Category Archives: Bushplanes

Norsemans Here & There …

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 In the winter scene outside at Anchorage’s Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum is Interior Airways Norseman N725E. Originally US Army UC-64A 43-35433, in 1945 it joined the US Fish and Wildlife Service, moved to Alaska in 1951 for Northern Consolidated Airlines, thence to Interior in 1955. Forty years later it was donated to the museum by Alaska’s great aviation history aficionado, Jim McGoffin.

By now I hope that you’re reveling in your set of CANAV Noorduyn Norseman books. These already have been recognized as two of the finest aviation books so far in the 2000s. As usual, new Norseman material continues to roll in and the Norseman Festival spins up next week in Red Lake in Northwestern Ontario. Enjoy these five nifty Norseman photos submitted recently by CANAV reader Antti Hyvärinen, a Finnair A320 pilot. As usual, good reading to you all … Larry

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The ramshackle cockpit of Norseman N725E. Some day, however, this old Norseman will shine like new – whenever museum priorities allow.

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Stockholm4Arlanda Airport

This project Norseman is in the Swedish aviation museum at Arlanda airport, Stockholm. The cockpit certainly is in more respectable condition than N725E’s. If you scroll back you can see this Norseman as RCAF 3538. Later it was RNoAF “R-AY”.

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Antti’s close-up of the Norseman in RCAF colours at the British Columbia Aviation Museum near Victoria. The museum uses its Norseman on its logo. The 3 museum aircraft shown here all are covered in Vol.2 of our Norseman book.

New CF-GUE Coverage from Gordon Olafson

ImageIn April 2014 former Norseman pilot Gordon Olafson sent us these great 1970-71 views of Gimli Air/Northway Norseman CF-GUE (GUE’s basic story is told in Noorduyn Norseman Vol.2). First, the rugged-looking Norseman at Riverton, Manitoba with a 12-foot aluminum boat strapped to each side for a trip to the outpost camp at Sasaginnigak Lake.

Two winter scenes of CF-GUE on different skis. First on Lake Winnipeg at Arnes. That’s Gordon standing by the plane. He’s warming up his R-1340 before a trip north. The Norseman is on standard air bag pedestals. Gordon explains: “You can see how we drove the skis up onto green poplar poles (not too sticky), so they wouldn't freeze down to the ice.” Then, CF-GUE at Charron Lake with just the oleos for suspension. This type of skis made for a pretty stiff run on take-off or landing. Jake Thorsteinson (left) is ready with his helper to start cutting ice to be put up in a shed insulated with bales of hay. The tourist camp there then would have ice for the coming season

CF-GUE -3 - Gordon Olafson img068_LR2 Above, two winter scenes of CF-GUE on different skis. First on Lake Winnipeg at Arnes. That’s Gordon standing by the plane. He’s warming up his R-1340 before a trip north. The Norseman is on standard air bag pedestals. Gordon explains: “You can see how we drove the skis up onto green poplar poles (not too sticky), so they wouldn’t freeze down to the ice.” Then, CF-GUE at Charron Lake with just the oleos for suspension. This type of skis made for a pretty stiff run on take-off or landing. Jake Thorsteinson (left) is ready with his helper to start cutting ice to be put up in a shed insulated with bales of hay. The tourist camp there then would have ice for the coming season

CF-GUE -4- Gordon Olsfson 1982014_LRA typical Norseman summer scene with some of the fellows not exactly looking overworked. On the left is Gordon’s cousin, Danny; bush pilot Jim Johnson, whose father, Geiri, founded Gimli Air; Howard Olafson bush pilot (no relation); and Gordon himself.

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Another excellent winter scene with GUE on straight skis.

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Gordon and GUE at the dock on a fine day for a Norseman trip.

Norseman restoration projects: Pics from Finland

Norseman_A_Hyvarinen-1There are numerous Norseman “project” planes around the world. Some actively are being restored, as is Pablo Columbo’s LV-FFH in Argentina, or the Aviodrome’s N4474 in Holland. Others projects are more cautiously underway. Sometimes work moves ahead, sometimes planes are dormant for years. Examples would be CF-BHU waiting in the corner of a hangar in Steinbach, Manitoba, or N725E in Anchorage. Yet other Norsemans seem to be hopeless wrecks, as are CF-OBD at Selkirk, Manitoba, or 4X-ARS in Israel. But one never knows, right.

One of the long term project Norsemans is OH-NOA, the only known Finnish example. Delivered from Cartierville to the USAAF in September 1944 as 44-70381, it was shipped from New York in October, then served the US military  8th Air Force for a year, until a take-off accident in Germany. In November 1946 it was sold to a Swiss operator, becoming HB-UIK. In May 1951 it went  to Voukralento Oy of Finland, becoming OH-NOA. He and others operated it until 1969, when it was de-registered and stored. Today it is a project with the Finnish Air Force Museum, but no one is in a rush to move it up into the restoration shop.

On April 16, 2014 Finnair A320 pilot Antti Hyvärinen wrote to me: “I finally found those pics of Finnish Norseman OH-NOA! She’s in a bad place behind all the junk, so getting photos is almost hopeless. Hope you find these interesting anyway! She’s stored in the Tikkakoski aviation museum in Jyvaskylä.” Thanks, Antti — everyone loves a set of photos like this!

Norseman_A_Hyvarinen-3Norseman_A_Hyvarinen-4You can see that years ago the plane was painted yellow and black, then a dark blue, then a light blue. This is certainly a restorable Norseman — the cockpit and cabin are in quite decent shape, the fuselage frame looks good, but every museum has its priorities. OH-NOA likely will gather dust for a few more years, but it’s in safe storage. Many other Norsemans are in similar condition, including CF-PAA in Langely, BC.

Thank you for this great new blog content, Antti!

Important New Norseman Images Emerge

Recently, John Wegg, the renowned publisher of Airways, contributed a series of previously-unpublished Norseman photos. Here are several along with two from the collection of the great Norseman aficionado, Ross Lennox.

Enjoy as always … Larry

Norseman 1 CF-BHU PWA Wegg Col

Having begun with CPA late in 1945, Norseman V CF-BHU later served Territories Air Service and Associated Airways 1949-55, then it moved to PWA, where it is shown in a typical winter setting. CF-BHU ended with Ontario Central Airlines of Kenora. On June 19, 1974 it crashed disastrously at Sachigo Lake, an Indian reservation in far Northwestern Ontario. Date, place and photographer are unknown for most of these photos. Suffice to say that, over the decades, John added these to his monumental collection, mainly as original negatives.

An early Norseman, CF-DFU had begun as RCAF 2458 in October 1940. After a gruelling war with the BCATP, in 1946 it became CF-DFU with Saskatchewan Government Airways. It changed colours in 1950, going to Queen Charlotte Airlines in 1956, then PWA and B.C. Airlines. It was lost in a crash on March 28, 1961. Here CF-DFU sits dormant at Vancouver.

An early Norseman, CF-DFU began as RCAF 2458 in October 1940. After a gruelling war with the BCATP, in 1946 it became CF-DFU with Saskatchewan Government Airways. It changed colours, going to Queen Charlotte Airlines in 1956, then to PWA and B.C. Airlines. It was lost in a crash on March 28, 1961. Here CF-DFU sits dormant at Vancouver.

 An ideal side-on view of Norseman V CF-BHY bearing the logo of Tommy Wheeler’s Gray Rocks Air Service. So pristine is this view than I suspect it was taken at Noorduyn soon after ‘BHY rolled off the production line. Gray Rocks accepted ‘BHY in July 1945 and continued operating it until it was wrecked landing at the railway and forestry centre of Oskelaneo in northern Quebec on December 18, 1959. ‘BHY previously had eluded me, so is not found in either Norseman volume.

An ideal side-on view of Norseman V CF-BHY bearing the logo of Tommy Wheeler’s Gray Rocks Air Service. So pristine is this view than I suspect it was taken at Noorduyn soon after ‘BHY rolled off the production line. Gray Rocks accepted ‘BHY in July 1945 and continued operating it until it was wrecked landing at the railway and forestry centre of Oskelaneo in northern Quebec on December 18, 1959. ‘BHY previously had eluded me, so is not found in either Norseman volume.’

 This view CF-BTC is a real work-a-day snapshot. Ex-RCAF 2456, ‘BTC is well covered in Norseman Vol.2. Here it sits forlornly out in the cold at Winnipeg’s Stevenson Field during its Central Northern Airways era. ‘BTC served CNA/Transair 1948 – 58, then flew with Pete Lazarenko’s Northland Fish Co., Willy Laserich and others until 1998, when it joined the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg.

This view CF-BTC is a real work-a-day snapshot. Ex-RCAF 2456, ‘BTC is well covered in Norseman Vol.2. Here it sits forlornly out in the cold at Winnipeg’s Stevenson Field during its Central Northern Airways era. ‘BTC served CNA/Transair 1948 – 58, then flew with Pete Lazarenko’s Northland Fish Co., Willy Laserich and others until 1998, when it joined the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg.

Norseman 5 CF-HQD        Another of the countless Norseman photos taken over the decades at the town dock in Kenora. OCA’s yellow-and-red CF-HQD awaits its next trip on a fine summer day. Ex-US Army 43-5357, it served in Alaska during the war, then was NC88760 in Minnesota before coming to Canada in 1954 for Warren Plummer of Sioux Narrows/Lake-of-the-Woods. After a later stint with Chukuni Airways of Kenora, it went to OCA in 1960, then joined Slate Falls Airways of Sioux Lookout. In 2014 ‘HQD was one of many Norsemans classified as “projects”, meaning that some day it might be restored for museum or flying purposes. It’s stored at Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay.

Another of the countless Norseman photos taken over the decades at the town dock in Kenora. OCA’s yellow-and-red CF-HQD awaits its next trip on a fine summer day. Ex-US Army 43-5357, it served in Alaska during the war, then was NC88760 in Minnesota before coming to Canada in 1954 for Warren Plummer of Sioux Narrows. After a later stint with Chukuni Airways of Kenora, it went to OCA in 1960, then joined Slate Falls Airways of Sioux Lookout. In 2014 ‘HQD was one of many Norsemans classified as “projects”, meaning that some day it might be restored for museum or flying purposes. It’s stored at Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay.

N41201 at an unknown US location. Someone had metalized the doors -- a noteworthy mod so early in the postwar era. At present there is not much of a paper trail for this aircraft, other than that it had been US Army UC-64 45-41751, the 835th Norseman built.

N41201 at an unknown US location. Someone had metalized the doors — a noteworthy mod so early in the postwar era. At present there is not much of a paper trail for this aircraft, other than that it had been US Army UC-64 45-41751, the 835th Norseman built.

Norseman N58691 in US Forest Service markings at Long Beach, California in October 1954. It has some sort of a belly mod. Perhaps a tray for doing forestry seeding or spreading fertilizer or insecticide? No one seems to know what became of this Norseman, but in 2014 its registration belonged to an amphibious Cessna 182.

Norseman N58691 in US Forest Service markings at Long Beach, California in October 1954. It has some sort of a belly mod. Perhaps a tray for doing forestry seeding or spreading fertilizer or insecticide? No one seems to know what became of this Norseman, but in 2014 its registration belonged to an amphibious Cessna 182.

Another UC-64, NC60671 was acquired in 1945 in South Carolina from the US Reconstruction Finance Corp., the bureau tasked with disposing of thousands of such war surplus military planes. It operated in Montana briefly, then was sold in 1951 for $4800 to Lamb Airways of The Pas, Manitoba. On May 10, 1955, Jack Lamb was taking off in ‘GUQ at The Pas, when everything suddenly fell apart for him. Unbeknownst to Jack, ‘GUQ had taken on a heavy load of water taxiing through the rough water that day. He got airborne, but ‘GUQ suddenly stalled, crashed and exploded. Within moments Jack’s dad, Tom, and his brothers, Don and Doug, had hauled him and his passenger out. Badly burned, Jack spent months in recovery. This story and many other adventures are related in Jack’s wonderful book, My Life in the North. In From Tractor Train to Bush Plane, Jack’s brother, Conrad, also covers many stories of the Lamb family and their legendary air operations.

Another UC-64, NC60671 was acquired in 1945 in South Carolina from the  Reconstruction Finance Corp., the US bureau tasked with disposing of thousands of such war surplus military planes. It operated in Montana briefly, then was sold in 1951 for $4800 to Lamb Airways of The Pas, becoming CF-GUQ. On May 10, 1955, Jack Lamb was taking off in ‘GUQ at The Pas, when everything suddenly fell apart for him. Unbeknownst to Jack, ‘GUQ had taken on a heavy load of water taxiing through the rough water that day. Jack got airborne, but ‘GUQ suddenly stalled, crashed and exploded. Within moments Jack’s dad, Tom, and his brothers, Don and Doug had hauled him and his passenger out. Badly burned, Jack spent months in recovery. This story and many other adventures are related in Jack’s wonderful book, My Life in the North. In From Tractor Train to Bush Plane, Jack’s brother, Conrad, also covers many stories of the Lamb family and their legendary air operations.

 The renowned Norseman CF-BFU during Hudson Bay Air Transport days at Flin Flon. From here in the late 1940s Ross Lennox flew ‘BFU throughout Northern Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Eventually replaced by a new Otter, in 1958 ‘BFU went to Chummy Plummer of Sioux Narrows., and later served other operators. In 1971 ‘BFU was wrecked on landing at Selkirk, Manitoba.

The renowned Norseman CF-BFU during Hudson Bay Air Transport days at Flin Flon. From here in the late 1940s Ross Lennox flew ‘BFU throughout Northern Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Eventually replaced by a new Otter, in 1958 ‘BFU went to Warren Plummer of Sioux Narrows., and later served other operators. In 1971 it was wrecked on landing at Selkirk, Manitoba.

 The renowned Norseman CF-BFU during Hudson Bay Air Transport days at Flin Flon. From here in the late 1940s Ross Lennox flew ‘BFU throughout Northern Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Eventually replaced by a new Otter, in 1958 ‘BFU went to Chummy Plummer of Sioux Narrows., and later served other operators. In 1971 ‘BFU was wrecked on landing at Selkirk, Manitoba.

Ross Lennox got to know CF-BFT and CF-BFU inside out. He later was world famous in the helicopter industry. He finished his main flying career at Pratt & Whitney Canada, where he was chief pilot. Ross’ exploits are recounted in such books as Air Transport in Canada, The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.2 and Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story. Ross passed away in November 2013.

 

 

The Norseman Saga Grows and Grows

Blog Crossley #4 TorStar563On Feb.17, 2014, Robert Galway, who’s researching the life of W.R. Maxwell (founding father of the Ontario Provincial Air Service), showed up at CANAV with some rare newspaper clippings covering important Ontario aviation topics. Included is the front page of the Toronto Daily Star June 1, 1956 “Home Edition” with the banner headline, “COLDEST JUNE 1 EVER, FARMS FACE DISASTER, MERCURY MAY HIT 28”. Wow … looks like “climate change” has been around for a while, eh!

Crossley #3 TorStar562This page also has a “breaking news” headline in red ink across the very top of Page 1: “In Darkest Hours I Put My Faith in God – Pilot”. (See the rest of the story here).

Thus did the Star announce the rescue of Carl Crossley, given up for lost with his Norseman far up in Hudson Bay. The great reporter Frank Teskey turned out the main story, backed up by Edwin Feeny.

Blog Crossley #5 Westaway Crash TorStar572Blog Crossley #6 G&M 28-5-1948Also in Robert’s collection are Star and Globe and Mail clippings about the death in May 1948 of James “Westy” Westaway, another of the “Kings of the Norseman” covered in Vol.1.

What excellent fodder for our blog, right. If you’re into Norseman lore, especially if you have Vol.1, you’ll revel in this stuff, so here it is.

Norseman miseries

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On p.113 of Austin Airways that great Dave Russell photo showing “drowned” Norseman CF-OBN correctly reads: “Norseman CF-OBN submerged at Moosonee. ‘OBN finally met its end on August 10, 1968. That day it stalled and crashed neat Winisk in the hands of pilot Don Plaunt.” This straightens out the iffy caption in Norseman Vol.2 p.101. The wonderful Norseman website NorsemanHistory.ca adds: “During take-off, lift-off was attempted at low speed to avoid shallow water ahead. Then a  turn was attempted to avoid an island, but the aircraft hit the shore at considerable speed and was destroyed. The flaps had been left in the up position.” Well, not exactly the shore from what we see here, but we get the drift, right. Thanks to Roland Brandt, who took this photo when passing by one day.

Finally, if you scroll back to the Alaska item and the previous Norseman update, you can check out some of our recent readers’ comments and reviews. Have fun with all this good stuff … Larry

Bush flying in Ketchikan

Similar to Canada, Alaska has a rich aviation heritage dating from early post-WWI days. Every  settlement in the state remains dependent on air transportation. Aviation hounds consider Alaska one of the world’s best “hunting grounds” for photographing old planes, from Beavers and Otters to C-46s and DC-4s.

The Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage and the Alaskaland Pioneer Air Museum in Fairbanks tell the story of Alaska aviation through the decades. The Norseman, of course, has its place. Many US Army UC-64s served in Alaska during the war. Civil examples operated postwar, several with Wien Airlines. In 2014, however, Alaska didn’t have a single airworthy Norseman. You’ll find museum examples N725E in Anchorage and N55555 in Fairbanks. There also are 2 or 3 “project” Norsemans around Alaska awaiting restoration.

The town of Ketchikan has produced this gem of a video honouring its bush flying lifestyle. Here it is and you won’t regret taking a look:

Ketchikan: The Bush Pilots from Laurel Lindahl on Vimeo.

One of my Alaska aviation pals comments after watching it: “Great footage and what good quality! Ketchikan is a pretty special town, lots of old style bar life going on. The houses in the red light district had hatches in the floor, so the customers could arrive under the house unseen in skiffs.”

Here are three shots I took on August 3, 1993, when Sandy Parker flew me up to Ketchikan from Prince Rupert in his Wagair Beaver. It was a perfect summer’s day for such a swan.

Ketchikan 1

Shown above is recently-converted Turbo Otter N51KA of Ketchikan Air. Note the Turbo Beaver in the distance. To this day Beavers and Otters remain at the heart of bush and coast flying in this region. In 1957 N51KA came off the production line at DHC in Toronto as Otter 270. It was delivered to the US Army as 57-6128. Its Army days over, in 1978 it became C-GLFK back in Canada with Air Saguenay in Quebec, then migrated to Alaska, sporting a PT6 turbine engine. By 2014 N51KA had been re-registered N270A of Pro Mech Air, also of Ketchikan.

Ketchikan 4 N4787C of Yes Bay Lodge began as Beaver 1330 in 1959, then spent its entire career on the West Coast. It last was in the news on July 24, 2013. While on a Pro Mech Air flight-seeing trip from Ketchikan, the engine failed. N4787C crashed into trees, but all four aboard were rescued.

Ketchikan 2

Here’s a typical view from town looking across to Gravina Island, site of Ketchikan International Airport. An Alaska Airlines 737 is on final approach.

Special note to serious fans: The Regina Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society is hosting the 2014 CAHS national convention in early June. For info, here’s the link: http://cahs.ca/Convention-2014/2014-agm.html

And … Check out Steinar’s Hangar for a fabulous website about one of history’s great little bushplanes/sportplanes — the Republic RC-3 Seabee. Visit www.seabee.info — don’t skip this one or you’ll really be missing out! Steinar also covers such topics as Norway’s Otters and Twin Otters, so there’s plenty of Canadian content.

Lately I dug out some Seabee photos I took 50+ years ago and sent them to Steinar. Now everyone can see these nifty old shots, uselessly buried in my files for so many years. So … if you have any Seabee photos or info, kindly share with Steinar at steinar.saevdal@gmail.com. Thanks … Larry

People sure do need their Norseman fix! Readers keep getting in touch to order Norseman books and tell me a bit about their Norseman connections. Eric Boyce in Alaska writes on February 14, 2014:

I worked on CF-FQI when it was owned by Sept-Iles Air Service in Sept-Iles, QC. That was in 1961 and ’62. I was 14. FQI was the first airplane I ever got to fly — I got to hold the controls for 30 minutes from Lac Manitou to Lac Des Rapides. 
 
In 1999 I brokered CF-GUE to Bear Lake Air, a company in Seward Alaska. I flew it back with my engineer buddy and fellow Canadian, John “Alan” Wakefield. I flew GUE a bit here in Alaska for the last operator, Renfro Air. I modified it by putting Sikorsky S-58 axles, wheels and brakes on it (just like having Otter wheels). I sent Gordy Hughes a copy of the FAA approval and blueprints. Renfro said he could beat the Cessna Caravans hauling freight into the Eskimo villages, because the Norseman was fast and a lot cheaper to operate. He said the wheels and brakes made it taxi, takeoff and land with great control. As you may know Renfro’s engine quit and he rolled it up in the muskeg trying to make the airport.
 
Anyway, I love the Norseman and have since 1961. So I need the books to complete my love affair. Thanks a million for making these books available.

Canada’s Cadet Program … One of our country’s best organizations for teens is “Cadets”. Th Cadet movement is under attack from the Harper Government (our great pals in Ottawa, right). Not only is the HG campaigning to destroy our post services, etc., now they’ve put their sights on the Cadets. Please look at this item. Please sign the petition and forward. Thanks again … Larry

http://www.change.org/petitions/stephen-harper-and-government-of-canada-end-the-cuts-to-cadets-canada-training-and-uniforms-and-cut-the-expansive-regional-cadet-bureaucracy-instead?share_id=RKtrcoJlib&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

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.