Category Archives: Publishing

Keeping Current with Canadian Aerospace: From Baddeck to the ISS

Skies Cover We’re really swamped with information – it’s a day-by-day battle to keep current with what we need to know, especially with the subject matter that grabs us personally. This means we have a lot of stuff to filter out, right.

It seems as if most who follow aviation are leaning on the web for basic data, but many good paper sources still beckon, whether books, magazines or journals. Those on the ball are using all these assets. Here are some of my favourites.

In magazine form and free on line is Skies Magazine, Canada’s leading aviation and aerospace periodical from Mike Reyno’s MHM Publishing in Kitchener. See to subscribe to the spectacular bi-monthly Skies. It’s a bargain at CDN$23. Skies Digital is free for your first two years, while daily-informative Skies News is free. No arguments with these, eh. Skies will keep you current in all areas – industry, airlines, RCAF, recreational flying, you name it and just what you need. If you’re in the rotary world, go to, also from MHM.

2 Air Force Magazine OVuyd7Ylqd1WOI1xDlz0oeWqJEhejDsZyTo8hXW0J5p7xzwzQkxJv_veI0pFoJPoXKHLeDhak9Rae-8OPu3s9uWiP8qsbSG2M_B3VkHr1UjjFWTmZwpjqOsrxRSbiKOpdu9ymmxmdlvcIc65sew-fTORRmdc_6R631_8Qw6a4sHGXTVjpI3rnU4X1mG5lppdCZzzSMIf you want more RCAF info than all the other niche sources, you need a subscription to Air Force Magazine. Always packed with on-the-spot RCAF developments, plus important RCAF historical articles, Air Force is a fantastic publication. See for all the info and set up your subscription. Go on … just do it!

3 CAHS Journal Midst a long list of Canadian aviation publications, another especially stands out: The Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal. Fans owe it to themselves to get a membership and keep it current year after year. I’ve been a member since 1963 and have a full set of those invaluable CAHS Journals to attest to my brilliant decision to join 52 years ago. For a nominal annual membership fee you receive four outstanding journals packed with coverage of all aspects of Canada’s fantastic flying heritage. So no more excuses or procrastinating, folks … get on board with the CAHS.

This year’s CAHS annual convention takes place in June in Hamilton. Naturally, a day at the astounding Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is on the program. This year’s main theme is Canada’s aircraft industry since 1909. See for membership and convention info.

Now you’ve got the good gen. These are really essential publications for anyone seriously interested in Canada’s aviation and aerospace scene. Be part of it, eh!



*UPDATE* The Peasantry Is Grovelling for Its Mail

To: Canada Post CEO Deepak of the $500,000 annual salary.

Dear Sire,

We peasants out here would be ever so grateful if you could organize your people a bit better. Please do whatever’s necessary to get them bundled up and out on their walks, braving our great Canadian winter, as in days of yore, to deliver the Queen’s mail.

Down here in M4E delivery remains hit-and-miss long after the ice storm, good sire — no mail today January 24, none yesterday. How can CANAV Books serve its customers (or stay in business), when Canada Post is on vacation, “or whatever”,  oblivious to the nation’s welfare?

This good taxpayer in Newmarket is also up against it (I like her part about the contract … good one, eh!):
Canada Post Letter TorStar 23-1-2014
P.S. Paging CUPW (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) … any chance y’all might be able to assist with a bit of creative initiative in getting some regular service at M4E, lest His Royal Highness Deepak in Ottawa is too busy with more important duties? 
Thanks again to the Toronto Star for exposing Canada Post back on January 9 and 10: “Canada Post Scrambles to Restore Service”, “Chopra Keeps Quiet on Delivery Delays”, “Canada Post, Pearson Fumble Crisis Control”, etc. But the Star shouldn’t quit on this topic — there’s likely a bigger, nastier side to what’s on the surface.
P.P.S. I wrote to my MP about this important issue and quickly received a personal response. So bravo to MP Kellway, right! Here is his informative reply:
Thank you for contacting our office about this important matter. My staff has had many calls from constituents about not receiving mail consistently, and they are looking into this and keeping track of the postal codes that are affected.  One of the replies that Canada Post has been giving when we enquire about lack of delivery is that letter carriers have been sick and not been replaced. This is unacceptable as a practice, given that as you point out, lack of delivery impacts both individuals and small businesses.
On January 28, Olivia Chow made the following statement on the defeat of her motion to maintain door-to-door delivery:
“For over a century, Canadians have depended on Canada Post. With Conservatives’ approval, Canada Post executives are planning to cut mail delivery, hike prices, reduce rural post office hours and kill jobs. A responsible government would have proposed solutions to improve service and attract new customers. Other countries have utilized innovations such as e-commerce and financial services to generate more revenue. Now under the Conservatives, Canada will be the only G7 country without door-to-door mail delivery.
New Democrats know that reliable, affordable and accessible mail delivery is vital to Canadians. This is why we immediately recalled the Transportation Committee for an emergency meeting to review the implications of Canada Post’s disastrous decision. Today NDP’s motion generated a full day of debate in the House of Commons in support of the maintenance of this valuable service. By voting against the NDP motion, the Conservatives are ignoring the wishes of ordinary Canadians and small businesses. Instead, they are listening only to Canada Post’s CEO, who claimed that seniors need to get more exercise to pick up their mail. What nonsense.”
If you would keep track of the days that you do not receive mail, that would be useful information. Thank you for writing to me, and thank you for your kind words. Matthew Kellway, MP  Beaches – East York

For February 3, 2014, folks, Canada Post got the mail delivered to CANAV Books at 2100 hours (9:00 PM). When I looked out, I saw the letter carrier navigating with a flashlight, so it really is a sitcom these days with Canada Post and CUPW (which has not responded to my challenge).

CANAV received zero mail on February 4, no surprise, since the weather was a teenie bit off. For the 5th, somehow Canada Post/CUPW miraculously arrived here about 1700 hours with a hefty load of pizza flyers. Great, eh … pizza flyers at about $50-$75 per hour in labour cost to the taxpayer. So thank you ever so much Deepak Chopra and CUPW, you’re real Canadian heroes and we small business enterprises can sleep peacefully.

Trick question: Is the sound of Canada Post and CUPW delivering the mail Canada’s sound of freedom? Not sure, but for the USA that would be the roar of the crowd at the Super Bowel or the Thunderbirds going into afterburner at the CNE airshow.

For February 6, 2014 your poor old scribe blogs: CITY News in Toronto has done an excellent report about the disaster that is Canada Post (covers both sides – labour and management, each of which furiously and moronically blames the other for everything wrong with the universe — you’ve just got to see Canada Post mouthpiece John Hamilton straight-out lying to CITY News. In this important item you can see the very best in Canada Post and CUPW obfuscation to us, their bosses (for whom no one in Canada Post/CUPW has a miligram of respect). There are also many tweets to CITY News in reaction, some very good from the we hardpressed victims, others (sad to say) from the foaming-at-the-mouth Canada Post factions.

Both sides are picking our pockets of billions in taxation for which mail delivery supposedly is the end result. So where’s our mail (no mail today for CANAV, by the way)!

CANAV again challenges Canada Post and CUPW to face the fact that they are no longer capable of doing the simple, age-old task of delivering mail (although they sure do get the pizza flyers delivered). So … do something somebody, even if it means contracting the Bangladeshi Post Office with its excellent business model. Get some decent people in who enjoy a solid day’s work for a fair paycheque. Dump the labour and management yahoo potentates, who are blinded by such a loathing for one and other that our mail ends up in long-term storage,while they take another sick day due to their feelings having been hurt, or whatever.

February 7 A fistful of mail today including several orders — orders that should have been shipped by now!

February 14 Today CITY News in Toronto reported on the on-going mail delays. In typical fashion, the Harper Government laughed this off. Of course, what else would the bozos do. It’s their way — insult and belittle the people of Canada at every opportunity. Do yourself and Canada a favour and do not vote next time for that arrogant potentate Harper or any of his underlings. Here is CITY News’ excellent report:

The Conservatives faced questions on Friday about delayed mail delivery and ongoing problems with Canada Post.

During Question Period in the House of Commons, Scarborough-Rouge River MP Rathika Sitsabaiesan said she and her counterparts from across the GTA have been fielding complaints from their constituents about the apparent backlog.

“After the ice storm, Toronto experienced widespread mail delivery delays. It took Canada Post weeks to respond,” Sitsabaiesan said.

“Well Mr. Speaker constituents from across my riding are still reporting mail delays and I’m not alone. MPs from all over Toronto are fielding complaints. When a two-day delivery turns into a six-day delivery, cheques arrive late and bills don’t get paid … What is the minister doing to fix the mail delivery delays in Toronto?”

The government again said Canada Post’s operations were not in its purview.

“I would simply point out that Canada Post Corporation is an independent Crown corporation,” said Jeff Watson, parliamentary secretary to the minister of transport.

“It operates arms-length from the government and is responsible for its day-to-day operational decisions including these. If [Sitsabaiesan] has a service complaint, she may want to direct it to Canada Post.”

Canada Post, meanwhile, continues to say there are no problems with its service and at most there may be delays of one to two days. It claims weather and absenteeism is to blame.

CityNews continues to receive a flood of emails and phone calls from angry citizens who say they aren’t receiving mail. CityNews has heard complaints from downtown Toronto to Guelph, from Windsor to as far as Saskatoon as stories about late mail fill the newsroom inbox.

Norseman Volume1 – Manitoba Odyssey 2013

Eleanor & Gord Hughes of Ignace checking out the book at the dock with their Norseman, which they were flying today.

July 2, 2013 and Eleanor & Gord Hughes are checking out their “hot-off-the-press” Norseman book at the dock at Sioux Lookout. The backdrop is Norseman C-FFOX, which Gord was ferrying over to Ignace. Rich Hulina of Slate Falls Airways took this nifty candid shot. You’ll be astounded at the fabulous Canadian aviation history reading awaiting you between the covers of this new CANAV beauty. So … get your order in ASAP for your personal copy! (Click on the photos to get them full screen.)

On June 16 I again headed for Winnipeg to do the press proofs for Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Volume 1. The press was slated to roll at 0800 next day. So … more exciting times for ye olde publisher. Off I went on WestJet, which always has such great service with their 737s.


The view moments before our WestJet 737 from Toronto slid onto the runway at Winnipeg mid-morning on June 16. In the mid-foreground is the new CalmAir hangar and a variety of interesting planes. Just beyond it is the historic 1937 red brick TCA hangar, now the home of the Western Canada Aviation Museum, but slated for demolition.

My plan always is to get to Manitoba early, before I’m needed at Friesens in Altona next day. That way I can do some useful scouting and photography. So … having landed at “YWG”, I grabbed my rental and headed first to St. Andrews, a few miles to the north – it’s always worth a stop here to check the action.

But it was a Sunday and Fathers Day, so all was pretty quiet. Still, there were some Caravans in action, doing trips up north. I also snooped around the storage yard of the Western Canada Aviation Museum. What’s outside alone would make any history fan’s eyes water – the prototype Husky CF-BQC, Husky CF-MAN, a Superior Airways Seabee, what looks like a BT-13, some Ansons, two Bolingbrokes, a badly piled-up Junkers, an ST-27 (CF-LOL which I photographed 40 years earlier at the same ‘drome, when it was a new plane), Lodestar CF-OZO, three Norseman hulks, on and on. And that’s only in the yard … imagine what’s in the big WCAM storage hangar!


Here are some of the fun shots grabbed just by hoofing a couple of times around the perimeter of the WCAM yard and shooting through the fence. First, what certainly is a restorable Norseman, ID not known.


Here is the prototype Husky CF-BQC. Just great knowing that it is safe here behind the fence. Husky CF-MAN is also present, so bully for the WCAM for saving such treasures.


One of the WCAM Bolingbrokes that’s certainly worthy of future restoration. Beside it is the famous Canadian Lodestar CF-OZO. In the 1990s this is what I wrote about “OZO” in Air Transport in Canada: “Aero survey Lodestar CF-OZO at Uplands, while serving with Geoterrex. In 1985 it was damaged while landing at Nanisivik. Later it went by sea to Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, thence to Montreal. It continued up the Great Lakes to Thunder Bay aboard the laker Kingdoc, arriving in November 1986. Finally, a team led by Bob Arnold hauled OZO the 300-odd miles to Gimli to be stored for the WCAM.”

Blog Manitoba Lodestar CF-OZO 18-6-2013

CF-OZO as I photographed it in Ottawa on August 1, 1975.

 Now it was on to Selkirk, a Norseman haven for more than a half century. But it also was quiet ’til Tristan Hutton suddenly showed up with PZL Otter C-GGSL to liven up the scene and briefly startle some dozing catfishermen out of their reveries.


Otter C-GGSL docks in the background, while the catfisherman seem to have returned to their business.


Serious aviation photographers … make sure you never miss a thing, so keep connected with reality! Selkirk takes its catfish seriously, as this local landmark shows – get this pic if ever in Selkirk!


Don’t miss this other great Selkirk subject matter in an out-of-the-way corner on the Red River. Here rusts the infamous MS Lady Selkirk, whose sad tale may be googled any time you get curious enough.

Time to head the 165 km south to Altona, where I pulled in at 1600, met Mike Fehr of Friesens and got settled into quarters. Next morning the big KBA press got rolling with the first form of the Norseman book. After the pressman showed me his first good pull, I asked for some minor adjustments and away rolled the Norseman job. Later in the morning I approved the dust jacket and the endpapers. Things were moving.


Pressman and publisher yuk it up after the Norseman dust jacket gets approved.


Always lots to check out around Friesens. Recycling is hugely of interest here, this being a fair mountain of scrap paper ready for shipping to the highest bidder.


A quick dart from Altona to Winkler to see what was happening at Arty’s ag operation revealed that it still was a bit too early to be aerial spraying the local fields. Arty’s Air Tractors still were waiting for the season to advance a bit.


However … many farmers and contractors were busy with the preliminaries not requiring air power.


New ag facilities going in! All around Altona it was clear that agriculture was booming. Farmers were optimistic they had a strong season ahead with high prices and eager buyers.

 When I got a break, I also visited the local airport to see what was doing with Southeast Air Service, a crop dusting outfit run by Steve Kiansky. He showed me around his roomy new hangar, home this day to one of his big Air Tractors, his Grumman Cheetah (used to commute to his other base across Manitoba), plus his Citabria and two Seabees.

 Friesen Trip Plant -- production 16-6-2013

Back in the plant … a Friesens pressman manoeuvres a freshly-printed form for CANAV’s “Noorduyn Norseman”. The forms lie on their pallets for a couple of days before going to the bindery.

The printing done by early on the 18th, I met with my Friesen rep, then set off for a fun day behind the wheel. Initially following country roads, I aimed for Kenora via Winkler – 300+ km NE. The weather was so fine, that I couldn’t resist this choice for a day’s expedition (my first visit there had been during a late summer hitchhiking trip in the summer 1961).


Always with an eye for something new in aviation history, I stopped again at the Morris cemetery, where several RCAF members lie among the “forever young”. I wondered how this fellow, no doubt a very sharp and dedicated young airman, had ended up here. I looked him up later. LAC Richard Cyril Jones had died on May 16, 1944 when the Anson (6570) he was riding in crashed on takeoff at Portage-la-Prairie. His negligent pilot had not done his walk-around, and took off with the elevator control locks still in place. Result? One dead airman and one irrevocably broken-hearted family. Cemetery studies remain one of the great hobbies for anyone driving the countryside anywhere in Canada.

Without another stop, I reached Kenora at noon. After an hour enjoying the waterfront, float base and photographing some of the lovely downtown landmarks, it was off to the airport, using the same road I’d hitchhiked up 52 years earlier. Up, down, over and around hill and dale you go on what isn’t so much a trip as an exercise in self-punishment!


The scene at the dock in Kenora doesn’t change all that much. This Otter and Beaver have been photographed countless time here over the years. But they always make for a fine site.


Neither does the Kenora need any introduction – years after year it takes it passengers on memorable Lake-of-the-Woods cruises.


Downtown Kenora has many classic examples of lovely Northern Ontario architecture. These are a must for any half-connected aviation photographer.

Up at the airport, which I reached with much difficulty in 1961, I shot several planes, including OCA Goose CF-GEB. It took me so long to catch a ride this evening, that I spent the night in an airport shack.

Up at the airport, which I reached with much difficulty in 1961, I shot several planes, including OCA Goose CF-GEB. It took me so long to catch a ride this evening, that I spent the night in an airport shack.

Up at the airport, which I reached with much difficulty in 1961, I shot several planes, including OCA Goose CF-GEB. It took me so long to catch a ride this evening, that I spent the night in an airport shack.

Among the shots I took while visiting Kenora in 1961 was this one on the waterfront of prospector Jack Edwards’ Fox Moth. Max Ward later acquired "DJB" for restoration

Among the shots I took while visiting Kenora in 1961 was this one on the waterfront of prospector Jack Edwards’ Fox Moth. Max Ward later acquired “DJB” for restoration


The airport on June 18 this year was dead quiet, so I pushed off back towards the wonderful Lake-of-the-Woods shore to photograph the local rail museum and one of Kenora’s sad industrial archaeology sites – Kenora Forest Products, which now is but a rusted-out wasteland.

ImageAll too soon it was time for the mad dash back to YWG for to catch my flight. Soon another book publisher’s sojourn was history.  But it won’t be long before the next — Norseman Vol.2 looms! Watch our blog for the occasional update. In the meantime, be sure to order Vol.1 – download the order form here.


On the Trans-Canada from Kenora I came across huge flatbeds transporting even more windmills to Manitoba. By “Oversize Load” they were not kidding!


Part of the scene climbing out for home – the RCAF side of YWG, but only one 435 Sqn Herk and a 402 Sqn Dash 8 “Gonzo” were in sight.


Two hours later we were seconds from touchdown, when I snapped the final frame of the trip.

News from CANAV … Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945 Is On Its Way Coast-to-Coast

Canadian Aviation Historical Society old timers out for the book launch: Shel Benner, Larry Milberry, Bill Wheeler and David Godfrey.

On Saturday past, CANAV launched Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945. The usual fun was had at Legion Branch 527 and that’s now history. Thanks to the fine citizens who showed up for a beer and the best Legion sandwiches in town. The first 300 books are now fanning out across the land, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and the feedback is already more than enough to make a publisher beam.

Veteran Tracker, CF-5 and CF-18 pilot, Gord Cooper, looks over the new book.

Publisher Milberry autographs a copy for photographer Rick Radell. (Photos by Tony Cassanova)



Dash 8 No.1000 Is Delivered


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q400s on the production line

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

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

Getting the Dash 8 built and the book finished both were touch-and-go, but we pulled it off. The beautiful Dash 8 came off the line on time, and The De Havilland Canada Story squeaked through. At a VIP event in the plant, a leather-bound copy of our book was presented to Prime Minister Trudeau and, as far as CANAV was concerned, a dream project was “in the bag”.

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

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

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


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

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

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

All the best … Larry Milberry, publisher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great summer!


Rave reviews for “Aviation in Canada”

Terry Higgins of Aviaelogy, publisher of Carl Vincent’s excellent new Canadian Aircraft of WWII, let’s it all hang out about CANAV’s “Aviation in Canada” titles, Pioneer Decades and Formative Years:

Just spent a great evening cruising the captions and photos in both books. Some pretty interesting and esoteric stuff in there. I’m learning a ton or two. Thanks for having the guts and gumption to put these tomes together. Looking forward to the next one for sure… The Formative Years will likely be my first “beyond captions” read of the two. Looks like it’s gonna be the best in that genre since Bent Props and Blow Pots. Have to tell ya, I’m really looking forward to some good armchair time later this evening … I had a flip through the very newest one … made me want to knock off work early today.

Meanwhile, Propliner Magazine’s renowned editor, Tony Merton Jones, puts in his own two cents worth:

Many thanks for that glorious copy of Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years, which arrived a couple of weeks ago. Once again, the detail, information and photographs are remarkable, and it really makes for a fascinating read.

So … resist no longer — get your order in for these spectacular new books. Meanwhile, see for all the latest titles and ordering info. For fans of WWII reading, check out the superb new biography of RCAF Spitfire pilot Philip Vickers — Surviving Victory.