Fighter Pilots and Observers Is on the Move + Chris Thatcher’s News Item about the DND/RCAF F-35 Botch-Up + A220 (Remember the CSeries?) Enters North American Service + The Enduring (Indestructable?) Beech 18 + CF-100 Notes

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Published last October, Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by now “getting out there” and making a firm impression one reader at a time. Here’s a sampling of some of the notes I’ve received so far. Talk about encouraging, right!

“Your latest book is a treasure. Congratulations!”

“I want to express my appreciation and that of my colleagues for your championing Canadian aviation history. Thank you for your dedication.”
“Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever and people will thank you for the photographic research and the captions for years to come. What a great Christmas present it will make.” 

“Rich, nutritious, satisfying.”

Another happy development is the appearance of some fine recognition via the media. For any small Canadian publisher, that’s not the easiest thing to win, especially since many daily newspapers no longer review books. (What? Water down your paper’s intellectual content to save a bit pf space for a few more more adverts?) Happily, this trend is not everywhere. On December 31, for example, the Ottawa Citizen (traditionally a friend to Canadian arts and culture) published this succinct commentary under the banner, “New Books of Interest on Military and Foreign Affairs”, by journalist David Pugliese:

Aviation in Canada: Figher Pilots and Observers 1915- 1939 By Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday

This book honours Canada’s First World War pioneers of aerial warfare and includes extremely rare photos of some of those young men who were the leaders in the country’s aviation development. There is information on the more famous pilots, such as Victoria Cross winner Billy Bishop but equally covered are those who are no longer well known. The book also covers the interwar years when, following Nov. 11, 1918, some Canadian airmen fought in the Russian civil war. Some of these pilots went on to become Canada’s first bush pilots, helped establish the country’s aviation industry and of course aided in the development of the RCAF . This is another quality product from CANAV Books, with detailed information and an eye-appealing layout on high gloss paper.

Next, on January 9 the Sault Star published an in-depth feature by reporter Brian Kelly. After reading Fighter Pilots and Observers, Brian was especially interested in a former Soo resident whom we cover: Basil Hobbs was a WWI pilot and (postwar) a bush pilot and RCAF officer. Here’s Brian’s nifty story:

Sault’s Basil Hobbs Downed Zeppelin

Bringing down a zeppelin that bombed England during the First World War was a pretty big deal. Sault Ste. Marie resident Basil Deacon Hobbs did just that in June 1917. The British native co-piloted a Curtiss flying boat that brought down the German raider when returning from a patrol over the English Channel. His accomplishment is detailed in Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday. The airships were a “terror weapon” which caused “an awful lot of death and destruction” in Great Britain. “The Brits considered themselves for thousands of years to be invulnerable,” said Milberry. Great Britain was “the safest place to be” until these “massive aerial weapons start showing up.” Zeppelin raids killed more than 550 and injured nearly 1,360.

“For a couple of guys to go up in a flimsy old airplane and shoot down one of those things, they were national heroes,” Milberry told The Sault Star during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto. “(Hobbs) was an exceptional Canadian airman in the First World War.” And, probably like many other Canadian aviators [Milberry] and Halliday detail in their new work, the public profile of Hobbs a century after the First World War ended is non-existent. “(He) is well known among people like myself, but to the general public he’s long, long ago forgotten,” said Milberry, publisher of CANAV Books.The Curtiss aircraft Hobbs co-piloted carried a crew of four. A wingspan of nearly 93 feet provided “an immense amount of lift,” said Milberry. Flying boats would usually patrol before sunrise in the area of the Frisian Islands watching for zeppelins returning from night-time missions. “Most days nothing happened,” said Milberry of the patrols. It was “just the luck of the draw” Hobbs and his fellow crew spotted the zeppelin on that mid-June day. “Advancing his throttles, Hobbs soared from 500 to 2,000 feet, then dived for the tail of the unsuspecting ‘zepp’,” Milberry and Halliday write in their 184-page hardcover release. Two fellow aircrew members opened fire with the zeppelin “immediately falling in flames.” Hobbs, who trained at Wright Flying School in Dayton, Ohio and sailed for England in December 1915, is also credited for sinking two  German U-boats while serving with Royal Naval Air Service. A 1987 inductee to Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, Hobbs’s other honours included a Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order and Officer, Order of the British Empire. “This man truly reached for the stars and through his flying achievements and ability in peace and war brought honour to the aviation fraternity of Canada,” the Hall of Fame says. “His tigerish spirit” made him stand out, says Milberry. That includes attacking a German submarine under fire. “He was not a shirker,” said Milberry. “He took his job seriously.” In 1920, Hobbs was part of the first trans-Canadian flight. The cross-country effort in a F-3 seaplane stopped in the Sault in October of that year, landing at Imperial Oil’s dock at the foot of Lucy Terrace. “The reception given the intrepid occupants of the plane was a hearty one,” The Sault Star reported at the time. “The large crowd pressed around the aviators admiringly, while cameras and moving picture machines clicked.” Hobbs, who came to the Sault in 1900 and lived in Korah township, died in 1965. A plaque honouring him was unveiled at St. Luke’s Cathedral in February 1973. Propaganda “on all sides” of the First World War suggested an atmosphere of chivalry in the skies above No Man’s Land. The reality was much more ruthless with pilots seeking advantage by attacking their foes from the rear and centring their fire on the cockpits. Getting out of the trenches was one draw for men to become pilots during the First World War. “Better to have the relatively comfortable life of the airman, while risking the airman’s shortened existence and the likelihood of a fiery death, than continue in the horrible trenches,” said Milberry. Aviation also offered the lure of a type of combat that was “something totally new and exciting.” “Patriotism was always a factor in drawing young men into the military,” said Milberry. Lack of experience meant most new pilots would die in the first four to six weeks of aerial combat. “You had to be lucky to live long enough to get the experience,” said Milberry. “Once a fellow was experienced, and he knew the rules of the game, he had a much better chance of surviving.” “A good half” of the Canadian pilots Milberry and Halliday document in their new book do not appear in any other contemporary books about the country’s military aviation history. Now’s time for younger Canadians to get to know them, says Milberry. “Let’s resurrect some of these great young men,” he said.

The Aviation Press Comments

It’s odd, but for quality aviation book reviews/critques, the Canadian book publisher usually must look abroad. Inexplicably, our homegrown aviation press (even some historical journals) have little space for books. Happily, though, elsewhere in the world the aviation book still is revered. This goes especially for the UK, EU and Down Under. So it is that the first reviews for Fighter Pilots and Observers in the dedicated aviation press are not from Canada, but from the UK. The respected journals “Britain at War”, “Cross & Cockade” (the journal of First World War aviation) and “Flypast” have taken very positive note of “FPO”. Here is what I recently found to my delight in “Britain at War”:

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blog 3 britain at war reviews fighter pilots & observers12-2018blog 4 flypast advert fpo 1-2019 130mmx90mm

Senator critiques defence procurement process

An Ontario Senator says defence procurement needs better oversight and an improved process if it is to avoid the problems affecting the government’s efforts to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 fighter jet fleet.

Canada's CF-188 Hornet fighters will be participating in this year's Exercise Maple Flag. Mike Reyno Photo
Until the defence procurement process is overhauled, “Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars,” according to Senator Nicole Eaton. She called Canada’s efforts to replace its CF-188 Hornet fighter jets, pictured, a “fiasco.” Mike Reyno Photo

“The fiasco of fighter jet replacement is the best example of a procurement system that is cumbersome, bureaucratic and beset by political interference,” Senator Nicole Eaton wrote in an article originally published in The Hill Times.

“Unless ministers start to devote close attention to the management of major projects, or until the process is overhauled, Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars.”

Eaton is a member of the Senate National Finance Committee, which launched a study last fall into the processes and financial aspects of defence procurement. It held its first hearing on Oct. 30 and expects to conclude later this year.

In her article, the senator critiqued the process by which Conservative and Liberal governments have struggled to replace the aging CF-188 Hornets, noting that while both Canada and Australia are members of the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter program to develop the F-35, Australia received its first two operational F-35s in December while Canada, as part of an interim measure, is poised to take delivery of the first of 25 “well-used” Australian F-18s.

“As we take possession of Australia’s scrap, Canada is in the early stages of a minimum five-year-long process to pick a replacement for the F-18, which will be more than 50 years old before it is retired in the 2030s,” she wrote.

The current government bears blame for creating some of the problems with the fighter file, she wrote, but “military procurement has bedeviled successive governments, Liberal and Conservative alike.”

She attributed part of the problem to political interference for both partisan advantage and regional turf protection, but said the main reason for “paralysis in military procurement in Canada is it is too cumbersome and bureaucratic. Process is paramount and results are secondary.

“There are layers of committees, depending on the size of the project, with membership from Public Services and Procurement Canada, National Defence, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development,” she wrote.

“The consensus-based decision-making process on which these committees operate is supposed to avoid a big mistake — no doubt an appealing quality for a risk-averse bureaucracy, but the downside is the system is not conducive to fast action. Simply put, the buck stops nowhere.”

Eaton suggested that bureaucratic morass has resulted in an inability to spend allotted project budgets, an indication the government could struggle to fulfil the commitments laid out in its 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE).

“In the last fiscal year, the policy projected capital spending of $6.1 billion, yet only $3.7 billion was spent. This year, $6.55 billion is called for under SSE, but total appropriations to date amount to $4 billion,” she noted. “Given this poor track record, the idea that military spending can be cranked up by 70 per cent over 10 years, as envisioned in Strong, Secure, Engaged, looks increasingly fanciful.

At the Finance committee’s first hearing on the procurement system, Patrick Finn, assistant deputy minister, Materiel at the Department of National Defence, and André Fillion, assistant deputy minister for defence and marine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, faced a barrage of questions on ongoing participation in the F-35 program, the authorities and mandates of interdepartmental committees involved in military procurement, and about the challenge of balancing military requirements with equipment costs and opportunities for Canadian industry.


“Buying a fighter plane isn’t like buying a compact car, and the role of the government is very important. We had to adapt our method of supply to the context of fighter jets,” Fillion told the senators.

He said a draft RFP released in late October “was the result of many months of consultation on all five potential options (to replace the CF-188s).

“There has been a lot of back and forth over the last several months to make sure that what we are asking meets the requirements of the Air Force and ensures that we do not inadvertently limit the competition. I feel very confident that what we’ve put together is fair, open and transparent to all the potential suppliers.”

Finn said the government had met with and learned lessons from allies who had conducted similar fighter replacement programs. He also dismissed some of the concerns about acquiring used Australian aircraft to fill a gap while the government proceeds with the replacement project.

“In our opinion, Canada has the best expertise related to this type of aircraft. Some companies in Montreal do maintenance for the United States and other countries because they have the necessary knowledge,” he said.

“This aircraft will really increase our fleet, and it is not the number of aircraft that counts; it is rather the hours of use in the future. We are looking for an aircraft that will remain in service for another 14 years. What is needed is enough hours on the structural side. We will be able to use these aircraft until the entire fleet is no longer in service.”


Delta Airlines Becomes North America’s First CSeries/Airbus 220 Operator

Take a look here View this email in your browser (then click on the link) to see how Delta of Atlanta is introducing the A220 to North American cities. When you notice “Watch the first episode here”, click, then just enter A220 in the search box and you’ll find several excellent video shorts that will show you a lot about this fantastic airplane — the one that got away — but that’s another story, right. A220 production is still centred in Montreal, but a new factory is being built in Alabama (google “Airbus’ U.S. A220 Manufacturing Facility – Let the Construction Begin”). And … on February 7, 20`9 Delta reported this g=huge news:

Delta’s long-anticipated A220 debut finally takes off

Image : Delta News Hub On February 7, 2019, Delta took its brand new A220-100 to the skies for the very first time. The introduction of the new aircraft type to its fleet has, of course, now gains its own momentum for the U.S. airline. But the fact that precisely this deal − Delta’s A220s order − had previously sparked a trade war between North American plane makers Boeing and Bombardier, makes the event even more significant.

Flight 744 took off from New York’s LaGuardia airport (LGA) in the early hours of the morning, marking the official debut of the state-of-the-art A220-100, Delta proudly announced on the day. The airline is not only the pleased owner of the aircraft, but also its biggest customer worldwide (based on Airbus orderbook as of December 31, 2018).

It is also the first airline in the U.S. to take delivery of the A220, after it was rolled out of the painting hangar in Delta’s signature livery at the A220 final assembly line in Mirabel, Québec (Canada), the European plane maker announced in September  2018. Having recently shaken up and expanded its initial order, Delta is now expecting to eventually have 90 A220s of both available variants in its fleet. Now belonging to Airbus, the aircraft had a different manufacturer and name when the U.S.  legacy carrier first ordered it in 2016. Delta placed a $5.6 billion (at list prices) order for 75 Bombardier SC100s around the same time it cancelled another aircraft order from Boeing, sparking a legal war and tariff battle between the two planemakers. Boeing accused the Canadian government of illegally subsidizing C Series program and launched a trade dispute against Bombardier in 2017 – pointing to Delta’s deal. Consequently, the U.S. government imposed 300% trade duties on C Series planes, but the decision was eventually overruled in 2018.

CANAV Classics Keep Rolling On

The heart and soul of CANAV Books never changes — it’s our readers. Quite a few names on our list go back to CANAV’s origins in 1981, when those sharp readers ordered our  first book, The Avro CF- 100. These solid citizens are still behind our efforts after the better part of 40 years. Even if a title hasn’t quite been “up their ally”, these true supporters invariably order a copy just to show their loyalty. Imaginez-vous! Here are two good examples of reader interest from one recent day on the job here at CANAV — January 22, 2019.

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First, from Manitoba came an email from a long-term reader who, having started as a junior Norseman pilot, ages later retired as a captain off wide bodies. Summarizing his take on Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, he concludes. “Finally finished working my way through the CAE book. What a great amount of material! I don’t know how you do it, just superb. The corporate coverage is a real eye opener as to how things are accomplished. Also, the details about the people involved are fascinating. Well done, for sure! You mention on p.53 about the twin engine trainers. We have two of those in storage out here.”  Little by little, our readers are discovering that The CAE Story is one of the more important and beautifully-produced CANAV titles. I hope you have yours by now. Otherwise, go to where you can order on-line. You’ll revel in this book, even if you have to be dragged to it screaming in protest.

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Next, along came Canada Post with a wonderful letter from Peggy, the widow of renowned Canadair tech rep, Jim Fitzpatrick. Jim worked for Canadair/Bombardier 1951 to 1996. Peggy mentioned how she recently received a copy of The Canadair Sabre and simply had to tell me what this meant to her. She related how she, Jim and their children lived all over the planet, two years here, three years there, while Jim handled tech rep and other company business. They roughed it in Colombia during the FAC’s Canadair Sabre 6 years, later were in Spain supporting the CL-215, in Germany with the Luftwaffe’s Challengers, and elsewhere (people used to have real jobs, remember). Commenting about The Canadair Sabre, Peggy begins, “I wish to thank you for all your hard work putting these 372 pages together … I spent three hours going through the pages starting the moment I opened the box.” Coming from someone who was right there “back in the day”, I’m humbled to hear from this stellar Canadian. It doesn’t get much better for an author. Besides The Canadair Sabre being perpetually “in the moment”, two of my other personal favourites from the CANAV backlist are the Leslie Corness and Wilf White propliner books. These are absolute gems for anyone looking for the ideal gift for any aviation fan. About The Wilf White Propliner Collection, the much-respected journal, “Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”, commented, “Milberry’s treatment of his subject is personal and meticulous, the photo selection is eclectic and evocative, the captions knowledgeable and informative … thoroughly enjoyable…””Air International” also loved the book, concluding its review: “You will love this book”. Adding to the wave of such reviews, here is what Denis J. Calvert had to say in the November 2006 edition of “Aircraft Illustrated”

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The Enduring (Indestructable?) Beech 18

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An impressive view showing the packed Beech 18 final line at Wichita c1946. From 1937, Beech delivered 100s of these superb airplanes to Canadian operators. The last of 9000+ Beech 18s went to a Japanese customer in 1969. *Click on any image to see it larger. (CANAV Books Col.)

From Piper J-3 to DC-3 and 787 there’s a long list of great airplanes that have served Canada. If these go by general importance, near the top will be the Beechcraft Model 18. Commonly simply called “Beech 18”, “Beech” or (in the RCAF) “Expeditor”, the first of hundreds came to Canada in December 1937 for Starratt Airways of Hudson, a key transportation hub in northwest Ontario. Always forward-thinking, Starratt recognized the potential of Walter Beech’s new design (first flight at Wichita in January 1937). Registered CF-BGY, Starratt’s Beech 18 revolutionized bush flying. Below are three photos of this historic Canadian bushplane. These pix are lifted from p.128 of Air Transport in Canada (no other Canadian book has so much Beech 18 history – “ATC” has more than 80 Beech 18 entries in its index).

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Other “Beeches” soon were in service across Canada with such operators as Canadian Airways, the Hudson’s Bay Co., John David Eaton, and Prairie Airways. Then came WWII, when the Beech 18 became a prominent RCAF utility and training plane. About 150 were taken on RCAF strength in 1940-45.

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An RCAF Beech 18 “Expeditor” in wartime colours at RCAF Station Centralia. Then, a standard looking postwar Expeditor at RCAF Station Winnipeg in 1963. (CANAV Books Col., Hugh A. Halliday)

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Happily, the ultimate book about our subject is still available – Robert Parmerter’s spectacular Beech 18: A Civil and Military History. This book is essential for any reader with a healthy interest in general aviation history. You can order a copy through the Beechcraft Aviation Museum:

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blog 14 cf-hxu skies beech 18 cf-hxu 9-2018

Also in today’s blog are two of my own early Beech 18 photos. Here’s a one that I took at Toronto’s old Malton Airport (today’s YYZ) over the winter of 1959-60. Beech D18S CF-HXU had been built in 1946 for Robinson Airlines of upstate New York. In 1955 it came to Canada for Canadian Aircraft Renters, which operated from Toronto Island Airport as Southern Provincial Airlines (the colour scheme was red, black and white). When “CAR” folded in 1960, CF-HXU migrated west for Saskatchewan Government Airways to do air ambulance and general duties into 1972. Then, it just disappeared, likely going for scrap. Check out the Beech 18’s beautiful lines. Powered by 450-hp P&W R-985 engines, aviation couldn’t have had a finer light twin.

The Beech in Corporate Aviation

Corporate aviation in Canada dates to post-WWI days, when war surplus airplanes such as the Curtiss HS-2L flying boat were adopted by forestry and mineral exploration companies. Since then, business (always keen to use aviation to its benefit) has kept informed about developments. Not surprisingly, when Walter Beech introduced its Model 18 in 1937, business took notice of the attractive and speedy new all-metal twin. Two of Canada’s original corporate Beech 18s flew with the T. Eaton Co. (Toronto) and the Hudson’s Bay Co. (Winnipeg). Subsequently, the Beech became one of Canada’s popular business planes. The first I noted during my airport visits back in high school days was at Dorval in July 1959 — CF-IZO owned by a Quebec real estate company. Others that we would spot back then at Malton were CF-AMY of Automotive Products (Montreal), CF-ANT of furnace manufacturer Anthes-Imperial (St. Catharines), CF-FEM of Federal Equipment (Toronto), CF-GJS of Alnor Construction (Oshawa), CF- HOP of Canadian Breweries (Toronto), CF-JNQ of Chelsea Holdings (Montreal), CF-KJX of J.M. Gardner Ltd. (Noranda) and CF-LPC of International Harvester (Hamilton). Happily, after more than 80 years, several Beech 18s remain airworthy in Canada, mostly as work-a-day floatplanes in the bush.

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Here is CF-MCH at Malton over the summer of 1959. Having begun with the US military in 1943, it was N6424C after the war, then became “MCH” in 1956 with Charlottetown- based Maritime Central Airlines. In 1960 it joined Curran and Briggs, a Toronto construction company that had gotten a big boost in WWII building RCAF airfields and working on the Alaska Highway. Postwar, the company had contracts from 401 Highway in Ontario to the Churchill Falls hydro project in Labrador. With work all over Canada, having a company plane made sense. However, once business receded, “MCH” was sold. Its eventual fate isn’t known, other than it disappeared from the civil aircraft register in July 1964. “MCH” looks spiffy here in its shiny aluminum finish with white top and forest green trim. Note the company logo on the nose. Next time around, I’ll feature a bit more about the always-fascinating Beech 18.

CF-100 News

The Avro CF-100 was the first title published by CANAV Books. That was eons ago in 1981. I still love the gorgeous cover art done by the great Canadian aviation artist, Peter Mossman. Ultimately, the book sold out three printings totalling about 6500 copies, and now is a serious collector’s item. If you need a copy, your best source is or One day lately I checked on the former to find 65 for sale at an average price well over US$100. Failing all else, this shows that it pays to buy early, right!

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Each year the fascinating history and lore of Canada’s renowned CF-100 spreads wider and wider. Recently, there’s been increased interest in this fabulous “Fighter of the Fifties”. The City of Mississauga has done a total clean-up of its CF-100 Mk.5 18619 near the old town of Malton, and CF-100 Mk.5 No.100760 moved from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa for restoration at the Quebec Aviation Museum ( at YHU Longueuil airport. COPA reported on “760”: receives-avro-canuck/ More recently, a tired-looking CF-100 Mk.3 18126 (painted in ersatz prototype colours) received a boost, as reported by the Calgary Herald on January 23, 2019 (also see

Restoration of a Cold War-era fighter has been given liftoff by a city funding commitment, says the head of the Hangar Flight Museum. Although an $82,000  undraising effort fell $20,000 short of its Dec. 31 deadline, the city has agreed to  nject $243,000 into repairing a 1950s- vintage Avro CF-100 Canuck fighter plane, said museum executive director Brian Desjardins. The relative success in collecting $62,000 in just two months was probably a factor in the city’s decision, though fundraising continues for the project, he said. “I have every confidence the restoration will now proceed,” said Desjardins. The twin-engined interceptor jet has been sitting exposed to the elements for decades and has been deteriorating from the inside out, due to its unique metallic composition. It will probably take three years to restore the plane, which will be housed in a large tent hangar on the grounds of the northeast museum, said Desjardins. The museum is also seeking a grant from the province’s Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. “We have to show this is an aircraft that’s been important to the aviation industry in Alberta,” said Desjardins. “It looks like our project is a perfect fit for that program . . . it’s been here for 64 years.” The particular CF-100 came to Alberta with Canada’s armed forces in 1955 and eventually became a static display outside the Centennial Planetarium beginning in the early 1970s. Its fate struck a chord with individual donors with a family connection to the type of aircraft, said Desjardins. “Sons, daughters and families have made personal donations because their fathers had flown the CF-100,” he said. The museum is also expecting to take possession of a Second World War Hawker Hurricane single-engine fighter this spring, after its restoration in Westaskiwin. Also this year, the museum will mark the return of a 1930 de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer. The facility also recently saw its operating budget almost doubled by city officials to $475,000, which will enable it to better curate its collection by hiring a full-time collections manager, said Desjardins. “That’ll help immensely because we have not only our aircraft but other artifacts we need to have documented,” he said. “We’re happy with that, though we still have the smallest city budget among these kinds of organizations.” The museum is also examining the cost of expanding its tent hangar, which is aging and in need of frequent repairs, said Desjardins.

CANAV’s “Aviation in Canada” Series … Give
Us Your Support, SVP blog 17 jpg format

So far CANAV has eight spectacular volumes in print in its seminal “Aviation in Canada” series. These books have been produced without a penny of your tax dollar – no government publishing grant has been so much as been applied for. No such aviation books have ever before been produced in Canada – nothing compares, not a chance. Above is the detailed coverage of our efforts (click on image to see larger). Make sure that you have your personal set up-to-date. Failing all else, print off this info sheet and show it to your local public librarian with a strong recommendation to order these important books (to supplement what in most Canadian public libraries is a shelf heavy with “Made-in-the USA” aviation books). Scroll on down a bit to the next item …

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