Category Archives: Uncategorized

Boeing 727 News from CANAV

Blog Wardair #1

Two years ago we blogged about the magnificent Boeing 727. Wardair’s former chief engineer, Dan McNiven, was one of the many enjoying this item. Dan reminded me that Wardair had Canada’s first 727 – the world-famous CF-FUN. “FUN” was the first of many 727s to be flown by such other Canadian operators as Air Canada, Air Transat, Cargojet, FirstAir, Kelowna Flightcraft, PWA, Quebecair and Royalair. Cargojet of Hamilton still operates a fleet of 12 of these gorgeous, reliable, profit-making “Three Holers”.

Christened “Cy Becker”, in honour of one of Max Ward’s pioneer bush flying heroes, “FUN” was delivered to Edmonton on March 25, 1966. Naturally, the great Leslie Corness was on hand with his large-format camera to cover the action. Les walked around “FUN” (you could do that back in those “good old days”) shooting various angles. Just lately two of his by-now historic photos popped up in my archives and here they are for you to enjoy. If you need more such material, find yourself of copy of The Max Ward Story and get the solid info about “FUN” from Max Ward himself. There always are copies of such out-of-print books to be found at Max’s book is essential for anyone seriously interested in Canada’s airline industry.

Blog Wardair #2

“FUN” signalled the end in the Wardair fleet of the classic Douglas propliners. Soon, Wardair was known for its ever-growing jetliner fleet – B.727, B.747, DC-10 and A310. Although Wardair eventually faded from the airline scene, one often hears laments for this great company. No one who ever flew on Wardair ever forgets the company’s impeccably turned-out airplanes and the world-class cabin service – chinaware and silverware included. “FUN” served Wardair faithfully until sold in Brazil in 1973. Later, it flew under Colombian registration, but has not been heard of since the mid-1990s (when it likely was sold for beer cans).

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Bob Bogash and his team at the Museum of Flight continue in their quest to fly (within the next few weeks) the first ever 727 – United Airlines N7001U. Just recently, they taxied it and all systems were “Go”. Here is Bob’s update as of mid-February 2016:

Last week I said:

“This is not the End, but it is the Beginning of the End.”

I think we are now close to the End of the End – at least as far as mechanical work on the airplane is concerned.  With 30 work days behind us, the airplane is operational with a few wrap-up jobs yet to accomplish..  There is considerable work left to do, however,  on the FAA paperwork side.


Yesterday, the airplane moved under its own power for the first time in over 25 years. It is indeed alive!  I wound up taxiing it about 4-5 miles around the airfield, as we accomplished our high power engine trim runs and take-off power checks. Compass checks. For some reason, visions of Shirley Temple singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” kept running through my head.

Check out the videos Videos here and here. Checked the brakes first!

Only five days after first engine start. We ran the engines numerous times this week and put quite a few hours on the engines and fuel systems, as well as validating the electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic systems.

We bounced back quickly from a potentially big setback when our newly installed elevator feel computer split its case. We have a really great, innovative and resilient team of “can-do” personalities.

We set out to awaken this airplane from 25 years of storage and we have done it  – successfully!  And it took us just a month to do it (although an incredible amount of work went into that month). We’re still shooting for about March 1. Hopefully, the weather around here will start to do something other than what’s it’s been doing, and doing….

The SOAR team will be down to one man on Monday. David Wittrig, SOAR Leader, is leaving for Newark Sunday to look at a damaged 777. ATS has agreed to allow us to keep the airplane where it is on their ramp until we fly it. They have also agreed to support us during the remaining jobs, as well as three full starts – one for high speed runway taxi runs with the Pilot, one the day before our flight (as a final check),  and the final one at Future of Flight when we start up for making the actual flight.

Additional companies have signed up to support; we’re getting new cockpit seat covers from Douglass Interior Products and Cannon Aircraft Interiors; and Alaska Airlines has agreed to supply cockpit emergency equipment.

I had a long meeting with Laurie on Friday and we’re deep into the nitty gritty of  Flight Day, right down to fire truck water arches for departure and arrival.  Wow-ee!

My Status Report continues to be the primary vehicle for what’s happening.

Check my Master Sked for the details.

Last week, I wrote:  “Our Lady has definitely “woken up.”  Worth repeating.  She’s also famous! Tuesday was her 53rd Birthday.

Finally, here are two other early United 727s that I photographed in 1966. I saw N7052U taxying on a blustery March 20 at Buffalo, then N7066U smoking in to land at Chicago O’Hare on August 26. N7052U later served US Air and Key Airlines. It was scrapped at Greenwood, Missou ri in 1995. In 1988 N7066U went to FedEx as N187FE. Its FedEx days finished, it ended as a training aid at a US Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. **Click on any photo to see it full frame.

Have “FUN” … Larry

Blog United #1





Blog United #2


Two Fine Books Telling the Story of the Earliest Days of Aviation

Birdmen_coverBirdman: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss and the Battle to Control the Skies

by Lawrence Goldstone

This fantastic best seller is one that will satisfy any serious fan of aviation history. Beginning with such pioneers of flight as Otto Lilienthal in Germany and Octave Chanute in the US, Goldman quickly comes to the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio and Glenn Curtiss of Hammondsport, New York. Showing how Lilienthal and Chanute influenced these three innovators, he then details how each persevered in flying America’s first powered airplanes.

This book is downright exciting – a “page-turner”, as they say. The author delves deeply into each participant’s human side, warts and all. Often these heroic figures are at loggerheads – the Wrights clash with each other, let alone with Curtiss, whom they accuse of stealing their patents. They strive to virtually patent the airplane. Their battles rage for years in the courts.

Leading the way in powered airplane flight, the Wrights engender a whole new world of entertainment – exhibition flying. From 1909-14 they and Curtiss bring their performing troupes to city after city all the way west to Los Angeles and Seattle. This is a magnificent era, but it comes at a huge cost. The touring flyers introduce millions to the airplane and make piles of money. But by 1912 more than 100 have lost their lives, mainly at public appearances. Airplanes fall apart in flight, turbulence hurls pilots from their seats, planes crash into crowded bleachers, the first bird strike kills a famous pilot, etc. All along the crowds are loving it all. The great Lincoln Beachey, who performed some of the earliest airshows in Canada, grows disgusted at how the hordes come out mainly to see him die. And so they finally do in 1915, when his plane disintegrates during a show at the great San Francisco exposition.

Another major theme is the years-long lawsuits pursued almost insanely by the Wrights against all other aeronautical enterprizers. Obsessed by their patents and paranoid about these being infringed upon, the Wrights spent a fortune in the courts. While aeronautics was progressing at Hammondsport, in the UK and across Europe, the Wrights dithered and lost their chance. Their Wright Flyers, in the meantime, became known as death traps. Dozens of airmen and passengers died in Wright Flyer crashes, while Curtiss machines gained the opposite reputation. In the end, Goldman concludes that the Wrights held up America in its quest to advance in aviation. Curtiss on one hand and Europe on the other set the pace in advancing aviation’s cause. Ironically, in the end the two warring sides made peace through a 1929 corporate alignment creating the Curtiss-Wright Co., which survives to this day.

Don’t miss this exceptional book that brings to life the great years of powered flight!

Birdman: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss and the Battle to Control the Skies

230 pages, hardcover, photos, notes, index $34.00, CANAV price $21.00 + $12.00 Canada Post + $2.10 tax. Total for Canada $35.10 Mail your cheque or pay by PayPal to USA and overseas please enquire for a price:


Blog Pioneer Decades Jan. 2016Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades

By Larry Milberry

Complementing Birdmen is this detailed history of the early years of flight in Canada. Beginning with Canada’s first flight – a balloon ascent in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1840, The Pioneer Decades explains how aviation went decade by decade in America’s next-door neighbour. Ballooning alone was a huge public fascination that produced one Canadian “first” after another, whether the Saint John ascent, the “first” aerial crossing between Canada and the US, the first powered airship appearances or the first parachute jump.

The Pioneer Decades then introduces heavier–than-air flight with teenager Larry Lesh’s daring glider experiments in Montreal in 1907. While Birdmen does tell a bit about Alexander Graham Bell and the Aerial Experiment Association, The Pioneer Decades covers the AEA program in detail, ending with the dramatic first powered airplane flight by the “Silver Dart” at Baddeck in 1909. There also is much of Glenn Curtiss and Hammondsport, where the “Silver Dart” was built and first flew.

The Pioneer Decades continues with the great years in Canada of the exhibition flyers, nearly all of whom are also covered in Birdmen. For example, Toronto’s first airplane flight is made by Charles Willard – a Curtiss-trained pilot flying his Curtiss-made “Golden Flyer”. The great Montreal and Toronto air meets of 1910 and 1911 are also here, with tales of the famed Curtiss and Wright pilots, many of whom would give their lives in the cause from 1907 onward – Lincoln Beachey, Cromwell Dixon, Eugene Ely, Ralph Johnstone, Phil Parmalee, etc.

The Pioneer Decades tells how McCurdy and Baldwin of the AEA tried selling their designs to the Canadian military, how Canada’s first WWI airmen trained at Curtiss and Wright schools, then how they excelled “Over the Front” in the first great aerial conflict. Many would fly the great Curtiss JN-4 and Curtiss’ renowned long-range, anti-submarine flying boats, about which, a few years earlier, the Wright camp had been scoffing. You’re bound to enjoy this beautifully-produced CANAV title.

Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades

176 pages, large format, hardcover, photos, bibliography, index. $50.00 but with this offer $35.00 + $12.00 for Canada Post + $2.35 tax. Total for Canada $49.35 Mail your cheque or pay by PayPal to USA and overseas please enquire for a price (email me at

BOTH these leading titles: $56.00 + $15.00 for Canada Post + $3.55 tax. Total for Canada $74.55. Mail your cheque or pay by PayPal to USA and overseas please enquire for a price:

CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E 3B6


Tel: (416) 698-7559

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.

CF-GUE -6 img074

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).