Category Archives: Snowbirds

Bob Hoover Tribute

hoover-4On October 25, 2016 the great USAF fighter pilot, test pilot and airshow star, Bob Hoover, died at 94. You can find all kinds of coverage about Bob on the web, so take a few minutes to get clued in about this wonderful aviator, who counted many Canadians as good friends.

Beginning early after the war, several RCAF pilots taking USAF test pilot courses at Wright Field in Ohio and Edwards AFB in California were the earliest Canadians to get to know Bob Hoover. Thereafter, many others were honoured to know him professionally in the USAF, and as members of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. Bob usually showed up at SETP annual symposia, where there invariably was a Canadian contingent.

Bob was renowned on the Canada-US airshow circuit. Canadians enjoyed his displays at such annual events as the Abbotsford International Air Show. He became a great friend of Canada’s Snowbirds, eventually being inducted by the team as an “Honourary Snowbird”. In 1988 he was inducted into the US National Aviation Hall of Fame.

In 1972 I spent a few days at one of the great aviation events of the era – “Transpo 72” at Washington-Dulles airport. Each day there was a list of exciting displays, including Bob Hoover doing his 3-plane demo. For “Show 1” he would take up his Mustang N51RH and wring it out, leaving the crowd greatly impressed. Then, he’d land and taxi to the ramp. He’d step out of N51RH straight into Bronco 71-3558, take off and fly“Show 2”. That done, he’d finish in Rockwell Shrike Commander N5007H (out of the Bronco, straight into the Shrike). For his finale, he’d shut down both Shrike engines, land “deadstick” and have just enough energy left in his plane to roll to the ramp. He’d exit the Shrike looking none the worst for wear, wave to the crowd and saunter across the ramp.

hoover-1Bob Hoover’s lovely P-51 began as USAF 44-74739. It joined the RCAF in 1951 as 9297, then was sold back into the US in 1959, where it had a string of owners. In 1971 it was re-manufactured by Cavalier Aircraft in Sarasota, then was Bob’s 1974-1997. N51RH remained active in 2017.

hoover-2The Bronco flown by Bob at “Transpo 72” was USAF serial number 66-13558. In 1998 it was sold to Venezuela. That’s Bob taxiing out at Dulles.

It’s always sad to hear that the next Bob Hoover has “flown west”, for these are the magnificent citizens who laid the foundation of today’s aviation scene. In Dan Dempsey’s book A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage, there’s a perfect quote about Bob from “OB” Philp. The RCAF “Golden Centennaires” were disbanding at the end of Centennial Year, and their CO – “OB” – was tallying all the congratulations pouring in. “In my opinion,” he wrote, “ the most gracious tribute came from Bob Hoover, probably the best demonstration pilot ever produced by the United States.”

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Bob Hoover flew Shrike N5007H for 20 years. You can see it today on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum adjacent to Dulles airport. Here, Bob has just finished his 3-plane flight demo of May 27, 1972 and is walking towards the camera.

Elsewhere in Dan’s world-class book (make sure you have your copy, eh), the great RCAF fighter pilot and flight demo professional, Bob Hallowell (the RCAF’s “Red Knight” in the early 1960s) recalls flying formation one day with Bob Hoover: “We did a nice beat-up at Paine AFB in Washington with an American named Ben Hall leading in a green and orange Mustang – Hoover on left wing in an F-100 Super Sabre and myself on right wing in the Knight. The FAA didn’t like us much!” So, read up a bit about Bob Hoover on the web, you’ll be inspired. And … be sure you have A Tradition of Excellence, the book that’s at the top of my personal list as the best of them all. Order your copy online or download the order form here.

Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol 2 at the printer!

ImageBig news from CANAV … Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Volume 2 is at the printer. It goes on press November 7 and will be shipping to you the following week. By now you know how this routine goes at CANAV, right. Download the order form for all the “gen” about “Norseman 2” and a reminder about Vol.1, which so many of you already are enjoying (click on any photo to see it full size).
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Hello aviation businesses … give some thought to using some of CANAV’s great titles as gifts and incentives this season for your employees, retirees, suppliers and customers. More businesses now are using our world-class books this way. The reasons are simple and just make too much good sense: a book has a lot more impact and staying power than your traditional 26er or box of cigars (yesterday’s gift ideas). For a change, give something with some intellectual, cultural and simple common sense value (think saving money).

Besides “Norseman 2”, check out the  fabulous new books by Chris Hadfield, and the excellent $60 deal if you’re ordering both. You followed Chris during his recent tour as Commander of the International Space Station, so these are sure to have a special place in your library. Download the order form here.

Chris’ book launch for “Astronaut’s View”  on October 29 was highlighted by him seeming to be everywhere in the media. Treat yourself and track down some of these super Chis Hadfield interviews — they are inspiring! First off today, I heard Chris on CBC “Q”, while driving down the 404 from my warehouse in Aurora in my ’93 Towncar “Bookmobile” carrying 1000 pounds of CANAV books . Next, I caught him on CBC “Strombo”, finally, after supper, on Steve Paikin’s  fabulous TVO show “The Agenda”. Definitely mark these on your “to do” list — the sooner the better. They’ll be somewhere on the web. Do this, then order the books, right!

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Finally, also attached is CANAV’s Fall 2013 Booklist. This is Canada’s best mail order aviation list. It’s loaded with top-notch titles and excellent deals — it even has a free book offer! This season you still can get $60 off Air Transport in Canada,  $45 of Fighter Squadron (441 Sqn) and $109 off a set of Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace. So … looking for a knock-out of a gift for any special aviation fan? Well, you won’t do better anywhere (believe it or not …  used copies on the web usually are pricier).

Any questions? Send me an email — larry@canavbooks.com. Good reading to all from ye old scribe at CANAV … Larry
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History is where it pops up

C-FETE is Beaver No.1204, delivered new circa 1959 to Father W. Leising of the missionary order Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Fort Smith, NWT. Later owners included North Coast Air of Prince Rupert and Odyssey Air of Richmond, BC. Several accidents marred the career of  OMI/ETE through the years, but each time it returned to the air better than before. You can find the history of nearly every Beaver at Neil Aird's amazing website dhc-2.com. (Larry Milberry)

C-FETE is Beaver No.1204, delivered new circa 1959 to Father W. Leising of the missionary order Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Fort Smith, NWT. Later owners included North Coast Air of Prince Rupert and Odyssey Air of Richmond, BC. Several accidents marred the career of OMI/ETE through the years, but each time it returned to the air spiffier than before. Here, it takes off on September 8, 2009 from Downsview, the place of its birth decades earlier. You can find the history of nearly every Beaver at Neil Aird's amazing website dhc-2.com. (Larry Milberry)

While the photogs were fussing about getting their Arrow-Snowbirds pix this day, a few realized that there was another bit of good history cooking at Downsview. As some beautiful Q400 regional airliners and Global Express bizjets waited on Bombardier’s flight test ramp, a solitary Beaver came rumbling out for takeoff. Minutes later it took off nonchalantly behind a fresh-off-the-line Global Express. Two fabulous airplanes manufactured at Downsview, but half a century apart.

 A "green" Global Express (the 363rd example) blasts off on a test flight from Downsview on September 8. This grand bizjet contrasted totally with our pair of iconic Canadian "time machines" -- the Avro Arrow and the DHC-2 Beaver. (Larry Milberry)

A "green" Global Express (the 363rd example) blasts off on a test flight from Downsview on September 8. This grand bizjet contrasted totally with our pair of iconic Canadian "time machines" -- the Avro Arrow and the DHC-2 Beaver. (Larry Milberry)

Photo ops and variations on a theme

Planes overflying Arrow

On September 8, 2009 the Canadian Air & Space Museum invited some local aviation history fans to Downsview airport for a photo op. Since the Snowbirds still were in town following the CNE airshow, CASM curator Paul Cabot arranged for the team to do some fly-bys over his museum’s gleaming CF-105 Arrow replica.

With the Arrow basking in the sunshine, the Snowbirds appeared out of the north to make their first pass. Shutters fired madly. Here’s one of my shots that friend Andrew Yee (of Weather Channel fame) photo-shopped to fine effect, cleaning up some crud and getting the sky looking wonderful. (Everyone photo-shops these days, just the way the old fogies used to do photo retouching by spotting and dodging in the darkroom, then air brushing their prints — nothing new under the sun, except that it’s now a “no fuss, no muss” process.)

The idea for the "set up" at Downsview was inspired by this famous Golden Hawks scene, shot by the RCAF at Calgary in July 1960. You can see the drama in this view -- the lower the formation, the more exciting the photo. But you can't always have it your way when you're behind the lens. Someone else is calling other shots, but do the best with what you get and hope for a bit of luck. 

The idea for the "set up" at Downsview was inspired by this famous Golden Hawks scene, shot by the RCAF at Calgary in July 1960. You can see the drama in this view -- the lower the formation, the more exciting the photo. But you can't always have it your way when you're behind the lens. Someone else is calling other shots, but do the best with what you get and hope for a bit of luck.

Yet another variation on the theme: this shoot was set up at Comox on April 9, 1990, while the Snowbirds were in spring training under team lead LCol Dan Dempsey. I shot this one using a steam-powered 35-mm Pentax SLR. James Jones cleaned up this old Kodachrome for your enjoyment.  

Yet another variation on the theme: this shoot was set up at Comox on April 9, 1990, while the Snowbirds were in spring training under team lead LCol Dan Dempsey. I shot this one using a steam-powered 35-mm Pentax SLR. James Jones cleaned up this old Kodachrome for your enjoyment.