“Fighter Pilots and Observers” Book Launch at the RCMI + Some Other Worthy News and Nostalgia Items

Annual Beechcraft Fly-In … This year’s famous Beechcraft fly-in in Tennessee was a huge success, a fantastic event from biplanes to Starships (I had no idea that any Starships remained airworthy). Take a look: Starships, Bonanzas, Staggerwings and more flock to Beech Party Also, you can scroll back here (or search for) our detailed Canadian Beech Bonanza blog item.

CANAV’s 2018 Highlight! On October 4, 2018, CANAV Books launched Vol.8 of its “Aviation in Canada” series – Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. That pushes our series beyond 2000 pages and thousands of photos. This year’s event was held at Toronto’s historic Royal Canadian Military Institute.

Fighter Pilots and Observers was decades in the making, then a push was made in the last three years. With Hugh Halliday turning up historic files and photos in Ottawa’s various archives, proof reading, etc., me piecing together all our raw material, and Linda Irvine doing the precision layout, the project finally came together and went to the printer in August.

Fighter Pilots and Observers is the first CANAV project where I did not visit the printer to do press proofs. Technology has made these visits optional. That said, it always was an adventure visiting Friesen Printers in Altona in southern Manitoba (see earlier blog items). So, with some trepidation I sat in Toronto receiving notice of this last- minute change and that by email from Altona. This turned out to be a serviceable process.

On October 2 my warehouser reported that I had two pallets of books just arrived from the west. From that moment, it was onward in a bit of a panic to the book launch two days later (we little publishers live on the edge). Those who joined us at the RCMI were CANAV fans and supporters having the right stuff (loyalty comes to mind). Three great Canadians in their 90s even showed up, having come down to the RCMI by public transit.

Consulting RCMI catering (such professional people), I had ordered food for 75. This panned out to a “T”, for by the time our 5- hour gig was done, the last treat from the kitchen had disappeared. In the end we all had a super time. Through the afternoon, the inimitable Gus Corujo was our event photographer and here is a selection from his camera:


What a super job, Gus, so thank you again for your contribution. And … thanks once again to all who supported our project over the years.

Early Reader Reaction

So far our readers are pleased with what they’ve seen of Fighter Pilots and Observers. One long-time bibliophile sums up the book in 3 words: “Rich, nutritious, satisfying.” Another old hand writes: “Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever and people will thank you for the photographic research and the captions for years to come. What a great Christmas present it will make.” A hardcore aviation bibliophileand CANAV fan adds: “Thank you very much for your efforts to capture and chronicle Canadian aviation. Your latest book arrived over the weekend … There’s something to be said for opening a package and breathing in a newly printed book. It brings a nectar of excitement. I thumbed through it and you have a wide array of great photos and the stories you’ve captured are outstanding.” Finally for today, Bill Wheeler, who edited the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Society for more than 40 years, writes: “The text is comprehensive and flows as would be expected of two such knowledgeable and accomplished authors. Although weighty, their book that is hard to put down.”

New Booklist: Fall/Winter 2018/19

CANAV Readers … Here’s your copy of this season’s CANAV choice of the best in aviation books. If you’re looking for some top reading or for a gift for some special aviation fan, you can’t have a handier solution than right here. Besides … doesn’t a good book still make the best, most thoughtful present?

Preview attachment Booklist 1 Fall:Winter 2018.pdf

Walter Eichhorn’s 2018 Toronto & CWHM Visit

Walter Eichhorn taxis Cornell CF-EHH at Toronto Island Airport on November 20, 1960. With him is his wife-to- be, Liesel. (photos by Larry Milberry) One of aviation’s well known warbird and airshow personalities is Walter Eichhorn. Born in Germany in 1936, Walter emigrated to Canada in 1955. As a truck mechanic for Loblaws his wages were skimpy, but he saved enough to pay for flying lessons at Central Airways on Toronto Island Airport. Then, to build hours, he bought Cornell CF-EHH for $1000. That’s when I bumped into him one day, while I was photographing at the island. Coincidentally, during my Air Cadet days I had acquired a set of Cornell pilot notes. Walter was keen about these and I was happy to do a trade in exchange for a flight. So it was that on November 20, 1960 I had my first Cornell ride. It was cloudy and a bit windy, but we flew over to Kitchener, where I photographed some interesting planes before we headed home. Walter soon stepped up to $2000 Harvard CF-MTW. Suddenly, however, he was called by Lufthansa, where he had applied for work. He sold “MTW” for $1500 and returned to Germany to begin a career flying airliners starting on the Convair 440, ending on the 747-200. Along the way he also excelled at his sport parachuting hobby, leading the West German national team to some firsts at home, also competing at the world level. Meanwhile, he was moving up on the warbird scene. Eventually, he flew Bf.109s at the Willy Messerschmitt Museum at Manching, and appeared in such big screen movies as “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise, and in the classic television series “A Piece of Cake”. Over the years he also flew a Ju.52, including on a North American tour. Meanwhile, Walter and his son, Tony, became well- known flying matching Harvards at airshows around Europe.

F/L Tommy Wheler while gunnery flight lead with the Sabre OTU at RCAF Station Chatham in 1952. Later, Tom flew in NATO with 444 Squadron. A man of many accomplishments, he was a very fine artist using several media. At 444 he designed the squadron’s famous cobra emblem that distinguished the “Triple Four” Sabres for years in the RCAF Air Division. (DND)

On October 14, 2012 several of us were awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in an Air Force Association of Canada ceremony at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. In the top photo (by Dean Black) are myself, LGen (ret’d) Lloyd Campbell, Senator Joseph Day (presenter), Eric G. Smith, DFC, and Tom Wheler, DFC. Below are two immortals” from “Triple Four” Sabre days — Arnold “AJ” Bauer and Tom.

Museum Activity Around the Country

Recently, there have been some major acquisitions by Canada’s aviation museums and other institutions where aviation history and heritage are paramount. A few weeks ago Canadian-built Lancaster FM104 was shipped from Ontario to join the BC Aviation museum in Sidney, near Victoria. Title to FM104 was held by the City of Toronto. However, FM104’s future had been in limbo for decades. I was happy to support the BC effort to acquire it for restoration. I wrote twice to Toronto historical bureaus, expressing my views. In the end, I was pleased to hear that FM104 was going west. The simple reason is that BC to date had no Lancaster, yet enjoyed an important legacy of Lancaster operations with 407 Squadron from Comox in postwar years. As we know, the rest of Canada has its Lancasters, including (in Ontario, alone) in Ottawa, Trenton, Hamilton and Windsor. Now, an important gap has been filled in BC’s aviation heritage.

Earlier this month the Alberta Aviation Museum acquired an original 1918 Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny”, the type on which hundreds of young men trained with the Royal Flying Corps (Canada) in Southern Ontario during WWI. Then, this week the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, Alberta acquired a beautiful example of the Cessna T-50 Crane, one of the key light twin aircraft used in WWII by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Here is some background info about the T-50: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/cessna-crane-nanton-museum-transport-1.4871735.

Here is the news about ENA at St-Hubert recently acquiring one of the CSeries prototypes. This is just as important in the long run as adding some ancient airplane like the JN-4. Imagine if back in the mid-1950s people had had the same fervour for Canada’s aviation accomplishments? If so, the Avro Jetliner could have been saved. So good on those “movers and shakers” at ENA who have saved this important CSeries prototype. Here’s the (abridged) Bombardier press release about the ENA CSeries:

On Oct.17, 2018 a CSeries landed for the first time at the St-Hubert airport, where it was handed over by Bombardier to the École nationale d’aérotechnique (ÉNA). This is the 38th aircraft to join the ÉNA’s static fleet, which already includes two Learjets and Challengers donated by from Bombardier. Hundreds of students welcomed the CSeries in an event attended by professors, staff and representatives from Bombardier and Airbus. The CS100 will create new training opportunities across the fields of avionics, maintenance and aerospace engineering, giving Québec students access to the most advanced technology in commercial aviation. Over the next few months ÉNA professors will study the unique features of the CSeries to determine how best to integrate this aircraft into their syllabi. “Building strong partnerships with local teaching institutions is key to develop the next generation of aerospace professionals,” said Alain Bellemare, president and Bombardier Inc. CEO. “The C Series integrates ground-breaking technologies and Canadian know- how into the world’s most innovative commercial aircraft. By donating a CSeries to ÉNA, we hope to inspire a growing number of Québec students to consider exciting careers in the aerospace industry.” As the third Flight Test Vehicle in the CSeries program, “FTV3 accumulated some 1,400 flight hours. It was mainly used for avionics and electrical tests as well as for community noise testing. “To be the first and possibly only school in the world to receive such an immense gift from our partner, Bombardier, positions our school as the best in the world,” said Sylvain Lambert, director of the ÉNA. “The public will be able to visit and experience our CSeries aircraft and our school at our Open House on November 11.” Last year, Bombardier donated a CRJ100  to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and a Learjet 60 business jet to ÉNA. In June, it announced multi-million dollar contributions to the Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research Consortium (DAIR) to establish an aerospace hub in Toronto. Bombardier also provides hundreds of internships annually to students across engineering, finance,  IT, marketing, production, supply chain management and other disciplines. 

Click here to see Pierre Gillard’s spectacular photo coverage of CSeries FTV3’s arrival and handover at St-Hubert/CYHU: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html


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