Author Archives: larrymilberry

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

In January 2006 the great Fred Hotson handed over part of his
archives to me, including what he had of the Al Martin aviation photo
collection — prints, negatives and transparencies. Fred had retrieved
Al’s collection from a garage in BC, and earlier had shared it with me,
as I researched for what in 1997 became Air Transport in Canada.
Al was born Elmore Owen Martin in Ontario’s Niagara region on
February 2, 1923. During WWII he trained in the RCAF as an air
gunner and served a tour in Bomber Command. Postwar, he became
a private pilot. We had met Al about 1960, back in the days when my
pal, Merlin Reddy, and I were spending a lot of time at Toronto’s
Malton Airport spotting planes and photographing. Al then was a
passenger agent for Trans-Canada Air Lines. He gave we newer
spotters good tips about photography and always was emphasizing
the importance of Canada’s aviation heritage. He had great tales
about such things as attending the rollout of the Avro Arrow in 1957,
and would phone us with tips that this or that exotic airplane would be
visiting Malton. In his TCA uniform, he could escort us onto the
tarmac in front of the terminal to photograph the airliners. One day he
invited us for the visit of a Lockheed 10A on the 25 th anniversary of
TCA. Another time it was about the visit of the Vickers Vanguard
demonstrator. Another day he even got our sidekick, Nick
Wolochatiuk, a press flight aboard a new American Airlines Electra
during a 1960 PR visit.

Al knew the great names circulating in aviation photography from
Howard Levy to Ken Molson, Jack McNulty and Harvey Stone. In
1962 he told us about an effort to form an aviation history group. This
developed into the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. He put the
squeeze on us to attend the society’s second ever meeting. There,
Nick Wolochatiuk, Paul Regan and I became CAHS members 9, 10
and 11.

By the late 1960s Al had moved into public relations with what by
then was Air Canada. He was downtown, now, so we didn’t see so
much of him. Nonetheless, he still got some things organized,
including the week an American Airlines Ford Trimotor visited Toronto
and Al got a crowd of CAHS members out on the ramp to photograph
the Ford. Retiring from Air Canada in 1985, he moved to the West
Coast. He died at age 71 in White Rock, BC, on May 9, 1993. Fred
Hotson tracked down Al’s sister in Vancouver and retrieved his
aviation collection. If you have a set of Air Transport in Canada you
can see some nice spreads of Al’s wonderful photos on pages 718-
723.

We early Malton spotters photographed every type of airplane,
but each fellow usually had some favourite categories. Al’s included
light planes, the types he grew up with as a boy in Niagara. He
revelled in something like a club fly-in where 200 – 300 light planes
would turn up. When I bumped into him at the 1961 Kitchener-
Waterloo fly-in, Al took me up in Cessna 172 CF-JBS to shoot some
aerial photos of the whole scene. For this blog item, I’ve decided to
feature Al’s wonderful collection of light airplane photos. There’s no
great plan to this, so, if you wonder where are the photos of the
Helios, Jodels, Mooneys, etc., it’s because I haven’t yet found these
among Al’s material. It all starts right here. Enjoy the show!

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Some of the first members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society at an early meeting in Toronto in 1962. Al Martin was instrumental in the formation of this pre-eminent group. Shown are Jock Forteath, Al, George Morley, Bill Wheeler, Herman Karbe, Jeff Burch, Charlie Catalano, Harry Cregan and Roger Juniper. Then, CAHS member Sheldon Benner’s wonderful historic photo mainly of CAHS people at Malton airport during the visit of the American Airlines Ford Trimotor on June 30, 1964 (today it’s in the Smithsonian Institution). Standing are Bob Bradford, Charlie Catalano, Fred Guthrie, Terry Judge, Bill Wheeler, Peter Mossman, M.L. “Mac” McIntyre, 2 unknowns, Jack Phipps, 2 unknowns. Kneeling are the American Airlines people and (from the little boy) Sam Schlifer, Boris Zissoff, Clint Toms and Al Martin. Of these, Bob,
Jack and photographer Sheldon are the survivors 56 years later.

The War Surplus Years

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At war’s end when the RCAF disposed almost overnight of thousands of surplus airplanes, the commonest to reach Canada’s civil aviation market was the de Havilland Canada D.H.82C Tiger Moth. This is not surprising, since the RCAF had taken 1546 on strength from just before WWI to 1941, when production in Toronto ceased. As soon as the Tiger Moths were offered by Ottawa’s War Assets Disposal Corporation, they were snapped up, whether by individuals for a few hundred dollars, or by companies wanting parts (especially engines) and scrap metal. Others were donated by Ottawa to Canada’s many flying clubs that were being revived, now that the war was over. We always enjoyed these interesting ex-military trainers. Al Martin photographed CF-BQT at some event at Toronto’s Malton Airport early after the war. “BQT” had been RCAF 4198. It spent its war with 15 Elementary Flying Training School in Regina, where it logged some 2143:15 flying hours. In June 1945 it was released as “free issue” to the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association (RCFCA) and in July the following year joined the Ontario County Flying Club in Oshawa, a few miles east of Toronto. “BQT” flew there until sold in 1952. Various owners followed, including de Havilland Canada test pilot, George Neal, who owned “BQT” 1968 to 1986. George sold it to Mr. Hindmarsh of Toronto Star fame. Sad to say, but he crashed fatally in “BQT” near Goderich on November 25, 1994. This interesting scene shows many of Malton’s wartime British Commonwealth Air Training Plan buildings. These served No.1 Air Observation School, which trained navigators on Ansons. These buildings all soon were demolished. On the far left you can just see the top of Malton’s 1938 TCA hangar, used later into the 1970s by Genaire Ltd.

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Originally RCAF 3900, Tiger Moth CF- CHM went to the RCFCA in August 1945, moved to the Barrie Flying Club in July 1946, then was sold in January 1949 to Doherty Air Services of Gravenhurst. Other owners ensued including (July 1952) Charlie Catalano of Toronto. Charlie was doing aerial advertising using towed banners, but also had rigged a system whereby he could use rows of lights under a plane’s wing to flash advertisements after dark. Charlie was a keen supporter of general aviation and for many years flew his own Aeronca from nearby Buttonville Airport. He also was an enthusiastic member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Sadly, his Tiger Moth came to a bad ending on August 23, 1952. By some arrangement that day, Charlie had loaned “CHM” to ex-wartime pilots Charles McKay and John Pretner. A few minutes after they took off from Toronto Island Airport, the plane spun into a backyard on Markham Street in a crowded downtown neighbourhood. Both men died. Al photographed “CHM” at Malton Airport. You can see the big “A.V. Roe Canada” sign on the distant hangars.

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Since the Tiger Moth was happy on wheels, floats or skis, quite a few ended as useful bushplanes after the war. We sometimes saw one on floats at Toronto’s famous island airport. Ex-RCAF 3975 CF-CKW had spent its war at 7 EFTS in Windsor, Ontario before being donated by the government in June 1945 to the RCFCA. It served first with the Hamilton Flying Club, then had a list of private owners. Some time in the early 1960s it was sold in the USA. Al photographed it on Hamilton Bay with a Hornet Moth and a Cub. In this period there were frequent advertisements featuring such war surplus aircraft for sale. This one appeared in the “Toronto Star” of November 7, 1952: “D.H. Tiger Moth in good shape. Engine 700 hours until major, airframe, fabric, instruments and tires in good condition. Range receiver installed. C of A due March 11, 1953. Price $550. Box 65, Toronto Star, Hamilton.” A few years earlier this Tiger Moth might have be purchased from WADC for as little as $50.00. Today, a nice Tiger Moth can bring US$100,000.

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In 1928 Consolidated Aircraft founder, Reuben Fleet, founded Fleet Aircraft of Canada in Fort Erie, Ontario at the US border. Here, Fleet manufactured his proven line of biplane trainers and sport planes. The RCAF had acquired 51 of the trainers by the time WWII began, then added a further 431, those being the Model 16B Finch. By war’s end the surviving Finches went on the surplus market, but were never as popular as the Tiger Moth. The only Finch we used to see around in southern Ontario was CF-GDM, which had begun in November 1940 as RCAF 4683. On June 4, 1942 it survived a serious accident at 22 Elementary Flying Training School at Quebec City, but was rebuilt. Declared surplus, it was purchased by Marc Cinq-Mars of Quebec City. “GDM” had other owners in Quebec, one being Arthur Marsh in distant Sept-Iles. In October 1950 he sold to Roy McIntosh of Stony Creek, near Hamilton. However, McIntosh seems to have abandoned “GDM”, which sat until sold in 1953 to Russell Norman, a flier who later was famous in the homebuilding world. From 1955 (when it still didn’t have even 200 flying hours) “GDM” would have a host of owners. In one case, vintage plane connoisseur, Cliff Glenister, operated it from Maple, Ontario from 1968-73. In 1991 “GDM” was sold south of the border, becoming N116TR. It last was heard of in Sandwich, Illinois.

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On July 9, 1942 the RCAF took on strength its first of 1555 Fairchild Cornells. These were known in the USAAF as the PT-26, and were built under licence by Fleet in Fort Erie. The Cornell proved ideal as a BCATP training plane — the perfect replacement for the those well-worn Finches and Tiger Moths. Most Cornells flew over the prairies from such places as Virden, Manitoba. As soon as the war ended, many private pilots rushed to get their hands on a Cornell for a few hundred dollars. Al Martin photographed CF-FEA at Toronto Island Airport in the 1950s. Having begun as RCAF FV688, it was on RCAF strength from September 1944 to May 1947, then became one of 51 Cornells donated under Ottawa’s “free issue” program to Canada’s flying clubs. As such, in May 1947 it went to the Brantford Flying Club in Ontario. “Free issue” proved important at this time in getting Canada’s flying clubs back in business training the next wave of fresh pilots. In September 1949 “FEA” was bought by Jim Leggat, who recently had founded a general aviation company at Toronto’s Barker Field. John re-sold “FEA” to Sidney Klein, then a series of owners ensued. Vincent Clothier of Toronto owned it in 1955-61. Then, it fades into oblivion. In a way this is a typical scene for a war surplus ex-RCAF trainer. Note how the weeds are growing tall and “FEA” doesn’t look too active. The fellows who enthusiastically purchased such planes, often soon lost interest. The great Canada Malting Co. elevator beyond is still standing in 2020. Maple Leaf Stadium, just visible to the left, is long gone.

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Another of Al’s Cornell photos from Toronto Island shows CF-GIQ. All I can find about it is that it had been RCAF 10534, and that its RCAF dates were 28-12-42 to 21-8- 46. In one War Assets Disposal Corp. advert from 1947, Cornells were offered at $650 each. The advert noted: “Single engine, low wing monoplane, fabric covered, tubular metal fuselage with plywood covered wooden wings … Adaptable for private ownership, club or school use, or light executive transport.” Re. such war surplus planes, not all who bought one were experienced, so aircraft suffered from rude usage. Although the planes were bought “for a song”, owners soon faced expenses from engine maintenance to insurance, so, many fellows quickly tired of their “prizes”. Something like a Cornell would go from one owner to the next, the price always falling. Before long, the engine would be causing problems. Wings being of wood, the weather soon was burrowing into them. Once a wooden wing spar started to go, something like a Cornell was pretty well kaput. By about 1960 when I was getting into photography, there were few Cornells, Finches, etc. left, other than a few sitting around in the weeds.

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Al’s lovely photo of Cornell CF-GDG, ex- RCAF 10676, dates 30-4-43 to 8-11-46. I remember seeing “GDG in the early 1960s at its Mount Hope, Ontario base. It fooled the experts, becoming one of the last surviving airworthy Cornells in Canada. For many years it was base in Rouyn, northern Quebec with Laurent Balaux. He finally sold it to Mssrs Glover and Upham in nearby Val d’Or. The Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) finally expired in May 1974.

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There also were war surplus RCAF Harvard trainers, but there’s a different story to these. To begin, the RCAF retained hundreds of Harvards for postwar requirements. Then, it was big companies such as Aircraft Industries and the Babb Co. with Montreal offices that scooped up most Harvards from WADC. These outfits then made quick sales of shiploads of Harvards to European militaries starting to rebuild after the war – Netherlands, Norway, etc. However, there were some Harvards for sale on the general market. One 1947 WADC advertisement offered Harvards at $800, noting, “Adaptable for executive work or sportsman pilot”. The main problem with a Harvard compared to a primary trainer like the Cornell, was its complexity. Few private flyers dared step up to the hefty Harvard with its 600 hp compared to 200 hp in a Cornell. Other issues included much higher maintenance and operating expenses. On the whole, Canadian private flyers steered away from the Harvard until a new wave was released by the RCAF starting around 1960. Here’s Al’s photo of one of these. As far as he was concerned, other than a standard straight side view, this was a fine angle for shooting a Harvard on the ground. A slightly rear angle also worked well. CF- HWX had been built by North American at Inglewood, California in 1941 for the French military. By then, however, France had been overrun by Nazi Germany. The RAF then took the plane from Inglewood and somehow got it onto RCAF strength in July 1941 as AJ583. Thenceforth, it served into June 1960 when Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (new name for WADC) sold it to J-P Rheault of Trois-Rivières for $750. Various owners followed until 1986 when “HWX” joined the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association of Tillsonburg, Ontario. It flies annually with the CHAA in its original RCAF “Yellow Peril” markings. A nice Harvard these days sells for around US$200,000.

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While Canada was flooded by surplus ex- RCAF training planes, a Consolidated BT-13 Valiant was a rare sight. The reason was simple – the BT-13 was not used in Canada, but it was an American wartime trainer. Even so, a few trickled into Canada after 1945, some purchased just for their P&W R-985 engines. With the engine removed, the airframe would be scrapped. I found these rare photos of an Edmonton-based BT-13 in Al’s collection. I have little info, except that “GVS” was used by Dominion Skywriters of Edmonton for sky writing in smoke, and aerial advertising using an under-wing light array (in these two photos you can see this odd installation). “GVS” is listed in the 1956 CCAR, but is missing thereafter. The men behind this business were A.J. Laing and W.L.G. Greenaway. Let’s hope that someone will come up with the history of this operation. Another BT-13 was operated (1954 to around 1960) by Superior Airways in Northern Ontario to haul fish from northern lakes to Fort William for sale. I’m not sure how Al would have gotten such Western Canada pictures. We heard that he had been a ferry pilot after the war, so may have photographed such planes in those travels. Or … maybe he got to such places as Edmonton and Vancouver on his airline pass once he joined TCA.

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Al spotted this BT-13 while at Calgary airport around 1950. CF-DRN was registered in Canada on March 13, 1953. It later was listed to Skyway Air Services in Langley, BC, then faded from the CCAR in 1957.

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In 1949 this oddball BT-13 appeared across Canada during an effort to fly around the world soon after WWII. A 25-year-old Britisher, Ricarda “Dickie” Morrow-Tait (1923- 1982) was behind this, flying a Percival Proctor with companion, Michael Townend. Departing the UK from Croydon (London) on August 18, 1948, they flew eastward to India and Japan. Next they reached the isolated Aleutians and Alaska, but the Proctor would go no farther, as explained in a caption in the “Globe and Mail” of December 1, 1948: “Their plane crashed on the Alaska Highway 230 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Townend is flying to Toronto to arrange for new wings and landing gear, and Mrs. Morrow-Tait intends to get a job in an Anchorage night club to get funds to pay for them.” This got even more complicated and the Proctor was abandoned. To further her mission, Richarda tried fundraising by speaking engagements, firstly in Calgary, but this did not pan out. The duo returned to the UK, then some 1949-style “crowd-funding” resulted in the donation of N54084, a surplus 1942 BT-13. After a few months, the odyssey re-started in Edmonton (where my old pal Les Corness took his own wonderful photo N54084). This time Richarda had a new second pilot, Jack Ellis of Seattle. They flew eastward, but there was trouble here and there, as in Chicago when the local FAA grounded the plane due to fishy paperwork. When things were quiet on May 28, however, Richarda and Jack fired up, regardless, took off and flew to Toronto, where they landed without contacting the control tower (this led to a scolding, but Richarda’s radios had been u/s). At Malton it was clear that N54084 had no C of A and its ownership was unknown. The G&M reported, “There was the fact … that a British- licenced pilot was flying a U.S.-registered plane in and out of Canadian airports. The confusion knew no bounds.” The story gets crazier for, somehow, Richarda ferried the BT-13 to Buffalo for maintenance. Meanwhile, Townsend returned to replace Ellis. At some point, Richarda flew on to Montreal, then Goose Bay. Here, Richarda again stomped on the toes of officialdom. While there for fuel and rest, she had been ordered to fly to Bangor, Maine, and forget about the north – Canada’s DOT declared that such a flight (eventually) across open northern seas was illegal for a single-engine plane. Richarda agreed, but once airborne thumbed her nose at her orders and turned north. Some 7:25 hours and 800 miles later the BT- 13 was at Bluie West 1 in Greenland. For 1949 this was an unheard- of, amazingly skillful and gutsy venture in a rickety plane. A long- range RCAF Lancaster had escorted her all the way to BW-1 regardless of the nuttiness of it all. Townsend later glibly reported, “We had a straight-forward flight. Once out of Montreal we had the best weather … on the Atlantic route.” On August 18 the G&M reported that the adventurers had reached Keflavik, Iceland, then they pressed on the Scotland and south to Croydon, landing there on August 19, 1949 a year and a day after setting out in the Proctor. Richarda thus became the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe. Hereafter, things were not perfect for her. In 1950 she bore a son by Michael and divorced her husband. You’ll have to dredge around on the web to see how her life went thereafter. She died in 1982. I wonder what ever happened to Richarda’s old clunker of a BT-13? FAA records show that its registration was cancelled in 1955. Why is there no Hollywood blockbuster movie about all this!

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Soon after the war, the Canadian Army acquired Auster Mk.VI liaison aircraft. By the time I started shooting airplanes, however, these had been replaced by Cessna L-19s. Starting around 1960, I was photographing these same Austers in civil markings. Austers were always a special treat to see. You can tell by the background where Al shot Army Auster 16663. Retired in 1957, it became CF-KJP. It was flown for the next few years by Norman Corp of Campbellville, Ontario. “KJP” last operated from Selkirk, Manitoba. Its C of A expired in 2011. “KPJ” is now with the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.

Civil Light Planes

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Many new light plane designs appeared immediately after WWII, including some interesting little single-seaters. These were attractive, especially with their low “sticker” prices, low operating costs, and ease of flying. One of the more revolutionary designs was Al Mooney’s 1946 M18 Mite. Powered by a 65-hp engine, it was just 18’ long with a wingspan of 26’10”. All-up weight was 850 pounds, so “Mite” was a good name! Top speed was 138 mph, making a Mite speedier than most personal planes of the day. In the end, however, just 283 were built by the time production ended in 1954, although a few later were made as kit planes. Regardless, the Mite led the way to the classic Mooney 20 and all its follow-on versions. The first Canadian Mite was CF-HFN, seen in these Al Martin views taken on different occasions at Toronto Island Airport. Local pilot, Frank Ogden, had ordered “HFN” from Mooney in Kerrville, Texas, then took delivery in August 1953. The basic list price at the time was a fairly hefty $3695. The “3” in the side suggests that “HFN” had been in some sort of an air rally. “HFN” had a busy life in Canada, including four accidents all involving a collapsed undercarriage (these were pilot related mishaps). It looks as if Frank Ogden let a lot of pilots try out his nifty little plane, some of whom were not too skillful. Several others owned “HFN” after Ogden sold it in July 1956. Little is known of it after it moved to Quebec in 1963. It disappeared from the CCAR in 1968.

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The rare Culver V traces its origins to the 1930s when Al Mooney teamed with K.K. Culver to form Dart Aircraft at Port Columbus, Ohio. Their little “Dart” 2-seater had limited success. In the late 1930s the Dart evolved into the Cadet, but early sales were only in the dozens. With WWII, the US Army adapted the Cadet as the PQ-8 target drone, about 400 of which were built by Culver Aircraft Co. Predicting a booming post-war market, Culver then introduced its Cadet V – “V” for victory – based on the PQ-8. Culver thought that the market would be insatiable for its greatly improved little cutie. Introduced in September 1947 at a $3589 sticker price, the Culver V went nowhere, only about 100 being built at the company’s Wichita factory. Culver quickly folded, its people dispersing to look for opportunities. Al Mooney, for example, went off to design his “Mite”. Two or three Culver Vs made it to Canada, CF-EHG. W.B. Riggs, F.L Wood and J.R. Wood of Windsor, Ontario imported “EHG” in April 1948. I don’t know the price paid, but about a year later the fellows must have been happy to forget about “EHG”, when they sold it to Robert J. Henderson of Willowdale (a Toronto suburb) for $800. He resold it quickly to Clyde Thorpe of Toronto. Other owners ensued, including Sten Lundberg, a former Spitfire pilot of Blind River in Northern Ontario. The last known owner was S.D. Archer of Dorval, Quebec in 1966. “EHG” last was spotted in a Quebec junkyard in 1973. Al’s photo shows it at old Hamilton airport. Al also photographed the unknown fellow on the wing at time, but he didn’t leave a note about whom this is.

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Homebuilt aircraft fascinate every versatile aviation fan, and Knight Twister CF-GRK-X is an exceptional case study. This exotic little biplane racer was designed in Chicago in 1928 by Vernon Payne and first flown in 1932. Few were built and the plane’s reputation was one of being “a bit too hot”. Leon Beliaeff built “GRK” in 1949, then flew it for a few years from Cartierville near Montreal. In 1954 Beliaeff sold “GRK” to William Zegil of Fort William. While taking off there on June 13 that year, the plane was badly damaged. Al Martin saw “GRK” at Toronto Island Airport, perhaps while it was en route to Fort William. However, there’s a comment in the DOT files that “GRK” was trucked to Toronto after its accident. So … maybe this shows it after being repaired at the island? The DOT files close with a comment that the Knight Twister was sold in the USA. Plans for this vintage design still are sold by Steen Aero Lab of Palm Bay, Florida. The company notes: “The Knight Twister in any version is a true thoroughbred. While it is not like the average trainer in control response, the fact is that the design simply doesn’t need to be horsed around the sky. It is the kind of plane that thrives on smooth control inputs, and in return she will reward the pilot with smooth, perfectly-balanced performance. Properly-built Twisters tend to be very straightforward and easy to fly airplanes with excellent performance, which give great enjoyment to their pilots.” If you get curious about the Knight Twister, the Steen Aero Lab website is worth visiting. Of special interest under “History” is a 1985 letter from Vernon Page to the great Pete Bowers, designer of the Bowers Fly Baby homebuilt and a renowned aviation photographer.

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Around 1960 most of us were keen on the homebuilding movement. Of course, Canada’s first powered airplane – the “Silver Dart” – itself was a homebuilt, so we took the homebuilts seriously. Through the 1920s-30 many Canadians had built single- seat kit planes. Typical was young Fred Hotson who eventually finished a “Heath Kit” plane, most of which he bought while in high school in Fergus, Ontario. When he had a few dollars, Fred would order some more bits and pieces from the US. These would come by mail. The day finally came when his little plane, CF-BLS, took to the air. It flew very nicely. After WWII the homebuilding movement really took off, encouraged especially by the US-based Experimental Aircraft Association. Knight Twister CF-GRK-X was a pioneer Canadian homebuilding project, its owner, Leon Beliaeff, being years ahead of the official movement. About 1957 the DOT set aside the “R” registration series for these “restricted” aircraft, the first of which started appearing in 1957 (the DOT officially categorized these planes as “ultra lights”). Some designs were homebuilts from the plans, others ere highly modified production planes. Many soon were turning up at the summer fly-ins we attended – modified Aeroncas, Corbens, Druins, Emerauds, Fly Babys, Jodels, Pietenpols, modified Pipers, Stitts, Whites, etc. We knew them all as well as we knew an F-86 or a Super Constellation. After all, Al Martin had taught us to be aviation “generalists” (we didn’t think too highly of any spotter boasting about being a “specialist”). One of the first “R’ series homebuilts that we saw was this Stitts SA6B Flt-r-Bug — CF-RAK, built by P.M. Prisner in Chatham, Ontario. Many others later had the pleasure of flying this fine little 2-seater. Last heard of, “RAK” was flying from Anola, Manitoba in the 2010s, having by then been on the go for about 60 years. In 2020 it’s still flown by Jeremiah Mustard from Anola, Manitoba. The website “As cute as a bug: The Stits Flut-R-Bug – General Aviation News” tells the Flut-r-Bug story very nicely.

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Two other top postwar light planes were the Ercoupe and Globe Swift. These were among the avalanche of fine new American types vying for attention in 1946-48. The general info about these can be found by going back on this blog (use the search box) to our item The Beech Bonanza at 70 and the Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes , then scrolling passed the Bonanza to find the Ercoupe and Swift. However, to save you the trip, this is the ERCO text you’ll see there: “Two especially beloved, all-metal, 2-seat light planes mass-produced in the 1940s are the ERCO 415 Ercoupe and Globe Swift. The Ercoupe first flew in 1937. It went on sale in 1940, but the advent of war delayed production until 1946, when the Model 415 appeared with a $2665 sticker price ($35,250 in 2020 dollars). When the postwar light plane boon faltered, ERCO ceased production, having turned out an astounding 4311 Ercoupes. Happily, others took an interest and, over the decades, more were built under such banners as Forney, Alon, even Mooney. Some 5700 Ercoupes eventually flew…” Shown is Ercoupe CF-HOL which was registered in Canada on August 26, 1954 to D.E. Wilson of Springford, Ontario. Thereafter, it served many owners in Southern Ontario until listed as “Cancelled 2001-06-25”. At the time it was owned by ex-RCAF wartime pilot J.F. “Joe” Reed, one of a real “characters” of Canadian aviation. The natty Globe GC-1 Swift also was a pre-war US design, which had to wait for 1945 to get going. After rushing out more than 1200 Swifts, however, Globe ran out of money and was sold to Temco. Temco added 260 more Swifts, before ceasing production in 1951. “DXZ” was registered in Canada on September 11, 1947 then flew for some years with Fred Oystrick of Toronto. Al photographed “DXZ” at Toronto island in Fred’s “Electric Motor Service” markings and with a dedication to “Maria” on the engine cowling. It was still current about 1980, then faded. In 1989 a Bell Jet Ranger assumed its registration.

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There still were many planes from the 1930s active in Canada when Al and the rest of us were avidly taking pictures in the 1950s-60s. Here’s 1937 Waco ZQC-6 CF-BDO that Al shot one day at Toronto island. Behind is the famous 1938 hangar that’s full of airplanes to this day. “BDO” first was owned by Laurentian Air Services of Ottawa, a prominent air charter and bush flying outfit. Sold in 1951, it flew a bit longer privately, then went to the Blount Feed Co. in Rhode Island, becoming N1130.

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The Beech 17 Staggerwing is one of the loveliest personal planes of all time. The first of Walter and Olive Beech production planes, it first flew in November 1932. It continued being built into 1948, by when the Bonanza had totally overshadowed it. Some 781 Staggerwings were built. Many came to Canada beginning with CF-BBB of Mackenzie Air Service in late 1936. These served well in the bush and also were some of Canada’s first executive planes with such owners as the Eaton department store family, and Imperial Oil. Here is Al’s photo of Beech D17S CF-GLL early in the 1950s, when the owner was Lodestar Drilling Co. (this company still exists in Texas). “GLL” had served the US Navy in 1944-45, was sold surplus in 1946 as N67737, then became “GLL” in 1951. The 1955 CCAR notes the owner as Montague S. Hall of Hope, BC. Various owners followed until “GLL” disappeared from the CCAR in 1975. It next emerged in Colorado, where it was refurbished and became N35JM. Most recently it was on show at the Historic Flight Foundation in Seattle.

Cessna Takes Canada by Storm

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Prior to WWII only four lonely Cessnas had been registered in Canada, but come 1946, this changed electrically. Cessna was ready for the peacetime market with three lovely new products – the Ce.120, Ce.140 and Ce.170. The Ce.120 2- seater went on sale in 1946 at $2695. There were 2172 delivered, but at the same time the company was marketing the more sophisticated Cessna 140 (1946 price $3245 with 4904 built). Both types were phased off the Cessna lines in 1949. The further improved Ce.140A then was built into 1951 (525 delivered). Many Ce.120s/140s came to Canada for use mainly at flying schools. Al Martin photographed this little beauty at Toronto Island Airport. The famous Wong brothers of Central Airways had brought it in new in April 1950. Hundreds of student pilots won their wings after training on “FPW”. It served the Wongs into 1961, then had a list of owners until disappearing from the CCAR in 1971.

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As noted, Toronto Island was a busy general aviation airport with plenty of interesting aircraft to photograph. This was especially so from spring through fall, when many float planes could be found at the buoys and docks. Al Martin caught this typical scene c.1955. It’s a beautiful Cessna 170B with the city skyline beyond. To the right is Toronto’s tallest building of the day, the Bank of Commerce. Beside it is the massive (for the times) Royal York Hotel. Looming just ahead of the tail is the Canada Life Insurance building on University Ave. All three stand to this day, but that massive grain storage and milling complex was gone by about 1990. The 4-seat “1-70” was introduced in 1949 at $5995. Production ended in 1956 with 5173 delivered. Many remain in use in 2020. From what little I know of CF-HXK, Carl Millard imported it in 1955, then sold it to a local company, Murfin Sheet Metal Works. Last heard of around 2010 “HXK” was based at Hearst in Northern Ontario.

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The “Cadillac” of post-WWII Cessnas was the Ce.190/195 series. Powered by radial engines (Ce.190 Continental 240 hp, Ce.195 Jacobs 245/300 hp), these all-metal beauties had roomy, 5-seat cabins that appealed to families and small business operators. The introductory price for a “190” in 1947 was $12,750. Some 1200 190/195s were delivered. Over the decades many served in Canada. An early example was CF-HXT, a 1951 model (sn 7679) registered first by the DOT on February 21, 1955 to Carl Millard in Toronto (Carl brought hundreds of light planes into Canada over his long career). “HXT” had various owners over the decades, including Toronto funeral director, John A. Jerrett. On May 25, 1963, he ground looped “HXT” on landing at Malton, damaging the undercarriage, wing and tail. Many such airplanes have at least one such event noted in their logbooks. “HXT” last was heard of in Courtenay, BC around 2016.

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Ce.195B CF-FRO in Vancouver on September 25, 1956. For years this handsome plane served the Finning company, which had a Caterpillar equipment franchise in BC. Following an accident of October 23, 1972, “FRO” was sold to a buyer in Kent, Washington. The last heard of it was a 1996 notice in the Ce.195 club newsletter that a few of its bits and pieces were for sale. Parked behind and to the right in this fine view is a 1951 Nash Ambassador. Keen aviation fans like Al Martin revelled in everything to do with something like the Cessna lineage. They followed the least model upgrade (Ce.195, Ce.195A, Ce.195B, etc.) or local “mod”, and were sure to photograph any such changes.

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In late 1955 the Ce.170 was replaced by the Ce.172, a design that brought a whole new look to the Cessna line. Gone were Cessna’s classic curved “tail feathers” and “tail dragger” look. As you can see in this view, Cessna switched to a new squared-off look, plus tricycle gear with steerable nose wheel. The new plane came on the market at $8750. The Wong brothers of Central Airways were quick to recognize where things in their world of aviation were heading, so immediately ordered one of the first 1-72s — CF-IKB. Current owner, Jim Bray, notes, “IKB came off the line at Cessna on October 28 and left for Canada on November 3, 1955”. Al’s view includes the Central Airways office. He probably set this up deliberately. In 1956 I was in Air Cadets in Toronto at 172 Squadron. My first ever airplane flight was in “IKB”. Today,  Jim, who has owned it for 35 years, keeps “IKB” at Brantford, Ontario. In 2020 its airframe time is a bit less than 6000 hours. The initial production batch of 1- 72s totalled 1178. Since then more than 45,000 have been delivered.

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Cessna introduced a host of new produces in the early 1950s, the 4/5-seat Ce.180 included — one of the great light aircraft of all time. First flown in 1952, this all-metal workhorse was produced into 1981, some 6200 eventually coming off the Cessna line. Powered by a 230-hp Continental O-470 series engine (145 hp in a 1-72), the “1-80” soon was beloved in private and commercial use. It especially excelled in the bush on wheels, skis or floats. Many Canadian operators got in on the earliest deliveries (1954-56: 2003 aircraft). Al photographed CF-ICE at the island in the mid-50s. He would have been extra interested to see this lovely plane on amphibious floats. “ICE” had been registered in Canada on May 19, 1955 to the McNamara Construction Co. In 1958, however, it was listed to Executive Air Services at Malton Airport. Here it bears the company logo of Federal Equipment of Montreal (in the 1950s Federal was a key DEW Line contractor, which might have had a lease on “ICE”). For several years after 1958, R.J. McCullough of Toronto owned “ICE”, then followed various owners. “ICE” was active as recently as 2016.

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Another early Cessna 180 was CF-IIX, which Al Martin shot at Vancouver. It had come to Canada in 1957 for Vancouver-based Canex Aerial Exploration Ltd., but faded from the CCAR in 1963. Survey aircraft led rough and ready careers – it was a dangerous field of operation, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that “IIX” had ended badly. Canex also had Beaver CF-JOE, which itself was wrecked in 1957. These days C-FIIX is a BC-based Cessna 182D. PS … in this view notice the beautiful “torpedo-back” in the background.

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Al Martin photographed Ce.180 CF-HEF in Vancouver in early 1-80 times. The Bourne and Weir tire company had purchased in 1953, then operated it into 1960. It then was sold to Island Airlines, a small Campbell River operators destined to become famous on the coast. A dedicated general aviation fan such as Al could never pass up a nice set-up shot like this, especially since “HEF” bore the company name and logo so prominently. By 1966 this 1-80 was with Leask Lake Logging of Campbell River (logging companies quickly gravitated to the versatile, speedy and economic 1-80). For some reason, “HEF” is absent from 1968 onward in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register. Often, the reason was an accident, although a plane also faded from the register if sold into the USA. Many Ce.180s still operate daily in Canada, often “out in the boonies”, where they always have been at home.

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Cessna introduced the Ce.182 Skylane in 1952. A tri-gear spin-off from the 1-80, it appealed to those looking for a high-end light plane (list price was $13,750). Cessna delivered 844 in Year 1. For 1957-58 it added a further 1713. Originally N6320A off the line at Cessna, Skylane CF-IUE (perhaps Canada’s first 1-82) is seen at Toronto Island Airport when new. Keith Hopkinson of Sky Harbour Aircraft at Goderich, Ontario had imported it in 1956, then operated it for 2-3 years on behalf of the Iowa-based Sheaffer Pen Company, which had a Goderich plant. “IUE” then had a long career serving several owners in the Toronto area. Latterly, it was with North-Way Chrysler in New Liskeard in Northern Ontario. However, its C of A is listed as cancelled in 2018. For the best in Cessna history, I strongly recommend that you track down copies of Edward H. Phillips’ classic 1984 book, Cessna: A Master’s Expression, plus his follow-up (1986) title, Wings of Cessna: Model 120 to the Citation III. You are far better off with such books than depending (lazily) on google.

Stinson Endures, Piper Forges Ahead

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The first Stinsons started appearing in Canada in the mid 1920s. There were four of these, all Stinson SB-1 Detroiter commercial planes (Stinson was based in Detroit). One was G-CAFW purchased for Patricia Airways and Exploration to serve the Red Lake region during the gold rush there of 1925-26. The others trickled into Canada, but accidents soon claimed them. Late in the 1930s, however, a new Stinson type was turning heads – the Reliant. With more efficient and reliable engines, and good load-carrying ability, these became popular. Then, for wartime use the RCAF acquired 25 little Stinson HW-75 Voyageurs (also known as the Stinson Model 10 and Model 105). Most of the 25 survived the war and soon were turning up in civilian markings. Here’s a typical example that Al photographed at Toronto island. You can see that the HW-75 was a bit on the dumpy side for looks. Having come to Canada in the spring of 1941, CF-DTH served the RCAF very briefly as 3487, then joined the Department of Transport in Moncton. It seems to have served there to war’s end. No longer needed, it was sold for $750 to Paul Huot of Ottawa. He quickly re-sold it to nearby Bradley Air Services. In November 1954 “DTH” was acquired by Harold Meiteen and Harvey Zellan, who flew it from Toronto Island. “DTH” faded from the CCAR by 1958.

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Stinson was busy near war’s end planning its own return to the peacetime world. A quick solution for making the transition was to modernize the little 2-3 seat Voyageur. The sharp-looking Model 108 4-seater was the result. Al Martin photographed this one at Malton airport. Having come off the Stinson line in July 1947, CF-EYG was ferried to its first owner, Curtiss-Reid Flying Service of Cartierville Airport near Montreal. Within a month, however, “EYG” was with Cranbrook Flying Service in BC. Later it served the Aero Club of BC into 1956, when it was sold to Abbotsford Machinery Sales. On that July 5 it was wrecked in a takeoff accident at Vedan Lake, BC. Notice the Fleet Canuck and DHC-1 Chipmunk in the background – two other typical light planes of the times. Stinson would turn out more than 5000 “1-0-8s” in several versions with a range of engines. Many served in Canada and a few survive. A nice 1-0-8 today sells starting around US$40,000.

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Another fine Al Martin Stinson 108 photo. CF-FJW was registered in Canada on May 23, 1947 for Imperial Oil Ltd. This company had been boosting the airplane for business use since 1920, when it imported two rugged little Junkers bushplanes to explore for oil in the Northwest Territories. Note the prominent Imperial Oil Ltd. markings on “FJW”. By 1955 it was in far away Norman Wells, NWT with R.G. Hattie. After moving to Taylor, BC, it went missing from the CCAR in 1960. Most recently (2005), this registration was on a Piper Navajo in Quebec. Toronto Bay in the 1950s usually was filled with floatplanes. Today, few ever are seen, other than runway-bound planes at the island on amphibious floats. In the distance across the bay in this scene is the spire (still standing in 2020) of St. Mary’s RC church on Bathurst St.

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Al also caught this fine 1-0-8 at the island one day. CF-GZI was a Stinson 108-3 “Flying Station Wagon” – the last production model before Stinson was taken over in 1950 by Piper and easily recognized by its enlarged tail feathers. Imported in May 1955, “GZI” belonged to the St. Lawrence Starch Co. of nearby Port Credit – the makers of a product that in those days was in every kitchen in the land – “Beehive Golden Corn Syrup”. “GZI” was beloved at the starch company, where it served into 1965, likely as a company luxury item that got “the boss” and company executives and clients to cottages and prime fishing and hunting spots “up north”. From 1965-71 “GZI” was owned in Sioux Lookout by a well-known local operator, Norm Otto. Later, it went west to places like Uranium City, La Ronge and Yellowknife. I don’t know where it ended, but today C-FGZI is a speedy little Douglas A-4 Skyhawk electronic warfare trainer owned by Montreal-based Top Aces.

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Stinson 108-3 CF-HOS runs up at Toronto Island Airport. Originally registered in Canada on September 9, 1954, it was owned by Reilley’s Lock Corp. of Toronto into 1967. Some 1760 were produced. In the mid-1970s “HOS” was in Haileybury with Carrier Industrial Supplies, but later in the 1970s I lose track of it. These days “C-FHOS” is used on an Air Canada Embraer EJ-190 jetliner. If Al had a chance to re-take this photo, I bet that he’d take 1-2 steps to the right so he could include the tip of the fin. Usually, we were a fussy about such matters of “composition”, or, “form”.

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There are so many Pipers in Al’s files that I was a bit bamboozled. Let’s start with one of the oldest examples, Taylor J-2 CF-BED. In April 1937, F.H. Armitage of Hamilton imported this fine little J-2, or, “Taylor Cub” from the US. A popular Depression- era design, the J-2 had come about through a collaboration between designer Clarence Gilbert Taylor and businessman William Thomas Piper. The first successful Cub, the E-2 went into production at Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1931 at a list price of $1325. In 1935 the improved J-2 Cub appeared at an even lower price of $1270. Eventually, Taylor and Piper merged into the Piper company. More than 1200 J-2s were built, a few making it to Canada. What became of CF-BED? Nobody seems to know other than that it faded from the CCAR in 1947. The Cub story is especially well told by Edward H. Phillips in a wonderful book, Piper: A Legend Aloft. Do yourself a big favor and track down a copy.

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The J-3 succeeded the J-2 at Piper. Al spotted this fine-looking example at the old Hamilton airport early after WWII. The earliest info I could find for CF-DSI is that it was registered with the DOT on August 19, 1946. I’m guessing that it was built here early after WWII by Cub Aircraft of Canada. In 1955 it was owned by a John Morris of Hamilton. From 1959 to about 1965 it was with the Halifax Flying Club, but thereafter is absent from the CCAR. Aviation fans of the day rarely could resist photographing such an inviting scene – a pretty little plane sitting well lit in the open and with an interesting background. In these days Al still was an active private pilot, and certainly would really have enjoyed flying any such Piper.

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Piper L-4B CF-EEG was manufactured in Canada in 1946 by Cub Aircraft of Canada at old Hamilton airport. Happily, in his seminal book Canadian Aircraft since 1909 (get yourself a copy, this book is 100% essential for your library), the great K.M. “Ken” Molson includes a short history of this operation. The L-4 series had been used by the US military in WWII chiefly as an artillery spotting aircraft (it was a slightly modified J-3). Piper delivered almost 5000 by war’s end. To keep itself involved once wartime contracts had expired, Cub Aircraft adopted the L-4 for Canadian use. This likely was easy to arrange, since there were masses of surplus L-4 components at Piper in Lockhaven, Pennsylvania, which Piper would have been happy to ship to Hamilton. Cub Aircraft of Canada delivered 128 L-4Bs from 1945-47, promoting the type as the “Prospector”. Typical was “EEG”, which was registered with the DOT on May 22, 1947. It was part of an almost solid block of Cub Aircraft of Canada Pipers CF-EEA to CF-EEZ. All were listed as J-3C-65s except for “EEG”, the sole L-4B. From this batch the only one that seems to still be flying in 2020 is “EEI” in NW Ontario. In the first of my old copies of the CCAR (1955) “EEG” was with Gananoque Air Services in Ontario’s Thousand Islands region. By 1958 it was with the St. Maurice Aero Club in Trois-Rivières. From 1962 to at least 1979 it was with Roland Verville of Sherbrook, Quebec. He must have had countless enjoyable flying hours in this little classic. Transport Canada lost track of “EEG” years ago, but such mysteries sometimes get resolved. Such aircraft sometimes still turn up in garages and barns decades after disappearing.

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J-3C-65 (65 hp) CF-DCS was assembled in Hamilton and registered on April 30, 1946. The “C” in the type indicates made in Canada. When Al photographed it around 1955 it had been converted as a dusting plane by Leavens Brothers Air Services. Each year in this period, Leavens (one of Canada’s oldest air services) had farm and forest contracts to keep several J-3s busy (these usually had been upgraded to 85 hp). This also gave many young pilots some valuable (if dangerous) flying experience. About 30 years ago Paul Apperly told me a bit about this for some brief bit I was writing that never came to light. This is that: “Beginning about 1946, Leavens converted several 85-hp J-3 Cubs and 65-hp Aeronca “Champs” for aerial spray and dusting work. Spray bars and hoppers (200-lb capacity) were installed at Barker Field. The flying was done mainly in southwestern Ontario spraying tobacco (main base at London, George Walker manager), but there also was work in the Quinte area, treating fields of corn and peas. The Champs soon were withdrawn from ag services, since the Cubs had better maneuverability, plus 85 hp. Rock Hodges and Paul Apperly were two prominent young Leavens’ pilots in this era, flying such spray Cubs as CF-BUG. When bigger contracts were under way, Leavens brought in US sprayers to help, as with Cub NR35320 of Milwaukee-based Fliteways. Hodges would go on to found General Airspray in St. Thomas, Ontario, while Apperly joined to RCAF to fly Sabres. Many lessons were learned in these early years. Liquid fertilizer, for example, was found to be corrosive on hoppers and spray components. Overall, Leavens found the ag business a hard sell — few farmers yet were ready to accept aerial application as a practical or affordable process. To offset this, Leavens found other work. In 1951-53 it used J-3s on floats and a Seabee on Ontario government contracts spraying against mosquitoes in the Muskoka region. Ontario Hydro hired Leavens to spray herbicide along rights of way to keep them weed free. Leavens also operated in Quebec and New Brunswick during Operation Budworm. For a mosquito spraying contract at Forestville on the Quebec North Shore, it converted Cessna T-50 CF- BRK. This was on-going for several years until July 11, 1958, when ‘BRK crashed fatally on operations. In 1952 Leavens ran a course at London to train 12 prospective ag pilots in all aspects of the trade, from handling chemicals to the special flying skills required. For 1953 Leavens recorded 5840 flying hours, 64% in flight instruction, 12% in spraying and dusting. The fleet included 35 aircraft of many types including three Cranes, four Stearmans and seven 85-hp Cub spray planes. In 1953 Leavens changed its focus from flying to overhauling aircraft, propellers and accessories; component and materials sales; and light manufacturing. In the 1950s it produced the last 26 Fleet Canucks. In 1972 it moved into a new facility near Toronto International Airport. In later years Leavens, always supportive of Canada’s aviation heritage, restored and flew a Waco 9 (G-CAII), which the company later donated to Canada’s national aviation museum. The museum displays another aircraft with Leavens Brothers’ roots. Its Taylorcraft BC-65 CF-BPR, restored by Harry Drover and donated to the museum in 1999, originally had been imported to Canada by Leavens 60 years earlier. Leavens closed its doors in 2012 after 84 years of service. As to “DCS”, it had various post-Leavens owners. Last heard of in 1967 it was owned by Wesley Howe and Earl Ethier in Sudbury. I don’t yet have a date, but “DCS” came to a bad ending. Wes Howe was buzzing his house near Azilda one day when he struck wires and crashed, killing himself and his passenger.

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Piper introduced the PA-18 “Super Cub” in 1949. Improvements over the ubiquitous J-3/L-4 series included a 105-hp engine (compared to 65 hp) and three notches of flap. Larger engines gradually became available – 125-hp, 150-hp. The Super Cub became more of a utility plane, being so useful as a bush and agricultural plane. Many Super Cubs still operate in Canada. “GOJ” was registered on July 10, 1952 and last appeared in the 1974 CCAR.

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PA-18A Super Cub CF-JAG came into Canada in 1957-58 for Sulo K. Korpela of Kormak Lumber Co. based near of Chapleau, Ontario. Not long afterwards it was with Thessalon Motors of Thessalon, a town between Sudbury and Sault St. Marie. In 1964 it was sold to Ross McNeice and R. Smith of Sudbury. In 1966 it went to Georgian Bay Airways of Parry Sound, but is absent from the CCAR from 1968. The unusual undercarriage here is a system designed by Art Whitaker of Portland Oregon. It was designed for extra rough take-off and landing conditions. I found this comment on the web from stoney727, “Art Whitaker developed the tandem landing gear right here at my home drome, Pearson Field in Vancouver WA. Before the oversized, low-pressure tires came along this was thought to be an answer for landing on rough, unimproved terrain.” I wonder if “JAG” made much use of its Whitaker gear? Canada still has many PA-18s in private and commercial use.

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Besides avidly taking airplane photos, most of us back in the 1950s collected all sorts of other aviation things of interest, post cards included. Here’s a typical example that I found in one of Al’s shoe boxes that features the famous float base at Owen Sound on Georgian Bay. Shown are Piper PA-12s CF-FIZ and PA-12 CF-EUR, and Fleet Canuck CF-EBO. I can’t find any info for “FIZ”, but know from Terry Judge’s research that “EUR” came new to Canada in 1947 for Cub Aircraft of Hamilton. Cub sold it to Peninsula Air Services, a famous local operator. PAS re-sold “EUR” to local flyer N.P. Boychuk, who flew it into 1952, then sold to Owen Sound Airways. There were many subsequent owners, including one renowned fellow whom I knew – J.F. “Joe” Reed. Joe had “EUR” at Toronto Island Airport for a while in 1954-55. Eventually, it had a sticky ending. On landing on Gull Lake, Ontario on May 17, 1959, it crashed, then never re-appeared.

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Piper PA-22 TriPacer CF-FVW at Toronto Island Airport. One of the truly beloved postwar Pipers, the TriPacer evolved from the PA-20 Pacer “tail dragger”, and first flew in early 1951. Sales instantly took off, outnumbering the Pacer 6-to-1. Production continued to 1964 by when some 9400 had been delivered. That year the TriPacer was replaced on Piper’s Vero Beach, Florida production line by the first of what would become an even more popular type – the PA-28 Cherokee. Hundreds of TriPacers came to Canada, where many still operate. “FVW” originally was owned by the Carl Millard of Toronto, Carl having purchased it from Safari Flying Services in the USA in September 1952. The same month Carl sold “FVW” to Len Ariss, a keen private flier who had developed the airstrip at nearby Guelph. Thenceforth, this fine little 4- seater had a long list of Ontario owners from Chatham to Blind River, Hamilton, Brantford, Centralia, North Bay, Sudbury and elsewhere. It seems to have remained in use at least into 1991, when a note in one record states that it had flown more than 2400 hours. However, “FVW” is absent from the CCAR after 1975. TC says that its C of A was cancelled in 2002.

Canada’s Own Fleet 80 Canuck

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One of the big stories in Canadian aviation immediately after WWII was the Fleet 80 Canuck. Evolved from a 1940 design by Bob Noury, which Fleet bought in 1945, production initially was brisk. Fleet had just ended its Cornell production, so had the space, labour, tools and equipment, plus the incentive to jump right into what management envisioned as a strong postwar economy. Nearly 200 Canucks were sold to private and commercial operators, the sticker price initially being $3495. But production tapered as such other new civil light planes as the Aeronca 7, Cessna 120, Ercoupe, Globe Swift and Piper PA-12 began flooding Canada. Fleet, which had been so busy through the war building Finches and Cornells, lowered its asking from to $1600 when sales stalled, then abandoned the Canuck altogether. Carl Millard of Toronto bought up dozens at $1500 each, then re-sold them slowly at a profit of about $1000 each. Eventually, Leavens Brothers Aircraft of Toronto bought the Canuck rights and hand-built a final few. Nonetheless, the Canuck proved to be a gem of a 2-seater. Companies such as Central Airways at Toronto Island Airport trained thousands of young Canadians to fly on the Canuck. Al Martin photographed CF-DEE (sn 16) at Toronto island about 1950. First flown at Fleet’s Fort Erie, Ontario field on October 6, 1946, in August 1947 it was sold to Barrie Aircraft and Supplies of Barrie, Ontario. Thereafter, it had a long list of owners and many adventures. One owner (1951-53) was John Roberts, who kept “DEE” at Toronto island. He sold it to Carl Millard, who quickly flipped it to Roy Brett in British Columbia. Henceforth, “DEE” had a long list of BC owners. Today, it resides in Langley, BC.

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Fleet Canuck sn10 at Toronto Island Airport in Lome Airways markings. Lome was a versatile operator in the early 1950s with such diverse interests as teaching basic flying with the little Canuck to hauling heavy loads in its gigantic Avro Tudor freighter. Having first flown on May 14, 1946, “DDY” went initially to Aero Activities of Toronto. Then, it joined Lome early in 1949. It flew there into October 1952, when sold to Trans Aircraft of Hamilton. “DDY” last appeared in the CCAR in 1958. Behind is the original Toronto Island Airport terminal, which survives and awaits restoration.

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CF-EBE was famous enough for decades around Central Airways in Toronto, but is even more so today as “the” Fleet Canuck that you’ll see when visiting Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. The great Ken Molson writes about “EBE” in his classic book, Canada’s National Aviation Museum: Its History and Collections: “After almost 24 years service with Central Airways, the aircraft was sold in 1971 to Dr. J.D. Robinson of Flesherton, Ontario, who after two years passed it on to Ernest Weller of Port Loring, Ontario, from whom the museum bought it in 1974.”

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Once again, Al is docked a couple of marks for clipping off the tip of the tail of Central Airways Fleet Canuck CF-EOH sn 206. It’s in a typical Toronto Island Airport scene in the early1950s. The paint job was yellow and dark blue. “EOH” was one of 26 Canucks assembled by Leavens Brothers from leftover Fleet parts. Its first flight was February 22, 1952. Central Airways, operated by the famous Bob and Tom Wong, purchased it in April that year. As with many such little planes that had long lives, “EOH” had the occasional “fender bender”. In one case, on September 25, 1964 pilot Ricky Hicks had his engine quit. Following the forced-landing instructions that the Wongs had taught him, Ricky set down OK on the exhibition grounds close to the island airport. In 1967 “EOH” started a new career with the Edmonton Flying Club. Over the years there it suffered 7 – 8 minor accidents. In one case, on April 5, 1980, while the pilot was practicing touch and go landings on a soft grass strip, “EOH” struck a bank of crusted snow, damaging the left main gear, left wing tip and prop. On September 8, 1982, while the pilot was near Smokey Lake south of Edmonton, he landed “EOH” in a farm field with low fuel. In the process, he bent the propeller and broke off the left landing gear. In 1986 “EOH” was sold to Peter D. Moodie in Winnipeg, who continued into 2020 to enjoy this magnificent little Canadian plane.

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Fleet Canuck CF-HOU sn 220 (the second last built by Fleet) at Toronto Island Airport. Wouldn’t this have made fine subject matter with Kodachrome! But … black-and-white film remained the standard in early post-WWII times, since colour film cost “an arm and a leg” back then. Canadian Aircraft Renters was another island airport resident in the 1950s. Its Canuck earned its keep in pilot training, doing tourist flights, etc. Meanwhile, the company had such bigger types as the Beech 18, Goose, Lodestar and DC-3 CF-CAR. By 1960, however, “CAR” and many similar air services across Canada had disappeared. “HOU” later was with Sudbury Aviation, then a final private owner. It faded from the CCAR in the mid-70s, after the owner discovered too much corrosion for “HOU” to be worth repairing..

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Fleet Canuck CF-DQE sn 057 first entered the CCAR on June 22, 1948. Lome Airways kept it on floats at Toronto island over the summer. Those ridges on the floats identify the floats as Fleet’s own design. Many owners have enjoyed “DQE” over the decades, including (in the 2000s) aviation history researcher, Robert Stitt, on Vancouver Island.

Other Great Types of the Era: The Aeronca Line

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The rugged and ever-reliable Aeronca Model 7 Champion series first appeared in May 1944, then was publicly revealed in San Diego in November 1945. With a sticker price of $2095, it was a rival for the revered Piper J-3 and such similar post-WWII types. Hundreds of “Champs” soon were in Canada whether as private or commercial planes. In April 1946 “Champ” CF- DFL came to Canada new via the busy dealer, Leavens Brothers Air Services, at Barker Field in Toronto. Leavens sold it to C.M. Birchard of Oshawa, who sold it in 1948 to the Ontario County Flying Club at Oshawa airport. There it toiled as a training plane into 1962, when it was sold to Carldon Aviation. Many owners ensued. For several years since 1992, “DFL” was owned by Jerry Billing (1921-2015) of Essex, Ontario, near Windsor. Jerry was a renowned RCAF Spitfire pilot during WWII and had pioneered postwar with such jet fighters as the Vampire, Sabre and Swift. For many years Jerry also flew a lovely Spitfire owned by actor Cliff Robertson, but he still used to crow about his Aeronca.

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From the little info I have, Aeronca 7CCM CF- FMX came to Canada in April 1949. In 1955 it was with the Ontario County Flying Club. The following year, Al Martin photographed it in Calgary with Chinook Flying Service Ltd. In 1960 it was with Prairie Flying Services in Regina, then had some private owners. It fades from the CCAR in 1967. Some 8000 Aeronca-built “Champs” were manufactured from 1945 to 1951. Others were built when Champion Aircraft, Bellanca, and American Champion had production rights.

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Pacific Wings of Vancouver brought Aeronca 7AC CF-HUU to Canada in 1955. It likely was used for float training for junior pilots, and local light duties. It operated with several private owners into the 1970s. We used to loath having to take such a photo, which we classified as “cluttered”. Besides being driven by “content” when photographing, we also were “form” guys, so this shot of Al’s is a good example in any such discussion. But … better to take the shot and preserve the scene, than worry about a debate. Besides, airplane fans normally also love cars — check out that beautiful new 1955 Plymouth Belvedere (also the interesting “Warning” sign).

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Pretty little Aeronca 11CC “Chief” CF- ICD at Toronto Island Airport in the early 1950s. This model appeared in 1945 and was widely sold until production ended in 1950. The Chief shares about 75% parts commonality with the Model 7 Champion, but is a side-by-side 2-seater compared to the “Champ” with its tandem seating. “ICD” first came to Canada in 1955 for Clayton Hutchings of Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Thereafter, it spent from 1957 into the late 1970s with the Barnard brothers (Cheminis Lumber Co.) of Kearns in Northern Ontario. I don’t know about its fate.

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While most of Aeronca’s post-WWII production at Middletown, Ohio centred on the 2-seat Model 7s and 11s, the Model 15 4-seat “Sedan” also contributed to the company’s stellar success in the late 1940s. First flown in 1947, some 400 were produced to 1950, when production ended. The Sedan proved popular as a “family” plane, but also commercially as anything from an air taxi to a rugged bushplane. Several still operate in Canada, but the Sedan now is more of a collectors “antique”. Based in Wisconsin, the first Sedan — N1000H — is still was airworthy in 2020. A nice Sedan today sells for about US$30,000 (1948 price was about $4500). CF-DDA came to Canada in January 1949 for Leavens Brothers Air Services, then was sold to John H. Neilson of Toronto. He flew it into 1955, after which it had various owners. Typically, such a plane did not depreciate much. Having come to Leavens for about $5000, when it was sold in 1956 by Len Ariss of Guelph to the Brant Norfolk Aero Club of Brantford, it went for $3950. In December 1958 Canadian Airmotive of Hamilton sold DDA to Testex Ltd. of Toronto for $5950 (perhaps the price went up due to floats being included, or maybe some pricey new radio or avionics equipment?) About two years later “DDA” was sold to Victor Parentau in northern Quebec. He crashed it into a swamp on July 22, 1961, after which it was repaired and sold to Roger Coulombe of Senneterre. Later that year Roger reported to the DOT that “DDA” was a dead loss after sinking in a lake. Over the years “DDA” had logged about 1500 flying hours.

De Havilland Chipmunk

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While Fleet had a spurt of activity building the Canuck in 1945-46, De Havilland of Canada introduced its own light plane – a trainer for the RCAF to replace the obsolete Tiger Moth. UK test pilot, Pat Fillingham, flew the first example at Downsview on May 22, 1946. Production ensued, the RCAF and Canadian Flying Clubs Association receiving 113, while others were exported as far away as India. Soon UK and Portuguese manufacturing ensued, the licence-built total exceeding 1000. Al photographed the first RCAF Chipmunk at Downsview c.1950. 18001 was taken on RCAF strength on April 1, 1948, then was struck off on May 6, 1959. Its activities are unknown to me thereafter until it was acquired by the great aerobatic pilot, Art Scholl, in 1968. Art modified it greatly for air show purposes, then flew it for many years as N13Y. We used to see it at the Toronto airshow in the 1970s-80s. Today, N13Y may be seen at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution near Washington, DC. Essential books regarding the Chipmunk are Fred Hotson’s De Havilland in Canada, Hugh Shields’ The De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk: The Poor Man’s Spitfire, and the Air-Britain title, Chipmunk – The First Fifty Years. I recommend all three very highly – your library will be the richer if you can find these books (and don’t give me that pitiful old complaint that books are “expensive” – how pitiful that is, eh).

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Chipmunks 18012, CF-CYB and 18001 in another Downsview scene. 18012 served the RCAF into the 1960s and last was heard of as C-FCYK in Manitoba in the early 2000s. “CYB” crashed near Caledon, Ontario on September 18, 1957.

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Chipmunk CF-CXQ at Toronto island. It was one of a batch loaned by the DND to Canadian flying clubs to be used by wartime pilots to “keep current”. “CXQ”, by then privately owned, had a bad ending at Vancouver airport on February 7, 1968. That day a Standard Airways 707 on lease to CPA was landing from Honolulu, when pilot disorientation due to a sudden fog resulted in a dreadful crash. The 707 went out of control, careered across the airfield, ploughing up cars, parked planes and buildings – “CXQ” included. A “Globe and Mail” report quoting the head of Standard Airways said, “Neither [the captain] nor the control tower had been aware of this fog. Then, suddenly, all hell broke out.” The report adds, “The plane slewed right, away from the terminal, crashed through a wire fence, burying its nose in the Aviation Electric Pacific Ltd. building.” One of the 707 crew and a man on the ground were killed.

Some Other Beloved Types

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On the same day that Al photographed Cessna 170B CF-HXK, he clicked off a frame on this lovely little Luscombe 8F bobbing at Toronto Island Airport. CF-IBH was a Lucombe 8F owned in the mid-1950s by Michael C. Sawchuk of Toronto. The following year, however, it went to D.A. Yanta in Chapleau in northern Ontario. Charles Gareau of Sudbury had it in 1961, then it suddenly disappeared from the CCAR. Luscombe is one of the great stories in the light plane universe. See if you can find a copy of John Swick’s ace of a book, The Luscombe Story. Otherwise, the story is very covered in Joseph P. Juptner’s indispensible US Civil Aircraft, Vol.7, an essential series for any serious aviation buff. The renowned Luscombe 8 series dates to 1938. About 1200 were built in New Jersey and Texas before the US entered WWII. The Luscombe really took off in 1946, a big attraction being its metal fuselage and metal-framed wing (at a time when most light planes still were fabric covered). Serial numbers since war’s end run from 1934 to 6774 (“IBH” was 6746, so was one of the last from Texas in 1950, when the original Luscombe closed its doors). The post-WWII rush to build light planes proved to be a huge flash in the pan. By 1948 most types were out of production and their manufacturers either “bust” or focusing on other products. In these years Luscombe had Canadian distributors from BC to the Maritimes, one being the great Don McVicar on Montreal. The last few Luscombe 8s (86 aircraft) were completed in Colorado in 1960. For a bit more about this general era in aviation, search at this very blog for “The Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes”. You’ll really enjoy this item.

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A very spiffy looking Luscombe, which Al Martin photographed at Toronto Island Airport in the early 1950s. Could there be a cuter little 2-seater! So far I have no data about “GVX”, which is absent from the 1955 CCAR onward. The stylized “S” on the wheel pants and fin stood for “Silvaire”, Luscombe’s name for the Model 8. Of the many Luscombes in Canada over the decades, according to the Transport Canada CCAR website only about 10 have current C of As.

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Luscombe CF-GJB served Gateway Aviation of Edmonton in the mid-1950s, then was with Central Aviation in Wetaskiwin, Alberta for many years into the early 1970s. “GJB” looks at home on skis on what likely was a very chilly Edmonton day. Its registration later was assigned to a PA-28 Cherokee.

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Also keen on the personal plane market was Ryan, which built the 4-seat Navion. Designed by North American, its looks are reminiscent of the wartime P-51 Mustang. But North American decided not to challenge the postwar civil market after all, selling the Navion to Ryan in 1948. About 1200 were produced before Tusco took over c.1955 and kept the Navion alive a bit longer, modernizing it mainly in the form of the handsome Rangemaster, which endured into 1976. In the 2000s there still was interest in this fabulous design from Sierra Hotel Aero Inc. in Minnesota. SHA’s website notes: “As holder of the type certificate for the Navion, Sierra Hotel Aero, is dedicated to improving the safety, support, performance and preservation of all Navions worldwide.” See info@navion.com. As with most of the great light planes of the 1940s, there also is a Navion owners club. See navionx.org and look for the many other Navion-related sites. Shown is CF-GIY of Chinook Flying Services, Calgary. It was registered in Canada November 5, 1948. Like most planes of the era, it migrated to various owners. In 1961, for example, it was in BC with the Victoria Flying Club. Last noted by Transport Canada, in the early 2000s it was registered in Alberta to Golden Valley Grain Ltd.

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Al Martin’s nice set-up shot at Toronto island of St. Catharine’s Flying Club Navion CF-HJI, which was registered first in Canada on December 15, 1953. Later owners from Quebec to Saskatchewan enjoyed this fine airplane. In recent years it was listed in Westlock about 100 miles north of Edmonton.

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Always nice to see in our airport travels was any Beechcraft Bonanza. For a good overall coverage of this phenomenal airplane, search at this site for item The Beech Bonanza at 70 and the Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes . I can’t tell where Al photographed CF-HIB, but it’s a typical lovely looking Beech C35 “V-Tail” – sn D2948. Built in 1951, it was registered in Canada on November 23, 1953. Initially, it was flown by the great John Bogie (Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, etc.) of Ottawa-based Laurentian Air Services. Many other Canadian owners ensued. After all its decades in Canada, D-2948 today its back in the USA as N673D.

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Of all the new light planes of the mid-to-late 1940s one of the most representative is the Republic RC-3 Seabee. Invariably referred to as “an ugly duckling”, it’s endured and is greatly sought-after by sport aviators. Being all-metal, rugged and amphibious, the Seabee originally found eager fans among sportsmen, cottagers, and bush and coast air taxi services. Designed in 1940 by Percival Spencer, who first had flown in his own hang glider in 1911, the Seabee flew in December 1945. It immediately entered production at Republic, which recently had been churning out P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. Production suddenly ceased in October 1947 at 1060 aircraft, many of which were sold in Canada. Republic then concentrated on mass-producing F-84 Thunder Jets for the USAF. Subsequently, many Seabee survivors have been restored, especially with modern engines, e.g., Eric B. Robinson of Lindsay, Ontario has turned out several “new” Seabees powered by the 425-hp Corvette V-8 engine (the Seabee originally came with a 165-hp Franklin), plus other upgrades. Shown at Toronto Island c.1950 is Orillia Air Service Seabee CF-GAF. It came to Canada officially on March 30, 1948 for Leavens Brothers Aviation, a Seabee distributor. This is one of my favourite Al Martin Toronto scenes. In 1955 it was with Allan A. McMahon of Creighton Mines (near Sudbury), Ontario. McMahon ran a small local air service. Everett Makela on Sudbury told me lately that on October 14, 1954 (the day before Hurricane Hazel) he had a trip in “GAF” to a camp on Tooms Lake near Kormak northwest of Sudbury. The winds already were well up and “on the nose” as “GAF” hammered along. It took “Ev” almost three hours to make this trip and he used most of his 60 gallons of fuel. He borrowed what he could in fuel from a nearby lumber camp — 15 gallons. He then raced back to Sudbury in 45 minutes, thanks now to a helpful tailwind from pending Hurricane Hazel. That winter “GAF” was wrecked while taking off on skis from Rome Lake north of Sudbury. The cause might have been overloading, since there were four people aboard with their kit and the ski installation weighed 250 pounds. Everyone survived, by “GAF” was a dead loss. Ev and some pals later went into the bush to salvage the engine and propeller.For all the latest Seabee news visit this wonderful website http://www.seabee.info .

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Seabee CF-GZX taxiing in front of the old Malton airport terminal building c.1955. Originally (1947) NC6364K with Livingston Airways of Waterloo, Iowa, it first was registered in Canada on May 28, 1951. In 1955 it was owned by C.V. Thornton of Toronto. It’s nifty how he had added some nose art. James Alton of Willowdale (near Toronto) took over “GZX” in 1957 and still had it in 2004! In modern times, “GZX” was converted to a “Beeboyz” Seabee with a GM LS2 Corvette sport scar engine, so was re-categorized as an “amateur built” plane. Last heard of in 2011 “GZX” was based at Baldwin, Ontario.

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One final Al Martin Seabee … why not, right! Al shot CF-ECX at Malton at the Toronto Flying Club annual fly-in on May 15, 1951. The Seabee appealed to many small operators such as Port Colborne Air Services. “ECX” had begun with Curtiss-Reid Flying Service at Cartierville, Quebec. By 1955 it was owned by L.E. Force of Norwich, Ontario, then knocked around for years in Quebec. By 1979 it had moved to Pickle Lake in Northwest Ontario, after which I have no other info. These days C- FECX is a Cessna 185.

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As high school kids in the late 1950s, I and my pals were just learning the ins and outs of aviation photography, how to keep notes and how to do research. Happily, we had some people to look up to about all this. Around Toronto at the time were Al Martin, Jack McNulty and Harvey Stone. These fellows all had wide- ranging interest, while ours at first tended to centre on military and the airlines. Sabres and Super Constellations were what we wanted to shoot. Learning to branch out was a slow process for us. I remember seeing Cole Palen’s Avro 504 A1996 at the Oshawa fly-in on June 15, 1963, but wasn’t really impressed for some dumb reason. But Al Martin, Ken Molson and the more mature fellows were all around it, looking closely at every detail. These fellows always would try to get us interested, but we could be slow learners. Happily, I did shoot off a few frames of A1996 and Cole’s other plane that day, his Sopwith Snipe. A1996 today belongs to Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. This is a good example of a well-composed view of the “504”. It looked especially nice anywhere from a slight ¾ front angle right around to a fairly extreme rear angle. If shot from too sharp a front angle, of course much of the fuselage and tail would be obscured. The “old timers” like Al would always point out such details to us until we finally caught on. Note also how Al came in quite tightly on the sides in order to maximize the detail. Not having people standing around also made for what the experienced photographers considered to be a solid “set-up shot”. We all eventually became a bit fanatical about this and even would shoo people away (politely, of course) in order to get the ideal photo.

That’s it for this blog item. I hope you have enjoyed Al’s great photos of Canadian light planes along with the commentary. I’ll see about dipping again into Al’s wonderful negatives and prints. Meanwhile, if you have Air Transport in Canada, you can see several pages of additional Al Martin photos in several different categories.

PS … As usual, my blog readers started enjoying this item almost from the minute it appeared. Rob Henry from Alberta is typical, writing on March 25, “Fantastic photos Larry. Amazing how pictures from the 40s, 50s and 60s seem to make even the simplest Cessna or Piper look exotic. The work of yourself and some of the others from then (and now) have captured so much of the way things were, not just the planes, but the backgrounds, vehicles, buildings and so much more. Fascinating to look back and I hope the next generations find these just as important. Rob”

Books, Books, Books!

“For your edification”, attached here are the current CANAV Books lists. Feel free to treat yourself to some of these wonderful prime sources of aviation history (in a class by their own compared to the internet’s endless “quickie” info sources. Books give the true fan the solid “gen” by comparison, and the shear joy of handling an actual book. If ordering from the 2 nd list, please get in touch to ensure that your choices are still available. If outside Canada, please ask me for a postal rate. Thanks and I hope that 2020 so far is going well for you. Cheers … Larry Milberry larry@canavbooks.com

Book list 1

1 CANAV Booklist Fall_Winter 2019-2020 Goes at the END

2 CANAV Booklist Special Items March 2020

PS …Our “2 CANAV Books list” is the best and most surprising such list in Canada. Failing all else, you’ll find that it has its own built-in entertainment value! Better to spend your spare time here than on some mindless video game (so says ye olde scribe — your inveterate publisher).

Special publications offer … “The Aeroplane Spotter” … A collection of about 200 nice copies (4.5 kg) of this renowned British weekly news sheet from “The Aeroplane” magazine. Issues are dated from 1941-48 (Vols.1 to 9), but this collection does not include complete annual sets. These newsprint issues are in good condition considering their age. Seventy+ years ago, this beloved 7.5×11.5 publication kept everyone in the business, and, all the general fans current about developments in industry, in the air war, about the airlines, airport movements, etc. The wartime issues are big on aircraft recce and military intel. Postwar, military content holds its place, while there’s more about civil aviation’s resurgence. This lot is for some serious collector starting an “Aeroplane Spotter” collection. Lot only CDN$125 + shipping. A nice price if you’ve been shopping for this publication on the web. Serious enquiries to larry@canavbooks.com

The Fans Respond to the Al Martin Photo Presentation:

Taylorcraft in Chilkat River

CANAV’s blog publications invariably bring forth some thoughtful and informative comments from my readers. You sure have been enjoying the Al Martin item so far, but what’s not to like about such a special aviation hertitage collection, right? Here are some wonderful memories from Dennis Bedford in Alaska, that Al’s photos have stirred up:

Finally found time to sit down and read the latest on the Al Martin photo collection. All these photos and captions have brought back a lot of memories. My Dad worked for Alaska Coastal Airlines mostly on Gooses and PBYs, but he spent a lot of his “off” hours working on the types that Al photographed. Our family aerial chariot was a 1946 T-craft on floats. The airplane is still in the family, though not flying and in need of restoration. My father bought it in the late ‘40’s, used it on the first “date” with my mother, then on their honeymoon to fly the length of the Yukon river. In the attached photo from long ago, you can see dimension lumber strapped to the floats. Plywood was carried in full sheets strapped to the spreader bars. I wanted to move plywood into the lake recently and asked several seasoned float pilots what they thought about tying it onto the 185 — they all thought yjis was a really bad idea. Dad also flew in a small, wood burning “cookstove” and whatever else was needed. He said his worst load was a mattress wrapped in visqueen (plastic wrapping), which started to come loose and billow in the slipstream. It took all 65 horses for the T-craft just to stay in the air. 

Another of my memorable learning experiences was driving a Crosley car around the yard long before I was legal on the public roads. The first Mooney Mites used a Crosley car engine with a reduction unit.

Alaska Coastal Airlines bought a lot of something like 50 BT-13’s just for the R-985’s for use in Gooses. As I recall, these airplanes were located somewhere in the central U.S. Oklahoma. Coastal paid a contractor to remove and ship the engines and propellers, then to scrap the rest of the airplanes. I also recall the hulk of a BT-13 being back in the woods near Yakutat. It’s my understanding that it had been used to haul fish.

For something like $400 – $600 each, Coastal also bought a lot of R-2600’s from somewhere in central Canada, maybe Calgary.  I think there were 110 of them. They were military surplus, freshly overhauled and packed in steel “cans” charged with nitrogen. There was a road that ran off to the east of the Coastal hangar at the Juneau airport and they were stacked 2 high “as far as the eye could see” along the road. Coastal used them all up before they ceased PBY operations in the early 70’s. I think TBO (time between overhaul) was 1100 hours for the R-2600, but it was rare for one of them to make it that far. Lots of memories. Picture is the family T-craft hauling lumber for the family cabin near Haines. Thanks … Dennis

 

 

Canada’s C-130s to the Rescue – “Operation Preserve” August to December 1991

 

1 Djibouti Title Photo

Good day CANAV supporters … here’s the next action-packed session on the CANAV Books Blog, but before getting into our lead story covering “Operation Preserve”, here is some important information and some fascinating bits of history.

D-Day Celebrations at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton

D-Day was so well covered this year, whether locally in one Canadian community after another, or in Normandy itself. As is a tradition, the fantastic Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton went all-out, especially with its fly-over program. Gus Corujo was there with his cameras – Gus rarely misses any aviation event in his wide-ranging travels around Ontario. Here is his CWHM D-Day 2019 presentation for you to enjoy: http://gusair.com/htdocs/Airshows/2019/19D-DAY/19d-day.html

Book Reviews

Unless someone pulls a mighty impressive new book out of the fire, Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 will remain Canada’s aviation book of the year through 2019, likely into 2020. “FPO” is a treat for any serious aviation reader. It will you give years of enjoyment and your order will help CANAV to get ahead with Vol.9.

Here’s what the great Denis J. Calvert writes about “FPO” in the May 2019 edition of “The Aeroplane”: “This is volume eight in CANAV’s series detailing Canada’s aviation heritage. Those who have read – or own – earlier volumes will be familiar with author Milberry’s style of writing, which strikes the happy, but all too rare, balance between being easy to read and rigorously detailed … Illustrations are excellent.” Here are two other reviews to check out: “Britain at War” (November 2018) and “Flypast” (March 2019). Don’t sit on your hands, get your order in today! Meanwhile, I also attach CANAV’s current booklist – it’s well worth a look. It’s packed with a best in aviation reading, the sort the will keep your attention span being reduced to 3 minutes (by playing around way too much on the internet, right).
FYI … CANAV’s Curent Booklist is right here: 1 CANAV Booklist Spring_Summer 2019

1 Blog Gibraltar North Star 506

1 Blog Gibraltar Argus 737

The Rock of Gibraltar + Some Alberta Treasures

Next … recently I came across these old photos of RCAF aircraft at Gibraltar in the 1950s-60s. If there isn’t a book full of such “Rock of Gibraltar” airplane photos, someone needs to do one. Shown first is one of RCAF Air Transport Command’s famous Canadair North Stars from the 1940s-60s. Then, a “Wilf White Collection” Kodachrome showing RCAF Argus 20737, likely coming or going re. some Cold War anti-submarine exercise. I wouldn’t be surprised in the 2010s to see photos of RCAF Auroras, CF-18, Hercs, etc. with “The Rock” as backdrop.

1 Blog Gibraltar B-17 in colour

The RCAF had first started using “Gib” in WWII, when it operated a mail service from Ottawa (168 Sqn) all the way through to Cairo, mainly using B-17s converted to transports. This pioneer effort turned into an RCAF gold star success.

As I was writing the history of Canada’s vast air transportation heritage in the 1980s-90s, I decided to include a gallery of original aviation art. Always fascinated by the amazing overseas work of 168 Sqn, I commissioned my great friend, artist and photographer, the late Robert “Bob” Finlayson, to paint a 168 Sqn B-17 over “Gib”, since 168 on the Mediterranean route stopped there countless times going and coming. To this day I count Bob’s painting as one of the treasures in Canadian aviation art. He always seemed to pull a piece together so nicely. He did his research thoroughly, then got his plane, sky and background nicely together on his board. After decades of work, I finally got the book into print – Air Transport in Canada. You can find the details in the CANAV 2019 booklist above. This is another Canadian aviation heritage book that you definitely will treasure.

Alberta Snapshots Surface

Fascinating historic aviation photos keep surfacing as the years pass. This spring Ken Townend of Calgary (one of CANAV’S earliest readers) sent me these b/w prints. First are two photos that he took of RCAF Hurricane 5414 (then with 135 Squadron at Tofino) in Edmonton in April 1945. This was a Victory Loan event on the east side of 101 Street south of Jasper Avenue. People going by could get a close look at a Hurricane, at this time frontline RCAF equipment. You can see that the passersby were keen to have a look. Notice the “Let’s Make a Clean Sweep” propaganda billboard on the street corner. In a few weeks the jig would be up for the Germans, and the Japanese soon would follow. Clean sweep accomplished!

Here’s one of Ken’s shots from a visit to Edmonton airport in the late 1940s. Shown are RCAF Mosquito KA115 and one of the RCAF’s first two Gloster Meteor jet fighters. Next, a closer view of KA115, which was struck off strength in June 1948. Notice the airport elevation on the hangar across the field – 2185 feet above sea level.

American military planes had been passing through Edmonton flying to and from Alaska since the 1920s. One day Ken Townend got to watch a squadron of USAF F-80 Shooting Star jet fighters during their refuelling stopover. Ken notes, “The US F-80s shot up the airfield, then landed from the north. At least two of them were unable to slow down sufficiently to turn off at the end of the runway, so got stuck in the gopher holes and grass. I clambered over the fence and took a couple of photos.” This view is really interesting for the Edmonton background. Since the airport closed a few years ago, nothing much remains of the old hangars, etc. The final shot is another F-80 taken at Edmonton about the same time by Leslie Corness.

Ontario Regiment Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Museum Annual Open House “Aquino Tank Weekend”

On Saturday, June 9 we attended this year’s Ontario Regiment RCAC Museum annual weekend open house at the museum’s Oshawa airport location, about an hour’s drive east of Toronto.. This was one of the most fantastic armoured history events anywhere on the globe for this season. I’m not particularly a tank/armour history follower, but certainly will be showing a lot more interest from now on. For this blog item, I’ll simply show you photos of a few vehicle types that were operating among what must have been 50+. Also … some misc. displays.

    At one point alone there were five operating ex-Canadian Army Leopard I main battle tanks on the field. There were numerous Allied and German tanks, tank destroyers, armoured personnel carriers, jeeps, artillery pieces, etc. all manned by expertly-trained operators, There also was a mass of Gulf War equipment, and Allied and German re-enactors put on a mock battle based on one of the Canadian engagements during the Liri Valley battlefield period in WWII Italy – the Battle of Aquino, May 14, 1944 (see Wiki, etc.). Here are a few photos to whet your appetite for a visit to this magnificent museum. “Impressive” does not begin to describe this museum adequately.

Thousands of these Commonwealth “Bren Gun Carriers” served the Canadian Army in WWII. Some 29,000 alone were built by the Ford Motor Co. in Canada. You can find all the details for such vehicles by checking on Wiki, etc. Besides all the “heavy metal” roaring around on the display grounds, there was at least and acre of fascinating static displays. Above is the artillery piece being towed by the Bren Gun Carrier.

Typical German hardware of WWII. The Allies had to confront such formidable armour wherever they fought from North Africa early in the war on to north Germany into May 1945.

Canada operated the British-built Centurion main battle tank (static view above) through the Cold War. It finally was replaced by the German-designed Leopard I. Next … two of the five operating Leopard Is on the field this day.

A wide view of some of the vehicles that we saw in operation during the morning action.

Several of Canada’s D-Day veterans were present. After being introduced, they made the circuit of the grounds in several types of wartime vehicles.

A German medium tank and tank destroyer on the move. Then, “German” re-enactors dismounting and setting up to drive the Canadians from Aquino airfield. This fellow is ready to create mayhem for the Canadians with his MG42.

A Bren Gun Carrier arrives with Canadian troops.

Stewart and Chaffe tanks roll out, then one of the museum’s mighty Shermans.

Canadians on the defensive. All the weapons here were operable and 100s of rounds were banged off in these realistic demonstrations. Lee Enfield rifles, Thompson submachine guns, Bren guns and side arms all were fired. Then, a German half-track on the attack.

This Canadian Army Chevy truck tows a 25-pound (87.6 mm) artillery piece and ammunition limber. The 25-pounder fired several blank rounds.

This current Leopard II recovery tank came in from CFB Borden. Then, yet another piece of heavy WWII German equipment.

Radio-controlled scale model tanks; then the large battlefield diorama where they were rolling around all day.

Some of the amazing Gulf War armour on show including (last shot) a Russian T-62 main battle tank, the much-feared type still used by Russian client states.

Nearby the tank museum (which is at Oshawa airport) is an important RCAF monument – a sparkling Canadair F-86 Sabre V. (Photos by Shannon and Marin Milberry; Blog Master, Owen Milberry)

 

Now … Djibouti 1991

CanForces C-130 Hercules 130326 taxis through the pigeons at Djibouti (formerly French Somalia) in November 1991. It was headed out on one of hundreds of “Operation Preserve” missions on behalf of the UN World Food Program. Then, Herc 130333 loading at Djibouti for yet another trip into the Ethiopian “outback”. All this food aid arrived in Djibouti by sea, then was trucked to the airport. This brought employment and cash into the local economy and organizers made the most of it. Loading a Herc with as much as 22 tons of grain or corn was never a speedy process, since it was being paid for at an hourly rate. At the offloading end, the locals weren’t in it so much for the money, so could empty a Herc in 10-12 minutes (the record during Operation Preserve was eight minutes).

Region in Turmoil

The Horn of Africa has been in turmoil for centuries. In more modern times, there was a horrendous 3-decades war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 2018 the warring parties finally agreed to a peace. In another infamous case (1977-78) there was all-out war between Ethiopia and Somalia, backed, respectively, by the USSR and USA. The opposite recently had been true, so the Soviet-backed Ethiopian air force went to war with US-made Northrop F-5s, while the US-backed Somali air force flew Soviet MiG-21s. The “MiGs” soon ruled the skies. The main fighting took place in the northern Ogaden region lying between the two countries: Having a dream of a “Greater Somalia”, in 1977 President Siad Barre launched his attack on the Ogaden, looking to annex this ethnically Somali territory, where the main centres were Diradawa and Jijiga. Not far across the border in Somalia was Hargeisa. Barre’s forces ploughed ahead. Just as Ethiopia was near defeat in 1978, however, it was massively reinforced by Cuban, South Yemen and the USSR. Ethiopia now turned the tide, Somalia withdrew and Ethiopia retained the Ogaden (see Wiki, etc., for all the details, e.g. such items as “Somaliland: Hargeisa – The Invisible City”). Humiliated, President Siad Barre punished his own military in the north, having many top officers executed. Like a mini-Stalin or Mao, he also led a campaign to exterminate Somali clan resistance, starving to death and mercilessly bombing his own people. This led to unrest among northern Somalis. A revolution ensued, the north eventually declaring independence as Somaliland, having Hargeisa as its capital. Barre then used his artillery and tactical MiGs to destroying much of Hargeisa. In 1991 Barre was overthrown and eventually replaced by another strongman – Mohamed Farah Aidid. Aidid ushered in his own reign of terror during another ugly period of Somalia clan violence. The United Nations interceded, establishing UNOSOM – United Nations Operations in Somalia, which would count heavily on Canada. For today, however, let’s go back to 1991 when the Horn of Africa was not so much at war (although clans still were at each other’s throats) as it was starving due to crop failure caused by drought.

Operation Preserve

At the UN’s behest, beginning in August 1991 Canada began flying food aid to Ethiopian centres from its ALCE (Airlift Control Element) at Djibouti International Airport. This was known as Operation Preserve. The mandate was to fly four relief missions per day, each carrying as much as 22 tons of food. Three CC-130 “Hercs” from Air Transport Group at CFB Trenton were provided – two for daily operations plus one back-up. The Hercs were crewed from ATG’s various squadrons and supported by about 60 personnel – airframe and engine techs, logistics people, administrative and medical staff, etc. The ALCE “opened for business” on August 7, the first mission being flown five days later. Destinations were in the Ethiopian provinces of Bale, Hararge and Tigre. “Preserve” was planned for three months, but Canada later responded to a UN World Food Program plea for an extension. In November, I was invited to visit the operation to report first hand. I had a week to get everything organized – gathering the paperwork that DND needed, studying about the Horn of Africa (geography, weather, cultures, etc.), checking out camera equipment, stocking up on film, etc. Finally, on November 24, I rendezvoused with the CF public affairs co-ordinator in Ottawa for the first leg of the trip – a 6.5-hour flight to Canada’s airbase at Lahr, Germany on a DND charter. Our transportation was Nationair’s C-GMXY, an old DC-8-62 that had begun with Swissair in 23 years earlier. The trip started in leisurely fashion, since we had some time to enjoy Lahr and the Black Forest area. Then, on November 28 we set off in 436 Sqn C-130 130323 (UN Flight 6165) with Capt Dave Ross and crew. Our destination was Iraklion, Crete, where a few hours later we landed for fuel in the dead on night.

CanForces Herc “323” during our night refuelling stop at Iraklion, Crete. Delivered to the RCAF in 1967, “323” would serve Canada for some 44 years before retiring in 2012. Within an hour we were airborne for Djibouti, where we landed at 0940 (local) after a trip from Lahr of some 3000 nm. Shuttled downtown to the Sheraton Hotel, we started with a detailed briefing from ALCE commander, LCol Marc Dumais, who also organized a bus tour of the city to get we media people oriented.

A aeronautical map section of the general area being supplied by Operation Preserve during its final weeks. The main centres that I visited are to the south – DireDawa, Jijiga and Hargeisa.

Canada’s makeshift ALCE comprised a few sea containers and tents in a grubby corner at Djibouti International Airport. Canada’s military is famous for getting the job done in such barebones set-ups. This goes back at least to the Korean War when the RCAF’s modest fleet of North Stars made hundreds of trans-Pacific supply, passenger and medevac trips with little fanfare. On any day it may have had 10-12 North Stars available. So busy were they that the USAF assumed that the RCAF must have had hundreds. So it usually goes with a Canadian ALCE – no fuss no muss, just get the job done to specs.

The inevitable crazy signpost seems quickly to appear at any distant ALCE.

The ALCE seen from a giraffe that I briefly commandeered. A spare engine (lower right) and prop always are essential for such an operation.

A few steps from the ALCE, CanForces Herc crews chitchat between missions. The Operation Preserve Hercs this week were “326”, which had an airframe time of 30,433.1 hours as of December 1; “333”– 19,325.6 and “337” — 9445.7. There’s plenty of fun on such an operation. Some cocky 429 Sqn graffiti artist sent this message to the other squadrons at Djibouti.

ALCE commander LCol Dumais (right) with some of his staff at Djibouti.

My first trip from Djibouti began at 0400 on November 30 with a bus ride to the airport with the Dave Ross crew. Things were a bit dicey right away, since some rough-looking airport security fellows with AKs pulled me into a guardhouse, while the crew went ahead. Problem? Who was this Canadian not in uniform? After a few minutes, one of my crew returned to straighten things out. Soon I was around the table at the ALCE taking in the briefing. It was still dark as we climbed out of Djibouti en route to Jijiga, a distance of 144nm. This is how most days began – get out of Djibouti ASAP, so as to land with at destination just about sunrise.

Capt Dave Ross (right, aircraft commander) during mission planning about 0500 just before we headed for Jijiga on November 30. Left is S/L John Barras (nav, RAF on exchange with 436 Sqn). Standing is Sgt Dave Preston (ALCE operations), then, Capt Pete Stolz (pilot). Next, three fellows from the other early crew: LCol Jim Skinner (OC 413 Sqn), Capt Frank Costello (nav) and Capt Vince Schurman (pilot). An old joke about flight planning and paperwork noted that a Herc would not be dispatched ‘til the weight of the paperwork equalled the weight of the plane itself!

Under call sign “Canuck 36”, the Dave Ross crew was airborne at 140,000 lb at 0545. We touched down on Jijiga’s rough little strip (Runway 03-21, barely 2500 feet) at 0630. One of the first things that caught my eye was a crowd of local men heading towards us out of the dusk. These fellows were keen to load the trucks with the 19 tons of corn we had just flown in.

Workers get busy offloading 800 x 55-lb bags. Unloading was competitive, each man hustling as many sacks as quickly as possible. Sightseers from nearby were milling around taking in the excitement on which – in a way – their lives depended.

Herc “333” soon joined us at this dusty airstrip.

S/L Barrass and Capt Ross inspect one of the many dud artillery and tank rounds scattered over Jijiga airport, where fighting during the earlier Somali invasion had been intense.

The flight deck of Herc “333”at Jijiga with flight engineer Don Levins, pilots Rich Pittet and John Pedneault of 435 Sqn, plus UN field worker, Tracy Buckenmeyer.

Our visit to Jijiga soon shaped up beautifully for photography. Here are two more views of “326”. In the second, S/L Barrass is monitoring the start-up. We were airborne again at 0700 this time at 98,000 pounds heading back to base to collect another load. The return trip totalled 1.7 flying hours.

Capts Ross and Stolz in their front office – best seats in the house! As a rule, pilots alternated seats on each leg.

Typical desert between Djibouti and Jijiga. In a good season, this land could produce plenty of food, sometimes even a surplus. In 1991, however, draught was the problem, so there was little sign of any crops or anything green. Notice the small family farm enclosures. The homes are rounded huts mostly made of local materials.

Back at base I joined “Canuck 29” 130333 bound for Diredawa with a 429 crew under Capt Vince Schurman with LCol Skinner of 413 Sqn. Here, “333” loads at Djibouti. We departed at 0845, landed at Diredawa (a distance of 135 nm) at 0930, left again at 1005 and were wheels on back at Djibouti at 1045.

LCol Skinner piloting “333”. Our load in this trip was 20 tons of wheat (400×110-lb bags). Then, a grab shot as we scorched across Diredawa, a city (at this time of some 350,000. Notice the Dechatu River and the railroad (one of few in this part of Africa), which connects Diredawa to Djibouti.

Offloading scenes at Diredawa on November 30. It wasn’t always clear where all this food aid ended. Word was that some was regularly siphoned off to local bandidos, according to accepted local customs. Hauling food grains around was not the best thing for the “care and feeding” of a C-130. S/L John Barrass told me one day about how loose grain readily germinated under a Herc’s floorboards. This could cause damage and expensive clean-up. I no longer wondered why loadmasters sometimes were seen vacuuming the heck out of their Hercs. Another issue was insects, which thrived in sacks of grain and inevitably infested airplanes, making fumigation necessary.

Diredawa was another good place to photograph the CanForces at work, but something else caught my eye. The place was a major military base. There were fighters all over the place, but how to get access? Someone got me an escort onto the MiG-21/MiG- 23 tarmac, but no photos allowed. I could see that there was no activity– the MiGs simply were basking in the sun with nobody in sight. I heard that these MiGs had been used on some recent operations flown by Communist Bloc mercenaries. Apparently, the jets were some sort of rentals, and always ready to relocate to the next war or uprising. There’s a story here, but someone “in the know” will have to write it. In the distance I also could see MiG-15s and -17s. What a hot spot for the aviation geek, eh! Here’s a view of 8800×150 foot Runway 15-33. Notice the MiG compound in the mid distance.

It was OK to photograph this abandoned Aeroflot MI-8 at Diredawa. The MI-8 first flew in 1962. Some 7300 of this astoundingly versatile and reliable helicopter were manufactured. Many were exported to USSR client states and still do great work.

On departure in “333” I was able to grab some “quickie” shots of the MiGs. I wonder if those 15s and 17s are still there? Warbird collectors would go wild if there was a chance of an acquisition.

Our shadow rips along a dried river bed around Diredawa. Back at base I quickly teamed with ”Canuck 29” for another trip to Jijiga in “333” with the Dave Ross crew. We departed at 1245, were airborne for home from Jijiga at 1350 and back at “Silo Ops” (the ALCE ops tent) at 1545. Along the way I learned a few interesting bits of trivia, including how Op Preserve’s C-130s had been lightened from a basic empty weight of 82,000 lb to 75,000 lb (so they could carry more payload); and how there was a strict notice that no aircraft enter Djibouti air space below 15,000 feet (without prior notice). Any lower and who knows what might happen. Maybe an intercept by the French AF Mirages based at Djibouti?

Crew do some on-the-spot fix to “326” while we were at Diredawa on December 1. Ingenuity is the mother of invention, as they say, but this was not a job for strict union workers, that’s for sure. I also made a trip this day to Jijiga in “333” with the 435 Sqn crew of Capt John Pedneault. Here they are at day’s end back at “Silo Ops”: Capt Rich Pettet (pilot), Capt Rolly Tassé (loadmaster), Capt John Pedneault (aircraft commander), Maj Tom Whitburn (nav) and Sgt Don Levins (flight engineer). Although I met many young aircrew on this operation, at this time Capt Tassé was one of four ATG commissioned “loadies” and talk about experience. Having joined the RCAF in 1955, he transitioned from the C-119 to the C-130 in 1962. Prior deployments included Biafra, Congo, Gulf War I and Peru on earthquake relief. By now he had 6200 flying hours on Hercs plus about 2000 on Cosmos. He also had been chief loadmaster instructor at the CF Tactical Airlift School in Edmonton. Where could the RCAF get such experience today? Pretty well impossible.

Herc 326 departs Jijiga on December 1, 1991. Aircraft take a good beating on such operations, where landings and takeoffs always are “max” efforts, e.g. full brakes, flaps and reverse props for landing after landing. Once our Hercs finally go home to Canada, you don’t even want to hear about the cost of repairs.

December 2 was an exciting day. At 0525 we were off Djibouti in “326” as “Canuck 36” under LCol Dumais with Capt Jacques Dufort, the rest being from Dave Ross’ crew. At 0600 we landed at Jijiga, where the runway was one long mud puddle after heavy overnight rains (we might have gone through with this landing because of low light masking the ugly runway conditions). A few minutes behind us, along came “Canuck 29” under Capt Vince Schurman, who first did a low pass to inspect conditions. We on the ground all were watching with interest. Would “Canuck 29” give it a go? Someone commented, “We’d be hard-pressed to find anything around here to drag them out of the mud – if worse comes to worse.” Here (in the distance) Vince banks into his downwind leg to try a landing.

Here’s part of the scene as “Canuck 29” splashes down, slithers through a mass of giant birds and mud, then gets squared away and taxies in behind “326”. Nothing to it, right! Someone reported later that several birds had left wings, fuselages, undercarriages, etc. on the runway. These photos were hard to really wire, considering the poor light, also the limits of 25 asa and 64 asa Kodachrome back in these prehistoric days of (actual) photography. Our own departure from Jijiga was briefed as a “soft field takeoff, 95,000 lb” with a proviso: “We’ll only return to this strip if we really, really have to”. On leaving Jijiga, LCol Dumais detoured to Degeh Bur for a low-level inspection and video of the runway re. possible relief flights. We noticed the wreck of an old DC-3 beside the runway. LCol Dumais did a touch-and-go to get a feel for the runway surface, then turned north for Djibouti.

LCol Dumais flies “326” to Degeh Bur on December 2, as RAF S/L John Barrass (nav) looks on. Then, Capt Dufort at the helm on the same trip.

On Day 1 at Djibouti I spent some good time watching the technical staff change an engine on Herc “337”. Here they were in a remote place doing sophisticated work out in the blazing African sun, but this really was no big deal for ATG. After all, what’s it about? Training, experience and dedication, three hallmarks of Canada’s military. First, here’s the big picture with “337” on the ramp. Then, MCpl Bob Gauthier atop the troubled engine, and Cpl Jeff Hamilton gathering some wrenches.

Contemplating the new engine. Then, the prop is readied for installation. Finally, the new 4000-shp Allison T56 engine is run up for the first time as the airport fire brigade stands by. Job in the bag in 12 hours, no sweat!

Djibouti is a fascinating place. Take some time and read up about it in the “interweb” (the world of the 3-minute attention span, right). This is a place where, in the main market, we saw such eye-popping displays as AK-47s for sale for a few American dollars, gold in any form one might desire, and raw elephant tusks stacked up ready for anyone with the cash – save the elephants be damned. It’s also where we enjoyed a pizza one evening where our host was a retired Foreign Legionnaire. On the wall was a pair of snowshoes that, as a young soldier on winter exercise in northern Quebec one year, he had brought home. Yes … Djibouti is “something else”. But it must be much changed today, when the main foreign influence is China, not France. The airport itself is a busy hub with many civil and military aircraft to photograph. Djibouti being a former French colony and still (in 1991) a French Foreign Legion outpost, I wasn’t surprised to see this 747 “Classic” on the ramp. F-BPVA was Air France’s first 747, having been delivered in March 1970. Majestic as it was, it went to the boneyard in 1994.

The French military also was evident in Djibouti, but I couldn’t get permission to visit. Mirage fighters were coming and going on some sort of counter-insurgency missions, and this Breguet Atlantique was present, patrolling the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. There also were some Transals. One day I watched one of these “mini Hercs” take off and disappear into low cloud. Not long afterwards, a large number of Foreign Legionnaires came floating down onto mid-field, having completed a jump in complete “IFR” conditions.

Ethiopian Airlines seemed almost to be Djibouti’s national airline. Seen are 707 freighter ET-AIV, 727 ET-AHM and Lockheed L-100 Hercules ET-AJK. Delivered originally to Braniff in 1967 and later with Trans Mediterranean, “AIV” served EAL 1985-98. Sold then into the DRC, it was wrecked at Kinshasa in Y2K. 727 “AHM” came new to EAL in 1979, serving there into 1992. It migrated to Canada in 1997, where it served Cargojet of Hamilton as C-GUJC into the 2010s. Herc “AJK” was a jack-of-all-trades, frequently doing UN relief operations.

Alyemda was operating scheduled Dash 7 service across the narrow straight from Yemen to Djibouti. 7O-ACM had been sold new to Alyemda in 1980. Dash 7 No.31 (of 113 built in Toronto), “ACM” lasted into the early 2000s, but eventually went for scrap.

Originally delivered to Yemen Airways in 1976, 737 “200 Series” 7O-ACU was seen almost daily at Djibouti. It served into the early 2000s before retiring.

By 1991 the impressive Cessna 208A Caravan was making welcomed inroads throughout Africa. 5Y-ZBZ (s/n 201) had arrived in the region on October 24 for Mission Aviation Fellowship. Using long-range tanks, Tony Pettinger had ferried it across in 46 flying hours. First, he collected “ZBZ” from Cessna in Wichita, then flew it to Bangor, Maine, where two 180 gallon ferry tanks were installed in the cabin. These supplemented the 165-gallon tanks in each wing tank. He next flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland, then to Birmingham in 12:05 hours, finally on to Southend, Luxor and Nairobi. For another Caravan (HB-CKK, Red Cross) also doing relief duty here, the engineer was Anil Patel of Montreal. A graduate of Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Anil previously had worked for Bearskin Airlines and norOntair in NW Ontario, then went to Africa in 1984. He noted that there were about 100 Canadians doing relief work at this time for NGOs in this region. These seemed to be loosely under the “Horn of Africa Committee” of the Canadian International Development Agency in Ottawa.

Another bit of “Canadiana” at Djibouti in 1991 was this clapped out DHC-4 Caribou. Delivered new in 1971 as JW9013 to the Tanzanian Air Wing, nobody around the airport seemed to have any history for it, other than that it had made a very hard landing here one day. The airframe was hopelessly bent, so the Caribou was abandoned. At this time, several local young men were using “9013” for low cost housing.

Off the end of Runway 09 at Djibouti in 1991 lay another off-beat bit of aviation history – some superannuated French Air Force F-100 Super Sabres cooking in the Africa sun. Look at the massiveness of this scrap yard. I wondered why the local government hadn’t turned all this into millions of dollars in scrap business? Since China now holds sway in Djibouti, perhaps it’s finally been shipped off for recycling. You can see that a lot of the photos that I’ve used here are grab shots. As any day unfolded, there were endless subjects to photograph, so I had to have cameras ready. Things could come and go in a flash. This was not a great job for the photographer who is anal about photographic form. For me? I was happy, since I’m mainly content-minded. Shoot first, shoot fast!

Around the pool at the Sheraton one evening I met some fellows from the Mission Aviation Fellowship, a Christian organization doing good works in the Horn of Africa with Caravan 5Y- ZBZ. Eventually, I asked about a flight to see what was doing with the MAF, and this quickly was OK’d. Early on December 3, I met my MAF contacts at the airport – Ramesh Peshavaria (seen at the controls of “ZBZ”), Tony Pettinger and Tad Watts. At 0905 we took off on the 133 nm flight to Hargeisa, capital of the unrecognized state of Somaliland (formerly Italian Somalia). We climbed to 10,000 feet, cruised smoothly along, then landed at 1000. Here “ZBZ” sits at the Hargeisa terminal.

 

What caught my eye instantly as we taxied in at Hargeisa was a row of three Somali AF F-6 tactical fighters (Chinese-built MiG-19s). The story behind these old warbirds was not a pretty one, for they had been “flying artillery” for Siad Bari’s repressive regime, bombing nearby Hargeisa into rubble in recent times. An F-6 could make bomb run after bomb run through the day, since its targets were just a few seconds/minutes away. Nobody was around who could give me any actual details, although a very poor- looking fellow on crutches told me that he had been an F-6 pilot “back in the day”. It’s not always too easy to get people in such countries to talk openly.

MiG and a Mil-17 hulks at Hargeisa. As I polked around this corner, some friendly fellows in the distance yelled for me to clear off, warning that there still were land mines in this patch of the airport. I made my way back to the tarmac taking very long strides!

A bird’s eye view of the airport terminal from “ZBZ”.

General views around Hargeisa on December 3, 1991. The city had been a ghost town since 1988, the main population having fled across the border to Ethiopia. We were told that the population was about 70,000, but this was starting to rise as people began filtering back home. Thousands had died here, but the survivors were set on making a new beginning. First, an aerial view from “ZBZ”. This neighbourhood still looked uninhabited. Today, Hargeisa is home to more than 600,000 and has great prospects.

A local fellow with his camel. Then, two young men employed in Hargeisa’s de-mining “industry”. Many Somalilanders had become land mine victims during the region’s horrible times, as in 1988-91. One-legged people were everywhere, and humans and animals still were been killed by mines in and near Hargeisa. Alf Slingsby of the UK de-mining company Rimfire showed us samples of neutralized mines supplied to Siad Bari’s brutal forces by arms dealers from many nations. His teams were recovering about 1000 mines per month, and there was no end in sight for the process.

While climbing out from Hargeisa bound for home base, we spotted a herder with his goats. Raising and dealing in goats, cattle and camels remains the region’s chief economic activity. Then, a typical scene en route. This area is desert and mountains with the prominent Durdur River system. This is really wild country. We were back at Djibouti at 1415 to face the only glitch of the day – Djibouti customs officials were unhappy that I had “illegally” crossed into the non-existent nation of Somaliland. My passport was confiscated, but was returned later in the day for a small fee.

Another day I joined a convoy driving across the back country to a vast refugee camp in the middle of nowhere – Dharwanaji six miles from the Somaliland border. The place housed 121,000 homeless people, but was overseen by armed hoodlums. Here’s a grab shot looking ahead at our convoy just as there was a panic about a possible ambush. Our “guns-for-hire” suddenly were fanning out, weapons ready.

The panic arose due to a traffic hold-up at this crossing, where a heavy water truck headed for Dharwanji was bogged down. All was well. Note the machine gun atop the pick-up, and the camels in the distance.

Even out in such sparse backcountry there was plenty to see. We passed a battleground littered with Soviet-era tanks destroyed during the recent Ethiopia – Somalia shoot-out. Cameras were not welcomed, so I kept a low profile. Here, we pass a pick-up loaded “to the gunwales” with militiamen.

En route we stopped briefly in the hamlet of Lafaisa. First, a street scene as a local water cart passes on its rounds. Then, typical Lafaisa housing, boys tending cattle, and camels at work. Little wonder that wherever we travelled, people would shout “Canada (or USA) Number One” and sometimes ask what we could do to help them get out of wherever they were stuck.

Finally, we reached Dharwanaji. This is what we saw spread out to the horizon — thousands of grubby little huts called “akuls” or “aqals”, and people mainly just waiting passively for their next meal.

Just inside the gate sat a mountain of thousands of grain and corn sacks. We heard that the camp had formed when refugees poured in from Somalia starting in February 1991. Under the gaze of the “camp mafia”, the UN was feeding the place. There was a daily limit of 500g per person, except for children and pregnant women who received a bit extra. People were dying almost daily of starvation and disease. Armed militiamen guarded the food aid and seemed to have control as to how it all got distributed.

A couple of Dharwanaji honchos guard the entrance to the camp strongman’s office.

Keeping more than 100,000 desperate people alive … this is what it was all about, including what Canada’s Hercs were doing so far from home. This was the scene at one of Dharwanaji’s six feeding centres. Mothers and children are having their turn in this session. But things perpetually were on the edge. In the second photo, an infant has just been declared dead, said to be from malnutrition.

Food prep in the kitchen tent; then a scene in the medical clinic. Among people’s endless health issues at Dharwanaji, tuberculosis was rampant.

Other camp scenes. You can show your kids these pictures next time they start complaining about anything, right! Besides barebones care provided by the UN and NGOs in this region in 1991, there was a longterm effort to resettle the refugees. Most of those at Dharwanaji in 1991 gradually returned to Somaliland, from whence they had come.

My visit to Djibouti ended on December 4 when I boarded Herc “334” at Djibouti (UN Flight 6166, Major Wayne Davidson and crew). First we flew to Larnica on Cyprus (7 hours) to pick up passengers and fuel, then continued to Lahr (Capt Pedneault and crew, 5.5 hours). I continued back to Ottawa on December 6 aboard Nationair 757 C-GNXU.

Operation Preserve summary: flying from their Djibouti ALCE, from August 12 to December 12, 1991 Canada’s C-130 Hercules flew 853 food aid missions to points in hard- pressed north Ethiopia. Some 16,000 tons of grain and corn were delivered. Summarizing things, LCol Marc Dumais noted, “The operation was an overwhelming success thanks to the planning that went into the initial recce and to the professionalism and positive attitude of the personnel who were assigned to the mission”. Canada’s air force would go on to many further such humanitarian mission from the collapse of Somalia, when the warlords took over, to Rwanda, hurricane relief in Honduras … on and on to the present. Through the week of June 3, 2019, RCAF Hercs were busy evacuating forest fire- threatened Pikangikum, a town of 3800 in Northwest Ontario (55 miles north of Red Lake). One of the great aspects about travelling around the world with the Canadian Forces was meeting so many exemplary Canadians proudly wearing the uniform. It’s been fun keeping in touch over the decades and seeing how people finished their careers. LCol Marc Dumais, for example, retired to “Civvie Street” in 2012 as MGen Dumais, Commander of “Canada Command”.

 

 

Here’s Your CANAV Blog for March 30, 2019 … Eric G. Smith … A Bit about Books … “Fighter Pilots and Observers” Updates … Some Grand Citizens of Canadian Aviation … More Beech 18 History … Arizona Boneyard (Thank You Pierre) … Civil Canadair Sabres

Wing Commander Eric G. Smith, Distinguished Flying Cross, United States Air Medal

Eric Smith as a young wartime Mosquito pilot in the UK with 107 Squadron.

One of the very fine men of the RCAF died in Navan (near Ottawa) last week. Eric G. Smith plain and simply was a gem of a Canadian, so please take a moment to read about him below. I was honoured to have met Eric in the early 1980s, when starting research for a history of the Canadair Sabre. Eric could not have been a friendlier and more encouraging fellow. He put up with my phone calls, letters and visits, helping to ensure that the book eventually would be a good one. In all the subsequent years, he and I kept in touch and had many a pleasant time together at such events as the annual BBQs of the Canadian Fighter Pilots Association, Commonwealth Aircrew Reunions, or at one thrash or another at the Gloucester Mess in Ottawa. Here is a summary of this fine gentleman’s life:

These first two photos of Eric appear in Vol.2 of Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace. I’ve left the caption in for this one, so that you can get a sense of what such young Canadians were doing to help shorten the war. If it meant giving your life, then that was part of the deal.

Eric’s obituary: Eric George Smith S/L (Ret’d), loving husband of 65 years to Dinah Rosaleen (Cole), passed away peacefully March 30th, 2019 at the Ottawa General Hospital in his 99th year. He was a loving father to Erin Zintel (Smith) and a kind-hearted father-in-law to Bob Zintel. Eric was a proud and loving Grandpa to Sarah and Kristen Zintel. Eric will be remembered by his many nieces and nephews. Eric was a friend to so many who  remember his sense of humour, storytelling and how he always had time to have a conversation. Predeceased by his parents George and Mary Ann Smith; his brother Sidney (Thelma); sisters Inez McFadden (William), Muriel Greenidge (Herbert), and Mavis Rothwell (Norman). Born January 26th, 1921 in the town of Navan, Ontario, Eric was educated at Navan Continuation School, Vankleek Hill Collegiate and the Ottawa Normal School (Teachers College). Eric taught school in Carlsbad SS#12 when he was 19 years old. In 1940, Eric assisted the Police in apprehending John Miki who murdered police officer Harold Dent in Navan. On July 1st, 1941 Eric enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He reported to the Manning depot, Toronto on August 27th, 1941. He was then transferred to Trenton, Belleville, Portage La Prairie and Camp Borden where he received his flying wings. Eric was commissioned on July 17th, 1942. In April 1945, Eric received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). His citation reads as follows: “This officer has completed a large number of operational sorties. He is pilot of exceptional ability who has never let either adverse weather or enemy opposition deter him from completing his allotted tasks. He has inflicted considerable damage on enemy lines of communication,  mechanical transportation and rolling stock. He has at all times exhibited great determination, initiative and daring and set an inspiring example by his fine fighting spirit and devotion to duty”

Eric while on secondment in Korea with the USAF in 1952. Then, a page from his log book in that period, when he was flying the F-86 Sabre, battling it out with Chinese air force MiG- 15s.

While he was Chief Flying Instructor with No.1 (Fighter) Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Chatham, teaching young pilots to fly the F-86, F/L Smith and the OTU Commander, S/L Bill Smith, flew this suitably painted “The Smith Bros” Sabre. These two photos can be found in The Canadair Sabre.

In 1952, Eric began instructing on Sabre F-86 jets and was invited to participate in the Korean War as an exchange pilot with the U.S. Air force going up against Russian MiG’s. In 1952, the U.S. government decorated Eric with their U.S. Air Medal : “Squadron Leader Eric G. Smith distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial combat as a pilot of an F-86 aircraft, 4th Fighter interceptor Wing, Fifth Air Force, flying missions against enemies of the United States, from 10 September 1952 to 14December 1952. While flying combat air patrol and various other type missions deep into enemy territory, many times against a superior number of enemy aircraft, his dedication to duty and demonstrated skill were a magnificent contribution to the successful completion of the assigned mission. As a result of his fortitude and courage on these occasions he has brought great credit upon himself, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Air Force.” Eric was the Commander of Sqn. No 413 from January 12th, 1959 to February 2nd, 1961. Over the course of Eric’s distinguished military career he was honoured and awarded the following medals: • Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) • 1939-45 Star • France and Germany Star • Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp • Volunteer Service 1939-45 • Korea Medal • Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for Korea • United Nations Korea Medal • CD Canadian Forces Decoration • United States Air Medal • Korean War Veterans Association Medal • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal • French Legion of Honour at the French embassy in Ottawa. In March 1953, while stationed in Chatham New Brunswick, Eric met Dinah Rosaleen Cole. They were married in Toronto on May 16th, 1953. Eric retired from the RCAF in August 1968 and moved to a farm 7 miles south of Kemptville where he and Dinah took up farming. Eric sold real estate for Albert Gale Real Estate from 1971 until his retirement in 1991. In May 2001, Eric and Dinah moved back to his home town of Navan. Eric enjoyed both playing and watching hockey. Eric played hockey for the winning Navan team in the 1946 Bradley Cup in which he scored five goals. Eric’s other favourite sport was curling which he played up until 2015. Eric was a proud member of the RCAF, SPAADS, Branch 632 Canadian Legion, Orleans, 410(William Barker VC) Wing RCAFA, Knights of the Round Table, Masonic Lodge Maitland Chapter, Tunis Shriners, Legion of Honour and the Navan Curling Club. The family would like to thank the Ottawa General 5th floor nurses and doctors and Eric’s family doctor – Dr. Bujold. The family would also like to thank the care at home from SE Health/Access Care and Champlain LHIN. Family and friends are invited to visit at the St. Laurent Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 1200 Ogilvie Road (at Aviation Parkway), Ottawa, on Friday, April 5, 2019 from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm. A Funeral Service will take place at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, 3480 Trim Road, Navan, on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at 11 am. As an expression of sympathy, donations to St. Mary’s Anglican Church would be greatly appreciated by the family: P.O. Box 71, 3480 Trim Road, Navan, Ontario K4B 1J3. Interac transfers can also be sent at St.Marys.Navan@outlook.com.

Eric and I while visiting the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa for D-Day celebrations on June 6, 2014.

 

On April 19 the Ottawa Citizen followed up this very nice tribute to Eric written by staffer Andrew Duffy:

Navan’s Eric Smith among only Canadians to fly combat missions in both WWII, Korea

Photos of Eric Smith courtesy of his family. jpg

Even among fighter pilots, Eric Smith was a rare breed. The Navan, Ont. wing commander was one of the few Canadians to fly combat missions in the Second World War and Korean War — and receive decorations for both. “He was in an exclusive little club,” said Canadian aviation historian and author Larry Milberry.

Smith received a Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for the valour he showed in flying more than 50 low-altitude night fighter missions over France, Belgium Holland and Germany during the Second World War. He received the U.S. Air Medal for “his fortitude and courage” in flying 50 combat missions in the Korean War while on secondment to the U.S. Air Force.

Smith died last month at The Ottawa Hospital from pneumonia. He was 98. “I liked everything about him,” said his widow, Dinah Smith, 87. “He could talk to anybody from the lowest rank to a general.”

Eric George Smith was born on Jan. 26, 1921 in Navan, Ont., about half an hour east of Ottawa. His father was a farmer and a veteran of the First World War. Eric often accompanied him as he delivered milk and cream by horse-drawn wagon to Ottawa. An accomplished student, Smith graduated from teacher’s college, Ottawa Normal School, and took a job at a small schoolhouse in Carlsbad Springs. The Second World War interrupted his fledgling career.

In July 1941, at the age of 20, Smith enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force, determined to be a pilot. At 5’6’’, he narrowly met the height requirement. “If he wasn’t going to be a pilot, he didn’t want to be anything else,” said his daughter, Erin Zintel. Smith had heard his father’s stories about the mud and misery of trench warfare, she said, and he wanted nothing to do with the regular army. He trained in Toronto, Trenton, Belleville and Portage La Prairie before earning his pilot’s wings at Camp Borden. After still more training, Smith became a pilot instructor at No. 2 Service Flying Training School at RCAF Station Uplands — one of 231 sites opened in Canada to train pilots, navigators, gunners and flight engineers for the war.

Smith spent more than a year instructing young pilots before preparing for his own combat duty: He was sent to England in early 1944 to learn the dangerous art of low-level flying. Posted to No. 107 Squadron RAF, Smith flew his first night sortie over occupied France on Aug. 26, 1944. It was his first experience with night fighting. Smith’s logbook — he flew 58 missions — shows that he attacked troop transports, rail yards, warehouses, ammunition dumps, boats, trains, even a V-1 flying bomb, often while under attack by German anti-aircraft units. “Every one of these trips was literally death-defying: low-level Mosquito missions at night looking for anything German that moved,” said Milberry. “A lot of Mosquitos didn’t come back because they flew into wires or trees or towers.”

On the evening of March 5, 1945, Smith was one of only two pilots to get into the air because of dense, low-lying fog. The other pilot died that night in a crash landing. In April 1945, Smith was awarded the DFC with a citation that read: “He has at all times exhibited great determination, initiative and daring, and set an inspiring example by his fine fighting spirit and devotion to duty.” After the war, Smith returned to Canada and enrolled in university. But after a year in school, he decided to return to the air and to the RCAF. In 1952, he accepted a secondment to the U.S. Air Force to fly in the Korean War. Smith flew an F-86 Sabre jet on 50 combat missions, which took him deep into enemy territory and pitted him against Russian-built MiG fighters. Then a squadron leader, he was one of 22 RCAF pilots to fly in Korea. It’s believed he was the last surviving member of that exclusive group. Smith once told an interviewer how the high-flying MiGs would attack from out of the sky. The MiGs could climb to 50,000 feet while the Sabres couldn’t get above 42,000. On one sortie, he said, a MiG dropped right onto his tail. “But he was a very poor shot I guess,” Smith said of his narrow escape.

After returning to Canada, Smith was stationed in Chatham, New Brunswick, where a late season blizzard changed his life. In March 1953, during the storm, he crashed his car into a snow bank on RCAF Station Chatham. Two women went to see if he was OK. Dinah Cole, on her way home from the midnight shift as a fighter control operator, was one of them. “He ploughed into a snowbank right in front of me,” she recalled. “I opened the car door, and I said to him, ‘Can I help you? Can I phone somebody to pull you out?’ “He took a look at me and said, ‘No, but you can keep me company until someone comes, though’ … That was smooth.” The two were married five weeks later. Cole, then 21, had to quit her job since Smith was her senior officer.

Smith went on to serve in the RAF Air Ministry in London and to command RCAF’s Squadron No. 413 at CFB Greenwood. He retired as a wing commander in August 1968 and bought a property in Kemptville so that he could return to farming. He also sold real estate. In May 2001, Smith and his wife moved back to Navan to be closer to their only daughter, Erin, and their grandchildren. Smith continued to curl — it was his favourite sport — and to collect stamps and coins well into his 90s. During his career, Smith flew more than 30 airplanes, including the CF-100 twinjet fighter. “He knew how to fly and he knew his airplanes inside out,” said Milberry. “Like any of the good ones, he could fly anything.”

 

 Fighter Pilots and Observers Updates

Since we launched Fighter Pilots and Observers last October, our readership has been pleased overall with the book. Of course, there are bound to be a few questions and  comments about factual details. WWI aerial warfare historian, Colin Owers, in Australia,  makes these points: For the photo of the L.V.G. on page 39, Colin points out that the airplane shown actually is a modified postwar example: “This is a civilian L.V.G. C.VI post-Armistice. Note the extra person in the elongated cockpit.” Next … for what I call a D.F.W. on p.64, Colin notes: “I am sure that the aircraft in the bottom photo is an L.V.G. C.V.” The same goes for p.106: “This is a D.F.W. C.V.” Thank you for this, Colin. If anyone can add further regarding updates/errata, please drop me a note — larry@canavbooks.com

Why Are People Arguing about Books These Days? It’s Getting a Bit Dumb, Really

There’s always some good chitchat around the circuit about books – those beloved emblems of wisdom, knowledge, art, sheer beauty and pure joy. Books have been with us for millennia. Anyone with half a brain knows that they never can be replaced, no matter how many dunderheads rant and rave against them, try to belittle publishers and authors, and boringly spew that old rot about “everything” being on the web. What a farse, eh, and talk about pitiful!

Here’s a good one from this week’s “Toronto Star” (March 27, 2019). Columnist Heather Mallick is on a bit of a book tear, pointing out how, try as she might, she can’t give her personal books away, not even to the local USED bookseller. She admits, “so I’m bagging them … and dumping them beside the blue bin”. Gads … what sort of books does she read or are they contaminated by the plague? Here at CANAV, used books are beloved, and sales have been a key part of the operation for decades. These sales help greatly in fundraising to finance the next CANAV project. Thank you, devoted readers, who can’t wait to see what’s lately been added to the CANAV used book list. Anyway, Mallick wonders if books have become “a social embarrassment to be disposed of by stealth in the dark of night”. There’s a buried suggestion here that no one with any sense would be caught with a book in the house. She mentions that, apparently, it’s now a big thing with real estate agents and house stagers to get every book out of sight when preparing a house for showing. Books just spoil everything, don’t they. Finally, Mallick drops books and wanders off to chatter about her minimalist lifestyle, the woes of Trump and China, and other far-out stuff.

There’s an revealing thing about this edition of the “Star”. After plodding through the Mallick column, I flipped a few pages only to find a “Wall Street Journal” story about Michelle Obama’s recent life’s story, Becoming, published by Penguin Random House. Sales have topped 10 million copies in 5 months – a world record for this genre through all the centuries of books. So … methinks the book is probably in OK shape for at least a little while longer. Ergo … will you strange people out there please stop bothering us about the book supposedly being “dead”, “useless”, “environmentally hazardous”, etc? I doubt that you could even get Homer Simpson to agree with your moronic campaigning.

Some More Kings of Canadian Aviation

1.1 Blog Molson + Bradford

Speaking of books … probably 98% of recorded Canadian aviation history is found on the printed page. So, if you don’t have a good library of Canadian aviation books, basically, you’re in the dark about the topic. CANAV has published almost 40 titles since 1981. On the whole, these all are about people first, i.e., the folks who designed, built, flew and maintained the  planes. I’ll never live long enough to write about all those who still have not yet been covered. I still have innumerable photos of these fine citizens and every once in a while, like to show you a few on the blog. That gets a little more of the story told. Here are some old photos that recently popped up. First, seen at a CANAV book launch in 1991 are two of the most important figures in Canadian aviation history. On the right is K.M. “Ken” Molson (1916-1996), the most influential man in all of Canadian aviation, when it comes to history.

Having moved to Toronto as a boy from the “Montreal Molsons” (following family tragedies in the 1930s) Ken went on to earn his aeronautical degree at the University of Toronto. His first job was working on the Lysander line at National Steel Car at Toronto’s old Malton airport. There he remained through the CF-100 and CF-105 eras, then went to Ottawa to establish Canada’s national aeronautical collection. As the collection’s first curator, Ken set the tone that you still get when touring it more than half a century later. It all starts with the magnificent collection that Ken passionately assembled of the classic planes that “made” modern Canadian aviation back in the day – the HS-2L, Bellanca, Fairchild, Junkers, then on to the Norseman, Stinson, Beaver, Lockheed 10, DC-3, etc. Ken also laid the foundation for such other museum themes as the great aircraft of WWI. His influence is astounding.

The museum as you see it today is a glorious tribute to Ken Molson, but you’d hardy know it – the man barely (maybe not at all?) is even mentioned in the place, considering that it ought to be named in his honour. Ken also wrote several of the seminal histories of Canadian aviation, books that should be on your shelves. If you don’t have them yet, check under “K.M. Molson” at http://www.abebooks.com, where you can also order your personal copies. Ken became a true supporter of my own efforts. As the years passed, he was gradually keener to supply material I needed for various projects (it took a few years for anyone to be embraced by Ken). Here, Ken is chatting with another King of Canadian Aviation, Robert “Bob” Bradford, who succeeded Ken at the museum. A wartime RCAF pilot and to this day an active aviation artist in his 90s. Bob has an Order of Canada and is a member of Canada‘s Aviation Hall of Fame. There’s finally a move afoot to get Ken inducted in the Hall. Strange that he’s not yet a member, right. The funny thing is that he only recently was nominated and you can get in until someone starts the ball rolling.

1.3 Blog Meaden

Here’s another old snapshot that grabbed my eye lately while flipping through some files. This one dates to our 1990 book launch for The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945. On the right is William Harold David “Wild Bill” Meaden, DFC, whose story as a Bomber Command pilot is told in the book. On the left is the great aviation artist, Ron Lowry, who painted the front cover art of this best-selling title. Centre is Robert Finlayson, who painted the back cover art (which depicts a scene from Bill’s tour – the night his crew shot down a Ju.88). All three of these fine citizens have left us. Such old pictures are intrinsically important, but sure can be melancholic at the same time.

Last Saturday (March 23) we attended Carl Mills’ funeral. Carl saved so much of our history from the trash heap, as with his magnificent history of the Banshee jet fighter in the RCN. He also did a massive amount of original work unearthing all the details about Canada’s airmen who fought in Korea. In recent years he had been working diligently on the history of 400 Squadron. Included in that task, he built several important scale dioramas (masterpieces of art) and commissioned several wonderful paintings by some of Canada’s top aviation artists. Just a few days earlier, I learned that the great Peter Mossman, the artist who painted the cover art for our first three books, also had died.

CAHS Nostalgia

The Canadian Aviation Historical Society was founded in 1963 to preserve Canada’s aviation heritage. I attended the second ever CAHS meeting and have membership No.11. The society thrived through the decades with chapters across Canada, a magnificent quarterly journal, newsletters and annual conventions. Sad to say, but the CAHS has been up against a lot in recent years. Like many such organizations, it’s hard hit by the aging (and passing) of members, and the difficulty of pulling in new members. Not helping matters, the society was riven by unnecessary internal strife in more recent times. How dumb was that, just when CAHS people should have been extra supportive and out there beating the bushes for members, etc., instead of fomenting civil war in its own ranks. But such things happen when folks lose sight of the big picture and start beating their own irrelevant little drums.

Here’s a historic photo going back to early CAHS days (1960s) in Toronto. In front in this group of CAHS pioneers are Art Marcopoulis, John Ham, Roger Juniper, Charlie Catalano, Bruce Gowans and Doug MacRitchie. Behind are (standing) Ernie Harrison, M.L. “Mac” McIntyre, Jeff Burch, George Morley, Al Martin, Frank Ellis, Elsie Ellis, Terry Waddington, Clint Toms, Bill Wheeler, Don Long (in front Bill) and Boris ZissoffEach of these brought a unique aviation background to the society, and each worked diligently to build the society into a world-class organization. To my knowledge only Bruce, Ernie and Bill are still with us in 2019.

Love the Beech 18? Then This Is for You!

If you scroll back a few pages you’ll see our blog item “The Enduring (Indestructible?) Beech 18”. Well, as any true fan knows, we can never get enough Beech 18 coverage, so this week I’ve put together a series of superb photos taken mainly in the 1970s by the great Toronto-based photographer, Joan Turner. Almost annually, Joan and her brother, Bill, would make a driving tour across Northern Ontario to cover the bush flying scene. Invariably, they would find a good number of Beech 18s. Of course, they could be sure of finding the usual old standards, as they clocked up the miles from Sudbury westward – to Chapleau, Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, around Lake Superior to the Lakehead, then westward to such haunts as Ignace, Fort Frances, Nestor Falls, Sioux Lookout and Red Lake. The whole experience must have been 100% fun. Take a look at these wonderful stock Joan Turner photos.

Some 50 years later, several of the fine old Beechcrafts that Joan covered are still at work, still turning heads with their classic great looks … and still making money, right. As to the captions, you might wonder from where so much Beech 18 trivia possibly could originate. There are many important sources, as any aviation bibliophile will know – just look in the books. Yes … in those actual amazing things made out of paper, ink and glue. Try on Air Transport in Canada, for example, where you will find 100s of references to Canada’s Beech 18s (ATC presently is on sale at CANAV Books at $60 off, check right here: 2 Blog CANAV Booklist Spring_Summer 2019 Then (as mentioned in our earlier Beech 18 item) there’s the world’s top Beech 18 book, Beech 18: A Civil and Military History by Robert Parmerter. By far the single most important website is that of Australian historian, Geoff Goodall. For this goldmine, google “Beech 18 Production List”. There are so many other sources for the keen reader and fan (weenies need not apply, of course). So … strap in good and tight, here comes “The Joan Turner Beech 18 Gallery”. To see a photo full screen, just click on it.

Blog 1 Turner Beech 18 CF-HHI

One of Canada’s Beech 18s that served longest with the same owner was CF-HHI, which had served originally with Florida Airways in 1946. Having joined International Nickel/Canadian Nickel Air Services of Sudbury in 1953, “HHI” served the company in the exploration and executive roles into 1974. The great George Cramer, who had flown Sunderlands through WWII, was chief pilot for most of this Beech’s career. Today, “HHI” is C-GZCE. Painted in RCAF wartime colours, it flies airshows and hops passengers with the Canadian Warplane Heritage of Hamilton. Joan photographed “HHI” at Ramsay Lake, Sudbury on August 8, 1970.

Blog 1A Turner Beech 18 CF-ZYT

Visiting Sudbury on August 5, 1972, Joan photographed this lovely privately-owned Beech “Super 18”, CF-ZYT. Built in 1960, it initially had been N9941R with Wiles-Holloway Inc. of Baton Rouge. It next served a Houston drilling company, then was sold to Don Plaunt of Sudbury, whose business interests ranged from forestry to radio/TV to a mysterious fleet of DC-6s in California. In 1977 “ZYT” was sold in Alaska, becoming N741GB. Soon after, however, it suffered a forced landing and never flew again.

Blog 2 Turner Beech 18 CF-KAK

On September 16, 1977 Joan found George Theriault’s lovely Beech 18 CF-KAK looking photogenic at the dock at George’s tourist base near Foleyet, northeast of Chapleau along Hwy 101. “KAK” is a really historic Beech, having begun in 1944 as RCAF 1418. After serving several other carriers over the decades, in 2019 “KAK” was with Pacific Seaplanes of Nanaimo, BC. In 1994 George Theriault published his personal story all about life and flying in the Canadian Shield. I recommend that you track down a copy — Trespassing in God’s Country: Sixty Years of Flying in Northern Canada. It’s a beauty.

Blog 2A Turner Beech 18 CF-KAK

Much earlier (September 12, 1971) Joan had spotted “KAK” at Toronto YYZ soon after George Theriault acquired it from Keir Air Transport of Edmonton. “KAK” was always noted for its pointed nose — different for the average Beech 18. Retired bush pilot Joe Sinkowski of Red Lake points out that Green Airways’ Beech CF-GNR also had this off-beat mod.

Blog 3 Turner Beech 18 CF-PSU

CF-PSU coasts in to the Air-Dale dock at Sault Ste. Marie on September 2, 1972. “PSU” had begun with the USAAF in 1944. Once surplus, it was purchased in 1956 by the Aircraft Instrument Co. for $6125 and became N8011H. Having served various US owners, it came to Air- Dale in 1963. Serving there reliably until 1979, it migrated to Alaska as N1047B. After many adventures, it ended in Anchorage at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum. The museum website notes: “The Beechcraft Model or Twin Beech, as it was better known, first flew on January 15, 1937. It was configured to carry between 6 and 11 passengers. The aircraft was in production for 32 years, with over 9,000 aircraft being built. N1047B arrived in Juneau, Alaska in 1979. After some modifications it was sold to Alaska Coastal Airlines Corporation of Juneau in 1982. On Sept 30, 1987 N1047B was sold to the Alaska Aviation Museum and flown to its current home at the museum. The aircraft … is installed on Edo floats and represents the configuration the aircraft was in while assigned to the 10th Search and Rescue Squadron at Elmendorf AFB during the 1940s.”

Blog 4 Turner Beech 18 CF-AIR-X

That same day at Air-Dale (always a key stop for any spotter touring Northern Ontario), Joan photographed CF-AIR-X. “AIR” had begun in 1952 as RCAF Expeditor 1506, and first appeared on the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register in 1967. By this time it had been consigned to the weeds at Air-Dale. Why it carried an “X” registration isn’t know. However, take a look at the airframe. It looks as if it might comprise two different Beech 18s. Something like that could have required an “X”. The rudder paint job suggests a former Royal Canadian Navy Expeditor. There always are these mysteries for the spotters to research.

 

Blog 5 Turner Beech 18 CF-YQB

Westward we go … another Beech 18 in Joan’s files is CF-YQB. She took this shot on September 27, 1976 at Thunder Bay/Lakehead Airport. “YQB” had been RCAF 1553 from 1952 to 1968, when it was declared surplus. In 1970, O.J. Weiben (Severn Enterprises, Superior Airways, etc.) of Thunder Bay acquired it from Crown Assets Disposal Corp. — the government agency in charge of selling off surplus Canadian military equipment. In this period Beech 18s were selling for as little as $2000. “OJ” operated “YQB” in the bush until selling it in Florida in 1987. There it briefly was N9062Z, then returned to Canada a year later, picking up its former ID. Based at Inuvik near the Arctic coast, it operated under various banners, finally being with Arctic Wings and Rotors. In July 1994 it was reported destroyed by fire.

Blog 6 Turner Beech 18 CF-ZQH

Formerly RCAF 2379, CF-ZQH was another of the many Expeditors acquired cheaply by O.J. Wieben. This Expeditor must have been extra nice, for “OJ” used it as his personal plane from 1971. “ZQH” crashed on October 4, 1981. Retired bush pilot, Joe Sinkowski, recalls: “It was Orville’s personal airplane for getting around from Thunder Bay to places like Pickle or Wiebenville. There were very few whom he trusted to fly it, mainly some of his DC-3 captains. ‘ZQH’ was operated only on wheels. It was sold with the company after Orville passed away. I can’t recall the exact details, but someone put it into the bush somewhere north of Armstrong, when flying from Fort Hope to Thunder Bay.” Joan photographed “ZQH” at Thunder Bay on September 27, 1976.

Blog 7 Turner Beech 18 CF-RVR

Beech 19 CF-RVR of Slate Fall Airways at Sioux Lookout on September 19, 1977. “RVR” began in 1944 as a USAAF UC- 45B, then was delivered under Lend-Lease straight to the Royal Air Force. Next, as fast as the paperwork could be stamped, it was transferred to the RCAF as Expeditor 1402. It served into 1964, then was struck off charge. It was purchased in 1965 via CADC by Manitoba’s Ilford Airways. It next served Slate Falls (1970-84), then other outfits until joining Air Rainbow of Nanaimo, BC in 1991. While taking off from Nanaimo on January 27, 1992, it crashed disastrously, killing seven of the nine people aboard.

Blog 8 Beech 18 CF-DLN

Airplane boneyards are always fascinating places to visit for spotters, photographers, artists and other aviation fans. On September 19, 1977 Joan Turner dropped by this old bushplane “cemetery” in Sioux Lookout. Included in the general mayhem was a Cessna, a very tired old Norseman, and Slate Falls Airways Beech CF-DLN (ex-RCAF 2334 1952-70).

Blog 9 Turner Beech 18 CF-GNR

Joan photographed Green Airways’ famous Beech 18 CF-GNR in its yellow-and-green paint job at Red Lake on September 20, 1977. Formerly RCAF 2318 (1952-65), “GNR” later served Larry Langford’s Vancouver Island Air. In August 2013 it was noted as having logged 18,173 flying hours. In 2014 it was sold. At that time, Larry told me, “Our last Beech C-FGNR went to a collector in Belgium of all places. She flew 50 hours on that trip without a problem. Longest leg was over 8 hours Iceland to Scotland. Owner, Taigh Ramey, and a Canadian pilot, Brad Blois, did the trip. Still the nicest aircraft on floats I have flown.” With this odyssey “GNR” became the only Beech 18 to have flown the North Atlantic on floats. Its registration today is N1XW.

Blog 10 Turner Beech 18 CF-XUO

CF-XUO of Ontario Central Airlines at Red Lake also on September 20, 1977. Ex-RCAF 2329, it served OCA 1974-84, then wandered all over the place from Nunasi-Central Airlines to Green Airways, Pickle Lake Air Service, Kelner Airways, Beaver Air, Ignace Airways and (today) Showalters Fly-In of Ear Falls not far south of Red Lake.

Blog 11 Turner Beech 18 CF-ZNQ

Yet another clapped out ex-RCAF Expeditor (or, “Exploder”, as some called it back in RCAF days), CF-ZNQ had been RCAF 2339. It briefly was listed to Pembina Air Services of Morden, Manitoba in 1972, then joined Harvey Friesen’s Bearskin Airlines in 1974. Joan saw it at Red Lake/Cochenour airport on September 20, 1977. Doesn’t look as if Bearskin ever flew it, but probably just used it for spare parts.

Blog 12 Turner Beech 18 CF-PVC

CF-PVC was another well-known northern Beech 18. As RCAF 1546 (then 5186) it was one of the last RCAF Expeditors in service. From Crown Assets Corp. storage in Saskatoon, in 1971 it was sold to Northern Stores, mainly to serve the 219 nm route between Red Lake and Big Trout Lake, hauling groceries and supplies. Here it is derelict at Red Lake on September 20, 1977. It’s a fair guess that it finally went for pots and pans.

Blog 13 Turner Beech 18 C-FERM

Lake-of-the-Woods country. One of Rusty Myers always-handsome Beech 18s: C-FERM at Fort Frances on September 25, 1976. “ERM” had been RCAF 1487 from 1951 to 1967. Rusty Myers picked it up in ’67, then operated it into the 2000s. It was only the advent of the Cessna Caravan that spelled the end of the classic Beech 18 at Fort Frances. To this day “ERM” sits derelict at Fort Frances alongside “BGO”, “RVL” and “ZRI”.

Blog 13A Turner Beech 18 CF-BGO

Ex-RCAF 2336 CF-BGO at Fort Frances on September 23, 1977. It served Rusty Myers from 1970 until a disastrous accident on July 6, 1996. I don’t know the details other that that “BGO” apparently crashed in the bush. Happily, all 5 aboard survived.

Blog 14 Turner Beech 18 Ft.Frances

An unknown ex-RCAF Expeditor at Fort Frances on September 23, 1977. At this late date, this could only have been a Rusty Myers “hangar queen” used for the occasional spare part. Joan walked around it looking for any sign of former ID, but found nothing. When tallying all the superannuated RCAF Expeditors in Canada, it’s clear just how resourceful/prudent Canada’s (usually tight-fisted) northern air carriers were when it came to an opportunity such a military surplus Beech 18s. Everyone knew how tough and reliable the Expeditor was, and how cheap it was to buy in via Crown Assets Disposal Corporation. Also, by 1968 people knew how a Beech could do just about any ordinary job on floats or skis, whether on the BC coast, in the mountains, across the prairies or anywhere northward all the way to the Beaufort Sea or Ungava. Just for fun, if you check the March 31, 1972 Canadian Civil Aircraft Register you’ll see the following Beech 18 versions listed: AT-11 – 3, C18S – 7, C-45 – 13, D18S – 40, E18s/G18S – 12, ex-RCAF 3N, 3NM and 3T trainers – 62. Total 137. These were based everywhere from Victoria to Prince George, Watson Lake, Calgary, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Winnipeg, Morden, Pine Falls, God’s Lake Narrows, Flin Flon, Fort Frances, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Kenora, Big Trout Lake, Pickle Lake, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Sudbury, Toronto, Ottawa, St. Félicien all the way east to Gaspé and Dartmouth. Truly, the Beech 18 deserves its place as one of Canada’s great general-purpose air transports and bushplanes.

Blog 14A Turner Beech CF-GXD

CF-GXD in Rusty Myers’ “Back 40” at Fort Francis on September 23, 1977. I can’t find much about this Beech 18, other than that it had served Canada’s Department of Transport in the 1950s-60s (it’s still in the standard gray-with-white-and-yellow DoT colours). Its Rusty Myers stint was 1970-76.

Blog 15 Turner Beech 18 CF-TBX

C-FTBX was flying for Canadian Voyageur Airlines when Joan spotted it at the dock at Fort Frances on September 26, 1976. A 1952 Model D18S, it began as N481B with Ohio’s Aetna Freight Lines. Owned these days by veteran bush operator Neil Walston, “TBX” has been dormant in Nestor Falls in recent times, but can quickly go back to work any day some work materializes.

Blog 15A Turner Beech 18 CF-XIR

Joan photographed this attractive Beech at Fort Frances on September 23, 1977. “XIR” initially was a 1944 USAAF UC-45F, then had a civil aviation career in the US. As N963J, for example, it served Four Lakes Aviation in Wisconsin. It came to Canada for Rainy Lake Airways in 1968, serving there into 1984, but subsequently was scrapped. Some tales of “XIR” + such other Beech 18 horror stories (and much, much more of the Norseman, DC-3, 748, etc.) as the 1975 crash of OCA’s Beech “XVF” are extremely well told in Sam Cole’s wonderful book covering a bush pilot’s “life and hard times”, Switches, Instruments, Radios and Rudders. This is another “must read” for anyone with a love for northern aviation. I’ll mail you a copy for $48 all-in. Simply email this amount by PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com

Blog 16 Turner Beech 18 CF-SRE

A fine view of CF-SRE (ex-RCAF 1486) at Nestor Falls, Ontario on September 25, 1976. Since joining Silver Pine Air Services of Pine Falls, Manitoba in 1970, “SRE” has been hard at work. It’s presently dormant at Selkirk, Manitoba.

Blog 17 Turner Beech 18 C-GEHX

C-GEHX in the colours of Warren Plummer’s famous NWT sport fishing operation, Great Bear Lodge. “EHX” had been RCAF 1512 from 1952 to 1968. It later was listed to Minto Airways of Edmonton. I’m not certain about the lineage thereafter, but Minto seems to have owned the plane to about 1986, leasing it out to such operators as Silver Pine Air Services, Sabourin Lake Airways, North Caribou Flying Services and La Ronge Aviation Services. In this period it might have been on a sub-lease from Silver Pine to Plummer. Joan photographed “EHX” at Pine Falls, Manitoba on September 4, 1982. It’s presently based at Nestor Falls and expected to be at work this season.

Blog 18 Turner Beech 18 CF-JIR

The famous Arthur Fecteau operated various Beech 18s over the years from his base in Senneterre, Quebec. These would have been important connecting his mining industry clients (and others) with Quebec City, Montreal, Noranda-Rouyn, Timmins, etc. Here is his Beech 18 CF-JIR at Amos, Quebec on August 19, 1954. Too bad for us, but Joan didn’t often get into Quebec. Who was covering that vast domain aviation-wise? “JIR” was ex-RCAF/RCN 1449. Arthur operated it from 1974, then sold it to George Theriault. George quickly sold it to a US buyer, Jeno F. Paulucci, a famous Beech operator in Florida. After many years as freighter and tanker N792LP in Florida, it made its way to Minnesota in 2006. Alongside Beech 18 N33JP, it still spends its summers serving the tourist trade from its base near Duluth.

Blog 19 Turner Beech 18 CF-WGP

One of Canada’s great Beech operators was Carl Millard of Toronto. I saw the first of Carl’s “18s” on my earliest visits to Malton airport in 1955 and they still were there right into the 1990s. Joan photographed CF-WGP at Malton/Toronto/YYZ on September 12, 1971. “WGP” had started in 1946 as executive Beech NC44631 with Stanolind Oil & Gas in 1946. Carl acquired it in 1967, then operated it into 1992, when he sold it stateside. As N70WW it was seen derelict in Oregon in the early 2000s. For the story of Millardair you really need a copy of Millard and Me: A Young Man’s Journey from Turbulence to Triumph. Included in this ace of a book is a ton of hardcore and hugely entertaining Beech 18 history for the serious reader, along with much lore of Millardair’s DC-3 and DC-4s. If you’d like a copy, email $36.00 (all-in price) by PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com

Blog 20 Turner Beech 18 CF-SIJ

Millardair’s CF-SIJ (ex-RCAF/RCN 2312) at Toronto YYZ on July 5, 1969. Check all the re-skinning recently done, plus the newly-installed cargo door (the RCAF did not have cargo doors on its Expeditors). Carl Millard also beefed up his Beech 18 wings with a wing spar mod developed by his old pal, Dave Saunders, one of Canada’s genius aeronautical engineers (father of the Saunders ST-27, etc.). “SIJ” later had a string of Quebec operators from Airgava of Schefferville to Transfair of Sept- Iles, Para-Vision of St-Jérome and finally (in the 2000s) Aero-Dynamic of Mascouche.

Blog 21 Turner Beech 18 CF-URS

What in the world, eh! This super-modified Beech 18 had been RCAF 2301 in 1952-66, then became CF-URS with Joe Lucas’ Aircraft Industries of St. Jean, Quebec. This company had a dream of offering the old Expeditor –- so many of which were flooding the market –- in a revitalized form powered by Canada’s new PT6 turboprop engine. Although several US-made PT6 Beech 18 would follow, “URS” was the original. First flown with a pair of early PT6A-20s, “URS” was called the Jobmaster. Later, it was converted to Volmar tricycle undercarriage. Aircraft Industries, meanwhile, folded its tent after many years as a Canadian leader in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul. “URL” migrated to the USA in 1970, becoming N10VT. It went into the air cargo business and, oddly, reverted to its tail wheel configuration. The Hamilton Aircraft Co. extended nose was added in 1976. On June 19, 1978 N10VT (operating with Great Western Airlines) had an engine failure and crashed on nearing its destination of Windsor Locks, Connecticut from Albany, NY. The crew survived. The turbo-Beech 18 really was not a huge success. The mod cost a pile of money and the PT6 burned a lot more fuel than a Beech 18 with standard R985 engines. In this Joan Turner photo “URS” is at Hamilton, Ontario on September 7, 1968.

Blog 22 Turner Beech 18 N

Beech 18 N3199 owned by K&S Aircraft of Fort Lauderdale at Cape May, New Jersey on August 23, 1971. N3199 had begun as a wartime USAAF AT-7. The USAF had it remanufactured in 1952, then it became N3198G in 1959 with the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. It may have been converted to a tri-gear Beech in that period. In 1972 it became N106A and disappeared from the US Civil Aircraft Register in 1988. There were not that many tri-gear Beech 18s by comparison with the standard tail draggers. Another visible mod with N3199 is the 3-bladed props.

Blog 22A Turner Beech 18 N87HA

Joan Turner always was happy to photograph anything with wings. This set her apart from (and above) those photographers who would boast “I only shoot Canadian civil” … or US military, or F-16s, or B-52s, or airliners. You get the idea. These latter would never know the enjoyment that Joan got in shooting homebuilts, Aeroncas, Bellancas, Cessna, Pipers, and – if the chance arose – a B-52. So the sight of a US civil Beech 18 was a pure opportunity. While Joan was revelling in Hamilton, Ohio at the Waco convention on June 29, 1980, she happily shot off a few frames on this E18S Super 18. N87HA had begun in 1956 as N3787B with Southern Airways. It joined Hogan Air in 1980, hence the new registration with an “HA”. In 2019 this historic Beech is N8711H in Puerto Rico with Seven Stars Air Cargo. As I was writing this on March 27, FlightAware noted that N8711H that day made a return flight from San Juan to Beef Island, logging 1 hour 16 minutes.

Blog 23 Turner Beech 18 CF-MJY

Another remanufactured wartime Beech, this example served the US military again from 1953. In 1960 it became N3734G then quickly came to Canada and was converted for aerial surveying by Spartan Air Services. I first photographed “MJY” at Kenora on September 6, 1961. Joan’s shot dates to Ottawa International Airport on September 9, 1973. Looks like a derelict Queen Air just beyond. You can see “MJY” today on display at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage in Sault Ste. Marie.

Blog 24 Turner Beech 18 CF-ZYH

Through the 1970s-80s ex-RCAF Expeditors could be spotted from coast to coast. Some went on to useful careers in civil aviation, but many eventually were parted out and scrapped. While visiting Rockcliffe airport in Ottawa on June 4, 1972, Joan spotted CF- ZYH and ‘YI. Here is “ZHY” still bearing RCAF serial 2302. Note the lovely Citroen Ds19 in the background. “ZYH” seems to have done no further flying, but “ZYI” was sold into the US in 1994, becoming N20R. It’s listed as struck off the USCAR in Mission, Texas in 1991.

Blog 25 Turner Beech 18 CF-DTN

Former DoT Beech 18 CF-DTN was in Joe Kohut’s Capital Air Surveys markings when Joan saw it at Carp on August 22, 1970. Earlier, “DTN” had been RCAF 1500 (1951-1959). Following a contract somewhere in Africa, it ended in Scotland and today is G-BKRN over there, painted in US Navy colours (google Beech D-18S G-BKRN Naval Encounter).

Another important Beech 18 operator in Canada was Bradley Air Services of Carp, Ontario – an airport a bit west of Ottawa. Bradley pioneered in the Arctic starting in the 1950s, then built up its fleet to include the DC-3, Twin Otter and HS748 (see Air Transport in Canada). Bradley eventually evolved into today’s First Air of Ottawa. Joan Turner saw CF-TAE at Carp on October 9, 1972. A G18S “Super 18”, “TAE” had come to Canada in 1960 for Transair of Winnipeg. It later served Bradley 1970-85, so would have had enough adventures to fill a book. In 1985 it joined Toronto-based Air 500, a small company set up by former Millardair pilot Dennis Chadala (author of Millardair and Me). Having been parted out due to wear and tear, “TAE” was struck from the CCAR in 1989.

Blog 27 Turner Beech 18 CF-KJI

Being expert in the air photo business, Bradley made good use of the AT-11, the WWII US military bombardier/gunnery/navigation training version of the Beech 18/C-45. It acquired CF-KJI in 1957 and seems to have operated it for about a decade. Joan photographed it derelict at Carp on October 9, 1972.

Blog 28 Turner Beech 18 Boneyard Carp

Even in the 2000s the bones of a Beech 18 sometimes still can be found moldering away. Joan photographed these ruins at Carp on August 22, 1970. You can see how the good old phrase “in the weeds” applies in this case.

Blog 29 Turner Beech 18 CF-AMY

The founder of Bradley Air Services, Russ Bradley, had a partner, Weldy Phipps. Weldy eventually left to compete in the Arctic with Bradley as Atlas Aviation. Not surprisingly, he made good use of the Beech 18. Joan spotted Weldy’s Beech CF-AMY at Ottawa Uplands on August 21, 1970. “AMY” had begun in 1946 as NC44639 with the State of Illinois – it was the governor’s VIP plane. It came to Canada in 1958 for Automotive Products of Rimouski, then joined Atlas at its Resolute Bay base in 1966, from where it operated to about 1974. Last heard of in the 2000s it was stored somewhere around Winnipeg. Norm Avery wrote the Weldy Phipps biography – Whiskey Whiskey Papa. Used copies of this excellent book can be found at http://www.abebooks.com

Arizona Boneyard

Recently, the intrepid Pierre Gillard of Longueuil was wandering around in the great southwestern desert enjoying the natural environment and great food & hospitality to the fullest. But he also was covering (in his usual scrupulous detail) the local aviation scene. Here is just a small sample of what Pierre found to photograph this time. It’s a formerly busy water bomber base, but now more of a boneyard – Gila River airport in Arizona. You’ll be amazed at what old airplanes still can be found, so google here to see it all: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html

Civilian Canadair Sabres

Blog 30 Sabre + 747 (1)Blog 31 Sabre + L1011

Not long after the RCAF declared its classic Canadair F-86 Sabres surplus in 1968, a large flock of them was bought up by civil operators. Most migrated to California, where they became target drones, chiefly for Flight Systems based at Mojave. Many of these eventually were shot down during “SAM” (surface-to-air-missile) development trials. Others ended with museums and warbird collectors, and even found work as chase planes. Boeing operated both the Canadair Sabre and Canadair T-33 as chase and photo planes during many airliner development programs from the 747 onward. Lockheed used an ex-RCAF Sabre chase plane during the L1011 program. Show here from the CANAV Books Collection is Boeing Sabre Mk.6 N8686F (ex-RCAF 23363) accompanying 747 prototype N7470. If this was on the first flight, the date was February 9, 1969. The 747 is hanging its gear, so the Sabre is using loads of flap plus speed brakes for low-speed control. Both these super-historic airplanes now reside with the Museum of Flight in Seattle. In the second photo, L1011 N31001 is accompanied by Sabre Mk.5 N8544 (ex-RCAF 23241). This was the second L1011 to fly (first flight February 15, 1971). It later served Eastern Airlines, then a list of other global air carriers. It was scrapped in Miami around Y2K. While on some sort of a mission from Mojave on March 23, 1986, N8544 was damaged and subsequently scrapped. Several ex-RCAF Sabres still fly as warbirds in the US. If you’d like an autographed copy of CANAV’s best-selling book, The Canadair Sabre, order using PayPal via larry@canavbooks.com The all-in price with this offer is $46.00. The Canadair Sabre often has been described (all things considered) as the best of the world’s many F-86 Sabre books. I still like what France’s prestigious “Air Fan” journal said about our book when it first appeared. To “Air Fan” The Canadair Sabre was “The aviation literary event of the year”. If you still don’t have a copy, you’ll thank yourself for ordering one today at the price of a few beers.

Some rusty remains of CF-AIR-X still could be found at Air-Dale in 2009. (Ian Macdonald)

Some Beech 18 fans speak up … Readers have been enjoying our blog of late, and quite a few have commented. Here’s some Beech 18 input. Ian Macdonald adds a bit for CF-AIR-X, noting that some parts (a wing section included) still were sitting in the weeds at Air-Dale in 2009. If memory serves Ian correctly, the “X” in the registration possibly had to do with float or ski trials. John Gilbert writes, “Great pics of the Beech 18s, Larry. I see DTN is among them. When I worked at the Aircraft Radio Workshops (Ottawa 1959-61, Toronto 1962-66) we had several Beech 18s used for flight checking. Thanks for the memories (and for all the good books).” Clarke la Prairie adds, “Thanks Larry. That’s a fascinating read on your blog. I followed the link to order the book Whiskey Whiskey Papa. Looking forward to this read about Weldy Phipps.”

Blain Fowler was reminded of his own Beech 18 love affair: “My first airplane ride was as an Air Cadet in 1958. We flew in an Expeditor at CFB Penhold.  Quite a thrill.  I was hooked.  I remember looking down at swathed grain fields and thinking they looked like giant finger prints. About thirty-five years ago, I bought ex RCAF Expeditor 3NM, 2344, out of a farmers field north of Edmonton. It looked similar to 2302/ZHY in your photo collection. It had been given to a composite high school by the air force and was subsequently acquired by the farmer. He had taken very good care of it, although it had not flown or been on the civil register since SOS. Both engines had been run frequently and were in beautiful shape, as was the whole machine. Everything worked, not even a burned out light bulb! Since this was just before I bought the Corsair, I never got around to getting it flying and finally sold it to another Warbird fellow. Had a bit of fun with it while I had it, loading it up with “the boys” occasionally, everyone with a headset, and taxyed it up and down the runway.  Round engine fans are a bit crazy! Loved your blog.”

Paul Manson, who once commanded Canada’s air force, writes to us: “I really enjoyed your latest blog. As always, so much good reading, and superb photos, especially the material on the old Beech 18/C-45/Expeditor. Back in 1962/3, when I was a student on the Specialist Navigator course in Winnipeg (as a token pilot), I did much of my practice flying on the Expeditor as co-pilot. Just checked my log book to see that I had time in the following C-45s: 2334, 1567, 1598, 1461, 2351, 1489 and 1502. Great experience for a jet fighter pilot!”

Wayne MacLellan reports: “Thanks Larry … that brings back memories. We had three Expeditors at Portage-la-Prairie, when I was a T-33 instructor there. As I remember, they were used for senior officer flying proficiency (with a qualified pilot), x-country training (picking up lobster on the east coast, transporting curling teams, etc). When I got my pink slip from Mr. Hellyer I manged to get a Beech rating towards my civilian commercial ticket. When I got to Qantas and they spent three months teaching me how to build and fly a DC-3, my 200 hours of Beech experience came in handy.”

Bob McCaw, one of the many solid Austin Airways people from post-WWII years, mentions two things regarding the blog. First … that Austin didn’t operate the Beech 18. Second … that around the time Stan Deluce’s White River Air Service bought out Austin, White River was operating Beech E18S CF-ANA on a passenger sked between Timmins and Kapuskasing (it’s a hop, skip and a jump between these two centres). Before long, White River became the main contractor in the Ontario Government’s NorOntair, and the Twin Otter took over on all such routes. “ANA” served White River 1970-74, then flew with various operators from Laurentian Air Services of Ottawa to Skycraft of Oshawa. In 1993 it became N5847 with “One Way Ride” in Pennsylvania (let’s go flying with them eh!). Today it’s privately owned in Vacaville, California as N5867. Here’s a photo of “ANA” that I took Toronto YYZ on May 15, 1971. While in Air Niagara colours, it apparently was owned by the Port Colborne Flying Club, which in turn had it on lease to White River. It’s not always easy to figure out such a plane’s historic details. For example, in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register 1970-74 “ANA” is listed as owned by White River.

After enjoying the blog, Ken Pickford was reminded of his boyhood days watching the planes at Edmonton Municipal Airport — “The Muni”: “Thanks, Larry. When I was growing up in Edmonton in the 1950s I remember the RCAF Expeditors coming and going. I lived within bike riding distance, so so spent a lot of time on the observation deck. One difference in those days is that you could identify most aircraft by engine sound alone. Not possible today! Then, I just had to hear 5 seconds of the engine sound as the aircraft passed my bedroom window a mile or so away on final approach (or after takeoff) and could say with about 90% accuracy whether it was a DC-3, North Star, DC-6, Expeditor, Harvard, etc. The North Star could be a little tricky as there were still a few Lancasters in use by the RCAF on a project involving mapping of the Arctic regions, also several Avro York freighters busy on the DEW Line. When I think of the Beech 18, the famous stunt flying scenes from the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” come to mind. In the movie, the famed stunt pilot Frank Tallman piloted a Beech 18 through a billboard and a hangar. Such scenes today would be done using computer-generated imagery, but in 1963 it was the real thing.” (To see what Ken means, check out these film clips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlC1Fboq5vI    and    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsu3hiP1ikQ)

The Great Bob Halford and His De Havilland Canada Archive

One of Canada’s leading aviation journalists and publishers was Robert G. Halford of Winnipeg. Having served in the Merchant Navy in WWII, Bob learned to fly, then was a cub reporter in Dryden in Northwest Ontario. In the late 1940s he became a junior writer at “Aircraft and Airport” magazine in Toronto.

Bob Halford WWII Merchant Navy

BLOG 2 - Bob Halford at The Brogue 28-2-2002

Bob Halford as a young man in the Canadian Merchant Navy. Then the famous quartet with whom I enjoyed many an inspiring lunch at The Brogue in Port Credit: Fred Hotson (DHC, nearest) and Ron Picker (Canadair) on the left, and Bob Halford (nearest) and Dave Clark (Canadair) on the right. When “Aircraft” magazine folded, Bob and his wife established The Canadian Aircraft Operator in Mississauga, a solid publication for readers in all aspects of aviation. “The Operator” continued to about 1990, when the Halfords retired. A few years later, Bob handed over his complete aviation archive to me. Many CANAV Books titles are the richer, thanks to Bob’s thoughtfulness. De Havilland Canada had figured hugely in Bob Halford’s world, beginning with the little DHC-1 Chipmunk in the late 1940s. This week let’s have a look at a fraction of the photos comprising the Halford/CANAV Books Collection:

BLOG 3 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk Line

With wartime contracts cancelled and most employees laid off over the summer of 1945, de Havilland of Canada had to scurry to keep its doors open. The old pre-war Fox Moth was reintroduced, some Mosquitos were sold to Chaing Kai-Shek’s army fighting Mao Tse Tung, and some PBYs were civilianized. But something more future-oriented was needed. The solution was a new basic trainer to replace the old wartime Tiger Moth. This project became the DHC-1 Chipmunk. Shown is the beginning of Chipmunk production at DHC. The Chipmunk first flew on May 22, 1946.

BLOG Halfdord De Havilland Book Cover

Details of this era are best found in Fred Hotson’s landmark book The De Havilland Canada Story (later revised as De Havilland in Canada). Copies can be found at http://www.abebooks.com … no kidding, you need this one.

BLOG 6 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk CF-DIO-X

Sleak and shiny Chipmunk No.1 CF-DIO-X at Downsview in 1946 with a crowd of proud DHC fellows. A.F. “Sandy” MacDonald is 2 nd from the right, then are W.J. “Jaki” Jakimiuk, P.C. “Phil” Garratt and W.D. “Doug” Hunter.

BLOG 7 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk CF-FHY

Chipmunk CF-FHY in the early years at DHC. Note how the canopy had changed from the squarish look to the bubble type. Most Canadian Chipmunks featured the bubble, while those built under licence in the UK, India, etc. had the squarish look.

BLOG 8 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunks CF-DJF-X

BLOG 9 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk CF-CXB

A pair of early Chipmunks on a bright winter’s day at Downsview. Then, a fine air-to-air shot of CF-CXB, part of a batch built for the Canadian Flying Clubs Association.

BLOG 10 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver No.1 CF-FHB First Flight Day 1946

Following the Chipmunk came the DHC-2 Beaver. First flown on August 16, 1947 by Russ Bannock, the Beaver went on to global fame as one of the great bushplanes. I found this historic view of prototype CF-FHB-X in Bob’s DHC files. It was taken a few minutes before Russ fired up “FHB” on first flight day at Downsview. The crowd would have been anxious to see how “their baby” was going to fly! Where is “FHB” today? Thanks to the stalwart efforts of the very founder of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ken Molson (nothing seems to work to get Ken inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame) “FHB” today is a premier display at the CASM in Ottawa.

BLOG 11 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk DJS + Beaver FHB

The Halford files have endless surprises. For example, I only lately noticed this photo – “FHB” with an early Chipmunk.

BLOG 12 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver Final Assembly

BLOG 12A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver Line

Beaver production gets under way. Some 1600 eventually would be built. Beavers remain popular far and wide to this day and come in many versions compared to the “basic” old DHC-2.

BLOG 12B HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver Cockpit

The standard Beaver cockpit set-up c1950.

BLOG 12C HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 People scene Russ Bannock PC Garratt 19-8-1947 Milberry Collection 2019

People around “de Hav” were known as a jolly bunch, who loved their jobs. Here’s a typical scene from early Beaver days. Test pilot Russ Bannock, “big boss” Phil Garratt, and some co-workers are getting a good laugh out of something. Russ was a famous WWII Mosquito ace, while Phil had been a WWI DH bomber pilot.

BLOG 13 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Aerial View C1950

Here’s the “big picture” at DHC in the early 1950s. We’re looking north. At the bottom is some of the new housing spurred on by jobs at DHC. Notice the tightly-packed parking lot – things were hopping. You can see the big new post-war DHC factory in the middle ground. Across the field are the wartime hangars where the Mosquito was built. See the twin white towers to the left of there? Those were newly-erected jet engine test cells needed to support DHC’s contracts overhauling jet engines for the RCAF. These solid concrete structures still stand as artifacts of a forgotten era. Much of the land in the mid-part of this scene today comprises Downsview Park. New production bays have been added over the decades. Today, these turn out Bombardier Q400s and bizjets.

BLOG 14 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver CF-FHF Toronto Bay

Here’s a lovely 1951 Beaver pose: Serial No. 19 CF-FHF purring over Toronto Bay with the city’s iconic islands below. Soon “FHF” was delivered to the BC Pulp and Paper Co. Sadly, it would crash disastrously in Labrador in 1996. As often happens with wrecks, however, it was recovered, rebuilt, and flies to this day back on the BC coast.

BLOG 15 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver CF-GQE-X

There were many Beaver R&D projects, including CF-GQE with its ungainly empennage. This was the prototype for the Beaver with a 550-hp Alvis Leonides engine (vs the standard 450-hp P&W R985). After years in the UK, “GQE” served on missionary duties in South America. It later had a Polish PZL engine. In the 2010s it was in Saskatchewan as C-GHGN. Really … Beavers do have their stories to tell. Happily, these are beautifully covered on Neil Aird’s website dhc-2.com … make a point to visit!

BLOG 16 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver OBS Dolly Take-Off_1

BLOG 17 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver OBS Dolly Take-Off_2

Fred Hotson writes hilariously about efforts one day to launch a Beaver from a makeshift dolly. But dolly takeoffs soon became common. Here, the Ontario government’s CF-OBS (Serial No.2) “has a go” at Downsview. “OBS” today resides in the Bush Plane Heritage Museum at Sault Ste. Marie.

BLOG 18 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 L-20 Beaver medevac version

BLOG 19 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Budworm spray Beavers New Brunswick 1950s CF-GCZ

BLOG 20 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Field Air NZ top dressing Beavers Phil Hanson photo

Beavers quickly were at work around the world, whether as US Army L-20s doing air ambulance work in Korea, spraying the dreaded spruce budworm in New Brunswick, or as “ag” planes dropping fertilizer on sheep grazing lands in New Zealand. Fieldair’s ZK-CKC had begun as a 1956 US Army L-20, then reached New Zealand in 1964 to do ag work. It was wrecked in a 1968 prang. ZK-CLP (beyond) had also been a military L-20. It was destroyed by fire in a 1969 ag accident.

BLOG 22 Beaver 500 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019

Beaver No.500 at Downsview in May 1962. It may read “For Export” on the side, but No.500 became CF-MAA with the Manitoba government. Today it resides with the (presently dormant) aviation museum in Winnipeg.

BLOG 23 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter First Flight Day

DHC-3 Otter prototype CF-DYK-X ready at Downsview for its first flight on December 12, 1951. The great test pilot, George Neal, did the honours that day. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did. Note DYK’s small vertical tail. This quickly was redesigned to give a lot more area. “DYK” later was RCAF 3667 used for some exotic flight test programs at DHC. From 1965 it was CF-SKX for further trials, then was sold to Lamb Airways in 1969. While with Laurentian Air Service, on May 1, 1970 both wings came off “SKX” during a fatal test flight from Ottawa.

BLOG 23A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter as King Beaver 1951

Even by May 1951 DHC still was referring to the Otter by its original name — King Beaver. This diagram shows it configured for aero medical evacuation.

BLOG 24 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter US Army 55-3290

One of many US Army U-1A Otters from the 1950s. 55-3290 shows how it could carry a ready-to-fight squad. U-1As served in many theatres and were (along with L-20s) prominent in the Vietnam War. “3290” eventually ended back in Canada – at Kenora on Lake-of-the-Wood as C- GCQK with a 1000-hp PZL engine. In 2004 it migrated to Alaska to work as N560TR. By that time it had logged more than 15,000 flying hours.

BLOG 25 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter RCAF 3684 wheel_skis

Otter No.45 at Downsview on wheel/skies in 1954 ready for delivery. RCAF 3654 would have a short life. While on a supply run on the Labrador coast on December 15, 1956, it cracked up on landing. The damage was severe, so 3654 was “written off” as a dead loss.

BLOG 26 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter Philippines

Otters would serve on every continent. PAL Otters PI-C51 and C-52 were welcomed when they reach the Philippines in 1955 to serve remote communities. The great Otter aficionado Karl Hayes explains, “The benefits of these Otter services were clear. The land journey from Gingoog to Buenavista took five hours by car and cost 40 pesos. The Otter took 20 minutes and the fare was 9 pesos. Bislig to Davao was a 50 minute Otter flight – the alternative was a week on a coastal freighter, which sailed once a month. North from Lianga, the flight to Buenavista took 30 minutes by Otter and there was no land communication except a three-day foot trail.” On June 21, 1957 PI-C52 had to make a forced landing on a road due to engine failure. Both wings were torn off in the attempt, C52 was a complete loss, but all eight aboard were OK. Sadly, on May 20, 1954 PI-C51 crashed, killing all 11 aboard.

BLOG 27 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter Final Line

Otter production at Downsview.

BLOG 28 HALFORD DHC File Otter Cox PT6 Prototype

Many Otter mods were devised over the decades. Today, most Otters use turbine engines, mainly the PT6 or Garrett. The first such conversion was done in the 1970s by Ray Cox of Edmonton. The Halford Collection includes this lovely air-to-air photo of his prototype C-FMES-X. Originally (1961) with McMurray Air Services, “MES” next served Gateway Aviation, which crashed it badly near Cambridge Bay in 1973. Cox bought the wreck, repaired it and installed a PT6-27 to prove his brilliant idea that the turbine engine was the way to the Otter’s future. “MES” later was N4247A, when Cox moved to Seattle. On December 19, 1984 it crashed near Boeing Field. There were no injuries, but Cox then was forced to leave his vision behind. Others soon picked up on his PT6 idea and the “DHC-3T” now rules Otter skies.

BLOG 29 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 PC Garrett's amphibious DH60 Moth c1930

Here are a few miscellaneous DHC photos from my Halford files. This of CF-AGL is a rare one (aviation fans just love oddball conversions, right). In 1930 DHC executive Phil Garratt had this Gipsy Moth modified so he could more conveniently make the flight to his Muskoka summer cottage from Downsview. “AGL” simply was mounted to a centerline float and used underwing sponsons for stability on the water. Now, Garratt could take off from Downsview on wheels and land on the lake at his cottage. Later that year “AGL” was sold in Newfoundland. While on a 1932 flight, it disappeared forever. In later years, DHC provided Garratt with Beaver No.1000 CF-PCG, which he flew for years on his Downsview-Muskoka cottage get-aways.

BLOG 30 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 DH90 CF-MPA

Even in tough Depression times, DHC kept its doors open. One profitable sale was of several D.H. 90 Dragonflies to the RCMP. This was the beginning of the now-famous RCMP Air Division. Here is the first aircraft awaiting delivery at Downsview in 1937. CF-MPA served into late 1942, then went for scrap.

BLOG 30A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Sparrow Glider

The Sparrow glider was designed and built during the war by members of the DHC gliding club. Members included W.J. Jakimiuk, who later headed the Chipmunk design team; and Walter Czerwinski, who would create the project-saving fix when a grave design flaw arose with the CF-100 wing-to-fuselage attachment.

BLOG 31 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Mosquito Line 1946

As so well told in Fred Hotson’s book, DHC was swamped with work through WWII. Tiger Moths were mass-produced for the wartime air training plan, then a Mosquito line was established. Meanwhile, much overhaul work was completed. When the war ended, all this came to a screeching halt. To keep something going, the last few Mosquitos were completed while, behind the scenes in Ottawa, a deal was made with Chaing Kai-Shek for about 200 Downsview-made “Mossies” (mainly RCAF aircraft in postwar storage). This rare view shows the last of the DHC Mossies being completed. Beyond, you can see some war surplus PBYs being converted for commercial operators. This “busy work” served its purpose until DHC could find its way in the new peacetime economy.

BLOG 32 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Fox Moth CF-DIR 3-12-1946 at DHC

Also in this period, DHC took the ancient D.H.83 Fox Moth, engineered a few improvements, and offered it to commercial operators. 54 were sold, mainly to Canadian bush operators, but a few were exported as far away as India and Pakistan. Using a bank loan, a young Max Ward purchased a new Fox Moth, set up in Yellowknife, then went on to build Wardair into a respected global airline with 747s. Shown at DHC in August 1946 is postwar Fox Moth CF-DIR. Within a year it was with Nalanda Airways in India.

BLOG 32A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 First RCAF Vampire TG372 Namao 1947-48

In 1946 the RCAF acquired its first jets – two Meteors and a Vampire. It then ordered 85 Vampires — its first operational jet fighters. These were assembled at Downsview and, later, went back and forth there for overhaul (D.H. Ghost engines included). Shown at Edmonton is TG372 — the first Vampire in Canada. TG372 remains in storage at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Its experience with the Vampire engine likely helped DHC win major overhaul contracts involving the GE J-47 and Orenda series engines used by the RCAF.

BLOG 33 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Ghost engines at DHC

A busy scene in the DHC engine shop. These look like D.H. Goblins used in the Vampire. For this little-known DHC story see Fred Hotson’s book pages 141-143.

BLOG 34 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 VTOL Fighter_2

The Boeing era at DHC in the 1980s involved several R&D projects including a VTOL fighter project (about which little is known). Looking over an engineering model of this design in 1988 are veteran DHC men, Don Whitley, Director of Advanced Projects, and Mike Davey, VP

Cold War Shield, Vol.3 Is Still Available

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Cold War Shield is one of the glorious books covering the post-WWII RAF. A massive, very nicely-produced hardcore history, “CWS” is worth every penny. A few copies still are available. Compiled over a lifetime by renowned UK RAF historian Roger Lindsay, Vol.3 covers the colourful and exciting era of the Swift, Hunter, Javelin and Lightning. For more info, go to www.coldwarshield.co.uk

Red Lake and the Norseman Festival, July 2017 + Norwegian Norseman News + Wasaya Airlines Sold to EIC of Winnipeg

Last year’s Northwestern Ontario travels took me to Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, Lake-of- the-Woods and, finally, Red Lake. It all really came together with support from Porter Airlines, Bearskin Airlines, Rich Hulina, Northwest Flying Inc, Red Lake Airport, the Sinkowskis and others. The following photo album completes my brief coverage of this busy and productive aviation history-gathering pilgrimage.

Having begun on July 19 with a Porter Airlines flight from Toronto to the Lakehead, then on later in the day to Sioux Lookout on Bearskin, I overnighted at the Hulinas. Next day Rich and I enjoyed flights in his Cessna 206 and one of Northwest’s spiffy Beech 18s. Back in Sioux Lookout that afternoon, I connected with Bearskin again for the half- hour hop over to the historic gold mining town of Red Lake.

Speeding along in Bearskin Metro C-GJVW and watching the great Canadian Shield rolling out below, got me thinking of the pioneers confronting this massive Canadian region, the first aviators included. As early as 1925 some Ontario Provincial Air Service Curtiss HS-2L flying boats operating from Kenora, carried men and supplies into what soon would become the Red Lake mining district.

When news of a strike leaked out, the Red Lake gold rush was on. Over the winter of 1925-26 the first few airplanes were serving the region, mainly from the railroad town of Hudson, near Sioux Lookout. A couple of war surplus Curtiss JN-4s, an impressive little Curtiss Lark and the first new Fokker Universals soon were transporting men and supplies into the area, so that the prospecting could begin. The first claims were staked, then, beginning with “The Howey”, the mines started producing in 1930. None of it could have happened without the airplane and those stalwart pioneer aviators – Jack Elliott, “Doc” Oaks, J.R. Ross, etc. As our Metro started its decent, I also thought of my own dad, Basil Emerson Milberry (1901-1948), who had done his bit around here, starting in the gold rush era and finishing at the Uchi Mine, before moving c.1935 across to the Kirkland Lake and South Porcupine gold mining camps. His name still appears on Kenora District claims maps. History, eh … we live it and we love it. Ruth W. Russell has written a history of the Red Lake gold rushes. Pick up a copy — North for Gold: The Red Lake Gold Rush of 1926. Also, see if you can find copies of the late Donald F. Parrott’s Red Lake books – The Gold Mines of Red Lake, etc. As to the general aviation history of the region, you can’t do better than with Air Transport in Canada and Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years.

When the usually noisy Metro cabin suddenly got quieter and the flaps and gear came down, I returned to the present and soon was stepping off Bearskin at the Red Lake terminal. Meeting me was Joe Sinkowski, who was keen to provide a quick airport run-around. A long- serving bush pilot, in his “retirement” Joe’s on the airport staff doing a host of interesting jobs. He had taken me on my first Norseman flight back in 1995. Today, he introduced me to some of the local operators and for the next three days I had great fun photographing around Red Lake airport — a.k.a. “YRL”.

Red Lake Airport Photo Tour, July 22-24, 2017

Photo 1

Red Lake is one of the great Canadian (and global) gold mining centres. Flying over in the summer of 1995 in a Green Airways PZL Otter, I took this photo that has Red Lake written all over it.

Photo 1A Balmertown Map

Joe Sinkowski provides this basic map to explain what you see in the aerial view. The mine photo is from Balmertown looking slightly northwest about 300 degrees towards the airport. As you look here, Red Lake would be back over your left shoulder about 4
miles.

Photo 1B

On the same flight, I snapped this view of Red Lake Airport. Pretty well at the centre, that looks like a Beech 99 at the terminal. This old building has been replaced by today’s modern one. Near the bottom, you can spot an Apache and an Aztec, two of the standard types serving the area (they’ve all but disappeared, even the Beech 99 has faded). Notice the big yellow MNR Canadair water bomber sitting on forest fire standby.

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The daily scene at YRL terminal includes several arrivals by the ubiquitous Bearskin Airlines Metro. Shown on July 22 is C-GJVH. Built in 1996 and operated with Merlin Airways for a number of years as N898ML, “JVH” has been in the Bearskin fleet since May 2007. Bearskin belongs to the Exchange Income Corporation of Winnipeg. EIC’s other aviation holdings include Calmair, Custom Helicopters, Keewatin Air, Perimeter Aviation and Provincial Aerospace. Just today (April 20) comes news that EIC has added Bearskin’s traditional competition in Northwest Ontario — Wasaya Airlines. On the right in the top photo sits Norseman CF-LZO, which has graced the terminal for several years.

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For any visitor to Red Lake airport there’s no shortage of subject matter on a typical day. What’s common to see for the locals will be exciting for the out-of- town “plane spotter”. Let’s start with the DC-3, a plane that’s no stranger to Northwest Ontario, except that today’s DC-3 is vastly different from yesterday’s. Now known as the Basler BT-67, it’s powered by PT6 turbine engines. It carries pretty well twice the payload of a standard DC-3, so is much more efficient and profitabler by comparison. Shown is one of the Baslers brought to Canada by Frank Kelner of Caravan and PC-12 fame. Initially, he operated under the Cargo North and North Star banners, but has sold this part of his operation to the Northwest Company of Winnipeg. Shown at Red Lake on July 21 is C-FKGL. Notice the extra wide doors. Even that bulky motorboat got squeezed in. When you watch  an operation like this you might wonder about all the babble about bush flying being so “romantic”. Mostly it’s simply about hard, grubby work done by a tough bunch guys and gals who can take the worst of it and keep showing up day after day.

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North Star Air’s Basler C-FWUI began in 1945 as RAF KN511. It then operated as such with the RCAF until its identity changed in 1970 to 12926. It retired in 1974, then became C- GWUH.  Having flown for several northern operators, it became N707BA in 1985, mostly flying for US  courier outfits. Converted by Basler in 2005, it essentially became a completely new airplane. Nonetheless, its heritage dates back almost 75 years.

Photo 6A

For those who aren’t sure about DC-3s, this is more what they looked like “in the old days”. I shot  C-FFAY at Red Lake on July 15, 1991, while it was doing some freighting. “FAY” is an old bird – serial number 4785 built in 1942. Postwar it spent years in South America, then came to Canada in 1972 for a Red Deer outfit called Astro Aviation. From 1973-81 it was with Lambair of  Winnipeg, then was here and there with Perimeter Airlines of Winnipeg, Buffalo Airways of Hay River, etc. In recent years it’s been sitting dismantled back at Red Deer.

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Here I am beside the Red Lake terminal’s Norseman CF-LZO in a shot taken by Joe Sinkowski.

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Other aircraft types come and go daily at Red Lake airport, the indispensable Cessna Caravan included. Here, Superior’s C-FYMK arrives from one of the northern reservations that it helps keep supplied with the daily essentials. The bulky belly pack carries much extra cargo. Built in 2010, “YMK” spent its early days in Italy, but mainly has been in Canada.

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“YMK” loads up for another trip. Due to the steep cost of air transport, a liter of milk, dozen eggs, bottle of pop or bag of chips gets ridiculously expensive by the time it reaches Bearskin Lake, Muskrat Dam, Big Trout Lake, Pikangikum, etc. Note that those last two belly bays carry up to 550 lb.

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Superior’s “amphib” Caravan C-FYMT gets back to base after another trip. In this configuration  “YMT” can get in and out of less accessible spots, and cater to the seasonal fly-in fishing or hunting markets.

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Also seen pretty well daily at YRL is the Pilatus PC-12. Its roles are varied, whether carrying  passengers, freight or, as shown, working as a speedy air ambulance. Air Bravo’s PC-12 C- FTAB was transferring a patient to Red Lake clinic on this July day in 2017. “TAB” previously was C- FMPO of the RCMP, which had acquired it new in 1999.

Photo 12 DSC_4798

One of the great unsung workhorses of the Canadian north is the 1960s-vintage Hawker 748. Last  summer Northwest Ontario, where “The Hawker” once ruled the skies, had only one  left. Although expensive to operate in the 2010s due to its “gas guzzling” Dart engines, former Wasaya Airways C-FFFS still was piling up the hours hauling groceries and all sorts of other supplies to the region’s isolated communities. Having begun in the Philippines in 1969, “FFS” eventually showed up in Canada in 1989 with Northland Air Manitoba. Kelner Airways had  it on lease in 1991, then it was sold to Wasaya in 1996. The Hawker’s main advantages are  how it probably doesn’t carry a mortgage, but it does carry a hefty payload – 12,000 pounds, and it’s fairly speedy, cruising at around 200 mph. No doubt, however, the more recent arrival of BT- 67 and Dash 8 freighters soon will see “FFS” shunted off to the boneyard.

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Another classic in and around Red Lake for decades has been the Piper PA-31 Navajo and  Chieftain. Here, Superior’s Chieftain C-FVWY sits at YRL after a day’s work. Built in 1982, it originally was N4110N. It came to Canada from Hawaii in 2008.

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Chieftain C-GAJT looking a bit worse for wear at YRL. Built in 1981, it operated in the US as N800SA until migrating to Canada in 2003. As it sat last July, “AJT” didn’t seem to have great prospects. Some such aircraft sometimes return to life, but more often than not progressively get cannibalized, then go for pots ‘n pans.

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Also “in the boneyard” at Red Lake last summer was this Piper PA-23 Apache – C-FLQN. One of  Canada’s leading light twins of the early postwar years, the “Plain Jane” Apache gave excellent service as a private, corporate and commercial plane. “LQN” came to Canada in 1959 for Reimer Express, a leading Manitoba trucking company. There it served for years before passing on to a string of Manitoba and Northwest Ontario owners. “LQN” may or may not ever get back into the air. If not, it sure could make a nice little acquisition for any serious aviation museum. Who knows, eh, but  it would be sad to see this historic little Apache carted off for scrap.

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A steady stream of transient aircraft visits YRL, often just to refuel, but sometimes to drop off or pick up business travellers or sportsmen. Here, SOCATA TBM-850 N851MA from KABO Aviation in Kentucky arrives on a charter last July.

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For last summer’s Norseman Festival, the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team flew in from Southern Ontario. They were the icing on the cake for the week’s festivities. Here are pix of the CHAT Harvards at the airport. In decades gone by many an RCAF Harvard used to stop at Red Lake for fuel.

Round and About Red Lake in Norseman Festival Week 2017

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For this part of today’s blog, let’s start with a few Red Lake pictures from “way back”, when the Norseman Festival began. I’d only been casually following the Norseman scene since I got  interested in airplane photography back in the late 1950s. It took 3-4 trips to Northwestern Ontario starting in 1974 to get me keen on it. Still, I’d never had a ride in one ‘til I visited Red Lake in 1995 and Joe Sinkowski took me flying on July 15 in Chimo Air’s CF-KAO. Later that day Joe McBryan invited a few of us for a flight in his beautifully- restored CF-SAN. Here’s a shot of “KAO” from our flight. Joe was delivering sport fisherman that evening to their lodge on Culverson Lake.

Photo 21

Joe’ McBryan’s pride and joy in 1995. He still flies “SAN” from his base in Yellowknife.

Photo 22

The scene from above at the original 1992 festival. Just as we flew over the head of Howey Bay there were nine Norsemans (and one Beaver) at the docks. This was the Norseman Festival at its peak. As the years passed, the number of Norsemans gradually dwindled, but they’re still out there. So come on … fill up your tanks, Norseman people, and fly on over to Red Lake this year.

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Photo 24

Some of “ye olde tyme” Norseman people around Red Lake in 1992. Joe Sinkowski is shown with Bob Green on his left, Bob’s brother Jack Green on his right. Then, Norseman technical wizkids Whitey Hostetler and John “JB” Blaszczyk of Whitey’s famous Red Lake Seaplane Service, where Red Lake’s “town Norseman” CF-DRD was restored in 1991-92.

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When Red Lake started talking over the idea of a Norseman festival and the idea got wheels, the town acquired the hulk of CF-DRD. This is how I saw it in 1991 soon after it had arrived at Whitey’s hangar. Then, here it is beautifully mounted in 1992 at Red Lake’s Norseman heritage park.

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To get a true sense of Northwest Ontario you need to bundle up and visit in winter. I did that a number of times in the 1980s-90s while laying all the groundwork for Air Transport in Canada. This is how I saw Norseman “JIN” one winter. Then, a view of the Howey Bay main docks shot from Sabourin Air’s Cessna 185 C-GDSJ on March 26, 1992.

Photo 29 HOWEY-BAY

Joe Sinkowski took the time to put some labels to my aerial shot. Joe flew all the planes in the Green Airways cluster. He got along fine with them, but had a special love for Beech 18 CF-GNR.

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Let’s have a quick look at some of last year’s Norseman Festival scenes in downtown Red Lake and around and about. Here some folks get ready for their flight of a lifetime in Norseman “KAO”. Then, “KAO” pushing off. Sightseeing passengers get to see Red Lake and area from on high, and definitely get to feel, hear and smell “the wonders” of the Norseman first hand. You get your money’s worth, no doubt about it. Last year there also were Otter and Caravan rides.

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Chimo’s Norsemans “JIN” and “KAO” last summer. Even though the festival was on, they still had to do their daily trips, mainly going back and forth among the many local fishing lodges.

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Turbine Otters “ODQ” and “RRJ” also were at Chimo last July. They represent the future of bush flying here, especially since the Chimo Norsemans were damaged last year by a furious hailstorm.

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“JIN” at the dock. Note “DRD” up behind in Norseman Park. Then, a view from the park  overlooking down at the docks.

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Lots of other bushplanes call Howey Bay home, including another indigenous Canadian plane – Found FBA-2C1 Bush Hawk “EJM” of Canadian Fly-In Fishing.

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Beavers at the famous Viking Outpost base on Howey Bay. Then, Green family Norseman CF-ZMX. Many years earlier Harvey Friesen had started up Bearskin Airlines with “ZMX”. Except for showing up annually at the Norseman Festival, “ZMX” is based at Selkirk (downstream from Winnipeg on the Red River).

 

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Last year I decided on a flight in Chimo’s “Steam Otter” C-GYYS. I blasted off a lot of frames during our 20 minutes with bush pilot Alex Moore. Here are a couple of shots of the great Goldcorp Mine at nearby Balmertown. Still one of the world’s most productive gold mines.

 

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Several other operators call the Red Lake region home. In nearby Cochenour is Faron Buckler’s base from where he operates Otter C-FODJ mainly to support of fishing camps, and bear and moose hunting trips under the Excellent Adventures brand. “ODJ” is powered by a 1000-hp Polish PZL engine. Then, Joe Sinkowski and Faron talking shop.

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The pilot’s front office in “ODJ”. The PZL Otter conversion gained a bit of popularity in the early 1990s, Green Airways operating two. Eventually, however, most became turbine Otters.

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Amik Outpost’s PZL Otter C-FHXY roars away from its base at Chukuni bridge on Hwy 125 on the way to the airport.

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Drive up Red Lake’s Forestry Road to the end and you’ll find the Ministry of Natural Resources main district fire base. The fire threat last July was low, so there was only one helicopter on standby — Heli-Inter’s Bell 205A C-GLHE “Tanker 2” flown by Swiss pilot, Steve Feuz. In the control centre scene, Randy Crampton of the MNR briefs Joe Sinkowski and George Holborn about the day’s fire situation.

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There’s always a load of great Norseman Festival fun at Centennial Park, kids “Norseman rides” included. Each of these little carts is done up in the registration and paint job of an actual Norseman. That’s “JIN” first.

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Last year there even was a Norseman/Bush Flying/Northern Ontario tattoo contest. Here are a couple of the entrees. Far out, eh!

For the total “history nut” a walking tour of the Red Lake Cemetery is a must. The history of the town and region is here in a unique way. Joe Sinkowski gives a fascinating cemetery tour, relating stories galore of the old days, of so many great names and families from prospecting and mining times, of famous bush pilots and air engineers, local doctors, teachers, shopkeepers, trappers, town drunks, you name it. And it’s a very peaceful hour or two. Here’s the grave marker for World War 1 pilot Frederick Carroll, who found himself in Red Lake after the fighting ended and prospectors were pouring into the region. Looking in Royal Flying Corps and Canadian Expeditionary Force records, Hugh Halliday has found a bit about Carroll. It’s known that he was born in Newbrdge, Curragh, Ireland on August 5, 1891. Pre-war he had been a rancher “out west”, then joined the CEF in Winnipeg in September 1914. He was wounded in action on March 17, 1915, then was gassed on April 26. In October 1917 he joined the RFC and a year later was posted to 8 Squadron to fly the FK.8 2-seater on observation and bombing duties. So far we don’t know what had drawn this keen Irishman to Red Lake or what he did there over the years.

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Here’s Whitey’s marker with a Norseman motif. Such other legendary aviators as George Green (Green Airways) and Jake Siegel also lie here.

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James Lindokken’s stone features a Cessna T-50 Crane. His father, Oscar, ran a store at Deer Lake north of Red Lake. James died in a 1964 plane crash.

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Every visitor needs to drop in to Lamar Weavers’s “Treasure House of Red Lake”, the best spot in town to find a good book, a nice pair of hand-made moccasins, or a Norseman cap or T- shirt. Here I am perusing the aviation book section, where Lamar features Rich Hulina’s wonderful Bush Flying Captured and my Norseman books.

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What can one do on a little blog but maybe inspire visitors to look deeper into whichever topic. If you want the best treatment not just about bush flying in Northwest Ontario, but all around Canada, you definitely need a set of Air Transport in Canada. The world’s biggest ever aviation history book (1040 pages, 3000+ photos, 2 volumes, 6 kg, etc.) is on sale at $60.00 off. Regularly $155.00, yours for CDN$95.00 + $16.00 flat rate postage anywhere in Canada + $5.55 tax = $116.55. Do yourself your biggest book favour ever and order up. Having sold about 3500 sets, I’m down to the last 250. ATC will give you decades of enjoyment – there’s nothing like it in aviation literature. Meanwhile, Aviation in Canada: Noorduyn Norseman is still available. Both beautiful big volumes at $115.00 + $16.00 Canada Post + tax $5.65 = $136.65. For Richard’s spectacular book is $50.00 + $14.00 + $3.20 = $67.20. See http://www.canavbooks.wordpress.com for more info about these great Canadian aviation heritage books,

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Finishing up this little Red Lake tour, here’s a photo of last year’s Norseman Festival special guests, the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, doing their thing over Howey Bay. For updates about this year’s festival google Annual Norseman Festival, Red Lake, Ontario http://www.norsemanfestival.on.ca/

Photo 58 CF-DRD at Kuby's (1)

Photo 59 CF-DRD Red Lake Milberry 1992 (1)

Something always pops up at the very last, as did these two old slides. First, a photo taken by my late old pal, the great Les Corness of Edmonton. Passing through Kenora on August 20, 1983, Les visited Kuby’s maintenance and parts base. Among the usual variety of old wrecks that used to fill the yard was Norseman CF-DRD of Wings Aviation. “DRD” sat there for many more long years until rescued by Red Lake in 1991. Here’s another shot I took of it in 1992 at the first Norseman Festival — looking very fine indeed under the spotlights.

Norseman News … Norwegian Project

Our good UK supporter, Trevor Mead, visited Bodo, Norway this spring. In the local Norwegian Aircraft Museum, he came across Norseman LN-PAB, which had begun as US Army 44-70546. It served with US forces in Europe following D-Day. Surplus at war’s end, it went to Norway in 1947 — first with Polar Fly, then with Wideroes. Following an accident in September 1952, “PAB” was stripped of useful parts and abandonned. In 2002 the wreck was recovered by volunteers from the Bodo museum, which gradually has been doing the restoration. So far so good by the looks of Trevor’s photo.

 

Norsman LN-PBL Trevor Mead pic 2018 IMG_9299.jpg

Famed NW Ontario Airline Sold

Published on April 20, 2018, this press release describes a big air transport takeover for Northwest Ontario:

Wasaya Group, its shareholders and Exchange Income Corporation (EIC) have successfully closed the transaction that was first announced on Feb. 1, 2018. Completing this milestone is one of the most significant events in Wasaya’s 29 year history,” said Michael Rodyniuk, president and CEO of Wasaya. “The strength of our combined aviation assets coupled with our capable and motivated people will result in a strong company ensuring Wasaya continues to be a fixture in the communities for years to come.

“The enhanced level of service in Northern Ontario will benefit the people in our ownership communities as well as those in the non-owner communities we serve. Partnering with EIC is a natural fit. They understand aviation, servicing the north, and of utmost importance they have a great history working with First Nations across Canada to provide quality air service to these communities. Partnering with the communities we serve is fundamental to our values,” said Mike Pyle, CEO of EIC. “This transaction allows us to directly partner and engage with our customers. Wasaya’s strong brand and legacy in northern Ontario provides a solid foundation to expand passenger and cargo service into more communities within the region.”

Carmele Peter, president of EIC, stated: “This would not have been possible without the strong working relationship during the establishment of our partnership. This relationship will continue to grow delivering positive results for First Nations People, communities served, travelers, cargo shippers, and our mutual shareholders, all while celebrating and exemplifying success within First Nations’ business.”

Thunder Bay to Sioux Lookout 2017

Perimeter Dash 8 C-FPPW on arrival at Sioux Lookout on July 19, 2017. Having served frontline commuter airlines since the early 1980s, many Dash 8s have “come home” to serve northern Canada for such carriers as Air Creebec, Air Inuit, First Air, Perimeter and Wasaya.

Having flown to “YQT” Thunder Bay from Toronto on July 19 last year to spend the morning photographing this fascinating airport, it was time to push on. Mid-afternoon I boarded Perimeter’s Dash 8-100 C-FPPW for the 50-minute flight to Sioux Lookout “YXL”. The day remained fine, so it was a pleasant 50-minute trip in 1994-vintage “PPW” (the 390th Dash 8). Formerly N827EX, it served Allegheny Commuter and Piedmont Airlines for many years, before returning to Canada in 2010 for Perimeter of Winnipeg.

Bush pilot, award-winning aviation photographer, and writer/publisher Rich Hulina met me at the terminal. We started by touring around the airport, where there’s lots to see and photograph. Here are a few of my shots taken before we headed to the curling club for burgers and beers.

Since the days of the PA-23 Apache in the 1950s, Piper twins have done monumental work in Canada’s North. Introduced in 1972, the PA-31-350 Chieftain was a 10-seat version (2-foot stretch) of the 1964 8-seat PA-31 Navajo. Visiting YXL on July 19 was 1981 model year Chieftain C-GRWN in the markings of Northern Skies Air Service. “RWN” had come to Canada in 2007 for Sunwest Airlines of Calgary. In 2015 Sunwest posted it for sale by which time the airframe had piled up some 17,000 hours. By 2018 it was listed to Toronto-based FLYGTA Inc. The money-making PA-31 series remains in common use throughout the North.

One of the North’s ubiquitous Pilatus PC-12s taxis out at YXL on July 19. C-FKPA is in the colours of Thunder Bay-based North Star Air. As soon as the PC-12 was introduced to the region c1990, it began taking over from the previous generation of basic backcountry workhorses, especially the Cessna Caravan. About the same size as the Caravan (which North Star also flies), the PC-12 is much faster and is pressurized – a nice feature when on a long run such as Sioux Lookout to Bearskin Lake or maybe all the way over to Moosonee or Timmins.

Another typical daily Sioux Lookout scene shows SkyCare’s Metro II C-GKPX taxiing for takeoff as a Wasaya Beech 1900D arrives. Built in 1978, “KPX” operated throughout the EU until becoming N5470M in the USA in 1997. It came to Canada in 2008. Recently established at YXL with the Chieftain, Merlin and Metro, SkyCare specializes in charters and air ambulance service.

There’s invariably at least one Beaver being serviced at Sioux Lookout. This day, CF-IPL was waiting to be delivered back to base. Beaver No.132, it originally bought in 1951 by Imperial Oil of Toronto. Since 1963 “IPL” has been in the Atikokan area, most recently with Atikokan Aero Service specializing in the summertime sport fishing and wildness trips markets. Across the field you can see the hanger for the locally based Ornge PC-12 air ambulance.

It’s not uncommon on any main northern airfield to find a boneyard of old planes. At YXL the main one sits at the Allen Air hangar. Founded by George Allen offering aircraft maintenance and rebuilding, this is a legendary Sioux Lookout business. Following George’s passing, his son Dave took over the hangar.
Dave George’s business has been aircraft maintenance, but also restoring wrecks and cannibalizing others for useful spare parts. This was part of the scene on July 19 with lots of clapped out Cessnas lying around. However, it isn’t beyond the imagination that the odd one might fly again.

Last summer things were not looking promising ay YXL for SkyCare PA-31 C-GJCX. A 1977 model, “JCX” had been in the UK as G-BEZU with such operators as Oxford Air Training School. Later it was G-HVRD doing charter work with Clasair. It flew the North Atlantic to Canada in 2013. There also were 2-3 old Metros lying in the weeds here. The R-44 helicopter in the distance had just refueled and was continuing its ferry trip to Alberta.

Next morning Rich and I were up at sunrise to start a busy day. The plan was to take Rich’s beautiful Cessna 206 Stationair C-GGRU down to Nestor Falls on Lake-of-the-Woods for a day of knocking around the bushplane scene. Here, Rich pumps in gas at his home dock for the return trip of about 200 nm.

A couple of the local Nestor Falls planes on July 20: Beaver C-GEBL of Northwest Flying Service (NorthwestFlying.com), and Piper CF-FEJ head out on local trips. Beaver No.1068 “EBL” is an ex-US Army L-20A that served in military colours 1957-72. It came to Canada in 1975 and since then has always been in NW Ontario. “FEJ” first appeared on the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register in 1973, the co-owners then being in Lively, near Sudbury.

Rich (right) with Northwest Flying Service owner Shane Pope make plans for our visit.

Shane’s outfit is famous for its two lovely Beech 18s C-FHZA and C-FKL. Here, “NKL” is nearest, as “HZA” is pushed off for an early trip to one of the numerous fishing camps out as far as a hundred miles.

“NKL’s” front office. Then, Beech 18 aficionado Shane Pope just as he gets “NKL” neatly into the air for a short camp trip delivering passengers and supplies.

The setting out at camp where one of Shane’s Beeches is always a welcomed sight.

Rich relaxes in “NKL” on the way back to base. In recent summers he’s enjoyed flying a Beech 18 based at Ear Falls.

Back in the 1950s-60s we schoolboy “airplane photo hounds” rarely would let a Beech go by without snapping off a frame. Searching my files lately, I see that I photographed both “HZA” and “NKL” more than 55 years ago. I came across “NKL” at Rivercrest airstrip near Winnipeg on September 5, 1961; and “HZA” at Toronto Malton Airport on March 4, 1962. At the time, Warren Plummer of Sioux Narrows was using “NKL” to support his pioneer sport fishing camps on Great Bear Lake. “HZA” was then with Cascade Drilling of Calgary. Of course, one could write a book about any such Beech 18. The amazing thing is that in 2018 both Beeches will again be in the water at Nestor Falls.

After our Beech 18 fun at Nestor Falls, Rich and I drove up the road a bit to Todd Lougheed maintenance shop — a go-to place for any Beech fan. Today the fellows were doing maintenance on C-GESW, while C-FEHX and C-FTBX were in outdoor storage, their futures uncertain. Once retired by the RCAF c1965, many Beeches (“EHX” included, ex-RCAF 5181) made their way onto the civil aircraft register, then had long, useful careers. Other Beeches came from the US, as did “ESW” in 1999 and “TBX” in 1966. Geoff Goodall’s Beech 18 website is a key source for quick registration look-ups. Also, Robert Parmerter’s landmark 3-kg book Beech 18: A Civil& Military History is “a must have” for any true fan (available at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum). Besides such basic sources, many other blogs and websites feature Canada’s Beech 18s, a fine example being Michael Prophet’s http://www.michaelprophet.com/News_articles/OntarioBushPlanetrail.html

Various other photo-worthy planes were at Todd’s base on July 20, this fine-looking 1947 Aeronca “Champ” CF-TBY included.

From the Beech 18 haven, we drove over to visit Todd’s dock to have a look at his 1964 Found FBA-2C CF-RXJ. Built in Toronto, “RXJ” has spent its career in NW Ontario, where after 50+ years it still does useful work. Here’s how it typically looks at the dock in summer. Then, a view of the interior, little of which has changed other than some instrumentation. Finally, Rich and Todd discussing the Found, which proved to be such a solid northern workhorse over the decades. Rich sometimes flies Glen Tudhope’s FBA-2C C-FSDC from Hudson, near Sioux Lookout and rates it highly as a basic bushplane.

After snooping around some other local docks, we ended at Dave Beauchene’s always-busy Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts. In former years this was another good spot for Beech 18s, but Dave ultimately converted to turbine Otters. Here are the fellows in Dave’s giftshop, where we found a copy of Rich’s photo of Dave’s two Otters. See Rich’s book Bush Flying Captured for the best current coverage of aviation in NW Ontario!

Three scenes at Dave’s main dock on July 20. First, his Otters at the dock: C-FODK and C-FSOR. C-FODK had begun in 1953 with the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests. It served there to 1984, then went to Huron Air of Armstrong for another long career. However, things came to a messy ending when “ODK” had engine trouble on May 26, 1998 and crashed into the bush. Rebuilt, it came to Nestor Falls in 1999, then was converted along with “SOR” in the 2000s to the Garrett 1000-hp TPE-331 turbine. Next, a typical dock scene with an Otter just back from camp with a load of happy American fishermen. Finally, “SOR” heading out on a trip. “SOR” had begun 1958 with the Indian military, where it served in major shooting wars with China and Pakistan. By 1991 (when it was retired) it had logged nearly 6400 flying hours. Coming back to Canada, it was restored in Saskatoon in 1994, then found its way to Nestor Falls.

Our long, enjoyable day finally over on Lake-of-the-Woods, we got back aboard our lovely Cessna and returned to Sioux Lookout, where I had a flight to catch. Thanking Rich for a great day of meeting people and photographing bushplanes, off I went on Bearskin Flight JV319 (Metro C-GJVW) to Red Lake, a pleasant 30-minute hop. The Metro is basic NW Ontario air transportation and it works! Check in again to see “Part III Red Lake” of last summer’s NW Ontario travels.

Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre

Some years ago the Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre was formed in Thunder Bay. The society’s message is just as you might expect — it brings together people of like mind, whether old timers or “the younger set”. Meetings are held at 905 East Victoria Ave., and there’s a regular newsletter. Check out the website http://www.noahc.org (or … email to noahc@tbaytel.net) and get yourself a membership. You don’t need to be a local to belong, so get on the NOAHC bandwagon — you’ll be happy you did!

Spring/Summer 2018 Booklist

CANAV Books Spring/Summer 2018 Booklist is out!  For the very best in Canadian aviation history reading click right here! Highly recommending The Captain’s Widow, Farm Boy to Fly Boy, The Noorduyn Norseman and The CAE StoryCANAV 2018 Spring_Summer List

Norseman Restoration Fund: Please Support This Important Project

Skies Norseman CF-DRD 30-7-2017DSC_4419

Last July a violent hailstorm hit Howey Bay at Red Lake, severely damaging the town’s iconic Norseman CF-DRD and grounding the two Chimo Air Service Norsemans. Red Lake is setting out to restore CF-DRD. Can you help in this important but expensive aviation heritage cause? Please go to https://www.gofundme.com/Save-DRD?pc=em_db_co2876_v1&rcid=bbcb9c3843a54fd598ade3094e566841 to donate even just a few bucks. Thanks for your contribution! Also … you should google Red Lake Norseman Festival to see what’s shaping up for this July’s festivities. Cheers … Larry.

REMINDER FROM THE PUBLISHER  Dear readers … Since 2016 CANAV has been out of stock of its world-famous  title, De Havilland in Canada. Having begun in 1983 as The De Havilland Canada Story by Fred Hotson, the book morphed in 1999 into De Havilland in Canada. Should you need a new copy, contact Viking Aircraft in Victoria, BC, or search some of the internet’s many used book sites — abebooks.com, bookfinder.com, ebay, etc. All the best … Larry