“Fighter Pilots and Observers” is on the Press this Week + Gus Corujo’s Fantastic Toronto 2018 Air Show Coverage + Revisiting “The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection”

To all CANAV readers … Volume 8 of “Aviation in Canada” now is at the printer. You can expect to see Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 in September. Solid Canadian history from start to finish, this authoritative book revives a key theme in Canada’s aviation heritage in a landmark year – the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War. This is Canada’s only major title in print covering the nation’s pioneers of aerial combat. It honours the men, the aircraft and the organizations, detailing in a fresh light the incredible story from training in Canada as early as 1914, to the deadly skies over the Western Front, Italy and wherever else the men were needed. The story continues after 1918, covering the many roles played by Canada’s wartime aviators through the interwar years – how the role of the fighter pilot and observer waned at first, then gradually was revived, initially with the Siskin and Atlas, finally — on the eve of war — with the Hurricane, etc. Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 is 184 pages, extra-large format (9×12 inches), hardcover, beautifully designed and produced with a spectacular collection of 350 photographs. There’s never been anything like it in Canadian aviation book publishing. Having seen our previous volumes in the series, you’ll know what to expect. Sticker price? $50.00. Watch our blog for more details and drop me an email if you’d like to receive Volume 8 updates in the next few weeks. Cheers … Larry (larry@canavbooks.com)

1 Fighter Pilots & Observers 1915-39

Toronto Air Show 2018

This weekend saw the 2018 edition of the Canadian International Air Show. Take a look here at Gus Corujo’s wonderful photographic coverage of all the activty — the people and the planes:

http://gusair.com/htdocs/Airshows/2018/18CIAS/18cias.html

Leslie Corness “Propliner” Review

In case you’re an aviation fan just arrived from Mars, I’d like to let you know about one of Canada’s most dedicated aviation hobby photographers – the late Leslie Corness of Edmonton. “Les”, his father and brothers all avidly followed the exciting aviation scene around Edmonton from the 1930s. For Les, especially, it all became a passion. If you search here for Leslie Corness Collection Keeps on Inspiring you can see one of my earlier blog items that gives you the quick course about the man.

If you are remotely interested in Canada’s great aviation heritage, generally follow old airplanes, or, are a keen “propliner” fan, you’ll want this book (160 pages, 350 b/w &
colour photos, large format, softcover, quality throughout). Current price for Canada is $25.00 (regular price $40.00) + $14.00 for shipping + tax $1.95 TOTAL CDN$40.95 for your
author-autographed copy. Outside Canada CDN$50.00 all-in. Mail your payment to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E3B6, or pay via PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com

Now … on to some more of Les Corness’ wonderful photographs that you haven’t seen before. A “mixed bag”, these were taken around Edmonton — Les’ local “stomping grounds”.

Corness Blog_1A Fairchild 82 CF-AXQ

There always were bush planes of one type or another at Edmonton. Les wouldn’t pass up shooting a one of them — even on a bone chilling winter’s day. His subject here is one of Canada’s own Fairchild 82s. CF-AXQ had been delivered in 1939 to Mackenzie Air Service, which later merged into CPA. “AXQ” was sold by CPA in 1946 to Waite Fisheries in Northern Saskatchewan. There it crashed on January 28, 1947. The beloved “82” first had flown at Longueuil near Montreal on July 6, 1935. Twenty-four were built, including examples for Mexico and Argentina. Further sales were squelched by the rise of the Norseman. C. R. “Charlie” Robinson, one of Canada’s great bush pilots from the 1930- 50s, dedicated the first two stanzas of his “Ballad of a Bush Pilot” to the”82”:
In days gone by I used to fly
A Fairchild Eighty-Two,
And was it fair or stormy air
We’d always muddled through.
For hours I’d sit upon the bit
Of Kapok-padded seat,
My knees tucked in underneath my chin
In comfort hard to beat!
The instruments, the cowling dents,
The grease spots on the glass,
I still recall them one and all
As through the years I pass.
I see also, in passing show,
The day my motor quit;
While taking off, it gave a cough.
There was no place to sit
But in the trees; and I said “Please
Don’t fail me now, old chum!”
With groan and crack she broke her back,
But I just cut my thumb!
My head I felt, undid my belt,
And said with logic true:
“Two motors would, if they were good,
Have carried us on through
Things happen strange, and courses change,
And soon there came a day,
In Sioux Lookout, when I took out
A Beechcraft “Eighteen A” …
You can see a beautiful “82” (CF-AXL) in Ottawa at the
Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

 

Corness Blog_2 Sikorsky S-39

From the 1920s, airplanes passed through Edmonton almost daily (weather permitting). As a rule, they were en route to or returning from points north, especially the Mackenzie River Valley, Yukon and Alaska. Then, in the 1950s Edmonton became a hub for DEW Line re-supply. Les would have been ecstatic about seeing this ancient Sikorsky S-39 amphibian (NC806W) likely on the Alaska run. There’s no date, but I’m guessing 1940s (I can’t find many particulars for NC806W).

Corness Blog_3 C-124

Through the 1950s Les photographed hundreds of aircraft plying the northern airways. Normally, these stopped for fuel or to collect freight for the DEW Line, etc. Every day seemed to bring some fascinating visitor to photograph. Here, it was a massive USAF C-124A Globemaster II. 50-109 may have been northbound for a DEW Line site, headed for Alaska on a military support mission, or maybe was on the way to Haneda, Japan via the Aleutians on Korean War duties. 50-109 served usefully into 1969, then went to the Arizona desert for scrapping.

Corness Blog_4 Skyrocket CF-DHE

There was so much going on in Edmonton after the war. One notable project saw Leigh Brintnell’s Northwest Industries Ltd. produce the Bellanca 31- 55 Skyrocket, an improved edition of the great Pacemaker of the late 1920s. As were others in Canada, Brintnell was convinced that operators would be rushing to re-equip, following the war, during which few had been able to obtain new aircraft. The first NWI Skyrocket flew on February 28, 1946. However, sales did not pan out. For one thing, operators could purchase cheap war surplus Norsemans. Then, in 1947 De Havilland Canada introduced the modern and affordable Beaver. Only 13 NWI Skyrockets were built, but they gave good service. When I visited it in Fort William in 1961, Superior Airways still was operating Skyrocket CF-DCH.

Corness Blog_5 Barkley-Grow

The airplanes of the 1930s – 40s certainly were durable. The Barkley-Grow light twin was introduced in Canada in 1939 with Yukon Southern Air Transport. Along with other operators, YSAT merged early in WWII into CPA, in which markings Les frequently saw CF-BLV. “BLV” remained in Edmonton when acquired by Associated Airways in 1951, also when Associated was absorbed by PWA in 1956. Sadly, it came to a harsh end in a January 12, 1960 crash at Peace River, Alberta. This is about the best basic angle for shooting a Barkley-Grow, Beech 18, any Lockheed twin, DC-3, or most “tail draggers”. Airplane hobby photographers understand such fundamentals.

Corness Blog_6 RCAF Dakota KG808

Les photographed any DC-3 that he spotted, be it static on the tarmac, taxiing or in flight. Action shots, however, were not the breeze they are today, due to slow shutter speeds and low film ASA ratings. Few of Les’ landing or take-off shots are “spot on”. Les had several favourite vantage points around Edmonton airport. Quite a few RCAF aircraft were shot from a certain spot, maybe an upstairs window at 418 Squadron, where he served in the 1950s. Parked handily for his lens this day was a beautifully-attired RCAF Dakota. KG808 had many RCAF assignments, eventually being re-numbered “12947”. Retired in 1971, it was sold in the US, where today it’s in Knoxville, Tennessee as N982Z. Check out “Cincinnati Magazine” to see what sort of work this ancient ex-RCAF Dakota is doing (you can see by such research why we hobby photographers and writers just love what we do): http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/features/high-flying-martha- lunken

Corness Blog_7 RCAF Expeditor

Les’ affiliation with Air Cadets during the war, then with 418 Squadron, opened some important doors. In this case, he was flying in a 418 Mitchell, so was able to grab some candid snapshots of formating Expeditor HB105. In 1968 HB105 became N6694 with Priority Air Transport in California, but soon was sold to Hamilton Aircraft of Tucson. There it was cannibalized for useful parts needed in manufacturing Hamilton’s line of modernized Beech 18s.

Corness Blog_8 Halifax RG814

Immediately after the war, the RCAF began an on-going effort to examine the impact of severe winter weather on its men and equipment. “Winter Experimental Establishment” was set up in Edmonton to do the R&D (see Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984). Projects were conducted at such locations at Namao, Fort Nelson, Cold Lake and Churchill, and the fleet of aircraft was amazingly varied, even including Halifax bomber RG814. I like this shot and can guess what was happening. Les has slipped under the rope at this Edmonton airshow setting to grab his photo. Some people nearby are watching in surprise, and the cop down the line is heading over to chastise Les. The result? A bit on the wonky photo, but by 2018 an important scene in its own right.

Corness Blog_9 Bristol Freighter

In 1953 Trans-Canada Air Lines, experiencing a rise of postwar air cargo business, acquired several Bristol Freighters. These operated a cross-Canada service, but proved to be too slow and short of range. Instead, TCA converted some of its North Stars for cargo, and the Bristols were sold. With such northern operators as Associated, Maritime Central, PWA, Transair and Wardair, they demonstrated their true usefulness, the last example working into the 1980s. Les saw PWA’s CF-TFZ at Edmonton on a winter’s day in 1956. Unfortunately, “TFZ” was wrecked later in the year while landing on Beaverlodge Lake in the NWT. There it rests on the shore to this day. You can see photos and more details at Aviation History and Photography – Ruud Leeuw > Vintage Transports, photos by Friends & Guests and at Abandoned Plane Wrecks in the North

Corness Blog_10 Bristol Crash

On September 17, 1955 CF-GBT of Associated Airways crashed soon after departing Edmonton for Yellowknife. Two of the six men aboard died. Hearing of the disaster on the radio, Les drove out to photograph the aftermath (since by then he was an RCAF padre, he wouldn’t have had any trouble getting access). After investigating all the details, the Department of Transport concluded: “”For reasons as yet undetermined the starboard engine failed and as a result of being overloaded [SOP for most such northern flights “back in the day”], the aircraft did not maintain altitude on one engine and struck the ground with the starboard wingtip. A further contributory factor was considered to be the failure of the co-pilot’s vacuum-driven gyro instruments, without his knowledge.”

Corness Blog_11 C-46 accident

There was nothing remotely ghoulish about photographing wrecks. It was part of the aviation fan’s commitment to history. Here’s another case where Les was Johnny-on-the-Spot with his camera. Over the winter of 1946, USAF C-46 44-77678 had pancaked on the edge of Edmonton airport.

Corness Blog_13 CPA Britannia

For five decades Les covered aviation events around Edmonton. On this occasion it was the inaugural visit in August 1958 of CPA’s new Bristol Britannia. A gleaming CF-CZW “Empress of Edmonton” was assigned for the day’s duties and you can see that Edmontonians responded enthusiastically. Can you imagine such a casual community event today at a major airport!

Corness Blog_12 C-46 252 CF-CZH

Often including more than just an airplane, many of Les’ photos stand above the standard “set- up shot”. In this case, when he photographed CPA C-46 CF- CZH, he didn’t wait for the ESSO fuel truck to move off. Originally with the USAAF in 1945, this C-46 went to Flying Tiger Line in 1949, then joined CPA in 1955 to do DEW Line work. It migrated to Quebecair in 1962, thence in 1976 to Jack Anderson’s North Coast Air in Prince Rupert. On September 29, 1977 “CZH” was operating from Thompson, Manitoba, when there was engine trouble. Unable to maintain height, captain Fritz Bluethner put down in the bush. There “CZH” remains today. Again … for more detail and some great photos, see Ruud Leeuw’s fantastic website Abandoned Plane Wrecks of the North – Ruud Leeuw

If this is the sort of aviation history “gets you going”, The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection will not disappoint. Not only do you get Les’ great aviation coverage across southern Canada, but also much from his Arctic era in early DEW Line times (Avro York, C-46, C-47, C-54, etc.), and wonderful photos from his UK period of such types as the Ambassador, Britannia, Carvair, CL-44, Dart Herald, “Deux- Ponts”, Il-18, L.1649 Starliner and Vanguard. Having a biographic side, the book also includes some non-aviation photography (rail, shipping, etc., even some rare ethnographic photos from the \ Arctic). It’s an all-around production for the serious aficionado.

Fred Phillips of Canadair

Ken Swartz has sent along the sad news that the great Frederick Clayton Phillips has died at age 103. Fred spent the second half of his illustrious career at Canadair in Montreal, having joined the company in 1954 as Chief of Aerodynamics and Preliminary Design. Right away he became CL-41 project engineering manager, then saw that assignment through to production. He also instigated VTOL R&D and in 1956 presented his preliminary results to the Canadian Aeronautical Institute in 1956. Canadair pursued Fred’s VTOL concept and in May 1965 the prototype CL-84 Dynavert flew at Cartierville. It was the most advanced such “tilt-wing” aircraft in the world.

Corness Blog_14 Fred Phillips 8-2018 (1)

In this photo, Fred (left) is with another legendary Canadair designer, E.H. “Ed” Higgins. Here is Fred’s obituary (for more details see Canadair: The First 50 Years):

Hanover, N.H. — Frederick Clayton Phillips, 103, died at Wheelock Terrace, on Saturday, June 30, 2018, after a long and happy life. Fred was born in the small coal-mining town of Osceola Mills, Pa. on Jan. 18, 1915, the eldest child of Fred and Edith (Sankey) Phillips. He attended high school in Tyrone, Pa., graduating in 1932, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1931. After graduating magna cum laude in Aeronautical Engineering from NYU in 1938, and completing the course requirements for a master’s degree at M.I.T., Fred accepted a position as an aerodynamicist at the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Baltimore, Md., where he worked throughout WWII. In 1942, he wed Harriet Mae Cowher, an old friend from Tyrone with whom he remained happily married for more than 71 years. Harriet predeceased Fred in 2014.  As well as his aerodynamic work, during WWII Fred also taught the subject at night school at Johns Hopkins University. In 1947, he and Harriet moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he became a Professor of Aircraft Design for the Brazilian Air Ministry. Daughter Sarah Ann was born in Rio in August 1948. The three returned to the U.S. in 1951, where Fred took up a position at the McDonnell Aircraft Corp. in St. Louis, Mo. Son Jon Frederick was born in June 1953. In 1955, Fred accepted a position at Canadair Ltd. in Montreal, Canada, and son David Macready was born there in January 1957.  After 25 years at Canadair as the Director of a variety of aircraft productions, Fred and Harriet retired to Lyme, N.H. in 1981. He worked occasionally as an aircraft industry consultant for a few years, but both became very involved in the Lyme Congregational Church and local community. Among many ventures, Fred was active in the Boy Scouts, the preservation of the Lyme horse sheds, as a town trustee, and sang heartily in the church choir for decades. Fred will be lovingly remembered as a true gentleman, a man of spirit and conviction, loyalty and love. He was a keen gardener, a voracious reader, and a passionate lover of classical music, especially that of J.S. Bach. To those who knew him, he loved people, a good joke, good food and wine, but above all, his family. As well as the three children, Fred is survived by his three grandchildren: Rebecca, Tyler and Evan. A memorial service at Lyme Congregational Church is planned for late August. Donations in Fred’s memory may be made to local charities such as the Boy Scouts of America Daniel Webster Council, or The Lyme Foundation.

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