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Incredible adventures of the Norseman con’t…

Blog Norseman CF-HCBNew Norseman material emerges pretty well daily. Recently, Aric Aldrich sent me this classic Norseman scene captured (location unknown) in May 1956 by Leo Kohn, an early post-WWII airplane photography hobbyist. CF-HCB began in July 1944 as US Army UC-64A 44-70303. A year later it became NC33177. After its brief US civil career, it migrated to Canada in 1953. This is the very Norseman in which Carl Crossley force-landed in the Arctic just a few days after Leo photographed it. HCB was lost through the ice, but Carl was rescued. This is one of the many incredible adventures related in Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, which you can order online  here (Vol. 1) and here (Vol. 2).


Hey, girls and boys, are we aviating yet?

Summer Special: Air Transport in Canada

ATC-FrontAt CANAV Books, we like to beat the heat with a good book on the porch – and maybe a beer in hand. To help your summer reading along, we’re running a special promotion: if you don’t yet have your set of Air Transport in Canada, here’s the chance to fill that gap in your aviation library. Usually $155, “ATC” presently is $60 off, so get your set at $95 (add $15.00 shipping & 5% tax in Canada, for US and overseas please send me an email to get your shipping cost) This will be the largest title in your aviation library –- 9 x 12-inches, 1040 pages, 5 kg, hardcover, 3000+ photos. Spread throughout is the grandest coverage ever of this topic especially of bush flying (tons of Norseman coverage), the airlines and the RCAF. Cheque or PayPal – we’re easy breezy 🙂

Sixty Years … Final Copies Now on Special

Attention … especially Serving Members of the new RCAF. Here’s a very serious offer on the 90th anniversary of the RCAF! Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 is still available after 30 years. This grand 480-page, large-format, hardcover that’s never a second out of date tells the story of the RCAF in its glorious 60th year. Beginning with some solid background from WWI and   1920s, this fabulous tome ends just as the CF-18 and Aurora are entering service. Well, guess what… those two amazing airplanes are still hard at work!

If you don’t yet have your copy of this fantastic “all in one” RCAF sourcebook, jump in now and get one of the final 300 from the grand total of 23,000 copies done in 5 printings. Serving Members owe this one to themselves … you’ll never again have to wonder about any of the fundamental history of your proud organization.  Sixty Years is where every reader starts for basic RCAF history: early days, interwar, WWII, postwar to modern. 800+ photos, 95 exclusive colour profiles. Notes Aircraft Illustrated: “one of those all-too rare aviation books … a delight to read and a joy to possess and to treasure… superbly produced and printed and is likely to become a classic collectors’ item … a masterpiece.” Well, what can a publisher say!

In its infancy, Sixty Years had one special, thundering moment, when I was interviewed on “Morningside”  by Peter Gzowski back in ’84. Just to get on Peter’s show was a major coup, but this was one topic Peter could not resist (today there is zero interest at the CBC in any such publication). Peter began his 7-minute chitchat by holding high his copy of Sixty Years, then dropping it on the table — the aviation book “thud” heard around the world! Peter wanted his listeners to appreciate this book not just for its content, but also for its 5-lb heft. He then reminisced about boyhood days scanning the wartime skies filled with yellow RCAF training planes. That was quite the day for tiny CANAV Books and sure helped get the ball rolling for me. Years later people were bringing up the topic as if it were yesterday. One day the great Bob Fowler excitedly told me how he had “recently” heard me on the CBC while he was on a Dash 7 test flight over Lake Ontario. I had to remind Bob how that had been 20 years prior! Here again are the basic book specs! 480 pages, large format, hardcover, app’x, biblio, chron, index. $60.00 sticker price. Resist no longer … just $30.00 today, autographed copy. Add $12.00 for Canada Post + 5% tax. USA and overseas, contact CANAV for your shipping rate.

PS … more good word about CANAV’s recent Noorduyn Norseman books. In its April 2014 issue, AIRWAYS: A Global Review of Commercial Flight ( proclaims how Norseman Volume 2, “Describes the bushplane’s career since 1950 in the same painstaking detail as Vol.1. As well as coast-to-coast Canadian coverage, the Norseman in the USA and Americas, Australia and Europe is included, plus a lavish section on today’s survivors: workhorses, personal transports and museum displays.” Scroll back a bit for more Norseman revelations. Be sure to have these limited-edition collectables in your aviation library!

Good reading to one and all, eh … Larry

New CF-GUE Coverage from Gordon Olafson

ImageIn April 2014 former Norseman pilot Gordon Olafson sent us these great 1970-71 views of Gimli Air/Northway Norseman CF-GUE (GUE’s basic story is told in Noorduyn Norseman Vol.2). First, the rugged-looking Norseman at Riverton, Manitoba with a 12-foot aluminum boat strapped to each side for a trip to the outpost camp at Sasaginnigak Lake.

Two winter scenes of CF-GUE on different skis. First on Lake Winnipeg at Arnes. That’s Gordon standing by the plane. He’s warming up his R-1340 before a trip north. The Norseman is on standard air bag pedestals. Gordon explains: “You can see how we drove the skis up onto green poplar poles (not too sticky), so they wouldn't freeze down to the ice.” Then, CF-GUE at Charron Lake with just the oleos for suspension. This type of skis made for a pretty stiff run on take-off or landing. Jake Thorsteinson (left) is ready with his helper to start cutting ice to be put up in a shed insulated with bales of hay. The tourist camp there then would have ice for the coming season

CF-GUE -3 - Gordon Olafson img068_LR2 Above, two winter scenes of CF-GUE on different skis. First on Lake Winnipeg at Arnes. That’s Gordon standing by the plane. He’s warming up his R-1340 before a trip north. The Norseman is on standard air bag pedestals. Gordon explains: “You can see how we drove the skis up onto green poplar poles (not too sticky), so they wouldn’t freeze down to the ice.” Then, CF-GUE at Charron Lake with just the oleos for suspension. This type of skis made for a pretty stiff run on take-off or landing. Jake Thorsteinson (left) is ready with his helper to start cutting ice to be put up in a shed insulated with bales of hay. The tourist camp there then would have ice for the coming season

CF-GUE -4- Gordon Olsfson 1982014_LRA typical Norseman summer scene with some of the fellows not exactly looking overworked. On the left is Gordon’s cousin, Danny; bush pilot Jim Johnson, whose father, Geiri, founded Gimli Air; Howard Olafson bush pilot (no relation); and Gordon himself.

CF-GUE -5 db9017_LR

Another excellent winter scene with GUE on straight skis.

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Gordon and GUE at the dock on a fine day for a Norseman trip.

Canada Post Starts Practicing Early for Its Back-to-the-Stone-Age Mail Delivery Cutbacks

ImageCanada Post seems to have lost sight of its proud history and vital mission. For more than a century the mail has been brought to the door by letter carriers having tremendous pride in their work. Everyone used to understand that such a healthy postal state of affairs was one of the true emblems of a civilized/advanced society.

Back in “the good ol’ days”, for a postie to miss a day on his walk/route was unthinkable, so it’s sad to read in the Toronto Star of January 8, 2014 how whole GTA neighbourhoods now can be denied mail. The Star reports:

What has happened to the mail? It’s a question occupying the minds of Isabel Ward, a retiree who has yet to receive her Metropass; Peter Stiegler, an accountant in need of tax documents to help his clients; and Russell Bennett, a self-employed father anxiously awaiting cheques to pay the rent and support his family.

These trod-upon Canadians, who have paid for their postal service in advance, have gone without mail since before Christmas. The Star adds that they have received no clear answer as to why their mail has stopped. Of course, Canada Post now is falling back on the ice storm to excuse its miserable, low-down behavior. Very convenient, that ice storm

And get this … according to the Star’s research, should a postie take a vacation these days, his/her walk may not necessarily receive mail service until the postie returns from down south. Can you imagine … only in Canada, eh! As if there aren’t good, solid citizens on the bread line who’d love a chance to fill in.

In 2013 Canada Post “re-organized” by reducing staff and doubling up on letter carrier duties. I spoke today with a letter carrier who now has to 1) sort her mail for delivery 2) empty street mail boxes, then drop off that mail for “sortation” 3) deliver 100s of parcels and special items to franchise postal outlets 4) deliver the mail on her walk 5) sort and deliver the small parcels previously handled by a separate operation. Initially, many letter carriers were so overburdened under this goofy new “strategy”, that CANAV  was receiving mail as late as 9:00 in the evening. When I complained to Canada Post, its solution was to call in my postie to rake him over the coals! Talk about Alice in Wonderland, eh.


Besides hard-pressed postal workers away down the food chain from Canada Post HQ on Riverside Drive in Ottawa, it’s “the little people” struggling to make their daily living in retail, mail order (that’d be CANAV Books, for one), etc., who are hurting most from the corporation’s blatant insouciance. Yet we are the actual owners and true masters of Canada Post. So are we being screwed around or what!

Is the Star’s stark report about this Ottawa botch-up too complicated for Canada Post and the Harper Government to comprehend? Are they all so stoned in their culture of grandiose salaries, expense accounts, airborne Taj Mahals, entitlements, pensions, etc., that a failing postal service goes unnoticed?

And what about Canada Post CEO, Deepak Chopra, who takes home a pretty $500,000+ annually before bonuses, etc., while his department fails pitifully in conducting the absolutely simple task of delivering door-to-door mail dependably? The CEO’s solution? Let’s simply have no more such mail. Perfect … let the peasants eat cake, right, Deepak.

Perhaps it is time for Canada Post to start emulating the Bangladesh Post Office, whose mission statement is simply, succinctly and brilliantly stated: “Bangladesh Post Office is a government-owned department dedicated to provide a wide range of postal products and public services. It is the premier national postal communication service holding together a vast country with a large population. Bangladesh Post Office is committed to provide a speedy, reliable and regular service to the people of all walks of life at a reasonable cost.” I’ll bet the BPO does a super job, so do you think maybe we can set up a Bangladesh postal subsidiary at Riverside Drive to re-train Canada Post in the fine details of delivering the mail?


Kindly tell us what you plan to do about this disgraceful situation, Stephen Harper and Deepak Chopra (CUPW can also feel free to chip in to straighten out this mess). You’ve got to know that the mail is essential to Canada’s economic health. In another country with this grave a problem, heads would role, perhaps a few arrests would have to be made. Please get on it today and thank you for this! We little people are expecting results, and a solution tomorrow won’t be soon enough (and don’t forget … CANAV Books presently has four days of mail overdue/pending).

~ Larry Milberry, Publisher

PS good readersno mail delivery today (January 9) for CANAV’s part of M4E 3B6, so tomorrow Canada Post will owe us 5 days worth of mail, i.e. desperately needed business. Today, I again tried connecting with my inside contact (supervisor Tom) at Canada Post in Toronto. He seems to have missed my voice mail of two days ago. Today, his line (416) 360-1973 x 2017 goes dead after ringing twice.

Unable to deal with this crisis, Canada Post (it seems)  has resorted to hunkering down in their underground bomb shelters. I’m told that they’ll only re-surface when they’re sure we’re all finally dead  (then they won’t have to insincerely apologize to us again). Meanwhile, who of you fine readers knows Canadian law really well? Isn’t there a law against sabotaging a federal government essential service? There must be, so if you can find this item of law, please visit your local RCMP detachment and see if something can’t be done about getting someone put in jail for undermining the Canada nation re. Deepak Chopra’s Folly.

PPS … be sure to catch Rick Mercer’s January 17, 2014 rant on CBC TV about Deepak Chopra’s Folly. It’s too good, especially where Rick reminds Canada Post that “we the people” are the real corporate boss (not that Ottawa will ever get it, or ever care).

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).

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!


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 — Good reading to all from ye old scribe at CANAV … Larry

Our readers respond to new Norseman book

Another fun book "promo" shot taken by Rich Hulina on July 2.

Another fun book “promo” shot taken by Rich Hulina on July 2. Here’s the book “in the flesh” and this is a real Norseman — C-FFOX, the first one I ever photographed (back in 1959).

Here are a few Norseman Vol.1 tidbits. If in the UK or the EuroZone, you can pick up your copy of Vol.1 (now, also, Vol.2) at Henk Timmers’ Aviation Megastore in Amsterdam. Henk also carries most other CANAV titles and … he also sells on line.

By now you’ll be wondering, “How goes Noorduyn Norseman Vol.2?” Well, this week we’re finishing layout of the final chapter — a spectacular photo gallery finale. At the current rate, I expect to have Vol.2 in the mail to you as soon as the end of October.

Some of our readers have already been checking in, after taking a serious look at Vol.1. As usual, there is some pretty hard-hitting stuff bubbling up. Having edited the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society for more than 40 years, Bill Wheeler is one of the most highly qualified readers in Canada to review any such book. Bill has a few succinct observations, noting: “While countless articles have been written about the Norseman, a comprehensive book such as this was long overdue.” Bill adds how, “This is a book for browsing… A striking photograph will capture your attention and you will find it impossible not to read the relevant text, which is usually in the form of first-hand accounts by those involved in development of the Norseman or in its operation… Members of the CAHS will find that the Noorduyn Norseman complements the many Norseman accounts published in our Journal. I would recommend this book for any enthusiast’s library.” [Readers should check out For any true fan of Canada’s great aviation heritage, CAHS membership is a no-brainer. For a small annual fee, you’ll receive four issues of the  Journal. Besides this  enticement, there are local CAHS chapters,  informative chapter newsletters and an annual convention. So hop to it and get your application form filled out.]

Guillaume in the USA remarks: “The Noorduyn book is terrific. I like the weaving of anecdotes with the narrative, and the photographs are very nicely reproduced.” Coming as it does from a hardcore aero-bibliophile, this encourages your beleagueredold publisher to push to the finish line with Volume 2.

Retired airline pilot, Mike, reports having closely gone through Norseman 1: “The Norseman story is compelling and exceedingly well written.  What airplane fan couldn’t love it!  I’m standing by, straining at the chocks, for the next installment. Now I’m sure I should have bought that Norseman in Winnipeg  in  ’83, but I built a house instead.”

Len Halloran from New Brunswick who, with his Eskimo companion, Irkotte, saved pilot Wiggo Norwang and his three passengers following their horrendous Norseman crash on the tundra on January 31, 1958, admits that he really isn’t  all that particularly interested in aviation. However, on going through his copy of Noorduyn Norseman, Len’s key phrase about it all is “out of this world”.  “You sure put a book together, my friend,” is how he finishes.

After a solid flying career that began in November 1935, Norseman No.1 CF-AYO ended very badly, crashing in August 1953 in Ontario's Algonquin Park. Years later the shattered remains were recovered and moved for safe keeping to the Ontario Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie. (Larry Milberry)

After a solid flying career that began in November 1935, Norseman No.1 CF-AYO ended very badly, crashing in August 1953 in Ontario’s Algonquin Park. Years later the shattered remains were recovered and moved for safe keeping to the Ontario Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie. (Larry Milberry)

Dennis Spragg, who curates the Glenn Miller Archive at the University of Colorado Boulder, also is delighted with his copy: “Your package arrived in the mail this morning safe and sound.  It has perked up an otherwise dreary and wet day! I have gone straight to the AAF section and am pleased to see many of the photos that I, also, have gathered.  Terrific! More importantly , I am very humbled to see your iteration of the AAF service issues … Your honest and clear description is aligned perfectly with my independent study of the AAF files, particularly the VIII AF Service Command where 44-70285 served [that was the Norseman in which Glenn Miller disappeared].  This has made me feel  vindicated in my admiration for the aircraft.  There were problems to be sure if the plane was mishandled by a pilot not paying attention to the manual or the updated pilot’s information… It is very heartening to realize that there are others who are into the details of the Noorduyn Norseman. Thank you so much.”

From Roger Lindsay (one of the UK’s leading aviation history researchers, writers and publishers) come these comments: “I haven’t yet gone very far into the content of Vol.1, but it’s clearly a fascinating subject. Bob Noorduyn’s background was entirely new to me. I didn’t know he came to the UK to work with Sopwith and Armstrong Whitworth. It’s good that you have done him and his achievements justice in this highly meticulous CANAV treatment. Also, what a lovely selection of well-produced old photos that really recreate an atmosphere of the Norseman era.”

Bryan in BC writes:

Magnificent, Larry … your books get better and better!

Mo in Ontario concludes:

An airplane I always wanted to fly, Larry. Looks like another great read. I don’t know how you do it, but keep going!

Bill in Ontario, who flew RCAF Norsemans in the Arctic in the 1940s adds:

Another victory for you, Larry – well done again!

Steinar’s view from Norway?

I have been looking very much forward to your Norseman book. You publish the best aviation history books available! 

From Jim in California, whose recent order included the Norseman, the word is even more effusive:

Man oh man, the books came yesterday. Wow, is all I can say! Not since my teens, when I bought mail order from Beachcomber Books in the great northwest, have a gotten a more exciting book shipment. Methinks that American ‘airplane nuts’ are doing themselves a great disservice if not frequenting CanAv books.

Ellis in Ontario, who grew up around Norsemans, then flew Beavers, etc., passes on his opinion:

Great job! Love the Norseman book. Names and places bring back a lot of nostalgia, as well as the very real exposure to one of the fine creations of Canadian engineering.

In reading the story on p.201-3 of how Gold Belt Air Service Norseman CF-BSG went down in the Quebec bush, Con in Quebec came up with a teeny bit of very local history, but it fits right in! (Gold Belt also had Norseman’s CF-BSE and CF-PAA):

My parents worked for Gold Belt Air Service, running the base at Bachelor Lake, Quebec. “PAA” and “BSE” were the names of their dogs, while their cat was “Roger Roger.” “BSE” was killed by wolves, “PAA” by a bear.

These are my kind of hardcore “analysts”, the real pros. Most of them can boast of distinguished aviation careers, certainly (as the great Don McVicar would say) distinguished reading careers! Each knows and love airplanes and aviation books. Most, if not all, had parents who fostered that essential passion in their children – never be without a book. These aviation bibliophiles get the big picture, know what is required to produce a great book, and deeply understand and appreciate 1) good, hard work  and 2) the synchronicity of solid historical research, serviceable writing and fastidious publishing. “Nitpicking” is not in their vocabulary – they get the big picture.

However … there also are some oddballs. No matter what you publish, they will go after it in their own passionate way. One poor sod recently was fuming to CANAV about what kind of moron (me) would waste his life writing about the world’s crappiest bushplane – the Norseman! Well, we do need a bit of comic relief once in a while, right. Another fellow considers anything written about the Norseman in the RCAF to be a waste of paper and ink. I’d like to see his definition of what constitutes a well-rounded history of whichever airplane. Just leave out entire swathes of history? Duh!

Thanks, good readers – I couldn’t do it without your fabulous support. Any other comments, feel free to send them our way! FYI, Norseman Vol.2 should be at the printer by the end of September, books in 4-5 weeks thereafter. I’ll keep y’all informed. Have a great summer!

Larry Milberry, publisher