of which were exported to Spain for use by communist forces against Franco’s fascists. This illegal transaction caused a political scandal for Ottawa. Later, the RCAF was obliged to accept 15 G-23s that had been embargoed before they could get to Spain. Happily, better days lay ahead for CCF and the RCAF.

Other essential books to support this story are Ken Molson’s and H.A. Taylor’s invaluable Canadian Aircraft since 1909, and Robert Stern’s and Don Greer’s spectacular SB2C Helldiver in Action/Aircraft No.54. Yet another title is Jonathan Kirton’s Canadian Car & Foundry Aircraft Production at Fort William on the Eve of World War II. If you’re persistent, you’ll find copies of these for sale on the web.

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver had been ordered by the US Navy to replace its earlier Douglas SDB Dauntless dive bomber. However, even at the design stage the SB2C had people worrying. The prototype flew at Buffalo, NY in December 1940, just as the SB2C factory was being built in Columbus, Ohio. Accidents and crashes plagued SB2C progress, so the first production plane wasn’t delivered until June 1942. By then, orders were on the books for 4000 planes. Development staggered along, the worst issue being how empty weight had skyrocketed from 7100 lb to 10,000 lb. The SB2C finally went to sea for trials aboard USS Yorkton, but these were disappointing. The ship’s captain reputedly suggested that the SB2C would make a better anchor than a dive bomber. Nonetheless, on entering combat early in 1943, the SB2C – with the help of innumerable modification — met the mark and within a year had replaced most SDBs in the south Pacific carrier fleet.

The daily press in every Canadian town and city reported in amazing detail about what was going on in the war from everything local to the cross-Canada and global scenes. In spite of strict press restrictions, it’s amazing how much detail was officially released or leaked. It takes diligent research to ferret out all of this so many decades later. The press often mentioned Canadian Car and Foundry and its Helldiver program. On February 4, 1944 this was page 19 in the “Toronto Daily Star” Toronto Daily Star Feb. 4 1944. Check out the fascinating report about the Helldiver in production and in action, then the two photos taken at Fort William. The Helldiver shown was for the Royal Navy, but the RN did not like the plane at all, so sent back its consignment to the USN. Regardless, the Helldiver proved its worth in the face of everything the Japanese could throw against it, sinking more enemy ships in the US South Pacific theatre than any other aircraft type. To get the most out of this news report, you need to put yourself back to 1944. There was a war on and we were facing two devilish world dictatorships in Germany and Japan that already had slaughtered millions of innocent civilians. So get into that frame of mind. Also, accept the fact that censorship and propaganda were in force. The “Shorty” Matten mentioned actually is “Shorty” Hatton, one of Canada’s renowned pilots of the 1930s-40s. His 2004 biography is Shorty, An Aviation Pioneer, by author James Glassco Henderson.

Another spectacular photo from my CCF collection. This RCAF Hurricane was converted at Fort William for ski trials. Once the concept was evaluated, it was set aside as impractical. More than 1400 Hurricanes were manufactured at CCF from 1940 to 1943. This set up CCF for the much more sophisticated SBD Helldiver project.

CCF and the Helldiver

Happily, CCF was able to leave its shady G-23 venture behind to undertake wartime contracts to build the Hawker Hurricane for British, Canadian and Soviet forces, then the SB2C (designated “SBW” for CCF purposes) for the US Navy. Certainly, CCF’s experience with 1930s biplanes did help prepare the company for its future wartime challenges, especially in how such projects trained the local labor force in ever more modern skills. According to Canadian Aircraft since 1909, CCF received its first order for Hurricanes in November 1938. The prototype flew at Fort William in January 1940, then production proceeded until the last of 1451 was delivered in June 1943. By then “in the big leagues” of aircraft production, CCF re-tooled to manufacture the Helldiver. Simultaneously, Fairchild of Canada at Longueuil, Quebec won some Helldiver contracts. CCF SB2Cs were designated SBW-1, SBW-3 and SBW-4, while Fairchild’s were SBF-1 and SBF-3. With Orville J. Wieben (CCF chief pilot) at the controls, the first Canadian SBW (US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics serial number 21192) flew at Fort William on July 29, 1943, just weeks after CCF’s final Hurricane was delivered. Soon the line was in full swing, but both CCF and Fairchild had to keep up with a flood of modifications demanded by the US Navy. With top management and skilled, dedicated labor, they got the job done.

Summary

The bugs gradually were beaten out of the Helldiver, especially when its 1500-hp Wright R-2600 engine was replaced with a 1900-hp version. In the end, the series proved itself in US Navy service. To the last day of the war, Helldivers hounded Japanese targets at sea and on land, even though hundreds were lost to flak, enemy fighters and accidents. The Commemorative Air Force web site observes, “While often maligned by some critics, the SB2Cs were responsible for more ship tonnage sunk during WWII than any other aircraft.” Historian Joe Baugher records the essential details for hundreds of individual SB2Cs. In one case, he mentions how on July 18, 1944 a US Navy PBY-5 of VP-100 Squadron sank at sea off Oahu (Hawaii) after landing hard while trying to pick up the crew of a ditched CCF-built SBW. The survivors of both planes were rescued by the destroyer USS Crouter. The final CCF-built SBW was delivered at Fort William on September 5, 1945, a few weeks after the war ended. Nearly all SB2Cs quickly were struck off US Navy charge. Many were shoved off carrier decks into the deep to save on paperwork (a common end-of- war practice). In 1946 several Canadian-made SBW-3s were among the planes sacrificed aboard the USS Saratoga and USS Independence, when those once-proud carriers were destroyed in atomic bomb test explosions in the south Pacific. Meanwhile, a few Helldivers were gifted to Allies, but it’s not known if any were Canadian-made. In French service, these fought doggedly in 1954 during the last days before Dien Bien Fou fell to Ho Chi Minh’s forces. The last operational Helldivers were those flown by Italy in the anti- submarine role. These were replaced by Trackers in 1959. Few SB2Cs survived their brief post-war days. One belongs to the Hellenic Air Force Museum in Greece, another is with the Royal Thai Air Force Museum. Check out the ever-fascinating SB2C Wiki entry, which lists other survivors, restoration projects and wrecks. Owned by the Commemorative Air Force of Texas, the sole airworthy Helldiver visited Thunder Bay in 1998. Many CCF old timers turned out for the celebration.

The world’s only airworthy SB2C is N92879. I photographed it at Washington-Dulles on May 27, 1972. Following a subsequent crash, it again was restored and continues to fly. Befittingly, N92879 visited Thunder Bay in 1992. Really keen fans can take a short flight in this historic warbird for US$995. Read all about N92879 at http://sb2chelldiver.com/

SB2C/SBW and SBF Production 1940 – 1945

SB2C-1: Curtiss 200, CCF 38

SB2C-1A: Curtiss 900 for US Army Air Force as A-25A Shrike

SB2C-1C: Curtiss 778, CCF (as SBW-1B) 28, Fairchild of Canada (as SBF-1) 50.
26 of the 28 CCF planes went to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, but were rejected.

SB2C-3: Curtiss 1112, CCF (SBW-3) 413, Fairchild of Canada (SBF-3) 150

SB2C-4: Curtiss 2045, CCF (SBW-4E) 270, Fairchild of Canada (SBF-4E) 100

SB2C-5: Curtiss 970, CCF (SBW-5) 85 (a further 165 cancelled at war’s end)

Canadian Helldiver production according to K.M. Molson: CCF 835 + Fairchild
300. Total 1135.

US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics SBW Series Serial Numbers*

SBW-1: 21192 to 21231

SBW-1B: 60010 to 60035 for Royal Navy

SBW-3: 21233 to 21645

SBW-4E: 21646 to 21741, also, 60036 to 60209

SBW-5: 60210 to 60459 Only 60210 was built, all others cancelled at war’s end (these do not quite tally with the usually stated figure of 835 CCF Helldivers). *These details as per Joe Baugher’s internet list, “US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos”. It’s well worth your time to have a look.

Typical SBW-1 Helldiver Losses*

21199 (VB-2) shot down by A6M5 Zeke Jun 20, 1944 in Battle of the Phillipine
Sea (Great Marianas Turkey Shoot)

21203 (VB-8) attached to USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) shot down by AAA Sep 9,
1944, Mindnao, Philippine

21206 assigned to CASU-35, destroyed on ground by crashing PB4Y-1 38766
Aug 9, 1944, Eniwetok

21210 (VB-8) attached to USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) lost from unknown cause,
Palau Island Sep 16, 1944

21211 (VB-2) attached to USS Hornet (CV-12) ditched when ran out of fuel Jun
20, 1944, Battle of the Philippine Sea

21216 (VB-8) attached to USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) lost to unknown cause Sep
23, 1994, Okinawa

Typical SBW-3 Helldiver Losses

21236 (VB-100) in training accident Oct 20, 1944, Hawaii.

21238 assigned to COMAIRPAC lost to unknown cause, Pearl Harbor May 31,
1945.

21263 assigned to CASU(F)-12 lost to unknown cause May 17, 1945, Guam

21267 (VB-18) assigned to USS Intrepid (CV-11) lost to unknown cause Oct 24,
1944, Negros Island Visayas, Philippines

21279 (VB-17) assigned to USS Hornet (CV-12) lost to unknown cause Mar 28,
1945 near Kyushu, Japan

21283 (VB-14) attached to USS Wasp (CV-18) lost off Luzon in Philippines Oct
19, 1944

21287 (VB-18) attached to USS Intrepid (CV-11) lost to unknown cause Nov 25,
1944, Luzon, Philippines

21292 (VB-18) destroyed on deck of carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) by kamikaze
attack Nov 25, 1944 near Luzon, Philippines

21296 (VB-14) attached to USS Wasp (CV-18) lost to unknown cause Oct 10,
1944, Okinawa

21304 (VB-100) attached to USS Saratoga (CV-3) lost in training accident Nov
17, 1944 near Pearl Harbor

21322 (VB-11) attached to USS Hornet (CV-12) lost in Philippines Nov 13, 1944

21350 lost to unknown cause Dec 7, 1944, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea

21351 (CASU(F)-14) lost to unknown cause Jun 21, 1945, Saipan

21353 (VB-4) destroyed on deck of USS Essex by kamikaze attack Nov 25,
1944.

21355 damaged on deck of USS Cape Esperance (CVE-88) by typhoon east of
Luzon Dec 18, 1944.

21374 (VB-80) attached to USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) lost at sea on launch off
Luzon in Philippines Dec 16, 1944

21377 (VB-7) attached to USS Hancock (CV-19) shot down by AAA over Hong
Kong, China Jan 16, 1945

21390 (VB-6) attached to USS Hancock (CV-19 shot down by AAA over Kyushu,
Japan Mar 18, 1945

21406 (VB-20) attached to USS Lexington (CV-16) lost to unknown cause Jan
16, 1945 near Hong Kong, China

21438 (VB-17) attached to USS Hornet (CV-12) lost to unknown cause Apr 7,
1945, Okinawa

21710 crashed Jun 19, 1945 in Goose Lake, CA. 2 killed.

60017 (JW107) force landed in sea after taking off from [Naval Air Station]
Squantum Jun 24, 1944, pilot rescued

60023 (JW113) crashed before delivery to RN. Used for spares

60028 (JW118) suffered engine fire while in circuit at Columbus at end of ferry
flight from Minneapolis Jan 25, 1944. Force landed in field and subsequently
used for spares.

60029 (JW119) RN records say sold as scrap Aug 25, 1944, but RAF
records say transferred to them and used at Empire Central Flying School until
SOC Nov 12, 1945

60030 (JW120) flew into ground, caught fire and burned out at Wellesley, MA
Jun 6, 1944, both crew killed

60031 (JW121) misjudged dive on target and flew into sea at Inskip bombing
range

in England Oct 6, 1944, both crew killed

60032 (JW122) ditched near Squantum following engine fire Jun 24, 1944
* as per Joe Baugher’s list

GENESIS OF A BLOG ITEM

What got me interested in doing this blog item was perusing a priceless old collection of historic 8 x 10 black-and-white albums that have been around my place for decades. Here and there over the years I’ve dug into these to illustrate one book or another. My history with this collection started with a phone call about 35 years ago from the great Ken Molson. Ken had a tip for me – George Olieux at George’s Trains on Mt. Pleasant Rd. here in Toronto had some original Canadian Car and Foundry photo albums for sale. Ken already had taken his choice of these, but suggested that I get up to see George ASAP and make a deal. That I did and picked up what was left for something like $200 for several hundred gorgeous, linen-backed 8 x 10 glossies. In my mind, I’ve often thanked Ken and George (who both are gone) for this great opportunity.

Here’s the collection of my CCF albums. Talk about a gold mine, eh. Two thick albums dwell exclusively on the Curtiss Helldiver. The collection is for sale (complete set only) at CDN$1800.

My CCF albums are rich in company history at Fort William from the Grumman G-23 to the Gregor fighter, Maple Leaf trainer, Hurricane and Curtiss SB2C.  They include many amazing airplane photos, of course, but where the collection really shines is in what it shows about the plant, the machinery, the processes and — ever so importantly — the people. Whichever decision makers assigned CCF’s photographers to create these incomparable albums back in 1936 to 1944 deserve medals. Of course, at the time most of these photos were “classified”, so would have been under lock and key, other than for a few released for the company newsletter or public relations purposes. How they eventually got out into circulation remains a mystery. Some would have been taken home by keen employees once the war ended. I heard that George found these CCF albums in a much larger collection that he somehow acquired. Here is a small selection for your enjoyment:

A CCF SBW fuselage is about to be mated with its wing centre section. The adjustable and movable stand on which such work was done was known at CCF as a “corvette”. The CCF caption for this photo reads, “Precision tooling and accurate checking gauges assure a perfect fit when the two main components are spliced.” While CCF’s earlier G-23 production run was little more than an assembly job using parts brought in from such US manufacturers as Grumman and Brewster, the SBW airframe was manufactured at Fort William. By that time (1943-45) CCF had become qualified to do such advanced work, having already produced more than 1400 Hurricanes.

Further down the line, the airframe has been fully assembled, Wright R-2600 engine included. The plane has been lifted off its corvette and is ready for the final touches before rolling off the line. This SBW-3 still has to be painted. Its number (390) could represent US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics number 21390 (a CCF Helldiver that finally was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Hancock, but was shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Kyushu, Japan on March 18, 1945). “390” also might represent CCF’s 390th SBW. So … numbers can be mysterious.

Workers doing Helldiver fine wiring tasks at CCF. This photo collection has many such scenes. Things may look a bit crazy, but there’s nothing chaotic here. The entire CCF Helldiver operation was progressing like a finely-tuned machine. However, just partly through the contract there was news that Canada’s war industries would be slowing. A “Globe and Mail” item of June 12, 1944 (“Cut Contract on Hell-Divers; May Trim Staff”) noted CCF employment at Fort William at 8000. By this time the Allies were succeeding in every theatre. They were so confident of final victory that in June 1944 the RCAF stopped recruiting for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This took place even though the Allies had only just landed in Normandy. It’s not surprising that the same paper was reporting about CCF on September 20, 1944: “There are some 5,500 workers. The Fort William plant has a contract which runs to the middle of next year and calls for more than 1,000 planes. Present output is in the neighbourhood of 56 a month.” In the end, Helldiver contracts at CCF and Fairchild of Canada were cut, CCF from 1000 to 835.

Workers at these benches are mainly finishing wing ribs. At every work station the job at hand had to be co-ordinated with each stage of production. Management and labour had to co-operate and they did. In exchange for their reliable services, workers at CCF took home very good pay.

Whether using small, hand-held tools or such massive ones as these drop hammers, workers had to be safety minded. On the whole, conditions were safe in the CCF plant for this stage of industrial development. Safety was pounded into everyone head day by day. Training was at a serious level (for the day), supervisors were forever watching for infractions, chemicals were handled as safely as possible, and doctors and nurses staffed clinics on site. Naïve people today may be horrified by such a photo and impose their 21st Century view of things upon it, but that is not history. Sad to say, but in today’s schools, much distorted history is taught by ill-educated, agenda-driven teachers. The CCF caption for this grand photo reads: “Drop Hammer Dept. has five hammers of various capacities and form sections up to 8 ft. long. The three in front are air-operated, the other two are electric revolving drum rope hammers. Air hammer at left is used for die-matching purposes only and was designed by our own staff and cast in Kirksite.”

Welders working on small parts. Then, another typical shop floor scene. No doubt the place was noisy and smelly, but people were happy to have such high-paying jobs, to be learning new skills and to be doing something to help the war effort. Notice the “Buy Victory Bonds” poster at the back. Each time one of these grand photos was taken, the photo team would ask everyone to “freeze” for a second or two.

Highly skilled staff work on Helldiver cockpit instrumentation.

Those in stores and warehousing kept supplies and parts moving to the various production lines as much on a “just in time” basis as do today’s modern factories. That as many as three Helldivers were pushed ready-to-fly off the final line every day shows us that. Notice the sign “Smoking Strictly Prohibited in this Building”.

Airframe structures and other components being manufactured. Every piece was being tracked, but by pencil and paper – on charts and graphs — vs today’s computerized everything. Final results? The same – beautiful airplanes – the most modern of the day rolling off the line. And we think we’re so smart. Surely, we must have invented everything, right.

Other shop floor scenes from Helldiver days. The CCF caption for the first of these reads, “Sand Blast chamber and rotating Blast Mill are shown in centre and at rear respectively, also Electric Furnace for normalizing and annealing or ‘Heat Treatment’ purposes.” For the next photo the caption reads: “Plaster Pattern has been removed and Molten Kirksite is poured into sand moulds. Box at the right has plaster pattern still embedded.” Finally, a photo of the open air acid baths used to clean parts before welding. Notice the basket of parts about to be lowered: “Clean contact surfaces are necessary before spot-welding. Oxide film is removed by immersion in etching solution. Etching also removes heat variations in contact surfaces and produces a better weld nugget. Some parts are cleaned by buffing.”

Another astounding factory scene as various parts are manufactured: “Fabricating exhaust manifold and tail wheel fairings, also carburetor air takes and ammunition boxes.”

The CCF receiving department never rested. Trainloads of raw material (steel, lumber, fluids, etc.) and finished items from nails and screws to engines arrived around the clock from suppliers and subcontractors throughout North America. Naturally, the trains ran like clockwork, the transportation system was impeccable. Periodically pulling in at receiving were boxcars full of Wright R-2600 engines from Wright either from Paterson, NJ, or Cincinnatti, Ohio. The mighty R-2600 also powered the Douglas A-20, Grumman Avenger and North American B-25. Wright delivered more than 50,000 R- 2600s. Once unpacked at CCF, the R-2600s were inspected, run on test stands, then installed in the Helldivers. CCF techs such as the fellow here normally wore ID badges. His was 7051. Sometimes these ancient factory IDs turn up these days on ebay. Everything’s collectible, right!

In dozens of other spaces around the plant all sorts of other tasks had to be done simultaneously. Here, for example, one of the busy office spaces where everything had to be done from ordering parts to expediting shipments, paying invoices, doing the payroll and keeping up with individual employee records. Notice the standard Underwood office typewriters – they did the same basic “data entry” work as any computer today – nothing mysterious about them. On the far wall are the typical calendars, notices and photos. Next, all the action underway in the ever-lively drafting room. The CCF caption notes: “Tool Design Dept, prepares drawings of all tools, jigs, assembly fixtures and special machinery used in the Plant. Also controls methods or procedures to be adopted in the fabrication of the plane.” The big poster in the distance includes a stark reminder to the staff: “Your Absence Makes the War Grow Longer … Work for Canada, Don’t Loaf for the Enemy”. Finally, fabric being cut and sewn for such essentials as engine and canopy covers.

All the finely-honed processes and parts manufacturing going on throughout the cavernous CCF Helldiver plant gradually came together as an airplane production line. Shown are fuselages at an early stage. Then, a fuselage section getting its initial coat of preservative paint. Next, Helldivers near the end of the line – not much further to go. Finally, a finished Helldiver being towed from the factory the short distance to Fort William airport for test flying.

At the airport, CCF pilots were swamped with work test flying Helldivers. Says the caption for this photos, “First flights of all planes are made by either of the Company’s three test pilots. Notes are kept on knee pad of each gauge and instrument reading taken during flight. Planes are not turned over for acceptance until performance is perfect.” Likely due to wartime restrictions, few people in such CCF photos are identified. However, I’ve found two names for this photo — Eddie Richards on the left, and chief pilot, Orville J. Wieben, centre.

“OJ” Wieben in the cockpit of an SBW-1 at Fort William. Notice the leading edge slats that were so useful during low- speed flight, especially when landing on the deck of one of a small US Navy aircraft carrier. This is an especially grubby-looking, patched-up Helldiver, so likely was CCF’s “company hack” used for such jobs as testing mods, giving pilots familiarization flights, doing air-to-air photography, etc. It might be 21192, the first CCF SBW-1, which “OJ” Wieben first flew in July 1943.

The US Navy stationed its own pilots at Fort William to monitor production and modifications, do test flights as needed, and manage all the complicated ferrying requirements. The RCAF also was involved, chiefly in aircraft acceptance and “paper pushing” roles. Here, S/L Frank Hems (1898-1985) is in his office with two of his staff. Hems previously had served in RCAF acceptance in Montreal for Stranraers, and Fort Erie for Fleet trainers. After the war, he was 12 years at Avro Canada until the company folded in 1959. He then worked in real estate. Check out the great calendar of the wall. Today, that would get a fellow thrown out on his RCAF head in 2 seconds. But these were more straight-forward times when people had actual lives, wars to win, etc. To balance things off and placate the killjoys there’s a picture on the other wall of a “manly” Helldiver, right.

USN pilots ready to ferry some new Helldivers to Columbus, a distance “as the crow flies” of nearly 700 miles. These young fellows had flown in to Fort William aboard a US Navy ferry service Cessna JRC-1 (a.k.a. T-50). Then, a stirring sight as three Helldivers rumble over the flightline to salute CCF before turning south for Columbus. Here’s a case where we can deduce some USN bureau numbers – 21548, etc., but Joe Baugher to date has no info for these particular Helldivers.

The flight test and acceptance/delivery hangars at Fort William. Then, a good overall view of the airport.

Fort William’s Helldiver story is chiefly about the citizens of Fort William, Port Arthur and surrounding area who hired on at CCF. Some brought useful skills to the job, but most turned up “not having a clue” about all the highly-skilled jobs essential in time of war. However, they trained in class sessions and on the job, quickly learned their roles, and did their part to get 835 Helldivers delivered. Inevitably, victory came and all the excitement of wartime Canada subsided. A “Toronto Daily Star” item of August 18, 1945 painted this blunt picture: “Canadian Car and Foundry Co. management here Friday announced that 3,000 employees of their Fort William plant were being laid off this week owing to the termination of aircraft contracts. The plant has been making Curtiss Hell Diver aircraft for the U.S. navy. W.O. Will, plant works manager, stated that between 1,500 and 2,000 employees will be continued on the payroll until Christmas on bus construction and taking of inventories.” After the war, many returned to CCF to staff the place when large orders came in for urban busses. But there also were aviation projects, including manufacturing Harvard trainers for the RCAF, and subcontracting for the Grumman Tracker being built by De Havilland in Toronto. In modern times CCF was acquired by Bombardier and to this day produces rapid transit trains.

Remembrance Day 2019

We’ve just celebrated the 101st Anniversary of the end of WWI, in which Canada played such a vital role. Canadians are privileged to be living in this great nation. Why have people been emigrating and planting their roots here since the early 1600s? Certainly not because they were leaving happier circumstances or better countries. So … who possibly would not show respect on Remembrance Day to all who have served and died for our freedoms to make Canada the finest and most tolerant nation on Earth.

Here are a few quick snapshots showing our snowy 2019 Remembrance Day ceremony in Toronto’s “Beaches” neighborhood. Things went off nicely, especially with the absence this year (at long last) of speechifying politicos. Keep politics out of Remembrance Day, OK? First, three pictures of the set-up and our crowd of solid citizens getting right into it in true Canadian style. Next, the march-off, then the neighbours at our Kew Park war memorial before they headed for a warmer spot. So it went at Remembrance Day events across Canada on this important day.

Keeping the History Alive — Canada and USA Aviation Halls of Fame 2020 Inductees

We need to keep in touch with what’s going on in aviation history in and beyond Canada. Here’s something possibly new for you. Have you ever heard of “The Living Legends of Aviation”? My old pal since back in the 1960s, Walter Eichhorn, is the only Canadian member of this honourable society. Do you know about the Canada and USA Aviation Halls of Fame? Both recently have announced their 2020 inductees. It’s interesting that the CAHF includes some aviation heroes who worked both in Canada and the United States, but I don’t see any such members in the US hall. The CAHF has honoured Alexander Graham Bell and Rogers Smith, who worked in both countries. With scientific, financial and moral support Bell, for example, made possible the first powered airplane flight in Canada in 1909. From Toronto and formerly in the RCAF, Smith became a NASA test pilot with many hours flying the SR-71 (see their profiles at cahf.ca). Here are our 2020 CAHF inductees:

Clifford MacKay McEwen, MC, DFC and Bar Born in Griswald, Manitoba in 1898, Clifford MacKay McEwen enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1916 before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. He flew the majority of his war in Italy, distinguishing himself as a scout pilot. McEwen then joined the fledgling Canadian Air Force in England and remained in uniform after war’s end, serving as part of the Air Board and the inter-war Royal Canadian Air Force. Holding the rank of group captain when war again broke out, McEwen was promoted to the rank of air commodore working to establish Canadian authority over aerial operations in the northwest Atlantic while conducting anti-submarine warfare. A disciplined leader, he was transferred to England and further promoted to air vice-marshal, taking command of No. 6 (RCAF) Group, part of Bomber Command. Facing low morale and lacklustre performance, McEwen instituted a rigorous training regimen that achieved results; by the end of 1944, 6 Group was considered a premier force, sustaining the fewest losses of the heavy bomber groups. In recognition of his outstanding leadership, McEwen was appointed to command of the RCAF’s contribution to Tiger Force in preparation for the Pacific theatre. McEwen supported veterans’ causes in his postwar career, working with both the Royal Canadian Legion and the Last Post Fund. He died in Montréal in 1967, having made a lasting mark on Canadian aviation. (We feature C.M. “Black Mike” McEwen in our 2018 book Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. In fact, McEwen is on the book’s cover.)

Joseph D. Randell President and Chief Executive Officer of Chorus Aviation Inc, Joseph Randell was born in Curling, Newfoundland in 1954. He has been devoted to Canadian aviation, and the regional airline market especially, for more than three decades. In 1984, Randell pursued an MBA that examined the airline industry – work that led to the founding of Air Nova two years later. Recognizing that Canada’s vast geography was ideally suited to regional carriers, his company, which had previously relied on a fleet of turboprop aircraft, pioneered the use of regional jets. Success with Air Nova led to its eventual purchase by Air Canada, after which he oversaw a series of regional carrier mergers. In 2002, having overcome significant regulatory challenges, Air Canada Jazz was launched. A successful re-organization stemming from Air Canada’s filing for bankruptcy protection soon followed and, in 2006, Jazz was brought public. Renegotiation of its relationship with Air Canada has continued apace, as has the airline’s profitability. Chorus Aviation, Randell’s next venture, which acquired the regional operation Voyageur Airways in 2015, has become a global player in aircraft leasing. A widely-respected leader in Canadian aviation, Joseph Randell is a strong supporter of his alma mater, Dalhousie University, and his professional and philanthropic support for the aviation and broader community more generally has earned him well-deserved awards of recognition.

Shirley Linda Render One of Canada’s foremost aviation historians and a leader in the stewardship of this country’s aviation heritage, Shirley Render, born 1943 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, earned her wings in 1973 and shortly after began volunteering at the Western Canada Aviation Museum. Soon, Render was sitting on the Museum’s board, writing for and editing its quarterly magazine, and curating its exhibits. After earning an MA in History, she undertook two influential books: No Place for a Lady, the first on Canada’s women pilots, and Double Cross, about James A. Richardson and his importance to Canadian aviation. Render held multiple positions of leadership at the museum and was critical to its growth. In 1990, she entered politics, being elected as the member of the Legislative Assembly for St. Vital. She served as legislative assistant to Premier Gary Filmon and as minister of consumer and corporate affairs. With the museum in difficulty, Render, no longer in government, was asked to return as executive director and curator in 2002. Her leadership, which has been recognized with her appointment as executive director emeritus, helped revitalize the museum, a process that culminated in its redesignation as the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. A recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, a YM-YW Women of Distinction Award, and a University of Winnipeg Distinguished Alumni Award, among many others, Shirley is a role model for young people across Canada.

Bjarni Valdimar Tryggvason Bjarni Tryggvason was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1945. Captivated by aviation at a young age in Richmond, British Columbia, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and earned his commercial pilot wings by age 20. He has been involved in Canadian aviation ever since. Tryggvason completed a degree in engineering physics and, despite his goal to become a commercial airline pilot, he accepted a position with the Atmospheric Environmental Service. His work as a researcher then took him to the University of Western Ontario at the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel, to Kyoto, Japan, and to North Queensland, Australia. Keen to add to his piloting skills, he earned his instructor rating. In 1982, Tryggvason joined the National Research Council’s Low Speed Aerodynamics Laboratory. A year later, he applied for and was accepted to Canada’s first astronaut corps. With the NRC and the Canadian Space Agency, he helped design and develop satellites and fluid dynamics projects, but his primary focus was vibration isolation systems. In 1997, as part of STS-85, Tryggvason served as payload specialist aboard the shuttle Discovery. Since returning to earth, he has remained active in Canadian aviation. But, having been at the forefront of Canada’s aerospace program, this more recent work involves Canada’s aviation heritage and the flying of vintage aircraft, notably his 2009 flight of the replica Silver Dart – the first powered, heavier-than-air aircraft to fly in Canadian skies.

Belt of Orion inductee … The Red Knight The Royal Canadian Air Force Training Command’s solo performer between 1958 and 1969, the Red Knight flew more than 600 air show appearances – making it second only to the Snowbirds for the number of performances flown by a Canadian military aerobatic display team. During its 12-year run, seventeen different pilots flew as the Red Knight, beginning with Roy Windover, an RCAF Central Flying School instructor. Equipped with their venerable Canadair CT-133 Silver Star and later with Canadair CT-114 Tutors, decked out in Day-Glo red, various Knights flew alongside the Golden Hawks and the Golden Centennaires. But the solo display is best remembered for performing in smaller communities unable to accommodate larger, established teams. Notably, all the Red Knight’s manoeuvres were performed within the airfield’s boundaries. All told, the team performed in each of Canada’s ten provinces and in the Yukon. It also made appearances in the Bahamas and in the United States, flying in Alaska, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington. The Red Knight was awarded the Centennial Medal in 1967. As a testament to its lasting impact and as a tribute to the influence of the Red Knight’s displays, the team’s distinctive paint scheme has been revived by civilian operations across North America.These are are the new CAHF members:

Here’s the recent NAHF news from south of the border:

The National Aviation Hall of Fame has revealed the individuals who have been selected for its enshrinement in 2020 … Each year, the NAHF Board of Nominations, a voting body comprised of more than 120 aviation professionals nationwide, selects from a prestigious group of previously-nominated air and space pioneers to be recognized for their achievements with induction into the NAHF. Since its founding in 1962, 246 men and women have been honored with enshrinement into the Congressionally-chartered, non-profit National Aviation Hall of Fame. “We believe that this is an excellent class and we are already looking forward to their induction in our home, the Birthplace of Aviation, Dayton, Ohio,” NAHF Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Quiello said. “From pioneer Bullard, to visionaries Faget, Sullivan Garrett and Kaminski, to aerospace hero Gordon, the NAHF’s Class of 2020 represents the best in aviation.” The NAHF Class of 2020 will be inducted at the 58th Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony on Sept. 26, 2020, in Dayton, Ohio:

Second Lieutenant Eugene J. Bullard, USAF. World War I pilot, first African American combat pilot, denied in the U.S., flew for France, and is one of the highest decorated pilots, including the Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur.

The late Dr. Maxime “Max” A. Faget, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineer. Developed rockets, missiles and aircraft, designed the Mercury Spacecraft and was part of the design team for Gemini, Apollo and the Space Shuttle.

Joan Sullivan Garrett . Medical Professional, founder of MedAire, established the first aviation global medical emergency response and directs real-time safety services to thousands annually throughout aviation.

The late Captain Richard “Dick” F. Gordon, USN. Naval Aviator, Test Pilot, Bendix Trophy Winner;,Gemini 11 Pilot, Command Module Pilot Apollo 12, back-up Commander Apollo 12 and part of design team for the Space Shuttle.

Colonel/Dr. Paul G. Kaminski, USAF (Ret). Ph.D. Aeronautical Engineer, led many technical aerospace programs, including guided munitions, lead developer of Stealth Technology, and directed F-117 and B-2 programs.

Norm Avery 1929 – 2019

I’ve often been asked by readers about this or that title by Norm Avery. Over the years, I listed Norm’s four books, but eventually lost contact – I hadn’t heard that he had moved into a seniors residence in recent years, then passed away on July 7, 2019. Norm’s aviation titles are Altimeter Rising (autobiographical, by Al MacNutt), then three by himself — Whiskey Whiskey Papa, Spartan: Seven Letters that Spanned the Globe, and Mayhem to Mayday. See https://normanavery.blogspot.com/ for more info about these books. Norm’s fascinating obituary summarizes his many achievements:

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Born in Parry Sound to Sydney and Hazel Avery, the family moved to Huntsville when he was 2. He had four siblings – survived by Lois and predeceased by Ken, James (Mac), and Harold. He was married for 55 years to Ruth (nee Robinson) – deceased (2011). He is survived by two children – Dean (Colleen) and Joel (Catherine) and two grandchildren – Shannon and James.

When he was 19, he earned his pilot’s licence. When he was 20, he left the grist mill behind and joined the Air Force where he was stationed in St Bruno, Quebec as a public relations specialist. Within a couple of years, he was promoted and then served in France as part of 2 Wing where his work with NATO was rewarded with a special service medal. He took the time to travel extensively in Europe and only stopped travelling until a few years ago. After ten years in the force, he left the force with a new wife to pursue a second career and start a family.

When he was 30, an Air Force colleague provided a lead which resulted in an eight year stint at the Ottawa Citizen where he was a staff writer, columnist, reporter and eventually assistant city editor. He specialized in aviation writing and began winning national awards after just one year on the job. Historical pictures show he interviewed PM candidate Robert Stanfield, Governor General Roland Michener, and, in 1966 while being escorted by the UN, Archbishop Makarios III – the president of Cyprus. He also fathered two children while at the Citizen.

Working at the Citizen spawned many freelancing engagements (including the publicity for the Paris air show in 1965). In 1967, he made freelancing his full time job and again was responsible for the publicity of the Paris air show in 1967. It was all good with the Citizen as he continued to write the aviation column for a few more years – however he no longer had to write the column in the smoke filled rooms at the Citizen. In this period he served as a correspondent for CBC Northern Services and also found time to be the founding editor of the monthly Armed Forces Review. In 1968 he formed a PR firm with his Air Force squadron friend Doug Harvey and famed photographer Malak Karch (brother of the other famous Karch photographer, Yousef Karsh). While they predominantly had aviation related clients, the firm of Harvey, Avery and Malak were the PR force involved in the resumption of the CFL all star game in 1970. They also represented IMAX which was founded in part by his cousin Robert Kerr; A & W and FTD florists. In 1970, he began his third career in the Federal public service in Fisheries and Forestry; the Canadian Forestry Service; Environment Canada; and Energy, Mines and Resources.

He rose through the ranks and several MPs specifically thanked him for making them sound intelligent. He travelled quite a bit across the country and had friends everywhere it seemed. He also went on an expedition to the Arctic. Through all of this, he found time to be a director of the Ottawa Flying Club; an executive in the camera club of Ottawa; and teach a PR course at Algonquin. With 26 years of service in the federal government, he retired in 1987, he began his fourth career as an author. He wrote and self published four historical aviation books (available in the lobby on the way out). His books were: Altimeter Rising; Whiskey, Whiskey, Papa; Spartan: Seven Letters that Spanned the Globe; and Mayhem to Mayday.

His true writing love was fiction for which he won several short story writing awards. Throughout his life, he could be found sailing, travelling, golfing, skiing, taking pictures and telling stories. He could also be found in front of the computer writing, researching, playing games and sleeping.

*For copies of the famous CANAV aviation booklists, drop me an email at larry@canavbooks.com*