Category Archives: CF-100

The Crash of CF-100 18417: Redux

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A few years back, we posted an item on the mysterious crash of the CF-100 18417. In September 2013 Alistair J. Douglas sent us two excellent photos relevant to this story. Above is a typical CF-100 Mk.IV that he photographed at the RCAF NATO aircraft overhaul base — Scottish Aviation of Prestwick. It’s resplendent in its NATO camouflage and 440 Squadron markings. Then, below, the ill-fated 18417, which Alistair saw scattered in the field near Prestwick, where it crashed so disastrously. (Click on any picture to see it full frame.)

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440 Squadron Reunion Update, CF-100 Nostalgia and CANAV’s 30th Anniversary

Last summer I attended a wonderful 440 “Bat’ Squadron reunion in Ottawa. A few weeks later I received a scroll naming me an honourary member of 440’s alumni. Very nice … not your everyday surprise!

You can find the reunion write-up “Typhoons and CF-100s: 440 Squadron Gets Together in Ottawa, September 2010,” here.  So have a look if you haven’t yet.

Since then, 440’s old timers organized a hugely important event across the pond and here is that story compiled by Cliff Cassidy from CF-100 days. It’s really encouraging to see that there’s still some genuine interest in Air Force heritage, at least at the grassroots (“old boys”) level. Take a peek at Cliff’s excellent presentation here.

All of today’s CanForces squadrons should check out what the 440 alumni have done — inspiration (let’s hope) for all of you in uniform. Every squadron has much to be proud of — so why not take that idea off the back burner and get a history project going!

Since we were just speaking of the CF-100… In 1981 I established CANAV Books. My first title was The Avro CF-100. Here I am, 30 years later on August 12, 2011, still hard at it, this very day sending CANAV’s latest book to the printer. I think I might just go out on the front porch, sit me down and celebrate with a brewski.

Yesterday one of Quebec’s best-known aviation historians dropped by to do that very thing — it was Robert St-Pierre Day on the porch! While I was putting the CF-100 book together, Robert was establishing a new aviation history society — “Canadian Roundel Wings”. People joined and the good word about Canada’s aviation heritage had another outlet.

Once The Avro CF-100 was off the bindery, I headed down for a book signing in Montreal. Robert and some of his pals organized a quick little do right in the main terminal at l’aéroport Dorval. Lots of interested people flowed by and a few books even were sold. It was a real hoot when a federal cabinet minister, allegedly with an interest in aviation, came through the terminal. He and his flunkies stopped to look over the book display. Naturally, not ever having bought a book in his life, the minister went away quite cheesed when he couldn’t get himself a freebee … he was insulted when I wouldn’t give him one! Sad to say, but at CANAV we still don’t know a heck of a lot about entitlement — too busy working for a living. Well, the case of the cheesed-off minister was just  the funniest moment and guess what … it sure hasn’t gotten any better since. Just try selling a Canadian aviation book to any Ottawa mandarin, political or military.

At The Avro CF-100 launch, Dorval Airport, 1981: Robert Nault, Robert Sapienza of KLM, CANAV's Larry Milberry, Robert St-Pierre, Marc-Andre Valiquette, and Gerry and René Vallée.

Robert showed me this black and white snapshot taken at Dorval that day 30 years ago. Aren’t these old photos just the best for bringing back happy memories? Here we aviation guys stand: Robert Nault, Robert Sapienza of KLM, moi, Robert St-Pierre, Marc-André Valiquette, and Gerry and René Vallée. Just great, and thanks, Robert. We haven’t aged a bit, right! Marc-André actually has grown up to be an author and publisher, and recently produced three excellent volumes covering Avro Canada.

Hope your summer goes well … Larry Milberry

P.S. … big news coming next week!

CF-100 trivia for February 29, 2012:

Today one of CANAV’s fans reported that he had ordered a used copy of The Avro CF-100 from a web dealer. At $29.00 he got a great deal. Here’s his report via e-mail:

Hi Larry … I got it about an hour ago. So guess why it took me an hour to write! I looked at every page, photo, etc. Awesome!

Thanks very much for your help, and especially for writing this book in the first place. My copy is virtually in mint condition, with only minor damage to the dust jacket.

Best regards … John

CANAV Books 2010 Fall-Winter Newsletter and Booklist

Aviation in Canada … News from the CANAV Situation Room

After a short breather following our recent book launch, it’s back to normal in CANAV’s dungeon. The publisher is again putting the screws to his staff. He’s laying on the lash, cutting salaries, demanding more unpaid overtime, reducing benefits, etc. He says that he will continue with this until morale improves. Seriously, good readers … this is where CANAV’s new Centennial of Flight series stands: Vol.1 Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, Vol.2 Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years and Vol.3 Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force are now in print (and available to purchase online – check out the sidebar to your right!). Reader comments about ACEAF would put a smile on any publisher’s face.

Terry Higgins, Aviaeology/SkyGrid publisher of Canadian Aircraft of WWII, writes: “Another stellar CANAV production… It is like a well put together documentary film in paper form. This is a consistent characteristic of your books that I enjoy so much. And the cover price is just astounding. Next please!”

At Passion Aviation, Pierre Gillard offers his own view: “Espéron que la saga Aviation in Canada continue encore longtemps car elle représente une mine incroyable d’informations qui devrait être “la” réference de quiconque s’intéresse ou voudrait s’intéresser à l’aviation au Canada depuis le ‘Jour 1’…”

Those who already have these three gorgeous books can easily relate; now I’m just waiting for the rest of you die hard aviation fans to get aboard the “CANAV Books Express”. “Aviation in Canada” is the first attempt to create an encyclopedic coverage of Canada’s aviation heritage. Vol.4 is now in the CANAV system: Aviation in Canada: The RCAF Overseas 1939-1945 will pick up from Vol.3, providing a solid look at a key era. Due by mid-2011, it will have major chapters about Bomber Command, Fighter Command, Coastal Command, Southeast Asia, etc. with an emphasis on bringing as much new material to the printed page as we can.

Check out CANAV’s new book list. Click on it, take a good, serious look and you’ll find some irresistible titles. This is where the real aviation reading starts this season — not on the internet. Forget about that, unless all you want is fluff or a quick history “fix”. When it comes to the solid goods, real aviation fans read books — the internet’s for kids. As you peruse our list, the “Aviation in Canada” series leaps out, so make that a shopping list priority. Next (and naturally so) comes Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace. If you don’t have this knockout of a trilogy, you can finally break down and order a set — CAFWP is on sale! Here are more than 1000 pages of RCAF heritage with 2000+ photos that no true RCAF supporter would be without. Reader Bernie Pregler, who once navigated on CF-100s, recently discovered CAFWP and was moved to comment:

“I started reading Vol.3 and was reminded of a W.B. Yeats poem — ‘When you are old and gray and nodding by the fire, take down this book and read, and dream…’ In fact, Yeats was writing it in regard to a girl he once loved, but since most of us are also in love with airplanes and flight, it’s fair to think of it as being applicable to ourselves, as well. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of information and photographs, and completely in awe of anyone who can produce such a work – and not just one volume, but three …”

I doubt that there’s a book editor at any major Canadian newspaper who could touch this commentary for intellectual and literary depth. Would they even know today who Yeats is, let alone what a CF-100 is? Gads, its depressing … whatever happened to the good old, well-versed, broadly-educated, fired-up daily press book editors, who knew what readers wanted (and that fiction mostly was for kids)? Check out the booklist for the special prices on CAFWP. Deal expires with our Spring 2011 list.

CANAV’s fine book selection should conjure great gifts ideas, if you’re wondering what your aviation-minded or Canadian history-loving friends, employees, customers or suppliers want for Christmas. Any sharp young person would be inspired by a book like Pioneer Decades, so buy him/her a copy, already. Meanwhile, what’s to stop anyone from donating a good Canadian aviation book to the local public or school library? What a great civic holiday gesture!

All the best … Larry Milberry, publisher

Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force: Launched and in Orbit!

*ORDER ONLINE*

After dozens of book launches, such events sure can be predicable but, in CANAV’s experience, every one has turned out to be a blast. I sometimes am asked about book launches of yore, and those days sure race back to mind. The first was with McGraw Hill-Ryerson’s Aviation in Canada back in 1979. That one I held in the back yard at 51 Balsam, which then became the venue for several similar excellent thrashes — Sixty Years and Austin Airways are memorable.

The first all-CANAV event was held at Pete Mossman’s great uptown domicile in the summer of ’81. There we launched The Avro CF-100, for which Pete had done the fabulous artwork. November 2, 1982 came next — my first $3000 hotel splash, held at the Cambridge Inn out by what we used to call Malton Airport (today’s YYZ). The idea was to kick off The Canadair North Star, but the weather closed in — IFR all the way and I could foresee disaster. Astoundingly, things panned out beautifully. Piles of North Star fans from Canadair, TCA and RCAF times suddenly materialized. Through the efforts of Canadair exec Dick Richmond, the company Lear flew to Malton with several senior Canadair retirees, Dick included; other folks turned up wearing old time TCA stewardess and pilot outfits and, miracle of miracles, a good few North Star books were sold.

John McQuarrie and old team mate Larry Milberry have just exchanged their new books at The Brogue. John got his start in publishing after a conversation with Larry back around 1990. That day he showed out of the blue with a series of questions starting with, "I think I'd like to get into publishing. Where does a fellow start?" He began by producing some world-class Canadian military titles, branched off into a series on ranching, then got into cities, canals, etc.

A 1986 Ottawa launch for The Canadair Sabre brought out a fabulous crowd of Sabre pilots and groundcrew. Included were several who had fought in Sabres in Korea — Ernie Glover (3 MiG-15 kills), Andy Mackenzie, Omer Levesque (1st RCAF MiG-15 kill), Claude LaFrance, Eric Smith, Bruce Fleming. Talk about the cream of the crop. There also were Golden Hawks milling around and Vic Johnson screened a fine team video. It was either here or at our Ottawa launch for Sixty Years that the Soviet air attaché showed up — some former MiG-21 pilot who pretended not to speak English. A CanForces general in the crowd explained that such fellows attend any such Ottawa event just to check on who’s in town, in this way getting some “intel” to pad their reports back to Moscow! Sadly, no one seemed to be taking photos that night in Ottawa — I don’t have a one.

The De Havilland Canada Story was launched at the roll-out of the Dash 8 in 1983, Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story at Hart House at the University of Toronto, and Canadair: The First 50 Years took flight at a glitzy affair down in old Montreal. That was an amazing one with hundreds of Canadair retirees and VIPs, including three CanForces generals. At each of these affairs, books were given out by the hundreds, so what a way to spread the good word at your clients’ expense!

Another zany book launch was for Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story held at 410 Wing RCAFA at Rockcliffe (Ottawa). As Hugh Halliday and I were setting up in mid-afternoon, a blizzard descended. By the time we had been hoping to see a crowd, only a few old 410 regulars were on hand. They’d been sitting all afternoon at the bar, so weren’t much interested in books. Never mind, however, for people gradually started to filter in, storm or not. About 8 o’clock there was a clatter outside. I looked but could only see snow streaking by horizontally. Then, out of this cloud entered 438 Sqn Hon. Colonel Andy Lord, a former 438 Typhoon pilot. Andy had commandeered a 438 Kiowa helicopter to fly up weather-be-damned from St. Hubert. Naturally, he looked ready to party or take on the Hun, but not so his young pilots — they were white as sheets!

Book launch show-and-tell: John Hymers, Dennis, Rick, Kelly and Andrew look over a photo album put together by John showing WWII PR photos taken by Goodyear Rubber in Toronto. No one had seen these since the war. Happily, John had rescued the negs from the trash one day ... such amazing scenes as a Bolingbroke on show at the CNE.

Tony (Aviation World), Rick and John looking to be in decent form.

So what happened on the book launch scene last week — August 19, 2010? It was as predicted — a super bunch of supporters, old friends, some of whom have been there for CANAV since Day 1. Renowned author Fred Hotson (age 95 or so) made it with  his chauffeur, Dave Clark, an old-time Canadair type. A few other vintage CAHS members turned up — Bill Wheeler, Shel Benner, Pete Mossman, Gord McNulty, etc. Rae Simpson, with whom I used to photograph planes in boyhood days, showed, fresh in on a King Air flight from The Soo. Photographer-publisher John McQuarrie blew in from an assignment in Kingston, showing off the glitziest book of the day — his magnificent new “Spirit of Place” title — Muskoka: Then and Now. Ace photographer Rick Radell and Aviation World stalwarts Tony Cassanova and Andy Cline showed with all their great support — lugging boxes and such. Two other fine party guys on the scene? AC 767 and CWH Canso driver John McClenaghan and geologist George Werniuk. John Timmins, of Timmins Aviation fame, was taking in his first CANAV event. Milberrys Matt and Simon/Amanda (plus wee ones) arrived as per usual.

Fred, Sheldon and Gord. Fred spent years as national president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, was an early member of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association. A former DHC employee, Sheldon became an early CAHS member. Gord followed his famous father, Jack, into the hobby aviation world and in recent years has been an indispensable member of the CAHS Toronto Chapter.

Larry makes a sale to Gord as ex-RCAF radar tech and military policemen Al Gay watches. Al and some friends have been developing a flight simulator series based on all 100+ aerodromes of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. (Tony Cassanova)

Rick wants a book but is having trouble letting go of his $50 bill. The aviation gang ... what a bunch, eh! This joke is no laughing matter to anyone publishing aviation books: "Question: Who invented the world's thinnest copper wire? Answer: Two airline pilots fighting over a penny!" Sad to say, but this seems to be true. As a group, airline pilots religiously avoid CANAV book launchings. (Tony Cassanova)

Wartime-wise? Well, due to time doing what it does so efficiently, there were few on hand from 39-45 times. John Coleman (Lancaster pilot 405 and 433) and Jack McCreight (Lancaster nav) were the sole RCAF reps, whereas in days gone by dozens of such super Canadians used to show. Fred Hotson of Ferry Command was the Methuselah of the wartime bunch on this day. Other friendly folks came and went as the afternoon passed — just A-1 all the way.

Lancaster pilot John Coleman chats with renowned aviation artist Pete Mossman at The Brogue. Pete's artwork helped CANAV's early books gain fame -- our CF-100, North Star, DHC and Austin Airways titles. In recent times Pete painted dozens of magnificent aircraft profiles for Dan Dempsey's incomparable book A Tradition of Excellence.

Rae Simpson and Jack McCreight had lots to talk over through the afternoon. Rae flew CF-104s during the RCAF's NATO heyday in the mid-1960s, then rose to be the CanForces chief test pilot. Jack's wartime training story is told in our new book.

The staff at The Brogue in Port Credit supplied the yummy food and whatever liquid refreshments we needed, so the whole effort came off as finely as a publisher could wish. Toronto’s summer nightmare traffic scenario sure tried to put the kibosh on things, but CANAV’s “solid citizens” toughed it out, battling off the worst that the QEW and 427 threw at them. Thanks to everyone for making it all another gem of a day — Book No.31, if my count is on. Cheers … Larry

CANAV fans at The Brogue: banking man Tony Hine, geologist George Werniuk, computer guy Matt Milberry and astronomer Andrew Yee.

John, Bill Wheeler and Larry shooting the breeze about RCAF history, books and publishing. Bill edited and published the CAHS Journal for more than 40 years. (Tony Cassanova)

While we were partying at The Brogue, Andy Cline was sweating it out at Aviation World, but after work he joined us anyway. If you haven't yet visited Aviation World on Carlingview Dr. near YYZ, in Richmond, BC near YVR, or in Chicago near Midway MDW, make a point of it. (Tony Cassanova)

The Facts Will Out: The Crash of CF-100 18417

Douglas Kinch (left) with his good friend, Johnny Rivett, when they were young pilots at RAF Cottesmore awaiting their postings. Johnny died in the 1959 crash of CF-100 18417 near Prestwick. (via Douglas Kinch)

Update:

As a follow-up to my original blog post (below) about the loss of CF-100 18417, in April 2012 Douglas Kinch wrote from the UK about his friend, Johnny Rivett, who was killed in this incident. Douglas’ letter adds to the human side of this important bit of CF-100 and Prestwick history:

Hi Larry … Johnny Rivett and I joined the RAF in 1946.  We first met at RAF Church Lawford, Warwickshire, England where we conducted our initial flying training on D.H.82A Tiger Moths and studied all the associated ground subjects with No.2 FTS.  April 1948 No.2FTS moved to RAF South Cerney, a small grass aerodrome near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, a place steeped in Roman history.  It was here that we completed our flying training on the North American Harvard, then the standard RAF advanced trainer. We were awarded our “wings” on a very cold day in December,1948.

After a spell of leave John and I were posted to No.201 AFS, RAF Swinderby, where we converted to the Wellington Mk 10, completing 55 hours of intensive training. Unfortunately, Johnny had  quite a bad crash one night in April 1949, when his Wellington failed to get airborne off a short runway, ending up a few yards away from a petrol station on the Foss Way. Luckily, neither Johnny nor his two crew members suffered any injuries, although the aircraft was a write-off.

After Swinderby we went our separate ways, myself to Lancasters and subsequently Sunderlands (and the Korean War), and Johnny to Transport Command.  After a tour on transport aircraft (Yorks?) Johnny realised his dream — he trained on Vampires and was posted to 2nd TAF, RAF West Germany, where his good looks and charming personality were undoubtedly appreciated by the frauleins! His Station Commander was none other than the late Group Captain “Johnny” Johnson, the top scoring Allied fighter pilot of World War 2. Although we wrote occasional letters, I did not see Johnny again until 1953 when he, myself, my wife and brother spent an enjoyable day picnicking in the Kentish countryside and, in the evening, taking in a show at the London Palladium.

I never saw Johnny again.  I knew he had left the RAF and joined a Scottish airline. I was horrified to read of his death in 1959, when he was hitching a ride from Prestwick to Renfrew in an RCAF CF-100.  I believe he was in the rear seat with a suitcase on his knees when the aircraft went out of control immediately after take-off and the pilot had no option but to eject. A very sad end to a fine aviator and close friend.

Kind Regards … Donald (Archie) Kinch

Original post:

Confirming exact details is the job and delight of the “history detective”. The process sometimes is a breeze, but can be the opposite, involving diverse sources and a veritable team. Here is a recent case where one seemingly small detail affected an important case. On March 23, 2010 John Stuart of Ottawa asked Vic Johnson of Air Force Magazine what information he might have about the crash of CF-100 18417 near Prestwick, Scotland, on January 22, 1959.

John’s interest arose professionally, as he was researching for the Seventh Book of Remembrance on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada. By this time he had confirmed the names of some 600 Canadians who should be — but were not yet — on the list of Canadian military personnel killed since October 1947, while in service to Canada. John still had 19 names to confirm, including one of those aboard 18417. The VAC web site describes the importance of its project:

In the Service of Canada — The Seventh Book of Remembrance was dedicated on November 11, 2005. It was created to honour the valiant men and women in the Canadian Forces who gave their lives in service to Canada since October 1947, with the exception of those commemorated in the Korean Book of Remembrance. As of 2008, the Seventh Book of Remembrance contains the names of more than 1600 persons who have died in the Service of Canada…

“The Seventh Book of Remembrance is unique because it is a living document that will be used to commemorate those who have given their lives In the Service of Canada for generations to come.”

Canadians are encouraged to continue contributing to the Seventh Book and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

“For information on how to submit an individual’s name for the Seventh Book, please visit the “Continuing to Build the Seventh Book of Remembrance” section of our Frequently Asked Questions. Families of deceased Canadian Forces members – and members of the Canadian public – can search the Canadian Virtual War Memorial for those commemorated in the Seventh Book.”

As to CF-100 18417, Vic referred John to me, as there was an entry in my 1981 book The Avro CF-100 regarding the crash. The crew is identified as Hancock and Rivett. The latter is noted as killed, so John needed to know if he qualified to be mentioned in Canada’s Seventh Book of Remembrance.

My skimpy information had been gleaned circa 1980 from an RCAF accident investigation card. Otherwise, I had nothing directly to offer. None of my RCAF contacts in the CF-100 world recalled this crew, and few even remembered the crash, since it had not been a squadron incident. To help John with his quest, I referred him to Douglas Rough who, along with some fellow enthusiasts, currently is researching the history of aviation in and around Glasgow. John explained his project to Douglas, noting:

“During the period Feb 1957 until Dec 1962, the RCAF deployed four CF-100 squadrons to 1 Air Division, RCAF with one squadron assigned to each of the Division’s four wings. Normal practice at that time was to route the aircraft over the Atlantic with a stop at Prestwick prior to the final leg to the selected destination in France or Germany. Scottish Aviation would have been involved in servicing the aircraft as required at Prestwick and I believe that Scottish also had a depot level overhaul contract with the RCAF during that period for the CF-100s. I suppose that Rivett could have been a pilot in the employ of Scottish Aviation, but I have no way of knowing and that is why I am seeking your assistance.”

Douglas enlisted the help of Gordon Macadie, a senior member of the Prestwick Airport Spotters Club, an association formed in the 1950s by local aviation fans. Members turn out regularly to their club house at Prestwick. They spot and record (for hobby purposes) the comings and goings of aircraft at Prestwick and neighbouring airports. Over the decades, the information which they gathered often turned out to be valuable for researchers and authors (I came to admire their efforts, when researching for The Wilf White Propliner Collection). Gordon consulted with another local aviation history aficionado, Tom MacFadyen, and they soon had the story shaping up. Gordon wrote back to John on March 30:

“I have been asked by Douglas Rough to assist with your query re: the above crash. I am aware of the incident, but have no photographs of the crash site. I have been down to the local library today and read the newspaper article of the incident. It states that approximately 20 seconds after takeoff  the aircraft crashed at Hobsland Farm, Monkton (the village adjacent to Prestwick Airport).

“The pilot, Mr. A.N. Hancock, ejected safely, but Capt. J.H. Rivett died in the crash. The canopy of the a/c landed on the roof of Monkton school. It states that Mr. Hancock lived in Glasgow and Capt. Rivett lived in Paisley just outside Glasgow. From memory Capt. Rivett was being given a lift to Renfrew. I seem to remember that there was a special procedure for the back seater to perform before ejecting, and that may not have been carried out.

“Was Capt Rivett a CF-100 Pilot / Nav. I am sorry — the information I have is sparse. I have contacted some friends on the subject, but can’t find any who were working on the RCAF overhaul facility at the time, however, I will keep asking. It is likely that Mr. Hancock was employed by Scottish Aviation at Renfrew.”

Fred Aldworth of Air Force Magazine in Ottawa was following up on the information provided by Douglas, Gordon and Tom, and digging further. One discovery was that the DND Directorate of Flight Safety in Ottawa seemed to have zero information about this crash. Two stalwarts at Library and Archives Canada — Tim Dubé and Paul Marsden — now got on the file. Paul located an accident report and informed Tim that “the two occupants of the plane were both civilians working for Scottish Aviation Co., carrying out a short ferry flight from Prestwick to Renfrew. Pilot was N. Hancock and in the back seat was J.H. Revitt.” Tim then took a detailed look and reported to Fred on April 1:

“On 22 January 1959, CF100 18417 took off from Prestwick for a ferry flight to Renfrew. Immediately after takeoff, the aircraft went into an uncontrolled steep right turn. Pilot Neil Hancock ejected safely. Passenger John H. Rivett failed to eject and was killed in the crash. According to the file, both Hancock and Rivett were civilian pilots with Scottish Aviation. John H. Rivett (also spelled Revitt in various documents) was a 30-year old RAF-trained jet pilot current on Sabres. As Rivett was a civilian working for Scottish Aviation, with no apparent Canadian connection, he is presumably outside the boundaries of the Books of Remembrance.”

All such findings were being relayed to John who, on April 2, was able to report to one and all:

“This is the complete story on John H. Rivett’s crash. It is ironic that I have a … a summary done by the Canadian Forces Directorate of Flight Safety on every Air Force crash since 1 October 1947 and the crash of CF-100 18417 is not listed. However, it appears that DFS had a file on the crash all along and did not list it since there were no Canadian fatalities or injuries. Perhaps this information will be useful to you. Thanks very much for your interest in my project; it is much appreciated.”