Category Archives: Aviation Museums

Buried Norseman Photos Re-Emerge

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One of the fine Norseman photos from the Geoff Rowe Collection recently supplied to CANAV Books by the Comox Air Force Museum (all the photos in this item are via this collection). In Norseman Vol.1 p.142 the centre photo shows RCAF 2495 during Exercise Musk Ox in 1946. There’s an inscription on this plane that can’t fully be made out – it’s obscured by the open door. Happily, this detail view has turned up, so the mystery of the inscription is resolved. However, we don’t yet have the names of these 4 jolly “Musk Ox” fellows. Also too bad is that the significance of “Kripple Kee-Bird” remains unknown. Only someone who was there 67 years ago could clear up that one! Andrew Yee has fine-tuned these photos for your viewing pleasure. (On March 25, 2015 I heard from Doreen, the daughter of Canada’s great Arctic explorer, and captain of the St. Roch, Henry Larsen. Having come across our post, Doreen immediately recognized her father standing 2nd from the left. Recalling his profile in my Gr. 5 or 6 social studies book of 60 years ago, I immediately could agree. So … mystery partially solved!) To see any photo full frame, just click on it.

The route to today’s selection of new Norseman photos is slightly roundabout: Having such a monumental aviation past, Canada has no shortage of history devotees, many of whom I met over the decades. These dedicated researchers, photographers and collectors usually supported my own efforts. Included were/are the likes of Sheldon Benner, Leslie Corness, Hugh Halliday, Terry Judge, Peter Keating, Al Martin, Jack McNulty, Ken Molson, Merlin Ready, Harry Stone, Bill Wheeler and Wilf White. In this blog item I’m featuring Geoffrey A. Rowe, a Brit born on February 9, 1939, who lived (after coming to Canada) first at “Top Acres” farm at Stittsville near Ottawa, then in Victoria, where he moved in the early 1970s and passed away on August 2, 1994. Without the likes of Geoff Rowe, our aviation heritage resources would be vastly smaller, since it is not the prerogative of most people working in aviation to record or save what is necessary for posterity.

Norseman 369 offloads somewhere in the NWT during “Musk Ox”. For this famous northern exercise, air support was provided to the Army by a temporary RCAF organization – No.1 Air Support Unit (see Norseman Vol.1 pp 143-145). This view illustrates the Norseman’s big wooden “bear paw” skis, which pilots did not like. (RCAF PL37690)

Norseman 369 offloads somewhere in the NWT during “Musk Ox”. For this famous northern exercise, air support was provided to the Army by a temporary RCAF organization – No.1 Air Support Unit (see Norseman Vol.1 pp 143-145). This view illustrates the Norseman’s big wooden “bear paw” skis, which pilots did not like. (RCAF PL37690)

Following Geoff’s passing, his parents, George and Martha, donated his collection to the superb Comox Air Force Museum. Recently, Comox contacted me with news that some folders of “Geoff Rowe” Norseman photos suddenly had surfaced during the process off accessing his material. Would I be interested in copies? Naturally, the answer was a frantic “Yes”! Fifty years ago, Geoff was pals with many Canadian Aviation Historical Society members in those halcyon early CAHS days. CAHS member No.58 since June 10, 1963, Geoff was an avid collector of photos, books and artifacts. He was a founding member of the CAHS Ottawa Chapter. I recently noticed a short advert that he placed in 1963 in Vol.2 No.1 of the CAHS Journal: “Geoff Rowe (#58), Top Acres, RR2, Stittsville. Ontario. Needs a perspex nose cap from a Lockheed Hudson Mk.III.” Whom else in the world would be looking for such an oddball thing!

Likely also from “Musk Ox” is this view of Norseman 371 with RCAF Dakota 963, location unknown. 371 previously served on wartime survey operations in the Canadian Arctic. It later was CF-ILR, the adventures of which are well covered in Norseman Vol.2 (its remains still may be seen on Baffin Island).

Likely also from “Musk Ox” is this view of Norseman 371 with RCAF Dakota 963, location unknown. 371 previously served on wartime survey operations in the Canadian Arctic. It later was CF-ILR, the adventures of which are well covered in Norseman Vol.2 (its remains still may be seen on Baffin Island).

In 1961 Geoff (if you can believe this) acquired a genuine Bf.109E fighter, maker’s number 1190. This plane had run into trouble during a Battle of Britain sortie, obliging pilot Horst Perez to crash land in Sussex. Later, the relatively undamaged 1190 was shipped to New York via Canada to be shown off from city to city as a wartime morale booster. For several years it toured from NYC to Galveston, Birmingham, Chicago, Buffalo — all over America. Near war’s end it visited centres from Edmonton to Winnipeg and Toronto. It then endured several years stored and deteriorating at Arnprior, west of Ottawa. In 1959 it was rejected by the Canadian War Museum as being beyond limits for practical restoration, so was sold for scrap. In CAHS Journal Vol.2 No.2 of 1964, Geoff explained: “After painstaking enquiries, the airframe was located in 1961 in a junk yard buried beneath wrecked cars and was rescued by the author.” He kept 1190 in his yard, until passing it in 1966 to two like-minded UK collaborators. After languishing further in the UK, in 1998 this priceless Battle of Britain veteran was acquired by the Imperial War Museum and restored for exhibit. Thanks exclusively to Geoff Rowe’s foresight, 1190 now may be seen at the IWM in Duxford, displayed in a full-size diorama in the markings in which it came down in Surrey in 1940.

On p.125 of Norseman Vol.1 there’s a photo of RCAF Norseman 792 taken at almost the same angle as this one, except that 792 there is on wheels (also see it on p.149). Here’s 792 in a fine winter scene at Rockcliffe, as ground crew remove the engine cover in preparation for a trip. The many adventures of 792 are covered in both Norseman volumes. As a beautifully-restored “modern day” Norseman, it remained airworthy in 2014 as CF-IGX (presently, it is wintering in Manitoba at Selkirk airport). (RCAF RE64-2794)

On p.125 of Norseman Vol.1 there’s a photo of RCAF Norseman 792 taken at almost the same angle as this one, except that 792, there, is on wheels (also see it on p.149). Here’s 792 in a fine winter scene at Rockcliffe, as ground crew remove the engine cover in preparation for a trip. The many adventures of 792 are covered in both Norseman volumes. As a beautifully-restored “modern day” Norseman, it remained airworthy in 2014 as CF-IGX (presently, it is wintering in Manitoba at Selkirk airport). (RCAF RE64-2794)

The last I saw Geoff was circa 1974 in Victoria. That day he kindly toured me through his basement “Airchive”, as he called it. On January 1, 2014 Paddy Gardiner of Kuujjuaq sent me these personal reminiscences about his old pal:

During the Second World War, Geoff’s father had worked in Canada as a federal government “dollar-a-year” man. Following the war he brought his family out. He purchased a large parcel of land in what today is the modern Ottawa suburb of Kanata. This is where we used to hang out in the early 1960s. The lot was on an exposed limestone outcropping. It had a small quarry used for swimming. Here could be seen Geoff’s pride and joy — the remains of his Battle of Britain Me.109.

Another fine winter scene, this one of 2456 at Rockcliffe on December 23, 1940. Beyond are a couple of RCAF Hudsons. (RCAF)

Another fine winter scene, this one of 2456 at Rockcliffe on December 23, 1940. Beyond are a couple of RCAF Hudsons. (RCAF)

Geoff Rowe was an eclectic collector and an unusual person to boot. It was either (or both) Hugh Halliday or Dick Kamm, who introduced me to Geoff. Hugh was then with the RCAF Air Historical Section in Ottawa. Dick was a Canadian in the USAF, serving as a flight engineer on the B-36. It was with Geoff and Hugh that we formed the Ottawa chapter of the CAHS in 1964. Geoff was employed as a patent draftsman with the Ottawa law firm of Gowling and MacTavish. He drove (rather ferociously, I always thought) a Volkswagen Beetle, touring around checking for the widest range of aeronautica to collect. One find was an almost complete Fairchild Cornell, which he towed with my help (wings off) down a newly-completed section of Ottawa’s Queensway. It was later stored at a friend’s farm.

Pristine-looking Norseman 3523 at rest at Rockcliffe. An Anson V, Beech 18, Oxford and Lysander are part of the interesting background. Following a busy RCAF career, 3523 was transferred in 1953 to the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It later served commercially throughout Norway with Widerøe air service until a December 1966 accident. (RCAF PL24366)

Pristine-looking Norseman 3523 at rest at Rockcliffe. An Anson V, Beech 18, Oxford and Lysander are part of the interesting background. Following a busy RCAF career, 3523 was transferred in 1953 to the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It later served commercially throughout Norway with Widerøe air service until a December 1966 accident. (RCAF PL24366)

Geoff’s had many aviation contacts all over. One day, for example, he introduced me to Paul Garber, founder of the Smithsonian Air and Space Collection. During his time as a patent draftsman, Geoff subcontracted me to photograph for his employer all kinds of items for patent applications. That job largely paid for my photographic equipment over several years. Geoff was a skilled artist in a unique “cartoony” style and was capable of creating artwork for calendars and other art forms that depicted flying in some bizarre and satiric way. I always thought it was a pity that few people saw these works, which he reserved for his closer friends.

Norseman Vol.1 tells a bit about the RCAF’s early search and para-rescue activities. On p.197 there’s a fuzzy photo of 2471 with a class of early para-rescue jumpers on course at Jasper, Alberta. Suddenly, via the Geoff Rowe Collection, we now have this far better version of this photo. Janet Lacroix at the DND in Ottawa looked this neg up for me to determine that the picture dates to June 16, 1947. There’s also a great photo on p.55 showing 2471 just about to come off the somewhat primitive Norseman production line at Cartierville. (RCAF PL38459)

Norseman Vol.1 tells a bit about the RCAF’s early search and para-rescue activities. On p.197 there’s a fuzzy photo of 2471 with a class of early para-rescue jumpers on course at Jasper, Alberta. Suddenly, via the Geoff Rowe Collection, we now have this far better version of this photo. Janet Lacroix at the DND in Ottawa looked this neg up for me to determine that the picture dates to June 16, 1947. There’s also a great photo on p.55 showing 2471 just about to come off the somewhat primitive Norseman production line at Cartierville. (RCAF PL38459)

Geoff’s collecting interests broadened over the years. His father sold the farm and the family moved west to Victoria in the early seventies. By then he had one of the best collections of German aircraft maintenance manuals, some dating to the early Junkers used in the Canadian north. He also collected small-format cameras and Dinky Toys. Collecting Dinky Toys demanded having two examples of each item — one in the original box and the other on display.

Para-rescue jumpers check each other out (circa 1947-48) prior to a training jump from Norseman 2475. Sgt William Farr is ensuring that everything is in order with Cpl T.W.L. Dawson’s equipment (the RCAF caption describes them as “mercy jumpers”). Note such early safety features as the helmet with metal-mesh facemask, rugged cloth jump suit, and sturdy gauntlets. Cpl Dawson holds a battery-operated portable radio. For many good reasons, the Norseman was ideal in search and rescue, e.g. note its large cabin doors. (PL39565)

Para-rescue jumpers check each other out (circa 1947-48) prior to a training jump from Norseman 2475. Sgt William Farr is ensuring that everything is in order with Cpl T.W.L. Dawson’s equipment (the RCAF caption describes them as “mercy jumpers”). Note such early safety features as the helmet with metal-mesh facemask, rugged cloth jump suit, and sturdy gauntlets. Cpl Dawson holds a battery-operated portable radio. For many good reasons, the Norseman was ideal in search and rescue, e.g. note its large cabin doors. (PL39565)

Geoff was keenly interested in preservation of artifacts. It was due to him that we, as the Ottawa Chapter of the CAHS, were able to present to Canada’s (then) National Aeronautical Collection the original winter engine baffle from Fairchild Super 71 CF-AUJ, that had crashed in Northwestern Ontario bush. There were several other items that we also presented to the museum, thanks to his keen eye for artifacts. [Paddy adds elsewhere” “It is due in no small part to Geoff’s efforts that the remains of the Fairchild Super 71 CF-AUJ were located, as well as those of Bellanca Aircruisers CF-AWR and CF-BKV.”] Geoff had another passion — Cornish tin mines. Apparently when he had lived in Cornwall, UK, he developed an interest in the ancient art and skill of tin mining. He had quite a library on that subject alone.

Norseman Vol.2 includes a fabulous 2013 action shot showing four carefree kids diving “in formations” from their dad’s newly-restored Norseman CF-FQI. Well, they were not the first to have such fun. Here a couple of RCAF airmen have a great time diving from 3528 during free time out in the bush. Too bad, but 3528 ended very badly. The tragic tale is told on p.119 of Vol.1. (RCAF PL25436)

Norseman Vol.2 includes a fabulous 2013 action shot showing four carefree kids diving “in formations” from their dad’s newly-restored Norseman CF-FQI. Well, they were not the first to have such fun. Here a couple of RCAF airmen have a great time diving from 3528 during free time out in the bush. Too bad, but 3528 ended very badly. The tragic tale is told on p.119 of Vol.1. (RCAF PL25436)

The last time I saw Geoff was in Victoria. It was a delightful visit. He mentioned such things that day as his concern about some of the aircraft restorations (Hampden included) at the late Ed Zaleski’s museum. At this time Geoff loaned me a mint copy of a B-17 field maintenance manual. Sadly, it was only a matter of a few weeks after this that we learnt that Geoff had died of a heart attack at a young age. Custodians of history lost a great and valued friend. His father later told me that Geoff’s vast collection of aeronautica had been donated to the RCAF museum at Comox, BC.

In its June 8, 1995 edition, Totem Times, the base newspaper for CFB Comox, made a momentous announcement: “On 16 May, the Comox Air Force Museum dedicated the second floor of the museum/AFIS/Totem Times building as the Geoffrey Rowe Library. The entire collection includes 2300 books, 5000 magazines, hundred of aircraft parts, aircraft models, pilots log books, maps, posters and other assorted memorabilia, including a signed photograph of Herman Goering.”

A nice frigid view of CF-CPR between trips (location not known). In Norseman Vol.1 there’s another good view of CF-CPR taken at Yellowknife shortly before it was lost near there in August 1945.

A nice frigid view of CF-CPR between trips (location not known). In Norseman Vol.1 there’s another nice view of CF-CPR taken at Yellowknife shortly before it was lost near there in August 1945.

Comox Rowe_2Four young fellows pose with CF-CPS on a fine summer’s day. Then, the same Norseman at rest. The tragic December 23, 1950 end of CF-CPS is related in Norseman Vol.1.

Four young fellows pose with CF-CPS on a fine summer’s day. Then, the same Norseman at rest. The tragic December 23, 1950 end of CF-CPS is related in Norseman Vol.1.
A CPA Norseman roars off in a cloud of dust in a good wartime action shot taken at Fort Nelson, BC, along the Northwest Staging Route.

A CPA Norseman roars off in a cloud of dust in a good wartime action shot taken at Fort Nelson, BC, along the Northwest Staging Route.

The renowned and much covered Austin Airways Norseman CF-BSC screams down Ramsay Lake at Sudbury, Rusty Blakey at the helm. (M.L. “Mac” McIntyre).

The renowned and much covered Austin Airways Norseman CF-BSC screams down Ramsay Lake at Sudbury, Rusty Blakey at the helm. Thanks again to the Comox Air Force Museum and museum librarian Allison Hetman for directing these excellent photos to CANAV. (M.L. “Mac” McIntyre).

More readers are checking in about Norseman Vols. 1 and 2: John G. from Ottawa observes on January 22:

Hi Larry: The Vol. 2 that I purchased from you last fall was given to me by the family as a Christmas present, so I have only now been permitted to read it. You have done a fantastic job on both volumes. In all my northern travels I think I only actually flew in a Norseman on a couple of occasions, but it is great to read the history and to enjoy the stories. Again, congratulations on the books.

From Jeff R. “Out West”: Larry, well the results are in … your new Norseman books are absolutely AWESOME . I have had the pleasure of having them in my collection since Christmas and cannot put them down. The photo essay you present is an absolute paradise to an aviation buff, any lover of bush planes, float planes, Canadian aviation history and scale model builders like myself. You have filled a long overdue void, many thanks, since my current Norseman model kit has endless possibilities now!

 I also ‘fly’ a Norseman or two on my computer Flight Sim. Two summers ago I had the dream flight of my life so far and that was in a Beaver float plane in Alaska. My next quest is to go for a ride in the Norseman float plane. Well, I am truly impressed with your work. I have lots to keep me going now, as I also have bought Bob Cameron’s book. Thanks again for your hard work and dedication, it is well appreciated for sure. Cheers for now.

Al B., a retired bush pilot now in Toronto, also has taken time to comment:

Volume Two arrived … that was quick! Needless to say, any work, household chores, etc. got pushed on the back burner as soon as I opened the book. However, after I went to get a cup of coffee from the kitchen, I had to take a break since Elaine had picked up the new arrival and got absorbed in it.

As I was with Norseman, Volume 1, I am absolutely in awe of the multitude of photographs, the fascinating text, as well as the tremendous amount of work, such as research, planning, sorting, organizing, etc. you put into producing these books. I will treasure them for the rest of my days, since I met and got to know many of the people you write about. As an example, a familiar face jumped out at me: a young- looking Harry Speight. I met him in the spring of 1959 when I was based at Caribou Lake (Armstrong), which was then within the Sioux Lookout district. Harry was the senior pilot at the Sioux Lookout base, flying Otter CF-ODT. I often saw him and got to know him, including when I would fly our Chief Ranger to the district office. Harry was fairly short and, knowing that he flew Lancasters overseas in WW2, I tried to picture him wrestling a Lanc around in the night skies over Europe. He got his  job with the OPAS back after he returned from the war.I would like to mention what came to mind while reading about Gord Hughes and Stinson CF-HAW that Ellis found in a barn near Hearst. I flew CF-HAW in the first part of the 1957 float season. A fellow by the name of Chic Eckhart operated it at his tourist resort at Cushing Lake (part of Lac des Mille Lacs). He had the maintenance done by Superior Airways, who also supplied a pilot to fly CF-HAW each summer season. Orville Wieben sent me there at the beginning of the float season and I thought I was in heaven. I had a neat log cabin to myself, enjoyed nice meals at the lodge. I would fly the tourists out to fish at outpost camps and bring them back each evening for dinner. Tourists climbed in and out and I did not have to load 45gallon drums, propane bottles, etc. An easy touch!

But that did not last. Just as I had nicely settled in, after a couple of weeks Orville flew in with a new pilot he was checking out. His name was Rudolf Schönert (another squarehead like me). Wieben told me to get my things together, as he was taking me back to Fort William. The next day I was on my way to Sioux Lookout in an Aeronca Champ on wheels, which Superior used to move pilots around the country. Soon I was flying a Cessna 180 from the Severn Enterprises base until sent to Great Whale. After the end of the float season, at freeze-up time, while visiting my parents in Toronto, I saw the hangar fire at the Fort William airport on TV and thought that CF-HAW was lost as well, as it was in that hangar when I left to go to Toronto. I also worried about my job. Years later, after Ellis had bought CF-HAW, I found out that it had been moved to the Great Lakes hangar just before the fire occurred.

Why am I writing about all this?  In Vol.2 you write about Pete Lazarenko’s “Northland Fish” operation on Savage Island in Island Lake. On page 275, you have a picture of Husky CF-BQC. In the years 1959 to 1963, while the OPAS Armstrong division was still part of the Sioux Lookout district, I flew fish and wildlife officers to Savage Island to inspect the records of Northland Fish, since Lazarenko hauled a lot of fish from lakes in Northwestern Ontario. During one of those visits, I met Rudi Schönert again. He flew CF-BQC and sometimes also ws co-pilot on Lazarenko’s Canso. I had heard that Rudi flew in the Luftwaffe during the war, but when I asked him about that, he did not want to talk about it. I did get to know him a bit in the pilots’ bunkhouse , when we were overnighting. Years later, while reading a book about German fighter pilots in WW2, I found out that Rudi had been a highly decorated nightfighter ace and a Wing Commander with 64 night victories, all of them four-engine bombers. He flew Ju.88G and Do.217 twins and is credited with the idea to mount guns at a steep angle to fire upwards. I thought of Harry Speight. They could have been in the same area over Germany some night, trying to kill each other. Two great guys, who under normal circumstances could be great friends. I still think about that often.

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Dash 8 No.1000 Is Delivered

There were historic doings at Bombardier in Downsview on November 12, 2010, as staff and visitors gathered for a red letter event. This double-header included celebrating delivery of the 1000th Dash 8 (a Q400 going to United Express/Continental/Colgan) and the 400th Global Express (going to China).

Following Remembrance Day ceremonies on the 11th, Fred Hotson and I headed up to the Canadian Aerospace Museum at Downsview to attend a dinner honouring many of the old-time de Havilland Canada people who had helped the Dash 8 along during its bumpy formative years.

Ken Swartz, Barry Hubbard (pilot, DHC, etc.) and John Shaw (DHC, engineer), with Bob Fowler and Fred Hotson in the background. (Larry Milberry)

There were people from design engineering, test flight, marketing, etc., as well as several of today’s leaders at Bombardier in the high stakes Q400 and Global Express game.

Next morning we joined hundreds of guests and employees in one of the vast production bays at Downsview to formally honour two great airplanes and all those past and present who have been involved.

Front row fans Larry Milberry (CANAV Books), Bob Fowler (pilot, Dash 8 first flight), George Neal (pilot, Otter first flight) and Fred Hotson (pilot, Ferry Command, DHC, etc., author De Havilland in Canada). All are members of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, Bob and George have the McKee Trophy and Bob has the Order of Canada. (Ken Swartz Aeromedia Communications)

Robert Deluce, President of Porter Airlines, chats with Russ Bannock, a wartime Mosquito ace, pilot on the first Beaver flight and former President of DHC. Porter operates a fleet of Q400s from Toronto's waterfront airport. Russ and Bob's famous father, Stanley Deluce (White River Air Service, Austin Airways, Air Ontaro) also are members of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. (Larry Milberry)

Following some presentations, we all enjoyed watching a Q200, Q400 and Global Express take off on a magnificent autumn day to do their individual fly-bys. Then it was back to work for the Bombardier people. But they’ll long be remembering this great day in Canadian aviation history.

A United Express/Continental Q400 does its fly-by. Soon after, it was delivered to its US base. (Ken Swartz Aeromedia Communications)

The Dash 8 evolved as a natural offspring of the Dash 7. Both had begun “on thin ice”. The Dash 7 had been tentatively supported by Ottawa in an era when many were skeptical that Canada could succeed with such a sophisticated product, especially since the global economy was in a slump and the regional airline market in its infancy. Sales and marketing had a painful time getting commitments from the airlines, so the order book sat almost empty for ages. Meanwhile, millions were being gambled at DHC in design of the Dash 7 and at P&WC in developing a unique new power plant, the P&WC PT6A-50.

Q400s on the production line

Q400s on the production line at Bombardier Downsview on November 12. (Ken Swartz Aeromedia Communications)

Unfortunately, only 113 Dash 7s were built and the whole concept of a modern 40/50-seat turboprop airliner was in doubt. In his book De Havilland in Canada, author Fred Hotson refers to this as “the most traumatic period in the history of de Havilland Canada”. Yet, from such troubled times would emerge one of the finest commuter airliners in aviation history. Things finally got rolling when DHC president John Sandford sided with his engineering and marketing people in pursuing an improved design, the Dash 8, to be paired with another new P&WC engine — the PW100. Ottawa went along and on April 19, 1983 the Dash 8 was rolled out at Downsview. Fred Hotson and I were there, having three days earlier delivered to John Sandford 3000 copies of The De Havilland Canada Story. A year earlier, John had given Fred the go-ahead to finish writing the book, and me the green light to publish it. To his great credit, John agreed to steer clear of the history-writing process, so Fred had a clear path to do his job. Sandford’s only words to me were to deliver the book in time for the Dash 8 rollout — or else.

Getting the Dash 8 built and the book finished both were touch-and-go, but we pulled it off. The beautiful Dash 8 came off the line on time, and The De Havilland Canada Story squeaked through. At a VIP event in the plant, a leather-bound copy of our book was presented to Prime Minister Trudeau and, as far as CANAV was concerned, a dream project was “in the bag”. Although Chapters/Indigo would tell you today, “We don’t think aviation books will sell”, in 1983 their far smarter predecessors at W.H. Smith and at Classic Books sold several thousand copies of Fred’s books.

A Global Express and Q400 on the ramp at Downsview (Larry Milberry)

New Downsview-built beauties ready for delivery. The Q400s are for US, Ethiopian and Greek operators. Each Global Express departs "green". Meaning? They fly away in bare bones condition to the customer's finishing centre for all their specific cockpit equipment, cabin decor, exterior paint, etc. (Larry Milberry)

Downsview has witnessed four "1000th" roll-outs over the decades. First came the 1000th Tiger Moth in June 1942, then the 1000th Mosquito in June 1945. Circa November 1956 came the 1000th Beaver, which was kept by DHC for general duties. Truth be known, Beaver 1000 CF-PCG was P.C. "Phil" Garratt's personal aircraft, while he was DHC's president. Finally, came the 1000th Dash 8 in November 2010.

CF-PCG, the 1000th Beaver, during a photo session over Toronto Island Airport. CF-PCG is still in service, these days with Vancouver air carrier SeaAir. (DHC Archive/DHC-2.com)

In 1997 we attended other roll-outs at Downsview — the Global Express on August 26 and the Q400 on November 22. Airplanes that the pundits had panned years earlier, went on to bring honour and glory to DHC/Canadair, Bombardier and, perhaps above all, Canada.

If you still don’t have a copy of Fred Hotson’s latest version of the DHC book, De Havilland in Canada, here’s your chance to add this beauty to your aviation library … and please don’t tell me that you don’t have an aviation library! Learn all about this treasure of a book by clicking on CANAV’s booklist here or at canavbooks.com. Usually $45.00, you can get a copy on sale today at $25.00 + $10.00 shipping + tax $1.75 for (Canada only) $36.75. If you are overseas or in the USA, email larry@canavbooks.com for a price (book + postage) to your part of the world. Pay by cheque, MO or PayPal (if the latter, let me know by email). You’ll congratulate yourself for landing a copy of this world-class book, even if it’s the first book you’ve ever paid for!

All the best … Larry Milberry, publisher

All in a CANAV Week’s Work: Toronto/Winnipeg Turn-Around – ACEAF is off the Press

Bright and too early at "YYZ T-1". A window seat is always fun for checking out what's doing on the ramp. (All photos Larry Milberry)

On July 26, 2010 I was on the road early to catch Air Canada AC257, an A-320, to Winnipeg. The mission this time? To re-visit my good friends at Friesens printers down in lovely Altona, not far from lovely Gretna, close to lovely Winkler. I looked forward to the trip, having enjoyed Friesens and Altona since first visiting in 1995 with CANAV’s big Canadair project.

As it always seems to go these day’s, our A-320 was chock-a-block, not a seat in the house. It departed “YYZ” (Toronto) as advertised and at 0810 — 2 1/2 hours after pushback at YYZ — our pilot (or his auto-land system) greased AC257 onto the runway in Winnipeg. Taxiing in, we could see how far along is “YWG’s” new terminal — lookin’ good! Perimeter Metros and Dash 8s were all over the place, as were Westjet  and FirstAir 737s and various Air Canada types. All looked pretty normal on a glorious Manitoba morning.

If there are a few minutes to burn, it's always a blast to sit at the end of the runway to catch a few arrivals. Here comes Perimeter's Metro C-FBTL, likely in from one of the northern First Nations centres.

Picking up a zippy little Accent at Enterprise, I headed to the top end of the ‘drome to catch a few landing shots. There are some good spots for shooting up there, right near Eagle & Brookside. Brookside Cemetery is itself worth a visit and has a huge military section. No time today, however, for the dearly departed. After grabbing some interesting arrivals, especially Perimeter and Bearskin, I headed back to the ‘drome to get some research done at the Western Canada Aviation Museum.

The WCAM is home to one of Canada’s premier aviation libraries/archives, but this is a well-kept secret (don’t tell anyone). A researcher hardly knows where to begin and your head swirls as astounding material pops up at every turn. Typical of the WCAM holdings are the Found Brothers and Transair archives, each with boxes and boxes of goodies. It’s encouraging to see so much material so well and safely stored, and available to the earnest researcher. With decades of experience, the WCAM can boast a fine cadre of archives volunteers, who fastidiously catalogue material and take time to ably assist any visitor. The WCAM is a model institution rich not only in airplanes, artifacts, programs, books, journals and rare tech manuals, but also in priceless personal and corporate collections. This is what aviation museums/archives should be all about.

Research "finds" at the WCAM: A certificate awarded to Roy deNevers following a course on the Firefly at RNAS Lossiemouth.

A wooden Bolingbroke model tested in the National Research Council wind tunnel in Ottawa in 1942

By 1400 it was time to push off to Altona, so down Hwy 75 I drove on a classic Manitoba day. By this time the “Towering Q” was a-building and storm warnings were being aired on all the radio stations. But the storms saved their fury for points north of Winnipeg. Turning onto Hwy 14, I stopped to photograph a winter wheat harvest, wildflowers, some impressive weather to the north, etc.

This monstrous towering cumulus was developing west of Hwy 75, but it eventually dissipated, while other such systems were clobbering points to the north of Winnipeg.

Going full tilt to bring in a half-section of winter wheat along Hwy 14 at Road 2 West.

Arrived at Friesens, I got T’d up with my good friends in book manufacturing. Tomorrow we had a job to do — print Vol.3 in CANAV’s new series — Canada’s Air Force: Evolution of an Air Force. After setting me up in some nice accommodations (the boss’ suite), Mike Fehr treated me to supper. Come 0800 next morning and CSR Elvira Filion was briefing me about the job. The first sheet for approval rolled off the press at 1000 and from then on the day was busy as we checked/approved some 24 sheets, including endpapers and dust jacket.

Friesen's pressman Dennis Penner inspects a proof that he's just been pulled from the press.

Then, the publisher does his annual thing -- inspecting the job. This pallet has 1650 freshly-printed sheets of whichever pages of Evolution of an Air Force. (Photo by Dennis Penner)

In between press runs I took some time to photograph the windmill farm going up to the east of Altona.

Work progresses on the site of a future windmill a few km from Altona.

Local citizens are never overly sold on the “invasion of the windmills”, but there seems to be at least a bit of a payoff for everyone in the neighbourhood. Cash is king, eh! I also checked out Altona’s local ag operator, Steve Kiansky’s Southeast Air Service. Since last year he’s traded up from his piston-pounding Air Tractor AT-301 (R-1340) ag plane to a turbo-powered AT-502 (PT-6). Over at Winkler, the same trend – Arty’s is converting from his Weatherlys with their oft-cantankerous R-985s and now has three factory-fresh AT-402s (PT6). Back to the windmill story, one Manitoba business that is really vulnerable to these new “green” gizmos is crop dusting. Huge areas previously covered by aerial application become no-fly zones once the “war of the worlds” windmills are in place at 150-300 feet. Another reason maybe to scratch your head about the brilliance of “alternative” energy sources, eh! Later in the day, Mike Fehr sent me out to meet his farmer brother-in-law, Adam Wiebe.

Adam Wiebe pilots his John Deere 9750STS, then offloads his bin into a bulk trailer driven by his partner -- his father.

Then, Adam flies his mighty machine as his passenger tries for a "cockpit shot".

Miles of beautiful Manitoba fields, as the winter wheat is gobbled up by John Deere.

Adam was harvesting winter wheat and took me out for an hour’s “flight” in his mighty John Deere 9750STS. Powered by a 350-hp diesel engine (fuel cap. 250 US gal) and with a 300 bushel hopper, this beauty has a gross weight about that of a DC-3. While Adam filled me in about farming this year in Southern Manitoba, I tried to answer his many aviation history queries. Back at Friesens, I checked some final proofs, then knocked off for supper at Bravo’s — top notch.

Come the morning of the 28th and it was bye-bye to Friesens — see y’all next book. Back up I drove to the WCAM, stopping only in the cemetery in Morris to photograph a few RCAF stones.

History buffs are always fascinated by cemeteries, since they often have an aviation connection. In the restful cemetery in Morris, several fliers have made their final touchdowns, including AC1 Albert E. Porter. On September 21, 1940 Albert (age 27) was in Fleet Finch 4449 flying near Trenton. He was a mechanic, so may have been

up with the pilot on a test flight, or maybe was just on a joy ride. Somehow, 4449 collided with Finch 1018. Both planes came down. Of the four men aboard, Albert was the sole casualty. This accompanying newspaper clipping give an outline of what happened that day.

Today’s job at the WCAM? Grinding for several hours over the astounding log books of Roy O. deNevers, one of the many unsung Canadian aviation heroes. Look for his story in Vol.4 — Aviation in Canada: The RCAF Overseas 1939-1945. Along the way, author Bill Zuk showed up, working with a team taping several RCAF Lancaster aircrew. Bill and I had a pleasant walk, then some cool ones in the Airport Hilton lounge (you’ll know some of Bill’s books, including his bio of the great Janusz Zurakowski of CF-105 renown).

Fairchild Super 71 CF-AUJ is the latest of the WCAM's magnificent aircraft restorations. This project places the WCAM in the "world class" category of aviation museums. Its attendant library and archives give the whole place the perfect balance as an aviation history centre.

Finally, take one of your last looks at the terminal at YWG -- in a few months things will start moving into the new complex.

Finally, it was time to catch AC268 (A-320) for a 1600-hour departure. Back on the ground ay YYZ after two hours, I caught a glimpse of the Emirates A380, collected my car at Park ‘n Fly and soon was home. Lots done, lots learned, bags of fun and all in a 3-day Toronto-Winnipeg CANAV turn-around. If you get the idea that CANAV never sits still, you’ve pretty well got that one figured out. Why sit around when the world awaits? If you have a minute to spare, read CANAV’s new booklist and get the details about the ACEAF and a hundred other excellent books.

Have a great summer!

Larry

So long Downsview hangars

The now demolished hangars on the occasion of Toronto's first post-WW2 airshow in 1946. (Larry Milberry)

Back in about 1943 these hangars (seen on February 20, 2010) were built at Downsview airport in North Toronto. Their original purpose was to accommodate flight test and delivery of Mosquito bombers being built here by de Havilland Canada for the war effort.

Aerial view of hangars when they hosted Toronto's first postwar air show in 1946.

After the war this facility, located at the northeast corner of Downsview airport, was taken over by the RCAF and for some years was home to the Harvards, Vampires, Sabres and Expeditors of 400 and 411 auxiliary squadrons; and the RCN Harvards, Expeditors and Avengers of VC920 reserve squadron.

My first time here was during 117 Squadron air cadet days in 1956-7 — one Saturday morning we were bussed up for a familiarization flight in a Dakota (most of us little guys ended getting air sick that day).

On March 5 "Hangar 1" disappeared. This was the scene next day. Last view of "Hangar 2"! (Canadian Air and Space Museum)

While still school boys, we’d hang out on the perimeter here, watching the action and hoping to get a few distant photos.With sidekicks Merlin Reddy and John Kerr, I’d sometimes hop a fence to shoot the aircraft on the taxiway that came up from the left — there were a few bushes that we could use for cover. A real highlight came one day in 1959 when Nick Wolochatiuk and I were allowed onto the ramp to shoot the Avengers as they returned from an exercise. Another day about a decade later we photographed a former Biafran airlift Super Constellation sitting in long term storage in the snow drifts.

After the air reserves moved across the field in Otter and Kiowa days, this corner of Downsview fell silent and the hangars’ only use was for Department of National Defence storage. Meanwhile, history buffs kept eyeing the hangars — they wanted them preserved as part of Toronto’s historic architectural fabric. Their demolition was on-again, off-again until March 5, 2010. The DND suddenly decided to resolve the matter of “hangars in limbo” and released the heavy equipment to tear down these famous old landmarks. Au revoir … Larry