Dick Richmond Tribute and Obituary
Many are saddened to hear that the great R.D. “Dick” Richmond has passed. Dick holds a high place on my list of true ” Kings of Canadian Aviation”. I first interviewed him for my North Star book in 1981, when he was 2 i/c at Canadair and embroiled in the struggle to save the Canadair Challenger. I was lucky to get a half-hour of his time.
On North Star book launch day on Toronto’s airport strip Nov. 4, 1982, we had a big crowd out on a really stormy night. As things were picking up, the doors opened and in came a somber-looking crowd of Canadair old timers led by Dick. He had corralled them all into the company Learjet and flown up to YYZ regardless of the weather. They had had a very bumpy trip. That was a typical Dick Richmond skit, you could count on him to come through. You can see this event covered on my blog www.canavbooks.wordpress.com Just go there and put “North Star Nostalgia” into the search box. You’ll see Dick in some of the photos.
In another case, just before Dick retired from Bombardier, he ensured that the history of Canadair, a project I long had been pestering him about, finally would get written and published. Dick got the necessary approval “from on high”. The research and writing would be done by famed Canadair PR man, Ron Pickler, DFC, and me, with CANAV to publish. Catherine Chase of Bombardier’s PR department became project overseer. We all got down to the job and the book was launched on July 4, 1995 at a gala event at Marché Bonsecours in Old Montreal. Another Dick Richmond success! Here’s Dick’s obituary:
RICHMOND, Dr. Robert Dick(ie), Order of Canada CM, Honorary Doctorate (Carleton), B.S.E (Michigan) January 13, 1919, Winnipeg, MB – December 26, 2022, Toronto, ON
After a brief illness, Dick died peacefully, just after his 103rd Christmas. Predeceased by his wife Nan (nee Gilchrist – 2005), his daughter and son-in-law Robin and Patrick Mars, and his sister Marjorie Douglas. Dick leaves behind his son George (Heather) Richmond. Known as ‘Babs’ to his grandchildren, he was a special grandfather to Anthea and Euan Mars, Diana (Sean), Ian (Deanna), and John (Anastasia) Richmond; great-grandfather to Henry, Poppy, Griffin, Beckett, Annika, Cate, George, Harold, and Patrick.
Dick spent his childhood in Winnipeg, Manitoba before moving to Toronto in the early 1930s. He attended the University of Michigan, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1942, before returning to Canada to begin a pioneering career that spanned more than 50 years in the Canadian Aerospace industry. Dick began his career as a Junior Research Engineer with the National Research Council of Canada before moving to Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. in the private sector. Throughout his career Dick held a number of positions as a senior executive with Canadair Ltd. (Chief of Aerodynamics 1947), Canadian Pratt & Whitney Ltd. (Board of Directors and Executive President 1963), McDonnell Douglas Canada (President 1970), Spar Aerospace Ltd. (President, Chief Operating Officer 1974), and Bombardier (Staff Executive Vice President, 1986).
Dick was a leading industrialist, successfully helping guide Canadian Aerospace through the development and future of a global industry; working on projects of such prominence as the CT-11 Tudor Jet flown by the Snowbirds, the Challenger (Bombardier), the Regional Jet (Canadair) and the Canadarm 1 (Spar Aerospace), as well as many other great Canadian Aerospace accomplishments. More details on Dick’s many accomplishments can be read in his autobiography, ‘A Life in Canadian Aerospace, 1942-1992’ (CANAV Books, 2014).
Dick was a Fellow, founding Member and Past President of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and a recipient of their C.D. Howe award for leadership in Aerospace. He was an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aerospace Sciences, a Member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario, a Past Chairman of the Canadian Delegation to NATO Industrial Advisory Group, and a Past Chairman and Honorary Life Member of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1998. Dick was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995 and was awarded the Order of Canada in 2019.
Dick cherished time spent with his family and summers on Lake Bernard, in Sundridge, Ontario. His vintage cedar strip Peterborough boat, the ‘Queen Mary’, was his pride and joy. He did many tours of Lake Bernard with family and friends aboard. He loved the great outdoors and was a keen skier, golfer and fisherman.
Dick’s sharp sense of humour, worldly experience and wise counsel were highly valued by many, particularly his grandchildren, who drew on his sage advice many times over the years. He loved nothing more than an afternoon in the sun on the deck of his cottage, with the Queen Mary in view and visitors of all ages passing by for a chat. He will be greatly missed by many. The family will receive friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville) for a service in the Chapel on Friday, January 20 at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Condolences may be forwarded through www.humphreymiles.com.Humphrey Funeral Home
A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel
CANAV’s 441 Squadron History … A Bit More Praise + A Very Good Deal!
There still are a few copies left our much-beloved Fighter Squadron: 441 Squadron from Hurricanes to Hornets. 320 pages, large format, hardcover, 700+ photos, etc., this lovely production often is touted as the standard for any book detailing a modern fighter squadron. Noted “Combat Aircraft” when the book first appeared (the reviewer was commenting about the squadron history book genre): “They are intrinsically difficult to write … [Fighter Squadron] has achieved the elusive balance … Everything about this volume has the feeling of authority and authenticity.” Lately I found yet another comment. Brief though its comment is, “Aéro-Journal” of Oct/Nov 2004 notes: “The history of 441 RCAF Squadron … is a vast panorama of a typical such Canadian fighter unit. A lovely book, beautifully illustrated. CANAV Books.” Normally CAD$75.00, Fighter Squadron presently is at a huge bargain: anywhere in Canada CAD$40 all-in, USA $45 all-in, Int’l $70 all-in (surface mail). Don’t miss out, the price soon will be back closer to normal, as our stock dwindles. Order directly from CANAV Books by sending your payment via Interac or PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
CANAV Books Blog Oldies to Check Out … Trans-Canada Air Lines Super Constellation
If you are a fan of the classic era of the great propliners and would love some TCA Super Constellation history, put The Bogash-Lacey tour group with CF-TGE in the blog search box. Then you’ll be a happy camper!
De Havilland Exec and Commuter Planes in Canada in the 1950s
“DH Dove and Heron in Canada” … scroll back or look in the search box for this rare bit of Canadian history. Expand your aviation heritage horizons while enjoying the process!
Miles Gemini … Another Rare Canadian Story
Here’s a fascinating and authoritative peak into yet another obscure corner of Canada’s aviation history and heritage. Just type Gemini into the search box.
Trenton to Krasnoyarsk with 437 Squadron: Matthew Fisher Tribute
For some reason, many CANAV blog fans have been looking recently at our 2019 story “Mission to Krasnoyarsk” covering Canada’s humanitarian operation that delivered several CAF 437 Squadron 707 loads of medical aid to Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, where there was a special need following the collapse of Soviet Communism in the early 1990s. Please take a look at this real eye-opener about Canada’s military/humanitarian air operations. I was fortunate to accompany one of these trips with a small media group that included Canada’s revered international reporter, Matthew Fisher. You’ll get a lot from Matt’s tribute in the April 11, 2021 National Post:
Matthew Fisher, a fearless Canadian journalist and war correspondent, dead at age 66. Fisher was a globetrotting solo reporter of no fixed address who witnessed the greatest news events of the last half century
Matthew Fisher, who has died aged 66, was a Canadian war correspondent from a bygone era, a globetrotting solo reporter of no fixed address who witnessed the greatest and most dire news events of the last half century, from the fall of communism through the campaigns against al-Qaeda and ISIS. He died of liver failure after a short illness in Ottawa on Saturday, according to his brother, Tobias Fisher. He had a knack, something between coincidence and luck, for being in the right place at the right time, from a journalist’s perspective. He was on vacation in Los Angeles in 1989 when freeways collapsed in an earthquake, and on vacation in India in 1984 when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. He was in Washington, in a hotel near the Pentagon, when it was hit by a plane in the 9/11 terror attack. He covered his first war by accident as a teenager when fighting erupted in Mozambique’s war of independence in 1973, while he was nearby writing about safaris. “The coincidences are almost too much, but he had this knack for being where the action was,” Tobias said.
Laureen and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Canadian journalist Matthew Fisher. A great writer with a passion for covering complex international issues, his voice will be missed. Our prayers are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.— Stephen Harper (@stephenharper) April 11, 2021 He was also a professional, experienced not just in getting there, but in being first and well-prepared, as when he was in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. “Matt wanted to be where the action was. But he wasn’t foolhardy. He was very careful and very calculating about where he went, how he went,” Tobias said.
He joined the Globe and Mail in 1984, and was posted to Moscow in time to cover the fall of Eastern European Communism. He reported on the election of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and the funeral of Yasser Arafat. In the 2003 Iraq War, he embedded with American Marines, was surrounded by Iraqi forces and saved by a massive aerial defence, before reporting from inside the ruined lair of Saddam Hussein’s secret police. He covered Princess Diana’s funeral in London in 1997, and a week later was in Calcutta for Mother Teresa’s funeral. Fisher worked for the National Post, the Postmedia newspapers, the predecessor Canwest News Service, Sun Media, and others. He had lately joined the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and was looking forward to contesting the nomination process for Conservative Party of Canada candidate in Kanata-Carleton.
Fisher was famous for living out of a suitcase, staying in whichever hotel, motel, warship or army camp was closest to the action. He would plan his years ahead based on where the Canadian Forces were deployed, often showing up at major international news events as if by some strategic foreknowledge. The Canadian Forces tweeted at the news of his death: “He went everywhere to tell the story.” Other prominient voices also took to social media to express their condolences. Bob Rae called him a “fearless journalist” on Twitter, and former prime minister Stephen Harper tweeted “Laureen and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Canadian journalist Matthew Fisher. A great writer with a passion for covering complex international issues, his voice will be missed.” Matthew Fisher: The Last War Correspondenthttps://t.co/eu3FgXom2K— Geoffrey P. Johnston😎🇨🇦 (@GeoffyPJohnston) April 11, 2021
Olympics were also a focus of his reporting, especially the far flung ones, which are covered by Canadian newspapers much as wars are, often by the same people, who regarded Fisher as a legendary exemplar. An appreciation by journalist Geoffrey P. Johnston called him “the Last War Correspondent.” Fisher reported from 170 countries (there are fewer than 200 in all) and 20 major conflicts. His final report in the National Post in 2017, was about violence in the Philippines, sent from from Iligan City, then under martial law. He observed that “there has long been a sense of dread that the savage urban war might at any moment spill over into a broader conflict.” One day he was here, the next day he was there, always in his notably mismatched casual attire, often with a Montreal Canadiens cap, or a fur hat, unless circumstances required a helmet. Retired CBC correspondent Terry Milewski called Fisher “the man who’d been everywhere.”
Fisher’s stories would arrive in the various newsrooms he served at strange hours, on some other time zone. This created an allure among homebound reporters and editors, many of whom never met Fisher face to face, but knew his copy well, with those impossibly remote datelines, newsroom lingo for the place where a story is reported, stamped at the top. Exotic ones are a point of professional pride, and few reporters collected more. Fisher had filed from aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and the HMCS Montreal, from Al Udeid and Kuwait City, Leeds and Karachi, Jerusalem and Ramallah, Jakarta and the North Pole. He once interviewed a kidnapper on a park bench in Caracas. His brother Tobias said he asked a few weeks ago what was Matthew’s scariest moment? “Being shot at, many times, many places,” was the answer. Matthew and Tobias are two of five brothers. Their parents were veterans, which contributed to Fisher’s pride and affection for the Canadian Forces.
His father was the late Doug Fisher, MP for Port Arthur in the late 1950s and 60s, a librarian famous for defeating the Liberal “Minister of Everything” C.D. Howe, and later a political columnist with the Toronto Telegram and Toronto Sun, known as the dean of the parliamentary press gallery. His late mother Barbara joined the Navy and served overseas in London as a coder/decoder for the convoys that crossed the Atlantic during World War II. In Canada, she worked as a librarian and English language teacher, and was involved in her husband’s political work.
He never married and had no children, but had some long-term relationships and remained especially close to all his family, Tobias said. He described Matthew’s life as lonely almost by professional necessity. “He saw more horror than most soldiers, most paramedics, and I can’t say it didn’t affect him, but he didn’t let on that it affected him,” Tobias said. Illness cut short Fisher’s political ambitions. “I want to join Erin O’Toole’s team to take down Justin Trudeau’s corrupt, entitled and incompetent government,” Fisher said in a press release last year for his campaign. “Like all of you, I am fed up with the scandals and embarrassments that constantly surround and engulf the prime minister.” His campaign boasted the endorsement of retired Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who was removed as vice chief of defence staff of Canada in 2017 over a breach of trust charge that was later dropped, and Norman fully exonerated and compensated, in an embarrassment for the Trudeau government. Tobias was unable to confirm the truth of a National Post legend about Fisher being called up on vacation and sent urgently to Israel for an audience with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he only had beach attire with him, so his last-minute solution was to have a suit made, rather than show up in shorts. But Tobias said it sounds about right. His brother was a problem solver. “Virtually any story you tell about Matthew is going to be true,” he said. “He was extraordinary.” See a lot more about our “Mission to Krasnoyasrk” right here on the CANAV Blog.
Globe Swift Meet: Superb Aviation History Coverage by Sparky Barnes in “General Aviation News”
Enjoy this wonderful story with superb photo coverage of the Globe Swift, then search on the blog for some historic coverage of the Swift in Canada since early postwar years.
The Swift’s 76th anniversary was heralded with a patriotic “Spirit of 76” celebration during the 2022 Swift National Fly-In at the Swift Museum Foundation (SMF) in Athens, Tennessee.
Though the initial forecast for late September was less than favorable with the outer bands of Hurricane Ian remaining in the southeast, 18 Swifts flew in to McMinn County Airport (KMMI). Many other Swifters arrived by vehicle, with Roger Weber of Oregon making the longest journey by highway.
The fly-in included a banquet, guest speaker, live band, and raffle prizes, as well as a variety of forums, including one about Swift-specific technical information made available online by a collaborative effort between the SMF and the AirCorps Library of Bemidji, Minnesota.
“We’re preserving information and getting it to the people who are actually using it for its intended purpose — to maintain and operate airplanes and fabricate new parts,” explains AirCorps data/library specialist Ester Aube, who adds that SMF members can access these records “for a small annual fee.”
Walking around the field during the fly-in, it was easy to collect a slew of Swift stories.
Dana and David Clark
Dana, who started learning to fly in 2005, was immediately drawn to the polished, vintage Swifts she saw at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh that year.
“But the fellow I was dating at the time said they’re dangerous, so I kind of forgot about them,” she recalls.
She continued with her flight training, primarily in tailwheel airplanes, and finally earned her private pilot ticket in 2013.
“I went out to the airport one day to rent a Citabria to go flying and there was this shiny, beautiful Swift,” she recounts. “I was like, ‘ooh, a Swift! I forgot about those.’ I looked up the N number and knew the owner, so I called him and he started talking about the Swift Museum Foundation and how supportive and great it is.”
In early 2017, Dana bought a 1948 Temco GC-1B Swift (N2336B) in California. After transition training, she flew it home to Texas.
She and her husband David started doing Swift formation training, but since they had to alternate training flights with formation instructors in her Swift, Dana told David he needed to buy his own Swift, which he did.
David and Dana are based at Arlington, Texas, and this was the first year they were able to fly their respective Swifts to the fly-in. David has owned his 1946 Globe GC-1B Swift (N3890K) since 2019.
“My Swift was restored by the same group of fellows at Gillespie Field (KSEE) that restored Dana’s Swift, and they had done a good job. So when this one came up for sale, we just jumped on it. It’s turned out pretty good,” says David. “It’s fun for us to fly together, and I think we’re the only husband-wife pilots who each own their own Swift.”
Danny is a newbie in the Swift family, having only owned N80741, a 1946 Globe GC-1B, for a little over a year. He flew for FedEx for more than 32 years, and loved flying so much that he just couldn’t stop after he retired.
Beaming with pleasure when talking about the Swift, he said, “I used to fly with a guy who was a World War II P-38 pilot, and he told me he’d owned a Swift at one time and regretted selling it. That was before the internet, so I couldn’t just go look it up. Then finally I saw one and thought no wonder he liked it so much! So I’ve kind of had my eye on Swifts for the past 30 years. Our airport manager at Western Carolina Regional Airport (KRHP) at Andrews, North Carolina, has a Swift, so the fever kind of increased a little bit.”
Danny enjoys sharing his fun-flying Swift with his family.
“The Swift gives me the joy of flying, as well as providing a challenge — first, of getting checked out in it, and now, getting involved in Swift formation flying. This is such a great organization and the support, expertise, knowledge, and parts they have available for an old airplane like this is just fantastic. So I’m extremely happy!”
Dave and Debbie Carpenter
Remarkably, Dave “Flea” has flown his Swift (N78137) to 40 consecutive Swift National Fly-Ins, and his wife, Debbie, has accompanied him whenever the fly-in dates didn’t conflict with her teaching schedule.
“I think the Swift group is more of an airplane family. I feel like we could be anywhere and if there was another Swift person there, that we could call them and they would help us in any way they could,” Debbie says. “That’s a really neat feeling to have.”
Flea treasures the people and personal opportunities that flying has given him.
“I enjoy meeting people who are willing to do something a little bit different — like flying a 76-year-old airplane across the country. It takes a special group of people to do that, and we’ve got a lot of these airplanes that have made it to California and back more than once. Most Swifters work on their own airplanes or at least are technically competent to understand their own airplanes.”
Debbie also cherishes traveling in the Swift, and it’s given her a great appreciation for being able to see the earth from a small plane.
“Seeing things from a different perspective is amazing,” she says. “For instance, we drove Route 66 in a car and then we flew over it in the Swift, and I think having that perspective from the air is super special.”
About 40 years ago, Wayne soloed a Cessna 150 and didn’t even have his private certificate when he bought his first Swift.
“When I was getting my license, my instructor told me the worst thing you can do is buy a Swift now. I asked why, and he said, ‘you won’t find another plane that flies as well as a Swift does. It’ll spoil you. Then if you sell it, you’ll be looking for something the rest of your life that flies that well, and you won’t find it.’”
He notes that he “basically” taught himself how to fly the Swift.
“I’ve had two 210-hp Swifts and my first one was a 145 horse,” he says. “The Swift is probably the best-flying airplane made — it’s so balanced.”
During the 2022 fly-in, Wayne and his son, Eric, flew N89K up for a day from Oconee County Regional Airport (KCEU) in Clemson, South Carolina. Swifters gathered all around to see his highly-modified Swift.
“I think this has the first canopy made by Jack Nagle, and then Roy LoPresti bought the airplane and put on a 420-hp Allison turbine. It has retractable, fully-enclosed gear, and the wings have the slots closed in, and now it has a 210-hp Continental,” Wayne recounts. “I bought it from Rex King in Houston about 20 years ago. I flew it nonstop to Clemson and averaged about 190 mph.”
For Jim Roberts, the Globe Swift first came onto his radar more than 25 years ago when he and his wife, Carolyn, were at an airport open house.
Passing by a hangar that housed a beautifully restored Swift, Carolyn stopped in her tracks, then said, “That’s the most beautiful plane I’ve ever seen. We should look for one of those.”
“I’d been on the hunt for our next bird for a while, and was looking for a biplane, but I’m no dummy,” Jim recalls. “When your wife falls in love with a certain model, you go shopping!”
“I began attending Swift fly-ins to learn about these rare birds, and was lucky to have some very knowledgeable Swift owners nearby,” he continues. “After a year or two of searching, I found N78012, a 1946 GC-1B, modified with a 210-hp Continental IO-360, and the rest is history.”
Jim worked on his new airplane’s restoration with Don Bartholomew, a Swift “guru,” while Carolyn christened her “Silver Belle,” reminiscent of “Memphis Belle,” and in honor of her 1940s heritage.
“The three things I like most about the Swift are her lineage, dating to World War II, her sex appeal, and her fighter-like handling characteristics,” says the former Air Force flyer. “The GC-1A was on the drawing board before World War II, and began rolling off the line shortly after civilian aircraft production resumed in peacetime. The plane’s lines are reminiscent of the P-40 Warhawk, and that’s no coincidence, since one of her designers worked on the P-40 program.”
The Swift’s looks speak for themselves, Jim adds.
“I find them show-stopping, and apparently so do others,” he says. “Silver Belle won ‘Outstanding Swift’ at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, and has won numerous awards at SUN ’n FUN and other venues. The polished aluminum takes some dedication and elbow grease, but it’s worth it.”
“As for handling characteristics, I really appreciate how nimble the Swift is,” Jim says. “Not quite as quick on the controls as the T-38 I once flew, but pretty good for a plane that can carry two people and a couple of overnight bags or a load of camping gear for your next fly-in. She’s a delight to fly in formation, and when I give the controls to someone for the first time, I always caution them to ‘fly with your fingertips. Just think where you want to go and she’ll follow.’”
Chances are, anyone who calls the SMF office will be talking with the cheerfully-efficient Sue Luth, who has been working with the foundation almost four years now. Sue is one of two full-time employees (the other is Scott Anderson, Executive Director) and fills many supportive roles for SMF.
Sue describes herself as “a jack of all trades and master of none!”
“I handle fly-in registration, purchases for meal tickets, Swift parts, and the silent auction,” she says. “It’s nice finally meeting people in person when you’ve talked to them on the phone a few times through the years. I love the Swift group — they’re great!”
Chuck Miller has admired Swifts for a long time, and recently purchased N2410B, a 1949 Globe GC-1B. He and his wife, Anna, made the cross-country trek from their home in Hillsboro, Texas, to Athens, Tennessee for the fly-in.
Chuck has a military aviation background, joining the Air Force in 1969 and soloing in a T-37. Just about all of Chuck’s light airplane time has been in tailwheel airplanes — he owned a Cessna 180, a Citabria, an RV-6, and still owns a Cessna 170. His Swift has plenty of ponies up front — it’s powered by a 200-hp Lycoming IO-360.
“Owning a Swift before I have to hang up my headset got on the top of my bucket list and I love this airplane,” Chuck says with a smile. “I’ll own it until I can’t fly anymore. It’s nimble and quick and just a wonderful flying airplane!”
It’s that depth of feeling that keeps Swifters devoted to their aerial breed — after all, it’s been said many times that flying the Swift is “love at first flight!”