Category Archives: Bushplanes

News From CANAV

RCAF 435 Squadron C-130H 130336 on the ramp at 17 Wing Winnipeg on September 28, 2022. This is one of the “H-models” delivered in 1986 as aerial tankers, but also to do the other many duties demanded of Canada’s Herc fleet. This day ‘336 was slated for a search and rescue training exercise in the Lake Winnipeg area. Also shown is the crew for the day. 435’s five Hercs have logged more than 100,000 flying hours, including 27,000+ for ‘336 when I photographed it this day.

It’s been so long since we’ve had the time to post anything new. Finally, here’s a bit of an update. First of all, I hope you will have a close look at our new Fall/Winter 2022-23 newsletter & booklist. It’s packed with outstanding reading for all those having a serious interest in our great aviation heritage. I really appreciate that most of you are long-term CANAV fans, but in order to survive, any such small aviation publisher needs more of its fans to turn into actual supporters (i.e., fans who buy a book once in a while). CANAV needs you both, but can’t survive without a few more more fans becoming supporters. Please give it a thought, if it won’t break the bank.

CANAV introduces its latest booklist

Canada’s premier aviation book publisher presents its Fall/Winter 2022/23 list. Have a close look and you’ll find many important titles old and new including some exceptional bargain books. Please get in touch with any questions about ordering, etc.
Cheers … Larry Milberry, Publisher, larry@canavbooks.com

RCAF Centennial Book Project

Most of my 2022 efforts have been in basic research and writing for CANAV’s next book, its grand history of the RCAF 1924. After four years of this so far, the groundwork is done covering from the background to 1924 and into the 1980s. The next year mainly will be covering the modern RCAF, including visiting as many bases as possible. I started this lately with visits to Borden and Winnipeg to cover such squadrons as 400, 402 and 435, and such other important organizations such as CFSATE at Borden and Barker College at 17 Wing Winnipeg. In November I’ll cover 8 Wing Trenton and Petawawa. This fieldwork lets me see the RCAF in action, before finishing the final chapters. This is the recipe for a book that will be worth having on your shelves.

Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada

The RAMWA’s magnificent Canadian Vickers Vedette replica. Several of the men who worked on this project had worked on Vedettes in the 20s and 30s. This spectacular display shows the results.

While visiting 17 Wing, I squeezed in a sidetrip to Winnipeg’s wonderful new aviation museum, the former Western Canada Aviation Museum. There, Gord Crossley (17 Wing Heritage Officer) and Bob Arnold (long-time museum member, restorer, scrounger, etc.) showed me all the super work that’s been done to bring the museum from its roots in the 1970s, through its decades jammed into an old TCA hangar, to today’s magnificent museum. Here are a few of my quickie photos to give you an idea of why you need to make an aviation history pilgrimage to Winnipeg. At the end, I include a few images from Winnipeg’s other important aviation history collection at 17 Wing Winnipeg across the field from the RAMWC.

Another of the museum’s premier displays is the restored Froebe brothers’ experimental helicopter from the late 1930s. The story of Canada’s first serious helicopter project first was told in my 1979 book Aviation in Canada. In that period, Doug Froebe had written to me, “The first time it left the ground, I was at the stick. The tail lifted off first, I’d say two or three feet. Then I pulled back and the front wheels left the ground one at a time. My two brothers were very excited, but I was sort of scared.” Interest in the Froebe story then slowly developed, as often happens once a story gets a bit of initial coverage. Others pursued this one until the original Froebe airframe was acquired by the WCAM. Here is sits in its glory in the new museum.
Restored to flying condition over many years by a team led by Bob Cameron of Whitehorse, Fokker Super Universal CF-AAM now is permanently on display at the RAMWC.
CF-AAM also graces the dust jacket of our by-now famous book, Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years.
Another of the museum’s many world-class restorations is “Big Bellanca” CF-AWR. Brought to Canada in 1935, “AWR” (in its day Canada’s biggest airplane) toiled on many northern projects until crashing near Sioux Lookout in January 1947. Eventually, the WCAM’s stalwart recovery team hauled “AWR” out of the bush. Then began its multi-decade restoration to Bellanca perfection.
From the same era of the classic bushplane is the museum’s Fairchild FC-2W2, CF-AKT. Imported from the US for Canadian Airways in 1930, it eventually (1934) was brought up to Fairchild 71C standards. It then served in the bush until a serious accident near Watson Lake, Yukon in August 1943. Then, Canada’s only civil Fairchild Super 71 CF-AUJ. First flown at Longueuil in 1935, “AUJ” did much heavy lifting in the bush, until an October 1940 accident at Lost Bay south of today’s Red Lake. Again, the always forward-thinking WCAM recovery team salvaged the wreck, which the museum turned into this magnificent restoration.
Beautifully restored cabin Waco YKC-S CF-AYS came to Canada for Arrow Airways in 1935, then served many other operators in the bush. Finally, it joined Central Northern in 1947, a company that soon became Transair of Winnipeg. “AYS” was withdrawn from use in 1953, but somehow survived to end in the RAMWC as another premier example of aviation in Canada during the “Golden Years” of the 1930s.
Sometimes touted as the WCAM’s premier bushplane is this Junkers 52. Originally a tri-motor Ju.52s, long ago the museum converted it to represent CF-ARM, Canada’s famous single-engine Junkers “Flying Box Car” of the 1930s. The details of this and most of the museum’s classic bushplanes are best found in the seminal K.M. Molson book, Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. This is a book you all should have. See if you can track down a copy at www.bookfinder.com Otherwise (seriously), you should find yourself a copy of Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years and one of Air Transport in Canada.
Representing the RCAF in WWII and the BCATP is this lovely Tiger Moth restoration. 1122 had served at 34 EFTS at Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, piling up some 1242 flying hours before being sold as war surplus equipment in 1945 and becoming CF- COU.
Beaver No.1500 … DHC-2 Beaver C-FMAA served the Manitoba Government Air Service 1962-84, before landing at the WCAM. Today, it’s one of many aircraft seen “flying” from the rafters of the new museum.
No.703 is the RAMWC’s example of the RCAF’s great CF-104. Beside it is one of the CF-104 flight simulators manufactured by CAE of Montreal. In the background of some of these photos you can see other museum aircraft. In this case … the Beaver and Air Canada Viscount.
The museum’s Canadair CL-41 Tutor climbs away above the Viscount and Canadair CL-84.
Two experimental types of which the museum is proud – its Avrocar (the so-called Avro “flying saucer”, actually a simple hovercraft) and the Canadair CL-84. The CL-84 held great promise until defunded by the US government. One wonders about its potential back in the 1960s and how it might have influenced today’s V-22 Osprey. Note how the museum maximizes its wall space.
Two fascinating cockpits to be viewed at the museum: the Viscount airliner and CF-101 Voodoo fighter.
The museum has a giftshop with many products on sales, but books only get a tiny corner. Nothing here from CANAV, sad to say, but … c’est la guerre, right. Then, a look at a tiny part of the museum’s important research library and archive.
On the west side of Winnipeg International Airport resides RCAF 17 Wing. Beginning decades ago, the base decided to display a few of the classic post WWII types that served here. The first three were the Expeditor, Dakota and Mitchell, mainly of No.1 Air Navigation School fame. These have weathered the decades fairly well. Here are “the Dak” and the Mitchell shot during my September 2022 visit.
The Expeditor was in the 17 Wing aircraft restoration shop for a clean-up and new paint. The other big project here is a Bolingbroke being restored using parts from various hulks recovered from prairie farms over the decades.
The RCAF air park’s CF-104, T-bird and Sabre. Under the scaffolding to the right is the CF-100, then getting a clean-up, new decals included.
Voodoo 101008 in 425 Squadron colours, then ex- AETE Challenger 144612.
Part of the air park’s tribute to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan includes a Harvard and several displays of memorial bricks. Among the latter I spotted several fellows about whom we’ve written over the decades, Ron Breeden included. Ron’s career included a first tour on CF-100s, where he was known on squadron as “the boy pilot” on account of his youthful appearance.
The air park also includes a Musketeer, Kiowa and Tracker. All things considered, you can see why a trip to Winnipeg should be in the cards for any serious fan of Canadian aviation history!

Norseman Update … Antti Hyvarinen from Finland recently visited the Dutch aviation museum where ex-Canadian Norseman CF-GLI is being restored. Here are his photos. Thanks, Antti! See the attached special offer for our two beautiful Norseman books. For outside Canada drop a note ref. shipping costs to larry@canavbooks.com

Norseman lists … Northern pilot, Rodney Kozar, keeps close track of Norseman “facts and figures”. Here are his two basic lists for 2022. Please contact Rodney if you have any updates.

Old Hamilton Airport Update

If you search here on the blog for Old Hamilton Airport, you’ll see a fascinating bit of Canadian aviation history. Airports, of course, are not of huge interest to the typical aviation fan, but they are an indispensable part of our aviation heritage. By far the best source book for the topic is T.M. “Tom” McGrath’s 1991 gem, History of Canadian Airports. If you’re ever lucky enough to find a copy, pay whatever they’re asking. You’ll soon have this one on your shelf of favourite aviation books.

While filing material lately, I came across some other really top photos of old Hamilton Airport — the one opened  in 1930 to replace the original 1926 J.V. Elliot Airport in the Beach Road neighbourhood. In 1951 Hamilton Airport closed, once the wartime airport at nearby Mount Hope became Hamilton’s main aviation hub.

If you search here on the blog for Old Hamilton Airport, you’ll see a fascinating bit of Canadian aviation history. Airports, of course, are not of huge interest to the typical aviation fan, but they are an indispensable part of our aviation heritage. By far the best source book for the topic is T.M. “Tom” McGrath’s 1991 gem, History of Canadian Airports. If you’re ever lucky enough to find a copy, pay whatever they’re asking. You’ll soon have this one on your shelf of favourite aviation books.

While filing material lately, I came across some other really top photos of old Hamilton Airport — the one opened  in 1930 to replace the original 1926 J.V. Elliot Airport in the Beach Road neighbourhood. In 1951 Hamilton Airport closed, once the wartime airport at nearby Mount Hope became Hamilton’s main aviation hub. These historic photos came to me decades ago in the Robert “Bob” Finlayson Collection. Bob had been CANAV’s darkroom man for many years. You can find earlier blog mentions of him

Canada Post in the Crosshairs … Again

Canada Post riles Canadians with its Mafia-like rates. It cost me $74 today (November 1, 2022) to mail 3 small packages (inside Canada, cheapest rate) each with one book. Too bad Canadians are so wimpy when it comes to such things. We just take whatever Canada Post sticks to us.
 
The latest Canada Post brouhaha is around the new stamp honouring the DHC-2 Beaver on its 75th anniversary. Problem is that they’ve incurred the wrath of the aficionados who object that the Beaver on the stamp has an American registration. Good point, you eagle-eyed folks, and shame on Canada Post. Their design gurus certainly are not sweating the small stuff!
 
My own beef with this stamp (and the series of 5 in the booklet) is their overall brownishness. Isn’t aviation all about the blue sky and bright clouds? If I had been asked, I’d have suggested simplicity — bright aviation colours. Brown? Forget it!
When Canada Post brought out my own stamp showing the RCAF Vampire, which I had photographed from a 442 Sqn Buffalo, it was just perfect. Take a look. How could Canada Post have done so well?

Besides the Vampire, compare today’s brown Beaver with the beauty of a Beaver that Canada Post issued ages ago based on one of the great Robert Bradford’s magnificent paintings. Now that’s a philatelic Beaver for you!

Canada Post, feel free to call me next time you have an aviation stamp in mind. I’ll be happy to get you on the right track and save you from shooting yourselves in the foot again. Meanwhile, start sweatin’ the small stuff!

Cemetery Studies

Following up on some earlier cemetery coverage, here is a bit more RCAF history from St. John’s Norway Cemetery. I spotted these two graves during a walk on September 11.

With 11 men killed, January 26, 1942 was a dark day for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, its darkest to date. Included among the dead was Sgt Alfred C. Cornell, age 26. Having attended Danforth Technical School in Toronto, before enlisting in the RCAF he had been an optician at Robert Simpson Co. in Toronto. He was married and had two small children. Killed with Cornell when they crashed in Harvard 3237 was Sgt Gordon F. Clark, age 23 of Kingston. They had been on a flight from No.2 Service Flying Training School at Uplands, Ottawa. Cornell’s funeral took place on January 30. Clark is buried in Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston.
Memorialized on his family marker in St. John’s Norway is navigator, WO2 John W. Dickson, a pioneer night fighter airborne intercept navigator with RCAF 409 Squadron. Flying in a Beaufighter IIF from Colby Grange, on August 3, 1941 he and F/O Bruce A. Hanbury, a former TCA pilot, made 409’s first GCI (ground controlled intercept). Tragedy struck on March 27, 1942 when S/L Hanbury (age 21 from Vancouver, a 1 Squadron RCAF Battle of Britain veteran), P/O Philip M. Sweet (age 21 from Huron, South Dakota) and FSgt Dickson died in a Beaufighter training accident. Suddenly, Beaufighter T3142 had entered  a flat spin from which Hanbury could not recover. The crew was laid to rest in Scopwick Church Burial Ground, England. Often, such airmen are remembered on the stone marking their family burial plot in Canada.

Hot News from CANAV Books December 2017

Just so you know, good readers … CANAV is pushing a few new
books that you should know about. Have a look at these gems. Also,
you can listen to bush pilot/photographer Rich Hulina being interviewed
this week on CBC NW Ontario about his spectacular new book. Click
here for a nifty bit of Canadiana … http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1111491651510

Blog 1 Bush Flying Captured Facebook ad-1

Bush Flying Captured, Volume 2, by Rich Hulina … If you don’t yet have your
copy, be sure to jump in and what better time, right! Many of you already
have Rich’s Volume 1, so you know what to expect. By now, Volume 1 is out-
of-print — some folks are kicking themselves for missing out, so latch on to
Volume 2. This has to be the most beautiful book of bushplane photographs
and info that we’ve seen in a mighty long time. My take? Canada’s aviation
book of 2017! Here’s a bit more: If you’re a follower of aviation in the bush,
mountains & tundra, and of Beaver, Otter, Twin Otter, Pilatus. Helio, Beech
18, Widgeon, Goose, Cessna, DC-3, DC-4, C-46, CL-415, BAe748, etc., this beautiful book is for you. 100s of colour photos, scads of lovely air-to- airs. A gem and a bargain for any aviation fan with a pulse. 216 pages, large format, hardcover. $50.00 + $14.00 postage anywhere in Canada* + tax $3.20. Total $67.20 Payment: PayPal to larry@canavbooks.com, or post your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6 (2 or more books: flat rate $16.00)

Blog 3 The Flight 981 Disaster

The Flight 981 Disaster: Tragedy, Treachery and the Pursuit of Truth

Samme Chittum covers the horrendous DC-10 disasters of the early
widebody era. Things hit the headlines on June 12, 1972, when American
Flt96 nearly crashed near Windsor, Ontario. Concluded the NTSB: “The
improper engagement of the latching mechanism for the aft bulk cargo
compartment door during the preparation of the airplane for flight. The design
characteristics of the door latching mechanism permitted the door to be
apparently closed when … the latches were not fully engaged, and the latch
lockpins were not in place.” This was not taken nearly seriously enough so,
on March 3, 1974 a Turkish Airlines DC-10 crashed in Paris – at the time the
world’s worse loss of life in an airline accident. Cause? Same.

The author explains in detail how the DC-10 almost was scuttled by these
crashes, how the investigations went, how industry and government colluded
to minimize the bad PR, how forensic works in such messy events, how good
investigative reporters can positively influence results, etc. Even victims and
survivors are profiled. Other DC-10 messes also are covered, with the
narrative finely interwoven, e.g. the DC-10 crash at Sioux Falls.

If you follow airline history, you’ll want a copy of this gem of a research effort.
You can park it on your bookshelf right beside something like John
Newhouses’ The Sporty Game, which includes further disturbing history of
the DC-10. Happily, as we all know, the DC-10 survived all its early woes to
become one of the great jetliners. 232 pages, hardcover, notes, index.
$33.50 + $12.00 postage anywhere in Canada + tax $2.37. Total $49.87

Blog 2 Flying to Victory

Flying to Victory: Raymond Collishaw and the Western Desert Campaign
1940-1941 Mike Bechthold. The great Canadian WWI ace commanded the
RAF desert air force in the rough and tumble early days of the war from
Egypt across to Libya, etc. A war of Gladiators and a few Hurricanes against
a very capable (contrary to mythology) Italian force supplemented by the
Luftwaffe. How Collishaw fared, how he was recalled, the dirty politics in the
RAF, etc. 280 pages, hardcover, photos, notes, biblio and index. The No.1
Canadian book this year covering the air war. $48.00 + $12.00 postage
anywhere in Canada + tax $3.00. Total $63.00

Blog 4 CAE Story

You may not yet have your copy of Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story.
Here’s a book that will amaze any serious reader. It’s already been hailed as
the finest “biography” in print covering any of the world’s aerospace
manufacturers. Beside the important story of the development of the flight
simulator and CAE’s leading role in that story, starting as a pipsqueak player
back in 1947, you’ll enjoy reading about CAE’s involvement in all sorts of
other products and services.
Did you know that CAE manufactured major airframe components for the
L.1011 and KC-135? Overhauled Air Canada Viscounts, and USAF fighters
and trainers? Ran its own airline? Was in the automotive and forestry
industries? Developed control systems for naval and commercial vessels?
Produced the hand controller (still in use) for the Space Shuttle and ISS?
Once you read this book, you’ll have the inside story about this great
Canadian company and be amazed at CAE’s tremendous diversity (to say
nothing about a small Canadian company developing into a world leader).
Here’s a bit more info: Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story A full-out effort covering one of the world’s great aerospace manufacturers. You won’t find many aviation books as beautifully produced or all-encompassing. The list of activities, subsidiaries and ups ‘n downs is incredible. The book brings you to the present, when CAE has the lion’s share of the commercial flight simulator market, and operates flying schools and simulation centres, helping to ease the worldwide pilot shortage. The great CAE pioneers and the generations of CAE employees are honoured by this beautifully-produced book. 392 pages, hardcover, large format, 100s of photos, glossary, bibliography, index. A serious book bargain at $65.00 + 14.00* + tax $3.95 Total $82.95

 J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leafs and the Legacy New bio of this great Canadian who made his first fortune in grain c.1900, then went into mining, building McIntyre of Timmins into Canada’s leading gold miner. Along the way he acquired to Toronto Maple Leafs, etc. However, his role in aviation is outstanding, whether barnstorming with his WWI flying buddies in the 1920s, pioneering in corporate aviation (Stinson Reliant, Grumman Goose, etc.), wartime aircraft production in  the UK alongside Lord Beaverbrook, his leadership in building Lancasters at Malton, then backing of Avro Canada beginning in 1945. A well written and well researched book about a true Canadian business hero who did it all. 238pp, hc, photos. List $24.95 CANAV price $23.50 + $12.00 postage + $1.77 Total $37.27

You’ll enjoy any or all of these beauties. So … do yourself a big favour and keep
reading actual books! Don’t let the internet turn your brain cells to mush, right. All the best and keep in touch… Larry

See CANAV’s main Fall/Winter booklist here: https://canavbooks.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/books-new-canav-list-2017-18.pdf

*Payment info: Pay directly to larry@canavbooks.com if using PayPal. If not, mail your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6.

Postage reminder … 2 or more books: flat rate $16.00 anywhere in Canada. For US and Int’l orders … email me for shipping charges: larry@canavbooks.com

Norsemans Here & There …

Anchorage3

 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

Anchorage4

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

Stockholm3

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”.

Victoria1

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.

CF-GUE -5 db9017_LR

Another excellent winter scene with GUE on straight skis.

CF-GUE -6 img074

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

Blog CF-OBN accident576

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

Image

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.

Pierre Gillard’s Blog Features Ralph Clint’s Long-Lost Airliner Photos, A310s to the Boneyard, Readers React to Norseman Vol.2 + Initial Errata Details

The demise of Norseman 495, about which Bob Cameron of Whitehorse adds some details. (John Biehler Collection)

The demise of Norseman 495, about which Bob Cameron of Whitehorse adds some details. (John Biehler Collection)

All the best to CANAV’s great supporters over 2014! Thanks hugely to one and all of you solid folks, who go back to the birth of CANAV in 1981, but also to you many new fans/younger readers who are gradually getting to know CANAV and all it has to offer via its top-notch book list and always-informative blog.

For January 4, 2014 please note that I’ve added an addendum to blog posting “The Wartime Era Fades”. This is based on an obituary that I spotted in today’s newspaper. You’ll absolutely enjoy this item. Find it easily by using the search box.

Blog followers will love what Pierre Gillard is doing with Ralph Clint’s collection of old slides. Born in 1935, Ralph passed away in 2013. A long-serving TCA/Air Canada radio operator, Ralph was the commensurate aviation fan (nothing shallow for him) and one of CANAV’s hard-working researchers, proof readers etc. since the days of our Canadair North Star book.

Three cheers for Pierre, a professor at E.N.A. at St. Hubert, who does such a fantastic job with his blog. To see his fine gallery of Ralph’s airliner photos, have a look at this week’s headline offerings at his blog. Looks like most of Pierre’s “Ralph” photos were taken in the 1960s-70s at Toronto YYZ, mainly from the upper parking level of the original (now recycled) “Aeroquay” passenger terminal. This is really a great trip back into the days of such types as the stubby DC-9-15 and such Classic 747s as CF-TOA, a vintage -133.  Each photo was decently taken by Ralph and and has been nicely “tweaked up” by Pierre. As to “tweaking”, Pierre explains: “Most of Ralph’s slides are easy to scan and process because they are not Kodachromes. So, I can use a function to virtually wipe dust and remove scratches, which is totally impossible to do with Kodachrome slides. This saves a lot of time.”

This week Pierre also covers the dismantling of a couple of Air Transat Airbus 310s (“On démantèle à Mirabel”, A310 “au recyclage”, etc.). Who would believe that these seemingly modern airliners so soon could be over the hill but … I guess we’re all getting there. Something to think about, eh!

“Merci bien” CANAV people and good reading (as usual) to one and all … Larry

A Norseman Aficionado Weighs In

Norseman readers are gradually getting back to me with their comments about our new books. I’ve just heard from Bob Cameron of Whitehorse. Bob led a small team back in the 1990s restoring Fokker Super Universal CF-AAM (dormant since a 1937 accident) to flying condition. He and his pals then toured Canada in this astoundingly historic plane, a photo of which graces the cover of Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years. CF-AAM today is permanently on show at the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg. Last year Bob’s grand book, Yukon Wings, was published. You can read my review of this big-time beauty for more details.

Bob also is a veteran Norseman pilot, so who better to pass judgment on a Norseman book? Off the top, this is what he has to say: “The hi-lite of my Christmas was the arrival of your magnificent Norseman Vol. I! It is fabulous, and I am absorbing every millimeter of it!”

Encrusted remnants of Norseman 495 as they sit today on the bottom of Tagish Lake. (via Bob Cameron)

Encrusted remnants of Norseman 495 as they sit today on the bottom of Tagish Lake. (via Bob Cameron)

Bob adds some historic tidbits about the dramatic wreck of RCAF Norseman 495, pictured on p.151 of Norseman Vol.1: “That happened 40 miles south of here on Tagish Lake on St. Patrick’s Day, 1950. One guy was checking out another on skis. Unfortunately, they chose to shoot a landing too far off shore, in flat light, rendering depth perception next to impossible.” He then explains the final fate of 495. The RCAF salvage team stripped it of useful parts, then abandonned the wreck to settle to the lake bottom with the spring melt. If one flies over Tagish Lake today, the outline of 495 may still be spotted in the shallow water. Bob finishes: “Anyway, good work, Larry, I’ve waited a long time for a pictorial history of one of my favourite airplanes!”

 The Gremlins are About!

Several typical typos have been pointed out in the Norseman volumes. These inevitably seem to occur no matter how hard we try to correct them before printing. Thanks to former Norseman pilot Rodney Kozar for spotting these. The real clanger is the one referring to the great Dishlevoy/Magnusson Norseman website as noorduynnorseman.com, when that should be norsemanhistory.ca. So please make a note (but do use both sites, eh).

In Vol.1: In Norseman Vol.1 p.119, the correct date for the Hazelton crash is the one shown on the grave marker.

For p.120 somehow the caption for Norseman 2477 got transposed. In an earlier version of the galleys the correct caption is in place — can you believe it! So how in the world did it end up with a caption for Norseman 2469. The desired caption is: Camping with 2477 at Crystal 1 in March 1942. From February 6 to April 4, 1942 this Norseman was on loan to Ferry Command for the Eastern Arctic airstrip/weather station survey. Postwar, it was CF-PAB. While serving Associated Airways of Edmonton, in August 1954 it was damaged beyond repair in a landing accident. (A.W. Baker Col.)

p. 197 – the correct month for the Nelles incident is August.

In Vol. 2 – p.11, line 2 of caption, change RCAF to RCMP

p.13 – lower caption, change Ontario to Canadian

p.14 – top caption for CF-OBG incorrectly gives the info for CF-OBF

p.17 – in the chart, change CF-UDD to CF-UUD

p.20 – lower caption change CF-SAN to CF-SAH

p.41 – at end of  CF-GUE entry, the Huron Air mention applies to above entry for CF-GSR

pp.62/63 – all registrations should read CF-EIH, delete CF-EIN

p.74 – CF-GUM Mark IV, change to UC-64A; CF-HFV change serial no. to N29-50; CF-SAHI V, change to CF-SAH  IV; CF-SAM Mark IV, change to V.

p.123 – lower caption change OK-XDB is OK-XBD

p.194 – lower caption, change CF-ORD to CF-OBD

p.239 – 2nd para, col.3 CF-DRD went on permanent display in 1992

p.246 – top caption change CF-GTN to CF-GJN

p.286 – lower photo, Norseman shown is CF-JIN, not CF-JEC

Pierre Gillard Reviews Norseman Vol. 2

 Probablement que, pour Larry Milberry, les 232 pages du premier volume consacré au Noorduyn Norseman avait un “goût de trop peu” car il a immédiatement embrayé, en solo cette fois-ci, avec un second volume ne comprenant pas moins de 304 pages ! Il restait donc beaucoup de choses à dire encore au sujet de cet avion de brousse produit à Cartierville. Et vous n’allez pas me croire quand je vous dirai que l’auteur a reçu des commentaires acerbes de certains frustrés mentionnant qu’il manquait de détails au sujet de quelques opérateurs “oubliés” par le récit!

Toujours est-il que ce second volume traite essentiellement des Norseman utilisés après la Seconde guerre mondiale par la Gendarmerie royale du Canada (GRC-RCMP), les opérateurs civils canadiens ainsi que les opérateurs étrangers, toujours avec le souci du détail et la minutie que l’on connaît à Larry Milberry. Une place importante est réservée aux résultats de nombreuses entrevues et échanges que l’auteur a eus avec des personnes pour qui cet avion était le gagne-pain. C’est ainsi que j’ai retrouvé une belle participation de mon ami Paul Gagnon, à ses débuts en qualité de pilote de brousse, dont des récits de quelques “aventures” vécues avec des Norseman.

Sur le plan des illustrations, un grand nombre de photos en couleur, dont certaines sont absolument magnifiques et relèvent du grand art, complètent les archives extraordinaires en noir et blanc publiées dans les deux volumes. Comme toujours, à la lecture des ouvrages de Canav Book, on peut se demander comment il est possible de rassembler autant de documents photographiques inédits. Avec ces deux volumes au sujet du Norduyn Norseman, Larry Milberry et Hugh A. Halliday ont définitivement comblé un vide historique pour cet avion construit au Québec.

For Pierre’s review of Norseman Vol. 1, click here.

Reminder to  UK and EuroZone bibliophiles … pick up your copy of Norseman Vol.1 and Vol.2 at  Simon Watson’s Aviation Bookshop in Tunbridge Wells, UK. Email:  simon@aviation-bookshop.com. Or … visit Henk Timmers’ Aviation Megastore at Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport. Email: henk@aviationmegastore.com.