New Booklist + Snowbirds News + Mid-Air Collision – Talk About a Close Call + COVID Alert + Chasing Airplanes: My 1961 Road Trip + New Brunswick Aviation Museum + Bush Flying Nostalgia + Great Lakes Scenes + 400 Sqn/Camp Borden + CANAV History: Air-Britain and The World’s Most Pitiful Aviation Book Review

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:

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. #aviation #Denver #cockpitchatter #Pilot #AvGeek

Also, here’s the summary from the Aviation Safety Network:

Date:Wednesday 12 May 2021
Type:Silhouette image of generic SW4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II
Operator:Key Lime Air
First flight:1978
Engines:2 Garrett TPE331
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:
Aircraft damage:Substantial
Location:2,3 nm N of Denver-Centennial Airport, CO (APA/KAPA) (   United States of America)
Phase:Approach (APR)
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.
Accident investigation:

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

Being a bit excited about my first Viscount flight, I snapped off a few “cloud shots” on the way in CF-TGR from Toronto to Fort William on September 3, 1961.

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.

The standard cover of the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register. A copy cost a mere $2.00 and the information provided was priceless.

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!

The TCA Viscounts that took me to Thunder Bay and Winnipeg on September 3 sixty years ago.

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.

Lockheed 12A CF-EPF. My 1959 CCAR told me that it was Serial No. 1269. It looked as if it had been sitting for some time. Today, we know that 1269 had begun in 1939 in the US as NC17397 with the Reiss-Premier Corp. Many owners followed, then it came to Canada in 1953 for Argosy Oil and Gas of Calgary. “EPF” was sold in 1955 to Central Northern Airlines, which soon became Transair. It was somehow damaged at Winnipeg on January 10, 1958, patched up and sold to OJ Wieben’s Superior Airways. OJ’s daughter, Liz, recently told me that “EPF” wasn’t used in fish hauling and soon was sold. Most recently heard of in the 2020s, it was in storage on a farm in Southern Ontario.
In the early 1950s OJ Wieben added this Vultee BT-13, a type that had been an important trainer for the US military in WWII. Thousands of these were sold cheaply after the war, but few made it to Canada, where there already were plenty of cheap ex-RCAF Cornells, Harvards, etc., for sale. Wieben converted his BT-13 for fish hauling by installing a tub in the front cockpit, then fairing it over for streamlining. Hauling fish from northern Indian reserves still was huge business in the 1950s-60s and shipping by air was the way to go in those times, when planes, gas and pilots all were cheap.

One plane that I especially wanted to catch was Superior Airways’ Bellanca 31-55 Skyrocket CF-DCH, one of a small batch built postwar in Edmonton. At the airport I asked around to learn that “DCH” was in town, but at Superior’s water base on the Kaministiquia River – the “Kam” as locals called it. I got the directions and hit the road. Reaching the Superior base, I found that this also was where the Wieben family lived. Mr. Wieben met me at the gate and showed me around. He was keen to hear that some kid from Toronto was interested in photographing his big, tough Bellanca fish hauler. By this time the weather was overcast and it was drizzling – the hitchhiker’s curse.
In 1961 Superior Airways Bellanca Skyrocket CF-DCH was on my list of exotic aircraft to track down between Winnipeg and Toronto. In the end I was happy that I took the time to track it down. Recently, Ev Makela of Sudbury told me about “DCH” passing through that northern town late one season. It stayed overnight at the Austin Airways dock on Ramsay Lake, but in the morning was totally frozen in by an unexpected cold snap. There it stayed for several weeks. Finally, OJ Wieben sent a crew to Sudbury. With old-fashioned manpower they chopped “DCH” from the ice, fuelled it, checked it over one last time, then took off on floats on the ice and flew back to the Lakehead. In 1965 Superior sold “DCH” to Mattagami Skyways of Moonbeam, near Kapuskasing. Its C of A remained current only into July 1966, then “DCH” went to Georgian Bay Airways at Parry Sound, south of Sudbury. Plans were to do a rebuild, but this never happened and “DCH” faded away. For $500 Ev Makela’s brother, Reino, bought the floats off “DCH” to use on his Lauzon Aviation Norseman CF-DTL (“DTL” still flies on these very floats). Nothing much was heard thereafter, so what of “DCH” today? Happy to say, it’s been beautifully restored to flying condition by the Reynolds Museum in Alberta. In case you might be travelling in Alberta, you will be very pleased if you visit this important Canadian aviation collection at Wetaskiwin airport. The airport also is the home a separate institution, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, also of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

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.

Operated by Survey Aircraft of Vancouver, P-38L CF-JJA was heading for Toronto, then on to Argentina to do high level aerial photography. It later entered the Argentine civil aircraft register and eventually was wrecked in an accident. For more about aviation at the Lakehead, check out these CANAV blog items: “Return to Northwestern Ontario 2017 Part I YQT Thunder Bay Photo Coverage”; “Visiting Lakehead Airport 1961 – 2012 Update”; and “Canadian Car and Foundry and the Curtiss SBW Helldiver”.

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.

I noted three TCA DC-3s at Winnipeg on September 4. These still were needed to cover TCA’s prairie routes to such smaller communities as Brandon and North Battleford. Here are views of CF-TES awaiting its day’s work. Originally RAF FL547 in January 1944, in 1946 “TES” was converted by Canadair for TCA. It later served Transair and Lambair.
What became of CF-TES once its flying days were done? The story came to me recently from Robert Arnold, one of the originals in the small group that decades ago evolved into the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg. Robert became one of the museum’s most accomplished scroungers and wreck salvagers. He tells me that during the war, when “TES” had been Dakota FL547 in the RAF, it had a Polish crew under skipper Jazefa Tyszko. The crew named their “Dak” “Spirit of Ostra Brama”, a holy site in the city of Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania). The name also relates to “Operation Ostra Brama”, the battle led by the Polish Home Army to free Wilno from Nazi occupation in July 1944. FL547 was also used as a personal transport of the General Inspector of the Polish Armed Forces, General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, whose son, Joe, became a leading postwar RCN and CAF fighter pilot. Once its civil career ended in 1970, FL547 was acquired by WCAM (today’s Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada). Its colourful military history later came to light, so it was transferred to Canadian Forces 17 Wing (Winnipeg) for storage and preservation. This got underway in October 2016. RAF/Polish markings eventually were added. You can see by these photos provided by Robert how this went. On March 12, 2018 parts of “Ostra Brama” were moved to 17 Wing’s Hangar 16 for cleaning before shipment to Warsaw. On March 8, 2019 Canadian and Polish military, the restoration team, and others gathered for the handover; then everyone enjoyed food and festivities in 17 Wing’s Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess, the food catered by Winnipeg’s Polish community. The RCAF Air Command Band provided an extra touch for this important event. Next day “Spirit of Ostra Brama” was loaded aboard a massive Antonov AN-124 cargo plane and departed for Warsaw later that afternoon.

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.

For my first time at Winnipeg I couldn’t complain about the great variety of planes waiting to be photographed. This Mallard looked fine in the early light. Notice the Spartan Air Services logo on its tail. Ottawa-based Spartan by this time had been bought out by Bristol of Winnipeg. Bristol had acquired CF-HWG from Timmins Aviation of Montreal, which had taken it in on a trade from J.F. Crothers Ltd. of Toronto. There it had flown as CF-JFC for many years, but Crothers recently had bought a new Grumman Gulfstream. Spartan soon sent “HWG” on a surveying contract to the Seychelles in the far off Indian Ocean. Last heard of many years ago, “HWG” was in storage in Texas.
The Transair ramp also included Canso CF-IEE. The historic type still was an essential freighter and passenger plane, chiefly for serving remote Indian reserves in northern Manitoba and NW Ontario. This was 1961, so almost none of these destinations yet had a runway. Lakes and rivers, however, were plentiful for a Canso. “IEE” had begun as a US Navy PBY-5. Transair imported it in 1953. After many years, it was sold to Austin Airways. While at Sugluk far up Hudson Bay’s east coast one day in 1970, there was an unexpected storm and “IEE” sank and was never recovered.
One of Transair’s fleet of hard working DC-4s serving the DEW Line at this time. DEW Line resupply contracts periodically changed. In the early years Maritime Central Airlines of Moncton dominated the show. Later it was Nordair from Dorval, periodically Transair, at other times PWA and CPA on the western DEW Line. CF-TAL was acquired in the US early in 1961 to bolster DEW Line capacity. It returned to the US in 1973, a time when Transair was modernizing with such types as the Argosy and 737. Last heard of (1983) “TAL” was N301JT in storage under the Arizona sun.
Of special interest to me was this ex-402 Squadron “City of Winnipeg” Aux. Sqn P-51 Mustang lying neglected in the open air. Having been on USAF strength since 1945, it was sold to the RCAF in 1951, going directly to 402. After an accident at Winnipeg in 1956, it was pretty well abandonned. In 1959 it was sold by Crown Assets Disposal Corp. of Ottawa. In 1962 it was rebuilt in Winnipeg by the Cavalier company of Sarasota, Florida, then flown stateside. Many owners came and went over the years. Today this old warbird is the beautifully-restored, airworthy N151BP with the Palm Springs Air Museum in California.

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.

No. 111 Composite Unit search and rescue Lancasters FM219 and FM224 still were at Winnipeg. I was lucky to catch these, since their replacements recently had arrive – a pair of factory fresh Grumman Albatross. These Lancasters had done years of solid SAR work. FM219 previously had served 407 Sqn at Comox 1955-59. From Winnipeg it was ferried to Dunnville, Ontario, from where it was sold to Toronto scrap dealer, G. Solway.
One of 111 KU’s new Albatross amphibians. The Albatross was a welcomed addition to RCAF SAR operations, where it replaced the Canso and Lancaster. However, no replacement could come close to the “Lanc” for high cruise speed and long range. 9309 served Canada into 1971, then returned to Grumman. It later was with the Mexican Navy.
RCAF 2 Air Navigation School in Winnipeg recently had retired its fleet of B-25J trainers. Eleven of them were lined up in the sun for me to photograph on this brilliant Manitoba morning. 5201 had joined the RCAF in 1951, then served 3 (AW) OTU at Cold Lake, Alberta training CF-100 navigators. It moved to Winnipeg in 1957. Shortly after my visit, it was ferried for storage to Calgary. From there it quickly was sold into the US, where it had several owners until fading from the scene in the early 1970s. Last heard of it was in the US BVIs.
One of the 15 Dakotas that I noted this morning on the RCAF navigation school ramp. KN201 had joined the RCAF in 1945, initially with Western Air Command at Patricia Bay/Victoria. Its tail number changed in 1970 to 12903. Crown Assets sold it in 1976, then it reappeared with Basler Airlines as N46938. Some time later it’s said to have migrated to Africa for the Malawi Air Wing.

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.)

The lovely red-and-white Hornet Moth that I spotted in the corner of the WFC hangar. This was a peach of a find. Today you can see CF-AYG on show at the Reynolds Alberta Museum in Westaskiwin, Alberta now in the yellow and silver colour scheme reminiscent of its days in the 1930s with Consolidated Mining and Smelting of Trail, BC.

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.

The Aeronca in which I flew from Winnipeg to Rivercrest. CF-IRX spent from 1956 to 2006 in Canada, then went south of the border as N9049F.
Beech 18 CF-NKL-X at the dock at Rivercrest. Since 1965 “NKL” has made its home with North Western Flying Services at Nestor Falls, Ontario in the Lake-of-the-Woods district. There are few airplanes that can claim such longevity. Another that comes to mind is Found FBA-2C CF-SDC that still operates from the same base in Hudson, Ontario to which it was delivered in 1965.

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.

I still have the receipt for my bus fare from Whitemouth to Kenora on September 5, 1961. Arriving in Kenora late in the afternoon, I hitchhiked out to the airport, where I found several interesting airplanes. I took a few late evening shots, then the airport manager let me spend the night in his little shack. Soon after sunrise next morning I did my photography, made my notes, then headed downtown to shoot the bushplanes.
Ontario Central Airlines Canso CF-IDS was a great find at Kenora airport on September 6. Built by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville, Quebec in late 1943, it began as RCAF 11029. Eventually surplus to RCAF needs, “IDS” served Queen Charlotte Airlines 1956 to 1959, when it was sold to OCA. Through each summer season, it mainly supported sport fishing and hunting, most of the sportsmen being Americans, but general duties also were served. In 1963 “IDS” was based in Winnipeg with Northland Airlines, a fish hauling outfit. Next in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, it’s listed in 1969 with North Canada Air of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan as a fire bomber. On September 1, 1971 it was in the circuit at a forest fire near Pine Point, NWT, when it collided fatally with PBY CF-HTN. As I recall, the colours here were dark blue and gray with some yellow trim.
Wearing the same colours as “IDS” was OCA’s Grumman Goose CF-GEB, equipped with 3-blade vs the usual 2- blade propellers. An ex-US Navy JRF-5 Goose, it had come to Canada in March 1944 as RCAF 384. Struck off RCAF charge in 1947, it became “GEB” serving BC’s forest industry. After a fatal accident at Vancouver in 1966, it was sold in the US, rebuilt, then operated in Alaska until wrecked for good in a May 1978 crash.
Always great to see were any Spartan airplanes. These were the days when the company still was flying the last of its Mosquitos. It was a legendary operation. Here for me to shoot at Kenora bright and early on September 6, 1961 was Spartan’s Beech 18 CF-MJY and its Anson V CF-HXA. “MJY” had been a USAF C-45, then was N3734G. In 1960 Bristol of Winnipeg bought it from John H. Horrell of Arizona (by this time, Bristol was taking over Spartan). “MJY” later did some offshore contracts, then was sold in 1973 to Kenting, another famous Canadian survey company. You can see “MJY” today at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Spartan Anson V CF-HXA on the same magnetometer mineral survey job at Kenora as “MJY”. Ex-RCAF Anson served far and wide in Canada after the war. Good examples could be bought for two or three thousand dollars in the late 1940s, and many still were giving good service by 1960. “HXA” lasted into 1962, then went for scrap.
OCA’s newly-acquired 1958 Piper PA-23 Apache CF-NPZ. In 1963 “NPZ” was sold to Smith Airways in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. In 2021, by when it had accumulated more than 4200 flying hours, this vintage Apache was in Texas as N469ET.
While I was keen to find Fox Moth CF-DJB in Kenora as per my CCAR research, I was pleasantly surprised on reaching Kenora airport to spot another Fox Moth — CF-BNN. It was looking a bit tired, but likely had been flying recently. Built at DHC in Toronto in 1946, “BNN” had been purchased new by Sherritt Gordon Air Transport, the aviation subsidiary of the huge Manitoba mining company, Sherritt Gordon. SGAT sold “BNN” in 1949 to Parsons Airways. Later it was listed to Wilbert K. Parsons of Kenora, then was bought by prospector Jack H. Edwards in 1959. By the time I came along this day, it was owned by two young fellows — Neil Walsten and Richard D. Jackson. Just lately, Neil told me that in 1961 he had bought “BNN” from Jack Edwards for $500, including floats and skis. Neil sold a half share to Richard. Then, they used the plane for about two years to build hours and haul fish for Bill Cameron, whose operation was on Stork Lake, about 70 miles north of Kenora. Without telling Neil, Richard sold BNN and left Canada. R.S. “Bob” Grant then takes up this great bushplane tale. In 1970 Bob, then flying for Georgian Bay Airways in Parry Sound, Ontario, heard that Paul Sigurdson of Winnipeg had “BNN” for sale. Bob was interested, since Sigurdson described it as almost ready to fly. Bob sent him the agreed-upon $1400, but this did not go well, as Bob told me: “The gamble did not pay off – the boxes that arrived at my parents’ place in Belleville, Ontario, actually contained many bicycle parts and no logbooks. The aircraft had been smashed with an axe to get it into the boxes. When I called Sigurdson, he said I had a real prize on my hands and no, he would not refund a penny. In desperation, we gave the boxes to the CPR to send back to Winnipeg, and that was the last we saw of them. So much for my dream of restoring a classic airplane. Over the years, I would hear many a Sigurdson story, none of them pretty.

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.

At Kenora’s downtown float base I was really happy to find this impressive yellow-and-red OCA Norseman. Someone loaned me a canoe so I could get some nice clear shots. Originally US Army UC-64 44-70407 delivered in October 1944, CF-IRI was the 672nd Norseman. Postwar, it went first to Byrd Aviation in Texas, then was acquired by OCA in 1956. Later with Canadian Voyageur Airlines, on May 25, 1966 it was wrecked in the Fort Francis area when the engine failed. Happily, all aboard survived.
Parsons’ CF-PAL was a vintage 1945 US Army Beech C-45 that still was in military colours into 1957, when it became N6789C. Parsons had just acquired “PAL” from Florida when I happened by. It later went to Chiupka Airways in northern Manitoba. Its last appearance in the CCAR is in the 1970 edition.
Needless to say, I was excited to find prospector Jack Edwards’ Fox Moth tied up at his lakefront property. Too bad, but no one was home, so I never met Jack. A photographer couldn’t be happier with a shot like this, right! “DJB” later was acquired by Wardair and restored to like-new condition as the first airplane owned by Canada’s great aviation luminary, Max Ward. It resides today in Ottawa at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. However, very little of Jack Edwards’ “DJB” can be found in the completely rebuilt replica.
Here’s an excellent photo by Gary Vincent showing “DJB” as you’ll see it at the CASM. Don’t aviation fans have just the best hobby!

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.

All I saw while passing through New Liskeard was this pretty little red-and-white 1946 Fleet Canuck on floats, owned then by A.J. Murphy Lumber Co. of nearby Latchford. Last heard of in the early 2000s, “ENE” was in Alberta.
Not far from New Liskeard I checked out the float base at Temagami, where I was happy to find a famous old Northern Ontario Stinson SR-9 Reliant, CF-BGM of Lakeland Airways. Having come to Canada in 1937 for British North American Airlines of Toronto, it briefly served the Ontario Provincial Air Service, then spent several years with the Department of Transport. In 1950-52 it was with Ball Lake Transportation of Kenora, with OCA 1952-55, then it went to Lakeland. Sadly, “BGM” crashed on August 12, 1973. It had been on a charter with four passengers, when it crashed while taking off on Sugar Lake in the Temagami area. Two lives were lost. The Reynolds Museum in Westaskiwin has beautifully restored a V77 Reliant to flying condition. It’s registered CF-BGM in honour of the famous original.

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.

Austin Airways Anson V CF-JAW at Sudbury on September 11, 1961. Notice its magnetometer “bomb” under the belly. Austin Airways Ansons in this configuration usually were working for International Nickel Co., Sudbury’s biggest employer. “JAW” had been RCAF 11904 during the war. It finally was struck off strength in June 1954, then went to Leavens Brothers Air Services in Toronto, finally on to Austin Airways. Somehow, over the last 60 years I seem to have misplaced my negatives taken that day of the B- 17
For many years Austin’s CF-JAW has been stored for future restoration at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. Notice the remnants of its original RCAF WWII yellow paint job. (via Gerry Norberg)

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 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.

Built by Canadian Vickers in Montreal in 1930, Fokker Super Universal CF-AJH is shown in a typical bush setting, likely while with Dominion Skyways of Rouyn-Noranda (northern Quebec) in 1934-35. The engine “tent” was standard for winter operations. The engineer spent hours each day under his tent doing his daily maintenance. Note the dog team, another typical feature in any such scene of the times.
Fairchild 71C CF-AWU operated first with Northern Skyways of Noranda, then with Dominion Skyways. It went through the ice on a remote northern Quebec lake in January 1940. While being salvaged in February, it somehow caught fire and was lost. The Fairchilds and Fokkers were forerunners in the Canadian bush of the Beaver, Otter and Husky, then of today’s Turbo-Otter, Caravan and Twin Otter.
Another quintessential scene from Canadian air transportation history: No.1 Norseman CF-AYO. Pioneer bush aviator Syd Walker of Dominion Skyways took this snap of a situation at the company’s Rouyn base. “AYO” likely had been readied the night before for a morning departure. By morning, however, this part of Lake Osisko had frozen lightly, so plans for AYO’s first trip of the day had to be modified. That’s likely the pilot atop “AYO” with his broom ready to sweep the light snow and hoar frost from the wings. The other fellow is fuelling, while someone on the float is breaking ice. After the sun warmed things a bit, it’s likely the ice was soft enough for “AYO” to taxi. Out further there probably was open water for takeoff.
A classic scene at the Dominion Skyways base at Rouyn. FC-2W2 CF-AHG had been built by Fairchild of Long Island, NY in 1929. It came to Dominion in 1935, then served into 1941, when it went to de Havilland in Toronto for conversion to a “71C”. Its career from then to 1946 isn’t noted – it may have been stored at DHC until a buyer could be found. Finally, by 1946 it was hauling fish in the west. On January 2, 1947 it was lost at Cold Lake, Alberta when it caught fire on start-up. This was an old problem with fabric-covered bushplanes with their layers of paint, oil and other flammable crud. CF-ANU was one of the rugged old Bellanca Pacemakers built in New Castle, Delaware in the late 1920s. Dominion Skyways operated it 1936-40, after which its fate is unknown. Most such aged bushplanes ended as scrap, once their useful parts had been removed. Behind is an unknown Super Universal.

Today’s Great Lakes Page

For our shipping fans, here are some scenes that I caught along the Welland Canal on May 5, 2004. (I had detoured to the canal while heading for Niagara-on-the-Lake to meet for lunch with the Canadian Typhoon Pilots Association. What came up first on my canal sidetrip was the 730-foot Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd.’s John D. Leitch. Here it is rising in a lock, exiting, then sailing on. In the fourth scene, I had crossed the canal to get the ship coming on in its quest for Lake Erie. You can see that it’s empty. It likely was heading for a US port on Lake Erie for coal. A self-unloading bulk carrier, this vessel was built in Port Weller (St. Catharines) in 1967 and christened Canadian Century in honour of Canada’s centennial that year. Depending on the season, it could carry from 25,700 tons to 31,600 tons. Its main duty was carrying coal to Ontario Hydro generating stations, but trips also were made to such destinations as the steel mills in Hamilton. For its first season, Canadian Century made 63 revenue trips carrying 1.7 million tons of coal. It was overhauled and modernized at Port Weller in 2001, then re-christened John D. Leitch in 2002 in honour of Upper Lakes Shipping’s chairman. In 2021 this classic laker sails under the Algoma Central Corp. flag. Much detailed history of any such vessel can be found on such websites as
CSL Niagara also was in the Welland Canal this day. Launched in 1971 as the J.W. McGiffin, it was built for Canada Steamship Lines in Collingwood, Ontario. According to the info at, the price for this contract totalled $13 million. The 730-foot ship was built specifically for the coal trade, its first revenue trip being from Sandusky, Ohio to Hamilton on April 25, 1972 with 30,624 tons of coal. adds about this ship’s usefulness: “Although much of the J.W. McGiffin’s activities were focused on the Lake Erie eastern coal trade between Ohio ports such as Ashtabula, Conneaut, Sandusky, and Toledo bound for the Canadian steel plants at Hamilton, Nanticoke, or Sault Ste. Marie; or the Ontario Hydro steam power generating plants at Courtright, Nanticoke, or Port Credit; the self-unloader also carried cargoes of grain, coke, stone, and iron ore. The vessel set a Thunder Bay, ON grain record on October 5, 1973 when she loaded 1,006,672 bushels; then broke her own record in 1980 when she loaded 27,566 metric tons of the same commodity from Thunder Bay to Montreal, QC. She also broke another eastern coal record when, on July 25, 1975, 35,292 net tons were loaded on board at Conneaut for Nanticoke.” After a major refit at Port Weller in 1998-99, the ship was re- christened CSL Niagara. Notice how the business end of CSL Niagara is at the stern, while for the John L. Leitch it’s at the bow. notes the basic specs for the CSL Niagara as:

Overall Dimensions (metric)

 Length  739′ 10″ (225.50m)

 Beam  78′ 00″ (23.76m)

 Depth  48′ 05″ (14.75m)

 Capacity (mid-summer)  37,694 tons (38,299 mt) – CSL data
 at draft of 31′ 04″ (9.556m)

 Capacity (Seaway)  30,223 tons (30,708 mt) – CSL data
 at Seaway draft of 26′ 06″ (8.08m)

 Power (diesel)  9,000 b.h.p. (6,620 kW)

400 Squadron Ride-Along

In May 2007 Paul Hayes, Honorary Colonel of 400 “City of Toronto” squadron, invited me to ride along on May 18 for a shoot organized by Mike Reyno of “Skies” – Canada’s premier aviation magazine. I drove up from Toronto to 400’s base at CFB Borden, where several other air force supporters had gathered for this “photo op” on a fine bright morning. First, we sat in on the aircrew briefing. Naturally, there was an emphasis on safety, as there would be civilians in the four CH-46 Griffin helios, and we’d be flying over a densely-packed urban landscape on our way to Toronto Billy Bishop Airport about 50 miles to the south.
Once at the island, the photographers were dropped off, then the Griffins took off directed by Mike Reyno, so he could get just the photos he needed – the perfect set up with the CN Tower as his backdrop. I was just along for the ride, but still fired off some colour print film. Here are a few shots from the briefing to getting ready on the ramp at Borden, to the helios manoeuvring with the city backdrop, then, back at Borden where I caught a Griffin over one of the ranges as we headed in to land. All things considered … not too painful a way for an aviation nerd to spend a morning, right and all thanks to Paul Hayes, an old time F-86 pilot, and one of the solid supporters of RCAF heritage.

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.

Our Vol.1 Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades book reviews are what anyone would expect (ref. Parts 1 to 6 of this blog series), with one gross exception. One really nasty fellow in the UK set out to spoil our 40-year record. He lashed out against the book, finding only the most rotten things about it. This guy is the master belittler! My guess? This was strictly a personal attack on me and CANAV. This fellow has serious head problems. His editor should have intercepted this unprofessional rampage, and rejected it outright. Such garbage does not do wonders for the reputation of any aviation periodical. Intelligent readers notice these things. Here are some far more typical reviews of The Pioneer Decades, starting with Vol.57, No.2, Summer 2010 of “Air Power History” (the voice of the USAF “Air Force Historical Foundation”). Here is its take on The Pioneer Decades. Our reviewer was the late, great Robin Higham, PhD, professor of aviation history and author of several academic-level books. His reviews always were fair and balanced, with the strengths of any author and book highlighted. Dr. Higham begins: “Larry Milberry, the dean of Canadian aviation historians outside of the Directorate of History of the Department of National Defence, has spent a lifetime and a fortune pursuing many of the aspects of our northern neighbor’s flying history. This book, his newest offering, looks at the beginnings of Canadian aviation …” Since he’s writing for a learned journal, Dr. Higham describes the content of the book in detail – an older style but helpful for any librarian or general reader deciding “to buy or not to buy”. He ends simply: “The book concludes with a gallery of photos and biographies of Canadian airmen and a description of their lives on the Western Front. All in all, this is a pleasant and informative book. Dr. Robin Higham, Professor Emeritus, Kansas State University.” Other reviews mirror Dr. Higham’s. In Quebec’s beloved “Plein Vol”, Pierre Gillard built up interest by mentioning some of our earlier books, concluding that CANAV Books “ne devrait pas décevoir” (CANAV “will never disappoint you.”). Then he outlines the wide-ranging coverage in Pioneer Decades from ballooning in the 1940s to the end of WWI, all squeezed into 176 large-format, handsomely-designed pages, 300 photos included. Our book certainly succeeds in its simple objective – to present a basic outline through the decades and be enjoyable and educational for any intelligent reader, especially young people developing an interest in Canada’s aviation heritage.

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 (today’s 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 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.

2 responses to “New Booklist + Snowbirds News + Mid-Air Collision – Talk About a Close Call + COVID Alert + Chasing Airplanes: My 1961 Road Trip + New Brunswick Aviation Museum + Bush Flying Nostalgia + Great Lakes Scenes + 400 Sqn/Camp Borden + CANAV History: Air-Britain and The World’s Most Pitiful Aviation Book Review

  1. A 1961 Road Trip is a refreshing look at a nostalgic time when youthful, passionately focused aviation enthusiasts had access to airports and exquisitely historical aircraft. Photos and descriptions like these are pillars for aviation history in Canada. Well done.

  2. Thanks Larry. Interesting tales of your youth

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