One of the busier Norsemans in modern times has been CF-JIN. Originally RCAF 2482 in 1941, it was struck off strength in 1953. It eventually re-appeared in 1957 as CF-JIN with Austin Airways, where it toiled into 1969. The next few years are a puzzle as to operations. There was a long dormancy, then, in 1988 it popped up at Red Lake Air Service in NW Ontario. In 1995 it moved across Howey Bay to Chimo Air Service, where it remained into 2015.
In October 2002 JIN went south for overhaul at Mo Nesbitt’s Corporate Aircraft Restorations in Oshawa. Specializing in such vintage types as the Tiger Moth, Harvard and Chipmunk, CAR found JIN to be in reasonable condition, even its wooden wing. On May 1, 2003, by then looking like a factory fresh Norseman, JIN was trucked to Oshawa Harbour, assembled, craned into the water, then towed to nearby Whitby, whose beach made test flights convenient. JIN next made a short hop to Lake Scugog for post-test flight checks, then flew home to Red Lake. In the following years it has worked summers in the fly-in fishing and tourist camp trade.
Flying JIN in the season following its rebuild was Bob Cameron of Whitehorse. In 2015 Bob recalled:
When I first arrived at Red Lake in May 2002, I was put to work flying Norseman CF-KAO. CF-JIN was still sitting up on shore in “winter mode”, but soon also was busy hauling fishermen out to the lodges. After I had been on KAO for a couple of weeks, chief pilot Dave Robertson announced: “So you think you’re a Norseman pilot now that you’re comfortable with KAO. Well, anyone can fly KAO. The real test is to make JIN haul a load. It’s now your turn.”
JIN had been maligned, in my opinion, hung with a reputation of being a “dog”. The Norseman is legendary for long take-off runs, and for that certain talent required of a pilot to work the “sweetspot” in getting his plane off the water. True, KAO seemed to dispel that traditional reputation with its amazing agility. Nonetheless, to me JIN was more of a “normal” Norseman, demanding that the pilot work the sweetspot with precision. I found that the sweetspot subtly moved incrementally forward from the moment it was established on the step, to when it smoothly lifted off. Dave Robertson told me that JIN didn’t fly any differently even after all the money that was spent on its rebuild.
Even though Chimo recently has been operating one of those fine, ever-efficient Turbo Otters, JIN proved its value at Chimo last season. We’ll have to see how much longer it lasts. Sad to say, but going into 2015 there’s a lengthening list of Norsemans consigned to “Norseman Limbo”.
Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman includes many details and photos of the famous CF-JIN. You can order this spectacular 2-volume set right here: Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Canadian orders only). US and overseas, contact email@example.com.
On January 31, Jim Court of Sept-Îles added a bit to the JIN story:
Hi, Larry … here’s a little more news about JIN in that hazy period you mention. After Austin Airways, it was with Labrador Mining and Exploration, which had been operating Beaver IUU and Norseman ECG. In 1969 ECG was sold to Baie Comeau Air Service, since there wasn’t enough work for both airplanes.
Within a summer or two, however, business picked up with the drilling at Jerido Lake south of Kuujjuaq. So LM&E bought JIN. However, one day Lloyd Hogan crashed it into a swamp north of Schefferville after running a tank dry (Lloyd had his own story about this). JIN was salvaged and, years later, got rebuilt and went back to work.