Former Golden Hawk, George Miller, has donated his personal airplane. See this important Canadian aviation heritage story. Google it: “New Brunswick Aviation Museum Update 2022-06”
CANAV News … I’ve been buried lately keeping on top of CANAV’s 2024 book project — our grand history of the RCAF in its 100th Anniversary. This is one of CANAV’s grandest and most important aviation book projects, but it’s gobbling up much of my and co-author Hugh Halliday’s time. For now, the blog is taking a bit of a back seat. Meanwhile, treat yourself by scrolling back in the blog, where you’ll fine plenty of enticing items that you haven’t yet digested and many others you’ll enjoy re-reading, whatever your interests.
J.F. “Stocky” Edwards &Bjarni Tryggvason … People everywhere were saddened lately to hear of Stocky’s & Bjarni’s passings. Stocky died in Comox at age 100 on May 14. Truly one of the great, all ’round Canadians, Stocky excelled as a WWII fighter pilot and postwar commanded a wing of RCAF Sabres. Look just at this one recognition — the citation for Stocky’s 1944 Distinguished Flying Medal: “Flight Sergeant Edwards is an extremely capable soldier and a superbly gallant fighter pilot. Since October 1942, he has destroyed six enemy aircraft while participating in numerous sorties over enemy territory. He has displayed outstanding coolness and courage in the face of opposition while his cheerful and imperturbable spirit has been an inspiration to the squadron.” Then … the citation for the Bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross: “This officer has successfully completed a very large number of operational flights and has destroyed thirteen enemy aircraft. He is a keen and courageous pilot whose example and leadership have been most inspiring.” Talk about impressive, right, and what an inspiration to any aspiring young Canadian aviator. It was an honour to know Stocky, who was one of my earliest supporters back in the 70s, when I was getting into the history game. We last visited in 2016. You’ll see some good new coverage about Stocky in our upcoming RCAF 100th Anniversary book. You can see a wonderful photo of him on the cover of Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace, Vol.1. Not surprisingly, Stocky and Bjarni were members of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. For a good summary of Bjarni’s amazing accomplishments, see: http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-040622a-canadian-astronaut-bjarni-tryggvason-obituary.html
737 Flight to the Mary River Mine on Baffin Island
You’re really going to enjoy this short video featuring an old 737-200 of Chrono Aviation of St. Hubert. This versatile company’s fleet includes the old “200” that remains one of the Arctic’s most versatile jetliners, equipped as it is with a gravel kit allowing operations on rough strips. This is the host’s first Arctic trip, so he’s a bit cranked up. Never mind, he does a good job, certainly gets across his main points. Well done for a fellow from Dubai landing at Iqaluit and Mary River in the dead of winter. The Chrono crew also is great to watch in action, full marks for them. This sure reminds me of several similar northern trips (mainly in winter) over the decades on the Argus, C-46, Convair, DC-4, 737 and 748. Sit back and enjoy this one — 20 minutes well spent, especially for the armchair aviator. Cheers … Larry
The Dove and Heron in Canada
Our feature aircraft for this cycle of the CANAV Blog are the De Havilland D.H.104 Dove and D.H.114 Heron, two beloved types from the UK’s aircraft industry in early post-WWII times. Naturally, they were of great interest to DH in Canada, which in the initial flurry of publicity sold more than a dozen as corporate aircraft. Needless to say, the Dove and Heron were real treats for we aircraft spotters.
Soon after WWII several small 5-to-8 seat twins were vying for the Canadian air taxi and executive markets. However, they had to compete with war surplus types such as the Anson, Beech 18, Cessna T-50, etc. For surplus aircraft, “the price was right” for that category, so sales weren’t easy for such types as new Beech 18s or the UK’s premier offering, the De Havilland D.H.104 Dove. Beech knew its North American market well, while DH mainly knew its home and Dominion markets, having done very well pre-WWII with such popular twins as the D.H.84 Dragon and D.H.89 Rapide biplanes. The Dove having flown in September 1945, it was evident that DH had been designing it well before the bullets had stopped flying. The Dove began with two 330-hp DH Gipsy Queens, but DH soon upped the power to 340, then 380. Once the C of A was awarded, the sales force and company demonstrator G-AHRB moved out across the world to find buyers. In spite of the Dove’s relatively steep ticket price compared to something like an Anson, sales were encouraging – eventually 500+ were built. On the homefront, various air taxi services and UK companies such as Dunlop Rubber, English Electric and Shell ordered executive Doves. The Rapide had been important in getting Canadian commercial aviation going in the 1930s, so the market was keen when the Dove reached Canada in the late 1940s. The big companies (where money was no object when it came to an executive plane) liked the Dove’s speed (150 mph) and roomy interior for 6 to 8 plus crew. We spotters photographed many a Dove at Toronto’s Malton Airport in the 1950s and early 1960s. Early Doves there were flying for the Massey Ferguson farm machinery empire, Imperial, Shell and Sunoco oil companies, and a big DEW Line contractor, Federal Industries. However, the photogenic little Dove faded quickly to second tier operators, when such types as the Gulfstream began appearing in 1960.
In gathering all the details for such a basic caption as re. CF-ODI, many sources must be used. I’m fortunate to have a large library of the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register (CCAR) beginning from 1955. I’m constantly referring to these, e.g., for dates of an aircraft’s registration and its owners over the years. A CCAR library is essential for doing serious civil aviation research in Canada. Then, Terry Judge’s CCAR website is indispensable. Since Terry chiefly uses original sources, his facts are extremely reliable. Have a look … google Historic CCAR Project. Of course, much else exists on the web for the Dove and Heron, two useful sites being the “rzjet” Dove and Heron production lists. These provide many facts, but such sites are works in progress, and some can be misleading, by jumbling facts, so use them with discretion. Check and double check your facts, right. You still can make the odd error – history’s a demanding business. Other sources that I consulted were the great Geoff Goodall’s Dove and Heron sites. Also important is the “Aviation Safety Network” website. In this case, I went to ASN’s Dove and Heron accident compilations. ASN is tops as to reliability. Some Doves and Herons were military, so www.warbirdregistry.org is another wealth of data. Believe it or not, I’m still using my ancient copy of Dove and Heron Production List No.2 from VHF Supplies in the UK; also A.J. Jackson’s seminal book, British Civil Aircraft 1919-59, Vol.1 (1959), which beautifully encapsulate the Dove and Heron stories. Happily, I still have my airport notes from the 1950s, so was able to look up my own observations re. Doves and Herons from the 50s-60s. It all comes together, but many sources have to be scoured for to put the simplest item together. CANAV’s own Air Transportin Canada also proved useful in getting this item together. Such books (yes, actual books made from paper, ink and glue) are essential. No researcher can function at a professional level without them, so a word to the wise to the dunces who have bought into the big lie that we no longer need books. The chief problem for such people is their laziness. Having 90-second attention spans, these iPhone addicts no longer can cope with the No.1 source for aviation history – books!
The DH Dove’s Big Brother
Having succeeded with the Dove, De Havilland wanted to see what the market would say about a stretched version. Enter the Heron, first flown in 1950. Compared to the Dove, the Heron had four two 250- hp D.H. Gipsy engines. Being about nine feet longer, it carried as many as 17 passengers. Heron production totalled 149. It found its niche among commuter operators from the UK to Australia, Indonesia, throughout Africa, in the Caribbean, South America, etc. It proved to be rugged and economic, even if slow and underpowered with its Gipsys. The Heron did not catch on in Canada. The first was the Department of Transport’s CF-EXY with its fixed undercarriage. Delivered in 1953, “EYX” served to 1966, then was sold to Newfoundland Air Transport. After about two years there, it went to Aero Servicios in Honduras. On May 26, 1970 it crashed on approach to Tegucigalpa, killing all four aboard.
For years there was no sign of the Heron in Canada. Then there was a resurrection, when entrepreneur and brilliant inventor, Dave Saunders, devised a canny scheme to convert the Heron to the PT6 turbine engine. This became the Saunders ST-27, an excellent airplane, but that’s a story for another time. Any reader can see that there certainly is enough good, interesting material to produce a modest book about the Dove, Heron and ST-27 in Canada. Sad to say, however, but few remain on the Canadian aviation history scene with the fortitude to take on such projects. Everyone is too busy texting and playing video games.
A Bit More Douglas B-23 Coverage
In our last session I featured the exotic B-23/UC-64 Dragon. Since then one of our readers supplied a bit of further history. Tom Appleton recalled how Juan Trippe, chairman of Pan-Am in the 1940s, had purchased a batch of surplus B-23’s. This is where the movement to convert B-23s to corporate use began, Trippe taking one of these for Pan Am’s own use. He then assigned one of his pilots, Al Ueltschi, to be his personal B-23 captain and B-23 marketing man. Tom notes: “Al thought it might be a good idea to offer PanAm’s training expertise to the fledging biz aircraft pilot community. So began Flight Safety International, now owned by Warren Buffet. I knew Al quite well, as I brought FSI to DHC when I was running customer support, and negotiated the building of a training center with simulators for the Dash 7 and 8, along with a Twin Otter. It turned out to be a very successful venture and DHC was the first regional aircraft manufacturer to offer simulator training with every Dash sold.”
As the 1930s came to a close, America’s aircraft industry was booming, and the US Army Air Corps and US Navy were ordering new aircraft fleets in the rush to be ready for potential war. In one case there was a competition among manufacturers to produce a new medium bomber to surpass the current frontline type, the Douglas B-18 Bolo. Douglas proposed a revamped B-18, the result being the B-23 Dragon, first flown in July 1939. However, as impressive as the B-23 was – it was fast, had good range, carried a load, etc., it did not compare overall with the competing North American B-25 and Martin B-26. In the end, only 38 B-23s were built and these spent their forthcoming war on the home front more or less in the shadows as advanced trainers, glider tugs, etc., and UC-67 transports.
What makes the story of extra interest by 2022 is how – immediately after the war — the B-23/UC-67 became a sudden star, once discovered by corporations needing a fast, comfortable, impressive executive transport plane. Soon many large companies and some wealthy individuals were operating UC-67s. That’s how we young “airport rats” got introduced to the UC-67 as we hung around Malton airport near Toronto, and travelled around with our cameras spotting between Chicago and Montreal.
As promised a few weeks ago, here are some of my UC-67 black-and-whites. For a good source of B-23/UC-67 history, google “Warbird Information Exchange B-23 Project”. For simplicity, in the captions I call these planes B-23s, but feel free to substitute UC-67.
News From Buffalo Airways of Yellowknife(March 26, 2022)
Buffalo Airways is on the verge of the jet age. Famous for its DC-3s, DC-4s, C-46s and Electras, the company has just announced its purchase of a Boeing 737. Here’s the work straight from Mikey McBryan of Buffalo: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html
Talk about déjà vue … have a look at how Communist doctrine worked when the USSR invaded Finland (they’re threatening to do the same thing 80+ years later) See Winter War: The 1939 Soviet Invasion Of Finland In Crystal-Clear Photos (rferl.org) (also see https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/russians-finland-1.6379693). Exactly the same today with Ukraine. Brute force, merciless bombardment, intimidation, starvation, lies, lies, lies, etc. That’s the traditional Communist way. Civilized people rightly call this “pure evil” and so it is. In January 1940, Winston Churchill noted about the Finnish invasion: “Finland shows what free men can do…. Everyone can see how communism rots the soul of a nation; how it makes it abject and hungry in peace, and proves it base and abominable in war. We cannot tell what the fate of Finland may be, but no more mournful spectacle could be presented… than that this splendid northern race should be at last worn down and reduced to servitude worse than death by the dull brutish force of overwhelming numbers.”
“Aviation Advertising – A Goldmine of History in One Old Copy of “The Aeroplane”
Many of you enjoyed our blog post “Postwar Adverts” from November 2, 2016. Even if you’ve seen it before, take a look back to enjoy again what emblems of technology history these old adverts have become. Really … they are fascinating, and in many cases literally are works of art, for the lead magazines such as “The Aeroplane” in the UK and “Canadian Aviation” on this side of the pond employed actual artists (i.e. with bushes and paints) to create the artwork required. Thus might you enjoy the great Frank Wootten’s original paintings as cover art and in advertisements in “The Aeroplane”, and Canada’s top aviation artist Robert Bradford’s originals as the foundation of adverts for De Havilland Canada’s Otter, Caribou, etc.
Here are a few adverts from “The Aeroplane” of October 21, 1955. What quickly caught my eye (once I got over the dramatic cover art by top British commercial artist, Vic Carless) was the page taken out by Avro Canada featuring the all-red CF-100 that it was operating experimentally as a target tug. Otherwise, there was page after page of fascinating adverts portraying the aviation industry of the times, when Britain’s V-Bombers were just coming out, and types such as the Gannet for ASW and Supermarine 525 fighter held great hope for Britain’s postwar aviation industry. Adverts for the Britannia, Vanguard and Herald announced the way ahead for the airlines, while the Skeeter helicopter was where the light helicopter market was heading (so hoped Saunders Roe). Also, take a look at the want ads page to get a better sense of what was happening.
Welcome to the CANAV Books blog for February 2022. As usual, there’s a lot to cover. You can start right here by downloading our Spring/Summer 2022Booklist. Any reader will find something enticing — guaranteed! For one thing, you’ll spot some excellent Avro Canada books, including a top new CF-100 history, Canadian Cold Warriors. “CCW” nicely complements the Jan Zurakowsi and Bill Waterton test pilot autobiographies. Chris Gainor’s Who Killed the Avro Arrow caps off this selection. There’s also Paul Ozorak’s new Abandoned Military Installations of Canada, Vol.4, a massive production for anyone with the least interest. Covering Gander in wartime, North Atlantic Crossroads is another gem. What else? Any Canadiana reader will revel in The Company, ditto for Chris Hadfield’s Apollo Murders. And don’t miss our special offers on Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace and Air Transport in Canada, two monumental and legendary Canadian aviation book publishing projects that are beloved anchors in many an aviation home library. Here’s your list … have at it!
Russian assault on Antonov airport February 24. If you google these bits, you should be able to see these dramatic scenes as Russian commandos take the airport by helicopter assault. Not a happy sight — so far not a single nation is willing to help Ukraine. Putin has the world terrorized. pic.twitter.com/SnvmwQ1Ge
More Oldies — Wartime National Film Board Aviation Short
During WWII, Canada’s National Film Board’s primary job was turning out propaganda shorts. 75-80 years later these are a window on the day’s documentary standards from storyline to editing and presentation. By today’s standards, the acting seems almost ridiculous in how the NFB narrators (this one is the great Lorne Greene) put across their message in that panicky style of the times, but that was then and this is now. Here’s a good example of the NFB’s wartime effort. I’m sure you’ll be able to overlook the aggravating presentation to enjoy the fascinating film clips from Canadian aviation “way back in the day”. Google it at:
In Air Transport in Canada all of our post-WWII air carriers are covered in decent detail, for such a general book. You see all about the roots of such carriers as Maritime Central Airlines, Mont Laurier Aviation, Wheeler Airlines, Transair, Queen Charlotte Airlines, etc. for which air cargo was so important. “ATC” provides solid background for what was happening – the war was over, surplus airplanes were available, markets beckoned (or did they?), on and on. To the credit of the visionaries, many companies survived for decades, until gradually absorbed into larger ones. If this sort of business/aviation story interests you, there are good books to track down. Besides “ATC” for the Canadian story, two of my favourites are R.E.G. Davies Airlines of the United States since 1914 and Commuter Airlines of the United States, but so far I’ve yet to see a book about the US postwar cargo airlines. Is this one in the works? Here’s an excellent old movie covering Sante Fe Skyway, a short-lived 1940s carrier with DC-3s and DC-4s. It’s an excellent business case study and the ancient propliner footage is not to be missed. Sante Fe Skyway reminds me of such great Canadian companies as QCA and World Wide Airways. For an informative and enjoyable 18 minutes, google The Failure of Santa Fe Skyway – YouTube
More of Les Corness’ Unique Photography
Any time I glance through a pile of old Les Corness transparencies from the 50s, I spot many that I’d like to share. Regardless of their sometimes rough condition with scratches and crud, or Les’ preference (when called for) to favour content over form, there’s always something inspirational about his photos. You’ll know what I mean if you have your copy of The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection (if you don’t, see the booklist for a great deal). Also, you can search for earlier blog items featuring Les, this item included: “Leslie Corness Propliner Review” which features lots more of his magnificent photos.
Over the decades CAF/RCAF aircraft procurement has been a subject of discussion, analysis and befuddlement. Project timelines themselves have been mindboggling at times. How long, for example, long did it take to replace the Argus? It seems that since the late 1960s the Argus was going to be “replaced”. Finally, the Aurora arrived at Greenwood in 1980. So it went with the F-104/CF-5/CF-101 replacement, which culminated with the delivery in 1982 of Canada’s first CF-188 Hornets. Then there was the Sea King replacement, which finally has arrived in the form of the Cyclone, a much modified civilian Sikorsky. Most recently, the fantastic old Buffalo has been phased out after 50+ years of stellar service. Its replacement, the C-295 Kingfisher, has arrived, but with a list of either unacceptable features or yet-to-be sorted out mods (so it also went with the Cormorant). Somehow, each such fleet gradually has been sorted out. The main thing about DND procurement seems to be that Canada rarely acquires an airplane without massive gobs of time to contemplate and complicate everything, plus astounding (sometimes unjustified) over-spending.
When, lately, I spotted the wonderful old photo (above) of Richfield Oil’s NC13777, I was reminded of how the RCAF had acquired its first modern, all-metal airplane in 1936. Just then it needed a new type to replace its ancient Bellancas and Fairchilds of 1920s vintage. Somehow, RCAF engineering HQ learned of the Northrop, maybe simply by a salesman knocking at the door, or spotting a trade magazine advertisement or article. It looked like a good airplane, and (RCAF HQ soon learned) industrial and trade skills spinoffs were available. But the Delta was a civil design. The great Joseph P. Juptner describes it as “a highly advanced single-engined airliner, a speedy conveyance … for medium roads on the trunk airline routes”.
Unfortunately, TWA had cancelled its order for 15 Deltas when the US government ceased licencing single-engine airliners for night schedules. Northrop was left holding the bag, but the RCAF came to the rescue, buying three Deltas from Northrop’s surplus, then contracting with Canadian Vickers for licence production of 17 more. These served well into early WWII, then had extra duty into late the war as ground training aids. In the end, the RCAF saved Jack Northrop’s bacon by buying his orphan. In RCAF service, the Delta proved to be a solid, versatile plane. Meanwhile, it must be admitted that DND procurement can get things rolling in a hurry if necessary, not just with the Delta. Look how it acquired its fleets of C-17s and C-130Js – they seem to have come out of nowhere compared to the decades needed to replace the Sea King or Buffalo.
Canada’s Hornets –Retrospective
We fans started following the CF-18 Hornet back in 1982 and since then haven’t missed much about this exciting, ongoing episode in CAF/RCAF fighter history. My first chance to photograph Hornets was at Cold Lake in 1983. Since then I’ve chased them all over the place, and even had some backseat rides (starting at Baden-Soellingen in 1987). Other highlights were at Maple Flag at Cold Lake, various exciting events at Bagotville, fighter meets at Tyndall AFB, Langley AFB and Burlington, Vermont, a few days with 437 Sqn refuelling Canada’s last NATO Hornets between Lahr and Goose Bay via Keflavik, Doha for Gulf War I, and airshows from coast to coast. Another historic event occurred in 1993, while I was waiting at CFB Lahr to catch a Hercules back to Canada. There on the ramp sat a lone Hornet getting ready for departure. Here’s that story as it appeared in the November 1993 edition of “Wings” magazine.
Harsh Realities in Space Flight
Terranauts … here’s an important Space Program retrospective. The topic is melancholic, but needs to be contemplated to have a realistic sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going tomorrow in space exploration. Chris and Helene Hadfield are the guests. Google this: We remember – A special episode of Terranauts with Helene …
You’ll never run out of solid history to read or photos to enjoy on our blog (which dates back to 2009). What are your interests? Here are some of the worthwhile topics you can find in a flash via the search box or by scrolling back through the years:
440 Squadron Gets Together in Ottawa A History of Austin Airways Aircraft of the USAF Museum Antonov AN-124 Apollo 40 th Anniversary Beech 18 Boeing 727 Turns 50 C-119 The Travels of Nick and Larry Canada’s Enduring DC-3s Canadian Fighter Pilots Association Canadian Forces in Ethiopia, Somalia and Rwanda Canso CF-104 Warbird Emerges Dash 8 No.1000 Is Delivered Fox Moth Discoveries From the Wilf White Collection Homebuilding Roots in Canada Last Lockheed Jetstar Retires Light Planes Lockheed Lodestar More CF-TGE Nostalgia Norseman Northern Aviation in 1977 Old Canadair Originals Postwar Adverts Super Connie Field Trip The Crash of CF-100 18417 The Great Bob Halford The Great War Flying Museum Toronto/Winnipeg Turn-Around Winter Photography
Next Time on the CANAV Blog?
Have a close look at our promo sheet for CANAV’s grand history of CAE Inc. of Montreal. If you pride yourself in having a serious Canadian aviation home library, The CAE Story belongs in it. There isn’t a more wide-ranging aerospace history book with this depth of coverage anywhere in the world, nor a more beautifully-produced book at such a bargain price.
Since we’ve had a very snowy winter here in Toronto this year, I got thinking about winter photography in years gone by. I was further encouraged by Pierre Gillard’s recent winter aviation photography at St. Hubert — see http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html This is not to be missed!
First, here’s a January 1976 scene from the bad old days of the Queen St. East morning commute. Well do we remember packing ourselves onto such PCCs as 4690. Talk about the wretched lives of sardines, eh! Then, 4449 rounding the loop at Neville Park on January 15, 1968 ready to battle its way on another cross-town Queen Street grind. Finally for this trio … PPCs 4230 and 4309 stored at the Wychwood Barns as I spotted them on December 6, 1969.
Old Magazines Are Real Treasures
There is no more fun with the printed page than flipping through old magazines reading the articles and perusing the wonderful old advertisements. Lately, I spotted these two wonderful old “adverts” in “The Aeroplane” from 1955 — one featuring the Viscount for TCA, the other the Avro CF-100. The first one illustrates the heyday of the UK’s post-WWII aviation industry; the second — Canada’s at its peak, a time when such other types as the Beaver, Otter, Tracker and Argus all were coming off the lines. Canada was at the top of its aviation industry game. For more such delightful reading, see our earlier item “Postwar Adverts”.
Martin Mars … Many older fans have been watching the great Martin Mars story since several Mars came to Canada in the late 1950s. Lots of us eventually made the pilgrimage to Port Alberni, BC to photograph these giant beauties. Today, two Mars remain at their Port Alberni base, but they’ve been dormant for years, bypassed by newer technology. Now, the last airworthy Mars is for sale. Here are all the details and much more about the classic Mars: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/martin-mars-for-sale-1.6317194
A Bit of News – CANAV’s RCAF 1924-2024 Project
Hello to all our great fans keeping up with the CANAV blog. Nothing much huge to report this time, other than about how we are making solid progress with our 2024 book to cover the history of the RCAF in its 100th year. This will be the ultimate among all general RCAF books over the decades. If you have our 1984 60th Anniversary book Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 or any such other CANAV book (Canada’s Air Force Today, etc.) you’ll know what to expect. Our “2024” book will have no equals. So far we’ve laid the groundwork and roughed out our coverage of lead-in and interwar years chapters, and now are starting to put together the many chapters covering 1939-1945 on the homefront and overseas. In case you have anything that’s unique re. hardcore history (log books, other original documents) that you think might fit in, let me know email@example.com
In the early 1960s we still were shooting North Stars, Super Connies, Viscounts and all such propliners out at Malton airport (today’s YYZ). Suddenly, things started to perk up when BOAC started showing up with the Comet 4. Service was infrequent. Several times I hitchhiked out to Malton after school on Fridays to try to catch the Comet on its weekly run, but always missed it. It wasn’t ‘til a trip to Dorval on July 26, 1959 that I finally got to shoot Comet G-APDB. ‘DB was the first Comet that I got close enough to at Malton to catch the registration, that being on April 29 the following year. Then, on May 6, I spotted G-APDD. Still, I came away with no photos.
Finally, the first 707s and DC-8s started to appear at Malton, making for really exciting times. Now we were turning up our noses (like little idiots) at the propliners. The big jets had us mesmerized for a while. Here are a few of my early photos from this period.
C. Don Long — Aeronautical Engineer, CAHS No.104
One of the great early members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (Member No.104) was C. Don Long. From the first days of the CAHS Journal, Don contributed many authoritative articles, often covering the history of De Havilland of Canada, but also such special topics as the Toronto-Buffalo air service using Sikorsky amphibians c.1930.
Born in Toronto in 1911, Don was smitten by aviation as a boy. Cycling to old Leaside aerodrome, he got to know and photograph dozens of local and transient planes. Leaside, of course, had trained WWI pilots in 1917-18, then was home to the Toronto Flying Club from 1928, before being ploughed under for industrial use. Graduating in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto in 1933, Don was hired by De Havilland of Canada. Soon he was known as the go-to man whenever any UK DH type needed Canadian “mods” – winterized cowlings, skis, etc. Just before WWII, Don created the mods for the Canadianized D.H.82C Tiger Moth – its sliding canopy, brakes, tail wheel and skis. Next, he became chief inspector of Mosquito production.
Postwar, Don had positions with such other organizations as AVRO Canada, DH in the UK, Canadair, Spartan and the National Research Council. He returned to DHC in 1959, then joined the staff of McMaster University in 1970. Other organizations to which he contributed included the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, and the Society of Automotive Engineers. Don died fairly young on May 18, 1972. Here are some of his wonderful pre-WWII photos. I don’t have many details about these, but here’s a chance simply to enjoy some historic photos taken around Toronto by a keen young spotter (probably before the term was in use). Most of these would have been taken at Leaside and the airports around what today is Downsview. One of these strips was the second home of the TFC, another belonged to International Airways. These all had disappeared by the time DHC had developed Downsview into a modern airport just before WWII. Sometimes Don could get his subject “in the clear”, but even if there was a mob scene he was keen to shoot off a frame. Thank goodness that he did.
Short Flying Boats in Canada
In 1937 Britain’s Imperial Airways and America’s Pan American Airways began experimenting with flying boats on the North Atlantic. The dream for Britain was to add to its growing system of routes that eventually would encircle the world, bringing the old “Empire” closer together. Pan Am had its own global dreams. This challenging effort commenced on July 5/6, when 4-engine flying boats took off from opposite sides of the Atlantic — the Imperial Airways Short “C” Class “Caledonia” flying from Foynes, Ireland to Botwood, Gander Lake, Newfoundland; and the Pan American Airways Sikorsky S-42 going from Shediac, New Brunswick to Foynes. Canada was involved, having helped to finance facilities at both western termini. This was just as Ottawa, under the determined drive of J.A. Wilson (Controller of Civil Aviation) was on the brink of launching Canada’s national airline.
Establishing a North Atlantic air service was vital for Great Britain, which already had flying boat links as far as distant Australia. Now, Ottawa envisioned Canada being part of Great Britain’s globe-encircling plans. Meanwhile, France and Germany already were well-entrenched on the Atlantic, operating flying boats and Zeppelins. Imperial Airways, unfortunately, was at a disadvantage, since its Short “C” Class boats lacked range, so could not carry loads on the Atlantic. For its flights “Caledonia” had all excess weight stripped out and long range fuel tanks added, then it barely could make it across to Botwood. America’s Boeing, Martin and Sikorsky flying boats, on the other hand, were built from the outset for range and payload. Imperial Airways’ Short “G” Class flying boat, which would match the American designs, still was on the drawing boards.
After landing at Botwood, “Caledonia” pushed on to Montreal, where its arrival was a huge media event. Its sister ship, “Cambria”, already having made proving flights to the Mediterranean and Azores, also was involved, but its first crossing to Botwood was a near-disaster, when navigation and radio equipment broke down. Temporarily lost, “Cambria” finally reached Botwood. Next, it continued on a public relations trip to Montreal, then Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor and Hamilton. Cambria’s arrival in Toronto Bay was heralded by the local press: “The Cambria’s landing will be marked by a shrieking outburst from factory and locomotive whistles.”
Instead of boisterous headlines the next day, the front page of the “Toronto Daily Star” reported grim news. Front and centre was a large photo of “Cambria” floating cockeyed on Toronto Bay with the caption, “Flying Boat Soars above City, Breaks Pontoon in Landing”. On touching down on Lake Ontario in front of the Canadian National Exhibition, Captain Griffin J. “Taffy” Powell seems to have miscalculated, perhaps fooled by a crosswind. His port wing dug in, the huge sponson near its tip tore off, and the mighty flying boat slewed dramatically to a stop.
Once the situation was under control, “Cambria” was towed into Toronto Bay. A repair crew from De Havilland of Canada (including Don Long) was organized and eventually completed repairs (needed parts were shipped from Belfast aboard the Queen Mary and on by surface express to Toronto). On September 23 Captain Powell test flew “Cambria”. Next day he flew to Hamilton for a civic event, then left for the long flight home. “Cambria” landed in Foynes on September 28 after a record-setting 10:35 hours for the eastbound leg.
These C. Don Long photos of “Cambria” rarely have been seen. They show Don’s great facility with a camera, getting wide, medium and close-up views, taking it all in, as we used to say. I’m sure that somewhere there are other photos from this series, but these are impressive enough.
n.b. For the in-depth story of the “Cambria” in Toronto see Patrick Fitz Gerald’s 2005 history “The Cambria Incident: A Very Public Mishap” in the Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal Vol.43 No.4. Also see Ray Crone’s 1998 summary “Canada and the Short Empire Boats” in CAHS Journal Vol.36 No.4. For membership in the CAHS please go to www.cahs.com If you are not a member yet, you will thank yourself for joining.
This series of Don Long photographs shows “Cambria” moored in Toronto Bay. There were no telephoto lenses in everyday use in 1937, so this is enlarged from a small part of Don’s negative. Then, a series of photos of “Cambria” in the Toronto Islands lagoon near the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, where repair work was done. Any true aviation history fan will revel in these scenes. The cockpit photo will really get the flying boat aficionados going. I haven’t seen such a nice one.
Toronto Bay History Treasure
Also among my small collection of C. Don Long negatives is this one of the Toronto Harbour Commission’s 214-ton tugboat Rouille. I’m guessing that it was named for Fort Rouille, the original European settlement here. Fort Rouille was a small French trading post somewhere on the Lake Ontario shore where York later was founded in 1793 by Governor Simcoe (York became Toronto in 1834).
Tugboat Rouille was built by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. in During WWII it was impressed by the RCN. Postwar, it worked for J.P. Porter and Sons of Toronto, but ended badly. On December 3, 1954 it was sailing from Sydney, Cape Breton Island to Rimouski on the lower St. Lawrence River, when it got into stormy waters. Just off Cape Smokey, about 60 miles north of Sydney, it sank, taking its five crew to their deaths.
Here, Rouille is tied up in the Keating Channel near the mouth of the Don River. To this day, the scene is not hugely different, although the Keating Channel is destined for a major facelift as the Lower Don is redeveloped. This photo exemplifies the stalwart photographer. Airplanes are of great interest, of course, but a fellow like Don Long always had his eyes open, looking for other fascinating subject matter. What great work such hobbyists do in preserving ordinary Canadian history.
Lately, the fabulous AeroTime News website has featured some items about the plane spotting hobby. Here’s the introductory part of it. What an excellent summary, but has the hobby ever changed since we old timers got interested. Who would have thought that a hobbyist could end in jail over his simple interest in photographing airplanes? Well, it’s happened, mainly because there actually are rules … and always have been. One day at Malton, for example, I had cycled up to the Avro end to see what there was to see. Spotting some CF-100s about a half mile away, I decided to have a go at them by trudging through some fields of thick grass and weeds along the Avro fenceline. We always had known about this spot, but had been warned by pals that Avro sometimes patrolled the fence. Finally I reached the CF-100s, which were parked on a run-up pad. Nobody was around, so I took a few snaps through the Frost fence. All of a sudden I heard yelling, turned and spotted a couple of uniformed Avro security cops huffing and puffing through the field heading my way. Soon they had me cornered and were giving me the gears. Who did I think I was, etc., etc. After confiscating my roll of 120 and jotting down my particulars, we parted on good enough terms. A couple of weeks later my negatives came in the mail, all of them, so Avro security had a heart after all. However, it had been a good lesson for a kid. After that I was a bit more cautious about when and where to push my luck at the airport. We had other even more exciting run-ins with airport security, about which I’ll write in a future book.
About two years ago Don McVicar of Hamilton put a team together to restore Canada’s first Piper PA-23 Apache – Central Airways’ CF- KFX. “KFX” was brought into Canada by Central’s always forward-thinking owners, Bobby and Tommy Wong. This is really a newsworthy story that any fan will enjoy. It’s all about how CF-KFX recently has risen from the boneyard. There are many interesting threads and the project has spun off some worthwhile activity. In one case, it’s brought some old time Central Airways (Toronto Island Airport) staff and former students back in touch with each other. Here’s your link to this nifty story:
Click on this link to see the stills and action-packed videos showing the crash landing on December 9 at Anchorage airport. In spite of it all, this C-117 “Super DC-3” should be flying again before long:
In the late 1950s the RCAF ordered a small fleet (10) of Grumman G-111 Albatross amphibians for its search-and-rescue units. These replaced Canada’s long-serving Cansos and complemented the RCAF’s Otters, Dakotas, etc. doing SAR work. Retired in 1971, our Albatrosses returned to Grumman, then were re-sold, some to the Mexican military.
In 2022 the Albatross is having a revival. Many of the 466 built survive, and there is a plan to refurbish some, and maybe build new examples in Australia powered by Canada’s famous PT6 turbine engine. Will this actually happen? We shall see, as usual. Pratt & Whitney Canada’s recent press release explains (the PT6 stats are amazing):
The G-111T is the only large transport category amphibious aircraft for passenger, cargo and utility in the marketplace,” said Chairman of Amphibian Aerospace Industries, Khoa Hoang. “Because of its ability to land and take-off from both land and water, the G-111T is ideal for use in inland rivers, ocean rescue, mountainous terrain and tropic river basins.”
Pilots and operators fly the PT6A engine with confidence, even in the most challenging of conditions. The engine builds on the experience gained from more than 900 million hours of operation expertise across our portfolio and reliability of the PT6 family. With more than 50 years of experience in general aviation, the PT6A engine further benefits from 425 million flying hours – more flying hours than any other engine on the market – the PT6A is a proven engine and the most prolific in the segment.
PT6A-67F engines have been identified as the engine of choice from within the PT6A family for the G-111T aircraft application,’ said Anthony Rossi, vice president, Business Development, Pratt & Whitney Canada. “We have been working with Amphibian Aerospace for the past five years on this program and have developed an effective and productive relationship that bodes extremely well for the success of the program.
Pierre Gillard Blog
If you are not familiar with the superb aviation blog by Pierre Gillard, please take a look. This week, Pierre features a wonderful gallery of Nordair 737 photos:
Welcome to CANAV’s Fall/Winter 2021-22 booklist. As usual it includes all the standard CANAV classics, with some excellent deals, especially for Air Transport in Canada at a give-away, all-in price. There are numerous new offerings, all enticing for the serious fan. It’s hard to say which is the real standout of the bunch., but I’m tending (for one) towards Chris Hadfield’s The Apollo Murders. I’ve just started to read it and I’m reminded right away (as far as writing style and enticing content go) of Ernie Gann’s Fate is the Hunter. That’s about as grand a compliment as I could give any aviation/space author. I think you need this book, but so do you need a boxload of others from this fall’s list. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean … stock up for winter.
Hot Off the Press … Red Lake Norseman Project Finale!
Norseman CF-DRD finally has been fully refurbished and again graces the Red Lake waterfront at the head of Howie Bay. To see this week’s posting, google:Kim posted an update to Save DRD – Red Lake’s Norseman icon Please drop a few bucks in DRD’s gofundme kitty while you’re there. How painful will that be? Not at all, but you’ll have helped push the project fund to its goal of $50K, a target that a couple of years ago must have seemed so impossible. Not today it isn’t! Cheers … Larry
Canadian Aviation Society: Beginnings
Canada’s premier aviation history organization for 60+ years has been the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Lately, I came across two historic documents that reveal some key CAHS history. Have a look at the minutes of the society’s original meeting, when it was known as “The Early Birds of Canada”. This was a name suggested by the original US-based “Early Birds of Aviation”, which included pilots who had flown prior to December 17, 1916. Soon, however, we realized that this name would restrict the breadth in coverage, so the more general, all-encompassing “CAHS” name was adopted at our second meeting. To my knowledge, none of those mentioned in the minutes are still with us. The second document from a few months later in 1963 is under the CAHS banner and states the society’s rationale. These documents were printed on a 1950s “spirit duplicator”, so it’s a miracle that they haven’t faded away to nothing by now.
A Few Photos by the Great W.J. “Bill” Wheeler, CAHS No.5
Bill Wheeler (1931-2020, CAHS No.5, Member Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, etc.)) spent more than 40 years as editor of the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. As such, he really was the beating heart of the CAHS. He also spent a tour as CAHS national president. Residing in Markham since the 1960s, his day job in his younger years was commercial illustrator for such publications as Toronto’s legendary “Star Weekly”. He also produced some renowned book covers, and his illustrations fill our Journal from the early 1960s onward. For today, here are a few of Bill’s ordinary airplane photos, of which there are too many to count. We early CAHS members had much in common. While many had been involved in the development of early aviation, others were more the “arm chair” type, sharing such pastimes as reading aviation books and magazines, taking in airshows and CAHS events, being enthusiastic aviation photographers, etc.
When we met in 1962, Bill was still earning his living as an artist and illustrator. Happily, before long he got into teaching art, then enjoyed a long career at West Hill Collegiate in east Toronto, finishing as art department head. Over the decades as a hobby photographer he amassed other photos from countless sources. All these he kept lovingly in huge albums. For example, here’s a very rare photo that he saved ages ago of Leavens Brothers famous Pitcairn PAA-1 Autogyro CF-ASQ.
Leavens had started on a farm near Belleville, Ontario in the late 1920s, then moved to Toronto’s Barker Field and Pelee Island on Lake Erie. Leavens became legendary delivering supplies and mail to Pelee, teaching thousands of young Canadians to fly, and leading the way for years in spruce budworm aerial spray campaigns, and in aircraft sales and service.
Leavens’ sole Pitcairn had come to Canada in 1932, then spent more than 20 years doing everything from joyriding at country fairs to spraying and – as you see – banner towing. A bit of self-promotion is going one in this scene – Leavens always had a flying school. Thanks to Bill, this rare Pitcairn photo survives. I doubt that few in 2021 have ever before seen this one. Here also is an old b/w print from Bill’s collection showing a JN-4 on the Leavens farm in the late 1920s. One or more of the Leavens may have learned to fly on this old crate.
Bill and Charlie
If the CAHS had two real pals from Day 1, those were Bill Wheeler and Charlie Catalano. While Bill was teaching, Charlie was a fellow who did almost anything. Once, he was managing a theatre where we held some early CAHS meetings, at other times he was repairing radios and TVs, yet again he was tinkering with a system of lights under the wings of his war surplus T-50. He’d fly over Toronto at night with the lights spelling out various advertising messages. Charlie was an innovative fellow. He and Bill were real CAHS stalwarts. There could have been no society without such members. For many years Charlie kept his own little 1945 Aeronca at Buttonville – CF-LVI. He flew it summer and winter. He and Bill made many a flight together. Here are shots that Bill took of Charlie’s “Airknocker” on skis, then towing a banner promoting a CAHS Convention some time in the 1960s. Last heard of in 2018, “LVI” was based in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
A History of Austin Airways
It was a big deal publishing CANAV’s short history of Austin Airways back in 1985, then adding to the details fairly substantially in Air Transport in Canada (1997) and The Noorduyn Norseman (Vol.2, 2013), but there’s much more to know about this great company than CANAV’s efforts. Long before I had a clue about it all, in the 1950s Neil A. Macdougall (1927-2021) of Toronto was covering the Austin story. By this time, Neil, having begun in aviation while in high school in Vancouver during WWII, was well known as a polished, professional aviation journalist.
On assignment from “ESSO Air World”, Neil did an in- depth study of Austin, visiting the company from its base at Toronto Island Airport to Sudbury and other points north. He talked to many of the key Austin people, flew in Austin aircraft, did all the photography, then put together this solid company profile. For the periodical genre, this is as good an air operator istory as you’ll find. If any writer in our so-shallow “social media” era could do half as well, he’d be a winner.
Here’s Neil’s finished product as it appeared in the January – February edition of the prestigious “ESSO Air World”. See what a professional writer and photographer at his peak could do out in the field 60+ years ago. Also, see Neil’s obituary at the end. Talk about a solid Canadian’s life well lived.
Fox Moth Discoveries
It’s always fun to come across any new airplane photo. Out of the blue, these two just popped up lately from Bill Wheeler’s files – a couple of D.H.83 Fox Moths. These planes were from the small batch built at Downsview in 1945-46 as DHC was getting back into civil aviation after its booming war years had come to a sudden halt in August 1945. Right away business in the north started to roll again, so airplanes were needed. While the DHC design team was working on what would evolve into the Chipmunk and Beaver, there was a small market for old pre-war Fox Moths. DHC turned out 53½ of these useful planes. Many went north, including one to Yellowknife for a young pilot, Max Ward.
I wonder who got this lovely air-to-air shot of Fox Moth CF- DIW? Notice the chief detail that makes this a Canadian-built version – its attractive sliding canopy. “DIW” was around Toronto when we were kids. Dave Marshall, a young fellow flying a DC-3 at Malton for the Abitibi Power and Paper Company, sometimes flew “DIW” (that looks like Dave in this shot). In 1959-60 it was based at Maple airstrip just north of Toronto. Its fuselage was red, the wings and tail feathers were yellow. I took a nice landing shot of “DIW” at one of the local fly-ins about 1960. Dave was flying that day. I happily used that shot in my first book, Aviation in Canada.
Fox Moth CF-EVK had a long career but it’s a bit of a complicated story. “EVK” had begun as the very prototype D.H.83 Fox Moth — G- ABUO. It came to Canada in May 1933, became CF-API, and that winter joined General Airways of Rouyn to toil in the northern bush. In 1937-39 it was in BC with Ginger Coote Airways, then returned to Ontario, where it hauled sturgeon in 1939 for Baillie-Maxwell of Nakina. Starting in 1940, it worked for Leavens Brothers from their Larder Lake base in northern Ontario. Damaged in a wind storm at Barker Field in January 1950, it was rebuilt by Leavens to D.H.83C standards, acquiring a new identity — D.H.83C No.54. This transpired when the salvageable parts of “API” were mated with the 54 th and last fuselage built by DHC. Re-registered CF-EVK, it appeared in DOT records as D.H.83C No.54. In 1959 it was listed in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register to L. Lavoie of Amos, Quebec. Its C of A was current to March 1960, so it’s sometimes described as Canada’s last commercially- operated D.H.83C. After 1960, nothing is known about “EVK”. I once heard that it was destroyed when the shed it was stored in burned. Here, “EVK” looks very spiffy on skis, place and date unknown.
Three More Glorious Les Corness Photos
Northern Aviation in 1977
In 1977 Hugh Whittington, the renowned editor of “Canadian Aviation” magazine, asked three writers to cover Canada’s Northern and Arctic Aviation scenes. Hugh Quigley headed for Yellowknife, Ted Larkin for Resolute Bay, and I for the heart of James Bay country along Quebec’s Great Whale River. This was a super opportunity for us. Besides, it always was a privilege to work for Hugh and Canada’s premier aviation trade magazine.
To start, I connected with SEBJ – la Société d’énergie de la Baie James – in Montreal to make arrangements to fly into its vast hydro development region, get briefed about what was going on up there, and how my transportation and lodging would go. In a few days I was at Dorval, where I met the man running SEBJ’s air transport operation, the legendary Frank Henley. A hardcore aviation fan and renowned aviator/businessman, Frank was keen to fill me in and get my flight north organized. Only recently he had set up an exclusive SEBJ corporate air operation using several Convair 580s. Their main task was to fly personnel, freight and mail back and forth between Dorval and SEBJ, with stops at Quebec and Bagotville.
This assignment was one of my first big breaks in aviation journalism. Even though I was getting published in the aviation press, there rarely was more than a few dollars in it for any piece of work. By comparison, Hugh was offering $750 for the SEBJ assignment. Our stories appeared in his November 1977 edition. My trip really panned out, including some very good flying in the Convairs, a couple of commercial Hercules, and some Bell choppers. I had one heck of an exciting few days. Here’s what I turned out for Hugh:
Forty-four years later? By now, the SEBJ that I saw in 1977 long-since has been producing hydro electricity for Quebec, New York and Ontario. The project has gone on to additional phases and still is on-going. Of course, the aviation scene is much changed. Long gone are the Convairs, DC-3s, Otters and Hercules. Today, such types as the PC-12, King Air and Dash 8 serve the region. Many of the fellows I met also have departed, from Frank Henley to Blake Smiley and Roy Heibel. Frank’s now a member of Quebec’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Roy later died in a helicopter crash.
Some of the SEBJ aircraft came to dramatic endings, including CF-DSX. Following SEBJ and other northern projects, in 1984 it became N39ST with Trans America, then was S9-NAI with Transafrik working in diamond mining regions of South Africa. On April 9, 1989 “NAI” was hauling fuel for the Angolan Air Force when it came under fire near Luena airfield. With two engines ablaze, it crash-landed. The 4-man crew survived, but that was the end of what once had been a famous Canadian Hercules.
The other “Herc” that I flew in on SEBJ, PWA’s CF-PWN, also had a bad ending. As N920ST, by 1989 it was doing shady work for the CIA. On November 27 that year was approaching Jamba airport in Angola. The “Aviation Safety Network” summarizes what happened: “The aircraft, flown by Tepper Aviation’s chief, reportedly was carrying out a flight on behalf of the CIA to provide the Angolan UNITA guerrilla forces with weapons. It crashed while coming in to land at Jamba. These flights were flown at night at a very low altitude to avoid MPLA radar detection. The runway at Jamba was dirt, the approach was over trees, and the portable runway lighting was probably marginally adequate.”
Back in 1995 we published one of the grandest corporate aviation histories – Canadair: The First 50 Years. It really is a lovely book and will be treasured for decades by those who own the 24,000 copies that came off the bindery at Friesen printers in Manitoba. However, there’s always the reality that no matter how we try, we never really can produce the “all singing, all dancing” aviation book. All that our Canadair can do it whet a reader’s appetite for more. Well, today here’s a bit more for the avid fan.
Just like all aerospace companies, Canadair created hundreds of projects “on paper”, few of which ever developed. That’s too bad in some ways, for some of these surely would have made grand successes.
Out in today’s aviation boonies are hundreds of Cessna Caravans, DHC Beavers, Otters and turbo Otters, Kodiaks, AN-2s and other such common workhorses. They serve niche markets in a hundred-and-one ways. They’re absolutely indispensible for isolated northern communities from Labrador to Alaska, across Africa and Latin America, in the Aussie outback, in Siberia, etc. Each type has its general history, even some fame and glory, but who knew, for example, that the Caravan had its beginnings in the late 1970s as a glint in to eyes of Dick Hiscocks and Russ Bannock of De Havilland Canada in Toronto? Strange but true. The fellows envisioned an Otter replacement, took their idea to Wichita, and the rest is history (you might not see this part of the Caravan story in any official Cessna history).
All very interesting, but did you know that the first such brilliant and serious idea for an Otter replacement hailed not from Hiscocks/Bannock, but from Canadair at Cartierville in suburban Montreal? This was the Canadair CL-260 utility plane of 1970. As a builder of Sabres, Argus and CF-104s, who would expect the great Canadair to be dabbling with such a “small fry” project? That I do not know and nearly all the Canadair old boys from that era by now have passed. Does anyone out there know the details? Failing all else, here’s a nifty bit that emerged lately from the depths of the CANAV archives.
CL-260 Turbine Otter Caravan
Wing Span: 54’ 58’ 52’1”
Length: 43’2” 41’10” 37’7”
All-up Weight: 8000 lb 8200 lb 8000 lb
It’s just another fantasy airplane by now, but “what if” Canadair had produced the CL-260? Would it have changed the world long before the ubiquitous Caravan, and the other light utility planes that serve today? It’s always fun to speculate. Anyway, here are the GA drawings direct from Canadair. Who will be the first keen modeller to give this one a try? If you dare try and follow through, please send me some photos for the blog.
Have a look at John Ciesla’s fantastic transportation files. Lots of wonderful Canadian content from the great airliners of the 50s-60s to streetcars, busses, you name it. Many a trip down memory lane!
Bush Caddy Update
The last time I updated the story of the “Ghost” Canso of Gananoque, one of the photos (taken by Nick Wolochatiuk) shows a bit of a sorry-looking yellow Bush Caddy in the hangar beside the Canso. CANAV reader Jim Golz has found the story behind this interesting airplane. It’s a classic “cautionary tale” in detail, including some questions about of aircraft certification competence at Transport Canada. Use the blog search box to find our original story by entering “Bush Caddy”. Here’s the link that reveals this really amazing story … not to be missed by any true history fan, or anyone who aviates in kitplanes: https://www.eaa.org/eaa/news-and-publications/eaa-news-and-aviation-news/bits-and-pieces-newsletter/12-25-2019-wing-spar-failure-on-a-bushcaddy-l-164
One of the best sources for news and developments for Canadian aviation fans is Paul Squires’ monthly “News Round Up” blog-0-paul-squires. You can get on Paul’s list by checking in with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or paul.squires.capa@mattamatic
Check in here to see the latest progress on Red Lake Norseman CF-DRD. See photos of the wings and fuselage recently coming together again. Here’s your chance to send your gofundme bit along to help with this very important (and expensive) Canadian aviation heritage project.
Some Exotic Flying Test Beds of the Fifties
When it comes to old airplane photos, treasures keep popping up in dusty files, boxes and forgotten albums. Recently, in sorting some things, I found this exotic black-and-white by aviation photographer, Ira Ward, of Needham Heights, Massachusetts. In 1964 Ira had mailed this one to his pal in Toronto, the great M.L. “Mac” McIntyre, an early member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Subject matter? The one-off Curtiss Wright B-17 engine test bed N6694C, which Ira had shot at Woodbridge, Connecticut. Built as a B- 17G by Lockheed-Vega in Burbank in May 1945, it originally rolled out as USAAF 44-85813, but would not see military service. Instead, it went straight to Curtiss Wright that October for engine testing as a civil B-17. The major mods were done at Wichita by Boeing. N6694C’s initial “5 th ” engine was the 5500-shp Wright XT35 Typhoon turbine. First flight was in September 1947, but the T65 proved to be a dud. Not everything has been published about N6694C’s career, but its second big assignment seems to have been testing Curtiss Wright’s licence-built version of the UK’s Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet. In the US, this became the J65, widely used in such fighters as the FJ-4 Fury and Grumman Tiger.
In 1966 Curtiss Wright sold its exotic test bed to Ewing Aviation. It then was ferried to South Dakota for conversion back to a more usual B-17 for fire bombing. On April 16, 1980 it crashed while working a fire at Bear Pen, North Carolina. For further details see Scott A. Thompson’s essential book, Final Cut — The Post-War Flying Fortresses: The Survivors. Having a chance to catch such a nice set-up of N6694C would certainly have made Ira Ward’s day. Mac, of course, would have delighted in getting Ira’s print in the mail – those were the days when most of us swapped airplane photos using the always-efficient postal services of the day. We never followed the Curtiss Wright B-17, but as kids used to delight in seeing any B-17. In the late 50s we often saw Kenting’s aero survey “Forts”, CF-HBP and CF-ICB at their base in Oshawa, then at Malton, starting around 1960, once Field Aviation had built its new hangar at the north end of the airport. The Kenting fleet then started using Field for mods and servicing.
Local Flying Test Beds
This is mostly forgotten history, but Toronto had some flying test beds of its own. In the early 1950s Avro Canada was using a Lancaster to test the jet engines being developed by its Malton subsidiary, Orenda Engines. These were produced initially for the CF- 100, but they later powered hundreds of Canadair-built F-86s. I never saw this “Lanc”, since it was destroyed when Avro’s flight test hangar burned on July 24, 1956 – a bit before my time at Malton.
In 1956, when Orenda was developing the Iroquois engine for the Avro CF-105 Arrow, USAF B-47 51-2059 was borrowed from the USAF to use as a test bed. For this program the B-47 was taken on RCAF strength as X059. Its first destination in Canada was Canadair at Cartierville, near Montreal, where the mods were installed to accommodate the 30-foot-long Orenda engine. This made X059 one of the rare 7-engine B-47s (a second was used to test fly the GE TF34). For Canadair purposes, the B-47 was designated the CL-52.
NORAD ECM/EW – The Story of 414 Squadron and the 134th DSES of the Vermont ANG
Beginning in the 1950s, the RCAF began experimenting with a new concept – electronic counter measures (ECM). This eventually became known more commonly as electronic warfare (EW). The first I wrote about this was a 1980 feature item in Carl Vincent’s superb journal, “High Flight”. The topic was enticing, especially since NORAD was using some interesting airplane types.
In Canada, the first RCAF EW unit was 104KU (Composite Unit) at St. Hubert. Using Dakotas and C-119s, “104” trained ground radar stations to deal with airborne radar jamming using electronic means and chaffe dispersal. In 1956, 104 added its first CF-100 equipped for the same tasks. Communications jamming soon was added. In April 1959 the RCAF stood up its Electronic Warfare Unit at St. Hubert with C-119s and CF-100s. The CF-100 pilots came from existing NORAD squadrons, while their “back seaters” – the electronic warfare officers (EWOs) — usually had been CF-100 navigators, trained later in EW by the USAF. The EWU came to be a busy operation, always in demand to fly ECM exercises across North America. In September 1967 the EWU became 414 (EW) Squadron. For all the details of the famous RCAF EW unit see the detailed history in my 1980 book The Avro CF- 100.
While the RCAF was perfecting its EW capabilities, the USAF had a similar but much grander operation, comprising several squadrons flying the EB-57 Canberra. In the early 1980s I was getting deeper into this special NORAD topic. Having covered the EWU/414 closely and flown with 414 in 1980 (by then at North Bay), I needed to learn about the USAF operation. This led me to spend a few days in Burlington, Vermont with the 134 th Defense Systems Evaluation Group of the Vermont Air National Guard (part of the 158 th Defense Systems Evaluation Group). This really solid field trip (the 134 th was all in with me for this project) culminated on March 17, 1980 with a 2-hour flight in a B-57. To my delight this included shooting air- to-air Kodachromes of EB-57s. Under the heading “The Black Knights and the Green Mountain Boys: Electronic Warfare in NORAD”, my story appeared in October 1980 in the lead UK aviation journal, “Air International”. Here it is for your enjoyment.
By 2021 NORAD’s EW training role is very different from CF-100 and EB-57 days. To a large degree, such training is done by commercial contractors flying civil-registered types including the Lear Jet, Alpha Jet and MU-2. Much training also is done using simulators. Such types as the USN EA-6B and EA-18G are important EW operational assets. Electronic warfare has become a huge specialty by comparison to 1980.
134th Scorpion Nostalgia
My first meeting with the 134th was one of the most exciting that a 16-year-old aviation fan could have. The date was May 16 1959 and my sidekick Merlin “Mo” Reddy and I were visiting the USAF base at Niagara Falls, NY. It was “Air Force Day” and turned out to be one of the highlights of our airplane spotting hobby. We drove down from Toronto early to make sure we got as many photos before the place got too crowded. Naturally, the sight as we arrived of such aircraft as the B-47, KC-97 and H-21 got us fired up.
Then various visitors started arriving, the highlight for me being a flight of five gorgeous F-89D Scorpions of the Vermont ANG. This was really something and there we were wandering around the ramp with our cameras. Can you imagine? An F-89 taxiing in but no one yelling at you to clear off. Talk about the good ol’ days, right! As you can see, Scorpion 54-0193 was magnificent as I photographed it. Doesn’t it look 100% operational with its wingtip rocket pods, long- range fuel tanks and VTANG markings. (Aircraft of the 134th VTANG: P-47D 1947-51, P-51D 1951-54, F-94A/B 1954-58, F-89D 1958-65, F-102A/B 1965-74, EB-57 1974-81, F-4 1981-86, F-16 1986-2019, F- 35 2019-XX. For an excellent history of the 134 th … google “Vermont Air National Guard” to get on the unit’s excellent website.)
This Month’s Reads … Three Books for the Avid Reader
Three aviation books are on my list this time around. To start there’s the incomparable Fate is the Hunter. This is the great Ernest Gann’s 1961 in-depth history covering his days starting back in the “Golden Years” of aviation when he started into his career at the very bottom. You absolutely will be spellbound by this gem of a classic. Inch by inch Gann progresses, at first spending years as a lowly American Airlines co-pilot on the DC-2, then DC-3. He learns the ropes and eats a lot of crow, as captains and other superiors show their distain for his nothingness as an aviator. His captaincy finally arrives, but he’s still at the bottom.
Along the way Gann describes in his inimitable style all the adventures of flying, the many close calls in those early years, the sheer joy of being in the flying game, yet its all-too-many tragedies. A stint delivering Lodestars to South America ensues – the details will make you squirm. With WWII, Gann flies the global airways on the DC-4 and C-87. The adventures multiply, then the war ends and he strikes out to make his way (rather than returning to American Airlines with his low seniority number) with a new trans-Pacific carrier using DC-4s. This soon falls apart and the once proud captain of the airways finds himself scrounging for jobs.
All along, Gann his weaving his story in wonderful prose, just the best you’ll find anywhere, while philosophizing about aviation and life. How have things panned out? How is it that so many of his aviation friends have given their lives? How is it that fate in the hunter? If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of this aviation beauty, here you go! 390 pages, paperback. $38.00 all-in
*Any two of these $60.00 all-in. Buy the three for $95.00 all-in. You can order via PayPal or Interac paying straight to email@example.com Any questions? Email me at the same address. Good reading to one and all. Cheers … LarryMilberry
PS … Scroll back for loads of other Canadian aviation history coverage.CanForces readers will be interested in some of these stories:
Red Lake Norseman “DRD” needs your personal help. Restoration has been underway and the job nearly is done. The wings have just arrived back in Red Lake from Gordy Hughes’ shop in Ignace. If you can help with even $10.00 “DRD” will love you forever. Here’s your chance to be part of Norseman heritage … right here, painlessly: Save DRD – Red Lake’s Norseman icon It’s easy as pie, give it a shot!
Homebuilt Fly-In Have a look here at the wonderful photography of the great Gustavo Corujo. All through the summer, Gus and Clara cover flying events across Southern Ontario. Here’s their latest adventure. Miss this lovely slide show at your peril:
You’ll notice the sweet photos of Corben Baby Ace CF-RAC. I first photographed “RAC” 60 years ago at Oshawa and Kitchener. Here it is in 2021 in front of Gus’ lens … still on the go. You can see the squib I did about this historic plane earlier on the blog. Just enter CF-RAC in the search box and it’ll put you right there.
Calgary Mosquito Society Have a look at what this important organization is doing. Please take a moment and join. How better to show your support, right. No such society can get by without an involved membership. Members always get their money’s worth, guaranteed, and the price of admission is always a bargain:
Last week’s blog item covering the longevity of Colombia’s DC-3s includes a headline photo of Colombian police Basler turbo DC-3 PNC 0213 – formerly CF-POX from Ottawa. As with any such surviving DC-3, this is an enticing story for any curious reader. Built in August 1944 with Douglas serial number 20875, a few weeks later this “Gooney Bird” was with the USAAF in North Africa. The war soon over, in January 1948 it was acquired by the French Air Force at Naples, then gave 20+ more good years of service. Appearing briefly on the French civil aircraft register as F-BTDG, in late 1971 it was sold to John Bogie’s famous Laurentian Air Service of Ottawa. Transport Canada documentation dated September 18 of that year noted that total airframe flying hours then were 10,283.6. Also mentioned was how both engines were low time. Being under 100 hours per side was a very big “plus” for any purchaser. TDG’s legal all-up weight listed as was 26,900 lb.
After many repairs and mods were done in France to make it “legal”, “TDG” was re-registered CF-POX. Early in 1972 it set off for Canada burdened with a planeload of paperwork and spares. LeaIt followed the time-honoured Greenland – Goose Bay trans-Atlantic ferry route. Joan Turner photographed it at Ottawa Uplands airport on June 3, 1972 and Ian Macdonald provides us with Joan’s lovely photo.
As one of the last DC-3s imported to Canada, “POX” soon was toiling in the north. In the spring of 1973 and winter of 1975 it had short leases to Austin Airways. Along the way it took some lumps, including being put on its nose at Schefferville in May 3, 1975. Repairs were made at St. Louis Aviation of St-Jean, Quebec. However, by then the log books and all maintenance data for “POX” had been lost in a fire at Lachute, Quebec airport in early October Subsequently, “POX” spent a long period collecting dust at Ottawa Uplands airport.
Finally, in early 1980 “POX” became N8059P with Sunset Aircraft (a bit of an ominous name?) of Miami. Then came a long list of owners. Who knows what “under the radar” activity was going on. Then, in 1984, “POX” was purchased by USAC Turbo Express of Phoenix for conversion to PT6-45R engines. Nothing seems to have come of this, then this prototype was acquired by Warren Basler of Oshkosh, where in 1988-89 it became Basler’s first turbo DC-3s using the PT6-67. It was the company demonstrator until sold in 1994 to Air Colombia. Having soon been caught in the illicit drug trade, it was seized and transferred to the Colombia national police. As far as I know, there ol’ “POX” remains to this day.
English Language Beat Down: Only in Canada
If you’re age 50 or more, you’ll be mortified at the decline of the English language in the 2000s. In Canada this is the result of ministries and school boards deliberately launching offensives against the language. Where else in the world would you find this? Try it in Quebec, where the language cops soon would straighten you out. Quebec, happily, is fully aware of the importance of language as a foundation block of any civilization. Most countries are the same – language is paramount and sacred. Meanwhile, do you think that China is undermining its educational standards?
Try messing with the national language in any civilized, even, half-civilized nation, and you quickly will be called out. Not in Canada, however, where liberal “progressives” are on the rampage against anything to do Canada’s incalculably fantastic accomplishments over the decades/centuries. Pull down a statue, re-name a street or building, go for it! Sabotaging anything genuinely cultural is what the “progressives” in Canada call a good day’s work. And look who approves – our self-besmirched PM leads the charge, the “progressive” mayor of Toronto is gung ho. Anything to appease the obnoxious minorities, few of whom have read a history book in their shallow lives.
These “progressives” have decided that, if anything good in Canada has been accomplished by the Euro-North Americans (i.e. pretty well everything worthwhile about Canada and the civilized world as we know it today), that must be torn down and its defenders made to apologize. The “progressives” are not messing around. They’re high stakes campaigners — the language, the great founders and achievers, Canada’s global record for doing good (see the following article about Honduras), etc. Leading the charge are the PMO, the CBC, then the rest of the go-with-the-flow mainstream media.
I’ll give you a few simple examples today from the language front. All these come straight from the airwaves, chiefly from radio hosts, many times from Radio Canada. Each is a stupid little gaff, you might say, but these snowball and soon your grandchildren can’t spell. The “progressives” know that they are bungling the language, rattling off one faux pas after another, the sorts of gaffs that Grade 3 kids 50 years ago would not commit, since they were being so well taught. Try these beauties on for size:
Some politico on the radio invents a new phrase: “public outbringings”. The liberals just love to make up a totally moronic non-word. “Outbringings” already!
Most, however, are straightforward language errors. Let’s hope that our radio station managers start doing something about these travesties. How do you like this one? “Some of the other topics we cover is …” Is they, really!
“My expectations is …” Perfect, Homer!
“There has been rumblings…” I guess there has been, if you say so..
“The most common drugs was …” Was they?
“There has been many cases …” Of course, there has. Go to the corner, you dunce, for being so clueless about the fundamentals of singular and plural.
Someone, “may of threw a wrench into the works”. No, this is not a “Don Cherryism”, but some radio host or news reader showing his/her lack of English language skills. Of course, they’ll explain that learning is “way too hard”, so go away with your language rules.
“There is a lot of guests.”
“There was a couple of storms.” If you respect the English language, you’ll probably be starting to feel a bit ill by now. Hang is, check out a few more gems.
Some yahoo with a microphone recently put this one out: “to fragilize”! Google almost melted down when I searched for this one, telling me, sharply: “No results found for ‘What does it mean to frangilize?”’
Here’s another category of language atrocity. My wonderful old Grade 13 English teacher, Brother Ignatius, would have had a stroke if he ever heard this one — “a hot heatwave”, which a TV weather “reporter” spouted recently. I had to change channels. On top of this, here’s another prize-winner: “Mendacious lies”.
“Workers at de Havilland and Bombardier have went on strike.” Arghhh!
And no … I am not making these up. They pour from my radio all day long.
Moving right along … “There was a thousand revellers”. Next to churn your stomach ulcer — “Flames have destroyed everything in its path …”
Sometimes there are subtler examples. Since spelling, grammar and handwriting no longer are serious subjects in most Canadian public schools, I suppose we can understand how a radio voice has no clue that there is a difference between “number” and “amount”. Such subtleties used to be commonly understood by Gr.7 or 8. Here’s an example: “a good amount of games”. No … that would be “a good number of games”. Look it up.
While I’m at it, what about “between” and “among”? In Toronto, if there is a lone on-air voice who knows this difference, that would be John Oakley on 640 AM. Oakley is one of the few on Toronto radio with an understanding and respect for the importance of the English language on the public airwaves.
Besides all such language abuses across Canada, it seems that there no longer are standards for pronunciation. When I was a boy in the 1950s, future broadcasters attended such schools as the Radio College of Canada. There they learned the finer points of accurate English usage. No excuses were accepted for the least faux pas. The CBC had the best broadcasters in the country, the likes of Lorne Greene. An announcer with poor pronunciation would be unemployable. Today? Being a klutz may be an asset at the job interview.
Elocusion was a vital course for every broadcasting student. Today, of course, few people on-air could spell the word, let alone know its meaning. However, decades ago grade school children learned elocution:
“el·o·cu·tion /ˌeləˈkyo͞oSH(ə)n/noun the skill of clear and expressive speech, especially of distinct pronunciation and articulation.”
Well, that sure sounds hard, so fergit about eleyqushun, eh.
What do we have these days? Turn on your radio and find out. If you can stand the punishment, you’ll soon hear such brutalizing of the English language as: “miracusly” (miraculously), “fortunly” (fortunately), “vunable” (vulnerable), “definly” (definitely), “measural” (measurable), “differutly” (differently), “corinated” (co-ordinated), “Chrona” (Toronto). It’s a laugh a minute. Many of these blunders were heard on CBC. Apparently, the CBC no longer has a language ombudsperson and it’s open season there in 2021 on the English language.
Here’s a final example today of a “CBCism”: “a lot of parents who doesn’t”. No, wait … one more beauty: “It’s not based off of anything”. “Off of”? Right – an actual “Don Cheeryism”. CBC people used to mock Don’s slaughtering of English, “now they is Don himself”. Well, the “progressives” are doing an ace of a job tearing down Canada. They’ve sure been brilliant in their campaign to wreck the English language – simply punt formal lessons “off of” the school curriculum. Makes all the rest of their campaign that much easier – cancelling this, cancelling that, etc.
PS … don’t get me going with “exact same”! Grade 3s used to know how stupid a saying this is. Today? What radio host doesn’t use “exact same” as if it was correct English usage. One last turn of the knife in your gut – here’s another real CBCism – “logicality”. There aren’t enough corners in the big classroom of Canada to accommodate all these dunces, I fear.
With book publishing in Canada, there are two essentials if a publisher is to succeed: produce a top quality book for which a readership exists, then, somehow win some media support. As you’ve seen in our past few blogs, CANAV Books has done exceedingly well at both. As I continue going through the CANAV archives, almost daily I still turn up long forgotten media clippings about our many projects.
July 4, 1995 was a red letter day for us – the launch at Marché Bonsecours in Montreal of Canadair: The First 50 Years. Sponsored by Bombardier, this was the glitziest of all our book launches. Soon, I had distributed the usual batch of copies to the aviation and general press, and the reviews starting to appear. To this day, not a negative line has appeared about this magnificent book. This week I came across some typical press coverage. This was from the inimitable Mike Filey, best known for his regular columns in Toronto’s “Sunday Sun”.
Massey-Ferguson Flight Department c.1960
I contrast to MUR’s long and useful career, Dove “GYQ” did not fare well once sold by Massey. Having left Canada late in 1961, it became N424SF, but I have few details. By 1972 it was serving Trans National Airlines of San Francisco. On March 6, 1975 it was hauling freight in bad weather from Paso Robles, California to Los Angeles. Along the route it crashed into 3000-foot terrain, killing the pilot.
Backseat Excitement in the F-16D
On June 16, 2000 I was at Cold Lake hoping for a famil flight in an F-16. This story went far back to the mid-80s, when I met Capt Grant Bruckmeier, a young F-106 pilot with the 49 th FIS, Griffis AFB, New York. What was I doing down at the 49 th ? It all had to do with an assignment from “Air Classics” to do a feature story about the 49 th . Having made 2 or 3 trips from Toronto to gather my basic story material, in the end I was scheduled in January 1986 for a flight in “the Six”. Naturally, this included cockpit famil and the ejection seat course, also some basic winter survival training, and how to extricate myself if I ever ended stuck in a tree after a parachute ride. All this was exciting stuff for any “civvie”, and was very seriously taught by the safety systems staff at the 49 th . In the end I was scheduled on January 6, 1985 to ride along on an F-106 2-ship ECM mission against a pair of EW T-33s. LCol Steve Rogers, CO of the 49 th , took me flying for an hour and what a fantastic trip it was. After the EW training, we formatted with the other Six and the T-birds for a brief session shooting air-to-air Kodachromes.
What a wonderful opportunity this all was. You can see the results of my efforts in “Century Series Survivor” in “Air Classics” July Later, I bumped into Grant Bruckmeier at an airshow at CFB Trenton, where he was showing off the F-106, again in July 1986 when we attended the stand-down of the 49 th FIS at Griffis. As the years passed, we occasionally touched base and always had the idea the we should do a ride together. Ages later, this panned out. One day Grant called to say that about a year down the line he would be leading his F-16 squadron from Hill AFB to CFB Cold Lake to take part on Ex. Maple Flag. If we got started on the paperwork now, maybe Grant could get approval to fly me.
So it happened that in June of 2000 I travelled to Cold Lake to meet with Grant and his squadron, the 4th FS from Hill AFB, Utah. The base people made sure that I was well received and got to cover all the exciting Maple Flag actvities. However, Grant still didn’t have approval to fly me. The wheels had been turning slowly in the Pentagon. Then, the day before the 4th FS was to fly home, approval came through – some USAF General had decide to put his neck on the chopping block for us. The 4th FS medical officer gave me a look- over, I was given a cockpit and ejection seat checkout, then Grant and I walked out to his sparkling new, 2-seat F-16D-40. We strapped in and fired up, then away we went in a 2-ship for a wonderful hour- long trip around the Cold Lake area. Such were the types of great aviation connections I had built up over the decades. There always were serious folks in uniform who recognized we little people in the aviation press and could make things happen for us. With Grant and I, it took about 15 years of waiting, but the day came that we got finally together in F-16 89-2174. But … it was easily worth the wait!
Canadian Civil B-25s Update
If you search here for CF-DKU, you’ll find an important little article about how some keen fellows once operated a fuel hauling business in Western Canada using B-25s. You’ll enjoy this item. Lately, someone with a special interest in this operation – Aurora Aviation – dropped me an email:
I just came across this article, brings back many memories! My dad was Harley Koons, and this was such a dream for him. I remember at the age of 15 occasionally helping out during the post- purchase re-fit, and also having a couple of exciting shake-down flights in DKU. Thank you!
Airside at YYZ, September 1 and 3, 1990
It’s always great fun to get airside at any airport with your camera. As you’ve seen at the CANAV blog, 50 – 60 years ago my pals and I got airside pretty well any day of the week at such a place as old Malton Airport (today’s YYZ). There were many openings to the ramps, so we could wander around when it clearly was safe to do so. By the 70s, however, there was no such a chance, for better security was needed. Traffic was increasing at all commercial airports. Then, with the era of the aviation terrorist, there was no choice but to tighten up to the max with fences, patrols, checkpoints, etc. No more airside, except on special occasions. Today, many rules for airside visitors have to be observed – escorts, badges, etc. All fair enough.
Those of us who had some connections with the aviation press or general media often have enjoyed a day “on the ramp”, when there was some special event. Case in point: September 1 and 3, 1990, when I was invited to join the media at YYZ for a Canadian International Air Show session. Of course, it was great to hang out with the team and photograph the flightline. Here are a few old K64s that show the media buzzing around, the team and their colourful little Tutors. This was always a great chance to mingle with the who’s who of the local media, so I made sure to photograph some of these great characters, Boris Spremo included. Meanwhile, the airliners were coming and going over our heads, so that distracted some of us. We always looked forward to all such CIAS fun. For me and the other early Toronto spotters, there couldn’t be a more enjoyable summer’s day. These airliner shots are run of the mill side views, but most of these planes long since have gone to the scrap yard, so their colour schemes and individual stories remain fascinating.
Canada to the Rescue in Honduras
Some of you will remember how “Hurricane Mitch” ploughed across Honduras in 1998 causing huge devastation. In typical form, Canada and the United States were quick to respond with a full humanitarian relief effort.
No sooner was Canada mobilizing to send aid, than I received a call from CFB Trenton. Would I be interested in accompanying this mission to cover it for CANAV Books and the press. Well, since the 1960s I’ve never turned down such an offer, so, on November 15, I rendezvoused at Trenton with 436 Squadron and soon was southbound on a Hercules laden with relief workers and supplies. We refuelled in the dead of night at McDill AFB, Florida, then pushed on for a dawn landing at LaCeiba on the Honduran Caribbean coast. I spent the next few days covering the scene, mainly the dreadful damage caused by “Hurricane Mitch”.
To get my work done, I took helicopter flights to different areas aboard a Honduran Air Force Bell 212, a Venezuelan Puma, and a CAF 427 Squadron Bell CH-135. The results of these travels were published in “Aircraft Illustrated” of February 1999. Here’s the story for your enjoyment.
This operation was so typical of Canada at its normal humanitarian best. This is an age-old Canadian process, contrary to what those yahoos in Canada today would like you to believe, i.e., Canada is a terrible place, we’d all be far better off in North Korea, etc. Shame on every one of these moral weaklings. They’re an embarrassment to Canada and to any civilized society. All they can do is nitpick away, stupidly magnifying any flaw in our ancient history, most of which occurred long before we were born, and during the normal advance of humanity as it gradually moves (as it never has stopped doing, no matter how slow a process) towards an ever improved level of civilization. Let these idiots read this article about the real Canada, and weep (as if they have any shame, right).
*For similar in-depth articles about Canada’s military operating on humanitarian duties, check out these detailed blog items:
Please take a good look at our current booklist. You’re sure to find some enticing titles for your home bookshelves.
The Canadair North Star
Here’s a book for any avid aviation history fan and keen reader — The Canadair North Star. Most of our “regulars” know this one and treasure their copies. But some more recent readers may have missed out.
In case you don’t yet have your copy of this CANAV Books classic, here’s a quick introduction and offer. You can start by taking a look at our CANAV Blog coverage of our book launching – one of our most famous book events over our 40+ years. You can find this coverage by using the search box on the blog www.canavbooks.wordpress.com and entering “North Star Nostalgia”.
Our history of the North Star to this day is considered to be the model for any detailed aircraft history. It’s the story of Canada’s first airliner from conception to demise.
The Canadair North Star begins with the exciting details of how Canadair and TCA in Montreal engineered the North Star by somewhat crazily combining the DC-4 with the Rolls-Royce Merlin wartime engine. All things considered, the plan eventually came together. TCA, CPA the RCAF and BOAC adopted the North Star for their main postwar routes, especially the international ones. BOAC would operate its “Argonauts” (as it dubbed its version) to such distant destinations from London as Hong Kong, Cape Town, Sydney, New York and Buenos Aires (it took several days to make such a trip). The RCAF would be lauded for its incredible North Star operations on the Korean War airlift, while CPA even flew into Shanghai in 1949 as Mao’s artillery could be heard in the distance.
The book covers all this mainline history, then picks up the excitement, as these aging propliners were replaced by such types as the Vanguard and Yukon, then were relegated to the smaller charter and freight operators. The story comes into the 1980s, as the last North Stars fade. Today, a solo North Star survives. After decades of rusting outside at Canada’s national aviation museum in Ottawa, it’s now slowly being brought back to its glory.
Our book has 100s of photos and diagrams, plus glorious original artwork, foldouts included. There’s a detailed appendix and index. The North Star still inspires readers to contact me. Lately, one satisfied CANAV fan emailed: “I have started re-reading your North Star book. What a contribution to Canada’s aviation history.” Noted the late, great Air Pictorial, “A magnificent book in every respect.” It just takes a few words, right!
Lovely autographed copies are available for you at these all-in prices: Canada $60, USA CAD$70, International CAD$80. You can order by paying straight to firstname.lastname@example.org by PayPal, Interac, etc., or by posting your cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Canada M4E3B6
Here’s your chance to pick up one of Canada’s grandest aviation books before the last new copies disappear. Also, The Canadair North Star makes the perfect gift for any relative, pal, employee, etc., who enjoys the best aviation history you can find on the printed page.
All for now and enjoy your summer … Larry Milberry
More Lockheed Twins
Today’s blog offerings are headlined by a few more of my ancient b/w photos of Lodestars Twins operating in the corporate role. As noted in Part 1, 60 years ago we high school aviation fans always considered it a good day at the airport if we saw a new Lockheed, especially if we got to photograph it.
Looking in my airport notes, we sure saw a lot of Lockheeds. We photographed some of them, but, why did we pass on so many others? Sometimes a Lockheed was taxiing out at a distance, or, it could be jammed in among other planes on the ramp. Maybe it was in a hangar, or, the light didn’t seen right, we were short on film, etc., so, we’d either miss the “photo op”, or, decide to pass on it. Too bad, but as teens, we didn’t appreciate the concept of taking a particular shot for posterity, or, as we used to say, “for the record”. It was all about the here and now. We never thought, “Years from now even a poor photo of this Lodestar is going to be really important.”
Otherwise, if a chance to take a photo didn’t “look right”, we’d turn up our noses at it. In our narrow little view of photography, we were looking for a shot with the airplane in the clear (no obstructions in the foreground or background, no people in sight, etc.), and just the right lighting, i.e., with the sun at our backs. I wish now that I had photographed a lot more of those Lockheeds by breaking our dumb little rules.
Another thing about our spotting days was how we kept our notes. Happily, we often would note a plane’s colour scheme. Since those were the days of b/w film, how else (six decades later) would we have a clue about a paint job? I was emailing about this lately with the great Norman Franks in the UK. I had a question about the checkerboard scheme on the Sopwith Camel flown in Italy in 1918 by the great Canadian ace, C.M. “Black Mike” McEwen. Getting a definitive confirmation about such details is rare a hundred years later. Thankfully, sometimes there are casual remarks in a squadron’s daily diary about the colour scheme of a particular Camel. Also, maybe someone mentioned it in a letter home, a letter that has found its way into an archive. Norman mentioned that red paint was usually in better supply at RAF squadrons at the front c.1918 than other colours, so, failing all else, an assumption might be made about a checkerboard paint job. Hence, over the years, it’s been pretty well assumed that McEwen’s checkboard was red and white. So keeping of even brief notes about a plane’s colour can be useful in 2021, if colour photos can’t be found. Another interesting thing about my Lockheed notes is that I often listed the plane’s c/n (constructor’s number). I don’t recall, but this must have been on a data plate somewhere on the exterior, the way it was on the Beech E18 – under the stabilizer. Since these were the days when we (mostly) could get close to a plane on the ramp, if we knew where to look, we could read the data plate. I recall how crew and airport workers sometimes asked what we were doing snooping closely around some plane, making notes, but no one ever rousted us. Rambling asides for now, here’s “the good gen” about today’s photos:
While the Lockheed Twins Have Faded Away, The DC-3 Soldiers On
Our blog have several items featuring Canada’s DC-3s. You can enjoy these by scrolling back or using the search box. For today, here’s an important update, an ace of a story for any true aviation history fan. In this detailed “AeroTime News” item, Valius Vencknas covers the DC-3 and its refusal to go away. At least 200 of these classic propliners remain in worldwide use, especially in Columbia where, over the decades, several former Canadian DC-3s have resurfaced. Naturally, some have come to grief. Enjoy Valius’ DC-3 report. Also, become an “AeroTime News” subscriber to receive important daily aviation news stories: go to World Aviation News, Aerospace Industry News | AeroTime Hubhttps://www.aerotime.aero
On July 8, 2021, a Douglas DC-3 registered as *HK-2820 of Aliansa went missing in Colombia. The aircraft disappeared from radars five minutes after taking off for a training flight and, reportedly, was found in a riverbed. Read more: “Douglas DC-3 goes missing minutes after takeoff in Colombia”. Yes, the DC-3 is a WW2-vintage aircraft. In fact, the crashed one was built either in 1943 or 1944 (depending on the source) and may have very well participated in the closing actions of the war, before being sold off by the US Air Force in the 50s.
Some might remember that in 2019 Colombia already had a prominent incident involving a DC-3 – an aircraft, built in 1945 crashed killing 14 people. Later that year, the same DC-3 of Aliansa was damaged in a runway excursion. In total, according to the Aviation Safety Network, the country had eight accidents involving the type in the last decade, not including the ones that remained unreported. How come Colombia has so many accidents involving vintage aircraft?
Airliner-sized bush plane
The reason, obviously, is that Colombia has a lot of these vintage aircraft. Before July 8th, Aliansa alone operated four of them, not including three more that crashed since the airline commenced operations in 1995. According to Steve Hide – a journalist who had a chance to experience the Colombian DC-3 culture a few years ago – it is virtually impossible to establish how many aircraft of this type are operated in the country. By any estimate, it is dozens.
The DC-3 itself is quite definitely the only war-time aircraft that is flown around the world in a significant number. According to the DC-3 Appreciation Society – because such a group obviously exists – there were 172 aircraft of this type in active operation in mid-2020. The number of airworthy examples is estimated at over 600, although it is impossible to say for sure. A part of this number belongs to enthusiasts (mostly in the US and Canada) who operate the aircraft as a historic piece, flying them at airshows and trying to preserve an important part of aviation history. But another significant part is commercial operators: companies, such as Aliansa, fly them because, well, there is no alternative. A turboprop-converted DC-3 belonging to Colombian police. Private companies are not the only ones operating this aircraft; in fact, just hours after the DC-3 crash on July 8, a Colombian Air Force DC-3 was circling in the region, possibly as a part of the search effort. (Image: Markus Mainka / Shutterstock)
The aircraft has a number of crucial advantages that are well known to anybody who ever came in contact with it. It is sturdy and reliable; it is easy and not too expensive to fly; it is simple to maintain and, thanks to the fact that a lot of them were manufactured, there is a steady stream of spare parts – even though the production stopped in 1950. It also can land on short and unprepared runways, basically being a bush plane in an airliner form.
A result of that is a sort of “DC-3 culture” that formed around the aircraft in countries that are in dire need of connecting geographically distant population centers through the air, mostly in South America. Colombia is a hotspot of that culture. In 2018, Al Jazeera filmed a short documentary about it, highlighting the romanticism and above all – the danger of flying vintage planes in tropical conditions of the country: https://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xr74kx
DC-3 – a departing legend
The underside of such dangerous operations is the high toll they take. With the latest crash, more than half of Aliansa’s fleet have already perished in fatal accidents in the span of two-and-a-half decades.
There is a well-known saying among the enthusiasts of the plane – “the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3”, as, supposedly, no other aircraft can take on the job. Outskirts of small Colombian airports usually house several non-operational DC-3s with the explicit purpose of being cannibalized. Nevertheless, at that rate, the country is going to run out of the type sooner or later.
To be fair, retirement is a thing that does not really apply to the DC-3 – most of the operating aircraft of this type have already been retired at one point or another, only to be sold off and proceed with operations. Nevertheless, as no new DC-3s have been manufactured in over seven decades and the existing ones do not multiply, from time to the tragic time they have to be replaced by something.
It appears old Antonovs – mostly the An-24 and its derivatives – are pretty much the only ones that can take on the role. The ex-Soviet planes have already established their reputation in Africa, proving to be reliable, simple to maintain, and well-suited to extreme climates. It is only a question of time before the Colombian routes operated by DC-3s from the 40s will be replaced by Antonovs from the 60s and 70s. A small upgrade, but an interesting – and unprecedented one – indeed.
Here’s the report about this sad event as per the Aviation Safety Network:
Narrative: A Douglas DC-3 crashed in a mountainous area after takeoff from Villavicencio-La Vanguardia Airport, Colombia. The aircraft was performing a training flight. All three occupants suffered fatal injuries.
The civil and military strife in the Horn of Africa never ends. Century after century, one ethnic group or another there is at brutal odds with the next (Ethiopia alone has 10 major ethnic groups and 75 languages). In 2020, war erupted between Ethiopia and its rebellious Tigray region, which borders Ethiopia’s long-time enemy, Eritrea, one of the world’s most despotic and closed societies. In recent months, the Ethiopian military rolled into Tigray, bolstered, ironically, by Eritrea. The plan was to break up the rebellious Tigrayan Peoples Liberation Front.
Ethiopia again seems on the verge of collapsing into the hopeless state it experienced in the 1980s-90s, when chaos and famine ruled and more than a million died. For a good back-grounder, google this item in the “New York Times”: “Why Is Ethiopia at War With Itself?” Also, see the report right here on the CANAV blog about my 1991 trip to Ethiopia with the Canadian air force: Canada’s C-130s to the Rescue – “Operation Preserve” August to December 1991. During this trip, one of the aircraft that I photographed was Ethiopian Airlines L-100-30 Hercules ET-AJK (a civil version of the C-130H). Here’s my shot of “AJK” loading at Djibouti. Subsequently, it was acquired by the Ethiopian military, but its new ID isn’t known to this date. The loss of “AJK” was first reported at the “Aviation Safety Network” — one the the best internet aviation history sites
A Lockheed Hercules of the Ethiopian Air Force has been destroyed in an accident near Gijet, Ethiopia. Unconfirmed reports suggest the aircraft was downed by the Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) during the armed conflict known as the Tigray War that started in November 2020 between Ethiopia and the Tigray Region. The aircraft was a Hercules, formerly operated by Ethiopian Airlines as ET-AJK, was seen in an all white colour scheme at Addis Ababa – Bole International Airport in 2006 without any serial number.
A Great Offer for an Incomparably Wonderful Aviation Book — “The Bell 47 Story”
Book Review Dec. 2013: Long Awaited Bell 47 History Now in Print
The appearance of a stand-out aviation history book was commonplace in decades gone by. Progressing into the 21st Century, however, not many such books are making it beyond the concept stage. Even worse, knowledgeable and sympathetic “book people” are a dying breed. These days if I happen to mention about working on a new book, it’s possible for someone to interject, “I guess he means an iBook, right?” Well … not really, buddyboy. What I mean is an actual book made of actual paper, ink and glue, that’s full of actual information that you will not find on the great seducer of feeble minds – the internet. But that’s another story.
Right now I want to talk to you about something real, not fanciful, definitely not a video game. I’d like to introduce you to the Grand Champion 2013 example of a fabulous new aviation book — The Bell 47 Helicopter Story. The creators are long-time CAHS and AAHS members Robert S. Petite from Alberta and Jeffery C. Evans from California. Bob and Jeff have devoted decades studying everything imaginable about the Bell 47, history’s most famous light helicopter, a type that’s been familiar on the Canadian scene for nearly 70 years. Our authors have their credits — they’ve been honoured by such groups as the American Helicopter Society International and by the Twirly Birds. Not surprisingly, they’re rarely missed a Helicopter Association International annual convention.
Whatever high award there might be for aviation history authorship in 2013-14, these fellows own it. To start, they thoughtfully explain how they did their research. Basically, they used all possible ways and means, from plowing through archival documents and personal records, to travelling all over doing face-to-face interviews, attending conferences, etc. Few aviation researchers would go a fraction of the distance. Here’s what they tell us: “Data used … came from early handwritten and typed Bell production records, sales records, Bell flight reports for the preproduction Bell 47s, early Bell brochures, Bell press releases, actual typed progress reports to Larry Bell, Bell accident reports, Bell Rotor Breeze first edition … Bell 47 Customer Service Maintenance Clinics, Bell Helicopter Mechanics School and early Bell Ringer newsletters.” So … we’re guaranteed to be getting the solid goods about this mighty little piece of mid-20th Century technology called the Bell 47 and everything it has meant on the worldwide aviation scene. Bob and Jeff sought out the info and have beautifully laid out their final results in one of the most impressive aviation publications in a hundred years.
Any aviation fan over age 30 knows the Bell 47. Failing all else, millions have seen one doing joyrides at local town fairs. Somewhat older folks know the bubble-canopy little bumblebee from episodes of MASH. I first met the Bell 47 in the headlines during Hurricane Hazel in October 1954. Toronto’s “Tely” and the “Star” ran photos of an Ontario Hydro Bell 47 saving stranded victims following Hazel’s rampage along the city’s Humber River. Being a Tely paperboy, I eagerly watched the story unfold. Decades later I met that very Bell 47 pilot, the astounding Bruce Best, later a CAHS Toronto Chapter stalwart. Over the years I had great fun photographing Bell 47s all across Canada.
Bob and Jeff open their massive tome with an in-depth history of how the Bell 47 came about under two geniuses — Larry Bell and Arthur Young. The story starts in 1942 with “Ship No.1” at the Bell facility in Buffalo, NY. All the trials and tribulations are described, enough to discourage anyone from a career in aviation. Yet, Bell, Young and their solid team persevered. In March 1946 Bell 47 NC-1H won the world’s first commercial helicopter licence. From there the book carefully traces developments through endless R&D, modifications and certified models.
Canada’s first Bell 47 was CF-FJA, imported by Kenting of Oshawa. Carl Agar, whose company, “Okanagan”, would become one of the world’s great helicopter operators, soon brought in CF-FZX. Toronto- based prospector Sten Lundberg pioneered with a Bell 47 doing aerial electromagnetic mineral exploration. Other Canadian operators appear as you turn pages loaded with incredible anecdotes and photos. The Bell 47 explores in the Arctic, goes aboard ship with the Canadian Coast Guard, supports mineral exploration, does forest seeding and fire suppression, crop dusting, hydro and pipe line patrols, search and rescue, etc. Its military career is covered under fire in Korea, but everywhere else, including with the RCAF. Bob and Jeff cover it all in depth and so enchantingly that you just have to keep turning the pages. Their book also has the essential technical gen, including many illustrations from the engineering manuals.
The authors cover every imaginable version from the earliest 2- seat Bell 47B to the 4-seat Bell 47J Ranger. The transition to turbine power is described, so we see how the Bell Cobra gunship and Bell 206 Jet Ranger series had their beginnings. The last word explains how the Bell 47 is back in the headlines through the efforts in the US of Scott’s Helicopters, which in 2014 will be producing new Bell 47s. It all brings an interesting thought to mind: We all know about the Renaissance Man, now it seems there’s an argument for the Renaissance Helicopter — the Bell 47. Besides everything else, The Bell 47 Helicopter Story has a valuable appendix with such detailed content as production history and the specs for each version. Interestingly, of some 5000 aircraft manufactured from 1945 – 1974, more than 1000 remain.
The book has been very nicely printed and bound by Friesens of Altona, Manitoba. Bare bones it weighs 2.9 kg. It’s a hardcover with dust jacket. There are 730 pages with 1200 b/w and colour photos. Sincere fans of aviation history owe it to themselves to get hold of a copy of The Bell 47 Helicopter Story. If you have not yet delved into helicopter history, a fast flip through this book will make a convert of you. Order your copy at helicopterheritagecanada.com or e-mail author Bob Petite at email@example.com . Cheers and good reading to you all … Larry
While you’re at it, don’t forget that Air Transport in Canada is for sale at CANAV these days at the lowest price ever – CAD$65 all-in for Canada, $80 USA, $160 international. Order by direct payment (PayPal, Interac) to firstname.lastname@example.org
Storm Damages Bushplanes at Sioux Lookout
Oldest 747s Still in Service?
According to AeroTime aviation news, the oldest commercial Boeing 747 still in use is a 32-year-old 747-400 with Iranian carrier Mahan Airlines. The oldest Boeing 747s of all still flting are with the Iranian and United States air forces:
The Iranian Air Force still operates a 50.8-year-old Boeing 747-100, which is considered the oldest jumbo jet used for non-commercial passenger operations. The oldie, carrying the N93113 registration at the time, used to fly the major American air carrier Trans World Airlines’ routes since October 1970. Then, in March 1975, it was converted into a freighter and was taken over by the Iranian Air Force two months later. Ever since 1975, the jumbo jet has served the new owner’s operations.
The United States Air Force also has four of the oldest Boeing 747s in service. All four Queens of the Skies are the -200 variant and their ages vary from 48.1 years in service to 46.2 years in service. The government of the United States has been the only owner of the four planes.
The 48.1 years-old jumbo jet, registered as 73-1676, has been flying governmental flights since July 1973, according to Planespotters.net. The 47.8-year-old 73-1677 joined the fleet in October the same year. The government-owned 74-0787, which currently counts more than 47 years in active operations, was delivered to the states in October 1974. The youngest of the four, the 46.2-year-old 75-0125, entered service in August 1975.
Air Force One Spotters + Canada Post on the Rampage Again + The Fabulous Lockheed Twins + The “Air Transport in Canada” book deal of the decade + The Great Janusz Zurakowski’s Autobiography + Air-Britain and the Nastiest of Nasty Book Reviews
Good day to all CANAV fans and I hope that your summer is humming nicely along so far.
The Spotters are a Diligent Bunch … The comings and goings of Air Force One sure have been closely watched and enjoyed by millions in the UK and EU this week. Check out some of the pix & footage on the web. Google VIDEO: Air Force One lands at RAF Mildenhall for G7 conference, etc. Well worth a look at this spectacular flying machine!
Hot Off the Press for June 9! Canada Post Lays It on the Peasantry Yet Again (It’s Time to Sheer the Sheep)
Today, Canada Post announced a series of painful rate increases for this fall. If you’re feeling masochistic, you can get the ugly details from the Canada Post website. I’m writing about this to Mr. Doug Ettinger, Canada Post CEO and cc’ing my MP Hon. Erskine-Smith. Let’s see if I hear anything back — I’ll let you know. However, a few months ago I requested a replacement “Venture Card” from Canada Post. How simple, right. So far? Dead silence. But really … what a miracle it is to hear back from any Ottawa bureau, MP, etc., other than perhaps getting one of those insulting “Dear Sir or Madam” letters. Isn’t it great how closely connected and loved we peasants are to/by our masters in Ottawa? Here are my thoughts to Mr. Ettinger about this season’s postal rate hikes:
Thanks but no thanks, Canada Post. Each time you do this, you drive more small Canadian enterprizes such as CANAV Books out of business. Because of your Mafia-like rates, CANAV Books, for example, today has few USA or International customers. We used to have hundreds.
Your rates also have driven away hundreds of our domestic readers. Who will buy from us when postage exceeds the price of a book? You are out of touch and — sadly to say – appear instead to be greedy exploiters and tax collectors, instead of intelligent, clued-in, pro-Canada public servants who understand and respect Canadians’ needs and interests first and foremost.
Isn’t it ironic how the objectives of the Canada Council in promoting Canadian history, cultural affairs, etc., are directly undermined by what Canada Post does every year by punishing book publishers with higher postal rates? Aren’t the ministers involved supposed to be collaborating instead of torpedoing each other?
Too bad for your customers, for you certainly have us over a barrel, right. We small-volume businesses have few options, all things considered. Who else is going to deliver our books to Nunavut, NWT, remote areas of BC, Northern Ontario, etc?
Besides again hitting every average Canadian taxpayer in the pocket book, your actions today seriously undermine the important “Small Business” sector of our economy. Instead of giving us some postal rate relief, you’re once again happy to lead small business off for its annual Canada Post sheering.
One of our readers has made a good point. Canada Post presently couldn’t be much of a cash cow, as I earlier stated. This news release explains: “Canada Post recorded a loss before tax of $779 million in 2020, even while delivering record-high Domestic Parcels volumes.” That’ll be a story unto itself, right –volume of work soars, revenue pours in, profits head for the dumpster. With that out of the way, it’s on with the show:
The Great Lockheed Twins
Our main new item today covers the great Lockheed Twins in Canada – the L.14 Super Electra and L.18 Lodestar, with more to come in the next installment (and … if you search for it, trhere’s an earlier item about another great Lockheed Twin — the Jetstar). A bit further down there’s also the story of the great Jan Zurakowski’s autobiography, my first big aviation road trip, 400 Sqn at Camp Borden, Great Lakes freighters, and the world’s most horrendous aviation book review.
If you have an interest in northern flying, take a few minutes and search out these older blog items. Just enter the dates in the search box: June 29, 2012 … January 13, 2013 … February 27, 2017 … March 25, 2017 … and April 11, 2018. This is all solid history with loads of original photos and aviation trivia that any fan will love.
An item covering the great Lockheed Twins came to mind as I flipped through some ancient negatives. If you go back to our earlier blog item “Postwar Adverts” (find it by using the search box), you can get a bit of background to this story in the advert telling how TCA was selling off the last 18 of its 10-passenger L.14s and 14-passenger L.18s. Many of these soon were converted for corporate VIP use. In a nutshell, today’s item is about the tail end of the glory days for these great, pre-WWII and wartime airliners. Most of those with which we had become familiar already had given years of top service at CPA, TCA or the RCAF.
As boys hanging around Toronto’s airports in the 50s and 60s, spotting one of the big Lockheed twins made any visit worth the day’s effort. In fact, rarely a visit passed without spotting one, especially since several were based at Malton: BA Oil CF-BAL and CF-BAO, Canada Packers CF-CPL, Imperial Oil CF-TDB, Massey Ferguson CF-MFL and CF-TDG, Noranda Mines CF-TCV. Then, there frequently were visitors . We often saw the Kenting aero survey Hudsons and L.14s, the oil company “exec” Lodestars from Calgary, then there were the many US corporate Lodestars and Venturas. There was a certain allure about each of these handsome Lockheeds. While we seemed to take for granted all the lovely exec DC-3s, the Lockheeds stood apart, somehow.
With the war over, the RCAF fleet of Hudsons and Lodestars quickly had been put on the market for civil operators or scrap dealers. This business was conducted by government-run War Assets Corporation of Ottawa. Big dealers such as the Babb Co. of New York, Los Angeles and Montreal took the lion’s share of the business, buying up fleets of Harvards, Cansos, Lodestars, DC- 3s, etc., then re-marketing them to operators from the USA and Europe to Brazil, Indonesia, etc. To follow what happened to all the RCAF Lockheeds, the ultimate source is Air-Britain’s seminal book, The Lockheed Twins (Peter J. Marson, 2001). Many other important Lockheed books are available to broaden the interested reader’s horizons, including Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story (Walter J. Boyne, 1998). Naturally, much also is on the web, but start first with your books – the ultimate information goldmines. Copies of any of the Lockheed titles always can be found at such used book sites as www.bookfinder.com
For Part 1 of this presentation, I’ve pulled out a dozen of my by-now 60- year-old 2¼ b/w negatives, wiped off most of the dust, and made the scans. Most of the caption information comes from my old airport notes and several Canadian Civil Aircraft Registers of the day. Supplementing this is good info from various books, and Terry Judge’s important Canadian civil aircraft history website https://www.historicccar.ca Here you go, Enjoy the show!
“Air Transport in Canada” — An Offer You Can’t Refuse
No Canadian aviation books covers the Lockheed Twins better than Air Transport in Canada. This massive (1030 pages, 2 volumes, 5 kg, etc.) title is a real treasure (see the details and reviews in the attached booklist). Besides everything else under the sun, “ATC” covers a long list of Lockheeds in their roles as airliners, executive planes and aero survey workhorses. You’ll be happy to hear that “ATC’s” $155++ sticker price no longer applies at CANAV. You can get an autographed set for yourself or an aviation pal for $65.00 all-in delivered anywhere in Canada. Really, no kidding! (USA CAD$80.00 all-in, International CAD$160.00 all-in)
Pay directly to email@example.com with PayPal or Interac. Or … post a cheque in Canadian dollars (or US$ equivalent) to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Canada M4E3B6 (email me if any questions firstname.lastname@example.org)
Janusz Zurakowski – Not Only about Flying
At long last here is the life story of the great Avro Arrow test pilot, Janusz Zurakowski. Originally written by Janusz in Polish, it’s now in English. This is what we’ve been awaiting for decades — the great man’s story starting with his boyhood, education and early years in the Polish Air Force. With the sudden fall of Poland in 1939, Janusz joins thousands of Poles escaping to the UK to continue the fight. The RAF/Polish fighter squadrons in the Battle of Britain help turn the tide against the Luftwaffe. Janusz shoots down several enemy planes and commands Spitfire squadrons. Late in the war he attends Course 2 at the Empire Test Pilots School.
The war over, Janusz’s joins Gloster as a test pilot first flying the Meteor, then the Javelin. Politics at Gloster leads him to Canada, where he becomes chief test pilot on the Avro Canada CF-100 program. Starting in 1957 he adds to his renown by making the first flight of the CF-105 Arrow. Finally, we hear from the great man himself about the Arrow – this you need to know. This exciting period suddenly ends with the demise of the Arrow, which Janusz had flown 20 times. The book finishes with the post-Avro years. Janusz keeps up his interest in aviation, but focuses on family and the famous Zurakowski summer resort in Barry’s Bay, Ontario. This is a really important addition to understanding and enjoying Canada’s aviation heritage. You’ll enjoy this well- crafted book with every page you turn.
224 pages, softcover, photos. $30.00 all-in (USA and International CAD$40.00) Pay directly to email@example.com with PayPal or Interac. Or … post a cheque in Canadian dollars to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto Ontario M4E3B6
Air-Britain Goes After CANAV Books: The Nastiest of Nasty Book Reviews
We ran this item last time around. If you are new to our blog, for the full context you can scroll back and read the series covering the history of CANAV Books since 1981. For now, I want to keep this item front and centre, so all our visitors can get an idea about how organizations such as Air-Britain and their so-called book reviewers can be ever so nasty, deliberately causing real damage to small publishers such as CANAV Books over here “in the colonies”.
As expected, Air-Britain has not issued an apology to CANAV, but we live in hope. The “reviewer” himself has not yet crawled out from his slimy depths. Here’s the story:
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 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 ll 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)
By comparison, Norseman Vol.1 is a bargain, especially considering its premium production qualities – the paper, glue and ink of any book. I’ve purchased many Air-Britain books over the decades and have never given thought to their sticker prices. These prices always are fair. To the true aviation bibliophile, we need all such books, we love them, we buy them. What does price have to do with anything? Another point about Air-Britain’s line of books … they are prized for their content, but rarely for their production qualities. Is this really what bothers Air-Britain about CANAV? That Air-Britain books are not beautifully-produced? I’m just floundering for an explanation here. With Air-Britain books, the paper and binding always are cheap. I have several which, after years of use, are falling apart (not that I care). However, show me a CANAV book that isn’t holding up. So … what is the logic with this so-called Air-Britain book review?
Its mind made up about “expensive” books, and with little interest in our Norseman books’ content, Air-Britain then lay in wait for a year for Norseman Vol.2. Finally getting his hands on a copy (but perhaps not, by the final look of his “review”), the reviewer was eager to tear Vol.2 to pieces – the only person in the world to date with such a twisted passion against our books.
“We have to say we are disappointed”, he begins, starting straight in about the price. This fellow is a laugh a minute. Then he attacks Vol.2 for not including enough about Norsemans outside Canada. Really? There is a mass of information and piles of photos, including a beautiful stand-alone chapter. How does this fellow put it? “We would also have expected more recognition of Norsemans outside North America than a couple of photos.” Here he really tips his hand – this is not a book review, it’s a personal, belittling attack by him and Air- Britain on a particular author and a particular publisher. Mr. Anonymous then moronically complains about no mention in our book of the Widerøe /Norway story. In fact, there are five pages devoted to Wideroes/Norway, all this good material gathered with the help of several competent Norwegian aviation historians, including an old-time Widerøe Norseman pilot. One wonders just how much further an author must go to please the hard-nosed, implacable people at Air- Britain?
Air-Britain continues by ranting that the French Norseman conversions are not included. No? Kindly see p.291. It then bemoans the lack of a production list. Of course, much of what Air-Britain produces is straight production lists and thank goodness that that is their passion – the rest of us need all that good material. So … where is CANAV’s Norseman production list?
CANAV Books knows all about production lists. From “Day 1” with our CF-100, North Star and Sabre books, etc., there are detailed lists galore in the appendices. All the top UK periodicals over 40 years have raved about our magnificent production lists.
However, Norseman Vol.2 already was at 304 pages. To add a production list and do it justice would have meant a good 40 extra pages, so made publication tougher to finance. Nonetheless, had a superb Norseman production list not already existed, CANAV certainly would have gone beyond the limit and included one. Anyone knowing CANAV understands that. However, our “reviewer” is so clueless as to be unaware that the very best Norseman production list imaginable already was available in 2014 at noorduynnorseman.com (today’s norsemanhistory.com ). Had this doltish fellow simply read the Preface of our book, he would have seen this explained. Right there on Page 8, I praise this world-class production list and urge all to go there for what further they may require about individual Norsemans. (This makes me wonder … did Air-Britain actually ever have a copy of our book in its hands? It appears not.)
With such a beautiful, professional resource as norsemanhistory.com at one’s finger tips, CANAV was saved the huge extra cost of creating a Norseman production list and the months/years of work and cost required. Of course, there is no way that our “reviewer” might grasp any of this. But the Air-Britain staff and board surely understand such things, so why did they become partners in this nasty business?
To put the icing on his cake, look how this travesty of a book review ends: “The author seems to have little interest in the history of the aircraft and concentrates on the soft and easy focus on personal anecdotes and experiences and some pretty pictures.” So ends what likely is the most damning and utterly moronic so-called review in aviation book publishing history. Shame on this nasty dimwit and on Air-Britain, which is hugely diminished in the eyes of decent, intelligent, objective readers, historians and others who love good books.
By permitting such garbage to stink up the pages of their normally superb journal, the Air-Britain staff and board have done their organization a wretched disservice. Sadly, in pushing their role as an anti-CANAV outlier, they effectively managed to blacklist our Norseman books in the eyes of Air-Britain readers. They also turned booksellers against CANAV. Are they proud of this? This simply smells too much of being a planned conspiracy between Air-Britain and its “reviewer” to torpedo CANAV Books, certainly to keep our books out of UK bookstores, at which – sadly to say — they succeeded. What a poor show altogether.