Author Archives: Owen M

RCAF Nostalgia No.19 Elementary Flying Training School Virden, Manitoba, Course 45 Graduating Class of February 26, 1942

During the Second World War, hundreds of classes and tens of thousands of  pilots graduated from elementary flying training courses held at schools across Canada under the umbrella of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. One such school was 19 EFTS at Virden, Manitoba. The graduating class of February 26, 1942 included 80 proud young men, their draft being mainly from Western Canada, with the exception of a few Americans.

Every graduation featured a program of events and list of graduates. During the day, a parade would be held, followed by the final banquet. The excited young pilots, each with a few flying hours on the De Havilland Tiger Moth, then would be posted to a service flying training school to train to “wings” standards. If destined for fighters, they usually would go on to a Harvard school; if going to bombers or other multi-engine planes, they usually would be posted to a school flying Ansons or Cranes.

Recently, I came across this course graduation program among the vast and endlessly fascinating holdings in the William H.D. “Bill” Meaden, DFC, Collection, which I inherited long ago from the Meaden Estate. Over the decades, readers of CANAV’s RCAF history books have seen quite a bit about Bill Meaden’s illustrious wartime and postwar RCAF careers. From Edmonton, he had begun on Course 45 at Virden on December 29, 1941. He finished on February 26 with 80 hours flying the Tiger Moth. He went on to Cranes at Dauphin, Manitoba; went overseas into the RAF training system, and finally on to operations. He excelled in Bomber Command, coming home with the Distinguished Flying Cross. You can read of Bill’s exploits in such CANAV titles as Sixty YearsThe Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945, and Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas.

As the war proceeded, many of these young airmen kept in touch. I have many of Bill Meaden’s wartime letters. In these he and his pals often traded war stories (sometimes dreadful ones) and sometimes he received a letter back that he had written to a pal – a letter stamped “deceased”. Yes, these were young men tied up in some very brutal realities.

What about 19 EFTS, Course 45? EFTS was just the first of the flying hurdles that aspiring pilots had to face in the BCATP and later. So what became of these 80 fellows on leaving Virden early in 1942? No one’s fate could be predicted at the time. Certainly, several would have “washed out” at SFTS, where standards were tougher than at Virden. Even a small failure could see a fellow sent home to his mother. Even worse … hundreds at the SFTS stage would be killed or injured in flying accidents. Others would die in traffic accidents, drownings, fatal illnesses, even the occasional murder or suicide. It was not an easy go.

I’ve had a look through the graduate list for Course 45 at Virden and it’s clear that most of the fellows survived the war. Yes, some would not have made it through the rigours of SFTS, being shipped home perhaps for many a reason to work in the war industries, return to school, etc. From what I can see (although my work here has been limited) ten Course 45 fellows were killed either in action (KIA – killed in action) or training (KIFA – killed in flying accident). One man lost in eight is a high casualty rate, especially considering that several others did not even get beyond SFTS.

Interestingly, you can see that a number who had survived at Virden, washed out of pilot training at SFTS, but then selected alternate trades in order to fulfill their dream of serving their country in time of great need. Four of the 10 fatalities from Course 45 were not pilots. Here is my tentative list of those lost. I know of just one (Meaden) who later served in the postwar RCAF. The majority of survivors simply went home after the war to do other things. Notice the scribble on the Course 45 program – “LAC Morgan, J.C.” His bio on Wiki is worth a look. Morgan later transferred from the RCAF to the US Army Air Force, flew on B-17s over Germany, then one day had a horrendous mission. For his determined work that day, he would receive the Congressional Medal of Honour — as good as it gets at the Presidential level.

19 EFTS Course 45 – Wartime Fatalities

P/O Joseph Eloi Bohemier of St. Anne, Manitoba Age 21. KIA January 23, 1945. 441 Squadron, Pilot, Spitfire MK585 lost off Shetland Islands. No known grave. Remembered on the Runnymede War Memorial.

Sgt Douglas Oliver Broughton of Vancouver Age 21. KIA May 13, 1943. 429 Squadron, Air Gunner, Wellington HE913, shot down by a night fighter on operations to Duisberg. Broughton previously badly injured in a crash at 22 OTU (sole survivor of this crash). Buried in Nijmegen, Netherlands

F/O Harry Allan Danniger of San Bernadino, California. Age 26. KIA September 6, 1943. 419 Squadron, Bomb Aimer, Halifax DJ210, shot down, target Mannheim. Buried at Durnback, Germany.

P/O Warren Douglass Hall of Crossfield, Alberta Age 21. KIA May 7, 1944. 211 Squadron. Pilot, Beaufighter TF539, lost on operations. Remembered on the Singapore War Memorial.

FSgt James Douglas Hamilton of Kenaston, Saskatchewan. Age 22. KIA June 23, 1943. 427 Squadron, Pilot, Halifax DK141 shot down by a night fighter during operations to Mulheim. Buried Bergen-Op-Zoom, Netherlands.

FSgt Elmer Charles King of Peace River, Alberta. Age 20. KIA July 16, 1944. 44 Squadron, Air Gunner, Lancaster PB206 lost on mining operations. Remembered on the Runnymede War Memorial.

FSgt James Lawrence McConnell of Calgary, Alberta. Age 22. KIFA January 29, 1943. 22 OTU, Pilot (in training), Wellington HE650, crashed Gloucestershire. Buried Moreton-in-Marsh.

Sgt Samuel Hampton McBryde of Kingsville, Texas. KIFA October 13, 1942. 15 AFU, Pilot (in training), Oxford crashed during night training at Acaster Malbis aerodrome near Leeds.

F/O Robert Jordan Sheen of Owendale, Alberta. Age 26. KIA July 13, 1944. 415 Squadron, Pilot, Wellington MF494, lost on night anti-shipping operations North Sea. Remembered on the Runnymede War Memorial.

FSgt Hugh Phair Spencer of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Age 20  KIA May 1, 1943. 51 Squadron, Air Gunner, Halifax HR733 shot down near Essen. Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

Canadian Forces Supports the Former Soviet Union: 1993 Mission to Krasnoyarsk

The aircraft for the first leg of our trip to Krasnoyarsk was CanForces/437 Sqn Boeing 707 13705, operating as Canadian Forces Flight 7356. ‘705 was one of five 707-347Cs ordered (but not taken up by) Western Airlines. Instead, they were delivered to the Canadian Forces in 1970-71. These fantastic aircraft would serve Canada well, until sold in 1995-97 to the USAF, which converted them to E-8C reconnaissance configuration, ‘705 becoming 96-0042. On September 24, 2005 it was damaged by Hurricane Rita in Louisiana, but repairs were made and ‘042 remains in service. I can’t figure where/when I took this long-ago photo of passengers boarding ‘705, but I see my old pals Mike Valenti and John McQuarrie among the mob. (Click on any photo to see it full frame.)

On February 14, 1993 I was one of 11 passengers waiting at CFB Trenton to board CanForces Boeing 707 13705 for Helsinki. By this time, I had been visiting Trenton on this or that interesting project for more than 30 years. So what was going on at Trenton this day? The answer involved the recent collapse of the USSR and how the new country – then (temporarily) referred to as the Former Soviet Union — urgently needed medical supplies from the West. The International Red Cross had identified specific FSU needs and had begun an airlift the previous year. No one knew how the old USSR was going to be “re- imagined”, but the IRC appreciated that it needed basic medical supplies to bridge its grave shortfall. This problem had arisen in part since the FSU could not purchase basic medical needs abroad — suppliers did not want Russian rubles. A Canadian Red Cross Society paper also explained how existing medicines produced by the USSR’s outdated pharmaceutical industry rapidly were disappearing, adding, “The collapse of the pharmaceutical industry makes it impossible for the [FSU] to provide sufficient stocks to meet even rudimentary needs.” Additionally, the FSU faced civil war in some areas, making internal trade difficult. Regardless, through 1992 the finer points about what was needed were worked out between the IRC and Moscow.

Ancient paperwork – my 1993 visa application where “USSR” still was terminology. It wasn’t the easiest thing to get on a trip such as this, but for the Krasnoyarsk mission, BGen Jeff Brace, then commanding Canadian Forces Air Transport Group, knew of my interest. Jeff was the sort of Air Force officer who always had enjoyed RCAF history and appreciated  the books that I was doing. As Operation Boreal II was ramping up, he called personally to invite me on one of the missions. As a young RCAF captain, Jeff had begun with an exciting career flying the C-130 with 436 Squadron, then advanced to the 707 at 437. Eventually, he commanded 437, then was Base Commander, CFB Trenton and, finally, Commander, Air Transport Group itself.

Months of planning resulted in what Canada’s Department of National Defence dubbed “Operation Boreal II”. For 1993 this entailed 20 air transport missions to needy regions in the FSU. The CRCS would supply 44 medical kits valued at $5 million. Weighing about 2500 lb, each kit included basic antibiotics, inhalers, aspirins in bottles of 5000, bandages, needles, antiseptic wipes, rubber gloves – nothing fancy. The CRCS noted that, “One kit provides supplies for 50 hospital beds for one year.” The DND would deliver kits to centres in the Urals, Siberia and Trans-Caucasus.

A wide view of the great Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Happily, on this winter’s day in 1993 the smog was not up to its usual oppressiveness. Massive air pollution has left Krasnoyarsk’s population with a plague of dreadful respiratory and cancer ills. “Op Boreal” brought welcomed relief at a critical moment. Krasnoyarsk had been one of the USSR’s infamous “closed cities”.No one could come or go without strict permission. At the time of our visit, parts of the city remained off limits.

The City

What about Krasnoyarsk? Situated at 56° 10’N, 91° 50’E this is an ancient Russian community founded in 1628. Mining, forestry, agriculture, trade and transportation were early activities. In Stalin’s era Krasnoyarsk also was an major part of the gulag, where Stalin’s “deplorables” were sent to be worked to death and otherwise “to disappear”. The population by 1993 was about 1 million. Mining and forestry remained important, and factories, including massive aluminum and steel works, steadily chugged out pollution. Most products were for the military. Here in the centre of continental Eurasia there even are shipyards along the Yenisei River for, through mighty feats of engineering, the Yenisie River has been made navigable all the way to Arctic tidewater. Krasnoyarsk also produces weapons-grade plutonium. “Worldatlas” observes: “Besides radioactivity, pollution in the form of industrial wastes and sewage, as well as fertilizer and pesticide run-offs from agricultural fields … pollute the Yenisei along its course.” While visiting Krasnoyarsk hospitals, we would learn that childhood leukemia is rampant. The IRC recognized all this, making Krasnoyarsk a priority for “Op Boreal”.

High above the Ob River drainage system at 58° 29’N, 83° 01’E east of the Urals about half way from Helsinki to Krasnoyarsk. I’d never seen such a maze of river bends, cutoffs, oxbow lakes, etc. Our Aircraft Commander, Maj Chris Beaty, commented, “It’s very quiet up here, as if nothing is flying in this country.” True, yet we knew we were being very closely tracked on Russian military radar, and likely shadowed by fighters. I certainly wasn’t supposed to be taking photos out the window, but couldn’t resist when such landscapes came into view. Not that many years earlier, U-2 pilots had been risking their lives doing photo missions over the USSR.

Trenton to Helsinki — The Crew

On the ramp, 13705 (Canadian Forces Flight 7356) weighed 296,400 lb of which 129,700 was fuel and 19,740 the Red Cross payload. The logbook showed that ‘705 had flown 36,723 hours to date. The crew started engines at 1955Z and taxied to Runway 24. The flight plan showed that our trip to Helsinki would take 7:09 hours (that would work out to the minute). Our crew comprised: Capt T.G. “Lou” Paproski (Aircraft Commander), Capt R.J. Weberbauer (First Officer), Capt M.P. “Mike” Leddy (Navigator), MWO R.K. “Bob” Pokeda (Flight Engineer), Sgt George A. Game (Flight Engineer), MWO J.G. “Gus” Loignon (Loadmaster), Cpl R.L. “Livy” Williston (Flight Stewart), Cpl J.L. “Sylvain” Lapierre (Flight Stewart), Sgt Ruth G. Hess (Flight Attendant) and Cpl Penny Darbyson (Flight Attendant). The crew had a mountain of experience. Capt Paproski, for example, had joined the RCAF in 1961. After instructing on Tutors, he had flown C-130s starting at 436 Sqn, then at 429 and 426, before joining 437 in 1989. Capt Mike Leddy had some 1800 flying hours on the 707, 4000 on the C-130, and 4000 on the Argus. MWO Loignon was another typical case. Having enlisted in 1960, he first had served on the North Star at 426 Sqn for 1200 hours. He later crewed on the C-119 at Rivers, the C-130E with 435 Sqn at Namao in 1966, then joined 437 in 1990. Our flight of 3689 nautical miles operated initially via such waypoints as Val d’Or, La Grande, Lake Harbour and Cape Dyer, crossed Greenland, then routed north of Iceland and Scotland, down over Norway at Trondheim, finally into Helsinki. After refueling and making a crew change, we were airborne at 0540Z for Krasnoyarsk, a distance of 2160 nm. Someone pointed out that this was about half way around the world from Thunder Bay. The crew on this leg was Maj C.A. Beaty (Aircraft Commander), Capt S.B. “Blair” Barthel (First Officer), Capt J.F.G.G. “Gilles” Bourgoin (Navigator), Capt G.I. “Gerry” Foyle (Flight Engineer), WO Mike Deegan (Flight Engineer with Airlift Control Element duties), Capt J.D. “Dave” Melanson (Loadmaster), Cpl J.L. “Sylvain” Lapierre (Flight Stewart), Cpl Penny Darbyson (Flight Attendant), Cpl R.L. “Livy” Williston (Flight Stewart) and Capt W.R. “Russ” Wright (ALCE). There were 20 passengers including five Mobile Air Movements personnel, a security officer and a communications specialist – all based at Trenton. As usual, I spent most for my hours quizzing people about their backgrounds, duties, etc. Below lay a vast, mostly wild-looking, snow-covered landscape. Time flew by and soon (it seemed) we landed at Krasnoyarsk Yemelyanovo Airport on a gloomy late afternoon after a 5-hour trip.

The busy flight deck aboard our “Boeing” (as 437 personnel usually called their 707s). In the left seat is Capt Blair Barthel; right is Aircraft Commander, Maj Chris Beaty, a USAF pilot on exchange with 437. Nearest right is WO Mike Deegan (flight engineer), lower left is Capt Gilles Bourgoin (navigator), finally (reading a map), Alexey P. Frolov, our Aeroflot navigator and translator. Our public affairs escort, Capt Tony White, described Frolov’s role: “His job is to assist in navigation and air traffic control communications, a necessary precaution in a country with one of the most robust air defence systems in the world.” Look at all the ancient equipment in this 1950s analogue cockpit – not a touch screen in sight.

We all were interested in where we were going. Here, Cpl Penny Darbyson, a Red Cross staffer and Capt Dave Melanson discuss a map on the way to Krasnoyarsk This particular trip was the 5th on the “Op Boreal” schedule this year, and the first ever to reach this city.


Our Boeing parked at Krasnoyarsk minutes after arrival. Things were slow to get rolling, since it seemed that we were not expected. First came some serious palaver with local customs, KGB, etc. Paperwork and passports were inspected and collected then, after about an hour, other officials, workers, trucks and loaders began arriving on the tarmac. I found it all to be an amazing experience.

My first view stepping off the plane. Wonderment seemed to be the feeling among the crowd below – Russians and Canadians alike. Who knows who the “spooks” (KGB and cops) in the crowd were, but they surely were there. Our CanForces photographer grabbed this shot just as I came down the stairs – ready for action. From taxiing in to shutdown and stepping off our Boeing, it was amazing being here in the FSU. It was a chilly winter’s day, and mainly what I noticed from the door as I stepped off ‘705 were aged Russia airliners. However, first things first, which meant clearing customs, offloading the cargo and getting into town. Customs was a bit of an experience, since they, the airport management and others were insisting that they had no idea that any foreign plane was due to arrive today. How could the FSU bureaucracy be so clued-out? They must have been putting us on. There was a lot of discussion and checking of papers, as other airport staff rushed around to find equipment for unloading. Before we finally got onto a bus, we were told that not only were we surprise visitors, but ours was the first airplane from the West ever to land at Krasnoyarsk!

I was happy to find that I could wander around on the tarmac freely covering all the action around our Boeing.

A detail of one of our Boeing’s fantastic Pratt & Whitney JT- 3D turbofans. These incomparable engines carried Canada’s fleet of five Boeing all over the world for hundreds of thousands of trouble free service.

Unloading the Red Cross kits. Our young helpers were air force recruits.

Much else was going on around the 437 Boeing. Here, locals inspect some of the Red Cross satellite phone equipment. Then, Capt Rob Wederbauer (437 Sqn, pilot) with Andrey Loginov of Radio Canada International (translator, centre) is interviewed by a Russian reporter.

Here’s a bit of a different local scene. Dogs have no more loyal friends than the entire Russian people. Dogs are treated so royally, that even at such a major airport as Krasnoyarsk, they can roam around the airplanes! You also can see here that the first truck is ready to roll with four hefty Red Cross kits.


Airport Tour

Eventually, we were dropped off at our quarters – rooms at a Krasnoyarsk insane asylum. Nonetheless, we were happy to be squared away. The next couple of days would be super interesting, as many fine local people got us on hospital tours, set up an interesting press conference, took us on sightseeing bus trips, and organized a crazy night out at the Krasnoyarsk Hotel. Although our visit would be brief, it proved to be totally memorable. I even was able to organize an air side photo tour at the airport. This came about when I found someone to introduce me to the airport manager. After I pleaded my case, he personally drove me around the ramp in his falling-apart Lada, stopping almost wherever I wanted to photograph. This was great, even though some areas were off limits – mainly some old bombers in the distance that looked like Tu-16s.

Antonov An-8 (NATO code name “Camp”) CCCP-69301 was my best find at the airport. Some 151 twin turboprop An-8s were manufactured in Tashkent for the USSR military in 1957- 62 (the only other example was the prototype built in Kiev in 1956). Many key policy and operational people pushed for the An-8 to become the standard USSR medium military transport for this era, but it soon was superseded by the 4-engine An-12 (An-8 payload 24,000 lb vs An-12 44,000). Early in the 1970s the An-8 was relegated to civil duties and — due to safety concerns — in 1997 it was banished from the Russian Federation. The handful of survivors then migrated mainly to rogue or backwards Gulf and African states. In 2004 Antonov withdrew the An-8’s airworthiness certification. Little is known about CCCP-69301, but it certainly had a long, productive career. It truly was Krasnoyarsk’s “blast from the past” on February 15, 1993.

This isn’t just a photo of an Il-76 (probably being parted out), but look beyond—some other old clunkers. Looks like some superannuated Red Air Force An-30 Clanks. The An-30 was a version of the An-24 that specialized in aerial photo mapping.

There was a good half-dozen Il-76s at Krasnoyarsk this week, some “between flights”, others awaiting the scrapman. Here sits RA-76752 (I must have just slipped on the ice as my shutter fired), delivered to Aeroflot in 1989. Although in standard Aeroflot markings, it was listed to Krasoyarskie Avialinii. Sadly, it would not end well. On April 5, 1996, ‘752 loaded meat and soap at Novosibirsk on the Ob River in SW Siberia, then set off for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the far distant Kamchatka Peninsula — a distance of more than 2900 miles. On descent to destination, air traffic control instructed ‘752 to continue through cloud to 900m, even though the plane was not on radar. Since it actually was a bit off course (which ATC somehow had not noticed), it flew into a mountain 300 m below the summit.

Il-76 RA-76517 at this time was registered to Krasnoyarsk Airlines. Then, RA-76508 of Aeroflot, which later was registered to Kras Air. It worked for another decade, then went for scrap. I once got to spend a day flying around East Africa in an Il-76. What a super airplane.

In the early 1990s Krasnoyarsk — besides being an key regional airport — was used for heavy aircraft maintenance, long-term storage and parting out/scrapping (i.e., it was an airliner boneyard). Shown is Tu-154 CCCP-85134 gradually being parted out. Then, RA-85124 in Krasnovarskavia colours. It appeared serviceable, but is noted on the web as having been scrapped by the mid-90s. Finally, Tu-154 EP-ITA of Iran Airtour Airlines. Through decades of US trade embargoes, Iran was forced to fly many such hand-me-down USSR aircraft. This greatly retarded Iran’s economy. The Kremlin happily filled the vacuum. “ITA” was back in Krasnoyarsk to be parted out. The fellow walking my way was checking credentials.

Once Russia’s “Queen of the Airways”, the mighty Il-62 was fast fading by 1993. Several had been ferried to Krasnoyarsk – their last hurrah. Included here is RA-86453.

Russia’s first widebody airliner, the Il-86 was grounded in 2006, having been banned from the EU and USA due to noise restrictions. Here are RA-86121 and ‘137 awaiting the scrapman at Krasnoyarsk. What impressive and handsome jetliners, no!

Tu-154s and Il-86s – a long, lonely line.

CanForces 707 13704 came in from Trenton with its Red Cross load on February 15. Local aerospace people would have looked with some envy upon this magnificent, if elderly, jetliner. Now 49 years old, it remains in use as USAF E-8C 97-0201. I notice today (August 15, 2019) that there’s a lovely 1/200 scale diecast model of 97-0201 for sale on the web for 13,175 yen.

Krasnoyarsk Yemelyanovo terminal building. One interesting thing about this place was how some travellers had to camp here for days awaiting their flights (we were told that some people had been here for weeks).

Another memorable time was our night at the Krasnoyarsk Hotel where good food and too much champagne and vodka were consumed (not a beer to be had for some reason). This hotel was really wild, the lobby jammed with many rough-looking characters milling around (we’d heard that some in this mob were “carrying”). One of my crazy experiences was getting mugged in the men’s room for my cameras. We all knew enough not to go anywhere alone, but my brain had gotten pretty fogged over. Back in Toronto, I had a bit of trouble convincing my insurer about this, but they did come across.

There was much merriment during this whirlwind visit. Usually just some nice quiet dining, but our night out at the Krasnoyarsk Hotel pushed the limits a bit. Here’s some of our gang being property civilized. That familiar face in the second photo is the Ottawa Sun’s world famous roving reporter, Matthew Fisher. Notice the wonderful layout on the tables, talk about A-1. One thing for sure about Siberia – people away out there really know how to enjoy themselves when they get a chance, and they’re magnificent hosts.

Hospital Visits and Press conference

Since Op Boreal’s purpose was to supply hospitals in the FSU, we were invited to visit two Krasnoyarsk hospitals. These were mammoth operations packed with patients suffering especially from respiratory ailments and cancers. Many children here were fighting leukemia and asthma, and hallway medicine was a normal part of the picture:

Hospital staff start inventorying a Red Cross medical kit. Capt Tony White looks on. Then, a mother tends her infant. Russian mothers as a rule reside in hospital with their ailing children throughout their treatment.

Two scenes where our media people interviewed senior medical staff. They were surprised but grateful about the arrival of Red Cross aid, about which they only heard the day after we arrived. We learned how doctors (then earning the equivalent of about US$100 monthly) felt helpless about the region’s environmental “meltdown”, and angry that information about local nuclear contamination was withheld by the state (the same certainly goes on in the West). They also were embarrassed at accepting foreign aid. Some already were pining for the old regime, where supplies at least were plentiful.

I mentioned about Russians and dogs. In these hospitals, dogs rule as they do at the airport. This momma was caring for her brood in a well-travelled hallway – and she wasn’t the only one.

Another interesting event was a press conference where the local media peppered us with questions. This was another side of Siberia. Reporters seemed to know next to nothing about Canada — surely they were putting us on again. One reporter asked why Canada was campaigning to take over Alaska! Devil’s Advocated, Matthew Fisher of the Ottawa Sun, got them really going by commenting (casually) that he doubted that Canada would survive much longer. The press also was amazed that permission had been given to a Canadian military plane to overfly Russia. One reporter wondered if this Red Cross business was just a ploy to enrich Canadian capitalists at Russia’s expense. Another suspected that we were all spies and that our 707 probably was doing espionage. Stalinist/Leninist paranoia still was front and center in Krasnoyarsk. Happily, someone finally changed the subject to hockey.

Canucks in the hot seat, being grilled by the local media, some of whom are shown in the second photo. No doubt the KGB was here as well, and likely shadowing us wherever we went.

The Many Sights Around and About Krasnoyarsk

In four short days we sure took in a lot of Krasnoyarsk – it left our heads swirling. Here are some photos taken at one of the city’s many military memorials.

This park honours the Soviet Union’s and Krasnoyarsk’s magnificent military history. If you google “Krasnoyarsk”, you’ll find much more about this important theme. The book East of the Sun by Benson Bobrick also covers much of Siberia’s history including many reference to Krasnoyarsk. This astoundingly good book is highly recommended (find a cheap copy on the web). Here’s a wide view of the memorial plaza, then the park’s T-34 Stalin tank. By dint of solid WWII technology plus massive weight in numbers, the T-34 was pivotal in driving the Nazis out of the USSR in emphatic manner. Next is a photo of one of the Soviet army’s terrifying artillery pieces, likely one of the types used to pulverize Berlin in the spring of 1945. Finally, the “artifact” that I liked the most – a classic MiG-15, the type that in its own way ruled the skies over Korea in the early 1950s. Sure the F-86 Sabre gets all the glory, but the MiG-15 was a real opponent, greatly feared and respected (in recent years the USAF’s claims of destroying 10 MiG-15s in the Korean War for each Sabre lost have been debunked). In another local park (that we missed) there’s a MiG-21, elsewhere the space program is the theme.

Driving Around Town

On our bus tours we drove through various Krasnoyarsk neighbourhoods. We had to grab our photos on the fly, through the windows. To get a few barely useful pix, I shot plenty. Some residential areas comprise block after block of ancient wooden homes, some centuries old. In contrast are the city’s numerous high rise apartment buildings, where most families reside. These high rises represent the infamous Stalinist concept of urban design and how to keep people down – we’re all equal, yada yada yada.

A couple of typical Krasnoyarsk urban transit busses. Then a view ahead – the streets were always packed with Ladas. The roads also were rough, with major potholes. On returning from such trips I used to tell my little kids about the Krasnoyarsk or the Mogadishu potholes, and we’d get a good laugh. Now? Not so funny, since Toronto today is the city of world class potholes. Even worse, City Hall is 100% OK with that. Meanwhile, we hear that Krasnoyarsk has really cleaned up much that in 1993 was “urbanly” distasteful.

A quickie snapshot of folks set up along the street trying to do a bit of business, now that Communism was on the rocks in the FSU. People were lining the streets hawking anything that they could live without. This was necessary since the government temporarily was dysfunctional, so people weren’t getting their pay and welfare cheques. In this way, millions in the FSU were learning their first lessons in capitalism – that other terrible system. You know, the one that actually works not too badly.

A Few Market Scenes

One of our best times in town was visiting one of Krasnoyarsk’s markets. Some of these are traditional, others are of the “pop-up” type. The set-up here seemed a bit of both. There were the stalls, but there also were many citizens just standing in place one by one trying to sell whatever they had. It was not exactly an inspiring sight.


Street BBQ’ing in the market, the butchers ready to turn a ruble, some fine baked goods on sale, then some ladies with their finery on sale at the curb. Notice the popularity of fur coats, hats, etc. Wouldn’t this just drive our animal rights and vegan terrorist crackpots in Canada nuts. They’d better not try any of their stunts in Krasnoyarsk, eh!

Still keeping an eye everything in 1993 Krasnoyarsk was the master of belittling and controlling everybody – that other evil one, Lenin.

Matthew Fisher discusses a possible deal in the market with one of the local ruble hustlers. Then, Capt Tony White giving a snow machine a test drive. Years later, Matthew reviewed conditions in the CIS – Commonwealth of Independent States (previously referred to as the FSU, also called the Russian Federation). His item in the Toronto Sunday Sun of January 28, 2001 concluded: “Leaving Moscow for almost anywhere else is a revelation. Most Russians lead a frightful Third World existence. How they manage to survive at all defies comprehension.” Another two decades have passed, however, and word is that there has been some improvement. Let’s hope, right!

Having flown in mid-afternoon on the 14th, on the 17th the crew of 13704 under Capt Paproski and their 19 passengers boarded the flight back to Helsinki. Takeoff was at 1010Z hours. CanForces flight CF7357 had 2167 nm to cover in an estimated 5.8 hours. After overnighting, we pushed on for Trenton under the same flight number, covering 3735 nm in 9:00 hours. We had flown some 12,000 nm in 4 days and 26.8 flying hours. For me it proved to be a very big deal – my first visit behind the old Iron Curtain, and a chance to see a bit about the workings of aviation there, and what made the historic city of Krasnoyarsk tick. For an update re. Krasnoyarsk see the excellent Wiki entry and there are some Krasnoyarsk photo sites that also are worth a look.

Heading home in ‘704 there was lots to do until we were back home again in Trenton. These crewmen killed some time playing cards. Matthew Fisher took his turn in the cockpit jump seat, where it was always fascinating for we media types.

RCAF Air Transport Command Nostalgia

With all this talk of Canada’s military Boeing 707s, just for fun I thought we should give a bit of credit to their predecessor, the Canadair CC-106 Yukon. I mentioned about having visited Trenton many times before 1993, so dug out one of my ancient photos from one historic day there long ago. On July 1, 1961, I was at Trenton for the station’s Dominion Day airshow. Here’s a photo taken that day with my old Minolta Autocord twin lens “120”. This was shot (as we kids used to say – since we rarely could afford a roll of colour film) “in glorious black and white”. For our extra enjoyment, 437 Sqn Yukon 15927 made this pass in landing configuration right over the crowd at maybe 200 feet. The good ol’ days, right! The RCAF’s Yukons spent much of their time doing international relief operations similar to “Op Boreal” – it’s a Canadian thing, right. In 1970-71, 437 Squadron’s 10 Yukons were replaced by those 5 glorious 707s.


More good reading … scroll back to read about similar historic ATG missions — Horn of Africa, Nairobi, Rwanda, DRG, etc. Also, I’ve updated the item covering the 2009 restoration of the F-86 on display in Peterborough. Just search for “Peterborough” and that’ll get you there. Well worth a read 10 years later. Cheers … Larry

Books, Books, Books

If you get a spare moment, please check out these aviation booklists. You’re certain to find something you’d like!

Aviation in Canada Series

CANAV Booklist Spring_Summer 2019

Booklist Special Items August 2019

TTC CLRV Recycling Phase in High Gear + A Nifty 3-Minute OSHKOSH 2019 Overview

OSHKOSH 2-19 Overview … worth a quick look:

TTC PCCs and CLRVs — The Scrapman’s Perspective (also see our subsequent item of January 21, 2020)… In service since the 1970s, the Toronto Transit Commission’s famed Canadian Light Rail Vehicles are being phased out of service and sold for scrap. On July 8-9, 2019 I photographed part of the operation at the TTC Russell car barns at Queen St. E. and Connaught Ave. Here are a few photos, but first some of my Kodachromes showing earlier scrappings of the TTC’s classic 1930s-80s vintage PCC cars. For some good background about the TTC’s CLRV/ALRVs, see The Canadian Light Rail Vehicles (The CLRVs) – Transit Toronto Also see CLRV on Wiki for loads more info. Same goes for the PCC cars. See, for example, A History of Toronto’s Presidents’ Conference Committee Cars (the…

This was a typical scene I captured at the TTC Russell Barns in April 1969 showing PCCs undergoing daily maintenance. This stalwart type would serve Torontonians into 1982.

By the late 1960s the TTC was reducing its PCC fleet. Cars mainly were being sold for scrap, although some went to other cities, where they continued to serve. On January 3, 1969, I photographed PCC 4294 stored at the Hillcrest Barns on Bathurst St. Then I drove up to the Wychwood Barns on St. Clair Ave. W., where I shot PCC 4166, also awaiting its fate. Next, shown at Wychwood on December 6 of that year are several other superannuated PCCs, 4309 being nearest.

On August 9, 1968 I photographed part of the PCC fleet being cut up for scrap at the Coxwell and Danforth TTC barns. These five photographs cover the end of PCC 4158. As you can see, “those were the days” for any keen photographer. No one hassled me as I spent a couple of hours taking pictures. I was even allowed to board 4158 to get some close-up views as the sparks flew. A pretty ugly sight altogether, but all in the name of progress! You can see 4148 finally loaded and ready for transportation out of Toronto and down 401 Highway to the Intercity Steel & Metal scrapyard in Oshawa. Too bad, but it was a gloomy day, so these shots are on the dark side. But … I’ve always been for content vs form. Don’t forget, it was a different medium back then … film was the name of the game, and film was not idiot proof.

Late the following year I followed up on a tip that some TTC PCCs still were in the Intercity yard. So, on December 6, 1969 I drove to Oshawa to check this out. Being a weekend, there was no one around the yard. Well … you know how it goes with any photographer on a mission. Hoping not to encounter the proverbial (and sometimes actual) junkyard dog, I hopped the fence. Here are three of my shots to delight any hardcore PCC fan.

Also in August 1968 I got another tip that the 16,000-ton MV Mare Tranquillo was in Toronto harbour loading PCCs for Egypt. We never passed up any such tip, so down I hustled to see what was what. Sure enough, there were the PCCs being hoisted as deck cargo aboard the ship. A note on Wiki explains more: “140 cars purchased from Toronto in 1968, but 13 never entered service. Of the 127 cars in service, 85 were converted between 1972 and 1978 into two-car trains or double-ended three-car trains. The entire fleet was withdrawn by 1984 in favor of modern rolling stock.” Whether it was true or not, I once heard that some of these PCCs were destroyed by bombing during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

I remember about 1972 attending a press briefing about the proposed new Toronto streetcars that became the CLRVs. This took place down on the CNE grounds and featured a full-scale CLRV mock-up. Gradually, the CLRVs and their “doubled-up” version, the ALRVs, began appearing and replacing the classic old PCCs.

Fast forward half a century to July 2019 when the TTC is fast getting rid of its 1970s fleet of CLRV streetcars. Getting a tip the other day from a pal who drives for the TTC, I hurried over to the Russell Barns on Queen St. East, not far from my home. Sure enough, the action was hot with CLRVs being stripped out and loaded onto flatbeds destined for the Langille’s Truck Parts yard in Port Perry. “Long story short”, I spent several hours on July 8 and 9 watching and photographing. Here’s a sample “for your edification”. Anyway, it’s quite something, especially realizing (to my horror) that I’ve been taking photos of TTC streetcars being scrapped for more than 50 years (not so edifying).


CLRVs at the TTC Russell Barns – ready for the boneyard. Then, cars 4115 and 4177 being hauled away. Can you imagine the countless double takes as people all along the way suddenly confronted this amazing apparition – streetcars sailing down the road on flatbeds!


Many CLRVs remain in service, Russell being the home for most. But, by the end of 2019 the TTC CLRV may well be no more.

Past and present … car 4022 is made ready, then sets out on its last run through Toronto on July 9, 2019. Meanwhile, all day long shiny new TTC “Flexity” cars were rolling by Russell on the busy Queen “501” line.

Same for car 4029 … off into the sunset on July 9. Be sure to look up some of the great history pages covering the TTC PCCs and CLRVs. It’s a great topic for anyone with an interest in our wonderful transportation heritage. It sure was fun the last two days watching all these goings-on and chitchatting with folks coming and going. Who impressed me the most? A young fellow just heading into Grade 4, who’s totally fired up by TTC streetcar, subway and bus history. With such keen young citizens, I think our country should be just fine. And the TTC itself really shone today. One of the supervisors noticed us taking pictures, etc. Out he came with some TTC handouts, then one of the Russell tech men showed up with a very special gift for my new young friend – a beautiful bronze data plate salvaged from a CLRV truck set. A look at the plate told us that this particular truck had been made in Nuremberg, Germany in 1987 – more CLRV trivia for the diehard fan, right. All the best through the summer … Larry

Doug Burt – Air Engineer and Airplane Photographer

Doug Burt was a keen young fellow when he got into aviation in the late 1920s. However (and too bad), I don’t have any biographical details. In case you might know Doug’s story, please let me know. We do know that he was a very avid amateur photographer, which is the purpose of today’s item – to showcase some of his lovely pictures. These are random, although it’s clear that before joining Consolidate Mining and Smelting Co. (“Cominco”) in Trail, BC, as an airplane mechanic, Doug spent some time at Canadian Pratt & Whitney in Longueuil, Quebec and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada in Toronto — likely doing courses. You’ll love these interesting and well taken old photos. There are more of Doug’s fine images in Vol.1 of Air Transport in Canada.

A fine shop floor scene in the original (1928) Canadian Pratt & Whitney plant at Longueuil, opposite Montreal. Doug Burt immortalized this scene in April 1930. The company (today’s Pratt & Whitney Canada) still makes engines in Longueuil. The whole story is told in detail in Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story – a beautifully-produced book that any fan of Canada’s aviation heritage will enjoy. Nice, affordable copies always can be found at

While likely “on course” at CP&W in May 1930, Doug organized this photo of Canadian Transcontinental Airways Fairchild 71 CF-ACY at nearby St. Hubert airport. That’s Doug on the far left (he got himself into quite a few such photos – half the fun of it, right). “ACY” was one of the latest in air transports plying the Quebec and Ontario airways then being established. It later served Canadian Airways and Quebec Airways, then “faded away” some time during 1939. Ken Molson’s book Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport is the best source for the history of this era. You’d love this wonderful book. I see today that several copies are available cheaply at

April 1930 and Doug Burt is front and centre in this photo of some early CP&W employees. It sure would be nice to have the other names, since there would be some famous fellows here.

Doug Burt at work at CP&W, April 1930.

RCAF D.H.60 Gipsy Moths being assembled at De Havilland Aircraft of Canada in Toronto in 1930. That’s one of the rare D.H.75 Hawk Moths at the top left. It’s the former DH demonstration G-AAFW, by this time re-registered CF-CCA of the Ottawa-based Controller of Civil Aviation fleet. In 1931 “CCA” transferred to the RCAF as C-GYVD. It remained on strength to October 1935.

Here it is — DH Hawk Moth demonstrator G-AAFW a few weeks after reaching DHC in Toronto in February 1930. The skis were a Canadian “mod”. The Hawk Moth was not a great success in Canada — only three were registered here. It certainly was a nice looking plane.

Doug’s shot of the Gipsy engine overhaul shop at DHC in 1930.

In March 1930 Doug photographed the attractive little Blackburn Lincock light fighter while it was at DHC doing demonstrations for the RCAF. However, the RCAF was broke at the time and would have to make do with its dusty old Siskin fighters into the early days of WWII. Blackburn was never able to get the Lincock into production. The Canadian side of this story is covered in Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915- 1939.

Doug shot this unknown RCAF Canadian Vickers Vedette at Great Slave Lake on June 25, 1930. The attractive little Vedette proved to be a versatile and always reliable RCAF workhorse from 1925 into the early war years. The first “all-Canadian” production plane, the Vedette is an important symbol of Canada’s early aircraft industry. A factory-perfect Vedette replica resides in Winnipeg with the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.

Doug would have taken in every airshow that came up wherever he happened to be. Here’s one of his photos from the 1930 Edmonton airshow. “The mobs” certainly came out for this grand event. A big Fokker F.XIV (CF-AIK Western Canada Airways) and a Lockheed Vega can be seen top centre.

Cominco was one of Canada’s giant mining companies of the 1920s onward, which strongly believed in the airplane for mineral exploration. Over the decades the company owned many airplanes from the 2-seat D.H.60 Moth to the lumbering Fokker Super Universal — a “heavy hauler” of its day. Here are three fine views of Cominco’s Fokker CF-AAM taken c.1930 at Trail. “AAM” served Cominco 1929-1934, then finally ended in the Yukon with Northern Airways. On December 5, 1937 it was wrecked taking off at Dawson. In modern years it was restored to flying condition and now resides at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada (which in 2019 is “closed for repairs” awaiting new facilities). The story of the great Fokker bushplanes in Canada currently is being told by Clark Seaborn (one of the “AAM” restoration team) in the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. See and, while you’re there, why not sign up!

CF-AAM in the Cominco overhaul shop at Trail in January 1931. Curley Summerville is at the right. That looks like the massive 1-piece Super Universal wing behind the fuselage. Then, a fine close-up that Doug took of “AAM” during the same overhaul period. History-wise, here would we be today without such people taking these glorious photos generations ago!

Doug Burt on the float of Cominco Fairchild 71 CF-ABM at Trail in 1930. Having joined Cominco in May 1929, “ABM” later went to Mackenzie Air Service of Edmonton in 1934. Subsequently with Northern Airways in the Yukon, it was wrecked due to engine failure in November 1940. Then, “ABM” at the Columbia Gardens beach in Trail.

Doug photographed his company’s D.H.80 Puss Moth during a flight from Trail to Rossland, BC, on January 31, 1935. Cominco sold “AVA” in 1938, then the plane just faded away during WWII. In recent years, however, it resurfaced after a meticulous restoration and began appearing in the 2010s at fly-ins in its blue and orange Cominco livery. You can see it in restored form farther back on this site (just search for “Puss Moth”).

Cirrus-engined D.H.80 Moth C-GAIY “Bubbles” at Trail in 1932. Doug Burt identifies the fellow by the nose as the well-known bush pilot, Page McPhee. “AIY” faded from the scene in 1938.

Page McPhee with Cominco D.H.80 Puss Moth CF- AGT at Trail in May 1931. One story says that “AGT” — its flying days over — was converted into a snowmobile.

Cominco purchased D.H.89 Rapide CF-BBH from DHC in January 1938. It was sold to Canadian Airways in May 1939. Later with CPA, it gave good service in Quebec. “BBH” crashed on takeoff at Pentecost on the Quebec North Shore on March 19, 1947.

Doug identifies this as D.H.84 Dragon CF-AVD at Trail on July 17, 1935 with (from the left) Ben Harrop, Hamilton Currie and Page McPhee. Records show that “AVD” at this time was a Canadian Airways plane, but it could have been on lease to Cominco. It was wrecked at Baie Comeau on the St. Lawrence River in May 1944. I wonder if there’s a history of all the work done by the early Cominco fleet? There are many good references in such other books at Rex Terpening’s classic Bent Props and Blow Pots – another book that you should have.

You can see that Doug would photograph any airplane. He took this nice set-up shot of a cute little Aeronca C-3 at Trail in 1932. NC12406 was visiting from the US.

In the Burt collection that I have there also are these well-taken photos of more modern airliners at Edmonton. First, CPA Lockheed Lodestar CF-CPA and Boeing 247 CF-BVF with an RCAF Oxford in the background; then, an unknown post-WWII CPA DC-3.


Happy Canada Day 2019

To start off this year’s Canada Day weekend I took the TTC’s 501 “Flexity” streetcar downtown for a morning of fun out on Toronto Bay. Big attraction? The Tall Ships are in town! “How best to see and photograph the Tall Ships”, was the question. Someone was willing to rent me a small motor boat, but since I’ve had no experience in recent decades, I passed on that. Instead, I talked to the keen fellows at “The Pirate Taxi”, who were happy to take me out for a fair price for half an hour to get some photos.

A classic Toronto skyline scene as we pulled out from Pirate Taxi’s slip.

Away we go.

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A quick glance westward and this was the view of Billy Bishop Airport. No doubt about it … the water is high, comparing the airport breakwall to previous “normal” years.

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Two of the many sightseeing and party boats that run day and night through Toronto’s booming summer tourist season.

Toronto’s anti-everything city councillors groaned for decades about how the Gardiner Expressway allegedly has “ruined” our cityview. Those same funny people invariably have voted for any and every other sort of waterfront development, the higher the better. How do they like the view now? It’s all yours, can’t even see the Gardner anywhere in 2019! But what the heck, eh … Toronto’s a fantastic modern city and city’s cry out to grow. We’re all pretty well good with that. But … those same goofy lefty/anti-everything councillers are still decrying the Gardiner, which nonetheless remains Toronto’s unequalled gem of an east-west transportation corridor along to lake.

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The tall ships start appearing as we turn eastward. To the right is the Toronto ferry dock at the foot of Yonge St. What a beautiful cityscape, hard to beat for any diehard urbanist.

The Milwaukee-based Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan was launched in 2000. The ship’s website notes: “The schooner is a modern educational sailing vessel with two diesel engines, a scientific laboratory, two computer workstations, and modern communication and navigation equipment… The vessel can carry up to 50 passengers on day sails and 21 participants overnight. She is complemented by a professional crew of ten.” For any of the ships shown here, you can find all the specs, etc. on the various websites.

S/V Bluenose II of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is a near-perfect replica of Canada’s renowned fishing and racing schooner Bluenose (built in 1921, sank in 1946). What a treat to see this beauty in Toronto Bay.

Built as a fishing trawler in 1928 and in Royal Navy service as a minesweeper in WWII, the (now) 3-masted barque S/V Picton Castle is registered in the Cook Islands, but is home-based in Lunenburg. Since 1999 it has circumnavigated the world four times.

The show must go on, holiday of not. Here, the local workboat Esperanza IV barges some essential supplies (kegs of beer, etc. for long weekend needs) to a destination along the bay.

Canada Coast Guard’s Thunder Cape is one of 36 “Cape” class lifeboats built for the CCG in Kingston, Ontario. It’s 47 feet long with an 18-ton displacement. CCGS Thunder Cape is based in Meaford on Georgian Bay.

HMCS Oriole is a Canadian naval sail-training vessel. Built as a civilian vessel in 1921, it was commissioned into the RCN in 1952. The RCN notes: “The Oriole provides sail training to junior officers and noncommissioned officers as part of their introduction to life at sea. She also provides a venue for teamwork exercises and adventure training available to all of the Canadian Forces.”

A short run along Toronto Bay reminds us a little about “days of yore”. The waterfront originally was all about industry, commerce and passenger travel. Of the bay’s once vibrant industrial era, only the great Redpath sugar refinery still serves its original purpose.

Once an industrial-scale cold storage warehouse, this historic property became Toronto’s first upscale waterfront condo a good 40 years ago.

The busy Amsterdam Brew House began life early in the 1900s as a busy Toronto pier. Lake freighters and passenger ships docked here into the 1950s.

A closer view of the ferry docks showing Toronto’s famous island ferries, William Inglis (1935) and Sam McBride (1939). They’re worth looking up to check out their amazing histories. In 1941, for example, Sam McBride was in Toronto Bay when a low-flying Norwegian AF Northrop training plane crashed into it. Two Norwegian fliers lost their lives, but it was Sam McBride’s lucky day.

Launched in 1980, S/V Faire Jeanne is based down Lake Ontario at the famous Seaway port of Brockville. Through the weekend thousands of visitors will walk the waterfront getting a close-up view of these great ships, all of which are open to the public for a small fee.

The brigantines Playfair of Toronto and St. Lawrence II of Kingston have trained thousands of summer students in Great Lakes sailing over the decades.

Another of Toronto’s busy water taxis heads for the offshore islands, where flooding doesn’t seem to deter the weekenders.

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The owner notes about this hard-working old vessel: “Step aboard and experience the finest restored Tall Ship on the Great Lakes.  Launched as the Wilfred in Rendsburg, Germany in 1930, the KAJAMA traded under sail for nearly 70 years. She was a familiar ship in ports from Northwest Spain, through western Europe, and as far north as Norway and Russia. In 1999, KAJAMA was delivered transatlantic to Toronto’s Waterfront and restored to her original profile. Sail aboard the Tall Ship that was seen on the Amazing Race.”

After a great jaunt up and down the bay, we’re pulling back into our slip. This spot happens to be home to Toronto Fire’s main two vessels, Wm Lyon Mackenzie being the “flagship”.


East Africa Adventure, Summer 1994; Introducing Two Gorgeous Publications for Serious Aviation History Fans

CANAV Books Adventures

Over the decades I travelled the world covering aviation in all its fascinating variety. It was a gypsy’s life with lots of work, but the results were well worth the effort, whether I was hosted by the Canadian Forces to cover some NATO fighter meet, Canadian UN transport operations in the Sinai or Horn of Africa, the final return home of Canada’s 1CAG NATO CF-18s, visits across Canada to every Canadian Armed Forces flying base, flying in most CanForces airplane types, or spending two years as a Snowbirds civilian photographer. Then there was a host of other fun including Arctic adventure, and US military activities from flying on a B-52 mission to “famil” flights in everything from the Huey Cobra to the F-106 and F-16, and flights with the US Marines in the Indian Ocean, including accompanying the Marines from the USS Wasp on a beach assault in Somalia “flying” aboard a Bell LACV-30 hovercraft. It’s been the best of fun since my first flight as a 12-year old Air Cadet in 1956. Most of these adventures resulted in material for magazine stories and raw material for one book or another. This is a good time to look back on one of my African trips.

Already I have heard from many readers about this important world history, so thanks as always for tuning in and reacting. One review comes from aviation writer Andy Wright in Australia. He adds the attached important file covering the Australian side of Rwandan relief. This occurred in the aftermath, and illustrates just how merciless the Tutsi were in taking their revenge on the Hutu, following the initial events of April 1994. The Aussies knew what  happened in this instance, even if the United Nations and the Paul Kagame government to this day lie about the actual results. Please be forewarned — this item is not for the feint of heart. This is the link from the Australian War Museum:

Horror in Rwanda

It was 25 years ago that insanity took over in Rwanda. A tribe-on-tribe genocide arose with Hutu cutting down every Tutsi in sight. All this was manipulated by shadowy figures. The UN was present with UNAMIR – UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, trying to bring some sanity to what was shaping up to be genocide. UNAMIR fell short and the First World was slow to react, but Canada stood out as an exception. When the slaughter moved into high gear on April 6, 1994, Canada quickly set an example, dispatching a C-130 Hercules from Italy to Nairobi on April 8 to bolster UNAMIR. Staging out of Burundi under Maj Ken Pfander, this “Herc” flew its first operational trip on April 10, landing at Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Carrying extra armour plate, anti- missile electronic counter measures plus flak jackets and helmets for the crew, the Herc was well equipped, for Rwanda clearly was a war zone. On approaching Kigali, the Canadian crew could see exploding mortar rounds and tracer fire around the airport. Nonetheless, the mission was successful. This was the first of many by Canadian Hercs under what famously became CanForces “Operation Scotch”. The CanForces dispatched a second Herc to Nairobi on April 11. Soon, a major worldwide relief mission was underway, but Canada had led the way. The books still are being written and the academic debates and conspiracy theories continue. A seminal book is Shake Hands with the Devil by Canadian Army LGen Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN forces in Rwanda in 1994. A new book worth your attention is Allan Thompson’s Media and Mass Atrocity, which analyses the role of the media in as much as it largely was conspicuous by its absence in getting the story covered before and during April 1994. (Canada’s CBC was too busy covering the totally predictable election in South Africa to send reporters to Rwanda in the early days. During my visit in July/August, I didn’t bump into any news reporters from anywhere. A few must have been around, for I always would see them in the field or at bar in other conflict areas, etc. Not this time.) This April (2019), the TVO network in Toronto aired a very good Rwanda 25-year retrospective with host Steve Paikin. Try to track this down via Another good summary is provided by RCAF wartime navigator and prolific writer, George Sweanor, about whom I’ve written in earlier books. Soon to turn 100, George keeps a superb blog, one of his latest topics being his Rwanda analysis. See this at Also … in my own book Air Transport in Canada (a few copies still available — usually cheaper than used sets on the web) you’ll find a hefty section with info and photos from Rwanda. For more such background, simply google “Rwanda 1994” and you’ll find endless sources, one essential backgrounder being Rwanda – UNAMIR

Entebbe-Nairobi-Mogadishu-Kigali-Goma … Air Transport Overview, 1994

My involvement in Rwanda came about when Ken Swartz, then with the Toronto-based UN air charter company, Skylink, got me a place aboard an Antonov AN-124 under UN contract to fly from CFB Trenton to Entebbe, Uganda via Mirabel, Tenerife and Lagos with a load of heavy equipment for Rwanda relief. My simple job in return was to cover the airlift for Skylink. That done, I remained in the region to cover the Canadian Forces relief airlift and see what all else was going on air transportation-wise. In going through hundreds of long-forgotten Kodachrome slides lately, details of the trip flooded back to mind. I decided to do a blog item covering the aviation photography side of my trip and say a bit about the daily adventures of a roving journalist. The “slide show” that follows is a Kodachrome review featuring many of the aircraft photographed along the way from when our “1-24” groaned into the air at Trenton on July 29, 1994 to when I landed back in Canada on August 10 aboard a CanForces CC-150 Polaris. The captions give you the details, then you can delve deeper on the web, as you wish. Have a look and enjoy, but then do some further reading into the bigger story 25 years down the line:

(Click on any photo to see it full screen) Our Ukrainian-registered Antonov 124-100 “Ruslan” UR-82008 at CFB Trenton on July 29, 1994. Operated by the Antonov Design Bureau and its UK agent, Airfoyle Heavylift, ‘008 was here to load 85 tons of heavy equipment for the UN Rwanda relief mission, then getting underway (the genocidal Hutu had been defeated and driven into exile in Zaire by the Tutsi “Rwandan Patriotic Front” on July 19). Wherever a 1-24 appears. it creates a buzz. People swarm out to the airport to catch a look and maybe get some video. If you google “UR-82008” you’ll find photos of it taken over the decades at airports everywhere in the world. I hear that ‘008 still in service in 2019.

Here’s a nifty souvenir – my AirFoyle AN-124 boarding pass.

First flown in 1982, the 1-24 has a stated all-up weight of 893,000 lb. It can carry as much as 150 tons of cargo. Depending on what interests you have, you can dig into all the fine details by checking on Wiki, etc. These views emphasize the ease of loading this mighty air freighter. Some 55 – 60 1-24s have been delivered (UR- 82008 is No.2). Ukraine has been talking in recent years about a new production run. 1-24 lore is amazing. These planes have been everywhere carrying astonishing loads. One story has the Sultan of Brunei – nasty fellow that he is – doing his festive-season shopping in
London, then sending all his spoils home in a 1-24 – gold-plated Mercedes, private helicopters, etc.

This contingent of CanForces personnel accompanied us on the short leg to Mirabel. There, they decided that accommodations in the 1-24 pressurized crew compartment away up at the base of the fin were inadequate, so they decided to go no further on the Antonov. That left me as the sole passenger among about 15 Ukrainian crewmen. I was well cared for and enjoyed every hour along the way, even though conditions actually were a bit “basic” (the CanForces people had made a wise decision).

Inside UK-82008 at Trenton – the packed cargo bay and the cockpit. I was invited to ride on the flight deck by co-captains Anatolii Khroustitskii and Valeri Shlyakhov for our short hop (46 minutes) to Mirabel, where the main fuel load was taken on. I heard en route that both captains were the best in their class. Anatolii recently (June 30) had made the first flight of an AN-30 retrofitted with Garrett engines.

While we fuelled at Mirabel, I spend my time photographing the wonderful “airshow” underway there featuring all sorts of airplanes – a second 1-24 included. These photos are in random order, starting with a pretty little Kitty Hawk DC-9-15 freighter – N564PC. Having begun with Trans Texas Airways in 1968, it would eventually have a host of owners. It first flew as a freighter with Purolator in 1984. It joined Kitty Hawk in 1993, had a sojourn in the desert in 2001, then became HK-4246H in Colombia. On December 18, 2003 it was approaching to land at Mitu in the Colombian interior, when it crashed in mountainous country with loss of the three crew.

Another nice surprise was catching this attractive Air St. Pierre ATR-42 in cargo mode. Note the French civil registration, St. Pierre and Miquelon being the French overseas department just off Newfoundland’s south coast. In 2019 this 1992-model propliner was in Nicaragua as YN-CHG.

Our 1-24 companion at Mirabel on the 29th was Volga- Dnep’s RA-82047, but I didn’t get any info about its mission. Checking on FlightAware, I see that ‘047 made a short 1:20-hour trip on April 5, 2019 from Chalons Vatry in NE France to Leipzig, Germany. So it’s still “on the go”.

Another grand old Soviet era jetliner at Mirabel was this Aeroflot IL-62 with Russian registration RA-86534. First flown in 1963, the “62” carried about 200 passengers, making it competitive with the West’s 707 and DC-8. Its inaugural passenger service was Moscow to Montreal on September 15, 1967. About 290 examples were delivered, most (if not all) of which by now have been scrapped. All things considered, the IL-62 proved to be a safe and reliable design. It’s history on Aviation Safety Network shows that it was pretty well as safe as any of its Western contemporaries. Built in 1983, ‘534 was scrapped in 1997.

Another relic of sorts at Mirabel were these tarmac busses used to get passengers to and from their aircraft and the terminal. These intricate and bulky machines always fascinated passengers and visitors at Mirabel. Other than maybe at Dorval, I don’t think they had regular use at any other Canadian airport.

Air France 747-400 F-GITB arriving from overseas. It had been in the fleet since 1991. Retired in 2010, by now it may have been scrapped. Then, an Argentine 747 “Classic” on arrival.

One of Mirabel’s resident Air Transat (ex-Air Canada) L.1011s. Then, A310 C-GCIT of Mirabel-based and short-lived Air Club. Originally with PanAm, “CIT” later served Delta before coming to Air Club a few weeks before my visit. In 1997 it joined the Spanish operator Air Comet, but since has gone for scrap.

Lufthansa’s A310 D-AIDN taxis in after a trans- Atlantic trip. Built in 1991, this great ship served into 2004, then became C-GTSH with Air Transat, where it flies to this day. As I put this info down on April 20, “TSH” was operating as Air Transat TS725 from Glasgow to Toronto.

After an enjoyable few hours on the ground at Mirabel, we had a smooth 7.5-hour flight (about 3300 sm) to Tenerife South. While the tech crew checked out the aircraft systems, emptied the honey bucket (no kidding – that was the toilet system) and refuelled, I enjoyed a drive around the island and a nice overnight to be ready for what April 30 might bring. Our next leg was to Lagos (about 2000 sm), which ‘008 covered in 5.2 hours. Landing there on a very humid night, the chief duties again were to refuel and make sure to empty the honey bucket. Here, BP refuels ‘008 at Tenerife. I don’t know the fuel we took on here, but at Lagos our total was 118,000 liters, or about 26,000 Imp. gallons/190,000 pounds by weight.

Again topped up, on July 30 ‘008 carried us in 5.5 hours to our off-loading destination — Entebbe, Uganda, a distance of about 2100 sm. The airport was swarming with UN activity generated by Rwanda. Here, ‘008 starts to offload. Look how easily heavy vehicles can roll off a 1-24. That’s an old An.12 “Herkski” in the background. These seemed to be everywhere in Africa back in this era, often on UN contracts, otherwise doing anything from supplying remote mines to smuggling illegal weapons and who-knows-what-else (don’t ask, right). In the second view, Canadian soldiers manoeuvre personal lockers belonging to the troops who (wisely) had left us at Mirabel. A huge US Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53E is in the background.

The USMC CH-53E contingent at Entebbe. In chatting with some of the crew, the best info I could glean was that they were on medevac, combat SAR and “QRF” (quick reaction force) duty. This made sense, there being so many US military aircraft in the region. If something like a C-130 went missing, it would be vital to have SAR resources right there.

The first Antonov An-12 flew in 1957. Production continued into 1972 by when about 1250 had been delivered. Seen at Entebbe on July 30, AN-12 RA-13341 had begun in 1969 with the Russian carrier Gagarin Avia Enterprise. In 1993 it joined Amur Avia, then spent years on UN contracts. Finally, it was UR-CAG with Ukraine Air Alliance. On August 9, 2013 it was destroyed at Leipzig, Germany when fire erupted during start-up. Aviation Safety Network describes what happened: “Loading operations commenced at 23:30 and were finished at 01:00. The cargo consisted of almost 49,000 day old chickens, weighing 3061 kg. The airplane was then fueled with 22,908 litres … for the flight to Mineralnye Vody Airport (MRV), Russia. Fueling was completed at 01:21. Planned departure time was 02:15. At 02:01 the controller at Leipzig cleared the crew to start the engines. The APU was started, followed by the No.1 engine. During the starting process of engine No.4, the crew heard a muffled bang and the airplane jerked. The co-pilot, who was monitoring the instruments during the starting process, had observed variations in APU speed and an increase in temperature. Immediately the APU fire warning flashed. The crew shut down both engines and activated the fire-extinguishing system of the APU. A flight mechanic then opened the emergency hatch located below the flight deck and observed the fire in the area of the APU. Other crew members handed him three fire extinguishers that were located on the flight deck. The flight engineer and two flight mechanics then proceeded to the fire and emptied the extinguishers. The captain meanwhile instructed the radio operator to warn the tower controller about the fire. The controller was contacted at 02:07. He activated the fire alarm at 02:08:00 and reported the location of the fire at 02:09. The first crash tender reached the airplane at 02:12 and began an attempt to put out the fire. By then all crew members had evacuated through the emergency exit below the flight deck. The airplane burned out. Due to the high degree of destruction it was not possible to determine the exact cause of the fire. It is possible that the compressor wheel had burst.”

Ilushyn IL-76 UR-76323 loading food aid on a UN World Food Program contract. I haven’t found any info for this registration. The IL-76 first flew in 1971. Some 950 were manufactured at a facility in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where the last few were delivered to China c2005. Subsequently, a few IL-76s have been manufactured in Voronezh, Russia. All things considered, the IL-76 has proven to be a superb transport over the decades and many remain in use.

A view from the other end of the Entebbe flight line with USAF VC-137B 58-6971 shining in the foreground. I didn’t find out what this VIP “707” (one of only three VC-137Bs) from Andrews AFB, Washington, DC was doing at Entebbe this day. ‘6971 served from 1959 until retired to desert storage in 1998. Today it can be scene at the Pima Air Museum in Tucson. Any time the President of the United States was aboard a VC-137B, the aircraft was designated “Air Force One”. It was great fun being able to wander up and down this ramp at Entebbe with no one yelling or pointing a gun at me. If you were on the ramp this day, you were assumed to be “legal”. When someone warned me not to go into the main terminal, or I would have a lot of trouble getting back out to my airplane, I took this seriously. Later in the day, ‘008 carried us the (approx) 570 sm to Mombasa, a flight of 1.5 hours. This was the first bumpy part of our travels so far. On arrival in the Mombasa terminal control zone the weather was extreme. The pilots struggled with 3 or 4 approaches that had the mighty 1-24 heaving and complaining violently. Finally we touched down. Torrential rains were lashing the area and lightning was everywhere. The airport was flooded and the lights were out — even the runway lights. Kudos to our pilots, that’s for sure (i had noticed some of our crew in the back looking pretty worried as our pilots struggled with the nasty conditions). That’s another thing about usual 1-24 operations. The crews (back then, anyway) were hardcore types mainly with long years of military flying, and the 1-24 is amazingly strong and airworthy. Only four total hull losses with fatalities have occurred. Aviation Safety Network lists only 12 An-124 crashes and incidents, the most recent involving ‘008 at Antigua in 2017 — there was costly damage when ‘008 clipped a lighting pole. (Below) A distant view of the old Entebbe tower, site of the 1976 hijacking drama (see “Operation Entebbe” on Wiki), where Israeli commandos rescued more than a hundred hostages aboard an Air France A300. I don’t have the story about the derelict jetliner rotting away nearby. A US Hercules squadron was temporarily based on the adjacent tarmac.

The trip to Mombasa was mainly for crew rest. We stayed in a the Nyali Beach Hotel, a top beachside resort. The crew was returning to Kiev, invited me to come along, but I had my East Africa mission ahead (and no visa for Ukraine). We parted company and on August 2 I boarded Kenya Airways KQ605, a 737 for Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – a hour’s flight. I got downtown and checked in to the Nairobi Safari Club, one of the decent spots, then made some connections that Ken Swartz had provided, one being a UN staffer who could get me on some flights. Right off the top I was able to arrange a mission aboard an IL-76. Next morning I rendezvoused with the crew of IL-76MD UR-76443. While waiting around I photographed IL-76 UR-76393 on a Red Cross contract, and N918SJ — one of the ubiquitous (in Africa) Southern Air Transport L.100 Hercules. One never knew exactly what the SAT “Herks” were doing, but it was common knowledge that they flew a lot for the CIA. N918SJ later was with Safair as ZS-ORA.

After meeting my crew (who couldn’t understand why some wandering Canadian would voluntarily go flying with them), we set off on the first leg of the day, being noted as UN flight number UN392. This was to Mogadishu about 625 sm up the Indian Ocean coast to deliver 13 tons of food aid (bagged cereal). I was curious to see what was new around “Mog”, where I had visited a few years earlier. Here you see the cargo hold on ‘443 before we set off. Then, a flight deck view as we flew north towards Somalia. The trip took 1.6 hours.

Views of ‘443 at Mogadishu on August 3. After delivering our cargo for whichever client, 28 tons/8 pallets of old US military MREs (“meals ready to eat”) were loaded for Kigali, Rwanda. Some crusty fellow observed that these dusty MREs more accurately could be called “Meals Rwandans will never eat”!

“Mog” still was a busy base for UN operations in the summer of 1994. As usual, helios were thumping around, including 9Y- TIL, a Trinidad & Tobago-registered Bell 212. After serving under many flags, “TIL” now is in Canada as C-FTLR with Calgary-based LR Helicopters.

Some of the UN troops and equipment at the airport this day.

No big surprise to see a DC-3 at “Mog”, in this case ex- Royal New Zealand Air Force NZ3552, by this time ZK-BBJ with some oddball window mods. Last heard of in the early 2000s, “BBJ” was derelict at Mombasa.

“Mog” always seemed to have an interesting boneyard. One year I photographed several abandonned MiG-21s there. For August 3 all I spotted was this derelict ex-Somali National Police Dornier Do.28. I didn’t spend much time snooping around on the edges of the airport after some rough-looking young fellows with AK47s started to look me over.

Finished at Mogadishu, we flew off for Kigali 1100 sm southward, a flight of 2.5 hours. It looks as if our turn-around was quick, since I have few photos to show. Here’s a vintage Angolan 727- 100 at the Kigali terminal. D2-FLZ had begun in 1968 as American Airlines N1965. It left AA in 1993 for the Angolan outfit and last was heard of about Y2K.

I often spotted French and German Transall medium transports during this trip around East Africa. This one was at Kigali on August 3. Also often seen were USAF C-5 Galaxys – the main rival in size to the AN-124. During this visit it was clear that the Americans were the most involved in supporting the Rwandan recovery, when one would have expected the French and Belgians to be at the forefront. But isn’t this the usual story – wherever there’s a disaster, look to the USA to get right in there with the aid. The Brits were also committed in Rwanda. Here is Royal Air Force Hercules XV210 at Kigali. Note its aerial refuelling hardware. XV210 was withdrawn from use and scrapped in 2003.

Our last leg for the day on the IL-76 was Kigali to Nairobi, a distance of 470 sm covered in 1.2 hours. What a fantastic day I had had, and what great info and impressions had been gathered about an IL-76 operation, and what was starting to shape up for the Rwanda international relief mission. Back at JKIA I noticed how the whole scene on the ramp was new, so snapped a few final shots. Included was another ancient 727 parked next to our IL-76. This was N723JE in Air East Africa colours. Originally with South African Airways in 1965, this early 727 ran through a host of operators. It flew back to the US in 1998, then was scrapped in Miami in 2001. I also shot SAT “Herk” N901SJ loading for the Red Cross, and Transafrik L.100 S9-NAJ.

Early next morning I introduced myself at the CanForces/Air Transport Group “ALCE” (Airlift Control Element) at JKIA. This was a component of the overall CanForces operation in Rwanda – “Operation Scotch”. At first, however, no one at the ALCE had ever heard of me, so I had to cool my heels until BGen Jeff Brace of Air Transport Group HQ, CFB Trenton faxed the ALCE commander: “Mr. Milberry is authorized to fly on any ATG aircraft in theatre and is also authorized to return from Africa to Canada on a space available basis”. I was in! Here’s a candid scene at the ALCE as a crew waits between missions.

On Day 1 from Nairobi I flew on two C-130 return trips: first to Goma in Zaire return, then Nairobi-Kigali return. On the first trip we were airborne for Goma at 0810 at 144,000 pounds (pretty well all-up weight). Both were with Capt John Stevens and crew in C-130H 130337 carrying personnel and cargo. John had begun as a young commercial pilot, but the hours and pay were making no sense – – he was flying hard but earning just $200 a week, so decided to give military life a go. In eastern Zaire, Goma was a Rwanda relief mission airhead where masses of materiel came in by air for redistribution, but it was not easy to figure out exactly what was going on. After all, Zaire itself was in turmoil and within months would be collapsing, only to re-form as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Armed Hutu cadres were harbouring around Goma from where they were launching raids against the newly-ascended Tutsi forces of Paul Kagame in Rwanda, and there were many nearby refugee camps run by the Red Cross and various NGOs (some 2 million Rwandan refugees then were in eastern Zaire). On the whole, things were messy around Goma. Any CanForces crew had to be ready at a moment’s notice to jump to “Plan B”, e.g., perhaps suddenly having a mob of passengers appear out of nowhere. This made for exciting days on the job for the Canucks. We landed at Goma at 10:13 and quickly off-loaded 31,000 lb of food and water on three pallets plus a pallet of rubber boots. Here are two candid shots of our mighty ‘337 at Kigali on August 4. Then, Capt Stevens on the job. We were airborne empty out of Goma at 11:18 and landed back at JKIA at 12:54. Aircrew had been warned to expect anything at Goma, but on the way home someone remarked, “I don’t get what the big hassle at Goma was supposed to be.” On a later flight that I was on, the pilots would beg to differ. Later (August 25), a CanForces 707 from Trenton landed at Goma with 27 tons of supplies for the refugee camps. Before departing, a group of 15 stranded media people appeared, hoping to get onboard, wherever the 707 was headed next. In true Canadian fashion, they were taken onboard.

In this period Goma was the Grand Central Station of Central African airports, with transport aircraft from all over the world coming and going steadily. Heavily armed troops were everywhere, and the tarmac and surrounding open spaces seemed chaotic. Here’s an everyday (August 4) scene with Air Zaire 737 Combi 9Q-CNI on a turn-around. Everyone in town seemed to be milling around in a party- like atmosphere. Who are these fellows with guns watching for, I wondered? Built in 1973, 9Q-CNI ran into bad luck at Kinshasa on January 2, 1995. On landing in bad weather, it left the runways and was damaged beyond repair.

Our C-130 waiting at Goma on August 4. ‘337 previously had served the Abu Dhabi government before joining the CanForces in 1986. Then, our aircraft security officer WO Don Drennan on the job. He was our only armed crew member.

Wherever one turned there was something else to photograph at Goma. This Israeli military 707 was present on August 4, but I couldn’t determine much about its mission. Someone thought that Israel was supporting the field hospital at Goma. Notice the huge rubber fuel storage bladders in the foreground. These would ease any refueling crisis that might arise. Then, a Tunisian military C-130H. The crew in the foreground is busy with their mobile satellite communications system, then hottest deal in voice communications.

Veteran IL-76 RA-76389 awaits at Goma. Sometimes it wasn’t clear which aircraft had anything to do with Rwanda relief, since an aircraft could be in Zaire for one of many reasons. ‘389 later went to Armenia as EX-093. On May 10, 2007 it was destroyed by fire while loading at Pointe Noire on the coast of DRC. Then, Aeroflot’s impressive RA-76527.

Smaller aircraft types were always buzzing around at Goma. DHC-6 Twin Otter 9Q-CBO was coming and going all week. Originally delivered to Air Illinois in 1980, it ended in Zaire in 1980 with TMK Commuter. Sad to say, it crashed on September 12, 1997 after leaving Bukavu, Burundi for Uvir, DRC. All 19 aboard died. Then, superannuated DC-3 9Q-CAM. Looking at the entry for it on p.632 of the great Air Britain history by J. Gradidge, DC- 1, DC-2, DC-3: The First Seventy Years, 9Q-CAM began as USAAF C- 47 45-1139. It was delivered in November 1945, retired from the USAF in 1963, then went to Zaire the same year. It looks to have been the very last new DC-3 ever built. The dogged plane spotter never knows what he’ll run across next!

Helicopters were constantly in the air around Goma. These photos from August 4 show the compound for the French Army’s Pumas and Gazelles.

This derelict 707 at Goma had begun with VARIG of Brazil in 1963. Retired from that fleet in 1979, it became 9Q-CMD with a company having the amazing name “Business Cash Flow Aviation”. On November 27, 1991 “CMD” somehow was damaged at Goma and had been lying there ever since.

Some grab shots taken from the flight deck of ‘337 as we flew back and forth to Goma on August 4. The roads and small settlements of Rwanda were ominously quiet. After all, as many as a million Rwandans of a national population of 7 million (92% rural) recently had been butchered (Hutu had comprised 85% of the population, Tutsi 15%).

An aerial view around Kigali on August 4. Where were all the people on such a fine day?

Another Kigali neighbourhood. Then, the flight deck on one of our legs this day, including a snapshot of your scribe on the job aboard ‘337.

Canadian Forces military staff deployed at Kigali manoeuvre a load for ‘337 on August 4. Then, WO Drennan briefs some passengers. Beyond, an IL-76 waits at the Kigali terminal. Someone mentioned that this attractive building had been designed by Canadians. I have yet to confirm that.

A closer view of the terminal.

130337 delivers an Isusu Trooper to the UN at Kigali. Note how on a specific UN mission, aircraft fly the UN flag on the tail.

Belgian national Thierry Vanneste, who worked in Kigali for SABENA, had been among thousands of Europeans hustled out of Rwanda in the early days of the Hutu genocide against the Tutsi. He recently had returned to find that his two dogs, which had been left to fend for themselves, had survived in the streets of Kigali in spite of a sport that had arisen among the locals of using dogs for rifle practice. He and his dogs were about to board ‘337 for a trip back to Nairobi.

This BelAir IL-76 also was on duty at Kigali on August 4. Our Nairobi-Kigali return operation this day totalled 3.8 flying hours (about 470 sm each way). Our Goma trip took 4 hours (about 530 sm each way), so by day’s end I had spent 7.8 exciting hours aboard 130337.

If August 4 was fun, next day was even more so with 8.1 hours aboard 130337. Things started at Nairobi where I joined a CanForces crew under Capt Mike Biehl. First we flew to Kigali, then Entebbe, back to Nairobi and another leg to Kigali. There I decided to leave ‘337, do some photography, then return to base on ‘315, which I’d heard was likely to show up. To start this little album, here’s the scene at Entebbe with two world class Lockheed airlifters: C-130 ‘337 beside a USAF C-141 from the 452 nd Air Wing at March AFB, California. If the AN-12 is jokingly sometimes called the “Herkski”, is there a nickname for the IL-76, which roughly resembles the C-141? Then, a view down the same ramp where the VC-137B was sitting when I passed through here a few days earlier. Dominating on August 5 were two lovely IL-76s, then an AN-12 beside a C-130.

A standard ¾ front angle of Bulgarian-registered Air Sofia AN-12 LZ-SFL at Entebbe. Not sure if “SFL” is still around. I see reports on the web that it was hauling tuna in Australia c2004. Along the way, apparently, Air Sofia was turfed out of Bulgaria, then resettled in Serbia.

Back at Kigali it would be a busy afternoon, especially since I had access to the tower, the best vantage point in sight. Here’s one scene showing 130337 taxiing for Nairobi, then two photos of ‘315 on the ramp. In 2005, ‘315 became the first military C-130 to reach 45,000 flying hours (not a high number for a commercial Hercules).

A fuel transfer under way at Kigali between a USMC CH-53E and USMC KC-130. The helio unit was HMM-166 of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, California. The overall US operation in Rwanda was called “Support Hope”. HMM-166 now flies the Osprey tilt rotor.

Aeroflot IL-76 RA-76527 has just off-loaded at Kigali. A USAF C-141 is seen arriving. Such flights carried either food relief for refugees (WFP, Red Cross, NGOs), or general supplies to support the thousands of peacekeeping personnel.

Volga-Dnieper AN-124 RA-82046 touches down at Kigali on August 6. A couple of teenage RPF soldiers decided to let me walk out to the runway to see if I could catch this arrival. Then, ‘046 ready for off-loading.

AN-12 RA-13341 (which I had seen earlier at Entebbe) during a Kigali stopover on August 5.

Shoved into the weeds at Kigali was this worn out Noratlas, a type provided long ago by Belgium to Rwanda’s fledgling air arm.

This 1963 ex-American Airlines 707 was one of the oldest of its type still in service when I photographed it delivering cargo at Kigali on August 5. Already having served a long list of operators, in 1988 it came to Sky Air Cargo of Liberia as EL-JNS. Last reported, it was at Sharjah in the UAE in the early 2000s, but likely has by now gone for scrap.

These Canadian Helicopters Bell 212s were at Kigali supporting a project to renew communications across Rwanda.

A US Army contingent pulls in at Kigali airport to establish a temporary bivouac.

UN troops make do in Kigali’s control tower. The place had been badly shot up in the battle between Hutu and Tutsi forces 2-3 weeks earlier. The Hutu were routed.

From the tower I spotted 130315 landing, so hurried down to connect with the Capt Jim Bertrand crew. Soon we were headed back to base, where we landed 1.8 hours later. Here’s the crew of ‘337 chitchatting at JKIA following their own interesting day “on the road”.

One of the CanForces Herks at day’s end beside Air Madagascar’s 747 Combi 5R-MFT. This old Boeing was scrapped in the UK in 2005.

A couple of interesting last-minute “grab shots” this day show Canadian and Ukrainian techs changing tires after all the planes had made it home. But, as usual, the technical crews had a lot to do to check out their aircraft, before finally getting downtown for supper and a beer or two.

Last but not least on the 5th I photographed this US- registered DC-4 being tweaked up for its next cargo run – it was mainly on a run from JKIA to Burundi. The old crate had been in Canada 1979-84 as C-GCXG. It was Liberian-registered and supposedly Miami-owned when impounded at Luanda in 1998. It’s never difficult for any such old “tramp steamer of the air” to get in trouble with the law in Africa. I remember chatting with its captain at JKIA, but he wasn’t too interested in answering questions from anyone with a pen, notepad and camera. Failing all else, however, he and his boys were keeping “the old gal” looking sharp.

On August 6, I flew two trips to Kigali, two more on the 7 th . There always was something to photograph, but after a few days there was a certain amount of “repeat business”, so this nice scene was welcomed – a USAF C-130 and a Luftwaffe C-160 Transall. Across the field you can see the old Noratlas. I was told that that big hangar had been the base for the Rwandan Falcon executive jet shot down in April – the event that became the pretext for slaughtering the Tutsi.

After August 7 it was expedient for me to avoid Kigali airport. Here’s the story: Covering the excitement there that day had me going all out. I went up to the tower a couple of times, which always was OK by the ATC staff. Then, while re-entering it again, I was confronted at the door by a young RPF soldier who stuck his AK in my back. He was very clear (in good English) – what was I doing here, why didn’t I stop when he called me (couldn’t hear him due to a taxiing C-130), what was I doing with the cameras, etc? Needless to say, I was on my best behaviour. I handed over my passport. The soldier then pulled a sat phone from his pant pocket – he was well equipped. Speaking a local dialect, he talked to his superior while keeping an eye on me. In a few minutes, a shiny new jeep arrived with a very sharp-looking RPF officer  – the RPF had me impressed so far. Speaking French, the major reviewed my papers. Happily, before leaving Toronto I had contacted RPF HQ in Belgium and secured a laisser-passer for my Rwanda trip. This was signed by none other that Paul Kagame, head of the RPF and (to this day) the hard-fisted dictator of Rwanda. Inspecting my pass, the major lowered the heat and directed me to a tent on the tarmac. Someone else would follow up with me there, he advised. At the tent I noticed that a USAF transport operation was next door. I chatted up one of the USAF noncoms on duty, then was elated to see 130315 taxiing in. The noncom agreed to walk me out to the Herc, where I spoke to the Capt Jim Bertrand crew. All was well – I was OK to jump aboard. Thus did I slither around the next step in my RPF adventure. We soon were back at base.

Here are two views around our busy ALCE on the 8 th . The ALCE was sometimes a quiet place, but suddenly would be booming as loads of people and trucks piled with freight came out of nowhere. The Canadian Herks usually carried both freight and passengers. Who were they all? Some clearly were military people, others were diplomatic and UN staff, there sometimes were families, missionaries, media folks and all sorts of others. One day I met a retired physician aboard our flight. He recently had come down from Sudan to help out. Up in Sudan he once had been kidnapped, cleaned out of his belongs, then released by some bandits. I guess he just couldn’t get enough of Africa. Another day I bumped into a group of nuns sitting primly in the Herc’s austere bucket seating. On the 8 th I flew two more trips to Goma to see what was new there.

Canadian ALCE commander, LCol Joe Calleja, on the ramp at Nairobi on August 7 with Herc pilot, Maj Brian Jossul.

Another day in our travels someone arranged for a pizza with cold pops. Usually the indispensible Herc “loadies” (load masters) performed such miracles.

Three more vintage airliners at Goma in August. First, Shabir’s 727 9Q-CAV. It had begun with Eastern Airlines in 1966. For 1989-91 it had been with Trump Shuttle as N906TS, about which Wiki notes (I know … I digress), “Trump pushed to make the new shuttle a luxury service and a marketing vehicle for the Trump name. Its aircraft were newly painted in white livery and the interiors redecorated with such features as maple wood veneer, chrome seat belt latches, and gold colored lavatory fixtures…” This orphaned N906TS. As so often happens with such airliners, it then made Africa its last stand. “CAV” long since has gone “for pots and pans”. Notice the typical Goma “crowd crush” around the 727. I noticed that there always were people in such a crowd openly carrying weapons. This kept the mob in line. Then, EL-AJO, a Liberian DC-8-55 tramp freighter. It originally (1964) had been a “Queen of the Skies” with KLM, named in honour of Alfred Nobel. In 2003 it was registered in DRC to Kinshasa Airways, but soon afterwards disappeared to some boneyard. Finally, a rare visitor about which I didn’t learn much at the time – IL-18 SP-FNB of the Polish cargo company Polnippon. The IL-18 was the USSR’s answer to such Western airliners as the Britannia and Electra. A very tough design, a few still operate. I don’t know what became of this one.

In another corner at Goma were several smaller planes rotting away. One wonders how something as nice as a Beech Bonanza could end up in such a pitiful state.

Goma to the normal eye was a bit of a crazy place. Families were squatting all around the airport, to say nothing of how the city pressed right up along the runway (R17-35 at 5000’ ASL and 6500’ long). If you google “Goma Airport” you can study the satellite imagery – it’s worth a look. I wonder if the folks lounging around the runway included a lot of displaced Hutus on the run from the RPF? Anyway, they were everywhere. Airplanes were coming and going steadily as folks ambled across the runway and along its edges Gamins were having extra fun playing chicken with planes landing and taking off. One day there were so many people on the runway as we approached, that our Herc commander decided, “Nuts to this, we’re going back Nairobi”. Here, a Transall gets into the air, then a UN King Air flares to land. The pilots would have been watching like hawks, but the “runway people” seemed oblivious. Don’t worry, be happy, right! Finally, a general scene along the runway. Somehow, this works OK for Goma.

I was so well treated by the CanForces crews with whom I flew during this trip. Typical was this crew who were from 429 Sqn at Trenton. I set this shot up back at base at day’s end on August 8. In front is Sergeant Marc Kovacic (flight engineer). Standing are Captain James Pierotti (navigator), Master Corporal Dave Hutchinson (load master), Captain Rob Butler (pilot), Captain Jim Bertrand (aircraft commander), Master Corporal Denis Culver (load master) and Master Corporal France Dufort (aircraft security officer).

My last flight “in country” was with the Bertrand crew in 130337 operating Goma to JKIA on August 8. Next day I boarded CF6129 C- 130 130327 of 436 Sqn under Capt Yannick Pelletier headed for Souda Bay, Crete –first stop on the gruelling trip back to Trenton via Souda Bay, Prestwick and Gander. However, while staring out a window I saw what looked like fuel streaming from No.4 engine. I reported this and the flight engineer and others started observing. They soon concluded that something was amiss. We turned around and landed back at JKIA after 1.7 hours. Back we all went to the Nairobi Safari Club. Next day (August 10) I returned to JKIA. 130327 still was unserviceable, so, instead, I boarded 437 Sqn CC-150 Polaris (A310) 15005 under Maj George Urquhart. We flew first to Ancona, Italy (7.5 hours) for fuel. Everyone was happy to get away from Ancona, where the temperature was in the high 30s C. For the next leg we had a new crew under LCol Rapanga, destination CFB Trenton, where we landed at 0200 local time after 9.1 hours. I then caught a local 0305 bus for Toronto International Airport, a downtown bus from there, then the streetcar back to my neighbourhood. So ended another whirlwind adventure. My total flying for the trip in 30 flights was: 21.5 hours AN- 124, 1 hour 737, 6.1 hours IL-76, 29.9 hours C-130, 16.6 hours CC- 150 for 75.1 hours. As for “Operation Scotch”, it continued usefully until September 28, when the last of 312 sorties was completed. The simple stats to then included: tons carried by CanForces C-130s 2935.6, passenger carried 6340, hours flown about 1200.

Introducing two gorgeous publications for every serious reader of aviation history

Gallantry in Action by the renowned Norman Franks is an amazing new history of bravery in the air among RAF and Commonwealth airmen from WWI, through the interwar years and WWII, then in the postwar era. “Gallantry” gives the reader all-encompassing, in-depth coverage for each of the 60 skillful and brave young men who put it all on the line. From those who fought in the Camel, Hart, Hurricane, Spitfire, Kittyhawk, Tempest, Stirling, Manchester, Lancaster, Halifax, Beaufighter, Mosquito, or whichever combat type, this is a book honouring 60 astounding aviators who excelled in daring and leadership. What is so special about these fellows? You won’t believe it, but each man was three times decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Each man’s life is carefully summarized by historian Franks, and the various gallantry citations are reproduced. Altogether a lovely book for summer reading, it’s also one that you will treasure for years. Such outstanding Canadians as Johnny Caine (Mosquito), Dave Fairbanks (Tempest) and aces George Hill and Buck McNair (Spitfire) are included. 220 pages, hardcover, photos, index. A wonderful book for your library, so jump in with your order. Canadian orders $43.00 all-in. USA or International CDN $48.00: Order on line here, or, PayPal to, or, cheque (on any Canadian or USA bank) to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

It has arrived in Canada! With “Propliner 2019” the creators of this magnificent classic journal have outdone themselves. I’ve gone through this year’s stunning edition and must admit that I haven’t seen such a Propliner since the great Stephen Piercey started it all in the early 1980s. Editor Tony Merton Jones receives a medal for “2019”.

If the photo on the cover doesn’t crank you up, I fear that you must have died years ago and your friends have forgotten to bury you. Start turning the pages of “2019” and you’ll see page after page of this sort of visual content packed in around the best writing about the state in recent times of the old propeller-driven airliners. For example …

Arctic pilot Tony Jarvis’ detailed story about his current favourite propliner — the Buffalo Airways Lockheed Electra that he and his lucky pals get to fly all around the Arctic (as we speak) from Yellowknife

– the great Peter Marsen’s history of the Skyways Lockheed Constellation fleet

– Eamon Power’s history of the Aer Lingus Viscount fleet

– a story about the woes encountered by the propliners of the Fifties — it sure wasn’t all rosy

– a fellow looking back on his boyhood infatuation with the airliners of the Fifties

– a history of the HS 748 in the USA (little known while the 748 excelled in Canada for decades)

– two important articles about water bombers (P2Vs and DC-7s)

– stories about South African DC-4s and Australian and New Zealand airlines of years gone by

– galleries of glorious photos, a year’s resumé of crashes, much other news and gossip. 142 pages that will keep you enthralled for months of enjoyable reading (this is a journal that you’ll be loath to lend to your best pal). Canadian orders $40.00 all-in. USA or International CDN $43.00: Order on line here, or, PayPal to, or, cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

Fighter Pilots and Observers Is on the Move + Chris Thatcher’s News Item about the DND/RCAF F-35 Botch-Up + A220 (Remember the CSeries?) Enters North American Service + The Enduring (Indestructable?) Beech 18 + CF-100 Notes

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Published last October, Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by now “getting out there” and making a firm impression one reader at a time. Here’s a sampling of some of the notes I’ve received so far. Talk about encouraging, right!

“Your latest book is a treasure. Congratulations!”

“I want to express my appreciation and that of my colleagues for your championing Canadian aviation history. Thank you for your dedication.”
“Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever and people will thank you for the photographic research and the captions for years to come. What a great Christmas present it will make.” 

“Rich, nutritious, satisfying.”

Another happy development is the appearance of some fine recognition via the media. For any small Canadian publisher, that’s not the easiest thing to win, especially since many daily newspapers no longer review books. (What? Water down your paper’s intellectual content to save a bit pf space for a few more more adverts?) Happily, this trend is not everywhere. On December 31, for example, the Ottawa Citizen (traditionally a friend to Canadian arts and culture) published this succinct commentary under the banner, “New Books of Interest on Military and Foreign Affairs”, by journalist David Pugliese:

Aviation in Canada: Figher Pilots and Observers 1915- 1939 By Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday

This book honours Canada’s First World War pioneers of aerial warfare and includes extremely rare photos of some of those young men who were the leaders in the country’s aviation development. There is information on the more famous pilots, such as Victoria Cross winner Billy Bishop but equally covered are those who are no longer well known. The book also covers the interwar years when, following Nov. 11, 1918, some Canadian airmen fought in the Russian civil war. Some of these pilots went on to become Canada’s first bush pilots, helped establish the country’s aviation industry and of course aided in the development of the RCAF . This is another quality product from CANAV Books, with detailed information and an eye-appealing layout on high gloss paper.

Next, on January 9 the Sault Star published an in-depth feature by reporter Brian Kelly. After reading Fighter Pilots and Observers, Brian was especially interested in a former Soo resident whom we cover: Basil Hobbs was a WWI pilot and (postwar) a bush pilot and RCAF officer. Here’s Brian’s nifty story:

Sault’s Basil Hobbs Downed Zeppelin

Bringing down a zeppelin that bombed England during the First World War was a pretty big deal. Sault Ste. Marie resident Basil Deacon Hobbs did just that in June 1917. The British native co-piloted a Curtiss flying boat that brought down the German raider when returning from a patrol over the English Channel. His accomplishment is detailed in Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday. The airships were a “terror weapon” which caused “an awful lot of death and destruction” in Great Britain. “The Brits considered themselves for thousands of years to be invulnerable,” said Milberry. Great Britain was “the safest place to be” until these “massive aerial weapons start showing up.” Zeppelin raids killed more than 550 and injured nearly 1,360.

“For a couple of guys to go up in a flimsy old airplane and shoot down one of those things, they were national heroes,” Milberry told The Sault Star during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto. “(Hobbs) was an exceptional Canadian airman in the First World War.” And, probably like many other Canadian aviators [Milberry] and Halliday detail in their new work, the public profile of Hobbs a century after the First World War ended is non-existent. “(He) is well known among people like myself, but to the general public he’s long, long ago forgotten,” said Milberry, publisher of CANAV Books.The Curtiss aircraft Hobbs co-piloted carried a crew of four. A wingspan of nearly 93 feet provided “an immense amount of lift,” said Milberry. Flying boats would usually patrol before sunrise in the area of the Frisian Islands watching for zeppelins returning from night-time missions. “Most days nothing happened,” said Milberry of the patrols. It was “just the luck of the draw” Hobbs and his fellow crew spotted the zeppelin on that mid-June day. “Advancing his throttles, Hobbs soared from 500 to 2,000 feet, then dived for the tail of the unsuspecting ‘zepp’,” Milberry and Halliday write in their 184-page hardcover release. Two fellow aircrew members opened fire with the zeppelin “immediately falling in flames.” Hobbs, who trained at Wright Flying School in Dayton, Ohio and sailed for England in December 1915, is also credited for sinking two  German U-boats while serving with Royal Naval Air Service. A 1987 inductee to Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, Hobbs’s other honours included a Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order and Officer, Order of the British Empire. “This man truly reached for the stars and through his flying achievements and ability in peace and war brought honour to the aviation fraternity of Canada,” the Hall of Fame says. “His tigerish spirit” made him stand out, says Milberry. That includes attacking a German submarine under fire. “He was not a shirker,” said Milberry. “He took his job seriously.” In 1920, Hobbs was part of the first trans-Canadian flight. The cross-country effort in a F-3 seaplane stopped in the Sault in October of that year, landing at Imperial Oil’s dock at the foot of Lucy Terrace. “The reception given the intrepid occupants of the plane was a hearty one,” The Sault Star reported at the time. “The large crowd pressed around the aviators admiringly, while cameras and moving picture machines clicked.” Hobbs, who came to the Sault in 1900 and lived in Korah township, died in 1965. A plaque honouring him was unveiled at St. Luke’s Cathedral in February 1973. Propaganda “on all sides” of the First World War suggested an atmosphere of chivalry in the skies above No Man’s Land. The reality was much more ruthless with pilots seeking advantage by attacking their foes from the rear and centring their fire on the cockpits. Getting out of the trenches was one draw for men to become pilots during the First World War. “Better to have the relatively comfortable life of the airman, while risking the airman’s shortened existence and the likelihood of a fiery death, than continue in the horrible trenches,” said Milberry. Aviation also offered the lure of a type of combat that was “something totally new and exciting.” “Patriotism was always a factor in drawing young men into the military,” said Milberry. Lack of experience meant most new pilots would die in the first four to six weeks of aerial combat. “You had to be lucky to live long enough to get the experience,” said Milberry. “Once a fellow was experienced, and he knew the rules of the game, he had a much better chance of surviving.” “A good half” of the Canadian pilots Milberry and Halliday document in their new book do not appear in any other contemporary books about the country’s military aviation history. Now’s time for younger Canadians to get to know them, says Milberry. “Let’s resurrect some of these great young men,” he said.

The Aviation Press Comments

It’s odd, but for quality aviation book reviews/critques, the Canadian book publisher usually must look abroad. Inexplicably, our homegrown aviation press (even some historical journals) have little space for books. Happily, though, elsewhere in the world the aviation book still is revered. This goes especially for the UK, EU and Down Under. So it is that the first reviews for Fighter Pilots and Observers in the dedicated aviation press are not from Canada, but from the UK. The respected journals “Britain at War”, “Cross & Cockade” (the journal of First World War aviation) and “Flypast” have taken very positive note of “FPO”. Here is what I recently found to my delight in “Britain at War”:

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Senator critiques defence procurement process

An Ontario Senator says defence procurement needs better oversight and an improved process if it is to avoid the problems affecting the government’s efforts to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 fighter jet fleet.

Canada's CF-188 Hornet fighters will be participating in this year's Exercise Maple Flag. Mike Reyno Photo
Until the defence procurement process is overhauled, “Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars,” according to Senator Nicole Eaton. She called Canada’s efforts to replace its CF-188 Hornet fighter jets, pictured, a “fiasco.” Mike Reyno Photo

“The fiasco of fighter jet replacement is the best example of a procurement system that is cumbersome, bureaucratic and beset by political interference,” Senator Nicole Eaton wrote in an article originally published in The Hill Times.

“Unless ministers start to devote close attention to the management of major projects, or until the process is overhauled, Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars.”

Eaton is a member of the Senate National Finance Committee, which launched a study last fall into the processes and financial aspects of defence procurement. It held its first hearing on Oct. 30 and expects to conclude later this year.

In her article, the senator critiqued the process by which Conservative and Liberal governments have struggled to replace the aging CF-188 Hornets, noting that while both Canada and Australia are members of the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter program to develop the F-35, Australia received its first two operational F-35s in December while Canada, as part of an interim measure, is poised to take delivery of the first of 25 “well-used” Australian F-18s.

“As we take possession of Australia’s scrap, Canada is in the early stages of a minimum five-year-long process to pick a replacement for the F-18, which will be more than 50 years old before it is retired in the 2030s,” she wrote.

The current government bears blame for creating some of the problems with the fighter file, she wrote, but “military procurement has bedeviled successive governments, Liberal and Conservative alike.”

She attributed part of the problem to political interference for both partisan advantage and regional turf protection, but said the main reason for “paralysis in military procurement in Canada is it is too cumbersome and bureaucratic. Process is paramount and results are secondary.

“There are layers of committees, depending on the size of the project, with membership from Public Services and Procurement Canada, National Defence, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development,” she wrote.

“The consensus-based decision-making process on which these committees operate is supposed to avoid a big mistake — no doubt an appealing quality for a risk-averse bureaucracy, but the downside is the system is not conducive to fast action. Simply put, the buck stops nowhere.”

Eaton suggested that bureaucratic morass has resulted in an inability to spend allotted project budgets, an indication the government could struggle to fulfil the commitments laid out in its 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE).

“In the last fiscal year, the policy projected capital spending of $6.1 billion, yet only $3.7 billion was spent. This year, $6.55 billion is called for under SSE, but total appropriations to date amount to $4 billion,” she noted. “Given this poor track record, the idea that military spending can be cranked up by 70 per cent over 10 years, as envisioned in Strong, Secure, Engaged, looks increasingly fanciful.

At the Finance committee’s first hearing on the procurement system, Patrick Finn, assistant deputy minister, Materiel at the Department of National Defence, and André Fillion, assistant deputy minister for defence and marine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, faced a barrage of questions on ongoing participation in the F-35 program, the authorities and mandates of interdepartmental committees involved in military procurement, and about the challenge of balancing military requirements with equipment costs and opportunities for Canadian industry.


“Buying a fighter plane isn’t like buying a compact car, and the role of the government is very important. We had to adapt our method of supply to the context of fighter jets,” Fillion told the senators.

He said a draft RFP released in late October “was the result of many months of consultation on all five potential options (to replace the CF-188s).

“There has been a lot of back and forth over the last several months to make sure that what we are asking meets the requirements of the Air Force and ensures that we do not inadvertently limit the competition. I feel very confident that what we’ve put together is fair, open and transparent to all the potential suppliers.”

Finn said the government had met with and learned lessons from allies who had conducted similar fighter replacement programs. He also dismissed some of the concerns about acquiring used Australian aircraft to fill a gap while the government proceeds with the replacement project.

“In our opinion, Canada has the best expertise related to this type of aircraft. Some companies in Montreal do maintenance for the United States and other countries because they have the necessary knowledge,” he said.

“This aircraft will really increase our fleet, and it is not the number of aircraft that counts; it is rather the hours of use in the future. We are looking for an aircraft that will remain in service for another 14 years. What is needed is enough hours on the structural side. We will be able to use these aircraft until the entire fleet is no longer in service.”


Delta Airlines Becomes North America’s First CSeries/Airbus 220 Operator

Take a look here View this email in your browser (then click on the link) to see how Delta of Atlanta is introducing the A220 to North American cities. When you notice “Watch the first episode here”, click, then just enter A220 in the search box and you’ll find several excellent video shorts that will show you a lot about this fantastic airplane — the one that got away — but that’s another story, right. A220 production is still centred in Montreal, but a new factory is being built in Alabama (google “Airbus’ U.S. A220 Manufacturing Facility – Let the Construction Begin”). And … on February 7, 20`9 Delta reported this g=huge news:

Delta’s long-anticipated A220 debut finally takes off

Image : Delta News Hub On February 7, 2019, Delta took its brand new A220-100 to the skies for the very first time. The introduction of the new aircraft type to its fleet has, of course, now gains its own momentum for the U.S. airline. But the fact that precisely this deal − Delta’s A220s order − had previously sparked a trade war between North American plane makers Boeing and Bombardier, makes the event even more significant.

Flight 744 took off from New York’s LaGuardia airport (LGA) in the early hours of the morning, marking the official debut of the state-of-the-art A220-100, Delta proudly announced on the day. The airline is not only the pleased owner of the aircraft, but also its biggest customer worldwide (based on Airbus orderbook as of December 31, 2018).

It is also the first airline in the U.S. to take delivery of the A220, after it was rolled out of the painting hangar in Delta’s signature livery at the A220 final assembly line in Mirabel, Québec (Canada), the European plane maker announced in September  2018. Having recently shaken up and expanded its initial order, Delta is now expecting to eventually have 90 A220s of both available variants in its fleet. Now belonging to Airbus, the aircraft had a different manufacturer and name when the U.S.  legacy carrier first ordered it in 2016. Delta placed a $5.6 billion (at list prices) order for 75 Bombardier SC100s around the same time it cancelled another aircraft order from Boeing, sparking a legal war and tariff battle between the two planemakers. Boeing accused the Canadian government of illegally subsidizing C Series program and launched a trade dispute against Bombardier in 2017 – pointing to Delta’s deal. Consequently, the U.S. government imposed 300% trade duties on C Series planes, but the decision was eventually overruled in 2018.

CANAV Classics Keep Rolling On

The heart and soul of CANAV Books never changes — it’s our readers. Quite a few names on our list go back to CANAV’s origins in 1981, when those sharp readers ordered our  first book, The Avro CF- 100. These solid citizens are still behind our efforts after the better part of 40 years. Even if a title hasn’t quite been “up their ally”, these true supporters invariably order a copy just to show their loyalty. Imaginez-vous! Here are two good examples of reader interest from one recent day on the job here at CANAV — January 22, 2019.

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First, from Manitoba came an email from a long-term reader who, having started as a junior Norseman pilot, ages later retired as a captain off wide bodies. Summarizing his take on Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, he concludes. “Finally finished working my way through the CAE book. What a great amount of material! I don’t know how you do it, just superb. The corporate coverage is a real eye opener as to how things are accomplished. Also, the details about the people involved are fascinating. Well done, for sure! You mention on p.53 about the twin engine trainers. We have two of those in storage out here.”  Little by little, our readers are discovering that The CAE Story is one of the more important and beautifully-produced CANAV titles. I hope you have yours by now. Otherwise, go to where you can order on-line. You’ll revel in this book, even if you have to be dragged to it screaming in protest.

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Next, along came Canada Post with a wonderful letter from Peggy, the widow of renowned Canadair tech rep, Jim Fitzpatrick. Jim worked for Canadair/Bombardier 1951 to 1996. Peggy mentioned how she recently received a copy of The Canadair Sabre and simply had to tell me what this meant to her. She related how she, Jim and their children lived all over the planet, two years here, three years there, while Jim handled tech rep and other company business. They roughed it in Colombia during the FAC’s Canadair Sabre 6 years, later were in Spain supporting the CL-215, in Germany with the Luftwaffe’s Challengers, and elsewhere (people used to have real jobs, remember). Commenting about The Canadair Sabre, Peggy begins, “I wish to thank you for all your hard work putting these 372 pages together … I spent three hours going through the pages starting the moment I opened the box.” Coming from someone who was right there “back in the day”, I’m humbled to hear from this stellar Canadian. It doesn’t get much better for an author. Besides The Canadair Sabre being perpetually “in the moment”, two of my other personal favourites from the CANAV backlist are the Leslie Corness and Wilf White propliner books. These are absolute gems for anyone looking for the ideal gift for any aviation fan. About The Wilf White Propliner Collection, the much-respected journal, “Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”, commented, “Milberry’s treatment of his subject is personal and meticulous, the photo selection is eclectic and evocative, the captions knowledgeable and informative … thoroughly enjoyable…””Air International” also loved the book, concluding its review: “You will love this book”. Adding to the wave of such reviews, here is what Denis J. Calvert had to say in the November 2006 edition of “Aircraft Illustrated”

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The Enduring (Indestructable?) Beech 18

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An impressive view showing the packed Beech 18 final line at Wichita c1946. From 1937, Beech delivered 100s of these superb airplanes to Canadian operators. The last of 9000+ Beech 18s went to a Japanese customer in 1969. *Click on any image to see it larger. (CANAV Books Col.)

From Piper J-3 to DC-3 and 787 there’s a long list of great airplanes that have served Canada. If these go by general importance, near the top will be the Beechcraft Model 18. Commonly simply called “Beech 18”, “Beech” or (in the RCAF) “Expeditor”, the first of hundreds came to Canada in December 1937 for Starratt Airways of Hudson, a key transportation hub in northwest Ontario. Always forward-thinking, Starratt recognized the potential of Walter Beech’s new design (first flight at Wichita in January 1937). Registered CF-BGY, Starratt’s Beech 18 revolutionized bush flying. Below are three photos of this historic Canadian bushplane. These pix are lifted from p.128 of Air Transport in Canada (no other Canadian book has so much Beech 18 history – “ATC” has more than 80 Beech 18 entries in its index).

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Other “Beeches” soon were in service across Canada with such operators as Canadian Airways, the Hudson’s Bay Co., John David Eaton, and Prairie Airways. Then came WWII, when the Beech 18 became a prominent RCAF utility and training plane. About 150 were taken on RCAF strength in 1940-45.

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An RCAF Beech 18 “Expeditor” in wartime colours at RCAF Station Centralia. Then, a standard looking postwar Expeditor at RCAF Station Winnipeg in 1963. (CANAV Books Col., Hugh A. Halliday)

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Happily, the ultimate book about our subject is still available – Robert Parmerter’s spectacular Beech 18: A Civil and Military History. This book is essential for any reader with a healthy interest in general aviation history. You can order a copy through the Beechcraft Aviation Museum:

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Also in today’s blog are two of my own early Beech 18 photos. Here’s a one that I took at Toronto’s old Malton Airport (today’s YYZ) over the winter of 1959-60. Beech D18S CF-HXU had been built in 1946 for Robinson Airlines of upstate New York. In 1955 it came to Canada for Canadian Aircraft Renters, which operated from Toronto Island Airport as Southern Provincial Airlines (the colour scheme was red, black and white). When “CAR” folded in 1960, CF-HXU migrated west for Saskatchewan Government Airways to do air ambulance and general duties into 1972. Then, it just disappeared, likely going for scrap. Check out the Beech 18’s beautiful lines. Powered by 450-hp P&W R-985 engines, aviation couldn’t have had a finer light twin.

The Beech in Corporate Aviation

Corporate aviation in Canada dates to post-WWI days, when war surplus airplanes such as the Curtiss HS-2L flying boat were adopted by forestry and mineral exploration companies. Since then, business (always keen to use aviation to its benefit) has kept informed about developments. Not surprisingly, when Walter Beech introduced its Model 18 in 1937, business took notice of the attractive and speedy new all-metal twin. Two of Canada’s original corporate Beech 18s flew with the T. Eaton Co. (Toronto) and the Hudson’s Bay Co. (Winnipeg). Subsequently, the Beech became one of Canada’s popular business planes. The first I noted during my airport visits back in high school days was at Dorval in July 1959 — CF-IZO owned by a Quebec real estate company. Others that we would spot back then at Malton were CF-AMY of Automotive Products (Montreal), CF-ANT of furnace manufacturer Anthes-Imperial (St. Catharines), CF-FEM of Federal Equipment (Toronto), CF-GJS of Alnor Construction (Oshawa), CF- HOP of Canadian Breweries (Toronto), CF-JNQ of Chelsea Holdings (Montreal), CF-KJX of J.M. Gardner Ltd. (Noranda) and CF-LPC of International Harvester (Hamilton). Happily, after more than 80 years, several Beech 18s remain airworthy in Canada, mostly as work-a-day floatplanes in the bush.

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Here is CF-MCH at Malton over the summer of 1959. Having begun with the US military in 1943, it was N6424C after the war, then became “MCH” in 1956 with Charlottetown- based Maritime Central Airlines. In 1960 it joined Curran and Briggs, a Toronto construction company that had gotten a big boost in WWII building RCAF airfields and working on the Alaska Highway. Postwar, the company had contracts from 401 Highway in Ontario to the Churchill Falls hydro project in Labrador. With work all over Canada, having a company plane made sense. However, once business receded, “MCH” was sold. Its eventual fate isn’t known, other than it disappeared from the civil aircraft register in July 1964. “MCH” looks spiffy here in its shiny aluminum finish with white top and forest green trim. Note the company logo on the nose. Next time around, I’ll feature a bit more about the always-fascinating Beech 18.

CF-100 News

The Avro CF-100 was the first title published by CANAV Books. That was eons ago in 1981. I still love the gorgeous cover art done by the great Canadian aviation artist, Peter Mossman. Ultimately, the book sold out three printings totalling about 6500 copies, and now is a serious collector’s item. If you need a copy, your best source is or One day lately I checked on the former to find 65 for sale at an average price well over US$100. Failing all else, this shows that it pays to buy early, right!

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Each year the fascinating history and lore of Canada’s renowned CF-100 spreads wider and wider. Recently, there’s been increased interest in this fabulous “Fighter of the Fifties”. The City of Mississauga has done a total clean-up of its CF-100 Mk.5 18619 near the old town of Malton, and CF-100 Mk.5 No.100760 moved from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa for restoration at the Quebec Aviation Museum ( at YHU Longueuil airport. COPA reported on “760”: receives-avro-canuck/ More recently, a tired-looking CF-100 Mk.3 18126 (painted in ersatz prototype colours) received a boost, as reported by the Calgary Herald on January 23, 2019 (also see

Restoration of a Cold War-era fighter has been given liftoff by a city funding commitment, says the head of the Hangar Flight Museum. Although an $82,000  undraising effort fell $20,000 short of its Dec. 31 deadline, the city has agreed to  nject $243,000 into repairing a 1950s- vintage Avro CF-100 Canuck fighter plane, said museum executive director Brian Desjardins. The relative success in collecting $62,000 in just two months was probably a factor in the city’s decision, though fundraising continues for the project, he said. “I have every confidence the restoration will now proceed,” said Desjardins. The twin-engined interceptor jet has been sitting exposed to the elements for decades and has been deteriorating from the inside out, due to its unique metallic composition. It will probably take three years to restore the plane, which will be housed in a large tent hangar on the grounds of the northeast museum, said Desjardins. The museum is also seeking a grant from the province’s Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. “We have to show this is an aircraft that’s been important to the aviation industry in Alberta,” said Desjardins. “It looks like our project is a perfect fit for that program . . . it’s been here for 64 years.” The particular CF-100 came to Alberta with Canada’s armed forces in 1955 and eventually became a static display outside the Centennial Planetarium beginning in the early 1970s. Its fate struck a chord with individual donors with a family connection to the type of aircraft, said Desjardins. “Sons, daughters and families have made personal donations because their fathers had flown the CF-100,” he said. The museum is also expecting to take possession of a Second World War Hawker Hurricane single-engine fighter this spring, after its restoration in Westaskiwin. Also this year, the museum will mark the return of a 1930 de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer. The facility also recently saw its operating budget almost doubled by city officials to $475,000, which will enable it to better curate its collection by hiring a full-time collections manager, said Desjardins. “That’ll help immensely because we have not only our aircraft but other artifacts we need to have documented,” he said. “We’re happy with that, though we still have the smallest city budget among these kinds of organizations.” The museum is also examining the cost of expanding its tent hangar, which is aging and in need of frequent repairs, said Desjardins.

CANAV’s “Aviation in Canada” Series … Give
Us Your Support, SVP blog 17 jpg format

So far CANAV has eight spectacular volumes in print in its seminal “Aviation in Canada” series. These books have been produced without a penny of your tax dollar – no government publishing grant has been so much as been applied for. No such aviation books have ever before been produced in Canada – nothing compares, not a chance. Above is the detailed coverage of our efforts (click on image to see larger). Make sure that you have your personal set up-to-date. Failing all else, print off this info sheet and show it to your local public librarian with a strong recommendation to order these important books (to supplement what in most Canadian public libraries is a shelf heavy with “Made-in-the USA” aviation books). Scroll on down a bit to the next item …