Author Archives: Owen M

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This Week’s Topics … Canadair Sabre for museum in India + Long Lost Book Review + Why Do the Greens Disgrace Themselves Like This + 747 Retrospective + More Great Lakes History + The Airborne Classroom + 1963 Spotters’ Road Trip + Canadair Sabre & CAE Reader’s Comments + Smashing Review Surfaces for Our 1986 Book, The Canadair Sabre

Our blog follower, Jagan, submits this news about Canadair Sabre 1606 ex-Luftwaffe, ex-Pakistan AF, ex-Bangladesh AF. See pages 325-326 in The Canadair Sabre, including a photo of 1606 in poor condition in a scrap yard. Enjoy this link for the latest news — 1606 now will be well cared for by the IAF Museum.

It’s always good fun going back through copies of ancient aviation journals on a quiet day. Over the decades, one of the very best of these was Alan Hall’s “Aviation News”. Fans in the UK and around the world waited eagerly for each fresh edition to hit the news stands, or, to arrive in the mail.

In those exclusive years of super-quality aviation periodicals, we aviation book publishers were certain to send review copies of our new titles to each. Rarely would any decent quality book miss being reviewed by the top magazines, and there always was the hope of winning a lead review, or, “Book of the Month”. CANAV has had a good share of the best that the book editors had to offer from Canada to the USA, UK, across Europe and down to Australia/New Zealand.

In flipping through “Aviation News” back issues today, I was astounded to come across a review in a September — October 1986 edition of The Canadair Sabre that I missed all those decades ago. Our book certainly excited “Aviation News” from top man, Alan Hall, to his deputy, Lindsay Peacock, to the rest of the staff, which included in those days such other UK “Kings of Aviation History” as Arthur Pearcy and Brian Sturtivant. I don’t know who was in charge of the book pages, but he certainly was smitten by our book. I’ve seen many a wonderful review of our efforts since 1979, but few have exceeded the praise doled out here by “Aviation News”. How the review finishes in itself is enough to explode a publishers head! “Rarely does one find such a complete exposition of a popular aircraft. We feel that Larry Milberry has set standards that will be hard to follow.”

The Canadair Sabre … order your copy today at the best offer yet! Usually $40.00 + shipping, with this offer you can own your personal copy (signed by the author) at $30.00 all-in for Canadian orders, or CDN$40.00 all-in USA or International (surface mail). Send payment by PayPal straight to CANAV at

PS … “Aviation News” today is one of the superb periodicals from Key Publishing. As Britain’s longest established monthly aviation journal, it’s renowned for providing the best coverage of every branch of aviation. Each issue gives you the latest info and in-depth features. Check out the details at the publisher’s website. You’ll be glad that you subscribed!

From the World Aviation News Front Page, March 5, 2021

What goes on with some of the extremist groups? How does moronic urban terrorism advance their ideological causes? Google this item and see what you think: Greenpeace Vandalizes Air France Boeing 777 in Paris ..

747 Retrospective

One of the great triumphs in aviation history since Day 1 goes by the simple name “Boeing 747”. You can learn all the basics starting with the Wiki 747 entry, then there’s a host of excellent books to read. Also, a real “must see” is Sam Chui’s nostalgic YouTube video – “The Last British Airways B747 Flight – An Emotional Farewell”. Sam has done a bang-up job covering the recent retirement of the 747 from British Airways. You can find this item by googling it by its title.

The 747 is such a magnificent story. In digging through old files lately, I came across some ancient Boeing PR photos and press releases. Inspired by Sam’s video and what I started unearthing around CANAV Books HQ, I decided to share a bit more about the 747, not that the interweb isn’t already bulging with material (I just know that you whiners out there know perfectly well where to find your favourite 747 content if this selection isn’t your cup of tea — yes there are whiners for any topic I can dream up). Mainly, you regular folks will be enjoying a few old 747 Kodachromes that Wilf White and I took in decades gone by, plus a few other pix that are credited:

To start spreading the word about its idea for a huge passenger jetliner, in the mid-1960s Boeing began sending the press 8×10 “glossies” showing scale models of the 707 vs These gave a rough idea of the size of the proposed 747, which eventually was dubbed “Jumbo Jet”. Check out the simple description accompanying the photo. True to form, the press was skeptical. “Time Magazine”, for example, declared that the 747 was guaranteed to be a dud. (Boeing Photo)
Air Canada was quick to place its order for the 747. The type first appears in the company’s 1968 budget as a proposal to purchase three. President G.R. McGregor simply explained how Air Canada would be sidelined in the industry, if it didn’t join the global 747 “club”. The price per airplane was $23 million. The company’s first 747-100 series — CF-TOA — was delivered to Dorval on February 11, 1971. Taking the official photos was the great Ed Bermingham. With his office at Dorval Airport, Ed had two main clients – Air Canada and CAE Inc. Talk about a dream job for a fellow who had begun as a kid tinkering with old cameras! If you have our book Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, you’ll be familiar with Ed’s magnificent photography. Here, “TOA” arrives, then taxis in. What a red letter day in the history of Air Canada and “YUL” Dorval. “TOA” would enjoy a long career before being sold to Guinness Peat Aviation in 1984. Thenceforth, it served carriers from National Airlines as N749R to People Express, Middle East Airlines and Flying Tiger Line. In 1988 it became N890FT owned by First Security Bank of Utah (banks and insurance companies often own the airliners we assume the operators must own). In 1992 “TOA” became N620FE with Federal Express. It finally went for parting out and scrapping at Marana, Arizona in 1995.
Ed Bermingham also photographed Air Canada’s second 747-100, CF-TOB, on its delivery to YUL on March 18, 1971.
CF-TOB served into 1985, then had a long afterlife with operators from Iberia of Spain to Middle East Airlines of Lebanon, and Canada’s iconic Wardair (1986-1990). It ended c.1995 with Air Atlanta Icelandic, then went to Marana, where it was scrapped in 2003. I caught “TOB” landing at YYZ on October 1, 1972.
This Air Canada B.747-200 was to have been CF- TOF, but instead was delivered in 1975 as C-GAGA. It was sold in 1988 to Canada Lease Financing, then leased back by Air Canada. I shot “AGA” on 35mm b/w film at YYZ on May 16, 1975. Notice the Lancaster beyond. That’s G-BCOH (ex-RCAF KB976) on its ferry trip from Edmonton to the UK for the Strathallan Aircraft Collection. A few of us got on the ramp for this festive event, but I’m glad I also grabbed this shot of “AGA” for the record (as we used to say). My vantage point was the rooftop parking lot in YYZ’s famous (and long gone) Aeroquay/Terminal One.
Over the decades “AGA” served other airlines on and off (e.g., Garuda of Indonesia). It finally left Air Canada in 1999 for Marana. It was bought for spares in 2003 by the great Detroit cargo carrier, Kalitta Air. The leftovers became scrap in 2013. Here’s “AGA” landing at YYZ on July 31, 1993.
Air Canada’s B.747-400 “combi” C-GAGL leaps into the blue at YYZ on May 27, 1997. Delivered in June 1991, “AGL” had been financed by Air Canada, but was sold in 1993 to GE Capital Corp., then leased back. It served into late 2004, then went to Guggenheim Aviation Partners. In 2006 it was flying for Air China, had subsequent operators, and most recently was ER-BBC with the Moldavian cargo line, Aerotranscargo. On a recent trip, on January 23, 2021 it operated from Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan to Budapest, Hungary. While most straight 747-400s have little use in today’s market, any “combi” (convertible from passenger to cargo) is greatly sought after, especially in Covid 19 times, when billions of doses of vaccines are being transported globally.
Delivered in November 1973, CPAir’s B.747-200 C-FCRA “Empress of Italy” is seen at Vancouver in September 1986. This was about when “CRA” was sold to Pakistan International Airlines, becoming AP-BCL. It served PIA to about 2000, then flew under Sierre Leone registration — 9L-LOR. It finally was N899TH in Thailand, where it was seen derelict in 2007 (since scrapped). In its final years, “CRA” clearly was with some sleazy operators. Who knows was illicit cargos were flown, but all those secrets vanished in the scrapyard. (A good book covering this topic is Matt Potter’s Outlaws Inc: Flying with the World’s Most Dangerous Smugglers.)
From my first book, Aviation in Canada (1979) comes one of my favourite pictures. Shown is the handover at Boeing of Wardair’s first 747, CF-DJC, on April 23, 1973. Boeing and Max Ward went all out for this glorious event, having Max’s pioneer plane (a De Havilland Fox Moth), his first 707 and his first 727 all part of the celebration. What a gorgeous set-up shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the great Gordon S. Williams was behind the lens for this shot. Gordon had begun shooting airplanes on the West Coast since he was a boy, then spent his working decades as a Boeing photographer. (Boeing Photo P48939)
Maintenance and overhaul were the other side of the 747 business. Here is “DJC” as I saw it on July 12, 1973. Wardair in Toronto must have been promised good weather this day, for some serious work was under way. In 2021 retired Wardair head of maintenance, Dan McNiven, recalled that, if this was an engine change, it would have taken a crew of five about 5½ hours, engine run-up included. Air Canada would have taken more like three days to do the same job in the luxury of a hangar (which Wardair didn’t have at YYZ in 1973).
Wilf White photographed “DJC” in the UK in August 1985. “DJC” was named “Phil Garrett” in honour of one of Canada’s revered WWI and pioneer bush fliers. It later flew in Canadian Airlines International, Nationair, Garuda, Saudia and Air Atlanta Icelandic colours. Sadly but inevitably it was broken up at Manston in the UK in 1999.
B.747-200 C-FXRA of Wardair about to land at YYZ in June 1983. Dubbed “Herbert Hollick Kenyon” after another pioneer bush and Arctic pilot, “XRA” was delivered from Boeing in June 1978. In 1986 it was sold to British Caledonia Airways, where it flew as G-GLYN. Other adventures ensued, the last in 2000 when it was with Philippine Airlines as RP-C8850. It made its final landing soon afterwards at Marana to be scrapped.
While waiting for a flight at Mirabel on July 29, 1994, I spotted 747-200 C-FXCE on the ramp in the colours of Fortunair, one of Canada’s many short-lived charter carriers. But “XCE” was by no means a short-lived 747! Originally 9V-SQF with Singapore Airlines in 1977, it returned to Boeing in 1984. Refurbished, it moved on to PanAm as N724PA “Clipper Fairwind”, then to Potomac Capital Investment Corp. in 1991. Various operators ensued, from United Air Lines to Tower Air, then Fortunair in June This company didn’t last, so “XCE” went into storage at Marana. Various adventures ensued, as in 2004, when it was 3D- NEF in Swaziland; then in 2007 as Libyan XT-DMK. As “DMK” it ended in storage at Sana, Yemen. A typical story for many a veteran 747 – from glory days to the bottom of the barrel.
BOACs 10th 747-100 series G-AWNJ was delivered in March 1972. It first was named “John Donne”, then “City of Sheffield”, lastly, “Bassenthwaite Lake”. “NJ” was sold in 1998 and sent to storage that December to Roswell, New Mexico. On December 6, 1997, it had taken off at 1446 hours at Heathrow for New York JFK carrying 18 crew and 323 passengers. Suddenly, a Canada Goose was ingested by No.2 engine. All standard procedures were carried out by the book and “NJ” landed safely at Part of the final report for this reads: “Whilst in the holding pattern, which was flown at 260 KIAS in the clean configuration, there was noticeable airframe vibration. The vibration level increased as speed was reduced and flap progressively extended and was most marked at 205 KIAS with flaps 5. However, the level of vibration did not affect the operation of the aircraft …” There would have been great anxiety in the passenger cabin, but all’s well that ends well. Post-landing inspection revealed the following re. No.2 engine: “Initial examination by the AAIB, after the aircraft had returned to a stand, showed that the left inner (No 2) engine had suffered severe damage to the fan; two adjacent fan blades had lost substantial portions of their outer length and all the blades had some hard object damage. It was also observed that the complete intake assembly, fan cowls, jet pipe and exhaust cone had separated from the powerplant assembly; these components, together with fragments of fan blade and some feathered bird remains were retrieved from the western end of Runway 27R.” For the full report, google “Boeing 747-136, G-AWNJ, 6 December 1997”. I photographed “NJ” at Toronto in all its BOAC impressiveness on June 30, 1972.
July 11, 1971 at Toronto. “Jumbo Jets” still were new, so we spotters barely could contain ourselves when OO-SBA drifted by so low and seemingly so slow. “SGA” was SABENA’s first 747-100. Delivered in November 1970 it still would have had “that new car smell” to its cabin. “SGA” served SABEBA into 1993, then was scrapped at Brussels.
The mainline airlines all jumped in to order the 747 once its true potential and magnificence became clear. Over the decades Alitalia would operate 21, all in the 100 and 200 series. I- DEME was the second to join the fleet. Delivered in July 1970, it returned to Boeing in 1981, after which it had a long list of owners/operators starting with SAS in 1982, finishing as N17011 with Continental Airlines into the early 1990s. It finally ended at Marana in 1995 to be scrapped. I caught “EME” landing at Toronto on July 6, 1973.
Seeing this Air France B.747-200 landing at Toronto on September 4, 1983 was a nice surprise for all the spotters that afternoon. The diehards, however, were extra interested when they caught the registration – N1252E. What? Yes, a US registration, and the same one with which the plane had been delivered to Air France five years earlier. It turns out that all along N1252E was owned by the Connecticut First National Bank and on lease to Air France. In 1985 it finally became F-BPVU, then served into 2002. It finally went for scrap at Chateauroux, France.
Delivered in May 1971, El Al’s first 747-200 4X-AXA was shot by Wilf White at Heathrow on August 10, 1980. “AXA” served into 1999, then was used at Tel Aviv as an anti-terrorist training facility. It finally was scrapped in 2019. Quite the career, half a century of usefulness. Then, El Al’s 4X-AXQ departing YYZ as I saw it on September 3, 1989. “AXQ” joined the El Al fleet in May 1988 after 14 years at QANTAS as VH-EBG. It served El Al into 2005, then was scrapped two years later.
Wilf photographed British Airways 747-200 G-BDXJ in August 1985. Delivered to BA in May 1980, it was named “City of Birmingham”, then served into 2001. Thenceforth, it flew with charter operators until retired in 2005. Its final flight was from Gatwick to Dunsfold (about 13 miles in a straight line), where it began a new career as a movie prop (“Casino Royale”, etc.). It survives to this day.
Iraqi 747-200 YI-AGN at Heathrow on August 10, Knowing Wilf, this day he might have been capitalizing on some free time to shoot airliners, while awaiting his flight to kick off one of his famous summer tours to Canada (his first crossing had been in a DC-4). He usually would fly in to New York or Toronto, then bus and train it cross-country at his own pace to spend a few days with his brother at Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. “AGN” had joined Iraqi in June 1976. It was seized by the Iranian government in 1991, becoming Iranian military 5-8106. In August 2020 it was badly damaged when it jumped its chocks at Tehran following a 6-year rebuild. Heads sure must have rolled following this botch-up. There’s a beautiful 1/500 th “Flight Miniatures” diecast model of “AGN”.
Another of Wilf’s shots that day at Heathrow – Northwest’s N601US. Delivered in April 1970, it remained with Northwest into 1986, then went to Maxton, North Carolina for storage. Eventually, it was scrapped, but its nose/cockpit were saved and now are on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. (NASM Photo)
Singapore Airlines 747 9V-SQO departs Heathrow on August 10, 1988. These all are actual photographs, taken by Wilf many years ago with a clunky old camera on which he needed to set f-stops and shutter speeds, remember his film ASA, focus manually, shoot with no more than 500/sec shutter speed, advance the film manually — all such prehistoric stuff. I say bravo Wilf and thanks for saving all such fantastic aviation history.

The grand 747 is gradually fading, but 30 – 40 years from now there still will be 747s at work. I suppose it’s a natural sign of “progress”, but the 747-800 (now on the line at Boeing) itself is edging towards the end. This is some news from Boeing and Atlas Air as of January 12 this year: “Boeing and Atlas Air Worldwide today announced an agreement to purchase four 747-8 Freighters… The 747-8F is the best and most versatile widebody freighter in the market, and we are excited to bolster our fleet with the acquisition of these four aircraft … This significant growth opportunity will enable us to capitalize on strong demand and deliver value for our existing and prospective customers… With a maximum payload capacity of 137.7 metric tonnes (137,750 kg), the 747-8 Freighter allows customers to access 20% more payload capacity while using 16% less fuel compared to previous-generation 747s. The jet also features 30% quieter engines. The 747-8 airplanes in this agreement will be the final four aircraft to roll off the production line in Everett, Washington… Atlas Air has 53 747s in its current fleet, making it the largest 747 operator in the world… The 747 program has produced 1,560 aircraft since launching the jumbo jet more than 50 years ago.”

CANAV Books has so many top-level readers and we’re steadily in touch. According to the CANAV grapevine, our 747 pilot friends have one thing in common – they love their 747. Recently, one pilot, who’s flying the mighty “8”, wrote to us: “I must admit, between the – 400 and the -8, I prefer the -8. It really is a wonderful machine. You’re correct, the 747 is an absolute wonderful flying machine. Having flown the classic -100 and -200, and now the -400 and -8, I greatly admire the design team and their philosophy. One NASA test said that the basic 747 airframe is an aerodynamic masterpiece. Good description for sure! Sadly, the production line is shutting down in 2022, but with all this Covid around the world, we’re extremely busy. We’re hiring pilots and adding aircraft. Out of Hong Kong we’re always pushing back at 990,000 lb with the -8. She’s remarkable and really efficient with those GE engines. The flying is straightforward, the ol’ 7-4 is fantastic!”

One of the last 747-8s on the line recently at Boeing in Seattle. (Boeing Photo K63934)

More Great Lakes History

I wasn’t surprised to hear that many CANAV fans share an interest in shipping, so here are a few more random photos from my Great Lakes collection. First, a few scenes from Kingston, an important centre at the east end of Lake Ontario. Kingston started in shipping in the 1600s — the days of Count Frontenac of New France. For centuries it was noted for shipbuilding. Those days are long gone, but the history of it all is very much alive and to be revelled in by anyone with half a clue. When in Kingston, enjoy its historic waterfront and visit the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes.

A general view of Kingston that I shot in August You’re looking upstream (west) towards the city with Royal Military College in the foreground. Downstream, the lake empties pretty well immediately into the mighty St. Lawrence River, which arises just out of the picture on the left.
Just off Kingston is famed Wolfe Island, where about 1400 people reside. Traditionally, they’ve travelled to and from Kingston by ferryboat, the Wolfe Islander being well known in this trade. In winter the local waters usually ice-up, so the ferry needed help getting through the channel. Here’s the Wolfe Islander in a distant shot from February 15, 1975 under tow by the tug Salvage Monarch. They’re approaching the dock at the foot of Brock St. Then, a couple of closer views. The Wolfe Islander was built in Collingwood in 1946. It was 144’3”x 43’1” with an 8-foot draft. It originally had been built as the Ottawa Maybrook as a gift to China, but when Mao took over there in 1949, it was acquired by the Ontario government and converted from a coastal freighter to a side- loading ferry. It served Wolfe Island until replaced in 1976. Today the Wolfe Islander is a divers’ delight lying 80 feet on the bottom of the St. Lawrence River, sunk there on September 21, 1985, having been forsaken by the local marine museum. As to the Salvage Monarch, it was built in Appledore, UK in 1959 and at this time was owned by McAllister-Pyke Salvage. According to the List of Shipping for 1968, it is 91’3”x26’1” with a draft of 11’4”. Gross tonnage 219. In 2021 Salvage Monarch was listed to Heritage Harbour Marine Co. of Goderich, but was residing in Toronto.
This summertime view (June 26, 1973) gives a better idea of the Wolfe Islander’s lines.

Built by Russel Brothers Ltd. in Owen Sound in 1949, the 86’4” passenger and car ferry Upper Canada originally was the Romeo and Annette serving the coast of northern New Brunswick and Gaspé. In 1965 it was sold to the Ontario government to bolster the Wolfe Island service. In the 1970s it left Kingston to serve Pelee Island in Lake Erie. In the 1990s it was on the Christian Island run in Georgian Bay, so what a useful little ferry for more than half a century. Finally, Upper Canada was sold to an individual, but its registration was not renewed after 2008. About this time it mysteriously turned up run ashore on the Black River in Lorain, Ohio. Nothing is known about this and the ship lies there year by year. (well worth a look) explains: “City officials are unsure how or why a Canadian registered boat ran aground in Lorain, and with no way to contact the owner, there seems little that can be done at this point. Even the Coast Guard has no record of how or why it came to rest on the Black River. The Coast Guard inspected the ship to make sure that it did not pose an environmental hazard by leaking pollution. But beyond that, it doesn’t fall under their responsibility. In order to salvage the boat or remove it, someone would need to have a claim against the vessel to try and get a title for it, he said. Somebody would need a monetary claim to do anything with it.” I photographed the Upper Canada in Kingston on June 26, 1973.
Dedicated Great Lakes historian and photographer, Bill Kloss, photographed the Upper Canada derelict in the Black River near Lorain, Ohio in May 2020. Bit of a sad scene, no, but maybe someone still might save this historic ferry.
The Pike’s Salvage dock on the Kingston waterfront on July 31, 1975 showing the work vessel Mapleheath and tug Daniel McAllister, both of McAllister-Pyke Salvage. Mapleheath was built in 1910 at Newcastle-on-Tyne and christened Toiler. It was 255’4”x42’5”x17’3” with a gross registered tonnage (grt) as per records in 1968 of 1693. Its owners over the decades included Canada Steamship Lines 1918-1959. The Toronto Marine Historical Society newsletter, “The Scanner”, notes of the Mapleheath in its October 1981 issue: “On November 29, 1959, Mapleheath was purchased by the McAllister Towing Company Ltd., Montreal, (now known as McAllister Towing and Salvage Ltd.), and was reduced to a crane-equipped salvage barge and lighter. Her after end remained much as it had been, complete with funnel, but the forward cabins were cut away. A large crane was placed on deck for the lifting of cargo from stranded ships. Painted up in the same colours as McAllister’s Montreal harbour and wrecking tugs, complete with the bright yellow stripe around her hull, Mapleheath remains active in the McAllister fleet to this day, and she is frequently called upon to assist vessels in distress in the lower lakes area or on the St. Lawrence River. It is anticipated that there will be a need for her as a wrecker for many years to come and, provided that she is kept in reasonable condition, there seems to be no reason why Mapleheath should not still be active well into the future.” What became of the Mapleheath? The 268-ton tug Daniel McAllister was built in Collingwood in 1907 for Canada’s Department of Public Works. Originally, it was the Helen M.B. Thanks to the Musée maritime du Québec, in 1998 it’s now the largest preserved tug in Canada and the second-oldest preserved ocean-going tug in the world. It’s to be found in Montreal on the Lachine Canal at the foot of McGill St.
On a fine day in July 1951, Great Lakes historian J.H. Bascom caught Mapleheath inbound at Toronto Bay’s Eastern Gap with a deck load of automobiles.
Other salvage vessels in Kingston, this scene dating to November 1975.
These Hall Corp. Great Lakes canallers were in storage in Kingston when I photographed them on June 27, 1974. At around 250’ long and 1900 to 2500 grt, the canaller was the mainstay of the lakes in the decades of the small Lachine locks. With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, canallers gradually were squeezed out of the Great Lakes market. What about this quartet? They were awaiting disposal but, happily, would escape the scrapman and serve at least a few more years. Built in 1958 in Scotland, Westcliffe Hall soon was re-registered as Westcliffe to the Cayman Shipping Corp. (Cayman Islands). In 1982 its ownership changed to Durmar II, Ltd. in Panama. Reportedly, it went for scrap in 1986. Sister ship Eaglecliffe Hall went to Cayman Shipping as Eaglescliffe. While inbound for Galveston on February 8, 1983 and flying the Panamanian flag, its hull split. It went to the bottom next day. Coniscliffe Hall was built in Lauzon, Quebec in 1957. It’s listed as sold in 1973 and converted to a drill rig at Port Weller, Ontario. Re-christened Telesis, it was registered to Underwater Gas Developers. Telesis went to work drilling for gas in Lake Erie. In 1998 it became the Louis J. Goulet of Pembina Exploration Ltd. It continued in Lake Erie until sold in 2000, then was towed to the Bahamas. In October 2005 it was blasted by “Hurricane Wilma” and ended wrecked on a reef. The “Niagara Falls Review” later reported, “From there, the elements took over and the aging hull gradually succumbed to the ravages of rust and wear near South Man-O-War channel. The superstructure was later cut down to the waterline, and all that remains of the former lakes trader rests in shallow water at the site.” How could anyone not love Great Lakes history, right! Northcliffe Hall was built in Montreal, but began as the Frankcliffe in It was rebuilt in Montreal in 1959 going from 2197 grt to 2454 grt. In 1975 it left Kingston for the British West Indies, then returned to Canada in 1978 as the Roland Desgagnes. On May 27, 1982 it ran aground on the St. Lawrence Côte-Nord near Pointe au Pic, then sank while being freed.
Fellow airplane spotter and camping companion, Nick Wolochatiuk, and I always were on the go as young fellows. For one thing we often were canoeing on the Nottawasaga and other rivers in the Georgian Bay watershed. Along the way we visited many communities in the region, Collingwood included. In those times the great Collingwood shipyards still were busy. Today? They’re a distant memory. Here are two old Kodachromes from days of yore showing one vessel getting started (shot on July 1, 1965), then another nearing completion (August 20, 1974). Does anyone know by the dates which ships these are? Feel free to let me know at
Ferndale was built in Ashtabula, Ohio in 1912 and measured 505’x56’ with a 30’ draft and 6356 grt. It originally had been the Louis R. Davidson. In 1963 it became the Ferndale registered in Bermuda to Leadale Shipping of Montreal. In 1975 Ferndale was condemned. While awaiting its fate at Port Colborne, it was set afire by vandals. The forward crew quarters were burned out. Ferndale was sold for scrap in 1979. Towed in tandem with sistership Avondale by the Polish tug Jantar, it left Quebec City on July 6, 1979 for scrapping in Castellon, Spain, where it arrived on August 3. Such voyages must have been harrowing when the weather turned. I took this photo in Toronto’s eastern ship channel on November 7, 1974 as Ferndale was discharging salt. These were the days when we could roam around the port and photograph at will. The good old days for sure!
Avondale discharging salt along Toronto’s eastern ship channel on December 7, 1970. Avondale began in 1908 as the Adam E. Cornelius. Built in St. Clair, Michigan, it was 420’x50’ with a draft of 24’ and grt of 4900. Rebuilt in 1921, its new specs were 475.6’x52’x28.3’ and 5663 grt. As noted above, its fate was the scrapyard. Note the mountains of coal beyond. These were the dying days of open coal storage in Toronto harbour, but salt remains a bulk commodity carried by lakers. It’s mainly used to keep roads safe in winter.
On December 14, 1972 I caught Avondale at sunset in Toronto Bay, heading for its winter berth. There it sat until spring break-up, when the Seaway re-opened and bulk cargo started moving again.
One of the older lake boats that we still saw around Toronto was the Pointe Noire. Here it is on April 5, 1970 about to enter the Western Gap leading to Lake Ontario. You can see that Pointe-Noire was empty this day and that it still was a coal burner (it was converted to oil in 1971). Pointe Noire was built in 1926 in Lorain, Ohio in 1926 as the Samuel Mather 3. For its day it was a giant at 600’x60’x32’. In 1965 it was sold to Labrador Steamships Ltd. of Montreal, registered in Bermuda and re-named. It joined Upper Lakes Shipping in 1968. It was laid up at the end of the 1980 season and scrapped at Port Maitland near the mouth of the Grand River on Lake Erie two years later.

CSL’s Hochelaga waiting in the Welland Canal on May 20, 1967. It came out of Collingwood in 1949 with dimensions of 623’2”x67’2”x33’6” and grt 12,616. It was the first new laker launched on the lakes post WWII. In 1964 it was converted at Port Arthur into a self-unloader and oil burner. Hochelaga last sailed in 1981, then was stored at Kingston and Toronto. In 1983 it was towed to the breakers in Cartagena, Colombia.
Built in Collingwood in 1964 for Canadian General Electric Co., then leased to Canada Steamship Lines, Tarantau was 712’ with a beam of 75’2” and draft of 39’4”. Gross tonnage was 19,494. It later was owned by Power Corporation of Canada and leased to CSL. Tarantau was laid up at Toronto in December 1996, then scrapped at Port Colborne on Lake Erie in 1999. I photographed Tarantau while it was discharging coal at Toronto’s Hearn generation station on May 28, 1970.

The Airborne Classroom

From the beginning of our teaching careers c.1960, we young Toronto aviation fans had a real opportunity to pair our interests. Over the early years (before regulations rendered such teaching opportunities verboten), we could take our pupils on airport visits and even have airborne field trips. Over the years, our pupils had some exceptional learning experiences. We took our classes as far afield in the early 70s as the First Nations reservations at Ogoki Post in Northern Ontario, and Northwest River, Labrador. Visits to Toronto Island Airport were easy and, another time, I took a week-long Gr.8 history and geography field trip through the Kawarthas that included flights from Peterborough to see the great local drumlin fields and eskers. We got our keen young students up in such planes as the Ce.172, Beaver, Otter, DC-3 and 737. We were considered radicals, and there even was some negative gossip in the schools, mainly of the “How dare they” nature.

One of our more exotic trips sprang from the geomorphology that a few of us were teaching to our Gr.7 and 8 classes. This was based on a course that some of us had taken at the University of Toronto covering the geomorphology of southern Ontario. This covered the horseshoe-shaped area from Niagara Falls, around to a bit north of Hamilton, eastward towards Lake Simcoe and into the Kawarthas centring on Peterborough. Naturally, we also taught about the many human activities and features along the route. This field trip traditionally was done by bus, but in 1969 I dreamed up a plan to teach it in the classroom, then finish with an aerial review. This was agreed to by my principal and the parents all were happy. Each pupil had to come up with about $15.00. I talked it over with Carl Millard, who agreed to give us a DC-3 for two hours for $300 (the good old days, right).

Having briefed the class thoroughly about what to expect and what to see, we bussed out to Malton Airport on May 23, 1969. Everything was set, except that our DC-3 CF-WCO “The Voyageur” was short one seat. I forget how we got around that, but Carl figured things out and soon we were airborne on a sunny but too-steamy morning.

I handed our captain a map with the route roughly shown. This took us south from Toronto airport to spot the Lakeview generating station, on to Hamilton Bay to see the steel mills and Burlington Skyway, Niagara to see the Welland Canal, orchards/vineyards, Niagara Falls, etc., then out pilots swung around to give good views of the Niagara Escarpment and Credit River up towards “The Forks”. Next, we turned eastward to see the Holland Marsh, Barrie and Lake Simcoe. We skirted the Peterborough area to see the Trent Canal, then the great drumlins of Lake Scugog, and finally headed down along the Lake Ontario shore to take in the Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto Islands, Toronto central business district and back to Malton. All went well. The kids were elated, even if there was a bit of queasiness. After all, it was a really hot day and we were flying as low as legally allowed.

All this came back to mind when I happened across this old Kodachrome that I took in the cabin of “WCO”. My great little gang seems into it and keeping things together. I’m amazed that I was able to get such a decent shot with K64 in available light. Where are all these great little citizens in 2021? Did any of you go into geography, teaching, aviation? It was about 52 years ago, so you’re all in your 60s – hard to believe. What did Carl Millard think of all this? Carl was always keen to get involved, but also was watching for any opportunity. He looked over my lesson plan for this trip, “topo” maps included. Then what? He started marketing my brainwave of a trip to high schools in the Millardair catchment basin. He told me years later that he sold several trips to high school geography departments (but not likely at $300). He put one of his young pilots on this beat to bang on geography department doors. Good ol’ Carl Millard, a real case. I’d like to see him in Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, eccentric reputation and all.

While most of his DC-3s were work-a-day cargo planes, Carl kept CF-WCO “looking sharp” for passenger charters. Notice its panoramic windows, perfect for our class trip. Here’s “WCO” at YYZ Terminal One (the old Aeroquay, long since demolished) dropping off passengers on January 4, 1974. “WCO” had begun with the US Army in 1944, then served several US corporations as a VIP plane after the war. Carl acquired it in 1967, then made good use of it into 1979, when he sold it in Florida. From there it went to the Colombian military, then finally went for scrap in 1989.

A Spotters Road Trip

We Toronto aviation nerds always were dreaming up our next adventure, and did we have adventures! A typical road trip began on April 15, 1963 with Nick Wolochatiuk and I driving (in Nick’s VW, as usual) from Toronto to Chatham airport in southwestern Ontario. Next came Windsor, Detroit Metro and Willow Run all by day’s end. Can you imagine the craziness! On the 16th we covered Pontiac Municipal, Berz Airport, Ann Arbor and Detroit Municipal.

So far we had spotted such planes as Stitts Flut-r-Bug CF-RAK at Chatham, a Mong Sport at Windsor, a flock of C-46s and ANG RF- 84Fs at Detroit Metro, a Lockheed 049, DC-7 and PV-1 at Willow Run, an A-26, B-25 and DH Dove at Pontiac, an SNJ-2 at Berz, and two B-23s at Detroit Municipal. Nick and I were already solid aviation generalists. To us, everything about aviation was fair game. Unlike today’s scene, right, when too many tend to be really shallow about aviation. You’ll see these types around shooting nothing but airliners, or F-16s, or whatever. There’s no chance of a real aviation conversation with them. They’ve cut themselves off the great wide world of aviation to be so-called “specialists”.

On the 17th we hit up Toledo Express Airport, where the Michigan ANG 112 th TFS welcomed us to shoot their spiffy-looking F-84F Thunderstreaks, even though they were in the midst of a hot exercise. We then visited Cleveland Municipal where we found such goodies as a B-25, several DC-3s and UAL Caravelles, and spotted (in the distance) an AJ Savage. That brought us to our final stop on the of the day and the best of it all for this outing – Port Clinton, Ohio.

Somewhere we had heard or read about two Ford Trimotors based at Port Clinton and that they were work-a-day planes. When we pulled into this basic little airstrip on April 17, 1963, our info proved to be correct and then some. Sure enough, there sat Trimotors N7584 and N7684, plus Boeing 247 N18E. A billboard announced this as Island Airlines, and the people were friendly. We wandered around taking our photos and getting our questions answered, then topped off our visit with a short flight in N7584 over to Put-In-Bay on one of the offshore islands. As I recall, the fare out and back was $7.50. I noted that outbound we took off at 11:55 with seven passengers (having waited a few minutes for some latecomer) and landed at 12:02. We returned at 1:19 to 1:31. Jan Shaffer was our pilot. He flew us along at 85mph at around 500 feet.

Most traffic from Port Clinton was to Put-in-Bay, chiefly the daily shuttle taking the island children to Port Clinton, where busses picked them up to take them to school. The routine was reversed later in the day. Here are some of my black-and-whites and Kodachromes from the visit. By now I had learned a bit from my airplane photography mentors, so had started taking the odd detail shot. Too bad, but I still hadn’t grown up enough to know that I should also have been photographing the people to do with the airplanes. That maturity came too slowly, but finally arrived. The engine detail was taken from the cockpit, where Nick and I took a turn in the right seat. You can see that the cabin was purely utilitarian. The landing shot turned out not too badly. Don’t forget, film advance still was manual 58 years ago. Pretty sure these were taken with my Kodak Pony rangefinder. This was a hand-me-down from Nick, who had progressed to one of the early Pentax SLRs. Finally, my souvenier Island Airlines ticket. Lesson here? Never used scotch tape on anything you might want to keep pristine. Scotch tape the record keeper’s No.1 enemy, since it eventually will discolour everything it touches, as you can see.

What became of the Island Airlines fleet that we saw in 1963? For starters, look on the web – there is a mass of info for these planes. In one case, on August 24, 1992 N7584 was badly damaged by Hurricane Andrew at Homestead AFB, Florida. Restored, it’s still out there, flying with Kermit Weeks’ museum in Florida. On August 21, 1972, N7684 crashed when an engine failed on departing Port Clinton. There were 16 aboard, but no injuries. Then, on July 1, 1977 N7684 lost two engines on takeoff at Put-in-Bay and was severely damaged in the crash that followed. It last was heard of with Yellowstone Aviation in Jackson, Wyoming in the early 2000s. Boeing 247D N18E now belongs to the UK Science Museum.

Be Sure to Have Your Copy of The Canadair Sabre

Here are a couple of lovely “new” Canadair Sabre photos. I shot 23066 at Trenton on May 28, 1960. The resolution is so good on this original old 120 negative that you can read the pilot’s name by the cockpit – S/L Villeneuve, the Golden Hawk’s revered “Team Lead”. This great Canadian died last year. I can’t quite make out the techs’ names except for LAC Savoie. This was the team’s second year. I had caught the Golden Hawks first in 1959 at the spectacular airshow in Windsor, Ontario celebrating the 50 th Anniversary of flight in Canada.

For the time being CANAV fans can order a copy of this world- famous book at a real saving. I’m standing by to sign a copy for you. Anywhere in Canada? $30.00 all-in. USA and International? CDN$40.00 all-in (pay in Canadian dollars by PayPal depositing directly to and save another 25% or so on the exchange). Here’s a reminder of why you need this book (or an extra copy or two to use as knock-out gifts):

How about the official reviews for The Canadair Sabre? Well, they could not have been better. The leading French journal “Air Fan” loved The Canadair Sabre, calling it: “The aviation literary event of the year.” Greece’s journal “Ptisi” added, “A real oasis for F-86 fans and anyone interested in the Golden Years of the 1950s-60s.” Air International called the book, “A mine of information … there seems scant prospect of a better history.” Even more glowing commentary came from Bob Halford’s “Canadian Aircraft Operator”, Vol.24, No.20: “With The Canadair Sabre [Milberry] continues to enhance his reputation for producing top-of-the-class books that compare more than merely favourably with any of the works of the major publishing houses. This is a remarkable achievement …” Typically, “CAO” goes on to describe the book in detail. Bob, of course, knew his stuff … the Sabre in particular. He had visited Canadair during Sabre production years, also the RCAF’s NATO bases in Sabre years during his time editing “Aircraft” magazine. Bob concluded, “The book is, indeed, all that anyone could ever want to know about the Canadair-built Sabre … it’s a people book as well as an airplane book.”

Our second Canadair Sabre photo today by Wilf White. I assume this is at Renfrew or Glasgow, two key maintenance bases for the RCAF No.1 Air Division operating then in France and Germany. 23038 is a Canadair Sabre 5 in 441 Squadron markings. This dates to 441’s Sabre 5 era 1955-56; it converted to the Sabre 6 in August 1956. The squadron had first gone overseas with Sabre 2s in 1952 first to North Luffenham, UK, then to Zweibrucken, West Germany in 1954, finally to Marville, France in 1955. I have little info about 23038 other than its RCAF dates of December 1953 to May 1960, and that 422 also had flown it. Wilf’s setting could be at Scottish Aviation Ltd. at Glasgow in or around May 1956, when 23038 was struck off charge and when it probably went to SAL for scrapping. Wilf photographed many ex-RCAF Sabres and CF-100s being cut up at SAL.

Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story

Many readers have commented about CANAV’s widely acclaimed history of the great CAE Inc. After he read his copy of The CAE Story, Meher Kapadia, who spent 25 years as an engineer at CAE, sent me these comments:

Hi Larry … My son has just brought over your book to England, so I am now well immersed in it. It really is a great, well researched book. I find it most interesting going through the early history of CAE from long before I joined the company. You have to be complimented for the effort and care that you took. We Canadians have a bad habit of not blowing our horn, when we achieve something great. I am of the opinion that CAE was the world’s best systems engineering company for many years. I think I can say that, as over the years I dealt with most of the best, large US and UK engineering companies, I never came across any as good as us. My congratulations and I hope you will make a lot of sales.

This is a gem of an aerospace history, one of the world’s finest such books in decades. A large format hardcover, it has 392 pages, hundreds of photos, a glossary, bibliography and index. It’s all there! Usually CDN$65.00 + shipping + tax, you can order a copy all-in at $CDN60.00 for Canadian orders, CDN$75.00 all-in for USA orders, and $90.00 all-in for International orders. Pay by PayPal or Interac straight to If any questions contact me at Cheers … Larry

PS … for more reader comments, use the search box, just enter CAE Story.

The Canada Council — Kenneth Whyte Keeps an Eye on this Shady Outfit

Do yourself a big favour and google SHuSH by Kenneth Whyte, former editor of “Saturday Night Magazine”. If you like a bit of intellectual stimulation, this will work out nicely for you.

In his current piece, Whyte takes on the Canada Council, which today is a purely politically correct Ottawa institution doing the PMO’s bidding. Whyte reminds us: “The Canada Council was established as a crown corporation, arms-length from government, precisely to protect it from political interference from government officials (particularly the elected variety), preserving the freedoms of the arts community. The idea was to elevate the arts above politics.” Instead, the Canada Council has become a megaphone for Government of Canada causes such as “colonialism”, “systemic racism” and “climate change”. How do these get to lead the Canada Council agenda? Do these causes not already have their own super ministries? So much for “arms length from government” at the Canada Council. It looks as if social radicals/extremists are subverting the Canada Council.

CANAV Books has waged its own little campaign against the political correctness, etc. of the Canada Council, that grand, all-powerful Ottawa institution that places the 35+ world-famous books that CANAV has published since 1981 in the category of “not real books”. You can scroll back and see my rant about this. In a nutshell, when CANAV submitted Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story for consideration for the 2016 Canada Council Canadian Business Book Awards program, we were told in so many words, “The CAE Story is not a real book. Go away and start publishing real books.” The Canada Council then proceeded to award most of its 2016 business book awards to books published by the Canadian arms of huge American publishers. When I enquired about this at the Governor General’s office and the Canada Council, I received meaningless “Dear Sir or Madame” form letters in reply. Kenneth Whyte at SHuSH is doing Canada a good service with his latest item – take a look.

The CANAV Books Story Part 6 + A Long-Ago Visit to the USAF Museum + More Vintage TTC + A Few Old Toronto Aerials

CANAV Books from Y2K to 2007

With today’s short section, our on-going CANAV Books history reaches the end of our era of randomly publishing titles. The last of these was Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange. Then began our “Aviation in Canada” era, which numbers eight titles into 2021. For today we’re covering Y2K to 2007 starting with our 3-volume history of the RCAF. This had begun a few years earlier as a project to produce a single book honouring the RCAF in its 75th year. However, as usually happens, the project took on a life of its own, ending in 2000-01 as our 3-volume Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace with more than 1000 pages.

All things considered (text, illustrations and presentation) “CAFWP” is a grand Royal Canadian Air Force history that readily complements the 3-volume RCAF Overseas official history (1944-45), and the DND’s subsequent 3-volume official RCAF history published in 1980, ’86 and ’94. I regularly nag CANAV readers about building a foundational library of all such RCAF books. Some have done so, of course, but far too many (pitifully) have capitulated to the internet as the source of all they need to know about the RCAF. I hope you don’t know any of these intellectual sellouts.

In some 20 years, not a negative word has been published about “CAFWP”, other than that Vol.4 remains conspicuous by its absence. Circumstances in 2001-03 kept delaying Vol.4, mainly a lack of funds. Time inevitably passed the project by. Happily, much of the material gathered for Vol.4 (CF-5, CF-104, etc.) will appear in our forthcoming RCAF 100 th anniversary blockbuster.

Here are a few “CAFWP” comments from our always well- informed and critical reviewers. To begin, Scale Aviation Modeller International selected “CAFWP” Vol.1 as its “Book of the Month”: “Well, what can we say! This is a book that truly deserves the ‘must have’ title… one that all RCAF and Canadian aviation fans will want…” Writes Airforce: “…the most comprehensive history of Canada’s air force ever produced.” Canadian Flight called Vol.1, “The grand-daddy of all Christmas presents for air force vets … a superb work to delight all RCAF or CF veterans.” Many such reviews ensued. Re. Vol.3, for example, Air Pictorial observed: “Milberry has excelled in this volume by combining riveting personal experiences from air and ground crews with an unrivalled selection of llustrations… rarely does a book so handsomely exceed the most sanguine expectations as does this outstanding publication.”

There’s a special price now for a 3-volume set of CAFWP: Canada $75 all-in, USA CDN$90 all-in, oversea CDN$180 all-in. Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

Fighter Squadron 2003

For Fighter Squadron: 441 Squadron from Hurricanes to Hornets (2003) we still are awaiting the first negative review. In one case the journal “Combat Aircraft” could only say in its review (regarding the difficulty of getting any book about a squadron right): “They are intrinsically difficult to write … the overriding need is to get the right balance… [Fighter Squadron] has achieved the elusive balance … Everything about this volume has the feeling of authority and authenticity.” Due to the steep cost in finishing this project, it had to be priced accordingly. As a result, Fighter Squadron joined the ranks of those books we have published that were born of red ink and are wallowing in it to this day. C’est la guerre. If one is in history and in book publishing for the long haul, be ready to take your lumps. For now you can order a copy of Fighter Squadron at a real bargain. Anywhere in Canada $30 all-in, USA CDN$45 all-in, Overseas CDN$60 all-in Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

The Leslie Corness and Wilf White “Propliner” Collections 2005 and 2006

Years ago CANAV Books honoured two dedicated aviation photographers: Leslie Corness of Edmonton, and Wilf White, residing in Glasgow in the very house where he lived since a lad. I had known these stellar fellows since the 1970s, when we would exchange photos and airplane “gen” of all kinds. Sadly, both fellows long since have passed on.

The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection was published in 2005, The Wilf White Propliner Collection in 2006. Each was splendidly received. The respected journal, Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight, was quick to react, describing “LCPC” as, “A photo album with style and intelligence … to be savoured.” Airways next wrote about “WWPC”: “Milberry’s treatment of his subject is personal and meticulous, the photo selection is … evocative, the captions knowledgeable and informative … thoroughly enjoyable.” Who put these bons mots together? None other than the beloved John Wegg, author of such world class books as Caravelle, Finnair: The Art of Flying since 1923, and General Dynamics and Their Predecessors. What an honour to be reviewed by such a “King of Aviation History”.

Then came Vol.39, No.11 of the UK’s beloved “Aircraft Illustrated” with another masterpiece of a review covering “WWPC”. Here is how UK book aficionado, Denis J. Calvert, lays the groundwork for his magazine’s review for November 2006: “A few weeks ago, a photo album arrived … which genuinely merits the title ‘Book of the Month’”. Denis concludes, “This volume, beautifully produced, offers the very highest quality … and comes confidently recommended.” Here is the full review. Also … you can order both of these outstanding books at: Anywhere in Canada $45 all-in, USA CDN$55 all-in, Overseas CDN$80 all-in. Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange 2007

When we published Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange in 2007, the usual string of top reviews appeared. In one case, reviewer Robert Merrick (RCAF ret’d), himself having had a USAF exchange on RF-4s, and at this time reviewing for the prominent “COPA Flight” journal, summed up his feelings: ““Truly an enlightening book … Those pondering the ideal Christmas gift for your local Fireside Aviator need look no farther.” “CAFEx” remains one of the best ever RCAF histories that focusses upon a specific (and rare) subject. No one who opens “CAFEx” is ever disappointed, other than at not finding himself listed in the index. Quite a few such fellows have contacted me over the years, the odd one being almost distressed. The best consolation I can offer is to suggest that he write the next book about exchange postings. What else is to be said? Although “CAFEx” lost CANAV a lot of money, I can’t imagine not having published such an important RCAF history. So ends today’s episode. Next time we’ll start into “Aviation in Canada”. For now you can order a copy of Fighter Squadron at a real bargain. Anywhere in Canada $40 all-in, USA CDN$55 all-in, Overseas CDN$70 all-in Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

The USAF Museum in 1964

For 1964 we local Toronto spotters didn’t do as much travelling as usual. I’d have to dig into the old files for a full explanation, but I’m pretty sure it was because the likes of Fred Guthrie, John Kerr, Nick Wolochatiuk and I were busy teaching school or doing university courses. Certainly, summer courses kept us grounded well into August. That’s when Nick and I decided to squeeze in a quick road trip the week before we returned to the classroom.

On August 26 we drove the Goderich airport on a rumour that there was a Lancaster to be seen. Good move, for we found ex-RCAF Lancaster FM213 recently arrived there to become a historic display. Happily, it still was on its own wheels, so was perfect for photography (it later went atop a pylon and today is airworthy with the Canadian Warplane Heritage). We also were happy to spot such planes as Fleet Finch CF-GER, Tiger Moth CF-IFB, Pitts Special CF-REH and Aeronca C3 N13886, but all were in the Sky Harbour hangar. We then pushed off for southern Ohio. Our mission? Visit the USAF Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base not far from Dayton. In the afternoon of the 27th we pulled in to a camp ground not far from “Wright Pat”.

Next day we spent several happy hours at the museum. Due to a shortage of hangar space, many aircraft still had to be kept outside. Meanwhile, it was so dark inside, that photography was hopeless. By contrast, today’s museum at Wright Pat is magnificent. Even where galleries are dark, today’s digital camera technology allows for photography. It’s also well worth a visit to the museum website, where you can take wonderful virtual tours. You’ll be able to spot most of the airplanes shown here – you can make a bit of a game with that. Don’t miss this, simply google:

For today on the CANAV blog, here are a few photos that I took on this trip. These are un-retouched, just basic scans from my old “2¼” b/w negatives. Unfortunately, over the decades many of these negs have suffered in their individual glassine envelopes. Most hadn’t even been looked at for more than half a century, so I was disappointed finding so many to be blotched. I’d always assumed that the “glassines” we used for negative storage were the best solution. It’s hard to say what happened. Perhaps it’s more a humidity issue than a glassine issue? Happily, however, my trusty Epson V700 pro scanner has come to the rescue – I’ve been able to get a good basic scan in most cases. Some PhotoShop pro easily could make any one of these photos really sizzle. Anyways, on the CANAV Blog it’s a case of “content over form” any day of the week. After all, this isn’t a contest, just a hobby.

Aircraft of the USAF Museum in 1964

This is a small, random selection, starting with some of the fighters sitting outside that day at the museum. Stunningly attractive was this Bell P-63E Kingcobra 43-11728. For those not familiar, the P-63 and its predecessor, the P-39 Airacobra, had their engines installed behind the cockpit. Of the 3303 P-63s manufactured, 2397 went to our wartime ally, the Soviet Union. Mainly, they contributed to Stalin’s defeat of Japanese forces in and bordering on the eastern USSR. This example was flown postwar by Bell Aircraft, whose main factory was in Buffalo, NY. Bell flew ‘728 on experimental postwar projects. It was briefly with the Honduran AF in 1948, but soon was back at Bell, where it worked into 1958, when Bell donated it to the museum. This is an excellent P-63 site:
Here’s the museum’s rare Japanese WWII Kawanishi N1K Shiden Kai fighter. Known to the allies as the “George”, this advanced fighter appeared late in WWII. It was fast, agile and well armed. Only four examples survive, three being in the US.
Nick and I had never seen such a vast collection with so many aircraft types, so our USAF Museum visit was eye watering from start to finish. Here is the North American P-82B Twin Mustang – it literally was that. On his website, the great Joe Baugher notes of 44- 65168: “The plane (named ‘Betty Jo’) set a record by flying from Hawaii to New York City nonstop on Feb. 27, 1947, covering 5051 miles in 14 hrs 33 min at an average speed of 334 mph. This was the longest nonstop flight ever made by a propeller-driven fighter.” In 1950-57, ‘168 was at the Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio flying experimental ram-jet engine missions. It joined the museum in 1957.
One surprise after another. The sight of a Northrop P-61C Black Widow made our trip more exciting than ever. Delivered too late for wartime operations, 43-8353 found work starting in 1947 doing thunderstorm research from Clinton County AFB, Ohio (SE of WPAFB). In 1948 it moved to Wright Field near Dayton to work in experimental radar research. From 1949 – 53 it could be seen in Urbana, Ohio as a static billboard advertising the Boy Scouts. The Scouts donated it to the museum in 1958. With its limited resources, the museum put a standard night fighter colour scheme on ‘353. Everyone wandering by this day at WPAFB was much impressed by the awesome “Black Widow”. You can see how each of these aircraft looks today by spending some time playing with the museums virtual tours.
Several experimental fighters from early post-WWII days caught our eye at WPAFB. The Republic YF-84F and McDonnell XF-85 Goblin were totally exotic, having been designed as “parasite” fighters. As such, they would be appendages on SAC’s B- 36 global bomber – the epitome of “power projection” back in the day. You can see the special gear used to dock with the “mother” plane. Should enemy fighters threaten a bomber, it could launched its parasites to provide air cover, then recover and refuel them (all going well, which it never would, of course). The general idea from parasite fighters dates to WWI, then was pursued in the 1920s-30s using US Navy airships. Millions were spent on these R&D programs over the decades. In the end no practical use was found for parasite fighters. Happily, these examples have been preserved by the USAF Museum. You can find masses of info about all these individual aircraft on the web. Wiki is especially handy to get “the basics”.
The late 1940s engendered many advanced fighter designs including the long-range Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor. Prototype 46-680 first flew at Edwards AFB on May 9, 1949. It’s said that ‘681 burned in a crash, so it’s a bit confusing seeing ‘681 on the tail of the survivor of the two XF-91s. Check the entry for 46-0680 and ‘681 on Joe Baugher’s 1946 list of USAF serial numbers, also the excellent Wiki entry. Of the other great concepts from these days, the Convair XF-91 evolved into the F-102, then the F-106, while the McDonnell XF-88 evolved into the F-101 Voodoo.
The USAF Museum had two of its historic “X Planes” in the air park in 1964 – the Douglas X-3 Stiletto and the Northrop X-5. The sole X- 3, which looks like its moving at the speed of heat even though it’s sitting still, first flew at Edwards AFB on October 20, 1952. It was intended for Mach 2-Mach3 research, but was underpowered and hard-pressed to reach Mach 1. See the excellent Wiki X-3 page. The X-5 was the first aircraft having in-flight, variable-swept wings. Two X-5s were built, ‘838 being No.1 (first flight February 15, 1951). X-5 No.2 crashed fatally at Edwards AFB on October 14, 1953. No. 1 was used at WPAFB into 1958. The best books on this subject are Vols. 1 and 2 of The X-Planes by Jay Miller.
Another exotic fighter in the air park in 1964 was Convair F- 106 prototype 56-0451. As the YF-106A, it first flew at Edwards AFB on December 26, 1956. It was delivered to the museum from Convair in San Diego on March 27, 1960. In 1989 it was trucked from WPAFB to the museum at Selfridge AFB. There you can see it marked as 59-0082. The USAF Museum now has F-106 58-0787, which gained accidental fame for having landed in tact one day after the pilot ejected. ‘787 later returned to service. In 1986 it retired from the 49 th FIS at Griffiss AFB, from where it found its way to the USAF Museum.
The museum’s Douglas B-18A Bolo 39-0025. An offshoot of the DC-2, the B-18 was a modern bomber when delivered in 1937, but was hopelessly obsolete by 1941. However, it performed useful service with the USAAC flying coastal and anti-submarine patrols, and as a trainer and transport. It also served well in the RCAF as an early anti-submarine type on the East Coast, even sinking one U- boat. About 350 B-18s were built. Five survive in US museums. See the amazingly detailed history of this B-18 at Joe Baugher’s page for 1939 USAF serial numbers. ‘025 resides today in the museum at Lowry AFB, Colorado. Postwar, it even had been used by Castro revolutionaries to run guns from Florida.
The museum’s Douglas A-20G 43-2220 still looked fine in 1964 after its first few Ohio summers and winters spent outdoors. ‘220 had never been under fire, and actually had been a high speed USAAF transport in 1945. Postwar, it served a long list of companies as an executive plane, before landing at WPAFB for handover to the museum in the early Sixties.
Joe Baugher summarizes the museum’s B-24J 42-72843 in his 1942 USAF serial numbers list: “In August 1943 it was assigned to Herington Army Air Base, KS, for acceptance flight and training. On August 23, 1943 it began its flight to Egypt, via Maine, Newfoundland, Scotland, Cornwall, England, Morocco and Algeria, arriving at Deversoir Field, Egypt on September 7 th . After combat modifications, the plane was delivered to the 512th Bombardment Squadron, 376th Bombardment Group, at Benghazi, Libya. After two combat missions, the squadron moved to Enfidaville, Tunisia, from where it flew seven combat missions (on one of which it suffered damage from anti-aircraft fire). On November 11th it moved to San Pancrazio, Italy. It was there that it picked up its name, Strawberry Bitch, and Vargas Girl. From there it flew eight more combat missions, the last on being on February 2, 1944. Due to its age and obsolescence, the plane was sent back to the USA in April The year 1945 found the plane stored at Freeman Field, IL, intended for use as a museum aircraft. On May 9, 1946 it was flown to Orchard Park, IL (now known as Chicago O’Hare), and a month later to Davis- Monthan AFB, AZ for storage. On May 12, 1959 the plane was flown to the Air Force Museum at Patterson Field, OH.” Happily, the museum has seen fit not to bow to political correctness about having a “non-PC” name on a famous old bomber. It’s still displayed as “Strawberry Bitch”. Horror of horror, non! Beyond is one of the museum’s two B-36s — YB-36 42-13571. Later, the museum deemed ‘571 to be surplus and it was sold for pots and pans. We might shake our heads at this, but sometimes museums have tough decisions to make.
B-29 44-27297 ”Bocks Car” is the very aircraft that dropped a “Fat Boy” atomic bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. In 1964 it was looking a bit rough, but a glorious restoration lay ahead. Along with the bombing of Hiroshima two days earlier by the B-29 “Enola Gay”, these missions brought to war against Japan to a swift end. Although today’s history re-writers, anarchists, America-haters, etc. loath hearing such things, the alternative was many more months of fierce warfare that would have cost millions more lives. So … there’s no doubt about it to anyone who has a clue about the actual history of WWII — these two bombers are American heritage treasures par excellence. ‘297 is named for the skipper of its crew late in the war, Capt Frederick C. Bock. However, Maj Charles W. Sweeney’s crew flew “Bock’s Car” on the Nagasaki mission. The Wiki entry gives an excellent summary of all things to do with ‘297. It flew into WPAFB for the museum on September 26, 1961. “Enola Gay” resides at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. In modern years two other B-29s have been restored to flying condition in the United States.
Sitting in a distant corner away from the museum was a glorious sight — Convair B-36J Peacemaker 52-2220. It first had joined the 11th Bombardment Wing at Carswell AFB, Texas in January 1954. It later served the 42 nd BW at Loring AFB, Maine, and the 95 th BW at Biggs AFB, Texas. It flew in to WPAFB for the museum on April 30, 1959. This was the last ever B-36 flight. The Wiki B-36 site is well worth a visit. Some other good sites include: Six Turning Four Burning – Convair B-36 “Peacemaker” (HD) YouTube · Petittwo Nov 3, 2016, Inside The Convair B-36 Peacemaker, Youtube, The Flight of the last B-36 Peacemaker –, B-36: Bomber at the Crossroads, History
A one-of-a-kind transport on display at WPAFB in 1964 was YC-124A Globemaster II 42-65406. The prototype C-124, it had begun in 1946 as a C-74 Globemaster I. It first flew on November 27, 1949 and later operated as a day-to-day USAF transport until retired to the museum. Too bad, but the museum eventually decided that ‘406 was “too big”, so handed it over to the base fire department as a training aid. As such it was burned and re-burned in practice fires until no longer of any use. Most countries have such black marks in their aviation history records. Canada, for example, once had a chance to save the prototype Avro CF-100. 18101 eventually went for scrap from storage at Lethbridge. No institution wanted it, one museum “explaining” that it was not a representative CF-100, since it had used British engines. Talk about a disgrace! Of course, the inexcusable destruction of all six finished CF-105s remains the blackest mark on Canada’s aviation heritage. Once again … be sure to visit to USAF Museum website. By taking some of the virtual tours you’ll see how the aircraft Nick and I saw in August 1964 appear 57 years later.

A Few More TTC Scenes

Have you had a look our earlier blog articles covering Toronto Transit Commission streetcars over the decades? If not, you can scroll back and have a look. After all, any grown-up aviation fan revels in all forms of transportation and the joys of photographing them.

Today, I’m adding a few TTC scenes that I captured long ago – photos of some unusual work cars plus some busses of the Sixties. The work cars were used on a host of duties including rail grinding, clearing snow and delivering supplies and equipment to track construction sites, etc. Many of these units were built around retired TTC passenger cars. The snow plowing cars disappeared by 1980, when city works took over the job, while the rail grinders made their final runs in 1999.

TTC snow sweeper S-41 at the Roncesvalles car barns at Queen and Roncesvalles on February 9, 1969. Twelve such cars were acquired in the 1940s. Note that these had a sweeper at each end. They also had double-ended controls. Any such car always caught the keen observer’s eye and excited any photographer, especially on such a bright winter’s day. What a sight so late in the game was such a “prehistoric beast” . The last I saw one of these at work was in the Sixties as it was sweeping the loop at Queen and Coxwell one night. Two such cars survive. S-36 is in the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut, the S-37 is in the Halton County Railway Museum in west of Toronto.
General purpose work cars with snow ploughs: W-1 at Russell barns at Queen St. East and Connaught Ave. on June 15, 1969; and W-5 at Hillcrest barns up Bathurst St. on September 19, 1969. Behind W-1 is TP-11, a car that specialized in snow clearing.
W-3 westbound on Carleton St. a bit west of Parliament St. in October 1975. Looks like it has some rails on its bed. Today W-3 resides at the Shore Line Trolley Museum (check out their website).
While snooping around at Hillcrest on June 7, 1969 I was lucky to catch crane car, C-2. You easily can envision C-2 craning heavy steel rails some place along the line where old rails were being removed and new ones laid. C- 2 is preserved with the Ohio Railway Museum in Worthington, Ohio.
The TTC’s famous rail grinder W-28 seemed to be endlessly out on the job. Here it is westbound at Queen and Simcoe streets leading a couple of PCCs in October 1975. W-28 today is with the Halton County Railway Museum.
Restored Peter Witt car 2894 on a tourist run westbound on Queen St. at Beech Ave. in September 1975. This famous type served the TTC from 1922 to 1965. Not counting trailers, there were more than 500 TTC Witts. This example is preserved with the Halton County Railway Museum. I often rode Peter Witts on Kingston Road, Queen St., Roncesvalles and Weston Road, when I was a boy in the 1950s.
This former TTC Peter Witt while in service on Toronto Harbour in the 1970s as the Seamens Mission. Visiting sailors were welcomed to drop by for a snack, to relax, read and socialize. Such landmarks always fade away. Does this historic “building” still exist somewhere else?
Naturally, photographing TTC busses always interested us. Life had much more to offer than plane spotting. Just as TCA had DC-3s, Viscounts, North Stars, etc., the TTC had an interesting variety of busses. Here is Twin Coach Model 41-S 1336 at the Castle Frank station on the Bloor St. subway line on March 27, 1969. Built in Kent, Ohio, the 41-S had 41 seats. The TTC acquired 75 of these in 1948, then got stellar service from them for many years.
GMC Model TDH-4507 at the Coxwell and Danforth TTC car barns in May 1975. It was part of a batch of 20 units acquired in 1948.
The TTC only ran 10 of these Mack C-50-Ts. Usually I saw them only on Spadina Ave. This was a 50-seat bus. Notice how each bus maker had its distinctive look. Check out the classic Mack logo.
TTC GMC bus 2155 was a “stretched” early-1960s iteration of the 1940s TDH series. I spotted 2155 in May 1971 as it waited on Gerrard St. E. in front of Riverdale Collegiate.
The City of Toronto Archives holds this excellent photo of 2155 taken during maintenance.
This is my first shot of one of the TTC’s GMC “New Look” busses. I saw 3126 at the docks around the foot of Bay St. on October 12, 1963. I shot it with my twin lens Minolta using “120” Ektachrome. The “New Look” series became Toronto’s most widely-used bus design. It has lasted into the 21 st Century.

For more info about the historic TTC fleet these are 3 of many excellent sites on the web:

Toronto from the Air

I started shooting aerial views of Toronto in 1961 and have never missed a chance to keep up on this exciting sideline. My first few photos really were “accidental” in that I was shooting air- to-airs of airplanes, where Toronto happened to be in the background. Here is (by far) my favourite such shot. Joe Reed of AIRGO (based at Toronto Island Airport) had asked me to shoot some of his planes for publicity reasons, but AIRGO soon was broke, so I doubt that my photos were of much use. The date for this scene was March 10, 1961, the view is NNE as we flew westward over the city across the Lake Ontario shore. I was up in AIRGO Ce.172 CF-LWE. We had the door off, so it was great fun in the open air on a fine day as we formated on Cessna T-50 CF-HXW. Its paint job? A very nice powder blue and white. The T-50 looks super and the Toronto background is astounding for its breath and detail. I especially love how the central business district stands out with the Bank of Commerce especially prominent – it still was Canada’s tallest building at 34 storeys. You can see how the city spreads out from the CBD. Check out the Don River Valley cutting north-south with the Bloor Street viaduct spanning it. The viaduct had opened up great new stretches of land for urban development especially along the key new thoroughfare – Danforth Avenue. The urban-rural divide at this time looks to be about where today’s 401 Hwy cuts east-to-west. That’s likely the new 401 corridor stretching away to the east just beneath “HXW’s” tail. Down in the bottom right you can see a hint of Toronto’s vast railway yards. (I’ll dig out some other Toronto CBD aerials for future use here.)
On an earlier trip, on February 12 Joe Reed put me in Luscombe CF-LVV to photograph AIRGO’s new (1960) Cessna 172, CF-MTT. Someone will be able to write a paragraph about what’s below, as we flew parallel to the “The Queensway” just a bit west of High Park. Looks like the Humber sewage plant on the lower right, and the north edge of the Ontario Food Terminal below us across the bottom. The Humber River meanders just under the tail. Talk about getting the camera-perfect angle on a 1-72, no! In 2021 “MTT” was based near Pembroke, Ontario with Laurin Jones, who recently spent three years restoring it. Total time on “MTT” since 1960 is about 5000 hours.
A more recent scene: I took this westward view across Toronto Bay towards the CBD and beyond on November 20, 1972. For some dumb reason I didn’t log this flight, so can’t say from which plane or chopper it was taken. There are so many features here, from the foreground showing how industrialized the eastern harbour still was. Today? Very few of these features remain, certainly the tank farms all are long gone. However, there still are mountains of road salt stored along the ship channel. Look at all the ocean-going ships, at least ten. These were the days when Toronto would welcome 700+ large freighters a year. Today? Maybe 30 will visit in an entire year. Check out the skyline. Things definitely were starting to happen. Today, skyscrapers stretch westward from the CBD in a solid wall of concrete and glass as far as you can see. Notice the lovely old Bank of Commerce — it’s there to this day.
Here’s a close-up of one of the ships that day. This was 49 years ago, the Greek-registered MV Ioanna was in from China with a load of electronics and medical supplies. Getting a shot like this makes me think I must have been in a chopper this day. There are several outstanding Great Lakes websites. A good one to check out is
Going on foot in this part of Toronto Harbour, all sorts of great subject matter met any photographer any day of the week. Snooping around along Unwin Ave. on March 10, 1972 I came across a mountain of ex-RCAF F-86s and T-33s ready to go into the melting pot at Bristol Metals. What a sight, eh! I wish I’d kept closer tabs on this operation over the days, but at least I took a few shots this day. Another day I spotted a ship at one of the Toronto terminals that had a deck cargo of T-6 Texans from some African country. They were headed up the lakes to Chicago. I’ll dig out some more such photos for future use on the blog.
A nifty June 26, 1970 north-looking view of the Richard L. Hearn hydro generating station at the east end of Toronto Harbour’s shipping channel. The two ships are tied up in the “eastern turning basin” at the head of the channel. You can see that this part of the city mainly was an industrial cesspool in 1970. The Hearn was burning coal upwards of 3 million tons of which were stored here at a time. The new Hearn 70-foot stack is almost finished in this scene. The three stacks pumping it out in mid-view pinpoint a city incinerator. It’s also long-since closed. Cutting across the middle is the Gardiner Expressway. This stretch since has been removed in favour of an improved version of Lakeshore Blvd. You wouldn’t recognize this area today if it weren’t for the Hearn, which still stands as a giant industrial era ghost. Opened in 1951, it closed for good in 1983.
For wider perspective, here’s a view back down the shipping channel looking west. The new stack by this time was in service. In the distance is the Eastern Gap, Toronto Bay and the Toronto Islands. I caught this view on November 10, 1973.
Here’s the Hearn on July 27, 1993 as photographed from a Cameron Air Cessna 206 while Rick Radell and I were returning to Toronto Island after doing an air-to air shoot with a Sunderland flying boat. You can see the beginning on urban renewal vs the previous shots. The Hearn is closed, so is the incinerator across the street. Several grubby old factories by now are vacant lots, but the eastern Gardiner is still standing. Vast changes have taken place since, so I look forward to another photo flight down this way.
Two closer-in views over the CBD (probably from a helicopter). In these photos, taken on June 8, 1970, you can see the famous Royal York Hotel, the twin Toronto Dominion Centre towers (the first modern skyscrapers in the CBD) and the Bank of Commerce tower under construction. Many of the old buildings seen here long-since have been demolished.

Dancing in the Sky & Flying to Extremes + “Ghost” Canso Update + Visiting the 10th Mountain Division + CANAV History Pt.5 + More Bob Finlayson Photos

Canada’s Best Aviation History Booklist Is right here: Download

One title that you’ll really treasure in your library is Dancing in the Sky: The Royal Flying Corps in Canada. By 2020 few Canadians know much about this monumental WWI story. This gem of a book tells in details how the RFC, desperate for pilots in 1916, solved its problem by establishing a magnificent air training plan in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, the plan almost overnight built massive aerodromes starting at Camp Borden, then Armour Heights and Leaside in Toronto, Deseronto east of Toronto, finally Beamsville in Niagara. There also were recruiting, indoctrination and trades training centres in Toronto and Hamilton. Soon thousands of young men were training here to learn to fight in the world’s first great aerial war. Thousands were sent overseas and by war’s end there still were 12,000 men in the RFC Canada system. The plan brought with it Canada’s first aircraft mass production, more than 1200 JN-4C trainers being built at a vast factory in west Toronto, plus parts for hundreds more.

Author C.W. Hunt presents all the fine details – how the plan was organized, the camps established, the training of pilots and mechanics, much about the problems of weather and accidents, and how thousands of Americans also passed through the RFC system.

Suddenly, the war ends and overnight the plan folds. Hunt brings the story right to the end in 1919. This is one of the really important Canadian books about WWI — how Canada went from being an aviation featherweight to an aviation powerhouse all in about two years. Believe it or not, but some of the sturdy hangars from RFC Canada days are still in use at Camp Borden and Beamsville! Order your copy by sending (for Canada) $43.00 by PayPal or Interac to , or, post a cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Canada M4E3B6. USA or Int’l orders send CDN$50.00.

You’ll also be tempted by this new beauty — Flying to Extremes, Dominique Prinet’s new book about his career as an bush and Arctic pilot. Much about the Cessna, Otter and Beech 18, but many other well-known types as well. This is very much a book about the north and its people — not just the airplanes. Besides that, it’s really well designed with many colour photos, some excellent original aviation art and some very useful original maps. 278 pages, softcover, glossary, index. This one is irresistible! $42.00 all-in by PayPal or Interac to or mail a cheque as mentioned above. USA or Int’l orders send CDN$50.00.

“Ghost” Canso Update – Something’s Up

Many of you regular CANAV blog followers enjoyed our recent item about Gananoque’s “Ghost” Canso, CF-NJL. Last August, my old pal from high school days, Nick Wolochatiuk, visited Gananoque to see what was doing, then submitted this summary:

Most of Gananoque’s triangle of 2530’ runways are now devoted to corn, but in the decaying hangar at the east side of Runway 36-18, Canso “NJL” still sits, outer wing sections by now removed. Fortunately, it’s an amphibian, as the hangar roof really leaks. Snuggled nearby is wingless Bush Caddy C-FZGG. Its elongated nose gives the appearance of an ant eater. Some other planes are scattered around, including Pietenpol C-ILTB. Due to COVID-19, the local parachute training school was shut down. Outside, we spotted Bush Caddy C-GIRU. For a very long time, not a BCATP Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch or Harvard has been seen at Gananoque. As you can see by the crumbling hangar, those glory days are long gone.

Here are two shots that Nick took in August. These can be compared with our main article to which you can scroll back, if you have the time. That’s all the current “intel” for “NJL”. Let me know what else you might hear via the grape vine.

CANAV Books Visits the 10th Mountain Infantry (Light)

The 1980s were full of great aviation history projects. Besides working on such books as Canada’s Air Force Today and AIRCOM, I was burning the candle at both ends doing a lot of aviation journalism. I had begun to dabble with this in the late 1950s by submitting photos and short items to such journals as “Air Pictorial”, that great UK monthly. Eventually, Toronto aviation editors such as Bob Halford (“Aircraft” magazine) and Hugh Whittington (“Canadian Aviation”) were giving me assignments, then I started writing feature stories for “Aviation News”, “Air Classics” “Air Combat”, etc. It was great to be making such connections. The pay ranged from zero in those days to $50 – $750 for a feature, even $2500 for something Hugh sent my way – a detailed overview of Canada’s aerospace industry. Every penny counted back in those times.

Meanwhile, with travelling pals Tony Cassanova and Mike Valenti I had begun branching out into New York, the nearest US state to our base in Toronto. I already was familiar with Niagara Falls, NY, home to the 136th FIS. My old pal, Merlin Reddy, and I first had visited the 136th for Air Force Day on May 16, 1959, then Nick Wolochatiuk and I covered the open house on May 20, 1960. These were a really impressive events. What we thought was amazing was how the general public was not herded around like cattle. Instead, we could wander on the ramps even as airplanes came and went, everything from an L-19 to a C-124. Here are a few photos that we took both years mostly using Merlin’s twin lens Yashika loaded with 120 b/w film. As I recall, I also was shooting with an old Permaflex. Everything in black-and-white, of course:

Shown first is locally-based F-86H Sabre 52-5739 of the 136 th FIS NY Air National Guard, one of the hosts of these open houses. We learned here that the “ANG” fighters were the most photogenic, usually having particular state markings. The tail band for the 136 th was yellow. The Sabre “H” was the hottest of the USAF Sabre day fighters. It was faster than earlier models and armed with 4 x 20 mm cannons compared to the usual 6 x .50 cal machine guns. Something else we learned was how friendly the ANG usually was should we come to the gate hoping to get on base to photograph.
Next is a standard side view showing Indiana ANG Republic F-84F 52-6455. Its trim was in white and red. It’s a bit tricky to read the names stencilled on the canopy frame, but the pilot’s name looks like Capt M. Vin L. Coffty. This F-84F was noted on the other side of the nose as “Sparky the Cable Breaker”. During a low-level mission it had flown through a fairly hefty cable, the impression of which had been left on the intake frame. “Sparky” survives on a pole at American Legion Post 490 in Houston painted in Thunderbird colours.
One of the big treats for at Niagara was seeing five Vermont ANG Northrop F-89D Scorpion all-weather fighters come into the circuit after their 300-mile flight from Burlington, Vermont. Fitted with their big long-range fuel tanks, they had plenty of gas. Here, 54-0193 parks while we keen fans pressed in with our cameras.
While we should have been taking extra photos of the vintage F-89s, we were mesmerized by a flight of five sleek Convair F-102A Delta Darts. Being from a regular USAF squadron, they were quite drab compared to the colourful ANG fighters.
The air show planners at the NY ANG always had good relations with the nearby RCAF. This 416 Squadron CF-100 Mlk.5 came down from St. Hubert, just a few miles north of Burlington. These NORAD squadrons often exercised together.
This beautiful SAC B-47 from the 40 th Bomb Wing was almost the top find of the day for us at the 1959 Niagara show, but it was not an easy call. Sadly, not long afterwards (February 24, 1961) 53-2347 crashed in Wisconsin killing the 4-man crew.
Another great find for us at Niagara was C- 124C Globemaster II 52-1064. It served into 1969, then went to the desert at Davis-Monthan AFB for scrapping.

Fort Drum Visit

Any time we were on military assignments in the United States, we depended on base, wing or squadron public affairs staff. Invariably, over the decades these proved to be top professionals, none better. You’ll appreciate this as you read. Tony Cassanova has provided these photos. First is Carl Sahre, PR man with the 416th Bomb Wing at Griffiss AFB. Carl was our guide and mentor during several visits in the 1980s. Lee McTaggart took royal care of us at Fort Drum. Here are myself and Lee with one of our helio crews one day. Then, Tony and Lee.

Through the 1980s we made good connections at Griffiss AFB near Rome, home to the 416th Bomb Wing (B-52s) and the 49th FIS (F-106). The 416th PR man, Carl R. Sahre, was keen to have us down to see what Griffiss had to offer. Another good spot for us was Syracuse, from where the 174th FS of the NY-ANG flew (AT-37, later A-10, F-16, Predator). Finally, through 10th Mountain PR man, Lee McTaggart, we got our connection to Fort Drum where the 10th Mountain Division (Infantry) recently had reactivated its aviation battalion. “Aviation News” would take a story about this famous unit. In typical US military style, he jumped at this as an opportunity to promote the 10th Mountain and my first visit was set up.

I drove down the NY State freeway early on March 13 and soon was busy doing interviews and shooting Kodachromes. There were no restrictions – whatever I needed, 10th Mountain PR was on it. An OH-58 piloted by 1Lt Richard F. Delev was at my disposal for getting out onto the Fort Drum Range, then I was offered something I hadn’t dreamed of – a famil flight in an AH-1G Huey Cobra gunship flown by CW4 Howard.

Typical of such trips, Fort Drum was a whirlwind affair, but chalk up another great experience in US military aviation history. Back home, as soon as I had my slides from Kodak, I got to work on the story. As things often went, however, the story didn’t see the light of day until November.

Here is a random selection of Kodachromes from my March 1989 trip and a copy of the ”Aviation News” report. Each such story tended to build up an aviation journalist’s reputation. I guess that was one good reason to keep up with such strenuous fieldwork. In the end, we “Canucks” got to know the USAF and US Army in upstate New York in the 1980s. Eventually, I visited, flew with and had stories published about the 416th at Griffiss (B-52 and KC-135) and the 49th (F-106). I also wrote about the 174th and flew on a photo trip in an AT-37 (PA-ANG) shooting some 174th A-10s. Finally came the helios of the 10th Mountain.

To add to up my knowledge of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain, I revisited on January 8, 1990 accompanied by Tony Cassanova. That was another red letter day, as we again had carte blanche. Highlights included having the base commander’s UH-1 Huey as our taxi for the day, then each having a flight in a mighty CH-54 of the PA-Army Guard that was busy that day repositioning targets on the Fort Drum range


AH-1 scenes at Griffiss.
The 10 th Mountain temporarily was using the former F-106 hangars from 49th FIS days (the 49th had stood down in 1987). The 416th still was at Griffiss with its B-52s and KC-135s. It finally stood down in 1995. Today, Griffiss is a civil airfield.
An OH-58 Kiowa formed up with us for a photo session.
A medevac Huey of the 10 th Mountain, then one wearing some off-beat “camo” paint job not usually seen at Fort Drum.
We dropped in on a 10th Mountain artillery training session. This was the kind of access the aviation journalist and historian dreams about!
On such a visit we’re always spotting for anything a bit different. This was a nice find — Beech U-21 66- I assume that it was for “the brass” at Fort Drum. It was sold as Army surplus in 1996 and today is N72L. The U-21 looks like modified Beech Queen Air. It was unpressurized. Also seen this day at Griffiss was transient F-15E 86-190. Beyond is a departing KC- 135 of the 416th . In the 2020s the 10th Mountain (aviation) flies the AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk.

The CANAV Books Story Part 5

Moving right along with our rough ‘n ready story of CANAV Books, here’s a bit about three other leading titles of the 1990s (in the not-too-distant future, the plan is to refined these items into a book):

The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945 1990

For 1990 CANAV Books published the grandest single volume covering the RCAF during WWII. This time, I teamed with Hugh A. Halliday, Curator of War Art at the Canadian War Museum (1976- 1985), RCAF researcher and writer, and long time member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. This became another 480-page blockbuster. For this project I went to Bob Baglow in Ottawa for the graphics side of the project. I forget how this came about, but assume that Robin Brass was overworked that year.

Besides its massive text, the book ended with some 1600 photos and it could not have been better reviewed. Covering it for “Canadian Geographic” (January 1991) was David McIntosh. As was reviewer Ron Lowman of the “Toronto Star”, Dave had been an operational navigator on Mosquitos, and not one to suffer the least gaff by any author.

In early reviews of CANAV titles, Dave already had fired a few sharp rounds, when he found the least point with which to disagree. But both he and Ron mainly were fair. The fellows would read and digest every line. Both also had a quirk of straying off topic, something a bit odd for high-speed, low-level navigators. Dave got somehow distracted in this review when he launched forth with this tirade: “The RCAF at War at last fills a need that the government’s and the defence department’s lassitude has denied Canadians for nearly half a century. The official air force history is so far behind that it can be carbon dated. Milberry and Halliday, old and practiced hands at such compilations, have flown to the rescue of all the airmen- survivors of the war who have slipped the surly bonds of earth.”

Dave’s review was shaping up, but it wasn’t making friends for CANAV in official Ottawa circles. His comments suggest that he was unaware of two fairly recent, massive Canadian military histories – Canadian Airmen and the First World War (1980) and The Creation of a National Air Force (1986) produced by the University of Toronto Press for the DND Directorate of History. (These would be joined by a third volume in 1994, The Crucible of War 1939-1945. These absolutely essential books total some 2500 pages and beautifully cover Canadian military aviation from pre-WWI to the end of WWII.) How could Dave have missed the first two of these? Perhaps he just had an urge to take a shot from the hip at DND? Happily, he was bowled over by the masses of content in our book, which he described as “packed, crammed, stuffed and stomped into this bulging volume.” He also appreciated how the photo captions are “as informative as the narrative”, an important detail that evaded most reviewers.

Another top review appeared in the “Ottawa Citizen”. Brereton “Ben” Greenhouse, a respected military historian/author at DND Directorate of History, called our effort, “massive, heavily illustrated and thoroughly enjoyable … a book for browsing, focussed on operations and service life rather than concepts and policy”. Ben showed a clear awareness of good books by commenting about our $75 sticker price – “… no more than the price of a good meal nowadays”. A perceived “flaw” mentioned in passing is that such great RCAF wartime figures as “Moose” Fulton and John Fauquier are not widely covered. This is easily explained — we were looking to write more about “ordinary” (less-well-known) airmen, compared to those about whom so much already had been written. CANAV is always looking for new material, so those old, well-ploughed fields tend to be avoided when we set to work.

Reviewing RCAF at War in the “Cobourg Daily Star” of August 30, 1991, D.G. McMillan made a nice point: “While the authors claim this is not a definitive book on the RCAF, it comes mighty close… a vivid picture of a period of Canadian history that is now long gone.” McMillan considered the book’s 1600 photos/captions to be “a book within a book”. RCAF at War also was reviewed in detail by Dacre Watson on “The Log –Journal of the British Airline Pilots Association”. Again, the general plan of the book is neatly summarized around the concept of how the RCAF, “… came from a small, ineffective force to become one of the largest air forces by the end of the war.” He was struck by how we authors easily might have lost our readers in the book’s mountain of facts but, instead, “managed to circumvent this by dealing with each theatre of war individually and each command … in its own way. Not only does this make the book easily readable, but also easy to use for reference.” For its part, the amazing “Aviation News” concluded, “It is as comprehensive a record of the vital part played by this Dominion Air Force as any received in the editorial office. A goldmine of factual information.” More locally, Joe Chapman of “The Spectator” in Hamilton concluded his review in a no-nonsense way – “Even at $75, the enthusiast will find it one of the best investments in aviation history and treasure it forever.”

What days these were for book reviews. The book still reigned as far as the daily press was concerned, and subscribers to aviation journals never missed their monthly book review page or two. Only begrudgingly do the major dailies run a book review in 2020. Much worse, many of the aviation periodicals consider a book review a waste of a page. Too intellectual for the 2020s, perhaps? Any of today’s magazines that brought back the book review soon would see a spike in readership. Readers want such thoughtful content.

“Air Force Magazine” of the United States Air Force Association (December 1990) also was impressed by RCAF at War: “The Royal Canadian Air Force’s contribution to the Allied victory is an often overlooked segment of World War II history. This book remedies that omission … the authors have assembled a complete look at every facet of the RCAF’s wartime operations.” The UK’s famed “Air International” also could not restrain itself, beginning its review, “Any CANAV book is worthy of attention and the latest volume to appear, The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945, is a splendid addition to the ranks. Those who have the same publisher’s Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 will have an idea of what to expect… It is an excellent example of popular history that brings to life an important period as no academic work could. If you liked … Max Hastings’ Bomber Command, you will enjoy this massive work.” Good grief – imagine a couple of “colonial” authors being compared to one of the UK’s most revered historians!

In “Legion”, Brown’s Books had a solid go at RCAF at War. This excerpt is my favourite: “Larry Milberry … and Hugh Halliday … have done a magnificent job of compiling the most wide-ranging and complete book yet on WWII Canada in the air … A tremendous accomplishment by the authors.” Mike Filey of Toronto’s beloved “Sunday Sun” also covered RCAF at War glowingly (in his column “The Way We Were”). Mike even published my phone number and urged his fans to drop by my house for an autographed copy! Now that’s a review and a half!

In its December 1990 edition, Sidney Allinson reviewed RCAF at War in the “Canadian Defence Quarterly”. Seemingly thunderstruck by the book, Sidney produced the lengthiest review that we have seen of this title. His commentary includes at the start: “It is such a rich source of information, facts, anecdotes and images that the most avid aviation buffs can gorge themselves … the depth of research … indicates a labour of love by the authors. Nothing less could inspire such a comprehensive account.” Sidney goes on: “A good deal of thought has been given to the book’s organization … This logical form of presentation, coupled with a lengthy index, helps both the casual reader and the more serious researcher to home in on specific areas”, then winds up about the authors that they are to be complimented, “… for creating this fine testimony to the quarter-million members of the Royal Canadian Air Force who valiantly served the cause of freedom …”

Also in December 1990, one of aviation’s greatest journalists and publishers (the late) John Wegg wrote about RCAF at War in “In Flight” magazine. John began his review: “Stunning, superb, unrivalled.” After the usual summary of content and organization, he concluded: “Everyone who has had contact with the RCAF in this period will snap up this treasure, destined to be a collector’s item of the 21 st Century.” I really like John’s take on our $75 sticker price – “It works out to just 15 cents a page, or, 5 cents a photo”! Then again … no one knew an aviation book better than John Wegg. Rest in peace, old pal.

What place does RCAF at War hold today in the wide domain of RCAF history? Sad to say, but by 2020 it’s yet another forgotten Canadian aviation book. But did it ever bask in its well-deserved glory for a brief moment. Naturally, to this day RCAF HQ in Ottawa has no idea about this book.

What was the bottom line for this book? As usual, that starts with the invoice from our great printer back in those days, The Bryant Press. There were many other expenses from graphics (quoted at $15,356) to brochures, magazine and newspaper advertisements, book launching, thousands in postage and shipping, taxes galore, etc. In the end it never was easy to make a penny in books, but we were always dumb enough to keep trying. From Bryant came this rude awakening — $75,222.50 for 3959 copies. Some years later Van Well Publishing in St. Catharines did a 1500 reprint. There are no new copies left, but I see today (December 5, 2020) 72 copies for sale at many being reasonably priced below $90++. If you earnestly follow RCAF history and don’t yet have a copy, you really ought to buy in. You’ll be making a solid long-term investment:


Our invoice for printing and binding for Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945.

Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story by Hugh A. Halliday 1992

In 1992 CANAV published a ground-breaking history of two great WWII fighters, the Hawker Typhoon and Tempest. At the time this seemed to Hugh and I to be a good time to tell this story, since so many pilots who had flown these planes in combat in the RAF and RCAF still were on the go. We rolled out the book at a gala event at Canadian Force Staff School officers mess in Toronto, then let the book speak for itself. Naturally, all with an interest soon were reading Typhoon and Tempest, and the reviews were glorious. Today, the book is long out-of-print, but it did the job we set out to accomplish.

Here are excerpts from one of the many reviews. These comments are from Bill Musselwhite of the “Calgary Herald”: “A splendid book … pure history but … thoroughly readable… the book’s backbone is made up of those who climbed into the cockpits to dodge flak and telephone wires while taking out trains and tanks.”

This is how the French journal, “Air Action” reacted in its Vol.1, No.1, Summer 1993. Being the book professional that he is, reviewer Jean-Michel Guhl began by honouring the existing body of published Typhoon and Tempest history, while explaining that many extant books seemed a bit short of specific history of the people involved. He credited Halliday with visiting the archives to study the RCAF personnel documents for many individuals, and going out to interview many of them, to tap their memories, view their logbooks, and see what photos and documents they still might have. Guhl concluded, “Printed and bound to the high standards we’ve come to expect from Larry Milberry’s publishing company, Typhoon and Tempest is a superb and thoroughly researched work… In this truly pleasant book, Halliday provides us with action from cover to cover… One more ‘Must’ from CANAV Books.”

Meanwhile, in its February edition the inimitable “Aviation News” printed its own take on our Typhoon and Tempest effort. This sharp- minded reviewer also acknowledges the important existing literature, then explains, as did Guhl, how Halliday’s work in the official personnel records resulted in a valuable new perspective. “Aviation News” found our photo selection and appendices to be magnificent, then concluded that the book is “a very fitting tribute” to all the Canadians who had served on these two mighty fighters. Much respected “Aeroplane Monthly” also (September 1993) gave a positive run-down of the book, concluding, “The former Typhoon pilot certainly has nothing to complain about with this book.”

For production, this time I went to a good Ottawa book manufacturer, Tri-Graphic (also long ago defunct). This likely was based on the quotes I had received from other printers. Tri-Graphic was good to work with and turned out a really outstanding product. Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story is revered to this day by true fans of the RCAF’s great heritage. Anyone interested in a copy can fish around on the web. has 51 on sale today starting at $64.00++. Here’s the quotation I received back in 1990 from Tri-Graphic. The book was still two years away, so these projects were never for the faint of heart.

Some Great Lakes Shipping Photos

As keen young aviation fans, most of us also were getting interested in photographing other subjects. The more we hung out together, the more we learned and broadened our horizons. Several of us having gone into teaching, we quickly realized how we could use our camera skills to boost our classroom productivity. To this day (50-60 years later) former students still comment about the slide shows we’d use to brighten up and intensify a lesson.

As good pals since about 1959, Nick Wolochatiuk and I became famous among the Toronto aviation hobbyists for our exotic non- aviation field trips. One of our many haunts was the Toronto waterfront, where we photographed any ship we came across. Soon we were making Great Lakes driving tours chasing planes, boats, trains, you name it. We could never understand why for some of our buddies there was nothing worth photographing than airplanes. But … chaq’un a sa choix, right.

I’ve dusted off a few of the ancient slides I shot of Great Lakes tankers mainly spotted in Toronto harbour about 50 years ago. The diehard Great Lakes fans will know more about these ships that I. Happily, I still have my hefty 1968 Canadian Department of Transport List of Shipping. This invaluable book provides the essential facts for most of the tankers shown:

I’ll start today with two photos I took as a fan of Great Lakes shipping over decades. The Imperial Windsor was a tanker built at Haverton Hill-on-Tees in 1927. She previously (to 1947) had been the Windsolite. At 250 feet by 43 feet 2 inches and with an 18-foot draft and 1990 gross tonnage, she was ideal for the canals of the pre- Seaway Great Lakes. I took this shot in Toronto Harbour on April 7, 1969 as Imperial Windsor was heading for the Western Gap, then the only entrance to the harbour for large ships (today the few big ships that visit used the rebuilt Eastern Gap), while small vessels use the Western Gap. The winter photo was taken on December 26, 1970 as Imperial Windsor was departing the ship canal in the far eastern harbour. That’s the famous R.L. Hearne coal-fired generating station in the background – coal still was king in those times. It kept hundreds of ships busy year ‘round on the lakes. You can see that Imperial Windsor was well-laden in both cases, so she looks very tanker-like. A great source for details about such ships is “The Scanner”, the monthly newsletter of the Toronto Marine Historical Society. Such Great Lakes publications are equal if not more detailed and passionate in their content as the best in aviation journals. For example, its May 1971 edition “The Scanner” reported:

The Port of Toronto was officially opened for the 1971 season on March 24th when the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR arrived with a cargo for the Imperial terminal here. The ship was also the first vessel to leave winter quarters this spring, having cleared port at the beginning of the same week. All told, it was a record-setting winter for the veteran canaller. She had also closed out the 1970 navigation season for Toronto, arriving in port on January 8th, 1971.”

Later, Imperial Windsor was sold to Hall Shipping as the Cardinal. This report showed up in “The Scanner” of April 1973:

As we announced recently, Hall’s subsidiary, Algonquin Corporation Ltd., had purchased the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR and was in the act of having her name changed to CURLEW. As the papers were being processed, the Canadian Government brought it to Halco’s attention that there already was a fishtug by the name of CURLEW on the register and accordingly this could not be used as the new name for the tanker. Since CURLEW was to be named for a former Hall vessel, the company did some quick checking into their fleet lists and came up with the name CARDINAL which will now be used. The new name will honour not only the town of Cardinal on the old St. Lawrence Canals, but also a wooden tug, built in 1875, which served the Hall fleet for a short period around 1911.

Reading this, anyone can see how pricelessly important are such historical society journals and newsletters.

What a great historical resource such a ship would be (museum- wise) on the Toronto waterfront. Sad to say, however, Imperial Windsor went for scrap in 1974. On May 23, 1974 she had been up- bound in fog on Lake Erie, bound for Sarnia, when she was in a serious collision off Pelee Island with the 7600-ton Great Lakes bulk carrier George M. Steinbenner. Two Cardinal crewmen had to be cut from their smashed forecastle and flown to hospital by US Coast Guard helicopter. George M. Steinbrenner was lightly damaged, but Cardinal was un-repairable (see ). At there’s a short clip about life aboard Imperial Windsor.

In its August 26, 1974 edition, the “Globe and Mail” printed a very worthy letter-to-the-editor from former Imperial Windsor crewman, J.M. Prince:

You published a picture (Aug. 20) of the S.S. Cardinal being towed out of Toronto Harbor bound for the scrap yards of Hamilton. Such an ignominious end for such a fine ship. Since the mid-1920s she had served her owners well, carrying petrochemical products for years as the Imperial Windsor, part of the great Imperial Oil fleet, and for the past two years for Hall Corp. as the Cardinal. And now, after almost fifty years of service, to end up just another carload of scrap for Stelco’s furnaces. During my five weeks service on her as an Ordinary Seaman and then as Able Seaman, I rarely gave any thought to her cramped quarters, or grotesquely blunt shape, but rather, as did the rest of the crew under Captain Walter Poole, her ease of handling and plucky ability to plow through the roughest weather to her destination. Funny-looking she may have been, but she had a heart.

Views of the Johnston Shipping Ltd’s tanker, Gulf Sentinel (previously B.A. Sentinel — as in British American Oil Co., and, even earlier, was Good Hope). At 178 feet 9 inches by 34 feet 2 inches and 649 gross registered tonnage, she had been built in 1933 at Wallsend, UK. Her engine produced 600 hp compared to 900 for Imperial Windsor. I photographed this dowdy-looking little tanker first at the end of a long winter in March 1972 in the eastern ship channel. Then, I caught it from Toronto Island Airport on September 17, 1973, as it was departing with a light load headed for the Western Gap. The CN Tower is rising in the distance. Toronto’s skyline was hardly noticeable by today’s standards. These small tankers often were in the bunker fuel trade, refuelling ships far and wide in the Seaway system, or delivering bulk fuel to remote Great Lakes bulk fuel storage centres like Byng Inlet or Brit on Georgian Bay. In its April 1974 edition, “The Scanner” had some notes for Gulf Sentinel:

Also on the subject of bunkering services, we can report that the small tanker GULF SENTINEL (whose charter to Gulf for the Lake Ontario bunker trade has not been renewed) will be chartered this year to Shell, her earlier owners. She will be taken to Sarnia, but it is not yet clear whether she will run a mobile service from the Shell dock at Corunna (which might counteract the competition from the newdock at Windsor and at the same time eliminate the long lineups of steamers in the Stag Island channel), or whether she may be destined to run a cross-river service in a move to eliminate the traffic of tank trucks through the town of Marine City and over on the ferry DALDEAN. One thing is sure – she will certainly get a new name. We might hope that her old name of RIVERSHELL might be returned to her.

At a glance I don’t see any info on the web telling the fate of Gulf Sentinel.
Like Imperial Windsor, Texaco-Brave also was built at Haverton Hill- on-Tees, but two years later. She had almost the same specs. She previously had been Cyclo Brave. The February 1975 issue of “The Scanner” summarized Texaco-Brave’s long life just before she was sold for scrap:

There she sits in all her splendour, her paint a bit faded now but still a cut above the other ships nearby. Her black hull with its bright orange boot-top and red-and-white trunk still looks sound. Big she’s not, but beautiful she surely is as she presses her bow up tight against the bridge, lifting her head up majestically as if she really were getting ready to do battle once again with the stormy lakes. As if… Forty-six seasons of hard use have been kind to the TEXACO- BRAVE, but the end has to come sometime… The flag at half-staff is appropriate to the BRAVE’s present situation. The BRAVE began her life back in 1929 as Hull 145 of the Haverton Hill-on-Tees yard of the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd. Of course, back then she was christened JOHN IRWIN (I) and she entered service for the McColl- Frontenac Oil Company Ltd., the predecessor of her current owner, Texaco Canada Ltd. With a length of 250 feet and gross tonnage of 1,926, she was a typical steam-powered canal tanker similar to many others produced by British yards for the McColl-Frontenac, British American and Imperial Oil fleets. Her triple-deck bridge was set back off the forecastle and she sported a tall, well-raked funnel sprouting from a cabinless quarterdeck.

She sailed as JOHN IRWIN until 1940, was known as CYCLO- BRAVE until 1947, and then took her present name which, incidentally, is not spelled with the hyphen in the registers, but which is hyphenated on the bow and stern of the ship. She has always been kept in immaculate condition and by now must have more paint on her than any other ship her age. Normally used in lake service, the BRAVE has spent the last two years operating on the St. Lawrence River. During the summer of 1974 she lost almost a month of service due to boiler problems.

TEXACO-BRAVE arrived at Toronto on November 11 and did not let down steam until December 20, a fact that led us to speculate in our last issue that she had received a mechanical refit. Not only didn’t we get on base with that guess, we didn’t even hit the ball! Seems that Texaco was simply waiting to see if a deal could be closed on a new boat before a decision was made on the future of the BRAVE. Now Texaco Canada Ltd. has purchased a 2,901-ton, 48,000 bbl.- capacity British tanker which was built in 1970 for Thun Tankers Ltd. and given the unlikely name of THUNTANK 6. In 1972 she was sold to Thames Tankers Ltd. and rechristened with the equally unlikely name of ANTERIORITY. She will make her appearance on the lakes in 1975 under the name of TEXACO-WARRIOR (II). Meanwhile, scrap bids have been called for TEXACO-BRAVE.

Why do we write this sentimental tripe about the demise of just another superannuated and outmoded ship? Well, we just happen to think that the disappearance of the last example of a particular class of vessel is worthy of special mention. And that is exactly what the BRAVE is – the last operating steam canal tanker on the lakes (excluding the converted CAPE and COVE TRANSPORT). The last of a beautiful breed that was once so common. She’ll never pass this way again and never more will we hear her deep steam whistle echoing across the stillness of a hot August night on Toronto Bay. But for just a little while longer, she’ll rest in her spot by the bridge, showing off her lines for all to see, even if most who pass don’t care. So do her honour of going down to the Cherry Street bridge over Toronto’s Ship Channel. Sure, take your camera along, but just stand there on the bridge for a minute and think about what you’re seeing. And take your hat off, buster, ’cause you’re watching the passing of a lady.

In April 1975 the tugs G.W. Rogers and Bagotville towed Texaco- Brave from Toronto to Ramey’s Inlet near Port Colborne on Lake Erie to be scrapped. In 1978 a new Texaco Brave of 8545 gross registered tonnage was built in Japan for the eastern Canada trade. Still on the Great Lakes in 2020, she operates in the Algoma fleet as Algoeast.

The tanker Elmbranch of Montreal’s famous Branch Line empty and at slow speed leaves the eastern ship channel on August 20, She was built in Collingwood in 1944 as one of the famed (and great looking) wartime “Park” ships — Norwood Park. As such she was 251 feet and 2381 grt. In 1960 she was lengthened at Sorel to 321 feet and 3367 grt. Elmbranch left Canadian service in 1977. Sold, it went to Panama, becoming Whitsupply II. Stranded off St. Maarten in 1989, she was scuttled. For the best history from a Canadian viewpoint of the great “Park” ships, you really should track down a copy of the great Robert Halford’s 1995 book, The Unknown Navy: Canada’s World War II Merchant Navy.
Built in Sorel in 1950 by Marine Industries, the 284-foot tanker Willowbranch often visited Toronto back in the day. In 1966 she was back in Sorel for a major re-fit. Here she’s moored on the north side of the eastern ship channel on August 1, 1969. Those were the days when the east end of Toronto harbour had its historic trademarks of tank farms, mountains of coal and salt, and scrap metal operations. All ugly stuff but absolutely indispensible to keep any modern society operating. On July 15 1959 Willowbranch had collided outside Halifax harbour with Imperial Halifax (Imperial Halifax later was Congar, see below)You can see the results of the lawsuit that followed the collision at: csc/en/item/6843/ The stats given here for Willowbranch show that she was a smaller boat before being re-built in 1966. Willowbranch was laid up at the end of the 1975 shipping season and was scrapped in Toronto in 1978.
Congar of the Johnston Shipping Ltd. fleet was around Toronto and Hamilton for years while we were in our Great Lakes ships phase. She seemed to be mainly in the bunkering trade. Here she is riding high in the Eastern Turning Basin (at the eastern head of Toronto’s ship channel) on September 8, 1969. In the winter months this basin usually was packed with laid-up lake vessels. Congar had been built under a wartime contract in 1945 in Sunderland, England as Empire Maldon. She was sold as war surplus in 1946 to Imperial Oil of Toronto. There she sailed as Imperial Halifax until 1969, when sold on to Johnston Shipping Ltd. This is the same ship described above in the Halifax collision. Her final voyage brought her into in Toronto in 1975. Soon after, Congar was scrapped in Hamilton. For further details see such wonderful Great Lakes shipping sites as
Imperial Sarnia was launched in Collingwood in 1948, then re- built in Sorel in 1954. In 1953 she left the Great Lakes trade to journey down the Mississippi and up the east coast back to Sorel. There she received the ocean-going (i.e. “salty”) bow seen here. She returned to the lakes in 1965, then was sold to Provmar Fuels Inc. of Hamilton in 1983, becoming the fuel barge Provmar Terminal II. She still was there in the early 2010s. Here Imperial Sarnia is steaming light out of the eastern shipping channel on May 21, 1973. She was 396 feet x 53 feet x 4580 grt.
Here’s the well-known lakes tanker Liquilassie at the Snell Lock near Cornwall on August 19, 1970. This historic ship is described in this nicely-crafted item from “The Niagara Falls Review” of May 20, 2016:

It was 35 years ago that the once well-known Great Lakes tanker Liquilassie struck the Gandy Bridge at Tampa, Fla. The vessel, operating as a barge on Feb. 6, 1981, was inbound when it caused $174,000 damage to the bridge and closed a vital land link for three months. Liquilassie had been built at Duluth, Minn. in 1943 and left the Great Lakes, via the Mississippi River system, to serve Creole Petroleum, part of Standard Oil, around Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. The 111.56-metre-long tanker was too large for the old St. Lawrence locks, but was able to get to saltwater by way of the mid-continent route due to its shallow draft. Originally known as Temblador, the vessel often loaded crude oil for Aruba and trans-shipment north. Once again, the shallow draft came in handy and the vessel could carry 42,000 barrels of petroleum.

Following a sale to Porter Shipping, Temblador returned to the Great Lakes in 1960 and was renamed Liquilassie in 1961. It operated around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, and often took cargoes directly from deep sea carriers anchored at Montreal to allow the latter sufficient draft for them reach the dock. Liquilassie was reduced to a barge in 1977 and saw service around the lakes, where the vessel often carried liquid asphalt. It departed our inland seas in November 1980 for the Gulf of Mexico, only to get into trouble in the south. Since then, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge has been built to replace the vehicular traffic across the old Gandy Bridge. The latter, which had dated from 1956, later served as the Friendship Trail Bridge. Liquilassie took a cargo of liquid fertilizer to Tahiti in 1982 and spent the rest of its career in the South Pacific.

An addendum adds a note that could be considered a brief obituary: “The cargo tanks were cleaned in the spring of 1987 pending the sinking of the hull as an artificial reef at Tonga.” Photographing ships was much the same as the many other interests we had been following since the late 1950s – planes, ships, trains, antique cars, streetcars, bridges, historic buildings, anything really. Certainly, it all was similar to chasing airplanes, our main hobby. I recall several great trips with Nick Wolchatiuk from about Sometimes we’d circumnavigated the Great Lakes in 2-3 weeks. Of course we’d stop at Duluth, Minnesota to photograph the F-89J Scorpions, F-106s and whatever other aviation we could find as we scorched down the highways and byways in “NJW’s” VW bug with his red canoe on top. But… if the place was a port, as was Duluth, we’d normally see what was tied up at the dock, or, visit the local marine museum, as we did in such places as Chicago and Erie, PA. Photographing an airplane or a ship was pretty well similar. If your subject was static, you usually picked a slightly front angle (ships rarely look all that great from the rear). If your ship was under way, however, you had all day to get your shot lined up, compared to panning a North Star on approach, or, a sizzling Golden Hawk Sabre whizzing across the Toronto Island Airport during the CNE airshow. One way or the other, it all the as good fun as young fellows could have had back in the day.

You Wanted More Bob Finlayson Pix

Not surprisingly, all you serious aviation fans loved our recent Robert Finlayson  “slideshow”. Folks never tire of good, basic airplane photography showing such wonderful types. At the last moment, I’ve picked a few more from this rare collection, but haven’t had the time to get too in-depth with the historical details. Anyone who can add some hardcore details, please send along to Let’s start with the standard production light planes starting (above) with Luscombe 8A CF-FZD, which Bob shot at Mount Hope on June 4, 1967. According to the invaluable Canadian Civil Aircraft Register site “FZD” was imported in 1947. As you’ve seen on some of our earlier blogs about light planes, over the decades many such aircraft suffer accidents of varying degrees. On April 29, 2001, “FZD” did just that, flipping onto its back, while landing at a private farm strip near London, Ontario. How goes “FZD” in 2020?
 A beautiful Stinson Voyageur 150 4-seater, CF-VME is seen at Mount Hope on October 22, 1967. The “108” always is a peach of an airplane to see and photograph. When Bob took this photo, “VME” recently had been imported from the US and was visiting from Niagara Falls. What became of this postwar classic? Today, its registration is used on a Robinson R44 helicopter.
Ercoupe CF-MMS at Mount Hope on July 30, 1967. Built in 1946, it was imported in 1960. The basic specs of such classic postwar types usually can be found by using the search box for the blog or go to wiki. Last heard of in 2016, “MMS” had moved west to Alberta. 
Bob photographed Republic Seabee CF-GAD at Buttonville airport, situated a  short distance north of Toronto and now part of Markham. The date was September 16, 1967 when an airshow was going on. You can see a trio of Harvards zipping along in the distance.
Bob shot this handsome little Cessna 150G at Mount Hope on August 6, 1967. The markings would have been familiar to any local aviation fan. Central Airways at Toronto Island Airport was known from coast to coast as one of Canada’s top flying schools. Running since just after the war, its famous owners were brothers Bob and Tom Wong. On September 21, 1969 Michael Mushet invited me to fly with him as his first passenger, he having recently earned his private pilot licence. All went well on our “historic” little flight – in “VGQ”. Michael went on to instruct student pilots over many years and to enjoy aviation adventures enough to fill a book..
Bob caught this great Mount Hope scene on August 14, 1966. Refueling is Bowers Fly Baby CF-RXL. One of the classic postwar homebuilts, the Fly Baby was designed by the great hobby aviator and photographer, Pete Bowers (1918-2003). It’s worth your time to look up Pete on the web. He flew his prototype in 1962, then sold plans to hundreds of avid homebuilders. The great Canadian EAA pioneer, George Welsh, built “RXL” around 1965. In May 2020 it was lost in a crash, when the engine failed after takeoff. The pilot, Mr. Horsten, survived with injuries.
How’s this for as cute a wee biplane homebuilt as you’ll ever see. Bob would never pass a chance to shoot any such treasure. Smith Miniplane CF-YSC is shown at Brampton, Ontario in August 1970. I have no history for this plane.
CF-PKX at Mount Hope on October 1, 1967. This is another standard Finlayson photo. Bob knew that all small biplanes look quite attractive in a rear ¾ view. “PKX” was a 1963 “Little Toot” built by the team of Gelder and Ellis of Brantford, Ontario, and is yet another classic of early EAA years. George Meyer did the original design in 1952. A Little Toot could use as big an engine as a 180-hp Lycoming 0-360 and hit 135 mph. Plans for this type still are available, as they are for other homebuilts of the 1950s.
Bob photographed Gerry Younger’s beautiful Pitts Biplane at Mount Hope on August 21, 1967; then Ron Ellis’ 1973 Pitts S2A there at the June 1981 airshow.
Bob also always was on the lookout for any light twins that might be visiting Mount Hope. Here are two real gems: Apache CF-WSP and Goose CF-IFN. He caught them both on a sunny and snowless December 17, 1967. “WSP” belonged to Mooney Aviation at Toronto Island, while “IFN” was owned by big time Toronto mining man, M.J. Boylen. It was based for years at Toronto’s Malton Airport. Since 1991 a Zenair 200 has carried registration C-FWSP, so the Apache had disappeared by then. “IFN” later was sold in the USA, but returned to Canada. As C-FPCK it flew with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Sadly, it was lost in a disastrous mountainside crash soon after departing Vancouver on November 16, 2008.

40 Years for CANAV Books Part 4 + Norseman News + A Robert Finlayson “Slide Show”

Norseman Update: Visit to Norseman Festival website to get the latest news, including what’s happening with the restoration of Red Lake’s famous Norseman CF-DRD. Also, see the great list there by Rodney Kozar of Norseman survivors current to 2020.

Formidable Hero Update:

(Click on any image to see it full screen.) In Part 3, I didn’t show you the cover art for the first edition of A Formidable Hero. Here it is. I’ve always liked the looks of any cover by designer Robin Brass. Look how attractively he set up the front and back cover design for this dust jacket.
Here’s another short “episode” of the CANAV Books story. Last time we arrived into the mid-1980s with The Bremen, Woody, and A Formidable Hero. Just lately I was flipping through some fine old copies of that incomparable UK journal, “Aviation News” when, in Vol.16, No.17, January 1989, I spotted reviews for Woody and A Formidable Hero, very nice write-ups that I hadn’t noticed until 30+ years later. Better late than never, that’s for sure. Note how on the same page Woody is followed by a review of A Formidable Hero. Since the latter mirrors the first (it’s mainly a quickie outline of the book’s content (not really a review) I don’t include it today, but still do appreciate any such mention.
My invoice from T.H. Best for 2124 copies of Woody. Next day I received the invoice for A Formidable Hero — $8904.61 for 2066 copies. Naturally, I took the 2%/10 days discount offer. I never fretted too much about expenses, knowing that there was a good chance that any such book eventually would return its expenses and maybe even turn a small profit.

Canada’s Air Force Today & AIRCOM 1987 & 1991

The cover art for our 1987 best selling book, Canada’s Air Force Today. In researching for this one, I spent about two years on the road visiting and flying with squadrons from Comox to West Germany. The air force opened all the stops to make sure that I got to photograph anything I needed. Imagine getting to shoot all these scenes anf f;y in most of the planes with the air force’s full co-operation!

For this session I’ll pick things up with our blockbuster 1987 and 1991 titles, Canada’s Air Force Today and AIRCOM: Canada’s Air Force. This pair served well in updating Sixty Years of 1984 fame. We also put out a 24-page 1991 update for CAFT. All this was done when there was next to nothing else coming out in books about contemporary Canadian military aviation history.

These were really exciting times for CANAV, for the air force in those years had command people who appreciated our efforts. In researching for these books, I was welcomed to air force bases from Greenwood and Summerside to Namao and Comox, and invited to fly in all the aircraft in service, whether the humble Musketeer trainer, Tracker and Aurora patrol planes, the mighty Voodoo and Hornet fighters, T-33 and Tutor jet trainers, and all the helicopters. In these long ago times, AIRCOM commanders would be calling CANAV to invite me to special events, even to ride along on major overseas operations. These days CANAV Books doesn’t even qualify to receive RCAF press releases. But … times change and we go with the flow and get our books out one way or the other.

Front and back of the AIRCOM dust jacket. Then, a sample page from my fading old passenger log book showing some of of the great flying I got in when doing my field work for Canada’s Air Force Today. I sure am glad that I kept up my rough little log books. Without such records no one could piece together such a history. This page alone shows that I flew in 9 different AIRCOM types in about 5 weeks.

Both of these books were well received. Canada’s Air Force Today sold out its 4000 first printing. Then, McGraw Hill-Ryerson did a 6000 reprint that also sold out. AIRCOM followed (4000 copies). Both now are long out-of-print, but you always can find good, affordable copies on the web. I still hear from readers about how much they continue to enjoy these detailed, authoritative histories of Canada’s air force 3 – 4 decades ago.

The invoices due for CAFT and AIRCOM. Each came as a bit of a wake-up call to CANAV, as we learned a bit more about book publishing day by day. Somehow, the bills always got paid on time, even in advance. In unearthing such ancient CANAV paperwork, I’ve been getting a better historic overview of CANAV. Something like an old invoice nails down the exact print run (incorrect numbers sometimes have appeared due to fading memory cells). Gradually, I’ll get all this squared away for the final version of this wee history.

Both of our modern day air force books were widely reviewed, including CAFT by Hector Lindsay in the 1989 “Canadian Book Review Annual”, one of the top sources for library acquisition staff. Canadian librarians ordered many copies of CAFT and AIRCOM, but, mysteriously, by 2020 they had lost all interest in such important Canadian subject matter. I suspect that this has something to do with Canada’s new national religion which worships at “The Church of Political Correctness”. Airplanes carrying bombs and rockets are nasty things for the PC crowd to contemplate, and Canadian public institutions such as libraries certainly at dominated by political correctness. Also of interest, if you check the usually puny aviation bookshelf in a typical Canadian public library, you’ll mainly find American books. In 2020 not one Canadian library ordered a single book from CANAV. In comparison, 25 years ago public librarians eagerly would anticipate receiving their seasonal CANAV Books mailing. Meanwhile, your neighbourhood library today has no shortage of the latest in American published sexercise books and many other such edifying “quality” titles. Canadian aviation? Not so much, although there are a few library branches where serious Canadian non-fiction still is respected. Perhaps there’s a public librarian out there with an explanation? But … I digress.

Hector’s critique is refreshingly different. Commenting on Canada’s declining defence budgets, he suggested (tongue in cheek, I suspect), “Perhaps Milberry’s book will help to tip the scales, as he illustrates how much our Air Force has managed to do with so little”! He adds, “The illustrations … are outstanding in every way … The author has done all Canadians a service with this loving portrait of our Air Force.” You must be convinced by now that CANAV must have paid Hector handsomely for this write-up, but … not so. I never knew Hector. He just told it as he read it. Good job, Hector, even if the people who need to see such solid commentary – RCAF HQ and library acquisitions people, for example — almost never seem to find such reviews as they coast along semi-oblivious to the importance of our military aviation heritage.

As you’ve seen by now in this series, the sources of book reviews vary. Some are local, such as a small town weekly, or, a base newspaper. Others are national, such as the “Globe and Mail” or aviation periodicals such as “Air Classics”, “Flypast”, or quarterlies such as the “Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal”. The US Navy’s authoritative journal, “The Hook”, wrote about AIRCOM in its Spring 1992 issue: “An up-to-date account of military aviation in Canada … a spectacular collection of over 300 color photographs … attractive layout, informative captions and overall attention to detail.” Nice, eh, but I suspect that no one in today’s RCAF HQ reads “The Hook”. Too bad. Further praise for both books came from the “Journal of Military Aviation” (July/August 1992): “Both are superb photographic collections … highly recommended.”

Topping AIRCOM’s reception is the lead review from “Aviation News” of December 20, 1991. This begins by congratulating CANAV for having survived its first 10 years in business, then outlines the book’s content in predictable style, concluding: “It is a timely production … Certainly an authoritative comment on a varied and contemporary subject.” With this kind of wide support, a small publisher back in those times could get the word about any such new book spread around the world in about a year.

Power: The Pratt and Whitney Canada Story 1989

Being in English and French editions, Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story/Propulsion: L’Histoire de Pratt & Whitney Canada was CANAV’s first book in translation. Bush and Arctic pilot, and aviation journalist, Richard Beaudet, did our original translation for this book. It was not a walk in the park, since engine makers speak a very complicated language. Here is the stunning cover art created for Power by the great Tom Bjarnason. Then, a snapshot of Tom (nearest) in research times. On this day we were touring Pratt’s Plant 22 in Mississauga. Manager John Blackie was showing us a beautiful new PW205B turbine engine, as Tom was filling his head with dreams of cover art. Does anyone know where Tom’s original cover art is today? It has to be somewhere.

Published in 1989, Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story was CANAV’s first “mega” project. Although we already had turned out Fred Hotson’s De Havilland Canada Story, the P&WC project was different. I still recall how it all started. One day in 1987 the phone rang. When I answered, no one at the other end said “Hello”. Instead, there was this sudden blunt message: “My name is Smith. I work for Pratt & Whitney Canada. We’re having some trouble getting our company history into print. Can you help us?” That was it – a very direct call from the no-nonsense Elvie Smith, President and CEO of P&WC (CASI McCurdy Award, later Order of Canada, and Member, Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame).

Over the ensuing months there was a mad flurry of activity as I, co-author, Ken Sullivan, researcher Ken Swartz, P&WC PR vice- president, Pierre Henry, CANAV editor and graphics guru Robin Brass, and artist Tom Bjarnason teamed to complete in spectacular form the 60th anniversary history of this spectacular Canadian company. To this day, Power remains one of most beautifully presented and historically detailed aviation corporate histories. P&WC and the world loved the book from Day 1. But … what would the critics think? Well, if such a Canadian book could pass muster with Paul Dilworth, one of Canada’s senior aeronautical engineers, then Ross Wilmot, a dean among Canadian aviation journalists, let alone the great global aviation publisher, John Wegg, then I think Power “cut it” fairly well.

In his review of Power in “Engineering Dimensions” of September/October 1990, Paul summed up his thoughts: “This book is a fascinating, comprehensive history of Pratt & Whitney Canada, and contains a kaleidoscopic range of text and photographs on the company’s evolution… the book also serves as a convincing message, by example, for all Canadians concerned with our industrial health and ability to compete under free trade … Power should be required reading by Canadians responsible for the future of Canadian industry, including senior corporate executives, managers of engineering and marketing, and federal and provincial politicians, civil servants and advisors.” Talk about an endorsement! Ross Wilmot penned his own thoughts for the “Canadian Book Review Annual”, doing the expected summary of contents, then concluding (a bit blandly) how, “The book … would be of interest to general readers and aviation buffs alike.”

Bland is not the story of the great John Wegg’s review of Power in “Airways” magazine. After carefully scrutinizing our book, John described Power quite simply as, “an attractive example of how to make a company history come alive.” The “Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal” added, “”If you have enjoyed previous books published by CANAV, you will treasure this one.”

Power Goes off the Rails

Not everything went smoothly with the P&WC project. Big trouble came with production, which was done in the old T.H. Best plant in Toronto. Dating to the 1800s, Best was Canada’s oldest book manufacturer, so could turn out a nice product. This time, however, things went south in what I sometimes call, “the primitive art of book manufacturing”. Firstly, Power went on press during a brutal heat wave and something was not working in the plant environment. The heat combined with intense humidity resulting in the entire first run being lost due to offsetting – the problem whereby ink on sheets coming off the press does not dry instantly as needed. As sheets poured off the press at Best, ink from one sheet was offsetting to adjacent sheets, in spite of liberal use of a drying powder. Astoundingly, no one caught this, the run was spoiled and we had to start over. Then … another disaster. Once the final pallets of sheets off Best’s big 72-inch Harris presses were ready for the bindery, someone again was asleep, and too much glue was used in the binding process. Something like 10,000 books were pretty well ruined before “quality control” woke up. This was about as bad a week as Best and CANAV could have, but Best made good, and P&WC was delighted with their huge shipment of some 26,000 books — half in English, half in French. Part of the shipment comprised books salvaged from the botched-up run that we found could be bound as softcovers. Soon afterward, Best went under – a sad ending for a great company. General mismanagement was to blame, after Best’s “old guard” passed control to a new generation, which didn’t connect with the complexities of printing, binding, advancing technology, marketing, customer relations, etc.

Power Makes a Comeback

P&WC’s very swish reprint and update of Power and Propulsion. I like the way the cover art mirrors that done by Tom Bjarnason decades earlier.

As the years passed, P&WC inevitably exhausted its stock of books, and CANAV sold its own 4000 copies (that’s how I had taken my payment for the project instead of in dollars). In 2012 P&WC wanted the book updated and reprinted – the company understood something about the importance of corporate history and culture, something that mainly is lost in Canadian aerospace by 2020 (the other exceptions that come to mind are Bombardier and CAE). The smoothest way to get this done was for P&WC to assume rights to the book and complete the project to its own specs. In 2013 “Pratt” turned out a straight re-print of the original book (which needed no correcting, so I heard), then produced a smaller companion volume covering 1990 to 2013. These books are presented in an attractive slipcase. The only glitch was that our Tom Bjarnason cover art was nowhere to be found. I had thought that it had stayed with Pratt, but to this day it has not re-surfaced. However, Pratt had two lovely new covers produced. So it goes that our world famous 1989 Power and Propulsion heads into its 4th decade.

“Power” Book Review Surfaces from 31 Years Ago!

I’m finding lots of good reading by going through ancient copies of all those famous and revered  UK aviation periodicals. Lately, I found reviews of Woody and A Formidable Hero in “Aviation News”. Today, in flipping through “Aviation News” of August 4 – 17, 1989, to my pleasant surprise I spotted this really well-crafted and insightful review of Power. This one’s really worth a read, the reviewer was totally on the ball. 

Power remains a treasure to this day for any reader following aviation history in depth. Yes, believe it or not there is far more to our favourite hobby than airliners or fighters. Although Power is long since out-of-print, any keen reader will love this book. You can find very nice and affordable copies on the web. See what you think of this resurrected book review:

Air Transport in Canada 1997

The magnificent cover art done for Air Transport in Canada by Tom Bjarnason. You can learn more about Tom by scrolling back on the blog. There’s one item about him and his famous Port Hope studio, another about his wake. Also, find more about Tom on the web.

The research and info-gathering for this book kept me busy for years from the late 1980s. Travel alone took me to most parts of Canada and many international spots. Once we started putting things together, Robin Brass was committed for more than a year, as the book expanded. Eventually, it went to Friesen printers in Manitoba to become a 1040-page, 10-pound “monster” in two volumes having more than a million words and 3500+ photos. Why the move from Bryant Press? For one thing, Friesens was very hi-tech for the times (and has remained so), while Bryant was slower to adapt. Secondly, Friesens offered quite a better price.

Leaving Bryant was tough, for the company had been good to CANAV since 1981. It was well-run and very customer oriented. I learned the ropes there, having begun as a total dunce about book manufacturing. Founded in 1897, Bryant Press had been owned by the Weld family since 1903. In 2000 it was taken over by Gandalf Graphics of Toronto. In CANAV times, Bryant was headed by John Weld, and his son and daughter were there learning the trade. The quality of such business leaders as Mr. Weld (1928-2013) can be gauged by a few words from his obituary: “John was … educated at Ridley College and the University of Western Ontario. John started work in Winnipeg with the Farmers Advocate, but the majority of his career was with the family book manufacturing business, The Bryant Press, where he became President and C.E.O. He was a past president of the Ontario Printers Association, the Toronto Hunt Club, and a member of the Board of Governors of the North York General Hospital.”

Based in Altona, about an hour’s drive south of Winnipeg in Mennonite country, Friesens also was an old family business. When I started dealing with the company, it was still a closely-run family operation and very prosperous. The staff was tops for customer relations and quality work. Employees worked at a lower pay rate than union shops, but Friesens had a profit-sharing plan. People on the presses or in the bindery seemed like any other hourly workers, but many of them had profitted handsomely from the company’s generosity. From a fellow pushing a broom to the chairman of the board, everyone I met was friendly and helpful. The main book operation had the latest in printing and binding equipment, far ahead of Bryant and Best in Toronto (you can scroll back and see some Friesen photo coverage on the blog).

Friesens was a bit of a culture shock for a big city easterner, for the place was all Mennonite to the point that in 1997 when I started visiting, I was a bit surprised to see that men and women still had their own eating arrangements in the cafeteria. Friesens remains our printer, even if things gradually have changed in Altona. Many non- Mennonites now work at Friesens, and what once was almost at the heart of the operation – Friesens’ booming cafeteria – now is closed, replaced by a row of vending machines. All in the name of modern-day efficiency, I guess.

To compile Air Transport in Canada I travelled the world for many years starting in the late 1980s. Here are some pages from my passenger log books that help tell that story with examples from 1992 to 1995. You can see that this largely was one grand adventure. It also was hard work but all the great people met along the way and the astounding variety of places, aviation activities, weather, etc. made it an unforgettable time.

Published in 1997, ATC was the world’s largest ever such aviation history title. It also became one of the most costly trade book “indi” publishing projects in Canada. When the bills were tallied, CANAV had spent some $400,000, which it had no prospect of recovering. After almost 25 years ATC is going out of print still owing me about $100,000. C’est la guerre, oui!

Here’s the invoice for Vol.2 of Air Transport in Canada. 3649 copies came off the bindery at the final price of $161,850.38. Vol.1 totalled 3615 copies for $54,147.37. Total for the printing job? $216,578.55. With all else spent on the project, the book passed the $400,000 mark.

Once launched at the old Constellation Hotel near “YYZ” in November 1997, ATC was hailed for its fine production qualities, wide coverage, and comprehensive treatment. There never has been since, nor will there ever again be anything comparable in Canadian trade book publishing. Much comes to mind when thinking back about ATC, including how – just hours before our Constellation Hotel launch – books still had not arrived from Friesens in Manitoba, and Friesens dispatch couldn’t say where the books were, especially since there had been bad winter roads along the way from Steinbach. Finally, at about 1500 on that blustery day, the truck finally pulled in to TTS Distributing in Aurora, north of Toronto. The load totalled 3650 sets weighing about 20 tons.

Yes … aviation book publishing in Canada can be a bit crazy, and definitely is not for the faint of heart. In the end, the launch turned out, with hundreds of fans from aviation braving the nasty weather to show their interest and support. At the time, it was especially fitting how the Constellation Hotel had an actual L.1049 Super Constellation as part of its set-up. The old-time “Super Connie” people who attended were delighted that they had made the effort that evening.

How did the press view “ATC”? We were all anxious to know, of course, but when the reviews started to appear, we had no worries. Wrote “Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”: “These volumes are possibly the world’s most inclusive ever devoted to aviation history.” Added Ottawa’s famous graphics house, Aerographics: “This is the Oshkosh of aviation books”. The “Montreal Gazette” added, “Impressive! The word is sometimes misapplied to a book that is merely interesting, but for these two volumes, it may well be an understatement.” American Aviation Historical Society reviewer, Robert Parmerter, noted, “If I were to be stranded on an island and could chose just one aviation title to take, this two-volume set would be it.” Robert himself is author and producer of one of the world’s greatest modern aircraft histories, Beech 18: A Civil and Military History.

Own a Piece of Air Transport in Canada

Air Transport in Canada includes one of the finest galleries of original Canadian aviation art found in any such book. Here are three examples by one of our artists, Robert Finlayson of Hamilton. These paintings are another brilliant reason for having your own set of ATC, even for ordering several sets at our special price (see below) to use for VIP corporate gifts, etc. Here are Bob’s lovely acrylic renditions of RCAF wartime Goose 917, Don McVicar’s WWA C-46 CF-IQQ on the DEW Line as one of Don’s DC-3s arrives, then one of Spartan’s famous P-38 Lightning aero survey planes on a Whitehorse assignment in the early 1950s. The many large, original paintings from the ATC art gallery now are on the market, in case you spot one of these treasures that you really like. Prices start around $3500.

Should you still not have ATC in your aviation library, here’s the best chance to date to latch on to an autographed set. Sticker price? $155.00, but this special deal gets you ATC all-in (shipping & tax included) at CDN$65.00 for Canadian orders, CDN$80.00 USA orders, CDN$160.00 overseas orders (surface mail). Drop a note to me if any questions That’s it for today for CANAV history. Thanks for dropping by and stay tuned for Part 5. Meanwhile, enjoy what’s below – an exclusive slide show from a fellow “who knew what’s what” in airplane photography.

Airplane Photographer Par Excellence: Bob Finlayson

One of the really dedicated Canadian aviation hobby photographers, aviation artists and all-around serious history buffs was Robert “Bob” Finlayson of Hamilton (1930 – 2000). The Finlaysons lived on Dalewood Ave. S., a few doors from another avid aviation photographer, Jack McNulty. Jack eventually would get Bob and I together. Bob’s father was interested in aviation and his older brother, Ross, flew Mosquitos with 409 Sqn during WWII, so Bob was keen on aviation from the start. His parents ran a sporting goods store, where Bob helped for decades. He also worked in a Hamilton camera shop, where he became expert in darkroom work back in “black and white” times. Around 1950, Bob took some flying lessons. He had a motorcycle, so got around to the local airstrips, where he mainly enjoyed photographing. In 1965 Bob became Member No.441 in the nascent Canadian Aviation Historical Society.

Bob also enjoyed sketching in pencil, especially in natural settings. The birds of southern Ontario became a great passion, along with airplanes. Eventually, Bob started using oil paints. By the time I met him about 1980, he had painted many airplanes, whether in scenes, or, as impressive side profiles. In the early 1980s, he painted a nice series of colour profiles for Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984, then some lovely pieces in the mid-1990s for the art gallery in Air Transport in Canada, including two of my favourites – the RCAF Canadian Vickers Vedette and the RCAF Grumman Goose.

Besides painting, over the decades, Bob printed innumerable photos for my projects in his basement darkroom (long before digital times). Also, having a vast research library, he could always be counted on to check some obscure fact of Canadian aviation history, should I be stuck. All along, Bob lived with diabetes, which he had contracted as a child. This was serious, forcing him out of school in about Grade 5. Regardless, Bob forged ahead as if all was well, he had a best disposition. He once told me about his first helicopter ride – a flight in a medevac chopper to hospital, when he collapsed at the Hamilton airshow one year! That was typical Bob, things didn’t get him down.

Besides photographing and reading up on airplanes like a real pro, Bob was always on the go spotting birds in the outdoors. I remember going along on one of his daily walks in the countryside. A flock of crows came our way and circled. Then Bob opened a bag and started tossing out chunks of wieners. Down came the crows to enjoy Bob’s treats. He called them “my boys” and apparently this was a routine. Something else we sometimes did was drive around Hamilton Harbour to photograph the ships. Bob was always a versatile fellow with a camera. Once, he had a contract with the Foundation Co. of Canada photographing bridges.

Bob had been feeling a bit down early in 2000. Typically, he didn’t complain. Then, on March 20 that year he suddenly left us. Brother Ross gave me the bad news and a few days later called me over to take away Bob’s vast photo collection, books and a few sample paintings. Sad to say, but Bob hadn’t had time to finish the blue jay he was doing for me, so all I got was his rough for that assignment.

Over the decades I’ve been able to feature some of Bob’s photos in various books. You’ll see more in our RCAF 100 th anniversary book in 2024. For today, I’ve selected a few Finlayson Kodak Ektachromes featuring the typical light planes that Bob loved to shoot at Hamilton’s nearby Mount Hope Airport. He spent endless enjoyable days there and, if it had wings, to Bob it was always worth a frame. Mostly, Bob was shooting black and white, but usually had a “35” along loaded with a roll of Ektachrome. Some of the fellows used to prefer this transparency film vs the richer-coloured but “slower” Kodachrome. It was about Ektachrome’s “softness” and higher speed (160 ASA vs 25 or 64 for Kodachrome). For today I’ve picked a random selection of Bob’s Ektachromes from 1966-68, all but one shot at Mount Hope. Any aviation fan will love these. They’re a nice break from the airliner and jet fighter photos that seem to dominate among today’s spotters. If you scroll back in the blog to such items as the Al Martin photo gallery, you’ll find lots of further details about the airplane types shown here today.

To start this blog item, here is a very historic Finlayson colour ½ frame Kodak transparency featuring Old Hamilton Airport. Mr. Finlayson often would have taken his two boys to the airport to let them enjoy the action. That’s likely where they both got their lifelong interest. This priceless photo complements those you can see on our earlier blog item, “Old Hamilton Airport” (take a look). T.M. McGrath describes this airport (eventually known as Hamilton Municipal Airport) in detail in his ace of a 1992 book, History of Canadian Airports. He notes, in part, that in 1927: “A new airport site of 227 acres was acquired two and a half kilometers south of the Elliot field [Hamilton’s first airfield] and west of Redhill Creek. It had three sod runways 2640, 2260 and 2760 feet long … it was opened on June 6, 1929.” International Airways, Canadian Airways, Leavens Brothers and the Hamilton Aero Club used this field in its early years. McGrath adds how, “By the summer of 1931, the airport had two hard-surfaced runways and two hangars.” In October 1931 the Hamilton Aero Club assumed management of the field from the city for a nominal one dollar per year. Around 1938 Cub Aircraft of Canada became a resident. In 1940 a large, modern airport was built in the countryside near Mount Hope to accommodate the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, to which the Hamilton Aero Club moved in 1943 to be manager. Cub aircraft and Peninsula Air Service were the main residents in the immediate postwar times. McGrath notes of the old airport, “It was used by light aircraft in daylight only … In 1949 Glen White founded Trans Aircraft Ltd. from the old Cub Company, but Hamilton Municipal Airport had to close in November 1951.” Glen White then moved his business to Mount Hope. Seen in this wonderful old photo are the two original HMA hangars. Cessna 120 CF-FPB and Piper L4B CF-EGN are awaiting their next trips as kids and parents “hang over fence” at the gate. Before much longer, someone needs to write a detailed history of this historic Canadian airport. Blog reader Cameron Price (Cub Aircraft Corp. Ltd Historian) has sent me some additional info about this photo and caption. He has new information from the White family: “I immediately recognized the picture of the Hamilton Municipal Airport and the distinctive (PA12) colour scheme of CF-EGN 240C. On November 4, 1959, EGN perished in the Regina airport fire along with 2 other Cub aircraft. Glenn White’s name has cropped up often in my research [which] has also uncovered factual details that show Glenn’s involvement with Cub Aircraft, Trans Aircraft Ltd. and, in parallel, Peninsula Air Service. I believe Glenn was in fact the General Manager of Trans Aircraft in 1949 that remained as a subsidiary of TransVision Television (Canada) Ltd. following the February 1949 shareholder-inspired changes. I think that Glenn purchased Trans Aircraft around 1952 that included the Piper Aircraft distributorship, but the exact dates need further research.”
CF-LBP Piper J3C65 First appeared in Canada in 1959, when it was owned by G. Gobert of Tod Post, Manitoba. When Bob photographed it at Mount Hope on September 3, 1967, it was owned by E. Brindell of Weston, Ontario. The most recent info that I have is that “LBP” is current in the Winnipeg area. Doesn’t it looks spiffy here with its wheel pants and that simple, classic colour scheme!
Piper’s answer to the Cessna 150 in the mid- 1950s was the PA-22 Colt. The Colt’s legacy dates to the postwar PA-20 Pacer tail dragger. In 1951 Piper brought out a tricycle gear version – the PA-22 Tripacer, then further extended the series in 1960 with a 2-seat training version, the PA-22-108 Colt. Some 9490 Tripacers of all types were delivered to 1964, when the series was replaced by the new, all-metal Cherokee. CF-WSX is seen at Mount Hope on August 18, 1968. It looks very fine in this slightly rear angle (we didn’t often shoot like this, since we were so well indoctrinated about the mandatory “front ¾” view). Some time after 1982 “WSX” disappeared from the CCAR. Today’s “WSX” is a WestJet Boeing 737.
G.J. Wallis of nearby Stoney Creek owned this attractive Cessna 140 CF-LHF, when Bob photographed it on April 9, 1967. “LHF” had been imported in 1959 for Airgo, a Toronto Island-based flying school. This is a nifty example of how the serious spotters in this period would take any chance to record any airplane. “LHF” was parked nicely in the clear at the front of a hangar, so made for a decent photograph. +However, some of the anal photographers wouldn’t “waste” film on such a shot, the plane not being “out in the clear”. Talk about pitiful, no! In this period all the main hangars at Mount Hope still were those built during the war for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. These had been built to be disposable, but quite a few still stand across the country.
Cessna 150 CF-LEL is seen at Mount Hope on September 10, 1967. The “1-50” first flew in September 1957 as the replacement for the “1-40”, which had been phased out in 1951. Production ensued in 1958 and the first 1-50s soon were in Canada, Central Airways of Toronto Island Airport possibly being the first operator. Central’s “LEL” was a 1959 model. Tens of thousands of Canadian student pilots learned to fly on the 1-50 and its successor (in 1977), the 1-52. More than 22,000 1-50s were delivered, thousands of which remain in use. “LEL” still was flying in the mid- 2010s. It must have a ton of flying hours by now!
Cessnas are naturally photogenic — they are simply lovely-looking airplanes. The 1-72 first flew in 1955 as the 1- 70’s replacement. Production began in 1956. “KJK” became one of Canada’s first examples, when Grand Valley Air Services on Breslau, Ontario bought it in new in 1957. Kingsley Brown of Hamilton owned it when Bob shot it at Mount Hope on March 24, There had been a late snowfall, which always made for an extra nice shot, but Bob would have had to adjust his f-stop to compensate for the extra brightness. “KJK” may still be around somewhere, but I don’t have the data.
CF-UHQ. Bob photographed this very sleek- looking Ontario Provincial Police 1966 Cessna 172G at Mount Hope on June 4, 1967. CF-UHQ likely was on a lease to the OPP this year from Peninsula Air Service of Mount Hope. Eventually, most such police planes did not have any identity such as “OPP” showing. The policy in modern times is to remain incognito. “UHQ” is current today, based in the Montreal area.
CF-SOW The Cessna 180 continued the company’s traditional great looks. Bob shot Cessna 180G CF-SOW on November 6, 1966 in Spartan Air Services markings. Spartan had imported it the year before for some aerial surveying project, but sold it in 1970 to Douglas Hemby of Hall Beach, NWT. Other owners followed until August 20, 1988, when “SOW” crashed at Amherstburg, Ontario.
Then owned by David MacDonald of nearby Oakville, this handsome Cessna 180 was at Mount Hope on amphibious floats on June 4, 1967. Such 1-80s were perfect for summer trips to such Ontario cottage regions as Muskoka or the Kawarthas. CF-SEA disappeared from the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register in 1969. I wonder where it went …
In the postwar economic fervor that swept Canada, many young men, especially RCAF veterans back from the fighting, wanted to get into sport flying. There was no shortage of war surplus trainers at bargain prices, and hundreds of new planes from the USA were pouring into Canada at affordable prices. Here’s one of the dozens of attractive little Ercoupes.
CF-HVL was imported a bit later than usual – 1956. When Bob saw it at Mount Hope on August 13, 1967 its owner was H.H. Richardson of Ottawa. It last appeared in the CCAR in 1972. You can see why an Ercoupe creates an irresistible “photo op” for the serious aviation buffs.
Not Mount Hope. Globe Swift CF-IQW somewhere within Bob’s reach (not having his own transportation for his latter 40 or so years, he didn’t often stray far from the Hamilton area). At this time, “IQW” was owned by A.J. Dinnin of Lachine/Montreal. With its fighter plane lines, the natty Swift became one of the most beloved of American “classic” light plane designs. Today, “IQW” belongs to Ontario-based vintage airplane collector, Hannu Halminen. Besides having the essential reference books bout such designs as the Swift in your home aviation library, you usually can find their basic specs and history at wiki.
Republic Seabee CF-GAD was owned by Dennis J. Bradley when Bob shot it at Mount Hope on March 24, Dennis would go on to found the Canadian Warplane Heritage and fly many classic warplanes. Seabee No.965, “GAD” had been N6682K. In modern times it underwent the “Robinson” conversion to a 300+ hp Corvette engine. “GAD” was damaged in a crash landing on July 25, 2014. Its last known owner was the late Dr. Andy Chapeskie of Barry’s Bay.
What fine subject matter for any true fan with a camera, right! Another traditional favourite is any Luscombe, another of the types that invaded the private plane market right after the war. A 1948 Luscombe 8F, “UKZ” was imported in 1966 by Edward Lovell from the Windsor, Ontario area. He and “UKZ” were a team into 1990, when he sold “UKZ” locally. In 1996 it returned to the USA. Bob photographed it on May 13, 1967.
St. Catharines Flying Club Fleet Canuck CF-UXN at Mount Hope on July 1, 1967. I wonder if this Canuck was the one built by Leavers Brothers in Toronto in 1966 from left over parts – supposedly “the last” Canuck. That was about 20 years after Fleet had packed in Canuck production, once the Canadian market had been overrun by USA imports and war surplus Cornells, etc. In his essential 1982 book Canadian Aircraft since 1909, Ken Molson notes that Fleet built 198 Canucks, then Leavens Brothers added a batch of 26, but the last three in Ken’s list are later serial numbers 300, 305 and 306. However, “UXN” is s/n 307. I’m sure someone can enlighten us about this. I hear that “UXN” resides today at Edenvale, Ontario.
Bob photographed this nifty-looking Aeronca 7FC “tri gear” as the snow fell at Mount Hope on January 15, 1967. Frank Blais of Stoney Creek owned “KFC” at this time. It still was on the CCAR in 1982, but, since then it disappeared. Whenever a bit of snow started to come down while we were out shooting, we rarely were deterred (unless it was a blizzard) and usually were anxious to see how our shots turned out. This is a good case where it was worth Bob’s effort. A nice, different sort of shot.
All we fans enjoyed photographing any of the light twins of the times, so a Piper PA-23 Apache always was a treat to shoot. Bob saw Apache CF-KQY at Mount Hope on July 1, 1967, CF-NVE on May 13 the same year. “KQY” had come to Canada in 1958 and at this time was owned by Hamilton’s Trans Aircraft Co., a Piper dealer and charter operator. Today’s “KQY” is a hot air balloon based near Ottawa. We tend to associate Spartan Air Services with P-38s and Mosquitos, but over the decades it operated many ordinary types as well. These usually were worked very hard, often on contracts in far distant countries. Trans Aircraft imported “NVE” in 1961, then leased it to Spartan until 1971. It then went to Victoria Motor Sales in Kitchener. Other owners followed and it may still be around somewhere. Feel free to add any details for these captions. Thanks as always …

A Remembrance Day 2020 Gem + 40 Years for CANAV Books Part 3 — CANAV Forges Ahead through the 1980s + Austin Airways Update + TCA Memory Lane + A Very Special Offer for “Air Transport in Canada” + LGen W.K. “Bill” Carr, DFC+ The Harvard in Canada

Here’s a pure gem of Remembrance Day 2020 creativity. Well worth a couple of minutes out of any Canadian’s day.

Helicopters: The British Columbia Story 1985

Helicopters: The British Columbia Story was delivered to us on May 30, 1985.

Not only had 1985 been a stellar year at CANAV with the Austin Airways book, but we also published our first collaboration, and turned out more than one title for the first time. Our baby steps were over. Helicopters: The British Columbia Story (1985) was the first major book covering the rotary-wing industry in Canada. Authors Peter Corley-Smith (1923 – 2002) and David N. Parker (1945 – 2018) then were historians at the BC Provincial Museum. They had an idea for a book, but the museum wouldn’t fund it. Such things are a mystery. Why would a major museum not recognize the great opportunity and honour in publishing such an important book, especially when the job could be done affordably and to the museum’s specs? Something to do with the eternal verities, I suppose.

A call from Peter and David to CANAV Books got them on the right track. The fellows worked well as a team. Peter was especially qualified – he was well-known as a pilot with experience flying large choppers on such projects as the Mid Canada Line (you can look up Peter on the web to see more about his aviation accomplishments). The fellows wrote an excellent manuscript, found all the essential photos, and produced an important map. Topping it off, they found Clive Brooks, a talented Victoria artist, to paint a series of impressive helicopter colour profiles. CANAV did the rest, paying all the bills, turning out a very fine book, etc. Oddly, the BC museum was less than happy about the book and ordered almost no copies. Nothing ever was explained, yet, over the decades everything that CANAV ever heard about the book was positive. Not surprisingly, Helicopters: The British Columbia Story sold out. That said, I still have a few copies. If you’d like one, email All-in? CDN$33.50. Here’s a sample page from the book showing three of Clive’s wonderful colour profiles.

Above: A copy of the ancient invoice covering our bill for printing and binding 3175 copies. The project soon paid for itself and earned a small profit. Mainly, however, it had been fun to do and was a feather in CANAV’s cap. Typical of the aviation press, “Air Classics” praised “HBCS”: “Rich in anecdotes — first person accounts from the school of hard knocks days of helicopter pioneering — the book tells an exciting story of aviation progress.” In 1998, Peter Corley-Smith organized an updated 2nd edition. This was beautifully produced by BC’s beloved (by now extinct) Sono Nis Press. Another CANAV highlight for 1985 was our Sixty Years first reprint. Our initial 7810 copies were gone in record time, so I ordered a further 2500. These were delivered in October at $41,835.34. Sixty Years would keep surging – three more reprints to come. To 2020 it remains the best, most widely referenced and beloved single-volume history of the RCAF, regardless of officialdom’s insouciance. Is there no love in NDHQ/RCAF HQ for a beautiful book in praise of the RCAF? To my knowledge, after 35+ years DND and RCAF HQ have ordered but a single one of our 20,000+ copies Sixty Years. No … I didn’t just make this up.

CANAV Books that Might Have Been

Also of interest in these early CANAV Books years, I had to turn down some tempting outside offers. Les Wilkinson wanted CANAV to publish the book he and his “Arrow Maniac” pals were doing about the Avro Arrow. Being buried in work with CANAV’s own CF-100 book, I had no choice. The Arrow book was published in 1980 by Boston Mill Press and went on to huge success in multiple printings. A bit later, Jim Floyd succeeded in having me at least consider his Avro Jetliner book. On April 1, 1985 Bryant quoted me $18,739 for 3000 copies. In the end, my own pace of work overcame things and I had to stand aside. In the end, his lovely book, The Avro Jetliner, was nicely produced by Boston Mills. Today (September 24, 2020) I noticed that was listing 46 used copies, the cheapest at CDN$108.09++, the priciest $288.80++. Quite literally, these would be cheap at twice the price — book lovers understand such things. Another book that I had to turn down in these years was Ken Molson’s history of Canada’s national aviation museum. Ken was adamant that CANAV publish his book, but my workload and lack of experience led to my decision – can’t do it, Ken. In the end (1988), the museum published the book in co- operation with the University of Toronto Press. One of Canada’s finest aviation books to this day, Canada’s National Aviation Museum: Its History and Collections ought to be in your library. You can find a nice used copy on the web.

The Canadair Sabre 1986

The glorious cover art for our Sabre book was created by Geoff Bennett. This was Geoff’s first book cover. Geoff passed on in 2018 at age 87. His magnificent art adorns homes, military messes and museums from coast to coast. Having studied art as a young man, Geoff joined the RAF in 1953 to do his national service, then switched to the RCAF in 1957. Initially, he instructed at Moose Jaw on Harvards. He was involved in the formation of the RCAF’s 1959
Goldilocks flight demo team, and designed the paint job for the RCAF Golden Centennaires of 1967 fame. On the side, Geoff flew the Argus 1966-86. He left air force in 1986, then flew for 10 more years with Transport Canada at Moncton.

While I still was struggling with the CF-100 and North Star projects, I was gathering material for a book about the Canadair Sabre. This just seemed “a natural” for our on-going series. In 1985 I already was making trips to Canadair at Cartierville, scrounging for old records and interviewing staff and retirees. I also got on the road to interview such Sabre luminaries in Moncton (for example) as Al Lilly, Ed Lowry and Jack Seaman, or, in Winnipeg — Bill Bristowe and John Greatrix, and. closer to home the likes of Ralph Heard and Bob Caskie.

I see from the CANAV archives that Bryant first quoted on the Sabre book on September 24, 1985. I already had decided to walk the plank by ordering 10,000 copies. This was pretty well an absurdly large quantity at the time for any Canadian trade book, but something told me that 10,000 was the way to go for the long haul. Bryant gave me a quote of $94,300 and I mustn’t have flinched! By then, thankfully, I was No.1 in their good books.

Besides doing interviews, I also was hunting down Sabre squadron DROs (daily routine orders), ORBs (operational record books), and annual reports to see what history I could unearth. Besides the RCAF, I also had to cover other air forces that had flown Canadair Sabres. In this quest, Roger Lindsay in the UK and Gerhard Joos in Germany laid the groundwork for two major chapters – the RAF and Luftwaffe. I also needed material for Colombia, Greece, Italy, South Africa, Turkey and Yugoslavia. There even was a story about an Israeli order to track down. Then, there was the question of what happened to all those Canadair Sabres after their military days. It was mind-boggling and to this day I have no idea how we ever finished the job. Somehow, things again came together in a glorious book delivered to me in August 1986. Some 35 years later The Canadair Sabre (all things considered – see the reviews below) still holds up well.

Bryant’s invoice detailing in a few lines the charges for the Sabre print run: 10,422 copies for $89,280.64, a bit below the original quote. Book manufacturing being so competitive, producers tried to keep their numbers as low as possible, while still delivering a nice product. Once again, I was able to pay this bill in a few days, having already brought in substantial cash with advance sales. If you still need a copy of the beauty of a book, or could use extras for gifts, drop me an email at

Over the summer of 1986 we put on several book launchings. If you have the time, scroll back in the blog to find “CANAV Anniversary Highlight: The Canadair Sabre” featuring our Toronto book launch on August 19 that year. People came from far and wide, Roger and Gerhard included. This was such a crazy time that some of our events are “missing” from the record. For example, we had a book launch at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto, where the renowned 72nd scale model-building club – the “Aero Buffs” – turned up with dozens of beautiful Sabre models to play their part that afternoon. Sad to say, I’ve never seen a photo from that event. Of course, not everyone carried a camera back in 1986.

Sabre Book Launch in Ottawa, June 19, 1986

Another book launch from which I have no photos was the great one at Ottawa’s International Hotel located a stone’s throw from the Public Archives of Canada. Being “back in the day”, this was a fantastic event, a real who’s who Sabre people. There were something like seven RCAF pilots who had flown Sabres in action in Korea (Bruce Fleming, Omer Levesque, Andy Mackenzie and Eric Smith come to mind), there were Golden Hawks, COs, all sorts of squadron pilots, technical people, folks from DND HQ who came by after work, etc. Our big room was shoulder-to-shoulder and the great WO Vic Johnson had an AV program going, including a classic Golden Hawks 16mm movie.

The special bit about our book launches this summer was a sign- in book put together by Sabre pilot Paul Apperley. Paul carried this around with him to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal launch events to collect autographs without me spotting him (until the end), then presented this magnificent souvenier to me, something that knocked me over with surprise. What a treasure to still have decades later, after so many of my great Sabre pals (Paul included) have left us. Here are two sample pages from Toronto. Anyone familiar with the RCAF fighter scene of the 1950s-60s will relate to this astounding gallery of autographs. You can be sure that Paul Apperley was responsible to a fair degree for this large turnout, many of the fellows having travelled a good distance to attend …

… a page from the Ottawa launch:

… and one page from Montreal. At the top is the great Jean Gaudry’s signature. Eric turned 90 on October 9, 2020. Further down is Bob Carew, another RCAF Korean Sabre pilot. Several Canadair people also attended this launch, which we held at the International at Dorval.

Sabre Book Launch in Montreal

Here are a few photos from our Dorval book launch of June 25, 1986, where I finally got wise to Paul Apperley’s “sign-in book” skit.

Gerry McDougall and JT Price sign “the Apperley” book. After his tour in the Air Division with 422 Sqn, Gerry flew with the Montreal air reserve. JT was famous from “Air Div” years, especially as a flight demonstration pilot. JT later excelled with as a Golden Hawk.
Some of the fellows supposedly being serious for a group shot: Robert St-Pierre, Jean Gaudry, Robert McIntyre, Larry Milberry, Richard Beaudet and JT Price. I don’t know who was so thoughtful as to take these pictures, but “thanks” all these years later.
Besides his engineering prowess at Canadair, Hank Volker (left) was a very serious philatelic man. For the book launch, he brought along some of his aerophilatelic albums for the crowd to enjoy.
Gerry McDougall, Jean Gaudry, unknown, and Lou Loubert flip some pages. After 35 years the old Sabre book still stands up to scrutiny, not that everyone was 100% happy with it. The main complaint? “Why am I not in your book, Milberry!” Well, no book is all things to all
people. Happily, in his world-class book A Tradition of Excellence, Dan Dempsey fills in some gaps in my Sabre book. Other authors contribute in the same way. That’s how RCAF history tends to go and is why each serious reader needs an extensive library with all the basic Canadian aviation titles. PS … put your books first, use the web for the kids stuff.
As usual, our Dorval book launch was crowded with “Kings of Canadian Aviation”. On the left is Bob Raven, then a V-P at Pratt & Whitney Canada (across the river from Montreal in Longueuil). On the right is pilot Richard Beaudet, then with Transport Canada at Dorval (in 2020 finally on the verge of retirement). Typically, Richard had begun in the school of hard knocks, doing his early penance flying Twin Otters for Bradley up on Baffin Island. In spite of working decades at their jobs, such fellows always delighted in anything like a book launch. Not long after this evening, Bob invited me to Halifax to tour a new engine plant that P&WC had just opened for robotic PW100 production.
The great Paul Apperley 1925-2007– back in his glorious Sabre days.

Sabre Book Reviews

How about the official reviews for The Canadair Sabre? Well, they could not have been better. The leading French journal “Air Fan” loved The Canadair Sabre, calling it: “The aviation literary event of the year.” Greece’s journal “Ptisi” added, “A real oasis for F-86 fans and anyone interested in the Golden Years of the 1950s-60s.” “Air International” called the book, “A mine of information … there seems scant prospect of a better history.” Even more glowing commentary came from Bob Halford’s “Canadian Aircraft Operator”, Vol.24, No.20: “With The Canadair Sabre [Milberry] continues to enhance his reputation for producing top-of-the-class books that compare more than merely favourably with any of the works of the major publishing houses. This is a remarkable achievement …” Typically, “CAO” goes on to describe the book in detail. Bob, of course, knew his stuff … the Sabre in particular. He had visited Canadair during Sabre production years, also the RCAF’s NATO bases in Sabre years during his time editing “Aircraft” magazine. Bob concluded, “The book is, indeed, all that anyone could ever want to know about the Canadair-built Sabre … it’s a people book as well as an airplane book.”

Fighter Pilot Biographies 1987

In 1987 CANAV Books published the biographies of two
important Canadian fighter pilots: Vernon C. Woodward, DFC and Bar — Woody: A Fighter Pilot’s Album, and Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray, VC, DSC — A Formidable Hero: Lt R.H. Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR. For production, I turned for some reason from Bryant Press the T.H. Best (located not far from Brant in east Toronto), then Canada’s oldest book manufacturer. Maybe I went to Best since these books were small format and small runs that Bryant wasn’t crazy about doing. Who knows at this stage, especially since both companies have long-since faded away. The main thing is that each of these biographies was welcomed and nicely reviewed. However, likely since they were small hardcovers and “quick reads”, reviewers made quick work of them. “Brown’s Books”, for example, simply concluded about Woody: “A worthy history of a relatively unknown Canadian ace.”

Hammy Gray biographer, Stuart Soward, himself had begun as a Canadian naval fighter pilot. Having earned his book authorship “wings” with A Formidable Hero, he went on to self-published a monumental (and essential) 2-volume history of aviation in the Royal Canadian Navy, Hands to Flying Station. Certainly, it was CANAV’s honour to publish Stuart’s first book.

As did The Bremen (see below), A Formidable Hero had important spin-off. After decades in the shadows, thanks to Stuart, “Hammy” Gray was re-introduced to the Canadian history scene. Our book launching was auspicious, being held in Ottawa at a convention of RCN aviators known as the CNAGs – Canadian Naval Air Group. From there, of course, word spread across the land about A Formidable Hero and our small 2000 print run sold out. In 2003 Stuart produced an important update of his book.

The cover of Stuart Soward’s own edition of A Formidable Hero. I highly recommend this edition – you’ll be able to find a copy on the web. In this version, Stuart added the important story of how (not that he takes any credit) his determined work resulted in renewed interest in Hammy Gray, VC, to the extent that a monument to Hammy now stands in Japan. This major accomplishment chiefly was organized by Stuart and financed by private donations, when Ottawa seemed uninterested.

Yes, in 1989 Stuart’s dogged efforts led directly to a permanent monument in Hammy Gray’s honor. This was dedicated at Onagawa Bay, Japan, with Stuart in attendance, even if the DND could not find a place for him on the 707 it sent to Japan with VIPs and freeloaders. Get all the details from Stuart’s own edition of the book – this is one story you don’t want to miss! Subsequent to CANAV’s and Stuart’s Hammy Gray books, and to Stuart’s Onagawa triumph, late last year I had a call from the RCN seeking a copy of A Formidable Hero, although my caller wasn’t sure that the navy could afford a copy, or, if he could authorize a purchase (this really drives me crazy about Ottawa). We finally negotiated a price (what a laugh, eh), a purchase order was struck, and I mailed the RCN my last new copy. What was this all about? I was delighted to hear that the navy had decided to name one of its new Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessels in honour of Hammy so, in advance of commissioning the ship in 2021, the navy wanted to know all it could about Hammy Gray himself, and what better source than Stuart’s book!

Hugh Halliday’s Woody also fared well. Although both books today are “OP” – out of print – nice used copies can be found at such internet book sites as Today for example (October 10, 2020) I noticed that there were 83 copies of Woody for sale there, 61 of A Formidable Hero. Get these two little gems into your library before it slips your mind.

The Bremen 1988

Our 1985 book — The Bremen, by Fred Hotson — is the in-depth history of the 1928 trans-Atlantic Junkers christened “Bremen”. Beautifully designed by Robin Brass, this book caught the eye of many serious bibliophiles and aviation history organizations. In one case, the American Aviation Historical Society journal observed: “There are many books dealing with pioneer ocean flying, but only a very small number can be classified as important. This book belongs in that select group.” On top of the AAHS’s magnificent conclusion, for his decades of Bremen research and our efforts in publishing it all, in 1988 Fred received the “Best New Aviation Book” annual award from the Aviation and Space Writers Association of America.

CANAV’s first title in Translation was The Bremen —

Not only did The Bremen bring kudos to Fred and CANAV, but it had major historic spin-off in Germany. Firstly, Fred teamed with publisher, Josef Krauthauser (NARA-Verlag Books) to have a German edition – Die Bremen – – published in 1996. This spurred further interest in Germany in that the City of Bremen sent a delegation to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan to negotiate the repatriation of “The Bremen” to Germany. An agreement was reached, and Fred and I later were VIPs at the Ford Museum, when the Bremen delegation visited for several days. Plans were finalized and the tired-looking, dusty old “Bremen” was dismantled and flown home aboard two Luftwaffe Transal transport planes. A fastidious restoration was undertaken and the resplendent Junkers was dedicated in Bremen in June 1998. Fred Hotson was present as the very deserving guest of honour. How more delighted could a small aviation book publisher be than to see such results from his efforts – a war memorial erected in Japan and a historic airplane restored in Germany.

Autographs of some of the “Bremen” committee from Germany at the Ford Museum with Fred Hotson and me on April 15, 1997.

Austin Airways Nostalgia

In our last blog cycle we looked back at the Austin Airways book. Since then, I came across an old Kodachrome that I shot when spending a few days in August 1980 at Jack Austin’s cottage in Muskoka with Jack (right), Jim Bell (centre) and Frank Russell (left). Jim was Austin’s chief pilot for years, while the always gregarious Frank was chief engineer and the company’s first employee back in 1934. This get together was a chance for me to pry some Austin Airways history from these top men. However, I was stymied, since Jim was his well-known, taciturn self. However, since we published the Austin Airways book in 1985, I learned much about Jim from a set of letters provided after his passing. This incredible history appears in Air Transport in Canada (1997). Further important company history has come to light, especially with a new series of glorious colour photos in The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.2 (2013). I hope you are enjoying these little bits of book publishing history. Stay turned for “Episode 4” in 2 or 3 weeks.

Trans-Canada Air Lines 1945 Historic Timetable

TCA’s February 1, 1945 timetable is a time capsule for a very important sector of air transportation in Canada 75 years ago. This magnificent 8-page treasure of a collectible is packed with history. Check out these panels to see the North American route map, sample timetables, general info with many interesting entries from photography to baggage rules, TCA’s trans-Atlantic air service, even info about the company’s “Air Travel Card” (nothing new under the sun). Sample fares shown in the timetable include Calgary-Vancouver $62.80, Winnipeg-Toronto $107.80, Toronto-Vancouver $220.00, Toronto-Halifax $95.30, Montreal-Toronto $36.25. On the face of it, these fares look quite affordable. But, reality tells another story, for a Canadian dollar in 1945 would be worth about  $15.00 today, making your Montreal-Toronto flight almost $550.00 in 2020 dollars.

Speaking of air transport, here’s a very special offer for CANAV’s world-famous Air Transport in Canada. At 5kg and 1040 pages, ATC remains Canada’s grandest-ever aviation title. What’s covered? To give you an idea … pioneer days from 1919 to TCA & CPA, Canada’s air force from Day 1 to modern operations around the world, Canada’s postwar airlines: EPA, MCA, Nordair, PWA, QCA, Quebecair, Transair, etc., the DEW Line, SAR, aerial survey, the great Canadian airliners from North Star to Q400, helicopters, and government and corporate aviation. “ATC” also includes the largest gallery of original Canadian aviation art. How say the reviewers? “These volumes are possibly the world’s most inclusive ever devoted to aviation history.” (“Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”) “The Oshkosh of aviation books.” (“Aerographics”). “Impressive! The word is sometimes misapplied to a book that is merely interesting, but for these two volumes, it may well be an understatement.” (“Montreal Gazette”). 53 chapters, 2 volumes, hardcover, 800,000+ words, more than 3500 photos, maps, glossary, bibliography, appendix, index. Sticker price? $155.00, but this special deal gets you a set all-in (shipping & tax included) at CDN$65.00 for Canadian orders, CDN$80.00 USA orders, CDN$160.00 overseas orders (surface mail only) This is the best deal ever offered for ATC, it can’t get any better! Drop a note if any questions … For more info about “ATC” scroll back to
“Air Transport in Canada Hits 20”

Be sure to check out the CANAV aviation blog …

General W.K. Carr, DFC

This week we are saddened to hear that the great LGen W.K. “Bill” Carr has passed in Ottawa. Over the decades, Bill always supported CANAV Books, not that he was a push-over for such recognition. One always had to perform exceptionally well to rate an “atta boy” from LGen Carr, who had a practical scepticism regarding historians and writers. Detailed information about this exceptional Canadian is at these links (Dave O’Malley’s “Vintage Wings” coverage is wonderful):


The Harvard in Canada

Anyone interested in the great North American Harvard trainer in the RCAF wil enjoy visiting the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association website. Take a look!

“Arsenal of Democracy” Warbird Video + Norseman CF-DRD News + The A380 Bows Out + 40 Years for CANAV Books (Part 2 September 2020) + Photographing the Great 4-Engine Douglas Propliners + Two Books You Need

Arsenal of Democracy” Check out this impressive AOPA video of this September 2020 warbirds event — includes the great WWII types from Hurricane to Spitfire, P-40, P-51, Corsair, Mosquito, Tiger Moth, T-6, B-25 on to the A-26 and B-29 … all in the air! Hosted by the Commemorative Air Force’s Capital Wing, this took place at Culpeper Regional Airport, Virginia. Not be missed!

Norseman Update … Good news from the Norseman Festival in Red Lake. Google

SAVE DRD – Red Lake’s Norseman icon – GoFundMe

to get the latest news about the restoration of Red Lake’s world famous Norseman CF-DRD. Since “DRD” was badly pounded by hail several years ago, this has been a long haul by many dedicated enthusiasts. Be sure to make a donation to the cause while catching up at the site. Help get “DRD” to its $50K goal! Cheers … Larry

End of “The Quad” Era — The Mighty A380 Bows Out

This melancholic piece is a nice encapsulation of an important and exciting piece of the global air transportation story: Well worth a look. Reminds me of the fighter pilot’s frequent claim — “Timing is everything.” Also, you can scroll back to see a bit about Canada’s role in A380 development (see A380 Cold Weather Trials at “YFB” Iqaluit).

Here’s the current CANAV booklist. Be sure to have a least a quick browse. If you’re an aviation reader, you’ll find some real treasures here.

CANAV Booklist Summer_Fall 2020

40 Years for CANAV Books (Part 2 September 2020): An Interesting Detour to 1979

Welcome to all who have been enjoying, or, have just discovered, this little ramble through the dusty boxes and files of the CANAV Books archives. Thanks for your many calls and emails. I’ve especially been interested in how often you’ve been referring to our 1979 McGraw Hill-Ryerson book, Aviation in Canada, as the book that initially got you fired up about aviation back in your school days (the very same book that launched me into CANAV Books). A few have commented about how Aviation in Canada actually was the inspiration that steered you into a life in aviation. Very nice to hear for your aged scribe! It’s also a bit sobering, when you add that by 2020 you’ve ploughed through your career in flying and now are retired! Talk about time flying, right!

Here’s how the cover of one my special copies of Aviation in Canada looks 41 years later. This is the copy I took along to the RCAF 60th Anniversary mess dinner held at Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto on March 30, 1984. The CFSC Commandant deserves a medal for pulling off this historic event, which included several First World War combat pilots, many prominent RCAF WWII types, others from the Korean War and early Cold War, along with many serving members on staff and on course. This was an evening to remember.

As the evening progressed, I sent Aviation in Canada up and down both sides of the dinner table to collect as many autographs as possible. I got away with this, probably because I was the only civilian attending, was known by this time as the budding RCAF history publisher, and was about to release Sixty Years. Here are two pages that give you an idea of the incredible “whose who” of aviation history that this was.

Some of the RCAF serving officers and veterans on hand for the CFSC RCAF 60th Anniversary Mess Dinner in Toronto. I only have some of the names so far, but hope to fill in the gaps. In the back row are: AJ Bauer (OC 421 & 430 Sqns, CF-104s), Col Fraser Holman, 2 unknown, Ron Lowman (Mosquito nav), Daniel Reevy Walker (617 Sqn dams raid, nav), Jim Hanna (Spitfires), Don Bell (617 Sqn Tirpitz raids), Bob Hayward (Spitfires), Peter Gilchrist (Bomber Command, OC 405 Sqn). In the middle are Nelles Timmerman (Bomber Command, OC 408 Sqn), E. Dean Kelly (Spitfires), Bill Swetman (Bomber Command, OC 432 Sqn), R.J. “Herbie” Herbert (OC 440 Sqn, CF-100s), Paul Davoud (OC 409, 410, 418 Sqns Mosquitos, OC 143 Wing Typhoons), unknown, John Gellner (Spitfires), Chester Hull (Bomber Command, OC 428 Sqn), unknown, Don Morrison (Spitfires, POW), Ken Hayroe (Mustangs), Richard Rohmer (Mustangs, OC 400 & 411 Sqns, 2020 Honorary LGen of the Canadian Armed Forces). In front are Lew Twambley (CF-101s, pilot), C.H. “Punch” Dickins (WWI pilot, D.H.9), Mel Alexander (WWI ace, Naval 10 “Black Flight”, Sopwith Triplane), two unknown, BGen Bill Murdoch (CFSC Commandant).

Thanks for reminding me about this fine old book and how it provided the incentive to some keen Canadian highschoolers to go into aviation. Amazingly, worn and dusty old copies of Aviation in Canada still can be found in public libraries across Canada. However, they’re usually a bit lonely, since most other aviation books on the shelves tell the story of American aviation. I have not had an order from one Canadian public library for as much as a single book for years. Perhaps the Canadian Library Association can explain?

Austin Airways: Canada’s Oldest Airline 1985

Better get going again with the serious side to Part 2 of the CANAV Books story. In 1985 CANAV published a history of the famed Northern Ontario bush operator, Austin Airways. This had an odd genesis, something that today reminds me of a quote from the great writer and literary thinker, Graham Greene (The Power and the Glory, Our Man in Havana, etc.): “Books are a labour to write and a hell to publish. Why does one do it?” Here’s the genesis part of it. In Aviation in Canada of 1979 fame, I had included a bit about Austin Airways. The coverage was typical for this type of general interest book that tries to encapsulate the fundamental aspects in Canada’s aviation history. My point with Aviation in Canada was to update and complement Frank Ellis’ superb 1954 book, Canada’s Flying Heritage (you need a copy, see, etc.) with just such interesting highlights of our aviation history. Who would object? Well, when Jack Austin, the renowned founder (along with his brother, Chuck) of Austin Airways read the book, he called to complain quite bitterly about how little his company was covered (Graham Greene would agree that it’s not unusual to hear from irate readers). Jack and I talked this over and, in a few weeks, were getting together planning an Austin Airways history project (at my expense other than for the artwork). All this is for some future chapter, but (suffice to say), the result of one phone call was a lovely book — Austin Airways.

Here’s the invoice for the first printing of Austin Airways. Again, you can see how such a job got billed for the 2590 copies delivered. I always ordered a few extra dust jackets as replacements for the occasional damaged ones, and to use as promotional items. These soon paid for themselves.

Another Fine Success Story

Book that it is, it’s no surprise that Austin Airways was well received. We began with exciting launch events in Sudbury, Timmins and Toronto. The Timmins “Daily Press” covered our book launch at the Senator Motel, where a crowd of fine Austin employees, retirees and local fans attended. Stan Deluce and family, who recently had acquired Austin Airways, picked up the tab, and also flew some Milberrys and friends to Timmins from Toronto on a “748”. Those were the days!

Autographs that I scrounged at some of the Austin Airways book events 35 years ago. Many who worked for Austin, who were company clients, suppliers, etc., or just fans of bush flying and books attended these gatherings. At a glance on these two spreads I see such famous Austin names as Helen Austin (her husband Jack had passed on by this time), Hal McCracken, Ray Lejeune, Johnny Der Weduwen, Brian Steed, Ray McLean, Larry Raymond, Frank Russell,
Len Harper, Frank Fisher, Bob Petus and Al Scully; plus such good general fans and supporters as George Thompson, Archie Van Hee, Bob Halford, Ron Lowry and Fred Hotson. What a priceless little piece of history such a book becomes as the decades roll by.

Our print run soon sold out, then McGraw Hill-Ryerson turned out a 1500 reprint. As usual, we received much praise in the aviation and general press. In one case, “Air Classics” (February 1986) observed, “This finely-produced book (typical of what we have come to expect from CANAV) is the exciting story of Austin Airways … illustrated with a fabulous selection of … photographs [and] an excellent selection of quality color profiles …” Then, “Canadian Geographic” of February/March 1986 had its say (it always was a highlight when a publisher had a book reviewed by this stellar journal). Given the reviewing task was Robert “Bob” Bradford, at the time the associate director of Canada’s National Aviation Museum under the great K.M. “Ken” Molson. After nicely reviewing the book’s chapters, Bob concluded, “Anyone who has even a passing interest in bush flying or a good Canadian success story will enjoy it,”

A lot happened with Austin Airways since 1985, including how the new owners absorbed a string of air carriers west to Air Manitoba, brought things together under the Air Ontario banner, built up Toronto Island Airport as a serious commuter hub, etc., all the way to 2020, when the Deluce family’s renowned Porter Airlines remains the direct descendant of Austin Airways of 1934. It’s probably a good time for an updated Austin Airways book. Interestingly, a used copy of Austin Airways in 2020 will be a deal at around the old $24.94 sticker price. On September 15, I noticed that had 54 used copies listed, most being in the $40 – $80 zone, but nine were above $100. Cheap at twice the price, right!

It Can Be Aggravating, but the Perks Are the best!

Remember what novelist Graham Greene said long ago? He was right — books are huge investments in time, energy, misery and money. In my work over the decades, however, I’ve been able to temper the pain that’s a big part of the process with a great deal of good fun. I’ve gotten to fly all over the world in 100+ aircraft types from the Piper J-2 to the Chipmunk, then so many others from the DC-3 to the DC-4, C-46, Caribou, Buffalo, T-33, AT-37B, Tutor, CF-5, CF-101, F-106, F-16, B-52, EB-57, LACV-30, Beech 18, Lancaster, Turbo Otter, C-130, Argus, Aurora, CH-54, Kiowa, Chinook, Sea Knight, IL-76, AN-2, AN-124, on and on. We keen types are always up for any new such adventure. Here are a few miscellaneous photos from my days laying the groundwork for the Austin Airways book. I got to ride along on several company types:

In the late 1970s and early 80s Austin Airways still was turning a good profit with the DC-3, which by then finally was showing its age. But, DC-3s were cheap to buy, maintain and operate, all things considered. Here’s Austin’s CF-NNA loading groceries at Kapuskasing, Ontario on August 23, 1979. It might have been heading for some remote town, or maybe a mine site. Originally RAF KG448 in February 1944, post WWII “NNA” was RCAF 993, then Stan Deluce acquired it in 1975 from Crown Assets Disposal Corp, in a period when a nice ex-Canadian Forces DC-3 could be bought for around $10,000. Sad to say, but “NNA” crashed at Sachigo Lake in NW Ontario on January 19, 1986. On nearing destination in “woxoff” conditions (weather overcast, ceiling obscured, visibility zero in fog), “NNA” ploughed into the Sachigo Lake NDB tower and crashed. The captain and a passenger were badly injured. C-FAAM is seen on August 31, 1982, a good day for me as I got to ride along Timmins-Cochrane-Detour Lake-Timmins with Capt Serge Lavoie and FO Wally Watts. One detail I learned along the way was that, by this day in its long career, “AAM” had piled up 19,300 flying hours. “AAM” had been delivered to the RAF as FD941 in July 1943. It then had tours with BOAC and Northwest Airlines, before joining the RCAF in 1951 as 10910. It finally went to Austin in 1968, then battled along until sold in 1989 to Central Northern Airlines of Smithers, BC. “AAM” crashed disastrously at the Bronson Creek mine on January 14, 1993, killing both pilots, including my pal, Captain Grant Webb.
Once Stan Deluce took over at Austin and Air Manitoba, he brought in a fleet of HS748s to replace the DC-3 and to build much bigger markets. On August 21, 1979, I got to ride along on a typical “748” trip. It was a good solid day to see a 748 and crew earning their salt. Here, 748 C-GSXS loads groceries from a Jessel truck at Kapuskasing, a short hop for us from Timmins early that morning. Next, we flew to LG-2 “LaGrande” in Quebec, thence to Fort George (today’s Chisasibi) on Quebec’s James Bay shore, then we crossed the bay to Attawapiskat and Fort Albany back on the Ontario side, thence home for a beer in Timmins. Here’s the crew that day – pilots Jacques Giroux and Joe Deluce, and crewman Barry Sahler – 41 years ago. New in 1970, “SXS” had spent its early years in Mexico, before coming to Austin in 1977. It later served Air Creebec of Val d’Or. “SXS” went for scrap in 1999. Before going for pots ‘n pans, it had earned a great deal of revenue for Austin Airways.
A couple of scenes as we cruised north up the Hudson Bay coast. The scenery is spectacular all the way.

In creating of the Austin Airways book, I got to spend several years interviewing Austin Airways pioneers and flying throughout the company’s vast northern domain with its great people. I had some exciting trips in everything from the Ce.185 with the legendary Jeff Wyborn, to the Twin Otter, DC-3 and HS 748 ranging from Pickle Lake to Cape Dorset. In the end, I was happy with the results. Austin Airways tells the basic story well, it has few gaffs, and, thanks to the CANAV team, became a model with its many rare photos, in-depth, authoritative text, premium production qualities, and Peter Mossman artwork. Just look at cover art alone – what true aviation fan could resist buying a copy!

And I Shall Fly 1985

Another early CANAV title was And I Shall Fly, a fine autobiography by Canadian aviation pioneer, Zebulon Lewis “Lewie” Leigh. A prairie boy, Lewie lived his dream, learning to fly in the 1920s, barnstorming and operating in the bush, becoming the first pilot hired by TCA in 1937, then founding RCAF No.9 Transport Group, which carried the “troops mail” in WWII via 168 Squadron B- 17s, B-24s Dakotas and Lodestars. No.9 Group reformed in 1945 as RCAF Air Transport Command, G/C Z.L. Leigh being the founding commander. Postwar, he continued in uniform with such postings as station commander Goose Bay. In 1947 he received Canada’s top aviation award, the McKee Trophy. Retired, Lewie and his wife, Linny, enjoyed life in the Niagara Peninsula, where once a month Lewie had a few friends for lunch in what became known as “Club Zeb”. Our members included such characters as Ray Munro, a wartime Spitfire pilot, and postwar newspaper man, restaurant bouncer and Pitts Special pilot. Ray’s own autobiography is The Sky’s No Limit, which his friend Anna Porter (Key Porter Publishing) produced. Ray so admired Lewie that he changed his name to Raymond Zebulon Munro, and the licence plate on his Mercedes sports car was “ZEB 2”. How’s that for adulation! In the 1980s Ray pushed hard to establish what today is Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Deservedly, Lewie Leigh became one of the first inducted members. Old-time Canadian aviation writer, Ross Wilmot, covered And I Shall Fly in the 1986 “Canadian Book Review Annual”. He beautifully summarized it, simply concluding how Lewie, “deserves credit for making public his memoirs” (book reviews need not be verbose, right). Over the decades, several people have told me how much they have enjoyed And I Shall Fly to the point of reading and re- reading it. For good coverage of our And I Shall Fly book launch, it’s all here on the blog, including photos of many a kingpin from Canadian aviation. In the blog search box just enter: “And I Shall Fly” Book Launching 1985

Lewie Leigh (centre) during our 1989 launch for Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story. This grand event was held in one of Carl Millard’s hangars at YYZ. On the left is another great Canadian aviation pioneer, Archie Vanhee. “Ye olde scribe” and publisher is on the right. I have a few new copies left of And I Shall Fly each at CDN$28.00 all-in. If interested, let me know at For our next “episode” of this on-going story, we’ll begin with another legendary CANAV project – Helicopters: The British Columbia Story.

Shooting the Great Douglas Propliners

For the 1950s-60s, I’m tempted to say that of all the categories of airplanes to photograph, none were so attractive as the classic Douglas 4-engine propliners – the DC-4, DC-6 and DC-7 series. What gorgeous, photogenic flying machines! Here “for your edification” are a few that I picked randomly from my old files.

Built in early 1945 for the USAAF as C-54E 44-9035, this DC-4 (civil designation) was sold within months by the US government Reconstruction Finance Corp. to Pan American World Airways. “Pan Am” operated it as N88882 “Clipper Malay”, until selling it in 1951 to CPA, where is became CF-CUJ. “CUJ” would fly many a trans-Pacific trip supporting UN efforts in the Korean War, and later to the Arctic, during DEW Line construction. In 1957 CPA sold “CUJ” to Maritime Central Airlines, where it became CF-MCI. We spotted “MCI” at Malton Airport (YYZ) several times in the early 1960s, when it mainly was busy on two accounts here – either flying in rhesus monkeys from India by the thousands (at a time) for the production in Toronto of polio vaccine, or, doing summer tourist charters in the trans-Atlantic trade. One wonders if they ever got the smell of the monkeys completely out of the plane, so that passengers could be carried! On this occasion, “MCI” is arriving at Malton on a very blustery January 30, 1960 with a load of monkeys. Imagine crewing on such a flight that would have taken a good 3 – 4 days from India on the other side of the world at a plodding 170-180 mph. I wish some of the old time Canadian DC-4 pilots had written their memoirs, so we could get the inside story of their work. But … the lazy sods traditionally have been loath to pick up a pen. “MCI” later served Eastern Provincial Airways and Nordair. Its flying days ran out in 1968, after which it disappeared for scrap.
Another handsome DC-4 at Malton … at this time (on April 22, 1960) D-AMIR of LTU also was in the European tourist trade. I caught it in this ¾ front view as it started up in front of the old Malton terminal. To get this shot, I had to stroll illegally across the tarmac, then wait for the engines to get running. Meanwhile, even though I was clearly visible to those in the nearby DOT tower, no one rousted me. This is the standard spotter’s “ideal” DC-4 shot, with the company name, logo and registration clearly seen and the whole scene “pristine” to the eye of the fanatical airplane photographer. D-AMIR was a 1945 C- 54D. Initially, it served the US Navy until becoming N6874C with Twentieth Century Airlines in 1957. It next served LTU 1958-60, then bounced around to British, Belgian, other German, and Italian operators. Long- lived, in October 1979 it became N8060C with Tiburon Aircraft in the smuggling business. A few weeks later – November 19 – it crashed fatally in flames while trying to land near McCormick, South Carolina, loaded to the hilt with more than 7 tons of marijuana. A case of “You pays your money, you takes your chances.” In the distance here is the newly-built Imperial Oil hangar, where the company kept its Convair 240, DC-3 and Lodestar. This historic hangar still stands 60 years later. Also at Malton this day (the reason that I hitchhiked out in the first place) were two Air France L.1649 Starliners supporting the state visit to Canada of Charles de Gaulle.
The first place that I photographed a DC-4 was at Dorval in 1959. Here’s a later scene there showing CF-JIR in Nordair colours on September 5, 1960. Delivered to the USAAF in 1944, it had gone to Pan Am in 1947 as N88923 “Clipper West Wind”. It migrated to Colombia in 1953, before reaching Canada in 1957 for Eastern Canada Stevedoring Col, which used it to position ships’ crews around the country). Various Dorval-based air carriers later flew “JIR”. It returned to the USA in 1969 as N3802. Various adventures ensued, some suggesting that the old crock still could get into trouble. It was scrapped in Florida in 1984. Check out the always-interesting 1950s Dorval background.
In this era the DC-6 dominated at Malton for American Airlines, but it was soon to be replaced by the glitzy new Lockheed Electra turboprop. Here, AA DC-6B N90767 “Flagship Indianapolis” taxys early on the morning of November 2, 1959. Its beautiful Douglas lines could not be any better portrayed. Having served AA 1951-65, N90767 moved on to the Ecuadorean government. It last was noted as stored at Quito in 1974.
The spotters of the times would call this an almost ideal DC-6 landing shot, spoiled only by my having clipped the tip of the fin. This is so typical of our landing shots taken at Malton “back in the day”. But these were not the busy times of hundreds of daily flights at today’s YYZ. We often waited half an hour between arrivals. Shown is N90733 “Flagship Albany”. It served AA 1947 – 66. It went for scrap in Tucson in 1980.
Malton’s classiest DC-6s were the CPA Empresses. These were almost daily Malton visitors into 1961, although CPA’s Britannias were taking over. Seen on November 28, 1959 is CF-CZV “Empress of Suva”. These long-range beauties ranged far and wide on CPA’s routes from Vancouver to Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand, down to Chile and across to Amsterdam. Anywhere that they wouldn’t step on TCA’s toes back in those deeply regulated Canadian airline days. Delivered new in August 1957, “CZV” served CPA into late 1961, when it was sold in Sweden. Many global operators followed (Greenland Air included), with the old classic eventually ending in 1998 with the South African Airways Historical Society. In 2010 it was made airworthy for a final flight to a private dirt strip in the RSA. See this exciting event at http://www.aerialvisuals.caAirframeDossier
On February 2, 1963 I was visiting Buffalo, NY. Among other nice surprises that day was United Airlines’ DC-6B N37560. In a way, just another “shot for the record”, but 50+ years later, we’re always delighted to have shown the interest in the first place. N37560 served United 1952 – 68, so it carried tens of thousands of passengers and earned millions in revenue. Its subsequent career looks pretty spurious. It went for scrap in Miami in 1986.
Always a real coup for spotters at Malton was a BOAC DC-7C. These were not easy to catch, since they tended to arrive in the late afternoon, by when were usually had headed home for supper. However, sometimes we were lucky to photograph a landing such as this one, featuring G-AOIF flaring to land on Runway 32 mid-afternoon on June 4, 1960. By this time, the DC-7C was starting to give way at BOAC to the Britannia. G-AOIF had joined the fleet in December 1956, then remained into 1965. Many subsequent operators ensued. G-AOIF ended in the aerial application business with T&G Aviation at Chandler Arizona in 1994, around when it went for scrap. Could a photographer hope for a better DC-7C photo that this one!
Yet another wonderful landing shot, this one showing Northwest Orient Airlines’ N291 at Minneapolis on August 20, 1963. This was during one of the great cross-country driving trips that Nick Wolochatiuk and I used to make in Nick’s VW “Beatle”. In this case, we were on the road living like street people on a few dollars a day — for 3 weeks! How is this for a perfect angle on a DC-7C? Notice how these old propliners were so filthy underwing, where the exhausts spewed out their smoke and crud. N291 served NWA 1957 – 65, then it spent a few years as CF-TAY with Transair of Winnipeg. Again, many outfits followed, the plane finally ending as freighter HI-524CT in the Dominican Republic and going for scrap around 1990. That’s all for now. I’ll see what nifty old negs I can resurrect for our next blog session.

Important Reminder … Two Magnificent Canadian Books that Belong on your Bookshelf!

A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage CANAV’s pleased to re-introduce you to Dan Dampsey’s ace of a book. Here at CANAV HQ, I have my autographed copy on a shelf with what I call “the finest aviation books in the world”. This truly is a magnificently-produced Canadian aviation book, a treasure deserving a place of honour in your library. “TradEx” will give you decades of fabulous reading. Full coverage from 1919 into the 2010s of such great teams as Bishop-Barker, the Siskins, Golden Hawks, Golden Centennaires and Snowbirds. Everything from the Fokker D.VII to the Harvard, CF-100, Banshee, Sabre, T-33, Tutor, CF-104, CF-18, Kiowa – even such surprises as the Argus & Sea King in “demo” mode! Fascinating civil types also pop up. Some 2000 photos + 42 original paintings by the great Peter Mossman. You’ll revel in every page. Treat yourself & show your support for someone who put it on the line for Canada’s aviation heritage! 766pp, 4 kg, hc, 9.5×12 in., app’x, biblio, index. Your signed copy: all-in just $130.00 Order directly from Dan at

The Bell 47 Helicopter Story … And — here’s a reminder about another extra special book, one to be savoured by anyone with the remotest interest in aviation history. Here’s a summary (for the full story, just search for the title): This landmark book has been very nicely printed and bound by Friesens of Altona, Manitoba. Bare bones it weighs an amazing 2.9 kg. It’s a hardcover with dust jacket. There are 730 pages with 1200 b/w and colour photos. Sincere fans of aviation history owe it to themselves to get hold of a copy … If you have not yet delved into helicopter history, a fast flip through this book will convert you. Order your copy at or … e-mail author Bob Petite in Leduc at

Cold Weather Storage, Testing and Photography: CLRVs to Jetliners

If you scroll back a few items on the CANAV Books blog, you can see our coverage from last summer of CLRV streetcars ready for disposal at the Toronto Transit Commission’s Russell yard (“Connaught Barns”) on Queen Street East in Toronto. That was a really enjoyable session, but it was a steamy day. Here’s a winter take on the same subject + a few winter scenes featuring Toronto’s new Bombardier cars on the 501 line during the same winter blow . You can also look back to our March 5, 2011 item about photographing airplanes in winter — it’s all great fun, right! (You can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.)

The snow was cutting sharply across Russell yard mid-afternoon on January 18, 2020. CLRV 4155 had been loaded earlier, so is ready for transportation to the scrap yard. Looks like 4043 and 4085 beyond. Then, a different angle that includes one of those heavy big main trucks from a CLRV.

Since there was such a good winter blow in Toronto on January 18, it seemed like a good idea to get out for some true winter photography, so I rode a Flexity car westward over to Russell, where I spent an hour slogging around in the wind and snowdrifts at both the Queen St. and Eastern Ave. sides of the yard. Here are a few of the photos taken with my trusty little Lumix pocket camera.

A wider view looking southwest across the yard. I didn’t make a count, but there were about 15 cars present.

Car 4024 was the only CLRV in motion at Russell this afternoon.

Views from the Eastern Ave. (south) side of the yard showing cars 4193 and 4053 nearest. Then, 4179 away up the line on this blustery day.

Next, I rode along to Spadina and Queen. It was a real urban transit mess, but somehow things kept rolling. I was amazed at the crowds out there — most of the Flexity cars were packed. Eventually, I was happy to get inside at the old Horseshoe Tavern to have a beer with some aviation buddies. I’m sure they figured I must be going around the bend. After all, what sense does it make to be out in a blizzard taking photos of streetcars!

While waiting at Queen and Greenwood for a car to continue my outing, I snapped TTC bus 8963 on its way back north to the TTC Line 2 Greenwood subway station. Then a hefty plow came by clearing this stretch of Queen.

A Flexity makes a stop on Queen west of McCaul. Regardless of the storm, people were out in their masses.

Car 4446 westbound on Queen approaches Spadina. Then, the general scene there looking east towards Soho St.

More snow removal action. Plows head north on Spadina towards Queen.

Car 4564 ready to pull out from Spadina going west on Queen. Amazingly, the system seemed to function reasonable well in this fair little Toronto blizzard. Cheers … Larry


Airbus A220-300 in Yellowknife for Cold Weather Trials

Canada has a long tradition in cold-weather aeronautical testing. As early as the winter of 1926-27 a Siskin fighter conducted a host of demanding trials from the RCAF station at High River, Alberta. Subsequently, the RCAF and National Research Council did much pioneering R&D re. cold weather. The pace of all such science was spurred by the war. Postwar, the RCAF’s famous Winter Experimental Establishment tested a long list of aircraft in severe weather from such bases as Namao (Edmonton), Fort St. John, Cold Lake and Churchill. See Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 for a good history of WEE Flight. See Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force for further coverage in the pre-WWII period.

Yellowknife recently had a rare visitor and another chance to feature itself as a centre for cold weather trials. On January 12, 2020 Airbus A220-300 C-FFDO landed there from Winnipeg to undergo some special testing. On taxiing in at Yellowknife, “FDO” parked beside the Buffalo Airway Lockheed Electra, whose captain, Tony Jarvis, took this great photo. What a contrast in air transport history, right! (The Electra is C-GZFE, which  had begun in 1961 as N138US with Northwest Airlines. There it gave good service into 1971, then flew with operators from Air Florida in the US to Atlantic Airlines in the UK (it had become a freighter in 1977). Finally, in 2013 “ZFE” was acquired by Joe McBryan’s legendary Buffalo Airways. Today it’s one of those “lifeline” Arctic freighters, delivering groceries and all sorts of other supplies and equipment to the north’s many isolated communities and mine sites.)

That afternoon Yellowknife had a temperature of -45C, so no one could complain about conditions. “FDO” sat outside being “cold soaked” (sitting outside with all aircraft power turned off). Apparently, this testing was about increasing the A220’s certified cold weather operations limit from -35C to -40C. On January 14 “FDO” — by then thoroughly cold soaked — made a 49-minute local flight. Ground testing continued until January 18, when it departed for base at Wichita via Calgary and Kansas City.

A220-300 “FDO” was manufactured in Montreal in March 2016 as Bombardier CSeries CS300. Designated “Flight Test Vehicle 8”, to January 20, 2020 it had logged 77 flights/207.46 flying hours. Last week Air Canada introduced the A220 to its fleet, so we’ll soon be enjoying this great new airliner on Air Canada’s North American services.

A380 Cold Weather Trials at “YFB” Iqaluit

Early in 2006 John Graham, the airport manager at Iqaluit, gave me a heads-up that an A380 was coming to town for cold weather trials. This sounded like a great opportunity, so I organized a trip north from Ottawa on a FirstAir 737 for February 3. The A380 was due on the 6th, so I had time to cover some other aviation. On the 4th, for example, I went over to Resolute Bay and back on a FirstAir 748. Next day I spent around town and the airport, then the 6th dawned as a fine, clear day. John gave me the A380’s ETA, so I had time to set up at the arrival end of the runway. Here’s one of the shots I took as the mighty A380 (call sign “AIB501”) was about to touch down. This was the first ever A380 landing in “The New World”. The aircraft was F-WWDD sn004 (the 4th A380, now in a museum in France). Some cold soaking was conducted with “WDD” parked off the main ramp — see photo of it with the Lynden Air Cargo L.100 Hercules. Does this look cold enough for you? “WDD” also made 1 or 2 test flights that week. In the other photos, “WDD” looms across the snow-covered ramp as a FirstAir BAe748 and ATR-42 await their next trips. Finally, a scene with “WDD” being de-iced for a test flight.

After another wonderful Arctic trip, I finally got back to Toronto on February 13. Thanks to Tony Jarvis for cluing me in to the A220 at Yellowknife, which led to this little bit of CANAV blog history. Cheers … Larry


Last Lockheed JetStar Retires

In December 2019 the last flying Lockheed L-1329 JetStar retired to the Marietta Aviation History and Technology Center near Atlanta. The story recently was told by Marc Cook on the web at “Aviation News” (google “Last JetStar Retires”). The JetStar would have a prominent history in Canada as the country’s first corporate jet, and the first civil jet operated by the federal government. At a peak in the mid-1980s there were eight Canadian JetStars: C-FDTF, C-FDTX, C-FETN (Transport Canada), C-FRBC (Royal Bank of Canada), C- GATU (Cathton Holdings), C-GAZU (Allarco Group) and C- GTCP (Trans Canada Pipelines)

First flown on September 4, 1957, the legendary JetStar was designed for a USAF requirement for a small jet transport. When the USAF abandoned these specs, Lockheed pushed ahead to develop what became the first large jet for the corporate market. Lockheed was out on a limb with this exotic and expensive pioneer project, but pushed on to manufacture some 204 aircraft.

Flight and chase crew for the Jetstar’s first flight (s/n 1001 N329J). Note that the prototype had two engines vs four for production aircraft: Robert Schumacher co-pilot, Ernest L. Joiner flight test engineer, Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson head of design team, Jim Wood USAF test pilot, Ray Jewett Goudey pilot, Tony LeVier, Lockheed chase plane pilot. (Lockheed Martin archives)

The JetStar prototype flew first with a pair of British-made Orpheus engines, but Lockheed quickly shifted to using four smaller Pratt & Whitney JT12s, the design of which Canadian Pratt & Whitney had the lead role (see Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story). All the details of the Jetstar are available at Wiki and innumerable other internet sources, and in many valuable books, including Walter J. Boyne’s seminal Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story. Boyne concludes that Howard Hughes likely was the only one to make a profit from the project. Hughes had bought several production line slots when the plane was low-priced. Then, one by one he re-sold his JetStars at higher prices.

Canada’s first privately-owned JetStar was purchased by Toronto’s Eaton family of department store fame. Registered CF-ETN, it replaced the family’s renowned “Super DC-3” CF-ETE (search here to see the CF-ETE story in an earlier blog item). Seeing “ETN” at Malton airport in such early times was exciting for we local spotters. This was at a time when the speediest prop-driven corporate planes at Malton were J.F. Crother’s Gulfstream CF-JFC, Massey Ferguson’s Howard Super Ventura CF-MFL and Canadian Comstock’s OnMark Marksman A-26, CF-CCR. I first listed “ETN” in my spotter’s notebook at Malton on May 13, 1962, only noting that its paint job was similar to that on “ETE”.

The late, great Toronto aviation photographer, Al Martin, captured this fine view of “ETN” soon after its delivery to Malton. You can see that Lockheed built a glorious-looking airplane. I later used this excellent photo on p.480 of Air Transport in Canada.

DOT JetStar CF-DTX in a shot I took at Ottawa Uplands in the 1960s. Then, two snapshots of it by Al Martin at Windsor, Ontario in 1967. This classy DOT colour scheme of the 1950s-60s was fleet-wide from Apache to Beech 18, DC-3 and JetStar. Today, “DTX” belongs to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. There’s an ezToys 1:200 diecast model of “DTX” in its later red-and-white colour scheme.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Department of Transport was modernizing. With the growing amount of jet traffic in and over Canada (707, DC-8, etc.) the DOT was planning for a new world of air traffic control. Its aged Beech 18s and DC-3s could not serve indefinitely, as ATC technology evolved. Faster aircraft were needed to perform airport equipment (ILS, radio, etc.) calibration. Heading DOT flight operations in Ottawa was the great John D. “Jack” Hunter. He knew about the JetStar, was dreaming about one, but there was no budget. This obliged Jack (so he told me in a long ago interview) to get creative. The DOT just then was building a large hangar in Ottawa to house its fleet, including a new Viscount VIP plane. As the story went, Jack used some aspect from his hangar budget to pay for a JetStar – in the official paperwork, the JetStar appeared as something like an extra hangar door. Whatever happened, one day not long afterwards in 1962 JetStar CF-DTX landed in Ottawa wearing its handsome DOT colours. “DTX” was JetStar s/n 5018, “ETN” was s/n 5021, but I don’t know which was delivered first.

The DOT’s Jack Hunter accepts “the keys” to his shiny new JetStar CF-DTX at the Lockheed factory near Atlanta. If anyone can help with names for the other DOT men in this photo, please get in touch at Then, a PR photo showing Canada’s Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, with US President, Lyndon B. Johnson, aboard “DTX” on a VIP trip (see caption at bottom). VIP duties seem to have been the raison d’être for “DTX”, although airways inspection and instrumentation calibration missions also were flown. (CANAV Books Collection)


Over the decades I photographed several JetStars. These below give you a sampling. Fishing around on the web, I have found little individual history for these aircraft.

After CF-ETN and CF-DTX, the next JetStar I photographed was N1 (s/n 1) of the Federal Aviation Administration. On this occasion, I was on a driving tour with fellow hobbyist, Nick Wolochatiuk. On July 3, 1966 we found N1 in the FAA hangar at Washington National Airport. Another classy paint scheme from a bygone era, right. “N1” appeared on a long series of FAA aircraft starting on a D.H.4 c1927; but it flew the longest on this JetStar (1963-86). N1 had been Lockheed’s No.1 production JetStar, the first with JT12s. With the FAA it mainly was in the transportation role. As late as 1978 it still was busy, logging 457 flying hours that year. In its March 1979 edition, “Flying Magazine” describes the FAA fleet in Washington, “Of the eight aircraft that currently call Hangar Six home, an ancient JetStar presides as queen bee over an orange and white hive housing a Gulfstream 1, Citation II, King Air 200, two Cessna 421s, Baron B55 and a Bell 206L helicopter.” Having by then been re-registered N7145V, JetStar No.1 left the FAA in 1990. Apparently, c.2006 it was purchased by White Industries Inc., a Bates City, Missouri company parting out and scrapping old airplanes.

Corporate JetStar N12R (s/n 5053) at Toronto Island Airport on June 4, 1966. The runway length at TIA in 1966 was 4000 feet, maybe a bit tight for a hefty JetStar. Eventually, due to noise restrictions, most jets were banished from the island. Today, the rule seems to be that only air ambulance jets can operate here.

One of the highlights for us during a trip to Buffalo, NY on May 20, 1967 was this gorgeous JetStar — N500Z s/n 5008. I found one historic reference to it in FAA document “FAA Aviation News” of May 1966: “The beginning of the switch to turbine aircraft for corporate business is generally logged as September 27, 1961, when Superior Oil of Houston put its brand on Lockheed Jetstar N500Z, which is still flying for the company.”

Amway Corporation JetStar N523AC (s/n 5013) on the Field Aviation ramp at Toronto YYZ on April 8, 1971. Built in 1961, N523AC is said to have ended as scrap at White Industries.

On the same ramp on March 24, 1972 I came across CF-DTF of Transport Canada (formerly known as the Department of Transport). On September 16 I spotted “DTF” at Halifax, by which time it belonged to the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum. How great that a few JetStars have found museum homes!

Great War Flying Museum

Special Notice I Happy 2020 to all you fine, solid friends of CANAV Books. Many of you  have been behind my efforts going as far back as 1979. Gives new meaning to that old saying, “Keep on truckin'”. Thanks for all your genuine support, especially with a book order here and there! There’s so much on the web for New Year’s Day 2020, but one item caught my eye this morning. Well worth a look, something from Chris Hadfield. Just google this and you’ll be there: “I made a video to celebrate the new year of amazing things happening on Earth – An Astronaut’s Guide to Optimism 2020. I hope you like it!” Special Notice II … Attention avid collectors. Below are a few special collector items (and other things) on offer for New Year 2020 — from a rare Great Lakes freighter’s log book to a wide-ranging “airliner” collection. Prices include shipping (“all-in”). Prices are firm. If you see anything that you like, contact me at Special Notice III … Feel free to scroll back on the blog. It’s packed with solid Canadian aviation history. Sometimes I do updates, as recently to this item — “Ancient CAE 737-200 Flight Simulator”. This “sim” is a real record-breaker, having been in use since “flight tested” at CAE 45 years ago. It’s still on the go at YVR! You’ll enjoy all such windows into our fantastic Canadian aviation heritage, just take a few minutes to browse. Cheers … Larry


Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story Hug Halliday’s seminal book covering this important part of the WWII air war in the UK and Europe. Canadians fight and die flying the renowned Typhoon and Tempest on the most dangerous of operations. Writes the Calgary Herald: “A splendid book … pure history but … thoroughly readable… the book’s backbone is made up of those who climbed into the cockpits to dodge flak and telephone wires while taking out trains and tanks.” Very nice copy. 300 photos, app’x, maps, lists of aircraft, sqns, casualties, index. 208 pp, hc. Collector item. This copy autographed by 11 RCAF (+ 1 RAF) Typhoon pilots (all appear in the book) at a special get together on May 2, 2004: Bill Baggs 164 Sqn, Norm Dawber DFC 438 Sqn, Jock Duncan 440 Sqn, Norm Howe DFC 175 Sqn, Frank Johnson 174 Sqn, Graham Kennedy 137 Sqn, George Lane (RAF) 198 Sqn, Walter McCarthy 440 Sqn, John McCullough 439 Sqn, Ed McKay 438 Sqn, John Thompson 245Sqn, Wally Ward 440 Sqn (John Thompson is the only survivor in 2020). Very nice copy. $350.00 A

Air-Britain News The first 4 volumes complete from Vol.1 No.1 January 1972 to Vol.4 No.12 December 1975. A very nice set. These were the early days of the 12-page 7×10 inch plain pamphlet format. Strictly for the collector. Set only $85.00 all in

Great Lakes History … Log book for the famous “laker”, SS Victorious Upper Lakes Shipping Co. This laker’s log from Trip 1 1966 to her final sailing – Trip 18 1968. Vessel then was sold and used to help form a breakwater at Ontario Place, Toronto. All entries made in hand, showing departure and destination ports, cargo in detail by hold (Durham No.5 wheat, bushels per hold, coal (by type), salt) tons per hold, draft fore & aft, loading & discharging times, etc. Each page signed off by such officers as D. Fenton, H. Freeman, C. Hiscock, R. Smith. 198 pages, hardback logbook, first 74 pages are used for entries. Also includes various receipts for movements and transactions with such companies as American Grain Terminals Inc, Canada Department of Agriculture, Toledo Board of Trade. Great Lakes collector item only. Nice condition. CDN$150.00 all-in

Five Years of NATO: A Report on the Atlantic Alliance As it says. A very nice original 48-page history of NATO to date. Magazine format. Many fascinating topics from an overall 1954 summary to “Guarding the Seas’, “Strategic Air Power”, “Canada’s Contribution”, “Belgium’s FN Rifle”, reviews from the various members (e.g., “Norway: The Northern Flank”, and a very interesting (now outdated) overview of Turkey that suggests a future with such nations as Iran and Iraq also becoming NATO allies. Photos, chart, nice copy for any serious collector. $50.00

RCAF Meteor Mk.III EE361 Daily Reports  SOLD  The original hand-written, work-a-day, hardcover RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment log book for this famous RCAF jet fighter from November 20, 1946 to the last entry February 28, 1927: “A/C flown steadily since 16th of Feb. OAT -20C, no hydraulic troubles. Fuel consumptions tests, engines OK. Fuel very dirty from barrel and ice deposits. Streamline filter renewed in bowser …” Last page of the book lists “Ground Running Time” port & starboard engines Nov.5 1947 to January 10, 1948. This is an original RCAF “T35 Note Book for Workshop and Laboratory Records”. This item only for the serious collector deeply interested in the RCAF’s initial “hands on” experience with the jet fighter. Nice item just as it was on its final day of use in 1947. About the first ½ of the book has entries, the rest is blank. You have seen this diary referred to in CANAV’s books Sixty Years and in Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace, Vol.3. EE361 was on RCAF strength March 14, 1946 to March 5, 1948. CDN$250.00

Airy Somethings: The Extraordinary Life of the Aviation Pioneer Horatio Barber New book … Terry Grace and Maggie Wilson have thoroughly researched the life of this eccentric Englishman and his many interests. In his global travels in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Barber spent time in the Australia, USA and Canada too often getting into trouble with women and business ventures. In California he swindled investors in a ranching scheme; in  Canada, his chief focus was hustling shares in northern mines. Back in the UK he spent years promoting pioneer aviation ventures, earned Royal Aero Club licence No.30, promoted airplane designs and sales, sold aviation insurance, and served in the RFC in WWI, supposedly even being in America for a time promoting what became the hugely successful RFC training plan. The book concludes with all Barber’s shady schemes in the 1920s-50s to his death in 1964. A fascinating, through, most interesting and important biography. 236 pages, large format, softcover, photos, diagrams  throughout, bibliography, index. $55 Canada, $65.00 USA/overseas

Aerophilatelic Collection 12 cerlox-bound histories of postal crash covers. The amazing stories of pieces of Canadian airmail recovered from airplane crashes in Canada and around the world 1920s-60s. Each folder about 20 pages, all in fine condition, well illustrated. All research by renowned aero-philatelist, R.K. Malott. Collection only CDN$100.00

The Norman Flayderman Collection of Vintage Aviation Memorabilia, Tuesday, November 14, 2000 in San Francisco A magnificent catalogue from this huge auction. Beautifully produced 280pp, lf, sc, colour catalogue listing and showing 100s of items for sale up to a complete JN-4 Jenny. Nice collector item. For more info, google “Auction of Legendary Dealer Norm Flayderman Brings $1.1M” $65.00


The Great War Flying Museum: If You Haven’t Yet Visited … Make the Time!

Located at Brampton Airport northwest a bit from Toronto, the Great War Flying Museum is one of Canada’s extra special aviation history destinations. The GWFM website  (be sure to take a close look) nicely describes the museum in a few words: “Our mission is to provide the finest local presentation of World War I aviation history by acquiring, building, maintaining and flying representations of period aircraft as well as displaying period artifacts for the education, entertainment and benefit of our members and the visiting public.” At all this the GWFM succeeds eminently, as you’ll see in the following photos by grandsons Owen, Foster and Shannon Milberry and taken at various GWFM’s events in recent years.

The Setting

The Great War Flying Museum is at Brampton Airport, a short drive up Hwy 10 (Hurontario St.) from Mississauga/Brampton. The first aerial view here shows the museum hangar near the end of Runway 08. Just passed it is the Brampton Flying Club complex with wide ramp area and rows of hangars. You can tell it’s an open house weekend by all the cars in the foreground. Then, a photo of the GWFM hangar with the museum building on its left and several WWI replica aircraft ready for the day’s flying. The flying club parking lot is mainly reserved for the vintage vehicle turnout. Third, the main building seen from the 892 (Snowy Owl) Air Cadet Squadron lot.

Many start their day at a GWFM open house by enjoying breakfast at the Brampton Flying Club. Here Foster and Owen get a start on their “Lancaster Bomber” platters. Then … they’re ready to roll.

The Collection

On a sunny day such as this, the fans flock to the GWFM to get a close look at its wonderful collection. Here, people mill around the museum’s replica Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter. This type was one of the first 2-seater multi-purpose combat planes — in a way the CF- 18 of its day. Many Canadians crewed on the 1½ Strutter, especially doing bombing raids on enemy installations in eastern France, even into Germany. The 1½ Strutter also could dogfight if attacked by enemy scouts. The archival scene shows a line of Royal Naval Air Service 1½ Strutters in France c1916. More than 5000 of these versatile planes were built during WWI. Visitors can buy a ride in the GWFM 1½ Strutter. What a great way to get the feeling first hand of WWI aviating!

The GWFM 1½ Strutter sets off on a passenger flight. The “gunner” in the rear cockpit already appears to be into the right spirit.

The 1½ Strutter taxis by. Then, ersatz gunner, Larry Milberry, ready for a flight. His books The Pioneer Decades, and, Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 cover this era in Canadian aviation history, the 1½ Strutter included. These are the best books on the shelves today covering Canada’s role in the air war a century ago. Notice the (replica) Vickers and Lewis (rear) machine guns. These famous weapons made such British 2-seaters into formidable fighting machines.

Always a real show-stopper at the museum is its replica of the Fokker Dr.1 Triplane, the dreaded fighter flown over the Western Front by “The Red Baron” – Manfred von Richthofen, the greatest ace of WWI. Here’s the Triplane in flight near Brampton. Then, German ace, Rudolf Stark, with his personal Triplane somewhere on the Western Front.

More views of the Triplane. Everything about this historic little beauty of a WWI scout is fascinating. But why was the Dr.1 so short-lived? Armed with just one machine gun, it quickly was outmoded when the British introduced their 2-gun Camel and SE.5.

The GWFM also operates a replica of the Fokker D.VII. The D.VII was another superb WWI single-seat scout. The museum’s example had been dormant for years pending a rebuilt, but came back onto the flight line for the 2018 season. Built to scale, it’s powered by a 200-hp Ranger engine. In the next photos it’s seen firing up for a flying display, taxiing out, then doing a fly-by.

A typical D.VII in wartime service. Then, D.VII 7685. In 1918-19 many Canadians got to fly captured D.VIIs, several of which came to Canada as war prizes. Standing beside 7685 is the revered WWI Canadian ace, C.M. McEwen, who is being inducted in 2020 into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. The sole surviving Canadian D.VII may be seen in the Brome County Museum in Knowlton, Quebec.

A GWFM D.VII detail.

The GWFM also operates the famous Royal Flying Corps SE.5 scout. Along with the Sopwith Camel, the SE.5 turned the tide against the Germans in the skies over France and Belgium in 1917-18. Many Canadians flew the SE.5. Several became aces. The museum flies both full scale and scaled down versions of the SE.5.

This is an actual SE.5A with the instrumentation, gun sight and Vickers gun well shown.

Canadian SE.5A pilots Harold Molyneux and Ken Juror of 56 Squadron. Ken was killed in action. Harold survived to serve in the RCAF during WWII. Their stories are told in Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939.

A typical operational SE.5A, this one of 85 Squadron on which many Canadian flew in WWI. Then, SE.5A F9029 of Canadian Air Force No.1 Squadron in the UK in 1919. Captain W.R. Kenny, DFC, is in the cockpit. Veteran CAHS member and dogged recorder of each and every civil-registered Canadian civil aircraft, Terry Judge, adds about this nice set-up shot: “The photo of SE5A (my favourite WWI aircraft) F9029 was taken at the historic Shoreham-by-Sea airport. On the horizon, above the serial, is the Lancing College Chapel. I grew up in nearby Hove so knew this airport well.”

The reality of the first great air war — how hundreds of SE.5s ended on the Western Front in 1917-18. This one is being gloated over by some Germans from local units. Pilot Harry Spearpoint ended as a POW – one of the lucky ones, right.

The museum’s Nieuport 28 ready for its next flight at Brampton. This type of scout was especially famous with the Lafayette Escadrille – a French air force unit manned by America pilots (some of whom had  trained to fly in Canada in 1917-18). Many Canadians also flew Nieuports in combat, the most famous being W.A. “Billy” Bishop, VC, shown here demonstrating the Lewis gun.

Visiting Airplanes

Many local and visiting planes keep the crowd extra interested during any GWFM and Brampton Flying Club event. There’s usually at least one Harvard around. Here’s C-FRWN (ex-RCAF 3830 during WWII) as an SE.5 cruises by in the distance. Then, Auster C-FLWA, which formerly was Canadian Army 16671. “LWA” first appeared on the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register in 1960 and has been around southern Ontario ever since. I photographed it in black-and-white at the Oshawa fly-in of June 16, 1963. It was the same colour. To this day the colour scheme hasn’t changed much. It’s always great fun keeping an eye on such an airplane over the decades.

Homebuilts are always part of the scene at a GWFM fly-in. Here are Pitts S-1T C-GMMG and Rutan Varieze C-GNEZ in front of the flying club.

Cabin Waco C-FYOC visits the museum. Built in 1935, it was only in Canada 2013-17 before returning to the US. Such visitors add extra class to the whole setting.

Murray Kot’s beautifully restored Cessna L-19 in Canadian Army markings of the early 1960s period.

Ercoupe CF-IQA lands on Runway 08. Built in 1946 as N2227H, this little postwar beauty came to Canada in 1973 and has been around the Toronto area ever since.

Four Seasons Aviation’s big Sikorsky S-58T on display. A locally-based Tiger Moth is climbing out.

VAN’S RV-7A C-FVOS taxis for Runway 08 as Brampton Flying Club Cessna 172 C-GBNG lands.

Foster ready to do a photo mission in BFC Cessna 172 C-GBRF.

The Car Show

Besides all the great plane spotting around the GWFM, there’s plenty else to do. The annual vintage car turnout is fantastic. This Rolls-Royce 1924 Silver Ghost is treasured by owners Roger and Eleanor Hadfield of nearby Milton.

Some of the MGs arrive. Not to be outdone are the Morgan’s. Then another classic Brit gem – an early Jaguar XKE.

Two ’56 beauties – a Chevy and a Dodge.

“The Museum”

Apart from the hangar, the GWFM museum building is full of wonderful displays. As well, on special days re-enactors run a typical WWI medical field station.

What Else Goes On?

Music of different kinds adds to the ambience of a GWFM event.

Re-enactors are on hand to explain various WWI topics. Otherwise, there’s lots going on in the hangar.

Some of the Great War Flying Museum old timers. They always show up – thank goodness. Then, Foster and Shannon with Al Snowie, one of the chief movers behind the 2017 “Vimy Flight”. This important Canadian organization took several WWI replica fighters to France that year, then flew them over the Vimy monument on the 100th Anniversary of that seminal battle. Finally, at day’s end some of the GWFM staff “debrief” back in the shop.

There’s a Book about All This!

The story of Canada’s pioneers of aerial combat is best read these days in Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. Below is one of our typical book reviews, this one from “Britain at War”. This is a book for any fan of Canada’s great role in aerial combat in WWI. To order a copy go to . Or, make a PayPal transfer of $67.20 (all-in) to , or mail your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6. All the best as usual. Be sure to keep tabs with the Great War Flying Museum website and see you there next season. Cheers … Larry Milberry

The Reader Speaks Out

Other than such great book reviews, I’m always keen to hear from my readers — the real lovers and cognoscenti when it comes to such books. Any publisher needs first and foremost to pay heed to these important supporters. Just lately I heard from a typical such reader, who writes about “Fighter Pilots and Observers”: Your new book has been open full time at the kitchen table where I get reading sessions at breakfast and lunch. Wonderful photos we see so rarely of this period and fascinating reading. Being more a student of WW II era aviation, I have limited knowledge of Canada’s participation in the aerial warfare of WWI, other than the classics, like Bishop. So it is somewhat of a revelation to read about Canada’s contributions to the air war and the efforts expended — and so much tragic loss of life. Incredible to think of the wild escapades so many young guys had flying those rickety early flying contraptions. Life expectancy was in very delicate balance and it seems just the luck of the draw for any that came out alive. If a fellow wasn’t being picked off by the enemy, his wings could be just as likely fall off! In part, I replied: Great that there are a few readers left who still appreciate the book and its ancient magic of enlightening, while entertaining. But, it’s all still trending away from lovely books to the stultifying, 90-second “quickie” info bit. So sad watching those  stoned smartphone people gawking down obliviously all the time. Mesmerized by what? What pleasure is there in that, and where’s the long-term pay-off in actual knowledge and joy? It’s all mildly depressing, eh.