New CANAV Books List … Here’s our new Summer/Fall 2021 Booklist. Don’t miss out. For any sharp-minded aviation reader this is a goldmine!
Snowbirds Update, Some Top News Reporting from the Soo
Being stuck in Toronto, it’s not so easy to find a nicely written, factually solid and interesting piece of reportage of local interest. Much of what we get in the Toronto Star, for example, is far left political rants. A good day for the Star is to publish 3, 4, 5 so-called news items rampaging against the ruling Conservatives at Queen’s Park. Don’t they get tired of this? It’s as if the Star was on the Liberal party’s payroll. They really need to calm down and get a grip. We subscribers would appreciate much more in-depth local, national and international news that isn’t spoiled by political haranguing. To be fair, however, there always is some excellent local coverage in the community newspapers. Thank goodness, right. My own neighbourhood Beach Metro News provides an escape from the all-too-unedifying Star.
I’ve always been impressed by the solid, in-depth news coverage from our smaller northern press, those stalwarts such as the Soo Star, Sudbury Star and North Bay Nugget. Lately, Darren Taylor of the Soo wrote this superb item profiling Snowbirds pilot, Patrice Powis-Clement. Here it is for your enjoyment. What a decent, edifying bit of hometown coverage. Certainly well worth clipping by the Snowbirds for their archives at Moose Jaw: https://www.sudbury.com/around-the-north/snowbirds-no-9-5-job-says-northern-ont-man-joining-aerobatics-team-3767643
Amazing Good Fortune after a Mid-Air Collision
Check out this story from Colorado yesterday. We know how such events usually end. But, on May 12, 2021 things panned out for all involved:
Laura, just a regular pilot turned writer@LauraSavino747·Breaking News – midair collision over Denver. Both planes landed with no injuries. #thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/2-planes-collide-mid-air-over-cherry-creek-state-park-no-reported-injuries-officials-say #aviation #Denver #cockpitchatter #Pilot #AvGeek
Also, here’s the summary from the Aviation Safety Network:
|Date:||Wednesday 12 May 2021|
Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II
|Operator:||Key Lime Air|
|Engines:||2 Garrett TPE331|
|Crew:||Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:|
|Passengers:||Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0|
|Total:||Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:|
|Location:||2,3 nm N of Denver-Centennial Airport, CO (APA/KAPA) ( United States of America)|
|Departure airport:||Salida Airport, CO (SLT/KANK), United States of America|
|Destination airport:||Denver-Centennial Airport, CO (APA/KAPA), United States of America|
A privately registered Cirrus SR22 (N416DJ) and a Key Lime Air Swearingen Metro II (N280KL) collided on approach to Denver-Centennial Airport, Colorado, USA.
The Cirrus pilot activated the CAPS rescue parachute. The Key Lime flight reported issues with the right-hand engine and continued the approach for a safe landing on runway 17L.
|Investigating agency: NTSB|
A Few COVID Thoughts for May 7, 2021
West of New Brunswick, Canada’s ruling classes still seem to be clueless about Covid 19. Were they otherwise, Ottawa and the provincial governments long ago would have imposed the scientific/medical measures known to be effective in controlling the virus. Had they done so, the country today likely would be wide open and Mothers Day would not be down the drain again. So here we are in Year 2 with most of Canada overwhelmed by illness. Extra aggravating is our legion of deniers. They proudly remain tuned out to reality, preferring to protest about their supposed “rights” being trampled upon (with no mention, of course, of the duties that are emblematic of any civilized society). Google this and see some classic Canadian redneck yahoos: “Protesters, most not wearing masks, gathered in Montreal on Saturday to demonstrate against Quebec’s public health restrictions such as the curfew.” What’s the collective IQ in this photo?
Statistics for May 4 to 6, 2021 show how backwards Canada remains compared to other regions around the planet that got out ahead of Covid-19 from the start. These are simple, basic stats, but anyone without blinkers will get the message.
One wonders why the mainstream news networks are not highlighting such shocking data every day on the evening news and on the front pages. If they would, then maybe the government would sharpen up a bit. Where is the media’s conscience about this? Note the stats for Sweden, which pooh-poohed lockdowns, etc. from the start. Nonetheless, the anti-measures people still laud Sweden for its supposed iconoclasm in going against the grain. Well, compare Sweden’s neighbours Finland and Norway. Of course, Finland has been considered by the anti-everything clods to have gone overboard with its strict measures. But who gets the last laugh! The numbers don’t lie, take a look:
Country Population 2019 New Cases May 4, 5 or 6, 2121
USA 328.2 million 43,235
Brazil 211 million 73,380
Germany 83 million 17,917
France 67 million 21,712
South Korea 51.7 million 525
Canada 37.6 million 7,961
Australia 25.4 11
Taiwan 23.6 13
Sweden 10.2 6526
Israel 9 61
Finland 5.5 280
Norway 5.3 506
New Zealand 4.9 1
In Canada (7916 cases compared to Australia with 11) the eastern provinces took the unpopular, yet, valiant approach of strict lockdowns right from the start. Provinces such as Ontario played a complicated political game that blew up in their faces. Here are some cases. Read ’em and weep, Ontario:
New Brunswick 777,000 4
Newfoundland 522,000 6
Ontario 14.6 million 3166
Quebec 8.5 million 915
Alberta 4.4 million 2211
Chasing Airplanes: My 1961 Road Trip
By 1961 I had been on many airplane-chasing trips all around southern Ontario from Windsor to Ottawa, down to Montreal, even across the border. These ventures usually were with such pals as Merlin Reddy, Nick Wolochatiuk and Paul Regan. Eventually, some of the fellows had a car, but early on we got around via that tried and true method – hitchhiking. As such, we used to call ourselves “The Knights of the Road”. Hitchhiking still was a respectable way of getting around. We invariably reached our destination, although at times we had to wait for our next ride. Summers were busiest, since we were off school, but that never kept us from thumbing 25 miles out to Malton Airport to look for interesting planes to photograph when it was -20F in December.
In the summer of 1961, I was coming up to my 18th birthday and waiting to get back to Malvern Collegiate in Toronto’s east end. I’d spent the summer taking academic courses needed to move on to Grade 13, the final year of high school in Ontario. I’d also been working at my part-time job as a helper and delivery boy at Oakley’s Meat market at Kingston Road and Main St. For a few months I’d been thinking of doing a solo road trip across Northern Ontario, maybe as far as Winnipeg. I’d saved enough money to pull this off and worked out a plan. I did some serious research into what interesting aircraft I might see along the way. This mainly was done by scrutinizing every page of the 1959 Canadian Civil Aircraft Register. Various rare airplanes were listed between Winnipeg and Toronto, but which ones might I find? The register gave me the basic details for each of these plus the owner’s name and address.
Deciding to venture forth, for $50 I purchased 1-way ticket on Trans-Canada Air Lines to Winnipeg. I’d take an early flight to Fort William at the Lakehead, spend the day knocking around, then catch the late flight to Winnipeg. I loaded up on 120 b/w film for my main camera (Minolta Autocord) and splurged on one “36” roll of Kodachrome. I squeezed everything into one small bag and off I went to Malton on Sunday morning, September 3. Soon I boarded TCA Flight 59 (Viscount CF-TGR) departing at 0755. This was my first Viscount flight. By now (60 years later), I barely can remember how this went, but from my old notebook I see that we landed at Fort William on time at 1000. It pays to keep notes, right!
I immediately got to work snooping around Fort William airport. However, for some reason I didn’t get full photo coverage on the ramp. Although I noted RCN Tracker 1564, RCAF T-33 21463, a couple of North Central DC-3s, and other interesting planes, for some reason I didn’t shoot them. Maybe I got rousted off the ramp, or, was hesitant to give the ramp a try. However, around the hangers I shot such types as Lockheed 12A CF-EPF, and a rare BT-13 Valiant CF-HJB, which “OJ” Wieben of Superior Airways had converted to a single-cockpit fish hauler.
As I looked over the Bellanca down on the Kam, there was a sudden roar of some exotic plane in the overcast. This was tantalizing, so I decided to hustle back to the airport. I thanked Mr. Wieben and easily caught some rides. My timing was perfect. What was that mystery plane? I couldn’t have hit a bigger jackpot – the sun was out again and there on the ramp was a gleaming Lockeed P-38 Lightning. As the pilot was getting his kit out of his P-38’s long, photo-recce nose, I hustled across to start shooting. He was friendly and happily agreed to re- start his engines, so I could get a few action photos. The whole exciting scene had me fired up to the point that I later realized that I probably had clicked off too many frames of my lone roll of Kodachrome.
I knocked around Fort William airport for the rest of the day, until boarding TCA Flight 53 (Viscount CF-THX) for Winnipeg. Taking off at 2145, we landed 1:50 hours later. Having no options, I slept in the passenger terminal, then was up early to start the day. I had set myself a budget of $2 a day, so needed to be innovative about meals and accommodations. I could get something like a fried egg sandwich, or, wieners and beans plus a drink for about 50 cents. That was about the extent of the “admin” side of my trip.
At first light I was wandering around the Winnipeg ramp photographing and making notes about the many airplanes that caught my eye. I especially hoped to see Transair’s last Avro York CF-HAS. A Transair mechanic told me that “HAS” was up north, but he could get me on a flight if I was interested. Of course I was, but there was a clanger in the deal – I’d have to “give myself to Jesus” right now in the hangar in front of this Christian mechanic, otherwise — no flight. I decided that the price was a bit out of my range, so returned to the airplanes on the ramp, doomed to hell. There was plenty to see and shoot.
Next came the RCAF side of the airport, which I reached by hiking across the field and skirting the end of a runway. This got me right onto the RCAF ramp, where I started photographing the many aircraft shining in the early sun – mainly B-25s and Dakotas, but also Lancasters and a pair of new Albatross. I was acting as if I owned the place, until an officer appeared to ask what I was doing. Somehow, he bought my line, let me finish, then drove me to the gate.
My visit to the Winnipeg Flying Club hangar turned up a pair of one-of-a-kind 1936 Canadian biplanes – D.H.87 Hornet Moth CF-AYG, which was on my list, but supposedly far up north in Dauphin; and CF-CDQ, an Avro Avian. Both were in the back of the hangar, “CDQ” with its wings folded. The AME on duty was a friendly fellow, who was happy to find a kid with an interest. Before long, we had pushed some planes out of the way and had “AYG” on the tarmac to photograph. All was fine, except that the visibility was the pits, since forest fire smoke had reduced the airport almost to IFR conditions. (Google the “Maclean’s Magazine” article by Peter Gzowski “1961: Summer of the Angry Forest Fires”. This was 60 years ago, long before anyone heard the term “climate change”. These fires were worse than anything seen in Canada in the 2000s. Such fires have been roaring around the continent since time immemorial. Meanwhile, the climate has never stopped — and never will stop — changing.)
Early on September 5, I was watching a Winnipeg Flying Club Aeronca getting ready for a flight. I chatted with the young pilot, mentioning that I was headed over to Rivercrest airstrip a few miles to the west. For a bit of gas money ($2) this fine fellow was happy to drop me off there. Seemed like a deal, so away we went, landing 17 minutes later. Rivercrest was an interesting spot, especially with Beech 18 CF-NKL-X, sitting at the dock on new Bristol of Canada floats. I learned that the “X” in the plane’s registration was needed, since the floats still were experimental.
From Rivercrest I decided to hitchhike north to RCAF Station Gimli to try my luck. In those days, Gimli was a busy jet training base with 100+ T-33s. Off I headed using my trusty Shell roadmap to find my way. This all ended as a big flop, for there were no rides to be had. Also maddening was how I was pestered for an hour along a dusty road by a nasty big farm dog. Finally, I decided to backtrack and head east to Kenora. Rides remained scarce – it was just a lousy day. However, I had made it as far as Whitemouth when I got really lucky. A bus came my way, I flagged it down and happily paid $2.40 for a ticket to Kenora.
Heading into town early on September 6, I looked forward to photographing the of Lake-of-the-Woods bushplanes most of which were at the OCA docks right downtown.
Now it was time to hit the road. Always in my mind was the first day of school, for which I had planned to be on time — but hope was fading. Heading towards Fort William, I next was looking for the rare Stinson SR-JR bushplane, CF-HAW, said to be around Ignace. Too bad but I couldn’t find it. I pressed on and straight through Fort William, not stopping to see the airport again. My guess is that it likely was raining at the time. The weather sure was crappy for 2 or 3 days. At Nipigon I managed a ride in the back of a pick-up with some local Ojibwa fellows. The guys were friendly, sharing their moose meat sandwiches and trying to enlist me to go cutting pulpwood with them. It was a tough bush job, paid $16 a day, but I had to buy a chain saw and some bush gear. I thought about it, but finally begged off. By this time I had peeled off the Trans Canada (which still was unpaved and under construction for long stretches). Instead, I took the long way up Hwy 11. This turned out to be a dumb move.
There sure wasn’t much for me going this way. When it was quiet, I’d hang around the restaurant at whichever Husky gas station. For accommodations, I spent two nights with the Ontario Provincial Police at Geraldton and Hearst. I was able to sell the officers in charge to let me overnight in their drunk tanks. This wasn’t so bad, as my cellmates all seemed OK fellows. Mainly … the price was right for a kid on the road. At Kapuskasing on September 8, I hoped to catch the US Air Force Beaver belonging to the nearby radar site, but it was away. I pushed on with no luck until away down at New Liskeard and Temagami on September 9. Hitchhiking then became a real bind. I was stuck hanging around truck stops for a couple of days.
Reaching Sudbury on the 11th I was happy to see a Kenting B-17 that was getting set to fly south to Wiarton – somewhat in my direction. I tried my luck for a ride, but the boss wouldn’t bite. Even so, I still made it home later that day on the 200 mile standard route down Hwy 69. I was a week late for school, so was a bit nervous showing up next day. Nonetheless, our great vice-principal, Mr. Stubbs (RCAF WWII), welcomed me back like the Prodigal Son. So ended my first big solo road trip.
New Brunswick Aviation Museum
Are you familiar with the New Brunswick Aviation Museum? Now in growth mode, this important regional organization aims to build an RCAF aircraft collection (Vampire, Sabre, T-33, etc.). The museum explains, “We plan to become a centre of excellence for the preservation of aviation history and the promotion of aerospace careers among New Brunswick youth.” Learn more at www.nbaviationmuseum.com Please show some support by taking out a membership.
Bush Flying Nostalgia
Several lovely old bushplane scenes recently popped up from the CANAV archives. Knowing this era of aviation in Canada is as important and interesting as contemporary content about F-35s, 787s, etc. (the aviation history “grown-ups” know this). I’ve covered much of this ancient history, chiefly in Air Transport in Canada and in Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years.
Today’s Great Lakes Page
400 Squadron Ride-Along
CANAV Books Moves Ahead — “Aviation in Canada”
To 2021 Canada Books has produced eight volumes in its “Aviation in Canada” series. As expected, those with a serious interest in and love for good aviation books have been enjoying this mini-encyclopaedia devoted to Canada’s aviation heritage. Having begun in 2008 with Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, the series goes well so far, mainly since the standard CANAV philosophy of the book universe remains unchanged. All the solid “book people” who have been watching the series get this.
France’s veteran researcher, writer, publisher, and former bush pilot in the Canadian northland, Philippe Listeman, reviewed The Pioneer Decades at L’@erobibliotheqe. He gives a fair and detailed analysis. In traditional fashion, he outlines the chapters, making such comments as, “Tout le long du texte, des récits extraits de rapports de combat, de communiqués officiels ou autres, en font un texte vivant à lire.” (“Throughout the text, stories extracted from combat reports, official statements or others, make it a living text to read.”) His finishing words? “Sans aucun doute un bon livre pour toute personne intéressée aux premiers pas de l’aviation et aussi à la Première Guerre mondiale.” (“Without a doubt a good book for anyone interested in the first steps of aviation and also in the First World War.”) A fair and tidy review.
Other comments from the professional book critics? “A treasure for anyone with an interest in Canada’s wonderful heritage in the air,” wrote Air Force Magazine. Bob Merrick added in COPA Flight: “The spectacular pictures perfectly supplement the tight, well-written, heavily researched narrative.” David Baker of the UK’s revered Aviation News concluded: “The … story is well written and easy to follow, logically connecting the images with the text – not always the case with history books … a story that is both inspiring and worthy … to be welcomed and treasured.” All of which makes one wonder what that first poor sod was trying to prove so nastily.
All moved along predictably since we dared to launch the “Aviation in Canada” series at great expense. No other publisher in Canada would dare take such a chance, especially the “big boys”, whose motto seems to be, “Never take a chance”. These mainly are American branch plant operations, taking their orders from New York.
Our Volume 2, which picks up where Pioneer Decades ends, is The Formative Years. It’s had nothing but praise. “What is it?” queried reviewer Bob Merrick in “COPA News”. “A learned treatise on how to deal with the intransigent teenagers in your care? Well, no. It’s written by Larry Milberry, Canada’s foremost aviation author, and while he may know a thing or two about raising teenagers, he knows a whole lot more about early Canadian aviation, the changes it made to Canada, and to Canadians’ ways and quality of life. He recently started a new series, Aviation in Canada, and this is the second volume…
“WWI had shown that aircraft and their much-improved capabilities were no longer just toys for the idle rich. A country such as Canada, blessed with an overabundance of acreage populated mostly by tiny, isolated communities, needed some way of defeating those distances. Might the sputtering aircraft of the day be of use … It’s about here, in 1919, where the new book starts. And what a book it is.
“You’d think that an author such as Milberry, with thirty Canadian civil and military aviation books under his belt, would have already said everything there is to say about aviation in the early years. But no, he hasn’t. He discovered still more aeronauts, companies and entrepreneurs whose stories were still untold… It’s unquestionably a Milberry book. It starts with meticulous research, and the information thus uncovered is transformed into readily understandable prose that flows easily and readably across the printed page.
“But, there are interruptions… Pictures, about 450 of them in this book. He has zillions of pictures in his personal 50-year-old files, and he has zillions of friends who are willing to share their pictures with him. Thus, the reader is not looking at the same old pictures that enlivened previous books … The Formative Years is a formidable addition to our gradually increasing knowledge of how important aviation has been to Canada’s development … Milberry has provided us with a first-rate, exciting chronicle that clearly demonstrates the hardships, the disappointments, and yet, the steady progress that has made it possible for most Canadians to enjoy fast, reliable air transportation from one point in the country to any other point in the country…”
The reviews piled up, not a one being disappointing. Britain’s “Aircraft” magazine crowed about The Formative Years, “Authoritative … Milberry is your guarantee here … readable, well-produced”.
Since those exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking times, we have forged on to build “Aviation in Canada” to eight titles, the others being Evolution of an Air Force, Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945, The Noorduyn Norseman Vols. 1 and 2, The CAE Story and Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. All have been beautifully received by the top “book people” writing for the aviation press, but, most importantly, by our loyal CANAV readership. Presently, we are battling to complete Fighter Pilots and Observers 1939-1945, and The Royal Canadian Air Force: 100 Years 1924 – 2024.
Here we are at Part 7 of my overview of CANAV Books in its 40 year history. By now you get the picture – people around the world love our books. I’ll spare you another excessive run of the reviews, except for these periodical and reader comments loving the Norseman books. Down the line, this all will appear in a book that’s in the making. To begin, this keen reader (like Dr. Higham, a history professor) reported about Norseman Vol.1, “The Noorduyn book is terrific. I like the weaving of anecdotes with the narrative, and the photographs are very nicely reproduced.” A retired airline pilot added: “The Norseman story is compelling and exceedingly well written. What airplane fan couldn’t love it! I’m standing by, straining at the chocks, for the next installment. Now I’m sure I should have bought that Norseman in Winnipeg in ’83, but I built a house instead.”
Len Halloran (RCMP ret’d) from New Brunswick who, with his Inuit companion, saved pilot Wiggo Norwang and his passengers following their horrendous 1958 Norseman crash on the tundra, admitted that he really wasn’t a student of aviation history. However, on going through his copy of Vol.1, Len’s key phrase about it all is “out of this world”. “You sure put a book together, my friend.” From one of the great innovators of big water bombers in California, the word for Norseman Vol.1 was loud and clear: “Man oh man, the book came yesterday. Wow, is all I can say! Not since my teens, when I bought mail order from Beachcomber Books in the great northwest, have I gotten a more exciting book shipment. Methinks that American ‘airplane nuts’ are doing themselves a great disservice if not frequenting CANAV books.”
So it has gone. Meanwhile, how fares The CAE Story? You can see the reviews and reader remarks here on the blog (you can find anything on the blog by using the search box). Few books in the last 50 years have been so gloriously reviewed. The CAE Story turns out to be pretty well the best in its class over a good 50 years. Finally, what about Fighter Pilots and Observers? Happily, it’s the same story. The renowned WWI aerial warfare journal, “Over the Front” observes: “This new book’s unassuming title modestly hides the treasure of photographic and text material stored within its large- format pages … One of the true joys of this volume is the wealth of original photographs, drawn from official and many private sources. These images portray the breadth of aircraft types and the variety of squadrons manned by Canadian fliers.” Finally, writing in the USAF “Air University Press”, Dr. J.A. Boyless concludes: “The authors’ information and anecdotes convey the glory and pain of flying … The book is a window of the past … The stories of the men and machines that fought the war came alive as I read … I don’t hesitate to recommend this volume … Understanding the past assists in applying the best to the future.”
One of the world’s most historic, revered and long-lived journals – “Aeroplane” — thought Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 to be a decent effort, noting in its May 2019 edition, “The is volume eight in CANAV’s series… Those who have read … earlier volumes will be familiar with author Milberry’s style of writing, which strikes that happy, and all to rare, balance between being easy to read and rigorously detailed.” Reviewer Denis Calvert liked all the book’s content, concluding, “Illustrations are excellent with good reproduction.” This is an honest assessment by a top bibliophile. Denis gives more than enough to please any publisher or author. Yes, a book could not have received better reviews. This final example is from “Britain at War” (November 2018):
Air-Britain Goes After CANAV Books: The Nastiest of Nasty Book Reviews
So far there are 40 years of CANAV titles – 40 years, 39 books. As you have seen over this 7-part series, all have been eagerly received by readers and reviewers alike. Few aviation publishers have had such grand reviews. This leads us to scratch our heads at a review published by one of the world’s most respected journals, “Air-Britain Aviation World”. No serious aviation researcher can get by without Air-Britain’s books and other incomparable publications. We all lean in Air-Britain.
A particular review of Noorduyn Norseman Vol.2, appeared appeared in Air-Britain’s June 2014 edition. Here at long last is my response to this outright attack against CANAV Books and myself by supposed professionals. Somehow, the Air-Britain train came off the tracks for this one. Instead of publishing a serious piece, the reviewer (sounding much like the fellow “reviewing” Pioneer Decades)and his publisher seem more like really angry people with some personal score to settle. (I equate the reviewer and Air-Britain, since they combined to produce this travesty.)
First some background: In its December 2013 edition, “Air-Britain Aviation World” published a so-so review of Norseman Vol.1, describing it as “well illustrated and full of personal accounts”. We can see, later, that this anonymous fellow has distain for the “personal” side of a book, as he demeans our Norseman Vol.2 for making use of personal accounts. This may trace back to the standard Air-Britain book, where references to human beings can be scarce to find among the masses of dates, places, and tail and serial numbers.
Next, this reviewer diminishes himself and his publisher by grumbling about how “expensive” the book is. Even worse, he rues the day that the second volume arrives, implying that no reader will be able to afford such a horrendously “expensive” pair of books. This sounds like someone with zero knowledge of book publishing. He apparently doesn’t even realize that most Air-Britain books cost more than our Norsemans! I’m looking for some logic here, but not finding any.
What devoted lover of aviation books ever fusses about sticker price? The book is the thing, the price is inconsequential, other than for those few idiosyncratic and obsessive cheapskates. They have a problem, but it’s not our. The question for a professional book reviewer is: how is CAD$50 “expensive” for such a large-format, beautifully turned out/costly-to-produce book? After all, $50 is not out of line these days even for a paperback! What gets into a “reviewer’s” head to make such a doltish comment? Notes this clueless person, “the two volume set will be expensive and we would have preferred to see the whole history combined in one book at this price”.
How Air-Britain’s editor accepted this submission boggles the mind. Nonetheless, he approved it and our book now officially is condemned as “expensive”. This is doubly stupid when, as mentioned, one looks at Air-Britain’s very own list of books. This is too funny. Here is a sampling of recent Air-Britain titles, each by no means over-priced, yet all pricier than our Norseman books. The Air-Britain staff and board should be ashamed of themselves for accusing CANAV of producing unfairly-priced books:
Auster Production History £39.95 (approx. CAD$69.50)
Bristol Fighter £59.95 (approx. CAD$104.00)
Piper Aircraft £52.55 (approx CAD$95.00)
By comparison, Norseman Vol.1 is a bargain, especially considering its premium production qualities – the paper, glue and ink of any book. I’ve purchased many Air-Britain books over the decades and have never given thought to their sticker prices. These prices always are fair. To the true aviation bibliophile, we need all such books, we love them, we buy them. What does price have to do with anything?
Another point about Air-Britain’s line of books … they are prized for their content, but rarely for their production qualities. Is this really what bothers Air-Britain about CANAV? That Air-Britain books are not beautifully-produced? I’m just floundering for an explanation here. With Air-Britain books, the paper and binding always are cheap. I have several which, after years of use, are falling apart (not that I care). However, show me a CANAV book that isn’t holding up. So … what is the logic with this so-called Air-Britain book review?
Its mind made up about “expensive” books, and with little interest in our Norseman books’ content, Air-Britain then lay in wait for a year for Norseman Vol.2. Finally getting his hands on a copy (but perhaps not, by the final look of his “review”), the reviewer was eager to tear Vol.2 to pieces – the only person in the world to date with such a twisted passion against our books.
“We have to say we are disappointed”, he begins, starting straight in about the price. This fellow is a laugh a minute. Then he attacks Vol.2 for not including enough about Norsemans outside Canada. Really? There is a mass of information and piles of photos, including a beautiful stand-alone chapter. How does this fellow put it? “We would also have expected more recognition of Norsemans outside North America than a couple of photos.” Here he really tips his hand – this is not a book review, it’s a personal, belittling attack by him and Air-Britain on a particular author and a particular publisher. Mr. Anonymous then moronically complains about no mention in our book of the Widerøe /Norway story. In fact, there are five pages devoted to Wideroes/Norway, all this good material gathered with the help of several competent Norwegian aviation historians, including an old-time Widerøe Norseman pilot. One wonders just how much further an author must go to please the hard-nosed, implacable people at Air-Britain?
Air-Britain continues by ranting that the French Norseman conversions are not included. No? Kindly see p.291. It then bemoans the lack of a production list. Of course, much of what Air-Britain produces is straight production lists and thank goodness that that is their passion – the rest of us need all that good material. So … where is CANAV’s Norseman production list?
CANAV Books knows all about production lists. From “Day 1” with our CF-100, North Star and Sabre books, etc., there are detailed lists galore in the appendices. All the top UK periodicals over 40 years have raved about our magnificent production lists. However, Norseman Vol.2 already was at 304 pages. To add a production list and do it justice would have meant a good 40 extra pages, so made publication tougher to finance. Nonetheless, had a superb Norseman production list not already existed, CANAV certainly would have gone beyond the limit and included one. Anyone knowing CANAV understands that. However, our “reviewer” is so clueless as to be unaware that the very best Norseman production list imaginable already was available in 2014 at noorduynnorseman.com (today’s norsemanhistory.com). Had this doltish fellow simply read the Preface of our book, he would have seen this explained. Right there on Page 8, I praise this world-class production list and urge all to go there for what further they may require about individual Norsemans. (This makes me wonder … did Air-Britain actually ever have a copy of our book in its hands? It appears not.)
With such a beautiful, professional resource as norsemanhistory.com at one’s finger tips, CANAV was saved the huge extra cost of creating a Norseman production list and the months/years of work and cost required. Of course, there is no way that our “reviewer” might grasp any of this. But the Air-Britain staff and board surely understand such things, so why did they become partners in this nasty business?
To put the icing on his cake, look how this travesty of a book review ends: “The author seems to have little interest in the history of the aircraft and concentrates on the soft and easy focus on personal anecdotes and experiences and some pretty pictures.” So ends what likely is the most damning and utterly moronic so-called review in aviation book publishing history. Shame on this nasty dimwit and on Air-Britain, which is hugely diminished in the eyes of decent, intelligent, objective readers, historians and others who love good books.
By permitting such garbage to stink up the pages of their normally superb journal, the Air-Britain staff and board have done their organization a wretched disservice. Sadly, in pushing their role as an anti-CANAV outlier, they effectively managed to blacklist our Norseman books in the eyes of Air-Britain readers. They also turned booksellers against CANAV. Are they proud of this? This simply smells too much of being a planned conspiracy between Air-Britain and its “reviewer” to torpedo CANAV Books, certainly to keep our books out of UK bookstores, at which – sadly to say — they succeeded. What a poor show altogether.
Stay tuned, good readers, for our next installment. Who knows, perhaps by then we’ll have Air-Britain’s explanation, maybe even an apology.
Three More Reviews for Air-Britain’s Edification
In this CANAV Blog 7-part series, we have referred to dozens of world-class book reviews. Only one is in the Air-Britain category. This year I have been unearthing even more reviews, several that I hadn’t noticed until 2020-21. These keep arising, as I go through sets of old journals which I’m clearing out. Here are three of these items, beginning with a lead review of Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story in “Aviation News” from February 1993 (CANAV earned many a lead book review in the UK aviation press). Then, here’s one from “FlyPast” of December 1995 covering our spectacular title, Canadair: The First 50 Years. The reviewer’s final sentence tells the story, right! This reviewer actually read the book!
Finally, “Plein Vol” reviewed Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force in its October 2010 edition. This reviewer also read the book. I like his comment near the end, which reads in English: “Let’s hope that the Aviation in Canada saga continues for a long time to come. It represents an incredible mine of information that should be the reference for anyone interested … in aviation in Canada since Day 1, especially our young people.” This was an all-round reviewer, looking for a good book. Having found one, he lets loose, but in the opposite vein to Air-Britain.
CCF Curtiss Helldiver Update
In November 2019 I wrote about Curtiss SB2C Helldiver production at Canadian Car and Foundry at Fort William, Ontario during WWII. CCF delivered 835 Helldivers to the US Navy, while Fairchild at Longueuil, Quebec, built a further 300. You can find our detailed article by entering Canadian Car and Foundry and the Curtiss SBW Helldiver in the blog search box. If you haven’t yet read this item, you’ll get a lot out of it.
In its Vol.31, No.3, Fall 1986, the American Aviation Historical Society Journal ran a detailed history of US Navy VB-7 Helldiver squadron in action with Task Force 38 in the Pacific Theatre. Many VB-7 Helldivers were Canadian-built. During a big operation against Hong Kong on January 16, 1945, TB-38 lost 22 aircraft, including CCF SB2C 21377 of VB-7 based on the carrier USS Hancock. Lost in this same action was CCF-built 21406 of VB-20 off the USS Lexington. Here are photos from the AAHS article: two air-to-air scenes of VB-7 Helldivers, then, combat photos of VB-7 striking the Japanese heavy cruiser Nachi, and Hong Kong’s Talkoo shipyards.