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

 

 

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

  1. Sharon & Paul Wagenaar

    Thanks Larry, that was a great read on a cold day.

    Paul.

  2. Larry, thank you for sharing Al’s pictures and your narrative comments. I was especially interested in the Canadian manufactured Cub Aircraft Corporation Ltd. images. I have sent you a PM that indicates my interests.

  3. Jackson Campbell

    Hey, thanks for the read and the photos! I have Fleet Canuck DEE and I am ecstatic to stumble on that photo of it! I’m going to email you for more info if you have any.

    Thanks so much!

    Jackson

  4. This article tells us about light planes Al Martin’s photographic handiwork from the 1950s. This is such a nice blog on this topic. I hope you keep on updating us with such a great information in future too. I am sure many people will come to read this in future.

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