Category Archives: Pratt & Whitney Canada

Summer/Fall Newsletter 2015 and … Introducing Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story

CAE cover

Dear Reader,

I hope that all goes well with you so far through mid-2015. At CANAV things are hopping, the excitement being all about being our new CAE history. Any fan of Canada’s great aviation heritage will revel in this exclusive production, the largest so far in our 7-vol. “Aviation in Canada” series.

CAE Mailing Piece

If you have the other titles, you’ll know what to expect (in case you haven’t yet treated yourself to the series, there’s still stock). FYI, The CAE Story is not an official company history. However, neither were our world-class bestsellers Canadair: The First 50 Years, De Havilland in Canada and Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story.

Order your autographed copy of The CAE Story online today!

If you’re looking for some great summer reading, be sure to peruse the new CANAV general booklist. Check out such hot additions as Fangs of Death (439 Sqn), Lost: Unsolved Mysteries of Canadian Aviation, A Life in Canadian Aerospace and My Life and Times at Canadian Airlines. Other great selections? Air Transport in Canada remains in print and still at a $60 discount. This mighty publication (1040 pages) is the world’s single heftiest aviation history title. Only a handful of Hugh Halliday’s Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story remain, so if you want some truly exciting RCAF WWII reading, don’t miss out on this wonderful production — a real icon in the category of books honouring our wartime air and ground crew. Also down to the last few original copies is CANAV’s highly-touted Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story.

Another beauty that you’ll be sure to enjoy (and a bargain at $50) is Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange. Content-wise, this is one of the more far-out of Canadian aviation titles, e.g., in the “who knew” category. Here you’ll read about Canadians on exchange (or contract) from the USA and UK to such other nations as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway on such types as the B-29, B-52, B-57, C-17, C-97, C-141, Britannia, F-4, F-5, F-102, F-106, Gladiator, Lightning, Mirage and Nimrod. With hundreds of photos this book will open your eyes to an important (if little-known) aspect of RCAF history. Some of the excitement includes Canadian pilots ejecting from the F-100 and F-105, chasing a UFO in an F-94, bombing Mau Mau in Kenya, ditching in the Mediterranean in a Hastings, ferrying a Javelin from the UK to Singapore (one Javelin is lost in the Bengali jungles), ferrying a B-57 from the USA to Pakistan and an RF-4J from the factory in St. Louis to Japan, test flying the EuroFighter in its early days, flying Tornados in Saudi Arabia and crewing on secret missions in the WB-50, WB-57 and SR-71. This may sound like “Believe It or Not” stuff, but it’s all solid history!

Besides building up your personal library, you also might consider donating a CANAV volume to your local public/school library. Needless to say, a set of “Aviation in Canada” wouldn’t likely be turned down! A positive way of spreading the word and making a difference, eh. Final reminder … be sure to check out CANAV’s free book offer on p.4 of the main booklist.

Need to get in touch?

CANAV Business Card

As always, feel free to call or email any time for further info: (416) 698-7559 or

And, as usual … good reading to one and all!

~ Larry Milberry, publisher

Pierre Gillard reviews Propulsion/Power

Pierre operates one of the best blogs featuring aviation books. He offers reviews for the reader who has a mind that’s in gear. This month Pierre covers CANAV’s world-acclaimed history of Pratt & Whitney Canada that we published in French as Propulsion and in English as Power. You may well have this “golden oldie”, but if not, here’s a chance to order one (or two or three) at half price. Our book was a bargain from Day 1 at the sticker price of $40.00, so this offer is not to be missed … order by October 15, 2010 at $20.00 + $ 10.00 shipping + tax $1.50 = $31.50 Canada only (2 or more copies $15 total for shipping).

If USA or overseas, e-mail to get your shipping cost. Any cheque on any CDN or US bank, or if PayPal let CANAV know and we’ll e-mail you a PayPal invoice. One way or the other, you should have a copy of this classic history of a classic aviation company. Last 60 copies of Propulsion, last 300 copies of Power. So jump on board … Larry Milberry

PS My favourite “music to the publisher’s ears” comment from Pierre in this thoughtful review: ” … un récit minutieux et agréable à lire … couvre tous les produits conçus, développés, testés, construits et entretenus par Pratt & Whitney Canada depuis 1928.” Loose translation? “A very detailed book, yet agreeable to read … covers every product conceived, developed, tested, manufactured or supported by Pratt & Whitney Canada since 1928.”

Depuis les années trente, le motoriste Pratt & Whitney Canada fait partie des industries ayant pignon sur rue à Longueuil. Au fil des années, cette petite entreprise a pris de l’ampleur grâce à une saine gestion et au développement de produits de qualité, la célèbre turbine PT6, notamment. Elle s’est ainsi hissée dans le peloton de tête des industries aéronautiques mondiales. Kenneth H. Sullivan et Larry Milberry ont entrepris à la fin des années quatre-vingt d’écrire l’histoire de cette réussite. Il en résulte un récit minutieux et agréable à lire. Même s’il s’agit d’une traduction réalisée à partir d’un texte anglais, celle-ci est bonne qualité. Par ailleurs, le fait est assez rare pour être souligné, un livre au sujet d’un aspect de l’histoire de l’aviation au Canada rédigé en français n’est pas monnaie courante et nous ne pouvons que féliciter les auteurs de cette initiative. D’ailleurs, Larry Milberry récidivera en 1995 lors de la parution d’un ouvrage au sujet de Canadair. “Propulsion” est un ouvrage de référence qui couvre tous les produits conçus, développés, testés, construits et entretenus par Pratt & Whitney Canada depuis 1928. Bien entendu, la PT6 et le JT15 tiennent le haut du pavé, mais de nombreux autres moteurs et réalisations sont présentés également. C’est ainsi que l’on apprend que les hélicoptères Sea King destinés à la Marine canadienne ont été assemblés à Longueuil ou que l’on fait connaissance des turbomoteurs pour la marine ainsi que pour les fameux turbo-trains qui ont été, à une certaine époque, le fleuron de la ligne ferroviaire Montréal-Toronto. L’aspect humain n’est pas négligé et les principaux intervenants, qui ont fait de “Pratt” ce qu’elle est aujourd’hui, ont leur place dans le récit. Les étudiants, mais aussi les professeurs de l’École nationale d’aérotechnique en apprendront beaucoup sur plusieurs avions qui sont ou ont été à l’école et qui ont servi, dans le passé, de bancs d’essais volants: le Beech 18 CF-ZWY-X, le Viscount C-FTID et le LearJet 36 C-GBRW. Même si le livre est déjà assez ancien, il n’en demeure pas moins un indispensable. La version originale anglaise est disponible sous le titre Power – The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story.

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


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)

Helicopter Association International Honours Ken Swartz

Ken Swartz with an Alouette II in Lakeland, Florida during the 2002 HAI. Over the decades Ken has attended the HAI convention 25 times, giving new meaning to the term "inveterate". Fellow helicopter aficionado, Oscar Bernardi from Italy, took this shot.

In advance of its great annual convention and trade show (HELI-EXPO — Houston in February), the Helicopter Association International has announced its 2010 recipient of the HAI “Excellence in Communications Award” — Ken Swartz of Toronto. Ken is a long-time Canadian aviation history researcher and journalist who specializes in rotorcraft. In 1974 he began contributing news stories and photographs to “Rotary Review”, a column in the renowned UK monthly, Aviation News. His first stories were about Okanagan Helicopters and Soloy Conversions. Ken’s “Canadian Comments” became a regular feature in Helicopter International and in subsequent years his informative articles appeared regularly in such other publications as Calgary-based Wings and its sister publication Helicopters. Presently, he is a columnist for Helicopter International, HELiDATA News and Mike Reyno’s world-class journal Vertical.

Ken has been involved in many aspects of Canadian aviation history. In 1987, for example, he was the key researcher for CANAV Books during its project to produce the 60th anniversary history of P&WC. Published in 1989, Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada covers such rotary history as early Sikorsky sales (S-51, S-55, etc.) in Canada, development of the Sea King for the RCN, and the evolution of the PT6 as a helicopter power plant. Ken unearthed much of this material, whether by interviewing P&WC pioneers, pounding the factory floor with his camera, or pouring through boxes of historic corporate documents. Over the years Power has been hailed as the model for any aviation corporate history, and Ken played a solid part in this end result.

Seeing how the helicopter industry was losing many of its pioneers, in his early years at his trade Ken recorded the voices of more than 150 of Canada’s pioneers. In such work he liaised with many like-minded history and photography buffs around the world, including fellow Canadians Robert S. Petite and Brent Wallace. The Swartz-Petite-Wallace trio has done remarkable work in recording the accomplishments of Canada’s rotary-wing “originals” (Petite presently is completing a history of the Bell 47 and is a columnist for Vertical).

In the wider view of things, Ken has always been on the front line supporting Canada’s aviation history organizations. In the early 1980s he was on the board of the Canadian Museum of Flight in Vancouver, helping it acquire rare Bell, Brantley, Piasecki and Sikorsky helicopters. He has served on the board of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, and since 2002 has worked diligently (vice-chairman, etc.) with the Canadian Air & Space Museum (formerly the Toronto Aerospace Museum).

Nerds at play ... Ken (right) with Larry Milberry during a 1989 Erickson Air Crane heavy lift job in Brampton, Ontario. Their sidekick and pioneer S-64 pilot, Ross Lennox, set up this gig and took the photo.

I first met Ken in the mid-1980s. It was a bit dizzying, yet refreshing, seeing how he so enthusiastically photographed everything with wings, whether fixed or rotating. None of this pansy stuff for Ken of shooting only military or airliners or whatever else the narrow-minded “specialists” get off on. What a pleasant thing to see — a fan who enjoyed shooting a tiny homebuilt, a lumbering 747, a Bell 47 or a ear-splitting Voodoo. Besides photographing, Ken always had his pocket notebook on the go, filling pages with whatever the topic happened to be. It was, however, with some ambivalence, that I heard from Ken how it was my first book, Aviation in Canada, that had helped inspire him. I was somehow responsible for this fireball of an aviation nerd!

By nature Ken is always supportive and is the sort of fellow to share the good news if there’s something hot in the wind. Over the years we’ve spent many a pleasant trip together, whether on a swan to a NATO fighter meet, a gruelling winter tour down Quebec’s amazing Côte Nord, doing HELI-EXPO in Las Vegas, touring Bell at Mirabel or spending a weekend at the Curtiss Museum. Our latest effort was an overnight to Rome, New York, to see the grand restoration of what I call “the Bob Bogash Super Constellation” — CF-TGE.

Ken’s the man to hang with, since he seems to know everyone and can set up the best extras. On the NATO trip, somehow he and I ended on a great 444 Sqn Kiowa 2-ship tour of the Rhine. On the Quebec trip, he organized our airline schedule, plus a couple of choppers for air-to-air photography. One year he got me on an Antonov 124 delivering Puma helicopters from Toronto to Athens, then on another “124” swan hauling relief supplies to Rwanda.

In summarizing Ken’s great efforts over the decades, the HAI press release states: “By effectively publicizing the helicopter’s uniqueness, and through his selfless service to historical preservation, Ken Swartz embodies the fine qualities celebrated by the Excellence in Communications Award.” So … congratulations to Ken Swartz on finally being honoured officially by the aviation community.

Fantasyland: The Arrowmaniacs Strike Again

Canada sure has its mythology under many a banner. Aviation myths involve Billy Bishop shooting down 72 enemy planes in WWI (not), the Beaver being the world’s greatest bushplane (not) and the Avro Arrow being the greatest everything ever made by anyone in the universe (not).

No one with any sense can besmirch the reputation of a Billy Bishop – read The Brave Young Wings, for example, to get a taste of the war in the air 1915-18. Anyone who died, got wounded, cracked up, or somehow survived in that cauldron of death is a special hero in my books. The only argument is with the statistics and some odd details. These things were manipulated by the generals and their PR lackeys far behind the lines where they were suffering no lack of anything – there was no mud but there were clean underwear, silk sheets and booze. These people could make Donald Rumsfeld look like a beginner at fact-twisting, and they didn’t need a Blackberry (no shortage of very effective, hi-tech communicating devices in WWI). Billy Bishop certainly scored high, but not likely anywhere near 72. But it suited “Colonel Rumsfeld i/c propaganda” back there to say that Bishop did so do all that and should have a Victoria Cross. Explanations for this are in the best of books, such as mentioned above, Canadian Airmen and the First World War, etc.

Of course, the 1948 Beaver is a tremendous little workhorse. Who would say no? But not even 2000 Beavers were ever built. Meanwhile, the DC-3 or Beech 18 had been working the bush since the late 1930s, and far exceeded the Beaver in numbers alone on every continent! Then came the Cessna 180/185. Well, Beaver, please stand aside.

The ultimate bushplane in my view has to be the Antonov An-2 biplane: more than 10,000 built, service since 1947 on all continents, incalculable loads carried, current presence still in the many hundreds if not a few thousand, production life from pre-Beaver to post-Beaver, on and on. However, mention this in Canada and you make a new brigade of furious enemies wishing you every malevolence imaginable: “Puleeze, keep the facts to yourself, we Canadians prefer our myths!”

Then comes our beloved Arrow, Canada’s grandest aviation tall tale, and one that never goes away. Wonderful technology project that it was, it wasn’t to be and for all the good reasons. Even so, Arrow silliness again crops up in this April 3, 2009 Toronto Star article. Not surprisingly, the perpetrator is an academic – ironically, when it comes to history, these folks can be pretty sloppy with the facts.

In “Privatization of AECL Radioactive Issue for Ottawa”, Prof. Duane Bratt of Mount Royal College in Calgary, begins irrelevantly and erroneously by harkening back to the Arrow: “In 1959 the Diefenbaker government shut down the Arrow, the world’s most technologically advanced interceptor aircraft. Not only did it mean the demise of a uniquely Canadian high tech invention, but it also forced thousands of highly skilled scientists and engineers to leave the country.”

Well, talk about a crock of doggy doodoo (as I have commented before)! The Arrow was one of many similar advanced fighter projects underway throughout the world during the 1950s. Most of these aircraft concepts never reached production, and all the participant nations moved ahead. Only Canada created a myth out of its unsuccessful effort. Like the Arrow, all the other shelved projects had proved too costly or had been superseded by advancing science or geo-politics. (Two Cold War designs that did succeed in entering service were the superb US-built McDonnell F-4 Phantom II; and the SR-71 which, in speed alone, would leave an Arrow in its wake – so much for the generally unproven Arrow being the “mostest” of everything.)

Professor Bratt states that the Arrow cancellation “forced” ex-Avro workers to leave Canada — the alleged post-Arrow “brain drain”. However, nearly every worker worth his/her salt let go by Avro soon had a new and, often, better job in Canada. In researching history in the subsequent decades, I have interviewed many of these workers (and workers they were). Most moved quickly and naturally to other aviation or science-type employers, where they shone with their successes developing truly useful products for humanity — as opposed to fighters. (In the late 1950s, do you really think that the world needed yet another jet fighter?)

Development of the PT6 engine by Pratt & Whitney Canada, and of the
Dash 8 by de Havilland Canada are proof positive that fabulously important spin-off products resulted from the timely demise of the Arrow program. So the loss of the Arrow “forced thousands” of Canadians to flee the country in search of meaningful work, eh? In truth, but a handful of ex-Avro workers emigrated to the US or UK. Meanwhile, hundreds of the best minds behind the Arrow in its heyday circa 1952 to 1959 had been post-WWII immigrants to Canada from other nations. Now we’re talking brain drain, but into Canada.

Without these reverse brain-drain people there would have been no Avro Arrow. Canadians did not have the ability to single-handedly produce such an advanced airplane. Had it not been for WWII, they would still have been building wood and fabric airplanes by 1950. Typical of the reverse brain-drain genii were design team leader James C. Floyd from the UK; and Arrow test pilots Jan Zurakowski and “Spud” Potacki, and designer Waclaw Czerwinski, from Poland. Why is this important reality never mentioned in the Arrow nostalgia debates? Well, for one thing, it wouldn’t help book sales in Canada’s “Avro Arrow” publishing industry (there’s always a new Arrow book looming somewhere).

Bottom line on the brain drain? Canada gained immensely by draining brains from many countries in the post-WWII industrial boom, but contributed very few in terms of any outflow of brains to the US, etc. On top of that truth, some of the ex-Avro emigrants from 1959 returned later to Canada, as did James C. Floyd himself.

Some basic research into aviation history would reveal these and other facts – not as charming or exciting as our cherished myths, but true all the same.
Larry Milberry, publisher

PS … The never-ending lament for the Arrow includes one in the Montreal Gazette of January 23, 2012 reiterating the moronic old claim about John Diefenbaker, etc., and has the predictable anti-American crapola about some Washington conspiracy being behind the Arrow’s downfall, since Americans can’t stand anyone out-doing them, bla, bla, bla. Talk about pitiful! Here is what this simple-minded “reporter” says in the Gazette: “It was killed by John Diefenbaker’s government, presumably at the behest of Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower on behalf of his country’s aerospace industry (which hates competition).” Can you believe this garbage? Where does the Gazette find its muse? Maybe from the “Coast to Coast” loonie bins … or the National Enquirer?

Whirlwind Trip to Baddeck: Canada’s Centennial of Flight 1909-2009

Canada's Chief of the Air Staff, LGen Angus Watt, chatting in the msueum with Canadian astronaut/Silver Dart test pilot Bjarni Tryggvason.

Canada’s Chief of the Air Staff, LGen Angus Watt, chatting in the museum with Canadian astronaut/Silver Dart test pilot Bjarni Tryggvason.

November 2011 Silver Dart update: Since we posted this item more than two years ago, much has happened or little has happened (depending on your point of view) regarding Canada’s Centennial of Flight, the Silver Dart flying replica and the Bell Museum. The Canadian Air and Space Museum in Toronto became the temporary home of the Silver Dart, but this fall the CASM was served notice to vacate its premises. Before long, the Silver Dart crew disassembled their lovely airplane and moved it away.

Meanwhile, there has not been a peep about the $3 million promised by Ottawa flunkies at Baddeck that day back in 2009. We were there and heard all the promises, but we sure knew enough not to hold our breath for cheques to be written.

In some ways, sad to say, Canada’s Centennial of Flight turned out to be a bit of a bust. The best things were getting the Silver Dart flying, the Vintage Wings Golden Hawks Sabre whizzing around the country, and a coast-to-coast air rally. Otherwise, what you had was one huge amount of hot air that saw Ottawa manadrins with zero knowledge of, or, interest in Canada’s aviation heritage jetting all around the country to events, swooshing in, scarfing down all the shrimp, cheese ‘n crackers and booze, then jetting their way back to Ottawa never to give another thought to the subject of aviation history.

From what I can see, there have been few lasting results. I hope at least that there were some aeronautical scholarships created in 2009. CANAV produced the only permanent record in book form celebrating the Centennial of Flight — Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades. Needless to say, the Centennial of Flight noise makers, everyone at 101 Colonel By Drive and all my other great supporters in Ottawa showed no interest in it, zilch. I know of only one member of the top-heavy Centennial of Flight Committee who ordered a copy — just as I had predicted. So … interesting food for thought for bone fide history fans. Here’s what I originally blogged …

Canada’s Centennial of Flight commenced royally in February with several days of celebrating in the fabulous community of Baddeck on Cape Breton Island. Events came one after another, culminating on February 22, when Canadian astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason made several short flights in a magnificent replica of the Silver Dart.

Why would the Silver Dart replica fly the day before the precise 100th anniversary – February 23? It was a nature thing – Atlantic Canada weather was iffy, and predicted to be absolutely rotten on the 23rd. So … when the 22nd looked good, the Silver Dart was rolled out of its hangar on the ice of Brad d’Or Lake, and soon was airborne before a crowd of enthusiastic locals and out-of-towners.

The replica is the result of years of dedicated volunteer effort headed by Doug Jermyn, a retired engineer from Pratt & Whitney Canada. His group is called “AEA 2005”, in honour the Aerial Experiment Association, the original group formed in 1907 in Halifax to conduct powered airplane experiments. Headed by Alexander Graham Bell and funded by his wife, Mabel, the AEA also included Canadians F.W. Baldwin, J.A.D. McCurdy, and Americans Glenn H. Curtiss and Thomas Selfridge. The group conducted nearly all its work at Curtiss’ facilities in Hammondsport, New York. There they designed and flew several airplanes, the last being the Silver Dart, designed by McCurdy.

Once most of the work had been done at Hammondsport, Bell, wishing to put a Canadian spin on the AEA flight experiments, shipped the Silver Dart to Baddeck. There on February 23, 1909 McCurdy made his famous Canadian first flight (all the details of the AEA are best covered in J.H. Parkin’s seminal 1964 book, Bell and Baldwin).

The gorgeous little Bell Museum in winter, when hardly normally shows up. This year was different, as hundreds arrived to take part in the Centennial of Flight fun. No one was worrying about the weather.

The gorgeous little Bell Museum in winter, when hardly anybody shows up. This year was different, as hundreds arrived to take part in the Centennial of Flight fun. No one was worrying about the weather.

Baddeck this February was in full flight in more ways than one. A banquet on the evening of the 22nd was a highlight, with tables of Maritimers; people related to the Bells, McCurdys and Baldwins; all sorts of top-notch locals and such others as the Vintage Wings contingent — in Baddeck to show off their magnificent F-86 Sabre in Golden Hawks colours. Astronaut Chris Hadfield flew the Sabre over Bras d’Or Lake on the 22nd, then Paul Kissman took it home to Gatineau on the 24th. VW Sabre pilots Tim Leslie and Dan Dempsey also were present, as were other history fans from the Chief of the Air Staff to contingents from the Atlantic Canada and Greenwood aviation museums, Carl and Sonia Mills (Carl did a Silver Dart PowerPoint lecture) and a group of Air Canada Pilots Association enthusiasts. It was great meeting everyone, and renewing acquaintances with people whom I had met decades ago. The latter included an ACPA pilot whom I had first met when he was a sprog flying a Norseman in Red Lake, another who was a junior C-130 pilot struggling through CF Staff College about 20 years back.

Good news was announced on the 23rd — the AEA 2005 was donating the Silver Dart to the Bell Museum at Baddeck, and $3 million would be provided for an addition to house the plane. Canada Post at the same time unveiled its Silver Dart postage stamp. This is a dramatic-looking collectors’ item, so be sure to get some while they last. This in spite of the fact that the artist seems to have missed the rear empennage altogether. (This reminds one of the great Canada Post stamp featuring an Air Canada 767 that has no engines! People chuckle about this. At Air Canada they told us “No sweat … that’s one of our extended-range 767 ERs.” Except that for Canada Post reasons it’s a 767 ER as in “engines removed”. Maybe Canada Post should consider checking with the experts before they do their next aviation commemorative.

If you ever get the chance, there are two spectacular museums which you should visit … the Bell Museum in Baddeck and the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, New York. They’ll knock you out! Larry Milberry, publisher