Category Archives: RCAF

Have a Look! CANAV’s Fall/Winter 2021-22 List — It’s a Blockbuster Season. Also … Norseman Update, CAHS History, Bill Wheeler, Neil A. Macdougall, Austin Airways, Fox Moth Discoveries, Les Corness Treasures, James Bay Airlift, Canadair CL-260 Re-Discovered, John Ciesla’s fantastic Transportation Files, Ghost Canso/Bush Caddy Update

Welcome to CANAV’s Fall/Winter 2021-22 booklist. As usual it includes all the standard CANAV classics, with some excellent deals, especially for Air Transport in Canada at a give-away, all-in price. There are numerous new offerings, all enticing for the serious fan. It’s hard to say which is the real standout of the bunch., but I’m tending (for one) towards Chris Hadfield’s The Apollo Murders. I’ve just started to read it and I’m reminded right away (as far as writing style and enticing content go) of Ernie Gann’s Fate is the Hunter. That’s about as grand a compliment as I could give any aviation/space author. I think you need this book, but so do you need a boxload of others from this fall’s list. Take a look, you’ll see what I mean … stock up for winter.

Hot Off the Press … Red Lake Norseman Project Finale!

Norseman CF-DRD finally has been fully refurbished and again graces the Red Lake waterfront at the head of Howie Bay. To see this week’s posting, google: Kim posted an update to Save DRD – Red Lake’s Norseman icon
Please drop a few bucks in DRD’s gofundme kitty while you’re there. How painful will that be? Not at all, but you’ll have helped push the project fund to its goal of $50K, a target that a couple of years ago must have seemed so impossible. Not today it isn’t! Cheers … Larry

Canadian Aviation Society: Beginnings

Canada’s premier aviation history organization for 60+ years has been the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Lately, I came across two historic documents that reveal some key CAHS history. Have a look at the minutes of the society’s original meeting, when it was known as “The Early Birds of Canada”. This was a name suggested by the original US-based “Early Birds of Aviation”, which included pilots who had flown prior to December 17, 1916. Soon, however, we realized that this name would restrict the breadth in coverage, so the more general, all-encompassing “CAHS” name was adopted at our second meeting. To my knowledge, none of those mentioned in the minutes are still with us. The second document from a few months later in 1963 is under the CAHS banner and states the society’s rationale. These documents were printed on a 1950s “spirit duplicator”, so it’s a miracle that they haven’t faded away to nothing by now.

A Few Photos by the Great W.J. “Bill” Wheeler, CAHS No.5

Bill Wheeler (right) and Neil A. Macdougall were two of Canada’s leading aviation writers, editors and historians. Rick Radell took this wonderful photo of them at the 2011 event at the CWH in Hamilton, when Bill so deservedly was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

Bill Wheeler (1931-2020, CAHS No.5, Member Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, etc.)) spent more than 40 years as editor of the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. As such, he really was the beating heart of the CAHS. He also spent a tour as CAHS national president. Residing in Markham since the 1960s, his day job in his younger years was commercial illustrator for such publications as Toronto’s legendary “Star Weekly”. He also produced some renowned book covers, and his illustrations fill our Journal from the early 1960s onward. For today, here are a few of Bill’s ordinary airplane photos, of which there are too many to count. We early CAHS members had much in common. While many had been involved in the development of early aviation, others were more the “arm chair” type, sharing such pastimes as reading aviation books and magazines, taking in airshows and CAHS events, being enthusiastic aviation photographers, etc.

When we met in 1962, Bill was still earning his living as an artist and illustrator. Happily, before long he got into teaching art, then enjoyed a long career at West Hill Collegiate in east Toronto, finishing as art department head. Over the decades as a hobby photographer he amassed other photos from countless sources. All these he kept lovingly in huge albums. For example, here’s a very rare photo that he saved ages ago of Leavens Brothers famous Pitcairn PAA-1 Autogyro CF-ASQ.

Leavens had started on a farm near Belleville, Ontario in the late 1920s, then moved to Toronto’s Barker Field and Pelee Island on Lake Erie. Leavens became legendary delivering supplies and mail to Pelee, teaching thousands of young Canadians to fly, and leading the way for years in spruce budworm aerial spray campaigns, and in aircraft sales and service.

Leavens’ sole Pitcairn had come to Canada in 1932, then spent more than 20 years doing everything from joyriding at country fairs to spraying and – as you see – banner towing. A bit of self-promotion is going one in this scene – Leavens always had a flying school. Thanks to Bill, this rare Pitcairn photo survives. I doubt that few in 2021 have ever before seen this one. Here also is an old b/w print from Bill’s collection showing a JN-4 on the Leavens farm in the late 1920s. One or more of the Leavens may have learned to fly on this old crate.

Here are three nice Bill Wheeler snapshots taken at Toronto’s Malton Airport c.1960. First is one of the Department of Transport’s beautiful little Piper Apaches, CF-GXV. This was an early Canadian Apache, having entered the CCAR in 1957. It served the DOT into 1965, then had a long list of operators including Calm Air in Manitoba and Drumheller Air Service in Alberta. It was missing from the CCAR by 1976. What was its fate, I wonder? Its registration eventually was assigned to a Maule. We always thought that this DOT colour scheme was the best over the decades. The only complaint here is the tiny registration. One would think that the DOT of all outfits might have known better.
Bill’s nice shot of a pair of DOT Beech 18s at Malton: CF- GXT is nearest. Just beyond is the old Canada Customs shack at Malton’s north end. Looming in the background is the recently built Skyport hangar. It’s still there in 2021 “GXT” was ex-RCAF 1540. It served the DOT 1957-69, then St. Félicien Air Services to August 19, 1971, when lost in a northern Quebec crash. Types like the Apache and Beech 18 were work-a-day DOT planes. Inspectors used them daily to travel around to dozens of airfields. They were used for check rides for private and commercial pilots getting qualified. They tested new radio or nav equipment, etc. As time passed, the Apaches and Beech 18s were replaced by newer planes such as the Aztec and Queen Air. This is one of those photos printed on a popular paper from back in the day that was somewhat mottled, so (as you can see) it’s not easy to read small details like registrations. Photographic paper makers were always trying out such new surfaces, looking for marketing gimmicks, but if only they’d stuck with a nice flat, glossy surface our photos would have more archival value in the 2020s.
Here’s a snap that Bill clicked off on the Genaire ramp at Malton showing one of the prototype Found FBA-2C bushplanes in the early 60s. CF-OZW crashed at Parry Sound on Georgian Bay in 1965. This really shows the Found for the tough little bushplane it was. It remains so to this day — a few of Founds built in the early 1960s still are at work in the bush. The first detailed history of Found appeared in Air Transport in Canada (1997). Then, in 2017 Rick Found wrote a further history – the “inside story” that he entitled Bush Hawk. With these two histories, the Found story is well covered.

Bill and Charlie

Charlie (left) and Bill out at Buttonville airport (near Toronto), where Charlie kept his beloved little CF-LVI. Looks as if this day he was doing some tinkering with LVI’s engine. Charlie was an ace of a tinkerer. Two finer Canadians one would be hard-pressed to find.

If the CAHS had two real pals from Day 1, those were Bill Wheeler and Charlie Catalano. While Bill was teaching, Charlie was a fellow who did almost anything. Once, he was managing a theatre where we held some early CAHS meetings, at other times he was repairing radios and TVs, yet again he was tinkering with a system of lights under the wings of his war surplus T-50. He’d fly over Toronto at night with the lights spelling out various advertising messages. Charlie was an innovative fellow. He and Bill were real CAHS stalwarts. There could have been no society without such members. For many years Charlie kept his own little 1945 Aeronca at Buttonville – CF-LVI. He flew it summer and winter. He and Bill made many a flight together. Here are shots that Bill took of Charlie’s “Airknocker” on skis, then towing a banner promoting a CAHS Convention some time in the 1960s. Last heard of in 2018, “LVI” was based in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

A History of Austin Airways

It was a big deal publishing CANAV’s short history of Austin Airways back in 1985, then adding to the details fairly substantially in Air Transport in Canada (1997) and The Noorduyn Norseman (Vol.2, 2013), but there’s much more to know about this great company than CANAV’s efforts. Long before I had a clue about it all, in the 1950s Neil A. Macdougall (1927-2021) of Toronto was covering the Austin story. By this time, Neil, having begun in aviation while in high school in Vancouver during WWII, was well known as a polished, professional aviation journalist.

On assignment from “ESSO Air World”, Neil did an in- depth study of Austin, visiting the company from its base at Toronto Island Airport to Sudbury and other points north. He talked to many of the key Austin people, flew in Austin aircraft, did all the photography, then put together this solid company profile. For the periodical genre, this is as good an air operator istory as you’ll find. If any writer in our so-shallow “social media” era could do half as well, he’d be a winner.

Here’s Neil’s finished product as it appeared in the January – February edition of the prestigious “ESSO Air World”. See what a professional writer and photographer at his peak could do out in the field 60+ years ago. Also, see Neil’s obituary at the end. Talk about a solid Canadian’s life well lived.

Fox Moth Discoveries

It’s always fun to come across any new airplane photo. Out of the blue, these two just popped up lately from Bill Wheeler’s files – a couple of D.H.83 Fox Moths. These planes were from the small batch built at Downsview in 1945-46 as DHC was getting back into civil aviation after its booming war years had come to a sudden halt in August 1945. Right away business in the north started to roll again, so airplanes were needed. While the DHC design team was working on what would evolve into the Chipmunk and Beaver, there was a small market for old pre-war Fox Moths. DHC turned out 53½ of these useful planes. Many went north, including one to Yellowknife for a young pilot, Max Ward.

I wonder who got this lovely air-to-air shot of Fox Moth CF- DIW? Notice the chief detail that makes this a Canadian-built version – its attractive sliding canopy. “DIW” was around Toronto when we were kids. Dave Marshall, a young fellow flying a DC-3 at Malton for the Abitibi Power and Paper Company, sometimes flew “DIW” (that looks like Dave in this shot). In 1959-60 it was based at Maple airstrip just north of Toronto. Its fuselage was red, the wings and tail feathers were yellow. I took a nice landing shot of “DIW” at one of the local fly-ins about 1960. Dave was flying that day. I happily used that shot in my first book, Aviation in Canada.

Fox Moth CF-EVK had a long career but it’s a bit of a complicated story. “EVK” had begun as the very prototype D.H.83 Fox Moth — G- ABUO. It came to Canada in May 1933, became CF-API, and that winter joined General Airways of Rouyn to toil in the northern bush. In 1937-39 it was in BC with Ginger Coote Airways, then returned to Ontario, where it hauled sturgeon in 1939 for Baillie-Maxwell of Nakina. Starting in 1940, it worked for Leavens Brothers from their Larder Lake base in northern Ontario. Damaged in a wind storm at Barker Field in January 1950, it was rebuilt by Leavens to D.H.83C standards, acquiring a new identity — D.H.83C No.54. This transpired when the salvageable parts of “API” were mated with the 54 th and last fuselage built by DHC. Re-registered CF-EVK, it appeared in DOT records as D.H.83C No.54. In 1959 it was listed in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register to L. Lavoie of Amos, Quebec. Its C of A was current to March 1960, so it’s sometimes described as Canada’s last commercially- operated D.H.83C. After 1960, nothing is known about “EVK”. I once heard that it was destroyed when the shed it was stored in burned. Here, “EVK” looks very spiffy on skis, place and date unknown.

Three More Glorious Les Corness Photos

As usual, hardly a week passes that I’m not salivating over another of Les Corness’ wonderful old black-and-whites. First is a really classic scene from the early years of “modern” air transportation in Canada. A crowd of well-wishers is seeing off TCA DC-3 CF-TDT at Edmonton’s famous downtown airport. Here’s your basic definition of “airport security” in Canada c.1950. Delivered initially to the RCAF as FZ558 in late 1943, “TDT” next served TCA 1946-61. I photographed it in Winnipeg when it was in its final weeks with the company in September 1961, just before it was sold to Matane Air Service in Quebec. Last heard if, “TDT was derelict in Nassau in 1971 as N7709.
Next is another classic Les Corness Edmonton airport scene c.1960 showing Wardair’s Bristol Freighter CF-TFX loading a Bell 47. Great ramp action and content, right, even it Les botched his focus a titch. Happily, “TFX” eventually was saved for posterity. Today, it flies on forever atop its pylon at Yellowknife.
Since Edmonton was an aviation crossroads, hardly a day passed that it attracted some exotic transient airplane. Les must have been on Cloud 9 when he spotted this beauty one day – N5546N, a rare civilian Martin B-26 Marauder executive conversion. Having originally been USAAF B-26C 41-35071, in 1946 it was acquired by United Air Lines, then other owners followed. In 1949 it participated in the Bendix Trophy Race. From 1951-56 (or so) it served the Tennessee Gas Corp. I suspect that this was the period it visited Edmonton – there was much oil/gas industry corporate air travel to and from Edmonton and Calgary from the 1950s onward (to the present). Eventually, N5546N was acquired by the Confederate Air Force in Texas and restored to CAF warbird standards. It flew again in WWII markings in 1984. Airworthy B-26s were so rare that it a grave shock when N5546N crashed near Odessa, Texas on September 28, 1995. That day it was airborne with the pilot and four others aboard. It seems that power was lost in at least one engine, causing the plane to go down uncontrollably. All aboard perished.

Northern Aviation in 1977

In 1977 Hugh Whittington, the renowned editor of “Canadian Aviation” magazine, asked three writers to cover Canada’s Northern and Arctic Aviation scenes. Hugh Quigley headed for Yellowknife, Ted Larkin for Resolute Bay, and I for the heart of James Bay country along Quebec’s Great Whale River. This was a super opportunity for us. Besides, it always was a privilege to work for Hugh and Canada’s premier aviation trade magazine.

To start, I connected with SEBJ – la Société d’énergie de la Baie James – in Montreal to make arrangements to fly into its vast hydro development region, get briefed about what was going on up there, and how my transportation and lodging would go. In a few days I was at Dorval, where I met the man running SEBJ’s air transport operation, the legendary Frank Henley. A hardcore aviation fan and renowned aviator/businessman, Frank was keen to fill me in and get my flight north organized. Only recently he had set up an exclusive SEBJ corporate air operation using several Convair 580s. Their main task was to fly personnel, freight and mail back and forth between Dorval and SEBJ, with stops at Quebec and Bagotville.

This assignment was one of my first big breaks in aviation journalism. Even though I was getting published in the aviation press, there rarely was more than a few dollars in it for any piece of work. By comparison, Hugh was offering $750 for the SEBJ assignment. Our stories appeared in his November 1977 edition. My trip really panned out, including some very good flying in the Convairs, a couple of commercial Hercules, and some Bell choppers. I had one heck of an exciting few days. Here’s what I turned out for Hugh:

Forty-four years later? By now, the SEBJ that I saw in 1977 long-since has been producing hydro electricity for Quebec, New York and Ontario. The project has gone on to additional phases and still is on-going. Of course, the aviation scene is much changed. Long gone are the Convairs, DC-3s, Otters and Hercules. Today, such types as the PC-12, King Air and Dash 8 serve the region. Many of the fellows I met also have departed, from Frank Henley to Blake Smiley and Roy Heibel. Frank’s now a member of Quebec’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Roy later died in a helicopter crash.

Some of the SEBJ aircraft came to dramatic endings, including CF-DSX. Following SEBJ and other northern projects, in 1984 it became N39ST with Trans America, then was S9-NAI with Transafrik working in diamond mining regions of South Africa. On April 9, 1989 “NAI” was hauling fuel for the Angolan Air Force when it came under fire near Luena airfield. With two engines ablaze, it crash-landed. The 4-man crew survived, but that was the end of what once had been a famous Canadian Hercules.

The other “Herc” that I flew in on SEBJ, PWA’s CF-PWN, also had a bad ending. As N920ST, by 1989 it was doing shady work for the CIA. On November 27 that year was approaching Jamba airport in Angola. The “Aviation Safety Network” summarizes what happened: “The aircraft, flown by Tepper Aviation’s chief, reportedly was carrying out a flight on behalf of the CIA to provide the Angolan UNITA guerrilla forces with weapons. It crashed while coming in to land at Jamba. These flights were flown at night at a very low altitude to avoid MPLA radar detection. The runway at Jamba was dirt, the approach was over trees, and the portable runway lighting was probably marginally adequate.”

Here’s a page from Air Transport in Canada with photos of some commercial Hercules having Canadian connections, some quite sad. These days you can order “ATC” at a real bargain. Get this 2-volume, 5 kg, 1030-page treasure (usually $155++) for these all-in prices (pay by PayPal, etc. in Canadian dollars): Canada $65.00, USA $80.00, Int’l $160.00. No one ever has regretted having “ATC” on his/her bookshelf, and what a spectacular gift this duo always makes.

Canadair Revelation

Back in 1995 we published one of the grandest corporate aviation histories – Canadair: The First 50 Years. It really is a lovely book and will be treasured for decades by those who own the 24,000 copies that came off the bindery at Friesen printers in Manitoba. However, there’s always the reality that no matter how we try, we never really can produce the “all singing, all dancing” aviation book. All that our Canadair can do it whet a reader’s appetite for more. Well, today here’s a bit more for the avid fan.

Just like all aerospace companies, Canadair created hundreds of projects “on paper”, few of which ever developed. That’s too bad in some ways, for some of these surely would have made grand successes.

Out in today’s aviation boonies are hundreds of Cessna Caravans, DHC Beavers, Otters and turbo Otters, Kodiaks, AN-2s and other such common workhorses. They serve niche markets in a hundred-and-one ways. They’re absolutely indispensible for isolated northern communities from Labrador to Alaska, across Africa and Latin America, in the Aussie outback, in Siberia, etc. Each type has its general history, even some fame and glory, but who knew, for example, that the Caravan had its beginnings in the late 1970s as a glint in to eyes of Dick Hiscocks and Russ Bannock of De Havilland Canada in Toronto? Strange but true. The fellows envisioned an Otter replacement, took their idea to Wichita, and the rest is history (you might not see this part of the Caravan story in any official Cessna history).

All very interesting, but did you know that the first such brilliant and serious idea for an Otter replacement hailed not from Hiscocks/Bannock, but from Canadair at Cartierville in suburban Montreal? This was the Canadair CL-260 utility plane of 1970. As a builder of Sabres, Argus and CF-104s, who would expect the great Canadair to be dabbling with such a “small fry” project? That I do not know and nearly all the Canadair old boys from that era by now have passed. Does anyone out there know the details? Failing all else, here’s a nifty bit that emerged lately from the depths of the CANAV archives.

CL-260 Turbine Otter Caravan

Wing Span: 54’ 58’ 52’1”

Length: 43’2” 41’10” 37’7”

All-up Weight: 8000 lb 8200 lb 8000 lb

It’s just another fantasy airplane by now, but “what if” Canadair had produced the CL-260? Would it have changed the world long before the ubiquitous Caravan, and the other light utility planes that serve today? It’s always fun to speculate. Anyway, here are the GA drawings direct from Canadair. Who will be the first keen modeller to give this one a try? If you dare try and follow through, please send me some photos for the blog.

JFCiesla’s albums | Flickr

Have a look at John Ciesla’s fantastic transportation files. Lots of wonderful Canadian content from the great airliners of the 50s-60s to streetcars, busses, you name it. Many a trip down memory lane!

Bush Caddy Update

The last time I updated the story of the “Ghost” Canso of Gananoque, one of the photos (taken by Nick Wolochatiuk) shows a bit of a sorry-looking yellow Bush Caddy in the hangar beside the Canso. CANAV reader Jim Golz has found the story behind this interesting airplane. It’s a classic “cautionary tale” in detail, including some questions about of aircraft certification competence at Transport Canada. Use the blog search box to find our original story by entering “Bush Caddy”. Here’s the link that reveals this really amazing story … not to be missed by any true history fan, or anyone who aviates in kitplanes: https://www.eaa.org/eaa/news-and-publications/eaa-news-and-aviation-news/bits-and-pieces-newsletter/12-25-2019-wing-spar-failure-on-a-bushcaddy-l-164

Hot News from CANAV Books December 2017

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

Blog 1 Bush Flying Captured Facebook ad-1

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

Blog 3 The Flight 981 Disaster

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

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

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

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

Blog 2 Flying to Victory

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

Blog 4 CAE Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air Cadet Camp at Trenton 2017

Blog Air Cadets #1On August 18, 2017 some 300+ Ontario Air Cadets paraded at RCAF Trenton at the end of their exciting and challenging 2-week summer camp. Base personnel, families and others turned out to cheer them on. 

Blog Air Cadets #2Air Cadets proudly show off their sharpness and enthusiasm at Trenton after a year of dedicated work with their home squadrons, punctuated by their intensive summer camp.

Considering all the requirements and benefits, there are few youth programs in Canada that come close to Air Cadets. This year it was fantastic having three Milberry teens as members of 330 “Danforth Tech” Air Cadet Squadron. One was lucky enough to attend summer camp at RCAF Trenton. Here the cadets were kept busy from dawn to dusk each day with classroom studies, sports, touring the RCAF museum, having a familiarization flight in a 437 Sqn A310 Polaris and much more.

Blog Air Cadets #3The Air Cadet band at the Trenton summer camp graduation parade on August 18 (a few Sea Cadets made it in and bully for them, right). Some of these young musicians will go on to lifetime careers in music, thanks to Canada’s incomparable cadet movement.

Air Cadets give young Canadians nothing but opportunities. Each learns to co-exist and co-operate with his/her peers and officers. All the basics of good, solid Canadian citizenship are front and centre. Boys and girls from all ethnic groups and religions get to know and respect each other. Each finishes summer camp with a sense of accomplishment, and with renewed self-confidence and keenness to see what comes next back at their home squadrons in September.

Blog Air Cadets #4Blog Air Cadets #5The Air Cadet flights are inspected at Trenton, as hundreds of proud parents and other supporters from all around Ontario enjoy the proceedings.

Blog Air Cadets #6Trenton’s base commander, Colonel Mark Goulden, after inspecting the flights. He finished with an encouraging talk emphasizing the value to Canada and to each cadet present of the Air Cadet movement. Colonel Goulden spent his flying career as a C-130 pilot

Summer camp challenges each cadet to his/her limits, whether on the parade square, in the classroom learning such fundamentals as aerospace technology, playing team sports, etc.

Meanwhile, each already has been training with his/her home squadron, where the emphasis is on discipline, citizenship and life skills. They’ve experienced such challenges as outdoor survival weekends, learned music fundamentals in the squadron band, been on spring break cross-country field trips, had their first experiences in the air, even earned their gliding and fixed-wing pilot licences.

In my opinion (not to downplay Army and Sea Cadets) the Air Cadet movement is Canada’s best government-funded youth program. Talk about tax dollars well spent! If you have a child or grandchild aged 12-14, that’s the time to get them started in Air Cadets. Even a year or two with a squadron will be one of their best all ‘round opportunities to develop into leaders and role models. They’ll be tomorrow’s solid Canadian citizens, no doubt!

Blog Air Cadets #7Blog Air Cadets #8Air Cadets during the march past at Trenton, where Station Commander Colonel Mark Goulden took the salute. Air Cadets are a microcosm of Canada today. Each member is proud to wear the uniform, while enjoying all the benefits.

Blog Air Cadets #9Thirsty cadets swarm the water coolers after a tough slog on the parade square. Soon they boarded their buses for home, fit and ready to get back to school and cadets at summer’s end. See cadets.ca for further information. Cheers … Larry Milberry

 

 

A Few More Norseman Tidbits for the Fans

RCAF Norseman 3528Check out this lovely period photo showing RCAF Norseman 3528 at Watson Lake in the Yukon on June 15, 1944. Whatever task 3528 was about, in these few moments the crew was not too worried. Who would know there was a war on, eh, with the fellows having knocked off for some fun in the cool, fresh water under the wing of their big yellow bird.

Earlier, Norseman 3528 had been on strength at 124 (Ferry) Squadron based at Rockcliffe, but in August 1942 had be reassigned to Northwest Air Command for duty in the Yukon, mainly supporting the Northwest Staging Route and CANOL Pipeline projects. In the Yukon, 3528’s usual pilot into 1943 was a pre-WWII northern legend, F/L Carl Crossley. See Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.1 for the Crossley/Norseman story.

And what of 3528 in the end? It’s not a happy tale. Moments after taking off from Fort Simpson, NWT on July 10, 1945, it crashed. Crewman LAC Sidney B. Ladell freed himself from the wreck, but powerful currents in the Liard River carried 3528 away with pilot F/O Charles T. Wheeler trapped in the cockpit. He was never seen again. (DND PL25434, click to see full screen) CF-DTL  refuelling at Green's dock, Red Lake (ON)  26-7-2009 (M. Léonard)One of Canada’s best-known Norsemans in recent years has been CF-DTL, owned by Gord and Eleanor Hughes of Ignace, Ontario. Since the 1980s, it’s been a regular summer visitor across the North. Having begun as RCAF 2484 in 1941, postwar CF-DTL had served the Department of Transport and Wheeler Airlines, until wrecked at Moosonee in 1965. Rebuilt by Lauzon Aviation, it flew again for years in the Quebec bush. Gord and Eleanor eventually did their own restoration of this historic Norseman, and still care lovingly for it. While visiting Red Lake from France for the 2009 Norseman Festival, Michel Léonard photographed CF-DTL with Gord up top refuelling.

Still *More* New “De Havilland” Images

In addition to our new Norseman selection, John Wegg also provides these fantastic DH/DHC photos, ranging from Rapide to Comet. All of these build beautifully on the foundations provided by CANAV’s widely-acclaimed De Havilland in Canada and The Noorduyn Norseman. Nice, eh!

Below, three new views of Canada’s last flying D.H.80 Puss Moth — CF-AVC. Brought to Canada in 1935, ‘AVC served various private owners. In 1965 it was sold in the UK, becoming G-FAVC. Here it is some time in the 1950s in period colours – dark blue fuselage with orange wings and tail. When photographed in the UK in the 2010s it still bore these colours.

Wegg 1 CF-AVC Puss Moth-1 Wegg ColWegg 3 CF-AVC Puss Moth-3  Wegg Col

Wegg 2 CF-AVC Puss Moth-2 Wegg Col

Blog D.H.80 Puss Moyj CF-AVA Tim Dube

I had no idea that there was a second Canadian Puss Moth still around. Here it is — CF-AVA aka N223EC — photographed by CAHS Ottawa chapter president Timothy Dubé in the vintage aircraft camping area at Oshkosh on August 2, 2013. Sold originally by DHC in 1934 to Consolidated Mining and Smelting of Trail, BC, there were subsequent BC owners in 1936 – 42, then the plane “disappeared”. The next record that I’ve spotted is of a 1962 sale to Ed Carlson of Spokane. On August 1, 2014 Vancouver Island aviation buff, Dave Fletcher, provided us with an update: “CF-AVA passed through Courtenay Airpark this week. Interestingly, the US register shows it as ‘amateur built’, so I don’t know if it is the original, or, a superb replica.”

Ex-RCN Tiger Moth CF-IVO when owned by Rev. John MacGillivray, an early member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Painted navy blue and white, it’s seen at an EAA fly-in at Rockford, Illinois. John attended his first Rockford event in 1959, flying ‘IVO all the way from Summerside, PEI. Following the 1964 fly-in, John donated ‘IVO to the budding EAA museum, where you may see it today. Before the handover, John made a final flight at Rockford, his passenger being the great aviation historian, EAA pioneer and photographer, Pete Bowers.

Ex-RCN Tiger Moth CF-IVO when owned by Rev. John MacGillivray, an early member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Painted navy blue and white, it’s seen at an EAA fly-in at Rockford, Illinois. John attended his first Rockford event in 1959, flying ‘IVO all the way from Summerside, PEI. Following the 1964 fly-in, John donated ‘IVO to the budding EAA museum, where you may see it today. Before the handover John made a final flight at Rockford, his passenger being the great aviation historian, EAA pioneer and photographer, Pete Bowers.

Tiger Moth CF-BXT on floats, at Fort William circa 1950. Built as 8889 for the RCAF in 1942, ‘BXT served O.J. Weiben’s Superior Airways of Fort William starting in 1944. Later homes included Atikokan, Jackfish Lake and Sioux Lookout, Ontario. The last known owner (1953) was J. Clancy of Terrace Bay, Ontario.

Tiger Moth CF-BXT on floats, at Fort William circa 1950. Built as 8889 for the RCAF in 1942, ‘BXT served O.J. Weiben’s Superior Airways of Fort William starting in 1944. Later homes included Atikokan, Jackfish Lake and Sioux Lookout, Ontario. The last known owner (1953) was J. Clancy of Terrace Bay, Ontario.

CF-GTU at Rockford circa 1960, when owned by Adriaan Cappon of Sarnia, Ontario. Last heard of, this ex-RCAF Tiger Moth was with Classic Wings of Courtice, Ontario.

CF-GTU at Rockford circa 1960, when owned by Adriaan Cappon of Sarnia, Ontario. Last heard of, this ex-RCAF Tiger Moth was with Classic Wings of Courtice, Ontario.

 In 1946 de Havilland Canada introduced the DHC-1 Chipmunk as its natural post-WWII Tiger Moth replacement. CF-CXE was shot at Rockford circa 1960. Last heard of in the 2000s it was N143P in Salem, Oregon.

In 1946 de Havilland Canada introduced the DHC-1 Chipmunk as its natural post-WWII Tiger Moth replacement. CF-CXE was shot at Rockford circa 1960. Last heard of in the 2000s it was N143P in Salem, Oregon.

Beaver CF-ICL at Vancouver soon after being delivered new in 1955 to Queen Charlotte Airlines. After countless bush, coast and mountain flying experiences, in the 2000s this long-lived Beaver was N67DL -- beautifully restored and based in Everett, Washington.

Beaver CF-ICL at Vancouver soon after being delivered new in 1955 to Queen Charlotte Airlines. After countless bush, coast and mountain flying experiences, in the 2000s this long-lived Beaver was N67DL — beautifully restored and based in Everett, Washington.

Built in 1956, Wheeler-Northland Otter CF-IUZ-X did “aeromag” survey work in the 1960s. In 2014 it was a Turbo Otter based in Vancouver with Harbour Air. Much can be learned of any such DHC plane by fishing around on the internet.

Built in 1956, Wheeler-Northland Otter CF-IUZ-X did “aeromag” survey work in the 1960s. In 2014 it was a Turbo Otter based in Vancouver with Harbour Air. Much can be learned of any such DHC plane by fishing around on the internet. The diehard fans, of course, always have De Havilland in Canada to consult!

There always were other interesting de Havilland types to photograph in postwar Canada. DHC at Downsview usually marketed and serviced these – anything from the D.H. Dove and Heron to the RCAF’s Vampire fighters and Comet jetliners. The Heron always caught any photographer’s eye. Three of these attractive mini-airliners had long and useful Canadian careers: CF-EYX with the Department of Transport (usually based in Moncton) CF-HLI with Canadian Comstock (based in the Genaire hangar at Malton) and CF-IJR based at Downsview with DHC. Here is the DOT’s fixed-gear Heron CF-EYX. In 1970 it was exported to Honduras.

There always were other interesting de Havilland types to photograph in postwar Canada. DHC at Downsview usually marketed and serviced these – anything from the D.H. Dove and Heron to the RCAF’s D.H. Vampire fighters and Comet jetliners. The Heron always caught any photographer’s eye. Three of these attractive mini-airliners had long and useful Canadian careers: CF-EYX with the Department of Transport (usually based in Moncton) CF-HLI with Canadian Comstock (based in the Genaire hangar at Malton) and CF-IJR based at Downsview with DHC. Here is the DOT’s fixed-gear Heron CF-EYX. In 1970 it disappeared into Honduras.

RCAF Vampires in a nice flightline scene of the day, location unknown. The natty Vampire served frontline and reserve squadrons from 1948 to 1956, by when the last had been replaced by Sabres. Once retired, 17068 was sold “south of the border”.

RCAF Vampires in a nice flightline scene, location unknown. The natty Vampire served frontline and reserve squadrons from 1948 to 1956, by when the last had been replaced by Sabres. Once retired, 17068 was sold “south of the border”

 An ancient scene at Keflavik, showing RCAF Comet I 5301 on the tarmac. Such early jet transports did not travel far before having to refuel somewhere. Depending on winds, if westbound from Prestwick or Shannon, an RCAF Comet almost certainly would have to stop at Keflavik, maybe also at Frobisher Bay or Goose Bay, before reaching home base in Ottawa. The RCAF was the world’s first air carrier with scheduled trans-Atlantic jetliner service. The story of its Comets is covered in such CANAV titles as Air Transport in Canada and Sixty Years.

An ancient scene at Keflavik featuring RCAF Comet I 5301 on the tarmac. Such early jet transports did not travel far on North Atlantic routes before having to refuel. Depending on winds, if westbound from Prestwick or Shannon, an RCAF Comet almost certainly had to stop at Keflavik, maybe also at Frobisher Bay or Goose Bay, before reaching home base in Ottawa. The RCAF was the world’s first air carrier with scheduled trans-Atlantic jetliner service. The story of its Comets is covered in such CANAV titles as Air Transport in Canada and Sixty Years. Thanks for all these beauties, John!

Important New Norseman Images Emerge

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

Enjoy as always … Larry

Norseman 1 CF-BHU PWA Wegg Col

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange – A Book You Are Guaranteed to Enjoy & Treasure

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Since early post-WWI days, Canadian airmen have gone on exchange postings to foreign nations. There they have learned how other air forces operate, become familiar with different aircraft types and procedures, enlightened their hosts about Canadian military aviation, and established new (often life-lasting) professional and personal relationships.

This story always was of special interest to me for, during base visits, while enjoying life in air force messes, attending airshow briefings and parties, etc., I often would meet foreign airman on exchange here in Canada. Once it was a Dutch pilot instructing on the CF-5 with 419 Sqn at Cold Lake, another time a French air force Mirage pilot serving 2 years on CF-5s with 433 Sqn at Bagotville. On a CanForces trip to Somalia one year, our C-130 navigator was on exchange from the RAF. While visiting Canada’s “Willy Tell” team at Tyndall AFB one year, I met another exchange pilot – a USAF fellow flying the CF-18 with 425 Sqn at Bagotville. Eventually it occurred to me – this is a brilliant topic for a book. And … if I don’t do it, no one ever will, right. So the work began.

Through the late 1990s I was travelling around visiting people who had done RCAF/CF exchange postings, or who had been here from foreign militaries. All this turned out to be some of the most fascinating research. Here are some of the characters I encountered either face-to-face or via telephone interviews or in the “dusty” personnel files in Canada’s public archives (Hugh Halliday did a lot of that hardcore research for me). You’ll enjoy reading about these airmen in detail in the book:

W/C William Barker – Canada’s famous WWI fighter ace, whose incomparable efforts led to a Victoria Cross. I cover his exchange duties in Mesopotamia in the mid-1920s, flying the D.H.9 and Snipe. Barker analyzes the type of “tribal warfare” under way and what role the tactical  combat plane had in it. He submitted a detailed field report once back on more routine duties in Ottawa. Reading the original copy was enlightening, but this also tempted me to compare the amazing Canadian with his contemporary – Lawrence of Arabia.

F/L E.L. McLeod, who flew RAF Southampton flying boats in the UK in 1927; and Sgt J.D. Hunter who crewed with 7 Sqn RAF on Virginia bombers in 1933. Also, the likes of F/L F.A. Sampson flying large Singapore flying boats on armed security patrols off Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

F/L A.A. Lewis piloted RAF Heyford pre-war bombers. One of his reports was critical of this type, which just was joining RAF squadrons as the Germans were equipping with such modern types as the He.111. Wrote Lewis at the time of the Heyford: “It is practically useless for modern warfare.”

F/L Ernie McNab. In 1937 McNab had the good fortune for an RCAF fighter pilot (then flying obsolete Siskins) to be posted on exchange to 46 Sqn RAF to fly the high-performance Gauntlet biplane fighter. From his reports we learn much of daily routines on an RAF fighter base and how training was organized.

F/L L.F.J Taylor. This RAF pilot came to Canada on exchange to RCAF Station Trenton. Sadly, there he came to his end in the crash of a Fleet trainer. F/L Ken Mude (RAF) had an early postwar exchange, serving as a navigator on the P2V-7 Neptune at RCAF Station Greenwood. Ken tells how a Brit adapted to life in Canada following WWII. The story of each man’s exchange is packed with details about how his career evolved, led to an exchange, then what was learned and passed on.

Many RCAF aircrew on postwar exchanges with the RAF are covered: S/L A.P. Huchala – piloted Lincoln bombers including on combat against the Mau Mau in Kenya; F/L D.R. Pearce — navigated on Hastings transports and ended in a ditching in the Mediterranean; and F/L Donald T. Thompson — flew Britannias on RAF Air Transport Command global duties.

There also were many RCAF postwar exchanges to USAF flying units, examples being:

  • F/L Douglas G. Scott flying the WB-50 bomber. On one long-range patrol a propeller disintegrated. This was a “dicey do”, but Scott brought his plane back to an Alaskan base.
  • F/L G.G. Webb flew C-97 transports at Kelly AFB, Texas. Later, he evaluated the C-119 in Korea. Data from his C-119 report likely were  studied at RCAF HQ prior to Canada re-equipping with this important postwar transport. Webb even had a mission on the giant XC-99, the transport version of the B-36. He had a further USAF exchange flying the C-118.
  • F/L S.R. Wallis flew the oddball YC-122 transport on exchange in Tennessee. Meanwhile, you’ll enjoy such “reverse” exchanges as Major Jack Ralph, who flew RCAF North Stars from Resolute Bay to North Luffenham (UK) to Haneda (Japan). Later, RCAF aircrew would have exchanges on USAF jet transports from the C-141 to today’s C-17 – it’s all here!
  • F/L D.J. Williams and F/L George Conway-Brown: two of the RCAF men who flew the B-47 and B-52 with USAF Strategic Air Command. This reminds me of several retired RCAF officers who were “too tough the crack” – they felt duty bound not to reveal details of their exchanges. This was fair enough, any researcher would understand. Although I earlier had written about this great man’s career, when it came to the top secret B-52 air navigation research he did in SAC, Keith was mum. He since has passed on, but it’s possible that some future researcher may uncover the details.

Test Flying: numerous RCAF pilots had test pilot exchanges abroad, including F/L Roger Mace, F/L Bob Ayres, S/L Frank Phripp and F/L R.D. Schultz flying such types as the early Meteor and Vampire in the RAF. There are some fascinating pages describing S/L Joe McCarthy test flying Luftwaffe aircraft in the immediate postwar months. Joe was an American in the RCAF flying with a RAF experimental unit. Another section covers test flying at RCAF Winter Experimental Establishment. Such UK types as the Venom, Canberra, Beverley and Sycamore are covered.

There is much covering the adventures of RCAF crew on exchange with operational squadrons flying such RAF types as the Canberra (F/L Steve Gulyas, F/L Garnet Ovans, F/L Robert Brinkhurst, F/L Mo Gates, F/L N. Funge, etc.) There are many exciting experiences, including Brinkhurst’s almost-fatal inadvertent ejection. Also covered, is the RAF’s Javelin and the exotic Lightning Mach 2 interceptor, which several RCAF pilots flew. F/L Al Robb’s tour doing Lightning weapons evaluation at RAF Binbrook is one of the more fascinating RCAF exchanges. Canadians flying the RAF and Luftwaffe Tornado also are covered.

Other fighter exchanges involve everything from RCAF F-86 pilots in the USAF fighting MiG-15s in Korea, to F/L Jim Hanna flying early F-94 all-weather fighters at Otis AFB, and F/L Norman and F/O Vaessen on an evaluation tour at Tyndall AFB flying such USAF fighters as the F-89 Scorpion. During his tour at Tyndall, F/L Ted Simkins crews on the F-101, F-102, RB-66, etc. One week he navigated a B-57 on its delivery flight all the way to Pakistan. The summary of his tour helps explain why exchanges often were sought after by the more adventuresome RCAF aircrew. Also covered is the RCAF exchange posting flying the Mirage III in Australia.

Other USAF fighter exchanges include F/L Gordy Joy and F/L Garth Cinnamon flying the F-100 at Nellis AFB, Garth doing trials with such weapons as the Bullpup missile. Buster Kincaid ejects one day from his F-100 over the southwest desert. F/L Ray Carruthers and F/O E.H. Stone are covered re. their USAF tours instructing on the F-105 Thunderchief. Carruthers maneuvers without success for a combat exchange tour in Vietnam, Stone has a scary ejection. Others fly the F-104 from USAF bases, including F/L Larry Sutton instructing Luftwaffe students at Luke AFB. Only two “Canucks” fly the F-106 on exchange — both are covered. Canadians flying F-4s for the USAF, RAF and Luftwaffe also are part of this beautifully-produced book.

Training: Canadians had many tours instructing in the RAF on the Vampire, Meteor and Jet Provost. In the USAF they instructed on the T-37 and T-38. About 100 RCAF instructors were involved with the USAF, this being a little known aspect of Canada’s quiet support for the US during the Vietnam War.

Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange covers many aspects of maritime air warfare, including people on RAF exchange on the Shackleton and Nimrod. In one case, F/L John Hudson survives a horrendous Shackleton crash at night near Inverness, Scotland. Another ordeal involves F/L Herb Smale surviving at sea when his big Marlin flying boat was forced down onto the Atlantic between Puerto Rico and Norfolk. S/L R.E. Hicks’ US Navy exchange on early P-3s involved missions during the Cuban missile crisis. F/L Bill O’Gorman piloted Neptunes during his Australian exchange tour.

Other unusual USAF exchanges see RCAF members on such unusual types as the WB-47 and EB-57. USAF exchanges on the CF-101 and CF-104 also are included. Other unusual material includes Rogers Smith, a former RCAF Sabre pilot who eventually became one of the high time SR-71 pilots, Capt Kevin Whale flying AH-64 Apache gunships, and ex-pat F/O Christopher Hasler, flying RAF Chinooks in Afghanistan and earning the DFC for his good efforts.

This 320-page hardcover is one of Canada’s best aviation reads in decades. “Unique” barely begins to describe it. There are  hundreds of photos, a bibliography, glossary and index. It’s the full package! Get this $50.00 beauty at this time for $30.00 + shipping and tax for a total of $44.94 (Canada) or USA and overseas all in at $54.00. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool aviation hound, you must have a copy of this rare book! Order by cheque or PayPal via CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E 3B6. Tel (416) 698-7559. As always, feel free to send an e-mail: larry@canavbooks.com.

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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The Wartime Era Fades

When I was a boy in Toronto soon after WWII, my pals and I were always amazed at something a bit macabre (to we dopey little street kids). Wherever we were in the city there were old men on crutches or with empty shirtsleeves or eye patches. There were also a lot of younger men the same. It didn’t mean that much to 5, 6 or 7 year olds, but we did tend to stare. We eventually learned the story behind this: the older fellows had lost limbs and eyes in WWI (maybe even in the Boer War), the younger guys in WWII.

As time went by we found ourselves eagerly soaking up all this history. We’d scour the shelves at our Gerrard & Eastwood library branch, especially for all those great stories of aerial warfare where Canadians were so involved. Next door at the Eastwood theatre we never missed a movie covering all this stuff — The Malta Story, Reach for the Sky, The Enemy Below, The Desert Rats, etc.

After getting into the aviation history game, I met hundreds of wonderful Canadian airmen. At first there were lots of WWI types around. Many were our speakers at the Toronto chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society or at CAHS conventions — Punch Dickins, Walter Gilbert, Doc Oaks, Stan McMillan, Alex Milne, etc. When I started writing I met so many others and counted lots of them as real pals. In time, however, the last WWI airman passed on. Now, the last of the WWII fellows are slipping away, most around 90 years of age. A friend in Alberta called lately to report George Aitken, DFC, of 403 Sqn having passed. George was a fine gentleman and true supporter. It was an honour to feature him in Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945 more than 20 years ago. Check out his story.

It sure is getting a bit lonely in the 2000s, most of the WWII airmen’s associations by now having packed it in. We used to have 30-35 Typhoon pilots  faithfully to our Typhoon Pilots Association lunches in Toronto. Now five or six fellows make it out. The day is near when few will know much about these wonderful generations of Canadians. When people talk about aerial combat years from now, more and more the topic will be Cold War, where not an RCAF shot was fired in anger, or aerial combat in the wide open, pretty well friendly skies of Iraq and Libya.

Heroism and daring-do are definitely relative, especially when you study the details of something like the raid on Nuremburg on the night of March 30/31, 1944 — 795 Bomber Command planes dispatched, more than 100 (many full of Canadians) were lost. That was just one night of the air war. The survivors of such missions used to cringe a bit when the fighter pilots were whooping it up, as if they had won the war single-handedly. The Bomber Command fellows occasionally needed to remind the fighter types, “Yoohoo, that was really great of you fellows. But don’t forget that we lost more men killed in one night than you did in the entire Battle of Britain.” Well, things are getting pretty quiet these days about all that sort of thing.

In this week’s local paper there was the obit of one of our great RCAF air warfare heroes — William Ward Osborn, DFC, February 15, 1921 – January 13, 2012. His obit mentions how he flew Lancasters with 419 Sqn from Middleton St. George. Postwar he graduated in civil engineering from the University of Toronto, added a Masters degree, then re-joined the Canadian military, where he fought in Korea and served on UN postings. Back on Civvie Street he served the country again — in government. His family notes, “He is our unvanquished hero and our perpetual guiding light.” What a life lived, what a legacy, what a fine Canadian.

Every reader needs to be familiar with the magnificent website that is largely the work of one of Canada’s pre-eminent RCAF historians — Hugh Halliday. Go there (google AFAC Halliday Website RCAF Gongs 1939-45) and get the real story of Canadians in the air war. Today I looked up William Ward Osborn. Here is Hugh’s outline of this great citizen in the RCAF:

OSBORN, F/L William Ward (J26673) – Distinguished Flying Cross – No.419 Squadron – Award effective 8 September 1945 as per London Gazette dated 21 September 1945 and AFRO 1704/45 dated 9 November 1945. Born 1921 in Preston, Ontario; home in Hespeler (labourer); enlisted in Hamilton, 14 July 1942. Trained at No.6 ITS (graduated 21 November 1942), No.20 EFTS (graduated 6 February 1943) and No.6 SFTS (graduated 11 June 1943). Commissioned May 1943. Medal presented 22 June 1949. No citation other than “completed…numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.” DHist file 181.009 D.1941 (RG.24 Vol.20612) has recommendation dated 5 April 1945 when he had flown 36 sorties (237 hours 15 minutes), 10 September 1944 to 15 March 1945. Flight Lieutenant Osborn commenced his tour on September 10th, 1944 by doing a trip to Calais. On this first effort he brought his aircraft back to base on two and one-half engines. As gaggle leader on a daylight trip to Cologne on March 2nd, 1945, he again lost an engine in the target area and returned to base on three engines.

At all times during his tour of 36 trips this pilot has shown a high degree of courage, initiative and keenness. He has led his crew in bombing such difficult targets as Dresden, Munich and Nuremburg. This pilot’s standard of crew captaincy has been exceptional. For fine record on operation, his coolness, skill and leadership this officer merits the award on a non-immediate Distinguished Flying Cross. Thanks, and keep on reading books! Larry Milberry, January 2012

Addendum, January 4, 2013

Through 2013 there were fewer and fewer obits in the press for the wartime “demographic”. By then probably 95% of the whole generation had passed on. However, in the Toronto Star of January 4, 2014 I spotted two obits, one for A. Robert “Bob” McQuade, DFC,  an alumnus of 419 Sqn, the RCAF 6 Group squadron with the highest combat casualty rate. Bob passed on January 2, 2014 in a seniors’ residence in Newcastle, Ontario.

Also listed was Donald Halberston McSporran, whose family posted one of those really fantastic obits upon Don’s death on December 27, 2013. Here was another ace of a Canadian — a King’s Scout, WWII bomber pilot, POW for 3+ years, postwar a husband, father, school teacher, construction and design man, nature conservationist, etc.

Having trained as an RCAF  pilot in the BCATP at 1 EFTS (Malton) and 5 SFTS (Brantford), McSporran was posted overseas, where he eventually ended on 61 Squadron flying the unremarkable Manchester bomber. On his first operation as crew skipper (LeHavre, April 10, 1942), his Manchester 5785 lost an engine due to flak, forcing McSporran to ditch in the Channel 20 miles off Cherbourg.

The crew got into their dingy, where they held on for 5 – 6 days. That must have been a living hell, since they had no fresh water. At one point they were in sight of England, then were blown away and cast upon the French coast. In getting ashore, one crewman, Sgt D.J. Meikle, drowned. The  six survivors then were destined to wretched lives as German POWs.

In summarizing their great hero, Don McSporran’s family observe:

Don McSporran was one of those great Canadians who, having lived through the adversity of the Depression and the War, came home and made his country the peaceful and just society that it has become. He was a model citizen providing an example for all of an honest, ethical, hard-working member of society. He was frugal, yet generous, optimistic and steadfast, the kind of Canadian we all hope to become.

Don McSorran also is honoured on the “Billy Bishop Home & Museum” website (info@billybishop.org), and you may hear him recounting some  POW recollections on “The Memory Project” website (http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/1120:donald-mcsporran/‎). If you have a copy of Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984, you can read a summary of McSporran’s ordeal on pp.161-162.

Christmas 1945 and 2011 – A Kriege Looks Back

George Sweanor and his mates of 419 Squadron were on operations to Berlin on March 27, 1943 when shot down. This was the crew while flying Wellingtons a few months earlier: rear gunner Sgt Scotty Taylor of Kirkland Lake, Ontario; wireless operator Sgt Frenchy Lanteigne of Caraquet, New Brunswick; navigator Sgt Bid Budinger of London, England; skipper F/O Pat Porter of Manson Creek, British Columbia; and bomb aimer P/O George Sweanor of Port Hope Ontario.

In Bombing and Coastal Operations I describe a bit about the Bomber Command tour of George Sweanor of Port Hope, Ontario, these days in Colorado Springs. This year George sent us a different take on Christmas — the views of a former RCAF POW, or, “Kriege” (as the fellows called themselves). George’s thoughts arise after more than 65 years of contemplation:

It was a universe not of our making nor of our choosing. Yet is was beautiful and deceptively peaceful in German Silesia that Christmas eve. For a brief moment the moon was alone and silent in the night sky. It softly and kindly illuminated the blanket of snow that hugged our barbed wire and the guard towers as we few survivors of aerial battles, some as long as five years ago, remembered distant homes and better times.

Suddenly, the quiet was shattered by the foreboding wail of sirens, soon followed by the ugly sounds of exploding flak and bombs. Bomber Command and the Luftwaffe were taking and losing young lives and killing or maiming hundreds in their homes while sickening us with a revulsion against all who worshipped the same God, yet saw fit to continue the slaughter even on his birthday.

We all longed to be home with the war a receding memory, yet there was little or no animosity towards the Luftwaffe flak gunners or fighters killing our comrades, while defending their homeland. We were all victims of man’s insanity.

In a way we pitied them. We believed they were fighting a losing and hopeless battle. And they had it so much worse. We, in Bomber Command, were excused further operations on the completion of 60 operations (a fond hope when the life expectancy was only five), but the Germans had to go on until they found “the Hero’s Death”. One of the many was Helmut Lent, who destroyed 110 of our bombers before he found his Hero’s Death in October 1944. Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer fought 164 night battles in an Me 110, destroyed 121 of our bombers, survived the war, only to be killed in a car accident. Men, boys really, like these caused us grievous losses, like the night of 30/31 March 1944 when, during a Nurnberg raid, they destroyed 94 of 705 bombers, killing 658 of 4,935 aircrew.

In the end we prevailed, at enormous cost, yet even greater cost to them, but what did we learn? This Christmas our highly-flawed species remains at war. For me, it all seemed so sad when in 1957 I met and became friends with the German who had shot me down in March 1943. I felt that both of us were flanked by the ghosts of lost comrades, created by the inability of our victorious veterans of WWI to prevent inept politicians from setting the stage for WWII,  robbing the world of the promise of the war-to-end-all-wars.

In wars it is the military that creates and endures so much suffering. So, in those countries where individual rights are cherished, and where civil authorities control the military, is it not the responsibility of less-restricted veterans associations to speak for the concerns of the military with its enormous stake in world peace, and to ensure that they get at least as much attention as commercial and political interests?