Category Archives: Aviation history

The Canadair Sabre — A 30-Year Retrospective 1986-2016

Sabre dust jacket

This year is the 30th anniversary of CANAV’s best-selling The Canadair Sabre. Since Day One, this title has been synonymous with the great Geoff Bennett’s cover art depicting a 413 Squadron Sabre in its splendid early-1950s RCAF No.1 Air Division markings. *Click on the pictures to see them full size.

No trouble moving a few copies at the book launch 30 years ago. At the left here is Chuck Kemp (430 Sqn 1960-63), Gerhard Joos (Luftwaffe F-84F), Spitfire veteran Raymond Munro (dark tie), photographer/artist Bob Finlayson, modeller Derek Pennington, author Larry Milberry with daughter Stephanie, and Max Nerriere (Orenda).

No trouble moving a few copies at the book launch 30 years ago. At the left here is Chuck Kemp (430 Sqn 1960-63), Gerhard Joos (Luftwaffe F-84F), Spitfire veteran Raymond Munro (dark tie), photographer/artist Bob Finlayson, modeller Derek Pennington, author Larry Milberry with daughter Stephanie, and Max Nerriere (Orenda).

Thirty, even 20 years ago, there still was great enthusiasm for the printed word. When a new aviation book appeared, readers would hurry out to find a copy, and there sure never was a problem filling a room for a book launching. The evolution of the internet has greatly altered this historic scenario – news of the world, right. Now that “everything’s on the web” (what a crock, but the idea has been beautifully marketed to the gullible public), book publishers are on an increasingly steep uphill grade.

A typical print run for a new Canadian hardcover trade book 30 years ago was 3500 to 5000 (with a good prospect for at least one reprint). Today, a publisher is loath to run more than 1500 copies with zero prospect of a reprint. Naturally, there still are blockbusters, but I’m talking here about what’s average. Certainly, something like Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide, with printings into the six figures, encourages trade book publishers, whose motto (in most cases) remains, “We live in hope”.

Sparked by some great old photos that recently came “out of nowhere”, this reminiscence takes me back to the fourth title published under my then fairly unknown “CANAV Books” banner. Having begun on a wing and a prayer in 1981 with The Avro CF-100, I was pleased to find that readers liked the CANAV style. The CF-100 sold out its 3500 first printing in nine weeks, a second printing in nine months, and appeared yet again under a unique CANAV/McGraw Hill-Ryerson imprint. Next, I produced The Canadair North Star, launching it in November 1982 (scroll back to see the North Star book launch story). This also was a success, selling out 5000 and going to a second printing. For title three (1983), Fred Hotson and I teamed with support from DHC to produce The De Havilland Canada Story. Before that one rolled out, I already had begun an RCAF 60th anniversary extravaganza. In 1984 that came out as Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984. There were rave reviews and I even got seven minutes that summer live with Peter Gzowski on CBC Morningside (a huge deal for a minor book publisher, but who would have a clue these days, eh).

Having had access during my North Star research to behind-the-scenes material at Canadair, I decided next to tackle the important history of the Canadair F-86 Sabre. Started late in 1984, the book was launched on August 19, 1986 at the old Cambridge Hotel on Toronto’s airport strip. Other Sabre events followed in Ottawa and Montreal. The launch was attended by a good crowd of keen types, many a “Swordsman” included.

Many Sabre pilots joined us for the launch, Ralph Heard (left) and Ken “Hagis McPuke” Hagerty (center) included. By this time Ralph was flying helicopters for Ontario Hydro. Hagis was pretty well retired. Cancer since deprived us of these wonderful Canadians. On the right is the great Moe Servos, retired from Air Canada and enjoying the joys of flying his classic Beech 17 Staggerwing. Moe later died in a traffic accident.

Many Sabre pilots joined us for the launch, Ralph Heard (left) and Ken “Hagis McPuke” Hagerty (center) included. By this time Ralph was flying helicopters for Ontario Hydro. Hagis was pretty well retired. Cancer since deprived us of these wonderful Canadians. On the right is the great Moe Servos, retired by 1986 from Air Canada and enjoying the joys of flying his classic Beech 17 Staggerwing. Moe later died in a traffic accident.

Revered wartime Spitfire pilot, Dean Kelly (left), was one of the first to do a Sabre solo demo airshow, while on 441 Sqn. Dean (as they say) could make your eyes water with his amazing display. Here he is with John L. “Denny” Den Ouden (410 Sqn), well-known on squadron and with the wild and crazy Overseas Ferry Unit. Denny later practiced law in Niagara Falls and built up a spectacular 5000-volume aviation library. Both of these fine aviators have departed.

While with 441 Sqn, revered wartime Spitfire pilot, Dean Kelly (left), was one of the first to do a Sabre solo demo airshow. Dean (as they say) could make your eyes water with his amazing display. Here he is with John L. “Denny” Den Ouden (410 Sqn), well-known on squadron and with the wild and crazy Overseas Ferry Unit. Denny later practiced law in Niagara Falls and built up a spectacular 5000-volume aviation library. Both of these fine aviators have departed.

Far left in this snapshot is Len “Rocky” Redman (444 Sqn). Then … unknown, Denny Den Ouden, myself, daughter Steff and Max Nerriere. Rocky appears twice in the book for near-deadly crashes. I last met him on leaving Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition grounds minutes after we had witnessed a Nimrod crash with the loss of all aboard. Not long afterwards we heard that Rocky had passed on.

Far left in this snapshot is Len “Rocky” Redman (444 Sqn). Then … unknown, Denny Den Ouden, myself and Max Nerriere. Rocky appears twice in the book for near-deadly crashes. I last met him on leaving Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition grounds minutes after we had witnessed a Nimrod crash with the loss of all aboard. Not long afterwards we heard that Rocky had passed on.

Caption Air reservists attending the book launch included Jim Foy, Denny Den Ouden, Mike Valenti, Ron Richardson and Gord Mansell. All but Mike (from the Otter era) had flown Sabre 5s from Downsview.

Air reservists attending the book launch included Jim Foy, Denny Den Ouden, Mike Valenti, Ron Richardson and Gord Mansell. All but Mike (from the Otter era) had flown Sabre 5s from Downsview.

I never wavered from the start about diving in for 10,000 copies of the Sabre book, which the Bryant Press of Toronto delivered. Happily, I’ve lasted long enough to see my huge stock of 20+ tons dwindle to today’s part skid.

In 1986 the book won immediate praise from Sabre people, serious aviation bibliophiles and respected old-guard reviewers. Air Combat simply called the book, “The aviation literary event of the year”. France’s leading aviation monthly, Air Fan, added a delicious compliment: “Ici encore, les anecdotes savoureuses fourmillent. Ce sont celles-ci qui rendent les livres de Milberry différents des publications anglo-saxonnes ou américaines, qui sont généralement moins humaines”. So … Air Fan picked up on my two chief objectives in doing any book – to tell the human as carefully as the airplane story. The inimitable Air International commented of The Canadair Sabre: “There seems scant prospect of a better history.” Greece’s aviation monthly, Ptisi, added that the book was “a real oasis for F-86 fans”. No publisher or author could have had his book better received.

The success of the Sabre book counted heavily on the talents and patience of graphics man and editorial guru Robin Brass. I met Robin in the early 1970s, when he was a sponsoring editor at McGraw Hill-Ryerson. I then was trying to sell the idea for a general Canadian aviation book to succeed Frank Ellis’ 1954 Canada’s Flying Heritage. Through Robin, the idea was accepted by MHR, appearing in 1979 as Aviation in Canada, which eventually sold out five printings. Robin soon left MHR to go freelance. As such he became the production brains behind the first wave of CANAV titles. Here (right) he chats at the book launch with Ralph Clint, the project’s indispensible proof reader, fact checker, and line drawing/map making perfectionist. Left is our great mutual pal and darkroom practitioner, Bob Finlayson. Bob and Ralph since have left us. Robin recently guided the Ontario Regiment through the complex task of producing Fidelis et Paratus: The History of the Ontario Regiment, 1866-2016.

The success of the Sabre book counted heavily on the talents and patience of graphics man and editorial guru Robin Brass. I met Robin in the early 1970s, when he was a sponsoring editor at McGraw Hill-Ryerson. I then was trying to sell the idea for a general Canadian aviation book to succeed Frank Ellis’ 1954 Canada’s Flying Heritage. Through Robin, the idea was accepted by MHR, appearing in 1979 as Aviation in Canada, which eventually sold out five printings. Robin soon left MHR to go freelance. As such he became the production brains behind the first wave of CANAV titles. Here (right) he chats at the book launch with Ralph Clint, the project’s indispensable proof reader, fact checker, and line drawing/map making perfectionist. Left is our great mutual pal and darkroom practitioner, Bob Finlayson. Bob and Ralph since have left us. Robin recently guided the Ontario Regiment through the complex task of producing Fidelis et Paratus: The History of the Ontario Regiment, 1866-2016.

Some younger fans at the book launch: Simon and Stephanie Milberry, Zoe Brass, Kate Milberry, Jane Werniuk and Matt Milberry.

Some younger fans at the book launch: Simon and Stephanie Milberry, Zoe Brass, Kate Milberry, Jane Werniuk and Matt Milberry.

So many contributed to the Sabre project. Here I am with Gerhard Joos, who researched the basic material for Ch.11 “The German Sabre Story”. As a young postwar aviator, Gerhard flew the F-84F in the newly re-formed Luftwaffe, but his unfulfilled dream had been to fly the Canadair Sabre. Later, he flew with Condor Airlines and to this day is keen about all things aviation. Yes, those were the days when a fellow would drop everything and fly an ocean to attend a book launch. For our North Star launch at the same hotel people flew in from the UK, Bermuda and California, while Canadair showed up from Montreal with a Learjet full of old timers. By comparison, these days people barely will cross the street to attend a book event. Times and priorities change, eh.

So many contributed to the Sabre project. Here I am with Gerhard Joos, who researched the basic material for Ch.11 “The German Sabre Story”. As a young postwar aviator, Gerhard flew the F-84F in the newly re-formed Luftwaffe (his unfulfilled dream had been to fly the Canadair Sabre). Later, he flew with Condor Airlines and to this day is keen about all things aviation. Yes, those were the days when a fellow would drop everything and fly an ocean to attend a book launch. For our North Star launch at the same hotel people flew in from the UK, Bermuda and California, while Canadair showed up from Montreal with a Learjet full of old timers. By comparison, these days people barely will cross the street to attend a book event. Times and priorities change, eh.

RCAF wartime veterans all were keen about the sleek and speedy Sabre. Here W.H.D. Meaden, DFC (left, 432 Sqn Lancaster IIs, 436 Sqn C-130), is having fun at the launch with John Biehler (centre, 254 Sqn Beaufighters) and Aussie Maxwell (436 Sqn C-119, C-130, CPAir DC-8). These three fine citizens have since “moved on”.

RCAF wartime veterans all were keen about the sleek and speedy Sabre. Here W.H.D. Meaden, DFC (left, 432 Sqn Lancaster IIs, 436 Sqn C-130), is having fun at the launch with John Biehler (centre, 254 Sqn Beaufighters) and Aussie Maxwell (436 Sqn C-119, C-130, CPAir DC-8). These three fine citizens have since “moved on”.

The late Spitfire history aficionado, Robert Bracken, and John Biehler look over a spread in the Sabre book. Robert was one of the solid types at researching RCAF and CAN/RAF Spitfire personalities. His wonderful 2-volume work Spitfire: The Canadians (illustrated by the incomparable Ron Lowry) belongs in every collector’s library.

The late Spitfire history aficionado, Robert Bracken, and John Biehler look over a spread in the Sabre book. Robert was one of the solid types researching RCAF and CAN/RAF Spitfire personalities. His wonderful 2-volume work Spitfire: The Canadians (illustrated by the incomparable Ron Lowry) belongs in every collector’s library.

The author looks over some Sabre photos with Max Nerriere, one of the pioneers of the Orenda 14 that powered the Sabre VI. Max later was helped maintain the large fleet of ex-Luftwaffe Sabres that Pakistan clandestinely acquired.

The author looks over some Sabre photos with Max Nerriere, one of the pioneers of the Orenda 14 that powered the Sabre VI. Max later helped maintain the large fleet of ex-Luftwaffe Sabres that Pakistan clandestinely acquired.

Ray Munro of Oakville with his hero, G/C Z.L. “Lewie” Leigh of Grimsby, Lewie’s lawyer pal, and Canada’s premier aviation historian, Ken Molson of Toronto. Lewie and Ken were always supportive of my efforts, but could be no-nonsense critics. Sabre history was not really Ken’s territory – he was more of a Silver Dart, JN-4 and Fairchild FC type. Four years earlier at the North Star book launch, he gave me his opinion about that book’s art gallery. When I saw him flipping through those pages, I (foolishly) asked what he thought. In his true style, Ken told me unapologetically, “I wouldn’t give you a nickel for the lot of it.”

Ray Munro of Oakville with his hero, G/C Z.L. “Lewie” Leigh of Grimsby, Lewie’s lawyer pal, and Canada’s premier aviation historian, Ken Molson of Toronto (all since passed). Lewie and Ken were always supportive of my efforts, but could be no-nonsense critics. Sabre history was not really Ken’s territory – he was more of a Silver Dart, JN-4 and Fairchild FC type. Four years earlier at the North Star book launch, he had given me his opinion about the book’s art gallery. When I saw him flipping through the art pages, like a dope I asked what he thought of the paintings. Ken replied unapologetically, “I wouldn’t give you a nickel for the lot of it.”

Some of the autographs I collected in my Sabre book at our Toronto 1986 book launch.

Some of the autographs I collected in my Sabre book at our Toronto 1986 book launch.

Sabre 15

 CANAV was the first book publisher to support Canada’s almost invisible (at the time) aviation art community. Our Sabre cover art by Geoff Bennett was his first published book art. We put up a small show at the Sabre launch – likely the first such in Canada. Other artists on show were Tom Bjarnason, Ross Buckland, Keith Ferris (USA), Ron Lowry and Pete Mossman.

CANAV was the first book publisher to support Canada’s almost invisible (at the time) aviation art community. Our Sabre cover art by Geoff Bennett was his first published book art. We put up a small show at the launch – maybe the first such in Canada. Other artists on show were Tom Bjarnason, Ross Buckland, Keith Ferris (USA), Ron Lowry and Pete Mossman.

The last batch of Sabre books now is available at the bargain price in Canada of $30.00 + $12.00 postage + tax $2.10 = $44.10. USA and overseas CDN$54.00 postpaid (surface mail). Any reader will be delighted with this world class production. Also, The Canadair Sabre makes the perfect gift book for any aviation fan. Mail your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E3B6 Canada, or, use PayPal by depositing to larry@canavbooks.com.

All the best as usual … Larry

Email larry@canavbooks.com

Tel. (416) 698-7559

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

Norseman1

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.

Norseman2

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

Norseman Vol. 1cover jpg

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.

 

Ancient CAE 737-200 Flight Simulator Still Doing Valuable Work after 40 years

CAE and Eastern Provincial Airways staff with the new EPA 737 flight simulator at the factory early in 1976 during final approval and acceptance. (Ed Bermingham)

CAE and Eastern Provincial Airways staff with the new EPA 737-200 flight simulator at the factory early in 1976 during final approval and acceptance. (Ed Bermingham)

The cockpit of the EPA 737 simulator during approval at CAE in 1976. (Ed Bermingham)

The cockpit of the EPA 737-200 simulator during approval at CAE in 1976. (Ed Bermingham)

In the 1970s CAE remained a tiny competitor in the flight simulator world dominated by such giants as Link in the United States and Redifon in the UK. Nonetheless, CAE was winning a few contracts and already had a reputation for delivering high-quality products.

Initially introduced in Canada by Nordair in 1968, the Boeing 737-200 soon was delivering outstanding service and profits to Canadian operators — CPAir, EPA, Nordair, PWA and Transair.

So far there was no 737 “flight sim” in Canada, but the 737 was gaining in popularity, so training demands were increasing. Finally, in 1975 CAE won a contract to supply Halifax-based Eastern Provincial Airlines with a 737-200 full flight simulator to train its pilots.

EPA 737s CF-EPO and CF-EPP at Wabush in 1975.

EPA 737-200ss CF-EPO and CF-EPP at Wabush in 1975. (Larry Milberry)

CF-EPL landing at Toronto. Two since have "gone for pots and pans", while CF-EPP was wrecked while landing at Gander in 2001. Even though nearly all the early Canadian 737s by now are long since retired, the CAE ancient sim on which hundreds of 737 pilots trained since 1976 remains in daily use. (Larry Milberry)

CF-EPL landing at Toronto. Two of these three 737s since have “gone for pots and pans”, while CF-EPP was wrecked while landing at Gander in 2001. Even though nearly all the early Canadian 737-200s by now are long since retired, the ancient CAE/EPA sim on which hundreds of 737-200 pilots trained since 1976 remains in daily use. (Larry Milberry)

Unless Canadian operators were doing sim training in the US, pilot training and qualification upgrades mainly still were being done expensively in the airplanes as “OJT” — on the job training. Having its own sim instantly enhanced training at EPA. Delivered early in 1976, the sim remained in Halifax at least into 1984. Other  737 operators bought time on it, so it turned into a valuable cash cow for EPA.

In 1984 EPA was sold to Canadian Airlines International of Vancouver. Some time thereafter, EPA’s 737 sim was shipped across Canada to Vancouver.

The 1976-model CAE Boeing 737-200 flight simulator as it sits today in the Air Canada training centre in Vancouver. Note that it remains in its vintage Canadian Airline International colour scheme.

The 1976-model CAE Boeing 737-200 flight simulator as it sits today in the Air Canada training centre at Vancouver. Note that it remains in its vintage Canadian Airline International colour scheme. (A.T. Jarvis)

the present day cockpit. Note that the basic instrumentation remains, while numerous improvements have been added (compare with the original version above). (A.T. Jarvis)

The present day cockpit. Note that the basic instrumentation remains, but how numerous improvements have been added (compare with the original version above). (A.T. Jarvis)

The old-fashioned looking instructor's station in the 1976 sim. Clunky, but it works. (A.T. Jarvis)

The old-fashioned looking instructor’s station in today’s sim. Clunky, but it works. (A.T. Jarvis)

Photo Gallery: Canada’s Historic 737-200 Fleet

This series of photos illustrates some of the many airlines whose pilots have  trained since 1976 on this reliable old piece of CAE technology.

Canada's first Boeing 737 was Nordair's CF-NAB. This historic 737 soon was serving points from the High Arctic to the tropics. 737 operations on ice were pioneered by Nordair. Sadly, "NAB" is long gone -- who would ever dream of saving such a valuable piece of Canadian air transport history, right! (All, Larry Milberry)

Canada’s first Boeing 737 was Nordair’s CF-NAB. This historic 737 soon was serving points from the High Arctic to the tropics. 737 operations on ice were pioneered by Nordair. Sadly, “NAB” is long gone — who would ever dream of saving such a valuable piece of Canadian air transport history, right! (All, Larry Milberry)

CP Air's 737 C-GCPT landing at Vancouver in September 1986.

CP Air 737 C-GCPT landing at Vancouver in September 1986.

Transair 737 CF-TAO at Toronto on January 5, 1974.

Transair 737 CF-TAO at Toronto on January 5, 1974.

NWT Air 737 C-GNWT waits at Winnipeg on November 14, 1990 for its next DEW Line re-supply mission. NWT Air today is part of FirstAir, whose 737-200 pilots still train on the famous old CAE sim in Vancouver.

NWT Air 737 C-GNWT waits at Winnipeg on November 14, 1990 for its next DEW Line re-supply mission. NWT Air today is part of FirstAir, whose 737-200 pilots still train on the famous old CAE sim in Vancouver.

NWT eventually was sold to Air Canada, so adopted the new owner's fleet colours. These NWT Air 737-200s were  at Yellowknife on August 18, 1995 (C-GNWN nearest).

NWT eventually was sold to Air Canada, so adopted the new owner’s fleet colours. These NWT Air 737-200s were at Yellowknife on August 18, 1995 (C-GNWN nearest).

Pacific Western Airlines was a major Canadian 737-200 operator, which also trained pilots in the EPA sim over the years. Here, C-GJPW waits at Edmonton "Muni" on May 17, 1987.

Pacific Western Airlines was a major Canadian 737-200 operator, which also trained pilots in the EPA sim over the years. Here, C-GJPW waits at Edmonton “Muni” on May 17, 1987.

Canadian North uses the Air Canada/CAE 737-200 sim. Here C-GDPA 737-200 (formerly of Dome Petroleum) arrives at "YFB" Iqaluit on a February 2006 quick turn-around from Ottawa bound for Rankin Inlet and Yellowknife.

Canadian North uses the Air Canada/CAE 737-200 sim. Here C-GDPA 737-200 (formerly of Dome Petroleum) arrives at “YFB” Iqaluit on a February 2006 quick turn-around from Ottawa bound for Rankin Inlet and Yellowknife.

RCAF Commits to the Most Advanced in Simulation Training

To give a sense of the depth in technology development in simulation training today, check out this recent item from Defence News: “Canada Setting the Scene for Future Pilot Training Program”It discusses where Canada’s air force is going in simulation training, when considering such fleets as the CH-147F Chinook, CC-117 Globemaster III and CC-130J Super Hercules.

For the broader history about the evolution of flight simulation, order yourself a copy of Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, 2015’s blockbuster aviation book of the year.

Flight Simulators Save Lives

SAS ConvairBefore the airlines had fully embraced flight simulation about 1975, many aircraft were lost unnecessarily in training accidents. In Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, such dreadful cases as the Air Canada and Air New Zealand DC-8 training flight crashes are cited. Someone could write a lurid book about all those avoidable accidents.

From the 1950s the airlines took a good 25 years before concluding that such advanced pilot training must be done only in a modern flight simulator equipped with motion and visual systems. Some airlines came kicking and screaming to the flight simulation table, but that era finally had become ancient history by 2015.

In doing some misc. research lately, I came across yet another crazy mishap caused by taking up a crew-in-training in an expensive airliner, then introducing them to a dangerous scenario. This involved an SAS Convair 440 training instructor at Stockholm retarding the power on one engine as the Convair lifted off. Usually, such challenges to the pilot-in-command were not announced in advance.

This incident involved Convair 440 SE-BSU on November 1, 1969 (shown above is a fine period view of “BSU” taken by my old photography pal, the late, great Wilf White of Glasgow). The accident report (available at the Aviation Safety Network) concludes: “An engine failure was simulated during the takeoff (at V1). The yaw was corrected and the Convair lifted off the runway. When airborne, the left wing dropped slowly, causing the aircraft to drift to the left. Power was restored to the No.1 engine, but the left wing hit the ground and the aircraft crash-landed. The nose and right main gear collapsed.”

End result? One lovely Convair 440 unnecessarily wrecked. Happily, the four pilots aboard survived, but with many similar training flights since 1960, there were tragic outcomes. In another of the hundreds of such crashes over the decades, on February 6, 1992, USAF C-130B Hercules 58-0732 crashed near Evansville, Indiana, while simulating engine failure during an in-flight training session. This “real life” exercise cost 16 lives. Although they have clearly been slow learners, today’s airline and military operators finally are with the program, almost all such training now being done “in the sim”

You can get the big picture about how the airlines gradually adopted flight simulation, by ordering yourself a copy of Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, 2015’s blockbuster aviation book of the year.

 

The Greater Toronto Airport Authority History Room

No.1 P1100321Many airports have shown imagination in devoting some of their scarce space for historical/educational purposes. Depending, some photos might be displayed and periodically rotated, or there are artifacts, models or complete aircraft on show. There might even be a museum adjacent to the airport, as at Victoria or Halifax. Whatever is on show, the airport authorities deserve credit for at least showing some interest in our aviation heritage.

Many years ago, when the new Terminal 1 at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport (“YYZ”) was in the planning stage, I wrote to the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (overseer of all things at YYZ), suggesting that it consider acquiring a dormant ex-Trans-Canada Air Lines Super Constellation. This was CF-TGE. I presented the “Super Connie” as a vibrant piece of aviation history and genuine modern art. The aircraft could be finely restored, then suspended from somewhere up in T-1’s wide-open ceiling vault. Such a display would add hugely to the ambiance in T-1, inspiring millions of travelers yearly. To this day, sadly, I’m still awaiting a reply from the GTAA about my crazy idea. In the meanwhile, the sharp-minded and visionary acquisitions people at Seattle’s Museum of Flight came along and scooped up CF-TGE. That’s where to go today to see this incomparably beautiful airplane appropriately displayed in TCA colours. We wrote about it here and here.

All is not lost, however. Thanks to the GTAA, YYZ does today have a small room that tells (in rotating displays) its story from pre-WWII times to the present. Late in 2015 this included a lovely cabinet set-up by local aviation history aficionado, Carl Mills. Carl spent years researching the history of the Trans-Canada Airlines Canadian-built Lancaster XPPs (sometime known as Lancastrians – the name that the British ascribed to their own civilianized Lancaster).

So … the next time you pass through YYZ T-1, ask any employee for directions to the GTAA history room and take a few minutes to enjoy its many displays. Too bad that you will not be awestruck by a full-size TCA Super Connie, but you will see a very lovely little model of one. Here are two views of Carl’s TCA Lancaster set-up, plus another featuring some of the locally-produced Avro Aircraft of Canada designs – the Jetliner and Avrocar.

No.2 P1100322

No.3 P1100323