Category Archives: Aviation history

Old Hamilton Airport

Hamilton airport old

“Old” Hamilton Airport circa 1940.

 The blog photos of Bonanza “The Flying Chef” raised the question, “At which Hamilton airport did Bob Finlayson take these photos?” Hamilton’s first permanent airport dates to 1926, when Jack V. Elliot established a flying school along Beach Road. In 1928 the federal Air Board, established in Ottawa in 1919, recognized Elliot’s airfield. In 1927, however, with funding from the city of Hamilton and International Airways, work began on a new airport about a mile from Elliot’s field. The facility was ready for use in 1930. It included two hard-surface runways, two hangars, field lighting and a navigation beacon to help guide planes flying the Detroit-Toronto mail.

The airport was owned by the city and managed by the aero club. Cub Aircraft of Canada set up a factory in the late 1930s (see below) to manufacture small Piper planes and the aero club won a contract early in the war to train RCAF pilots. However, the airport by then was waning. It had only marginal facilities and was too close to the city for expansion. Instead, the DND built a major new training base up on the Niagara Escarpment at the rural center of Mount Hope – the site of today’s modern John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport (YHM).

Although outdated, Hamilton’s old airport continued through and after the war, especially with Cub and a new company, Peninsula Air Service. However the aero club had moved to Mount Hope, and urban sprawl was encroaching on all sides of the airport. In 1951 what by then was known as “Hamilton Municipal Airport” closed. Henceforth, Hamilton focused its aviation interests at Mount Hope.

In our rare heading photo of “old” Hamilton airport around 1940, you can see the same old hangar that’s in Bob photos. In his shots you can see that by 1950/51 the hangar had become the main base for Glen White’s Peninsula Air Service. Glen, however, inevitably relocated to Mount Hope, and old Hamilton Municipal Airport was ploughed under for development. The hangar to the right is Cub Aircraft of Canada, considerably expanded by 1950 since erected in 1939. In the more detailed photo of the Cub hangar (found in the rich collection of aviation photographer, the late Al Martin) you can see how Cub had raised its roof considerably, probably to accommodate wartime manufacturing and overhaul contracts. Several Hamilton-built Cubs remain airworthy in 2016.

Hamilton Airport hangar

 

Bonanza and Norseman Updates

blog-bonanza-1-n5002c_LRblog-bonanza-2-n5002c-aug-2018-1_LRBonanza D-2264 Had a Sad Ending

One day back in the early 1950s, my great pal, Bob Finlayson, snapped these lovely views of Bonanza N5002C “The Flying Chef”, visiting “old” (pre-WWII) Hamilton airport. Piloting it was owner/operator, Joseph E. Graves of South Bend, Indiana. These were the days when companies small and large were proud to fly the company logo on their planes. This made something like N5002C all the more interesting to photograph. I well recall the Canadair, Goodyear, Ontario Paper and Eaton’s DC-3s at Malton Airport (today’s YYZ) taxiing by “showing the corporate flag” back in the 1950s. They were always more interesting to photograph than the “no name” examples.

In the early days of bizjets, one of the more interesting logos that flew (if only briefly) was on the tail of a Falcon 20 operated for Conrad Black. I wish I had a photo, for it showed a snake suffocating a bunny. As one of the company pilots told me, this represented Conrad’s view of management vs labour. Try showing that logo in 2016, eh! These days one of the most secretive businesses on the planet is corporate aviation, so to see a corporate logo such as “Jack’s Foods Inc.” on a private plane is rare, Donald Trump’s Boeing 757 excepted.

Built in 1950, Bonanza N5002C (serial number D-2264) last was registered to the G&R Corp of South Bend, Indiana, but that was long ago – whatever happened to it, for it disappeared from the US civil aircraft register in 1953?  A report in the Williamsport, Pennsylvania Gazette And Bulletin tells the sad story of this lovely Bonanza. While flying from South Bend to New York City for a potato chip convention on January 26, 1953, Joseph E. Graves and three food industry companions all died when N5002C crashed in an orchard at State College, Pennsylvania. The newspaper noted: “The single-engine four-passenger plane which was almost out of gas, according to investigating state police, crashed as it approached the airport runway at this Central Pennsylvania community. The plane clipped off the trunk of a tree in the orchard and plowed into a mudhole … A few minutes before the crash the pilot of the plane contacted the nearby Phillipsburg Airport and reported he was lost and had only 10 minutes gas supply left.” Subsequently “N5002C” was re-used on a Ryan Navion in New Jersey.

Forrest Klies’ “Oshkosh” Norseman Has New Home

N78691 IMG_2394N78691 IMG_2396

The story of UC-64A Norseman N78691 is told in Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.2. Originally US Army 44-70372, it had a postwar career as NC58691 with the US Department of Agriculture, before joining Ontario Central Airlines in 1961 as CF-LSS. Further adventures followed with such Ontario and Manitoba operators as Cross Lake Air Service, Perimeter Aviation, Bob Polinuk and Kyro’s-Albany River Airways. CF-LSS seemed to have been dormant since 1975, then retired crop duster pilot, Forrest Klies of Montana, acquired it in 2011. Registering it N78691, he told me in 2013 that he spent $700,000 rebuilding the airframe and zero-timing the engine. For several seasons, Forrest showed his pristine “Big Beautiful Babushka”, as he called N78691, at Oshkosh. Eventually, he felt that he was getting a bit too old for such a big plane. In 2013 he offered it for sale for $300,000 or “a Beaver on wheels plus cash”. Others were seeking buyers for their own Norsemans, but not many operators or collectors were shopping. The picture looked bleak.

N78691 IMG_2397

On p.111 of “Norseman, Vol.2” are two excellent Lambert de Gavère photos of Norseman N225BL (formerly CF-GUE) in Alaska in Ingram Air colours. N225BL later flew for Wade Renfro’s Alaska Adventure of Bethel, but on July 11, 2009 it went into the trees following engine failure. By then, however, Wade had come to appreciate the special features of this classic bushplane. His passion led him to purchase Forrest’s old beauty for a price north of US$160K. This week Lambert sent me these three fine views of N78691 on Lake Hood in Anchorage, waiting for the right weather before flying the 600 or so kilometers to its new home in Bethel, an isolated spot on the Kuskokwim River delta in western Alaska.

Update: Alaska Adventure Norseman N78691 flew off Lake Hood for Bethel on August 31 carrying a hefty load. Sad to say, however, the company lost a Super Cub the same day in a disastrous mid-air collision at Russian Mission in Western Alaska. In clear weather, it collided with a Hageland Aviation Cessna Caravan. All  five aboard the two bushplanes died. It's often a tough world out there in the wilds of coast, bush, valley and mountains.

Update: Alaska Adventure Norseman N78691 flew off Lake Hood for Bethel on August 31 carrying a hefty load. Sad to say, however, the company lost a Super Cub the same day in a disastrous mid-air collision at Russian Mission in Western Alaska. In clear weather, it collided with a Hageland Aviation Cessna Caravan. All  five aboard the two bushplanes died. It’s often a tough world out there in the wilds of coast, bush, valley and mountains.

In other recent Norseman news, Rodney Kozar reports that Glenn Crandall’s famous Norseman CF-UUD (see  Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.2) now is N164UC with Wendell Phillipi of Minnesota. Rodney adds that Norsemans CF-JIN, CF-KAO and CF-ZMX all flew at this year’s Norseman Festival in Red Lake and that 80-90 visitors slapped down the cash for a Norseman flight.

Summer’s here, so it’s time to treat yourself to a set of CANAV’s wonderful Norseman books!

CF-GLI, delivered by Noorduyn to the US Army in February 1944

CF-GLI, originally delivered to the US Army in February 1944, now is under restoration in the Netherlands (click to enlarge).

One of Canada’s most historic Norsemans is CF-GLI. Delivered by Noorduyn to the US Army in February 1944, this UC-64 Norseman served on the US homefront as 43-5374. After its brief Army career, it was retired and sold in the summer of 1945 by the US Reconstruction Finance Corp. (the US equivalent to Canada’s War Assets Disposal Corp.) to Los Angeles based Aero Service, where it flew as NC88719. It’s history there still isn’t known, but in September 1951 it was sold to Queen Charlotte Airlines of Vancouver, thence to Air-Dale of Sault Ste. Marie in 1953 and Lee Cole’s Chapleau Air Services in 1982. Other operators followed until CF-GLI joined Gogal Air Services of Snow Lake, Manitoba in 1994, where it worked steadily in the summer tourist trade until a crash in the bush in June 2010. Old ‘GLI now seemed to be kaput.

In January 2011, however, the bent old Norseman was hauled out in pieces by helicopter and trucked away for safe keeping. In 2015 ‘GLI was sold to a group in the Netherlands (headed by Arno van der Holst) with plans to rebuild it to flying status. For the latest about this important project, check out their Facebook page.

Also, you can read all about CF-GLI’s many adventures in Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.2.

Recently, Chris Cole sent along this great new photo, above, of CF-GLI. Chris writes: “I attach this picture of CF-GLI that I took one summer at my dad’s business — Sunset View Camp/Chapleau Air Service — on Unegam Lake just south of Chapleau on Hwy 129. I remember going out in a boat, so I could take this  picture.”

You can order your set of Norseman books right here: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Cheers and I hope your summer goes well so far … Larry

Canada Council Shenanigans: CAE Story Rejected, Small Canadian Publishers Need Not Apply + New Book Review + More on Canada Post at the End

 

Canada Council logoEach year the Canada Council presides over the Governor General’s Literary Awards. This year’s finalists came from among hundreds of submissions in the non-fiction category. Finalists mainly were books published by one American company and American branch plants in Canada:

Mark L. Winston’s Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, from the giant American publisher, Harvard University Press.

Ted Bishop’s The Social Life of Ink: Culture, Wonder, and Our Relationship with the Written Word, from the Canadian branch plant operation of giant American publishing conglomerate Viking/Penguin/Random House — Viking/Penguin Random House Canada.

Michael Harris’ Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, from the Canadian branch plant operation of giant American publishing conglomerate Viking/Penguin/Random House — Viking/Penguin Random House Canada.

David Halton’s Dispatches from the Front: Matthew Halton, Canada’s Voice at War, from McClelland & Stewart, a subsidiary of American branch plant operation Penguin — Penguin Random House Canada

Armand Garnet Ruffo’s Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird, Douglas & McIntyre, a subsidiary of Howard White’s BC-based Harbour Publishing

Good on the winning authors. However, Armand Garnet Ruffo’s Norval Morrisseau: Man Changing into Thunderbird appears to be the only actual all-Canadian title this year. His publisher, Howard White, of BC’s Harbour Publishing/Douglas & McIntyre is a true Canadian success story all the way. Having begun as a kitchen table publisher, Howard has built up his company, which is a major operation doing important books. The company has some 600 titles to its credit.

As far as US publishers and their Canadian branch plants taking home all but one of the Governor General book awards, good on them as well. They met the Canada Council’s specs. However, it seems a bit goofy of the council that, at the bottom end of the book publishing “food chain”, small all-Canadian, internationally acclaimed publishers such as CANAV Books get the bum’s rush out of Rideau Hall regarding the Right Honourable David Johnston’s Governor General’s book awards. Here’s the story.

Since 1981 CANAV Books has published 36 important Canadian titles honouring Canada’s aviation heritage. CANAV has established the standard for publishing in its niche. Several of its titles are official best-sellers and all have been reviewed glowingly in the Canadian and international press. Besides my own CANAV titles, I’ve published seven other Canadian authors.

For the first time since 1981, in 2015 I decided to enter a book in the Governor General’s awards competition, non-fiction category. I submitted Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story which, by the initial feedback, meets the mark as an authoritative, finely-produced piece of work covering a major Canadian success story. CAE itself is Canadian to the core. By now it’s “way up there” in the big leagues, having started humbly in a grubby little war surplus hangar in 1947. So … The CAE Story certainly warranted a good look as a real book entered in the the Governor General’s awards.

Months went by with no word from the Canada Council. Finally, in late October 2015 the finalists were announced, Bee Time from Harvard University Press in Massachusetts taking top prize. CANAV had no word about the awards celebration, etc., dead silence until, that is, I received a letter from the council dated May 4, 2016, explaining how The CAE Story did not even qualify as a Canadian book worthy of the Governor General’s consideration.

In its letter the Canada Council explains: “The publishing house does not meet the eligibility criteria established in the program guidelines”, since, “over 25% of titles published by CANAV Books were written by owners, family or employees of the publishing house.” Apparently, The CAE Story is not a real book. Can you imagine? Guidelines … what in the world, eh! Does the Governor General know about his organization’s arbitrary rule freezing out an important niche in Canadian book publishing?

The fix seems to be in at the Canada Council. Instead of encouraging legitimate, homegrown Canadian book publishers, it’s partying with its mainline/A-team US book publishing pals, while small Canadian players summarily get thrown under the bus by draconian fiat. It looks like a bit of a crock up at the Canada Council. The organization needs to get back to the basic business of encouraging (not squishing) legitimate, world-class, Canadian book publishing.

Let’s hope the Governor General might take the Canada Council to the wood shed for a good straightening out. Maybe then we can get the “Canada” back into “Canada Council”, eh.

Meanwhile, the worldwide press and our loyal readership continue to comment. Today, I heard from aerospace professor, writer, blogger (“Passion Aviation: Blogue aéronautique de Pierre Gillard”) and photographer, Pierre Gillard, who reviews The CAE Story:

Infatigable, Larry Milberry s’est lancé dans la rédaction de l’historique du célèbre fabricant de simulateurs de vol CAE. Après les deux ouvrages de référence consacrés au Noorduyn Norseman, voici donc un autre sujet diffusé dans la série « Aviation in Canada » relatif à une entreprise établie au Québec. L’histoire de la compagnie débute à l’aéroport de Saint-Hubert où CAE occupe un hangar situé le long du chemin de la Savane pour y effectuer de la maintenance et du reconditionnement d’appareils électroniques issus de surplus militaires. La compagnie prend ensuite de l’expansion, notamment, en étant associée au développement de tours de transmissions destinées au système de navigation LORAN dans le nord-canadien. Puis les activités commencent à se diversifier dans d’autres secteurs industriels comme la télévision, par exemple, et, simultanément, CAE s’établit dans de nouvelles installations situées à Ville-Saint-Laurent à Montréal. Avec l’acquisition de l’Avro CF100 par l’Aviation royale canadienne débute réellement le développement de l’expertise de CAE dans le milieu des simulateurs de vol. C’est assurément cette activité qui rendra la compagnie célèbre dans le monde entier. L’auteur détaille donc méticuleusement la chronologie des différents projets de simulation, qu’ils soient civils ou militaires. Mais il n’oublie pas en chemin le volet humain de l’aventure de CAE grâce à de nombreuses entrevues et récits de membres du personnel qui viennent rehausser le texte d’histoires vécues et d’anecdotes. Il détaille aussi les nombreuses autres activités, souvent un peu moins connues, de la compagnie que ce soit dans le secteur médical, les centrales nucléaires ou la maintenance d’aéronefs à Winnipeg, par exemple. Même s’il manque l’un ou l’autre contrat dans l’immense énumération détaillée de l’ensemble des projets de simulateurs de vol, ce livre va au-delà des attentes que l’on peut avoir pour ce genre d’ouvrage. Tout comme l’ensemble de l’œuvre de Larry Milberry, “The CAE Story” est un incontournable et deviendra, très certainement, une référence mondiale en ce qui concerne l’histoire des simulateurs de vol.Canav Books, Toronto, ON, 2015, 392 pages, environ 750 photos. ISBN 978-0-921022-44-2.

You can see CANAV’s years-long Canada Post lamentations by scrolling back to various blog items. Have you heard today (June 22) that Canada Post CUPW this summer is threatening another strike? Talk about depressing, eh. Yesterday yet another neighbour brought me my very important First Class mail, which he had received from the letter carrier. Should we really be giving these well-paid public employees another raise so they can regularly deliver our private mail to other people’s houses? To tell you the truth, we’re getting a little tired of Canada Post’s “Get to Know your Neighbours” mail delivery plan. Someone needs to whip this once-wonderful public service back into shape, but to where, to whom do we turn for help?

Evolution of an Aerospace Company History

 

CAE dust jacket

No sooner does any history get into print than the author starts hearing from the readership. Some have fresh material to contribute about some topic covered, others are pointing out the author’s sins of commission or of omission. All this is important stuff and provides an author with a close-in take on how a book is faring.

Over the decades the great Fred Hotson gathered tidbits and insights from his readers about his wonderful book, The De Havilland Canada Story. The book had its roots with Fred’s modestly-published 50th anniversary of DHC. Then, as the Dash 8 began taking shape at Downsview in the early 1980s, DHC president, John Sandford, asked Fred to expand on his “50th” effort. Late in 1981 I was brought into the picture as publisher. Mr. Sandford let us know that he needed the book for the Dash 8 rollout, so don’t even think of missing that deadline.

Working with Fred, editor and designer, Robin Brass, and such artists as Pete Mossman and Ron Lowry, I set my sights on the Dash 8 rollout. Somehow, it all panned out and The De Havilland Canada Story was delivered three days before the Dash 8 ceremony of April 19, 1983.

Publisher Milberry, DHC President Sandford and author Hotson at the Dash 8 rollout. The Dash 8 and the DHC book developed simultaneously and rolled out together on April 19, 1983. Plane and book are still going strong.

Publisher Milberry, DHC President Sandford and author Hotson at the Dash 8 rollout. The Dash 8 and the DHC book developed simultaneously and rolled out together on April 19, 1983. Plane and book are still going strong. New copies of the book now are available via Viking Aircraft in Sidney, BC.

No sooner was the book in print, than Fred was wanting to get our fast-selling first edition “cleaned up”. Our second edition included numerous tweaks, still more were added in a third. As the years passed, Fred faithfully kept on top of his story to the point that, in 1999, we ended with such a pile of DHC history updates, that not a fourth edition, but a whole new book came about, re-titled De Havilland in Canada. Since then, more than 15 further years have floated by, so yet another major makeover of Fred’s book beckons.

So it has happened with Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story. Launched last September 30, the book has panned out nicely so far. Major criticisms mainly are of perceived omissions – why not more details about this project or that, why so much about such and such, etc. Of course, that’s where subjectiveness arises – everyone’s a critic, right. Were ten authors to write ten histories of CAE, there would be ten completely good, but, different takes, yet all ten still wouldn’t satisfy some readers. However, it’s rare that even two takes are ever made about a company’s history. So … for now, Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story is “it”.

Among the many readers from whom I’ve heard since the CAE book appeared last September is Roy Lefebvre, a company retiree, who specialized in flight simulator evaluations and installations. Formerly an RCAF CF-100 pilot, Roy loved his time getting flight simulators to work at their best. He even was involved with Air New Zealand’s amazing DC-10 “terrain model board” flight simulation system. In the book I also describe one of Roy’s visits to TWA to evaluate and tweak its B.727 simulator. On p.213 is a beautifully staged photo by Pierre Giroux of this shiny new CAE “sim” with the cockpit crew looking sharp and ready to “fly”. But who was this crew? So far, no one could remember their names, not even the folks at the TWA museum in Kansas City, Missouri, whom I asked. Finally, however, we have cracked into this mystery with one name.

 

The TWA crew on the flight deck of their new 727 full flight simulator at CAE in Montreal during the acceptance phase. Until now, we didn’t know the fellows’ names. Now we know that senior TWA Captain George André is in the left seat. (Pierre Giroux)

(Click to see the picture full screen.) The TWA crew on the flight deck of their new 727 full flight simulator at CAE in Montreal during the acceptance phase. Until now, we didn’t know the fellows’ names. (Pierre Giroux)

This is what Roy Lefebvre wrote to me on March 25, 2016:

While leafing through “CAE” recently, I noted the picture at the bottom of page 213 and now recall the name of the pilot in the captain’s seat – it’s George André, whom I had gotten to know, when he was the TWA pilot in charge of CAE 727 sim procurement and acceptance.

I had been involved in the marketing process with TWA in Kansas City, and developed a great respect for George. He was a prince of a man, but you had to work hard to learn much about his background. I did learn that he had flown the SR-71 Blackbird, but George wasn’t revealing too many details back in those days.

So, today I did a google George, and what a resume! I found that in 2013 he published an amazing personal story, Wingspan – from J3 to Mach 3. In 2014 he had spoken to the Missouri Aviation Historical Society, which summarized his main accomplishments: “Over his impressive flying career, George has served as a USAF fighter pilot, Lockheed Martin test pilot flying (among other types) the SR-71 Blackbird out of Groom Lake, a longtime airline pilot for TWA, an airshow pilot, and the oldest Reno air-racer in show history — among many other achievements. The presentation was truly magnificent and shed light on some of the greatest milestones in American aviation from someone who flew them firsthand.”

As well as being the CAE pilot assigned to TWA’s 727 sim, I worked with marketing to help secure this contract, which was a first for the 727 from a mainline US air carrier. Among other “firsts”, with this project CAE introduced the popular Fortran computer language, which was considered a breakthrough. This led to some difficult times during in-plant acceptance, in that the less efficient (but user friendly) Fortran overloaded our computer, resulting in some apparent shortfalls, where I felt compelled to support George. This was the first time I felt the squeeze between us and the customer.

Last week, even more details about the photo and the TWA 727 “sim” emerged. Earlier I had tracked down George André and had a great chat with him. I ordered a copy of Wingspan, and George promised to add his own details about the p.213 photo. Here’s what George sent:

Hi Larry … The picture in question is not the one I envisioned.  I am in the left seat and my flight engineer, who was my assistant in the program, is Stacy Patterson. At the time, Stacy was the 727 flight engineer training manager, later to become the 727 pilot training manager. In the third seat is a TWA simulator engineer/technician whose first name I remember is Tom, but I forget the last. Being forty years ago, I have no idea who might be around to ask.

Regarding some stuff from the CAE book- I was tasked to be the project manager for the acquisition of two 727 advanced simulators for TWA purchase around 1976. The only viable contenders were Link, which had furnished all of our previous simulators, Redifon in England, and CAE.

Link obviously felt it had the job, hands down, and that was evident by the apparent lack of enthusiasm in pleasing us in order to win the contract. Redifon wanted badly to gain a foothold with a major US carrier, and bent over backwards. This, delightfully, included considerable wining and dining, hosting at the Paris Air Show and about anything else my team desired.

In the end, I believed CAE with a new DEC computer had the most promise for achieving the nirvana in simulation. Having a simulator so advanced that it would replace the entire flight envelope, meant, primarily, that it could be used for landings. CAE was most co-operative. Together we developed an advanced instructor station that greatly modernized the instructor tasks and capabilities.

After many months of construction and proving runs, and nearly full time residence in Montreal for me, we had our machine. The biggest glitch would turn out to be the new computer, which had a lot of growing pains. I would personally take a lot of heat for my CAE decision, putting faith in a new computer design, but, in the end it all worked out.

I spent many enjoyable work and social sessions with Byron Cavadias and David Tait, and regret not staying in touch with them. At that time I was involved with the restoration of my WWII Bücker Jungmann biplane. Byron informed me that the famed Adolf Galland, a senior Luftwaffe commander in WWII, was a CAE representative in Europe. Byron kindly informed the General of my plane and we received a nice letter from Herr Galland, saying that he had flown the plane and had good memories thereof. I still have that letter somewhere.

Some comments in the CAE book differ somewhat from my recollections, which could be erroneous on my part. You point out how United achieved first Phase III simulator approval in the early eighties with a CAE unit. This is what I remember. United did achieve the first approval of a simulator for the landing maneuver around 1979, but it was done with a Link unit with a staff of four 727 pilots and numerous (10, I heard) engineers from Link. We were trying to beat them to the punch. I was the only pilot on TWA’s effort and had the help of one CAE engineer. We did all of the tests and downloaded reams of data to prove the simulator replicated the aircraft with high fidelity.

I personally hand-carried several heavy boxes of evidence to FAA headquarters in Washington and presented our request for approval. It was given and we achieved the second landing approval behind United, sadly a few weeks later. To this day, it is one of my proudest professional achievements. Subsequently we were able to completely train a 727 pilot totally in a simulator, a feat unheard of in earlier times. Cheers … George

 

 

Two Fine Books Telling the Story of the Earliest Days of Aviation

Birdmen_coverBirdman: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss and the Battle to Control the Skies

by Lawrence Goldstone

This fantastic best seller is one that will satisfy any serious fan of aviation history. Beginning with such pioneers of flight as Otto Lilienthal in Germany and Octave Chanute in the US, Goldman quickly comes to the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio and Glenn Curtiss of Hammondsport, New York. Showing how Lilienthal and Chanute influenced these three innovators, he then details how each persevered in flying America’s first powered airplanes.

This book is downright exciting – a “page-turner”, as they say. The author delves deeply into each participant’s human side, warts and all. Often these heroic figures are at loggerheads – the Wrights clash with each other, let alone with Curtiss, whom they accuse of stealing their patents. They strive to virtually patent the airplane. Their battles rage for years in the courts.

Leading the way in powered airplane flight, the Wrights engender a whole new world of entertainment – exhibition flying. From 1909-14 they and Curtiss bring their performing troupes to city after city all the way west to Los Angeles and Seattle. This is a magnificent era, but it comes at a huge cost. The touring flyers introduce millions to the airplane and make piles of money. But by 1912 more than 100 have lost their lives, mainly at public appearances. Airplanes fall apart in flight, turbulence hurls pilots from their seats, planes crash into crowded bleachers, the first bird strike kills a famous pilot, etc. All along the crowds are loving it all. The great Lincoln Beachey, who performed some of the earliest airshows in Canada, grows disgusted at how the hordes come out mainly to see him die. And so they finally do in 1915, when his plane disintegrates during a show at the great San Francisco exposition.

Another major theme is the years-long lawsuits pursued almost insanely by the Wrights against all other aeronautical enterprizers. Obsessed by their patents and paranoid about these being infringed upon, the Wrights spent a fortune in the courts. While aeronautics was progressing at Hammondsport, in the UK and across Europe, the Wrights dithered and lost their chance. Their Wright Flyers, in the meantime, became known as death traps. Dozens of airmen and passengers died in Wright Flyer crashes, while Curtiss machines gained the opposite reputation. In the end, Goldman concludes that the Wrights held up America in its quest to advance in aviation. Curtiss on one hand and Europe on the other set the pace in advancing aviation’s cause. Ironically, in the end the two warring sides made peace through a 1929 corporate alignment creating the Curtiss-Wright Co., which survives to this day.

Don’t miss this exceptional book that brings to life the great years of powered flight!

Birdman: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss and the Battle to Control the Skies

230 pages, hardcover, photos, notes, index $34.00, CANAV price $21.00 + $12.00 Canada Post + $2.10 tax. Total for Canada $35.10 Mail your cheque or pay by PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com. USA and overseas please enquire for a price: larry@canavbooks.com

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Blog Pioneer Decades Jan. 2016Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades

By Larry Milberry

Complementing Birdmen is this detailed history of the early years of flight in Canada. Beginning with Canada’s first flight – a balloon ascent in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1840, The Pioneer Decades explains how aviation went decade by decade in America’s next-door neighbour. Ballooning alone was a huge public fascination that produced one Canadian “first” after another, whether the Saint John ascent, the “first” aerial crossing between Canada and the US, the first powered airship appearances or the first parachute jump.

The Pioneer Decades then introduces heavier–than-air flight with teenager Larry Lesh’s daring glider experiments in Montreal in 1907. While Birdmen does tell a bit about Alexander Graham Bell and the Aerial Experiment Association, The Pioneer Decades covers the AEA program in detail, ending with the dramatic first powered airplane flight by the “Silver Dart” at Baddeck in 1909. There also is much of Glenn Curtiss and Hammondsport, where the “Silver Dart” was built and first flew.

The Pioneer Decades continues with the great years in Canada of the exhibition flyers, nearly all of whom are also covered in Birdmen. For example, Toronto’s first airplane flight is made by Charles Willard – a Curtiss-trained pilot flying his Curtiss-made “Golden Flyer”. The great Montreal and Toronto air meets of 1910 and 1911 are also here, with tales of the famed Curtiss and Wright pilots, many of whom would give their lives in the cause from 1907 onward – Lincoln Beachey, Cromwell Dixon, Eugene Ely, Ralph Johnstone, Phil Parmalee, etc.

The Pioneer Decades tells how McCurdy and Baldwin of the AEA tried selling their designs to the Canadian military, how Canada’s first WWI airmen trained at Curtiss and Wright schools, then how they excelled “Over the Front” in the first great aerial conflict. Many would fly the great Curtiss JN-4 and Curtiss’ renowned long-range, anti-submarine flying boats, about which, a few years earlier, the Wright camp had been scoffing. You’re bound to enjoy this beautifully-produced CANAV title.

Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades

176 pages, large format, hardcover, photos, bibliography, index. $50.00 but with this offer $35.00 + $12.00 for Canada Post + $2.35 tax. Total for Canada $49.35 Mail your cheque or pay by PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com. USA and overseas please enquire for a price (email me at larry@canavbooks.com).

BOTH these leading titles: $56.00 + $15.00 for Canada Post + $3.55 tax. Total for Canada $74.55. Mail your cheque or pay by PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com. USA and overseas please enquire for a price: larry@canavbooks.com

CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E 3B6

Email: larry@canavbooks.com

Tel: (416) 698-7559

Noorduyn Norseman Year End Update

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Typical US Army Commando Group UC-64 Norseman scenes from the Far East in 1944-45. You’ll see these historic shots with a host of others in Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.1.

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Since CANAV published its Norseman books in 2013-14, it’s been fun posting new bits of Norseman history on “the company blog” for everyone to enjoy.

One little known wartime Norseman operator was the US Army in the Far East. In one case 12 Norsemans were assigned to the First Air Commando Group. Designated UC-64s (“U” for utility, “C” for cargo), their usefulness was described in the December 7, 1944 issue of CBI Roundup, a US Army newspaper published in Delhi (“CBI” signified China-Burma-India). You’ll enjoy this little period piece:

UNSUNG PLANE ‘WORKHORSE OF THE SKIES: Rugged Little UC-64 Performs Minor Miracles In Jungle

BURMA – To the wounded, isolated, supply-starved foot soldiers lost in Burma’s dense jungles, and to the pilots and other crew members who fly her, the UC-64 is a ‘sweet little airplane – the workhorse of the skies.” The stories told about those small, single-engined utility cargo planes are many and most always exciting.

Members of the late Gen. Orde C. Wingate’s phantom army tell a typical tale of what these planes have done under combat conditions in Burma. A number of Wingate’s boys found themselves deep in enemy territory, cut off from all possible help, many of them wounded, some on the verge of starvation. Evacuation by air seemed almost impossible, too, as they were faced with Jap machine gun fire on one side and surrounded by long stretches of rice paddies. Certainly, it wasn’t an inviting landing spot for an ordinary plane.

Suddenly, a lone, stubby-nosed aircraft appeared overhead, swept low over enemy installations and settled on a small rice paddy clearing. Painted on its fuselage were the five white diagonal stripes of the First Air Commando Group. The plane was a UC-64 Noorduyn Norseman bringing in 2,000 pounds of supplies and ready to evacuate 10 seriously-wounded soldiers to a base hospital.

Another story of the plane’s durability is proudly told by Lt. David C. Beasley, a pilot. “You can bang her up, but you can’t keep her down,” he declared, upon returning from an advanced Commando-built airstrip that had, a moment before his arrival, undergone a severe attack by enemy bombers. His radio wasn’t working and he hadn’t learned of the bombing that had dotted the runway with dangerous craters. When he landed, one of the craters snatched off his tail wheel. But five minutes later, with the wheel wired into place, Beasley was back in the air.

The C-64, as it is frequently called, is strictly a new bird in India-Burma skies. Prior to last spring’s airborne invasion of Northern Burma, Col. Philip Cochran, commanding the Air Commandos, foresaw the need of landing vital supplies upon short strips hacked from Burma’s rugged terrain. He needed a ship as tough as the jungle. His choice was the Noorduyn Norseman, a plane unproved in any other theater of operations. “We knew very little of her capabilities,” Lt. Julius Goodman, a volunteer pilot, admits, “as no other organization had used her in combat. We had thought of her as a very tricky ship to handle because of her narrow landing gear. It wasn’t long, though, before we knew her as a tough little workhorse.” As operations progressed, new hazards developed to test the aircraft’s durability. Shortage of transportation between Commando airstrips and the home base frequently forced the plane to carry 1,000 pounds in excess of its factory-stated capacity. She carried them with ease.

The scarcity of C-64’s in this neck of the war necessitates the immediate dismantling of their frames after crack-ups. The constant ferrying of troops into small clearings, supplying their positions and other outposts with radio equipment, drop packs, ammunition, rations and other supplies, plus evacuating the wounded, would diminish the effectiveness of an ordinary plane. But the Norseman, with its Pratt-Whitney Wasp engine, the pilots insist, isn’t an ordinary plane.

More News about Norseman CF-GLI

Norseman CF-GLI is well covered in Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.2. Last year we heard that “GLI” had been sold in The Netherlands. An update appears in the Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre newsletter, “Fly North” (Vol.4, No.7, Dec. 2015). It turns out that “GLI” was transferred to the Dutch “Noorduyn Foundation” on May 10, 2015. Plans are to fully restore this 1944-model Norseman within two years.

“Fly North” includes some personal recollections from Gerry Bell, who flew CF-GLI from Red Lake in the 1990s. His list of the old bird’s deficiencies is a long one, yet “GLI” wouldn’t quit. Gerry concludes: “Together we moved people, freight, boats, did rescue flights, etc., through the endless skies of Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba and over countless miles of forests and lakes – times I shall cherish forever.”

If you are a fan of northern aviation, you ought to have your NWOAHC membership. Click here to find out more.

Norseman CF-GLI Air Dale Ltd. Larry's pic

CF-GLI at the Air-Dale dock in Sault Ste. Marie. In this period it was painted a soft yellow with black and white trim. Larry Milberry took this photo with his reliable “2¼” Minolta Autocord more than 50 years ago, while on a Lake Superior canoe trip with his old pal Nick Wolochatiuk.

Norseman Vol.2 erratum: You can scroll back in the blog to find the few errata that so far have come to my attention. Today, please note that the caption on p.36 should read: An evocative Arctic scene showing what is thought to be the first airplane to visit Pond Inlet at the top of Baffin Island. Piloted by Gunnar Ingebrigston of Arctic Wings, Norseman CF-BAU made the harrowing 650 mile flight from Frobisher Bay in April 1949 on a charter with a party of federal government people, including Donald Wilkinson of the National Film Board. Here, “BAU”, well tied-down using 45-gallon drums, warms up. (National Film Board of Canada) All the best as usual …Larry

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Norseman Vol. 2 cover

 

 

Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman comes in two impressive volumes, representing the most thorough treatment ever given by any publisher to any of the classic bushplanes. These splendid books belong in your aviation library.

You know how some airheads never shut up about “everything” being on the web? Well, CANAV’s titles prove what a load of BS that is (but you already know that, if you’re a serious aviation reader). You’ll find no comparable Norseman coverage anywhere.

So, for the detailed story about Canada’s renowned Norseman, order your set online today: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Few books could make such a royal gift for any serious fan.