Category Archives: Aviation history

Homebuilding Roots in Canada

The original powered airplanes were “one off” homebuilts, the “Silver Dart” (built and first flown at Glenn Curtiss’ farm in Hammondsport, NY in 1908) being first to succeed in Canada. J.A.D. McCurdy flew it in Cape Breton in February 1909. Since then, homebuilding has been part of Canada’s aeronautical fabric.

WWI brought advances in aeronautics that boosted postwar homebuilding. For a few hundred dollars in the 1920s-30s, anyone could build a tiny Corben, Heath, Pietenpol, etc., and many did. However, with recreational flying on hold through WWII, all such planes were grounded.

Homebuilding was slow to re-emerge, but it did – one project at a time, modified Taylor Cub CF-ANT-X possibly being the first. Then, in the 1950s several homebuilders started a movement. Led by pioneers Keith Hopkinson and Gus Chisholm of Goderich, the first Canadian branch of the US-founded Experimental Aircraft Association arose. Soon there were EAA chapters across Canada.

Some really enjoyable events in my early days as an aviation fan were flying club and EAA breakfast fly-ins. A few of us kids usually attended, armed with our twin-lens cameras. On a typical sunny weekend, among the 250 planes showing up at the Oshawa Flying Club on June 18, 1961 were eight little homebuilts each with an “R” registration — “R” for restricted: Corben Baby Aces CF-RAO and CF-RCB, Jodel Bébés CF-RAM and CF-RBE, White Parasol CF-RCT and modified Taylorcraft, Piper J-2 and J-3 CF-RAG, CF-RAS and CF-RCX.

Above is a shot I took on July 9, 1961 at the Waterloo-Wellington fly-in showing Keith Hopkinson taxiing his famous Stitts Playboy “Little Hokey” CF-RAD. This was Canada’s first officially registered (1954) post-WWII homebuilt. Years later I learned from Gus Chisholm that CF-RAD had cost about $1000 and took 1200 hours over 11 months to build. It weighed 685 lb empty, 960 all-up, and was 17’4” long with a 22’ wingspan. With its 100-hp Lycoming, it cruised at 125 mph, burning about five gallons of fuel per hour. To illustrate the meaning of “homebuilt”, CF-RAD had a Piper engine cowling, Cessna 170 spinner, Tiger Moth struts, Cessna 140 undercarriage and Stinson wheel pants. Today you can see this wonderful little aviation treasure at Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa.

Corben Baby Ace CF-RAC

At the same time that “Hoppy” Hopkinson was building his Playboy, his pal Gus Chisholm was building a Corben Baby Ace. Through their enthusiasm, many others in Canada were getting involved in the homebuilding movement.

The Baby Ace was designed about 1932 by West Virginian, O.G. “Ace” Corben. Having learned about it in a 1955 issue of “Mechanix Illustrated”, Gus ordered plans for $125. Just scrounging for the bits ‘n pieces was a chore – wood, steel, wheels, struts, fabric, instruments, an engine, etc. Luckily, one day Gus found an old 65-hp Continental, for which he paid $100. He slowly built his Baby Ace wings at home in his basement, while the fuselage took shape in Keith’s “Sky Harbour” hangar on the edge of Goderich. Finally, after 2 years, 8 months and 15 days of meticulous effort, the Baby Ace was done. Registered CF-RAC (Gus’ initials) and christened “Bits and Pieces”, it had cost $620. Keith did the taxi tests on August 1, 1958, made the first flight on the 3rd, then Gus took up CF-RAC the same day.

“Little Hokey” and “Bits and Pieces” became the talk of the homebuilding movement throughout Canada and south of the border. Many an enjoyable day’s flying followed. Each summer meant a few breakfast fly-ins and Gus once even ventured as far as Oshkosh. Finally, having logged about 200 hours in it, in July 1965 he sold CF-RAC to Tony Brown in nearby Stratford. Tony flew it to the 381:45-hour mark by the time he sold CF-RAC in 1977. Other owners followed until 2017 when, more than 50 years since first flight, “Bits ‘n Pieces” is still on the go, owned in Guelph in 2017 by Canada’s famous aircraft restorers – “The Tiger Boys”.

Over the decades, many pilots added “Bits ‘n Pieces” to their logbooks. Keith Hopkinson’s son, John, made his first flight in it on May 16, 1962. From Guelph, pilots have included pioneer post-WWII homebuilder, Andy McKimmon (May 1, 1993) to Fern Villeneuve, none other than leader the RCAF Golden Hawks in 1959-60 (September 18, 2005). To July 2017 the famous little Canadian beauty had logged 783.5 flying hours. Meanwhile, the Tiger Boys, always eagle-eyed about preserving aviation heritage, have acquired another of Canada’s 1950s homebuilts – Jodel D.9 Bébé CF-RAM. Above is a photo I took of Steve Gray landing CF-RAC at Guelph on November 25, 2007. Below, Gus Chisholm beside his pride and joy on the same day (Gus has since passed on).

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Announcing … Two Important New Canadian Books

Exile Air: World War II’s Little Norway in Toronto and Muskoka by Andrea Baston and  Bagotville: 75 Years of Air Defence by Marc-Andre Valiquette

Andrea Baston has spent years working on this epic WWII story. To begin, she provides a detailed backgrounder ref. the 1940 Nazis invasion of Norway, and how Norway and the UK struggled to stave off disaster. Coverage of the air war includes RNoAF 1920s Fokkers and RAF biplane Gladiators putting up strenuous opposition.

Norway is overwhelmed, but the government, treasury and many citizens make it to the UK. By June 1940 arrangements are made to establish a Norwegian air training plan in Canada. “Little Norway” is established at Toronto Island Airport, with almost a hundred aircraft initially assigned, Curtiss P-36 fighters included. All the details about planning, contracts, administration, training, dovetailing everything with the BCATP, housing, sports, social life in Toronto and — sad to say —  accidents are part of this outstanding book. The Norwegians also open a base in Muskoka to the north. Here, new pilots train on the Fairchild Cornell. Eventually, the Norwegian graduates end up manning RAF squadrons flying Spitfires, Catalinas, etc. All this also is carefully covered.

Many personal profiles (based on in-depth research and interviews) are interwoven and everything is carefully covered to war’s end, the aftermath included, e.g., important events such as unveiling the commemorative monuments in Toronto and Muskoka. This beautifully-produced, large format, 240-page softcover is one of the most important Canadian aviation stories in recent years. Many photos, essential maps, notes, bibliography, index. An all-around beauty of an aviation book. $30.00 + $12.00 Canada Post + $2.10 tax = $ 44.10 (Canada). USA and overseas CDN$52.00. PayPal directly to larry@canavbooks.com, or post a cheque by snailmail to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E 3B6 Canada.

Here’s the info about Canada’s aviation blockbuster book for 2017. It’s a heavy duty effort – 512 pages, hardcover, some 1600 photos, 30 paintings and colour profiles – on and on, so no one will be disappointed in this wonderful production. Marc-André has done his usual in-depth coverage, assembling the exciting history of one of the great RCAF air stations, while blending both languages in his attractive/seamless layout. The book begins with WWII, with Bagotville training fighter pilots on the Harvard and Hurricane. Many famous aces pass through on instructing tours, many students go on to stellar careers. Next, comes the postwar era with Vampires, Sabres and CF-100s – all the historic squadrons, especially the all-weather CF-100 units – 440 and 432 — form with CF-100 Mk.3s in 1953-54. Then come steady developments – 440 goes overseas, 413 forms up, the CF-100 Mk.4 and 5 arrive, there’s a steady stream of NORAD exercises, etc.

The CF-100 gives way to the CF-101 Voodoo era (410 and 425 sqns), then the tactical world arrives with the CF-5 with the renowned 433 Squadron. Finally come the CF-18 Hornet years with 425 Sqn. The evolution of Base Flight/439 Sqn is also covered – from T-33 to Griffon helio. Many other aspects of life at “YBG” are included in this huge colour production, from DEW Line helicopter times to Air Cadets and airshows. So don’t think that this overview begins to cover all the exciting content – the photo presentations alone will knock you out!

All things considered, Marc-André’s book is a bargain at its sticker price of $60.00 + $12.00 postage (Canada only, so USA and overseas please contact me for a shipping price) + tax $3.60 … Total in Canada $75.60. How to order? PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com, or post a cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6.

Have a fine summer and make sure to read some good books (stay off those dopey, mind-numbing “devices” eh).

~ Larry Milberry, Publisher CANAV Books

 

 

Air Transport in Canada Hits 20 + Some CAHS & CAE News

Stop the Press! Here is some important news about this year’s annual convention of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Please have a look here:

2017 is a good year for aviation anniversaries. Two big ones are the Beech 18 (turns 80) and the Boeing 737 (turns 50). There’s even a CANAV Books 20th anniversary. In 1997 CANAV launched its grandest title – Air Transport in Canada. It was an exciting evening out at the since-demolished Constellation Hotel on Airport Road near YYZ. However, at one point I’d been worrying about how the whole thing would go, for by mid-afternoon “ATC” still hadn’t arrived from the printer in Manitoba. Finally, the shipment — all 20 tons of it — pulled into the warehouse and we were in business. A solid crowd turned out for a good old aviation get together. A bonus was the presence at the front entrance of former TCA Super Constellation CF-TGE (now part of the Museum of Flight in Seattle). Several of the old timers attending knew this old classic personally.

“ATC” remains one of the world’s grandest-ever aviation titles – 2 volumes, 5 kg, 1030 pages, 9×12 format, 3000+ photos, etc. It’s 53 chapters include a solid outline of the early days of commercial aviation in Canada, everything imaginable about the evolution of Canada’s airlines and air transport in the RCAF to the modern era, the first comprehensive history of the helicopter in Canada, ditto for corporate aviation and aerial surveying, on and on.

Just this weekend I heard from a new reader in the US who has received his set in the mail. His immediate reaction was pretty typical: “Larry, the books arrived today. I wrenched my back picking the box up! Just kidding. Boy, I had been prospecting up in them “Internet Hills” to find some Canadian aviation history and by golly I struck the “Mother Lode” in CANAV. Many thanks for preserving so much history.” Another fan of “ATC” is John Timmins, founder of Timmins Aviation, etc. In the afterword of his biography, I Don’t Know Where I’m Going, But I’m Making Good Time, John writes:

A special note: I want to acknowledge and thank Larry Milberry for having given all of us in Canadian aviation “Air Transport in Canada”, a history of our industry in two magnificent volumes containing over 1000 pages. Never has air transport in any country been so thoroughly and well covered. I cannot imagine anyone attempting to write on Canadian aviation without it.

If you still don’t have this spectacular 2-volume set, here’s a good chance to fill that gap on your aviation bookshelf. Normally $155, “ATC” is on special from CANAV at $95 + $16 flat rate postage + tax at $5.30 for a total (Canada only) of CDN$116.30. To put it mildly, you will not be disappointed with this impressive production. If ordering by mail, post your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E3B6.

Or … use PayPal. Just email your payment to larry@canavbooks.wordpress.com. If you are in the US or overseas and would like a set, email me at the same address, and I’ll give you a price with shipping. Thanks to “Mafia Post”, this monster set of books will cost any buyer in the US at least $40 for delivery, more for overseas. Your only consolation is that you’ll be paying in CDN dollars vs US dollars or Euros.

Only 300 of my original 4000 sets of “ATC” remain. Each comes with a special 20th Anniversary inscription from the author. Thanks as always and keep in touch via the CANAV blog.

All the best… Larry Milberry

CAE Updates

CAE retiree Arthur Grynspan adds a tidbit of valuable info about one of the group photos in The CAE Story: “I would like to identify an “unknown ” person, assuming you may re-issue the CAE Story one day. On Pg 217, in the bottom photo, the person in the last row, immediately to the right of the bearded fellow  is Ron Harmison. He and I spent an afternoon together recently during which he skimmed through your fine book and found himself. ” For the latest news about CAE — its many new contracts, etc., see http://www.cae.com as well as CAE is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2017 Learn more

First CAE-built Bombardier C Series Full Flight Simulator Receives Level D Qualification

On June 22, CAE reported some big C Series news. Get the full story of CAE’s magnificent heritage in Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story. See how the company began, did its first “sim” for the CF-100, build major components for the L1011 and 707, got into regional airlines, overhauled Viscounts and T-39s, built bushplanes, on and on — a fantastic legacy that culminates in today’s multi-billion dollar CAE. This is the grandest-ever aerospace company history, a book to be treasured by any serious reader. To order, see the main CANAV 2017 booklist and scroll back to read the book reviews. Cheers … Larry

CAE reports: CAE Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and CAE announced, during the International Paris Air Show, that Transport Canada, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) have qualified the world’s first C Series aircraft full-flight simulator (FFS) to Level D, the highest qualification for flight simulators.

The qualification by the civil aviation authorities represents a new milestone in the pilot-training activities for the C Series aircraft program. Bombardier Photos
The qualification by the civil aviation authorities represents a new milestone in the pilot-training activities for the C Series aircraft program. Bombardier Photos


The Bombardier C Series FFS, located at the Bombardier Training Centre in Montreal, Que., is the first C Series FFS to receive Level D qualification.

“This Level D qualification represents another milestone reached in the C Series aircraft program and allows pilots to complete all their training in the simulator before they fly the real aircraft,” said Todd Young, vice-president and general manager, customer services and Q400 Aircraft Program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “With this qualification, our simulator reproduces to the highest level of fidelity, the characteristics of the C Series aircraft, as certified by the civil aviation authorities.”

The Bombardier C Series FFS, located at the Bombardier Training Centre in Montreal, is the first C Series FFS to receive Level D qualification.
The Bombardier C Series FFS, located at the Bombardier Training Centre in Montreal, is the first C Series FFS to receive Level D qualification.


“We are proud to highlight another key milestone with the achievement of the highest-level qualification for the first C Series full-flight simulator in the world,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s group president, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “This highlights years of collaboration with our longstanding partner Bombardier in the development of the simulator. We are honoured to contribute to ensuring Bombardier customers receive the highest fidelity training for its C Series aircraft.” There are currently in operation, or on order, a total of five CAE-built C Series simulators worldwide.

Three top aviation book choices for year’s end 2016 and heading into the New Year.

In case you don’t happen to have a really good new book at your elbow this time of year, here are three wonderful titles. Pick one up and you’ll be a happy camper.

Canadair SabreThe Canadair Sabre is respected far and wide as the loveliest book ever produced about the F-86 Sabre. This beauty is the story of Canadair turning out 1815 North American Sabres in the 1950s, mainly for RCAF NATO squadrons. It starts with all the background from early postwar days when Mustangs and Vampires equipped the RCAF at home. With a better day fighter needed in the face of the USSR’s MiG-15, Canadair proves itself up to the task, setting up the production line at Cartierville. Soon the RCAF is known as No.1 in the NATO day fighter game. Sixty Canadian Sabres even fight in Korea with the USAF, where they account for several MiGs.

The Canadair Sabre covers the development story, then operations at the famous Sabre OTU at Chatham, details of NATO operations from the four Leapfrogs to daily patrols right up to the NATO/Warsaw Pact buffer zone, service back home with the home front squadrons in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal and much more. Then come South Africa and Colombia, and there’s even a failed deal with Israel. As earlier Canadair Sabres are replaced by the hotter Orenda-powered models, earlier examples go down the line to such allies as Italy, Greece and Turkey. Some even end in Yugoslavia. A large number of ex-Luftwaffe Sabres end clandestinely in Pakistan, where they down India AF MiG-21s in a brutal 1971 air war. Talk about Sabre coverage, eh!

With 372 pages and some 600 photos, production and accident lists, fold-out line drawings, maps, index, etc., you won’t find a much more impressive or beautifully-produced aviation hardcover. Air Fan called The Canadair Sabre “The aviation literary event of the year.” Air International added, “There seems scant prospect of a better history”, and Greece’s aviation monthly Ptisi concluded: “A real oasis for F-86 fans and anyone interested in the Golden Years of the 1950s-60s.” You can have your own copy autographed by author Larry Milberry at the all-in special price (book, shipping, tax) of CDN$44.00 (USA & Int’l CDN$56.00). Cheque or MO by mail OK, or pay via PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com

LostLost: Unsolved Mysteries of Canadian Aviation offers top coverage of this theme including such famous crashes and disappearances as the Flying Bank Robber, Johnny Bourassa & Chuck McAvoy in mysterious NWT cases, and hockey star Bill Barilko. Other episodes include long-distance Russian flier Levanevsky, and TCA’s tragic Lodestar and North Star crashes in the BC mountains. 224 pages, softcover, photos, index. CANAV’s all-in price (book, shipping, tax) CDN$33.00 (USA & Int’l CDN$36.00). Cheque or MO by mail OK, or pay via PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com

CotliffeUnder the Maple Leaf by Kenneth Cothliff recounts the remarkable adventures of four young Canadians in Bomber Command during WWII. Four lads from different backgrounds fight overseas in deadly night skies punctuated by flak and crawling with heavily armed, radar-directed night fighters. Somehow, they beat the survival odds and get home, but each is much changed from the innocent fellow who had enlisted back in Canada. Says one reviewer, “Ken Cothliff’s book is extremely valuable in telling of Canada’s vital contribution to the air war against Germany.” 240pp, hard cover, photos. CANAV’s all-in price (book, shipping, tax) $60.00 (USA & Int’l CDN$68.00). Cheque or MO by mail OK, or pay via PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com

Click here for CANAV’s complete list for more great titles tailor-made for any serious reader:

Canadian Aeorplanes Ltd. marks 100th anniversary!

December 15. 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd. CAL was the first company in Canada to have an aircraft production line. Its operations in west Toronto (1917-18) turned out more than 2000 Curtiss JN-4 Canucks. These were used by the Royal Flying Corps (Canada) to train Canadians to fly. Many of the RFC (C) graduates would fight overseas with the Royal Flying Corps, Royal Naval Air Service, then the Royal Air Force (once the RFC and RNAS merged in 1918).

JN 4s in productionIn these two fine photos from CANAV’s archives JN-4s (above) are seen on the CAL line. JN-4 C142 (below) is seen dormant in a typical Southern Ontario winter scene. The RFC (C) operated training bases from Leaside and Armour Heights in suburban Toronto, to Camp Borden, Beamsville, Deseronto and Texas. Flying continued in the toughest of winter weather in the rugged wood-wire-and-fabric JN-4C.

Production

Aviation Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees Announced

screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-1-56-39-pm

James Errol Boyd was an early entrant into the Royal Naval Air Service from the Canadian Infantry. He flew anti Zeppelin operations over the UK and coastal patrols from Dunkirk until being interned in the Netherlands. Postwar, he flew mail along the St Lawrence and graduated to long distance over water, in record-setting flights to Bermuda and Haiti. His great claim to fame was his west to east trans-Atlantic flight in October 1930 in Bellanca WP-2 Columbia/Maple Leaf. It was the first crossing by a Canadian and completed in the hazardous autumn season, a feat not repeated again until made necessary by the demands of war ten years later.

Big news from Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame … Here is the press release for the Hall’s 2017 inductees. Have a good look to see the great work the CAHF is doing. Note the info about the upcoming induction dinner. This is an event anyone in aviation past or present will thoroughly enjoy.

 

Postwar Adverts

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-6-28-21-pmAdvertising normally is in symbiosis with daily wants, needs, events and trends. Together, they drive and nourish each other. But “ads” are fleeting, because the universe of buying and selling changes so whimsically. That’s why it’s fun and eye-opening to peruse old aviation periodicals just to take in the ads (click on any image to see it full screen).

With the defeat of Germany and Japan in 1945, the world had to re-make itself by transitioning from war to peace. Ironically, wars’ end was a jolt, since people had become so used to fighting. Overnight, great militaries had to be dismantled – swords to ploughshares. In Canada something like a million men and women quickly were demobilized and sent home. Under War Assets Disposal Corporation, established by Ottawa to get rid of Canada’s tools of war, ships and tanks were sent for pots and pans, and by August 1947, 2157 airplanes already had been sold. Ottawa couldn’t act fast enough to dismantle what had been one of the most important Allied fighting machines.

Meanwhile, sprawling aircraft factories closed their doors, leaving great manufacturers like Boeing of Canada, Canadian Vickers, de Havilland Canada, Fairchild of Canada, Fleet and Victory Aircraft with nothing to do but send home tens of thousands of workers. Just as fast, however, these same companies were striving to come  up with new ideas to stay alive. After all, Canada’s airlines, bush operators, and flying clubs mainly had been without new equipment since 1939. Meanwhile, there were ominous signs of trouble between the USSR and the West, then war erupted in Korea. Canada’s aircraft industry suddenly was producing again

Lately, I started flipping through my set of Canadian Aviation magazine to see just what was going in the early postwar years. What a treasure of history these crumbing old magazines turn out to be. Here are some of the ads that caught my eye – they spotlight how Canada was starting to roll in the aftermath of WWII. All these come from the 1947 editions of this forgotten gem of a monthly.

Some of Canada’s most fascinating postwar ads cover War Assets. These informed the buying public about aircraft and associated equipment for sale at give-away prices. No sooner was the war over than Canadians were buying such planes as Hurricanes and Kittyhawks for $50 a piece. Although it was illegal to fly then, this did not deter some keen fellows operating in the countryside, beyond the prying eyes of Department of Transport inspectors. How do you like this ad … a fine Harvard for $800, a lovely Cessna T-50 Crane for $600, etc. In these brief years, huge fortunes were made by the more energetic of the war surplus hustlers.

Some of Canada’s most fascinating postwar ads cover War Assets. These informed the buying public about aircraft and associated equipment for sale at give-away prices. No sooner was the war over than Canadians were buying such planes as Hurricanes and Kittyhawks for $50 a piece. Although it was illegal to fly then, this did not deter some keen fellows operating in the countryside, beyond the prying eyes of Department of Transport inspectors. How do you like this ad … a fine Harvard for $800, a lovely Cessna T-50 Crane for $600, etc. In these brief years, huge fortunes were made by the more energetic of the war surplus hustlers.

Anton AIC

Bob Kashower of Oshawa, near Toronto, became a serious war surplus dealer, assembling hundreds of aircraft to scrap or re-sell. He ran goofy-sounding ads far and wide, but these worked – he sold anything from Tiger Moths to Ansons. Here he’s pushing Anson Vs, which he converted for civil use. Most had low time airframes, some with not even a hundred flying hours. Also flogging Ansons was Joe Lucas’ Aircraft Industries of Canada, which had taken over the RCAF training base at St. Jean, Quebec. Besides finding local buyers, AIC exported Ansons throughout the US and Latin America, even a few to Norway. For the War Assets surge, which pretty well had petered out by 1950, many pilots looking for a flying job could count on the war surplus industry for a bit of income delivering all these ex-RCAF aircraft. The Noorduyn Norseman covers a great story of four Norsemans being ferried to Argentina by a bunch of adventuresome young fellows. The Anson shown in the AIC ad bears Peruvian registration. All throughout Latin America ex-RCAF Norsemans, Cranes, Ansons and Cansos would give years of valuable service, until operators could get re-establsihed and afford more suitable equipment.

Anton Kashower

Charles Babb of California was the “King of War Surplus”. Eventually, he brokered a large percentage of RCAF home-based surplus aircraft. Just in Harvards and Cansos he supplied air forces around the world. Here, Babb lays out the basics of the versatile Canso, of which he sold dozens. He listed these from $9000 to $15,000, and they sold redaily. In another case, the enterprising Found brothers of Edmonton bought 44 Lancasters ( 2½ squadrons worth) at $325 a piece. With a great deal of backbreaking work, these were parted out, a good profit being made on the bits and pieces. Then the Founds re-sold several airframes plus 165 Merlin engines back to Ottawa for a fortune, when the RCAF realized it had let go too many Lancasters! I initially told this story in my 1979 book, Aviation in Canada.

Charles Babb of California was the “King of War Surplus”. Eventually, he brokered a large share of RCAF home-based surplus aircraft. In Harvards and Cansos alone he supplied air forces around the world. Here, Babb lays out the basics of the versatile Canso, of which he sold many. He listed these from $9000 to $15,000, and they sold readily. In another case, the enterprising Found brothers of Edmonton bought 44 Lancasters ( 2½ squadrons worth) at $325 a piece. With a great deal of backbreaking work, these were parted out, a good profit being made on the bits and pieces. Then the Founds re-sold several airframes plus 165 Merlin engines back to Ottawa for a fortune, when the RCAF realized it had let too many Lancasters go! I initially told this story in my 1979 book, Aviation in Canada (also see some great details and photos in Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace, Vol.3).

Meanwhile, commercial aviation was springing back to life, whether those rugged little bush operators, or the nation’s “Flag Carrier” -- Trans-Canada Air Lines. Bush operators were looking for new equipment … they hadn’t seen a new plane since before the war. Noorduyn thought it had the answer for local carriers in its updated Norseman V. But it wasn’t catching on and Noorduyn was having trouble paying the bills. The Norseman V was sold to Canadian Car and Foundry, which had some spare cash. However, nothing much happened. Problem? Come the peace and the US Army had several hundred Norsemans to get rid off. These flooded the market – mainly good, low time planes for cheap -- $5000 up towards $12,000. Meanwhile, a Norseman V was $30,000. In this way, the war surplus market was detrimental to the postwar aircraft industry.

Meanwhile, commercial aviation was springing back to life, whether those rugged little bush operators, or the nation’s “Flag Carrier” — Trans-Canada Air Lines. Bush operators were looking for new equipment … they hadn’t seen a new plane since before the war. Noorduyn thought it had the answer for local carriers in its updated Norseman V. But it wasn’t catching on and Noorduyn was having trouble paying the bills. The Norseman V was sold to Canadian Car and Foundry, which had some spare cash. However, nothing much happened. Problem? Come the peace and the US Army had several hundred Norsemans to get rid off. These flooded the market – mainly good, low time planes for as cheap as $5000. Meanwhile, a Norseman V started at $30,000. So … ironically, the war surplus market could be detrimental to the postwar aircraft industry.

A great new postwar Canadian idea was the Husky, designed at war’s end by Fairchild of Canada at Longueuil, Quebec. Fairchild’s thinking also was, “Hey … the war’s over, all the bush operators are going to be scrambling to re-equip.” Fairchild, however, learned the same lesson as Noorduyn. Even before the war, few bush operators ever had money for a new plane. They just kept patching up their old crates. On top of this, at the same time, in 1947 De Havilland in Toronto was introducing the new Beaver, which swept the market , forcing Fairchild to close its doors. Notice the basic means of communications mentioned in such ads. In this case not even a phone number, just a straight forward “Why not write today”, but they don’t even give a PO box number! But everyone knew back then that the post office would get any letter through. Only a few Huskys were sold. Even so, they made their mark as one of Canada’s great bushplanes, the final 2 or 3 lasting in service for more than 30 years. The Husky story is told best in Air Transport in Canada and A Life in Canadian Aerospace. Periodically, a rumour floats around that someone’s planning a Husky revival, but we’ll believe that one when we see it.

A great new postwar Canadian idea was the Husky, designed at war’s end by Fairchild of Canada at Longueuil, Quebec. Fairchild’s thinking also was, “Hey … the war’s over, all the bush operators are going to be scrambling to re-equip.” Fairchild, however, learned the same lesson as Noorduyn. Even before the war, few bush operators ever had spare money for a new plane. They just kept patching up their old crates. On top of this, in 1947 De Havilland in Toronto was introducing the Beaver, which swept the market , forcing Fairchild to close its doors. Notice the basic means of communications mentioned in such ads. In this case not even a phone number, just a straight forward “Why not write today” – they don’t even give a PO box number! But everyone knew back then that the post office would get any letter through and speedily so. Only a few Huskys were sold. Nonetheless, they made their mark as one of Canada’s great bushplanes, the final 2 or 3 lasting in service more than 30 years. The Husky story is told best in Air Transport in Canada and A Life in Canadian Aerospace. Periodically, a rumour floats around that someone’s planning a Husky revival, but we’ll believe that one when we see it.

 TCA fleet lodstars

Great things developed for Trans-Canada Air Lines early after the war. New aircraft like the DC-3 and North Star were the biggest change. These allowed for a much expanded route structure. More than 20 newly rebuilt DC-3s were delivered by Canadair starting in 1945, so the well-worn fleet of Lockheeds was sold. This basic “advert” tells the story. No doubt the planes went at give-away prices. Toronto-based buyers alone included Imperial Oil, which took CF-TDB, BA Oil– CF-TCH and CF-TDE, Massey Harris farm equipment company in Toronto, -- CF-TDG and Noranda Mines – CF-TCV. For their new role as corporate planes, the basic old TCA Lockheeds were gutted, then rebuilt with swish interiors. As such, they served into the early 1960s – Rolls-Royces of the airways, the granddaddies of today’s Global Express. The route map shows how TCA, recently re-equipped with Canadair North Stars, was eagerly expanding domestically and on the Atlantic. As you can see, 1947 advert graphics could be quite basic.

Great things developed for Trans-Canada Air Lines early after the war. New aircraft like the DC-3 and North Star were the biggest change, allowing for a much expanded route structure. More than 20 newly rebuilt DC-3s were delivered by Canadair starting in 1945, so the well-worn fleet of Lockheeds was sold. This basic “advert” tells the story. No doubt the planes went at give-away prices. Toronto-based buyers alone included Imperial Oil, which took CF-TDB, BA Oil– CF-TCH and CF-TDE, Massey Harris farm equipment company in Toronto -CF-TDG and Noranda Mines – CF-TCV. For their new role as corporate planes, the basic old TCA Lockheeds were gutted, then rebuilt with swish interiors. As such, they served into the early 1960s – Rolls-Royces of the airways, the granddaddies of today’s Global Express. The route map shows how TCA, recently having added Canadair C-4 North Stars, was eagerly expanding domestically and on the Atlantic. As you can see, 1947 advert graphics could be quite basic.

Avro-tudor

New airliners such as the North Star were entering the market even before war’s end. Meanwhile, surplus C-54s and C-69s were becoming available as the DC-4 and Constellation. Meanwhile, new designs were starting to roll off the lines, the UK’s Avro Tudor included. Britain’s industry was especially anxious to win market share in order to help jumpstart its rock-bottom economy. The Avro York was ordered for the RAF, BOAC and other UK carriers, but it was nothing but a transport versions of the Lancaster – nothing very new. Then Avro produced the Tudor, but it soon was plagued by technical woes and accidents. The Handley Page Hermes also faltered. Happily, Canadair had the C-4 coming down the line at Cartierville. BOAC ordered a fleet, which would give more than a decade of solid service. Dubbed the Argonaut, it became BOAC’s salvation on long-range services.

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Another of the many British aircraft pushed in the Canadian press in 1947 was the Bristol Freighter. Bristol quickly sent a couple to drum up business in Canada. At first little happened, even though operators were impressed. Finally, TCA and the RCAF ordered small fleets. The story is told in Air Transport in Canada. Eventually, the Freighter made a real mark in Canada’s north. Even in the 1990s there were a couple earning their keep in the BC mining industry. Museum examples of this rugged postwar workhorse may be seen in Winnipeg and Wetaskiwin.

Great Britain also introduced Britain’s de Havilland Dove in the 1940s, de Havilland of Canada being the distributor. There was an initial flurry of sales for corporate with companies as Federal Equipment, Massey Harris and Shell Oil – the Dove provided comfortable, speedy transportation on short runs. However, US competition in the form of the superior Beech 18 made the Dove a tough sell. DHC adapted the Dove to floats – it worked OK during trials, but really was impractical, so never saw service. In these years the Dominions were doing everything they could to support the UK aircraft industry -- times were tough in Great Britain. However, at every turn there were problems selling British planes in the face of (usually) better US types, and the flood of cheap war surplus planes. The concept of the “feeder liner”, as mentioned in this ad, really was a pipedream in Canada in the 1940s. The feeder liner didn’t really emerge for another 25-30 years, when it became reality with such types as the Beech 99, Beech 1900 and (ultimately) the Dash 8 and ATR.

Great Britain also introduced the de Havilland Dove in the 1940s, de Havilland of Canada being its distributor. There was an initial flurry of sales to such companies as Federal Equipment, Massey Harris and Shell Oil – the Dove provided comfortable, speedy transportation on short runs. However, US competition in the form of the superior Beech 18 made the Dove a tough sell. DHC adapted the Dove to floats – it worked OK during trials, but never saw service. In these years the Dominions were doing everything they could to support the UK aircraft industry — times were tough in Great Britain, where food still was rationed and unemployment was high. However, at every turn there were problems selling British planes in the face of (usually) better US types, and the flood of cheap war surplus planes. The concept of the “feeder liner”, as mentioned in this ad, was a pipe dream in Canada in the 1940s. The feeder liner didn’t really emerge for another 25-30 years, when it became reality with such types as the Beech 99, Beech 1900 and (ultimately) the Dash 8 and ATR.

12 miles aerovan

The UK turned out one new type after another, few of which had a hope of becoming “best sellers”. Several were almost in the “oddball” category, as was the Miles Aerovan. Built largely of plywood, it had decent specs, and flew well with a ton of cargo, etc. However, it couldn’t even get rolling in the UK, so the campaign to sell it in Canada, as represented by this 1947 advert in Canadian Aviation magazine, went nowhere. The great Ron Pickler, DFC, of Canadair had flown the Aerovan in the UK before moving to Canada. Years ago he told me how much he had enjoyed this quaint little freighter. In the fullness of time, the Aerovan concept attained success under the Short Skyvan banner.

The UK turned out one new type after another, few of which had a hope of becoming “best sellers”. Several were almost in the “oddball” category, as was the Miles Aerovan. Built largely of plywood, it had decent specs, and flew well with a ton of cargo, etc. However, it couldn’t even get rolling in the UK, so the campaign to sell it in Canada, as represented by this 1947 advert in Canadian Aviation magazine, went nowhere. The great Ron Pickler, DFC, of Canadair had flown the Aerovan in the UK before moving to Canada. Years ago he told me how much he had enjoyed this quaint little freighter. In the fullness of time, the Aerovan concept attained success under the Short Skyvan banner.

In 1946-47 it also was a tough go for Canada’s once thriving aircraft industry. However, Canadian Pratt & Whitney Aircraft (today’s Pratt & Whitney Canada) adapted well, finding jobs and sales no matter how small by turning over every stone. It sent its great wartime tech reps out on trains and busses to bang on doors from Debert to Senneterre, Timmins, Fort William Flin Flon, Prince Albert, Edmonton, Prince George, Vancouver and Campbell River – any place where there might be spare parts to sell, a propeller to straighten, or an engine to overhaul. CP&W corralled the war surplus R-985 and R-1340 markets by buying up Ansons and Harvards just for their engines, then scrounged up buyers whether in Canada or abroad. By great good fortune, de Havilland Canada suddenly was looking for R-985s for its new Beaver – CP&W got right in on that opportunity. Meanwhile, it became Canadian rep for another of its US parent company branches – Sikorsky. It brought the revolutionary S-51 into Canada for a demo tour, sold a small fleet to the RCAF, then introduced the larger S-55, placing the first with Hudson Bay Air Transport and Okanagan Helicopters. See Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story, Air Transport in Canada, the Aviation in Canada: Noorduyn Norseman, etc. for these seminal Canadian stories. In ads such as this, you can see that CP&W demanded a higher-than-usual graphic design standard.

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At war’s end Northwest Industries took over the vast Aircraft Repair facilities in Edmonton to get on the war surplus bandwagon and do who knows what else “to make a million” in postwar Canada. However, few were surprised when NWI’s attempt to remanufacture a 1920s Bellanca bushplane (the Skyrocket, shown in this cheap-looking ad) flopped. However, NWI did get a dealership for the snappy new Bellanca 4-seat sport plane. But the plumb for NWI was landing some long-term RCAF overhaul contracts for such types as the C-119. The NWI story is detailed for the first time in Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story.

Standard-aero

In 1945 Standard Aero of Winnipeg turned its wartime engine overhaul plant into a much-reduced operation serving the light airplane market, which was making a comeback. In this ad it’s promoting a line of small Continental engines that powered many pre-war 2-seaters. Nearly all those planes had been in storage through the war, now private flying again was allowed. Standard Aero gradually made its comeback, also overhauling RCAF engines and P&W engines used by bush operators and airlines. The company today does more business than ever, as its website explains: “StandardAero offers extensive MRO services and custom solutions for business aviation, commercial aviation, military and industrial power customers in more than 80 nations around the world. More than 3,500 professional, administrative and technical employees work in a dozen major facilities in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia …” What a story, eh. The advert below is for Weston Aircraft Ltd. of Oshawa, another busy postwar surplus dealer. Sold to Air Gagnon in northern Quebec, Norseman CF-FDP (ex-RCAF 491) was wrecked at Mistassini Post in May 1947.

Endless new products poured onto the market in the late 1940s, parachutes for airliners and private planes included. Irvine Air Chute Co. of Fort Erie and Buffalo was selling these, but there were few takers. The chutes were packed as tightly as possible in seat backs, but their cost and use of scarce space soon saw this exotic idea fade. Interestingly, Cirrus aircraft today equips each of its aircraft with a parachute to lower the entire plane to the ground in case of dire emergency.

Endless new products poured onto the market in the late 1940s, parachutes for airliners and private planes included. Irvine Air Chute Co. of Fort Erie and Buffalo was selling these, but there were few takers. The chutes were packed as tightly as possible into seat backs, but their cost and use of scarce space soon saw this idea fade. Interestingly, Cirrus aircraft today equips each of its aircraft with a parachute to lower the entire plane to the ground in case of dire emergency.

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18-cessna

Bonanza

North America’s light plane market was incredible in the postwar 1940s. You can scroll back to our earlier blog item “The Beech Bonanza at 70 and the Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes” to review this story. Stinson got off the mark with its lovely Flying Station Wagon and Voyageur series (Piper soon bought out Stinson). Cessna was right in there rolling out 30 new Ce.120s a day. Check out their “Mr. and Mrs. Farmer” advert, eh! Think this one would go over in today’s advertising world? Next, here’s yet another beautiful Beech ad for its incomparable new Bonanza. Finally, enjoy this timepiece from Luscombe, promoting its spiffy little Silvaire 2-seater. Thousands of these 1940-50s US alight planes soon would be in the sky. In Canada, Fleet of Fort Erie also got into this game, producing its Canuck 2-seater. Meanwhile, in the UK there was little opportunity to develop such new sport planes. No money, no market, so worn out pre-war Austers, Moths, etc. had to endure. The occasional new type like the Miles Gemini had no hope of North American sales mainly because of too much use of wood and fabric, and British engines for which there was little technical support in booming North American.

Luscombe

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In 1946-47 there were few ads in Canadian magazines for military aircraft. However, production of such types as the Avro CF-100 was just around the corner.

Mosquito Warbird Projects and Norseman Updates

Restoration of the Calgary-based Mosquito and Hurricane is progressing. Have a look at this recent update.

Why not get involved and become a supporter of this world class Calgary project? Visit the Calgary Mosquito Society for more info.

Another new Mosquito flew in New Zealand this September. Watch the video above to see the final engine runs-ups and first flight. The work of all these dedicated warbird restorers is astounding. Good on them right!

Meanwhile, the Norseman world is on the move again. The big Canadian news is that in 2016 the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum of Hamilton was regularly flying its Norseman, CF-GSR. Also this year, former Swedish Norseman, SE-CGM, which in recent years was flying on floats, returned to Norway, where it had begun in 1945 with the RNoAF. You can see it in action as SE-CGM at the 2015 Kjeller airshow at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VSIjLEJVx5w. Then, you can check out https://www.jaermuseet.no/flyhistorisk/568-2/norseman-fra-norwegian-spitfire-foundation/ and http://luftfartsmuseum.no/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/NLM-NOORDUYN-NORSEMAN.pdf to see it restored to original RNoAF markings, Now registered LN-TSN, it’s owned by Norsk Luftartsmuseum and operated by the Norwegian Spitfire Foundation. Finally, at http://blhf.org/?id=731534676 you can read about the recent recovery of LN-PAB — Norway’s first civilian Norseman and one with a really exotic history.

The world’s best Norseman history “in  print” is CANAV’s Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman Story, which comes in two beautifully-produced volumes. Take a look at our blog coverage — you can order your set on line. Cheers … Larry