Return to Northwestern Ontario 2017 Part I “YQT” Thunder Bay Photo Coverage + March 20 YQT Press Release + Norseman + 419 Squadron Updates

Return to Northwestern Ontario 2017 Part I “YQT” Thunder Bay + Norseman + 419 Squadron Updates

Last year’s field trip to Northwestern Ontario proved to be the usual fantastic experience (scroll back to find our in-depth coverage for 2012). 2017 took me back to my first adventure here away back in the summer 1961, when I flew in to the old Fort William Airport on a TCA Viscount. I’ve returned many times. For 2017 I got rolling on July 19 by stepping aboard a spiffy Porter Airlines Q400 at Toronto Billy Bishop Airport — “YTZ”. Smooth, fast and quiet, this is definitely the most enjoyable way to YQT. You start by climbing out over the sprawling GTA. Toronto Bay, the iconic Toronto Islands and the massive city skyline are right there out your window. But the city soon gives way to scenic rural Ontario as you pass Lake Simcoe on the right and head over Georgian Bay and Lake Huron ‘til you’re looking down on Sault St. Marie. Then comes the long, straight leg (pretty well 250 miles) all the way across Lake Superior to your landing at “YQT” Thunder Bay. The whole flight covers about 550 miles from YTZ.

A Guided Tour
As is usual for a bright summer’s day, YQT was busy this morning with all sorts of airplanes in their many colours. First stop was the airport manager’s office to check in for my pre-arranged airside photo tour. YQT went all out, providing a vehicle and a staff member who knew every nook and cranny. Here are a few of my photos. To see a photo full frame, click on it once.

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A typical scene on descending via Porter Q400 to land at Thunder Bay on a fine summer’s day. Highlighted in this grab shot out the window is the city’s historic waterfront. Even though by now a shadow of its former self, the old industrial shoreline still has its landmark grain elevators and you also can spot the modern development. At the very top (on the horizon) I barely caught “the Sleeping Giant”.

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Thunder Bay International Airport as you’ll find it– an attractive example of functional airport architecture. YQT is at the heart of a vast region sweeping across Northern Ontario from Bearskin Lake 400 miles to the north, and northeasterly 400+ miles to Moosonee. Westward it’s a straight line 370 miles to Winnipeg. From Winnipeg to Moosonee are dozens of small, mostly “air only” communities that look to Thunder Bay and Winnipeg for their daily necessities. The chief east-west carriers between Winnipeg and Toronto are Air Canada, Porter and WestJet. The main local carriers are the ever busy Bearskin, North Star Air, Perimeter, Thunder Airlines and Wasaya. YQT is an impressive operation. For 2017 it handled a record 845,000 passengers and supported about 5000 jobs. As noted by the airport authority in January 2018, “TBIAA receives no government funding for the operation of the airport. Economic activity … is responsible for an estimated $645 million dollars in GDP …” For more YQT info see

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Porter Q400 C-FLQY at YQT with the Ornge air ambulance base as backdrop. “LQY” was delivered to Porter in April 2010. For 2018 Porter had 29 74-seat Q400s in the fleet and was operating 5/6 daily Lakehead flights. The comfortable and speedy Q400 cruises at 360 knots. In 2018 Porter opened a crew base in Thunder Bay, the first such in Northern Ontario for any major airline. To book your Porter Q400 trip, go to, right!

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One of Westjet’s 78-seat “Encore” Q400s during a YQT turn-around on July 19. Encore’s fleet totals 43 Q400s providing regional service from BC to the East Coast. Porter concentrates on Ontario, but also flies as far east as Newfoundland and to US cities from Chicago to Boston and south into Florida.

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One of the most important northern workhorses is the Swearingen/Fairchild Metro III and IV series (and predecessors). The Metro IV (also known as the Metro 23) of the late 1980s is the epitome of Ed Swearingen’s life’s work that began by tinkering with Beech Twin Bonanzas and Queen Airs at his Texas base in the 1960s. His efforts led to the Merlin light corporate twin using PT6 or Garrett turboprops. Further development resulted in the SA226 Metro series, first flown in 1969. In the 12,500-lb, 19-passenger category, the Metro steadily evolved. Of the whole Merlin/Metro series, some 700 planes were delivered until production ceased in 1998. Here’s Bearskin Metro IV C-GYTL at YQT on July 19. See and Air Transport in Canada Vol.2 for more good Bearskin coverage.

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Metro “YTL” has been retrofitted with 5-blade composite propellers. The Metro cruises at around 250 knots. It’s been a good performer on the gravel strips that typify the north. Its 1000-hp Garrett TPE331s are among the most reliable light turboprop engines in aviation history. Of all the 19-seat types over the decades, the Metro has proven itself best to the people of this vast hinterland. Sure, it’s noisy and cramped, but it’s fast, reliable, safe and makes a profit. Bearskin’s sister company, Perimeter Airlines of Winnipeg is another longtime Metro operator. Appearance of the Metro let operators in this region quickly replaced their hodgepodge of old piston-pounders from the Aztec to the DC-3.

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Bearskin Metros – C-GAFQ included — undergo scheduled maintenance checks at YQT.

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Bearskin/Perimeter’s 2017 route map gives an idea of the vast region served by the Lakehead’s northern air carriers.

(Below) The Confederation College YQT campus. Hundreds of young pilots have graduated from “Confed” over the decades. The 2018 fleet includes 16 Cessnas and three flight simulators.

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An important part of the scenery at YQT since 2011 is Pilatus Canada/Levaero, a regional centre for PC-12 sales and service. The history of this operation dates to 1985 when bush pilot and entrepreneur Frank Kelner founded Kelner Airways at Pickle Lake.   A visionary, he introduced the Cessna Caravan (first flight 1982) to Northern Ontario c1990. In 1996 his company morphed into native- owned Wasaya Airlines. After modernizing much of northern aviation with the Caravan, Kelner did the same with the PC-12, importing 105 of the Swiss-made planes between 1997-2011, many more since. More recently Kelner brought the PT6-powered Basler DC-3 to Northwestern Ontario under the North Star Air banner. In 2016 he sold his Pilatus interests to his partners, but remained to head the board. In 2017 he sold North Star to the Northwest Co. of Winnipeg for $31M. See the Kelner story in detail in Skies magazine on line January 27, 2012: New Horizons – Skies Mag › news › Skies Online (Features)

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One of North Star’s Basler DC-3s at YQT on July 19.

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When lucky enough to have a guided tour at YQT, any fan with a camera has no trouble keeping busy for a good couple of hours. You’ll always see courier and cargo planes awaiting their next trips. Present on July 19 were First Air ATR-42 C-FIQR and FedEx resident Caravan C-FEXF. With any such planes, there usually is some interesting history. “IQR”, for example, for decades was the registration on one of Canada’s most historic DC-3s, CF-IQR. First in Canada in 1956, “IQR” served such companies as Wheeler Airlines, Nordair and Bradley Air Services. Its flying days finally ended in a 1977 crash. Today’s “IQR” also is registered to Bradley Air Services, parent company of First Air. The ATR-42 broke into the northern market especially due to its standard cargo door. This gave it a jump on the Dash 8-100, which started appearing with such operators as Perimeter in the 2010s, but without a cargo door. Recently, however, cargo doors have been retrofitted to Dash 8s, broadening their usefulness in the north.

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Way out in YQT’s “Back 40” sits this old clunker of an ATR-42 that along with HS748 C-GBCY is used in training EMS personnel in emergency scenarios.

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Here are a couple of other vintage planes on the YQT tiedowns on July 19: 1966 Cessna 337A C-GAMY and 1959 Cessna 175 C-FLIO.

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(Above) There invariably are some interesting transients at YQT. In summer these often bring sportsmen north for some world-class fishing at the region’s famous outpost camps. On July 19 I spotted these beauties. Piper PA-46 M600 Malibu (US$3M basic new price) C-GTNO was at the Shell FBO. Waiting nearby was Citation 560 Citation N535GR (G&R Aviation) on a charter from Louisville.

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Another stalwart on the YQT scene for decades is the Mitsubishi MU-2 “Rice Rocket” (first flight 1963). Once the MU-2 started reaching the hand-me- down stage in the 1980s, it found lots of work in northern Canada as a speedy air ambulance, while still doing general duties. MU-2B- 60 C-FFSS of YQT’s Thunder Airlines was sunning itself on the ramp on July 19. Parked in the bone yard around the corner was a superannuated MU-2 that probably still was useful for particular spare parts. As do so many older such planes, C-FFSS has its “history”. In one case (September 27, 1991) it almost met a brick wall. As explained on the Aviation Safety Network, that day it was on a cargo flight from Utica, NY: “During the climb, one of the four propeller blades on the No.2 engine separated from the propeller hub, damaging another propeller blade and the fuselage… The rotational unbalance was accompanied by extreme vibration and resulted in distortion and damage to the engine/cowl assembly and the wing. The upper portion of the engine cowl was deflected upward over the wing at an angle of about 30 degrees, resulting in distortion of airflow, buffeting and degradation of roll control. Due to excessive drag, maximum power was required on the No.1 engine in order to control the rate of descent and land successfully. A metallurgical examination disclosed evidence of fatigue cracking of the propeller hub arm. The NTSB determined the probable cause to be: “Fatigue cracking of the propeller hub… Aircraft repaired and returned to service.” The Rice Rocket is one tough old bird! Like the Metro, it uses the Garrett TPE331.

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Also at YQT (on its last legs) on July 19 was Wasaya’s HS748 “801” C-GLTC. Originally delivered to the West German government in 1969, “LTC” came to Canada in 1986. It joined Kelner Airways in 1990, then Wasaya in 1992, where it toiled for 25 years. The end of 801 left Wasaya with just one in these historic planes on the go. The sight of “LTC” reminded me of the time a few years ago when I interested the CEO of First Air in offering a 748 to Canada’s national aviation museum. First Air agreed to fly its most historic 748 into the museum at Rockcliffe and “hand over the keys”, but in its wisdom Ottawa said “No thanks”. Soon there won’t be one 748 left flying in Canada. Will the last one go for pots and pans, or will one of Canada’s more visionary museums smarten up and grab itself a 748?

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Also sitting “in the weeds” at YQT was Metro 227DC C- GSOQ, one of the famous Australian Metros vintage 1993. I heard that when Bearskin purchased several of the “Down Under” Metros, they came all the way across the vast Pacific to Thunder Bay on single-pilot ferry trips.

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A Wasaya Beech 1900D and Dash 8 sit on the tarmac — but not for long. At this time Wasaya’s fleet was listed as: three 748s, four Dash 8-100s, one Dash 8-300, eight Beech 1900Ds, three Caravans and four PC-12s. The Dash 8-300 was operated for Goldcorp to rotate miners in and out of an isolated gold mine.

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All day long commuter planes buzz in and out at YQT. Above is Westwind’s 1994 ATR-42 C-GLTE was on lease to North Star during a busy spell.

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As a Beech 1900D, Metro or PC-12 taxis out, something new arrives at YQT from the north. Here’s a nice pair – Dash 8-100s of Wasaya and Perimeter. I flew on the latter (C-FPPW) to Sioux Lookout soon after my whirlwind YQT visit. “PPW” had spent from 1994-2010 in the US as N827EX. Note that Wasaya Dash 8 C-GJSV has the rear cargo door mod. Built in 1987, “JSV” spent is life in Canada starting with Air Ontario then finally joining Wasaya in 2016.

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There are some famous names on the street signs around YQT. This one honours the great Orville J. “Porky” Weiben, a legendary Canadian aviation hero. During the war he was a test pilot for Canadian Car and Foundry at Fort William, flying Hurricane fighters and Helldiver dive bombers as they came off the Fort William production line. Weiben’s Superior Airways was the local air carrier through the 1950s-70s. On the other side of the field today is Derek Burney Drive, named in honour of Burney, whose credentials include such highlights as Canada’s ambassador to the USA and president of CAE Inc of Montreal. Naturally, there also is Kelner Drive at YQT.

Have a look next week to see where I travelled after leaving Thunder
Bay on July 19. Cheers … Larry

PS … on March 20, 2018 YQT released its current progress report. Have a look:

Thunder Bay Airport (YQT) volumes hit an all-time high by hosting 844,627 passengers in 2017. Traffic grew by 4.6 per cent over 2016 volumes. Traffic volume growth was supported by a number of positive factors. Additional capacity offered by a number of airlines into northern destinations has contributed new volume.

The early start of the winter charter season also brought new passengers to the airport. Airport volumes also benefitted significantly from the Under 18 World Baseball Championships and the rise of international student enrolment at both Lakehead University and Confederation College.

Volumes are expected to be similar in 2018 according to president and chief executive officer, Ed Schmidtke. “Special events hosted by our community will support airport volumes going forward,” he said. “The Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in September consistently draws 450 delegates. The Victory Cruise ship will see 400 passengers arrange air travel components through Thunder Bay Airport.”

Passenger traffic growth has necessitated terminal building expansion. The secure departure lounge and the Customs Clearance Hall will both be expanded by the fall of this year. Speaking on the expansion, Schmidtke said: “As Thunder Bay continues to grow its reputation as a national and international destination, the airport will invest in facilities that will welcome our visitors and cost effectively support our daily operations.”

Some 2018 Norseman News

The Norseman story is endless. For starters today, here’s a photo of Gord and Eleanor Hughes’ lovely Norseman CF-DTL on Ramsay Lake in Sudbury back in the early 90s

Bruce Roberts in Georgia has been doing some very serious Norseman archaeology. While hiking one day, he discovered a Norseman wreck on a Georgia mountain top. Here’s Bruce’s story. Add this to what you already know from our 2-volume Norseman history and all the follow-on material that’s arisen since on our blog. Here’s Bruce’s story:

“Hi, Larry … I came across your website while researching Noorduyn Norsemans, after finding an old crash site on a mountainside near our home in north Georgia. Thought you might be interested in seeing some of the photos. To date I have been unable to find any record of the crash, after checking online Norseman records as well as US civilian and military records. Local inquiries haven’t uncovered anything yet either.

“The site is at approximately 3760 feet in a wilderness area just south of the North Carolina state line, near Hiawassee, Georgia. We are wondering if perhaps the crash occurred on the way to or from the Augusta, Georgia location of the Reconstruction Finance Corp., which handled surplus US Army UC-64 Norsemans. But that’s just conjecture.

“We also think the aircraft may have been salvaged, since a number of large components are missing. Including the engine, engine mount, firewall, landing gear and wheels, wing struts, instrument panel, control stick, one wing, etc. Although, I don’t know how these large parts could have been salvaged, since it is very difficult to even hike to the site today, and the old 1930s logging roads never reached such steep parts of the mountains.

“I have made 3 climbs to the site so far, including my initial discovery (when I thought the fuselage was part of some old communications tower or similar) This link goes to an index page, and clicking on the pages in numerical order will take you through the exploration chronologically.” See all the details at:

419 Squadron Update: George Sweanor a.k.a. “Ye Olde Scribe” Shares Some History and Philosophy

PS … I’d like to direct you to George Sweanor’s blog. A WWII bomber navigator with 419 Sqn, George flew several operations before his crew was shot down in their Wellington. He then spent some 800 days as a POW. In February 2018 George was visited by several pilots from today’s 419 Sqn stationed at Cold Lake. If you refer to your CANAV Books library shelf, you can find some bits of George’s RCAF history in Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984, and Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas. George runs an erudite and always informative blog at This is the recent news item about 419 Sqn “then and now”:

98-year-old Royal Canadian Air Force veteran gets surprise visit. (Posted on

A 98-year-old Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Second World War veteran and former Prisoner of War now living in Colorado Springs, Colo., received a surprise visit Feb. 23, 2018.

Members of 419 Tactical Fighter (Training) Squadron sit with Sweanor following the unit's training mission in El Centro, Calif.
Members of 419 Tactical Fighter (Training) Squadron sit with George Sweanor following the unit’s training mission in El Centro, Calif. NORAD/USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

George Sweanor, a retired RCAF Squadron Leader, was met by members of 419 Tactical Fighter (Training) Squadron at the Colorado Springs Airport following the unit’s training mission in El Centro, Calif.

Sweanor was one of the founding members of the squadron that stood up in 1941 in the United Kingdom as the third RCAF bomber squadron overseas.

Members of 419 Squadron talked with and listened to Sweanor for more than an hour as he reminisced about his time with the squadron and his experiences during the Second World War.

“It was an honour for us to meet such a distinguished veteran and founding member of 419 Squadron,” said Maj Ryan Kastrukoff, deputy commanding officer of the unit.

During the war, Sweanor served with the RCAF in the United Kingdom with 419 Squadron. In 1942, he was shot down and captured after multiple flights over enemy territory, spending 800 days as a Prisoner of War.

Sweanor was also involved in a daring escape from Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp in Zagan, Poland, in 1944 and acted as a security lookout during the excavation of the escape tunnel dubbed “Harry.” This event was immortalized in the 1963 film, “The Great Escape.”

Following the war, Sweanor remained with the RCAF. Also of note, he was one member of a group that opened Cheyenne Mountain, former home to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Swanor sits in front of aircaft
Sweanor one of the founding members of the squadron that stood up in 1941 in the United Kingdom as the third RCAF bomber squadron overseas. NORAD/USNORTHCOM Public Affairs Photo

His last assignment was in Colorado Springs, where he retired and began teaching at Mitchell High School. He is also a founding member of 971 Royal Canadian Air Force Association Wing in Colorado Springs and regularly attends events as a special guest, along with members of the Canadian Armed Forces serving at NORAD.

As part of the visit, Squadron members presented him with a book commemorating the 75th anniversary of the squadron, a current squadron patch and a squadron patch with his name stitched into it.

Sweanor has written one book and continues to write his own blog.

The current 419 Tactical Fighter (Training) Squadron was formerly known from 1941 to 1945 as No. 419 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force.


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 …

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, 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:

*Payment info: Pay directly to 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:

Here’s CANAV Books Fall 2017/Winter 2018 Booklist … Have a Close Look!

Good day to all CANAV fans and readers!
You’ll want to take a good look at CANAV’s new booklist. This season has several outstanding new titles from detailed histories of Found Brothers Aviation to Okanagan Helicopters, the Norwegian air training plan in Canada during WWII, and RCAF Station Bagotville through the decades. Besides such top books, we’re also offering Rich Hulina’s magnificent new Vol.2 of Bush Flying Captured. Talk about a magnificent book! Also, check out the CANAV deals, everything from Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace Vols.1-3 at 1/2 price, Air Transport in Canada at $60 off and The Canadair Sabre at $10 off (not to forget about CANAV’s free book” offer on p.4). So … here you go. You won’t go wrong by jumping in to enrich your aviation library today!

Click Here for the New CANAV Books List 2017-18

CF-104 Warbird Emerges

Those dedicated to the warbird scene are an inveterate bunch. Even though hardly any original WWI aircraft survived the 1920s, all over the world dedicated and amazingly skilled replica builders and pilots have put hundreds of full scale and scaled-down versions into the air of such classic types as the Nieuport, SE.5, Sopwith Pup and Fokker Triplane. Then, ever since war’s end in 1945, countless WWII warbirds have returned to the skies. That movement seems to grow annually, to the extent that in 2017 there are now more airworthy Hurricanes, Mustangs, Spitfires, etc. than ever. The Korean War era is represented by  MiG-15s and Sabres, Southeast Asia by anything from the Cessna O-2 to the thundering F-4, on and on.


Canada has kept up with its own flying warbirds. In one case, around 1950 several Lysanders were crop dusting in the prairies (the company had the niftiest motto — “Weed ’em and Reap”), and all through the 1950s Spartan Air Services of Ottawa kept such types as the Mosquito and Ventura busy in the aerial survey business. In the 1960s, a P-40 and Vampire flew privately in Alberta, and there were ex-RCAF Harvards (some bought from the government for a few hundred dollars) flying all across the country. Also from the 1960s, fleets of A-26s, Avengers, B-25s and Martin Mars (even one Lancaster) were busy annually in the west dousing forest fires. As these gradually retired, you could count on them joining the hobby and museum sides of the warbirds movement. Such organizations as the Canadian Warplane Heritage and the Great War Flying Museum have performed miracles in keeping airworthy warbirds and replicas in the public eye.


In the 1960s Canadair at Montreal/Cartierville turned out hundreds of CF-104 and F-104G Starfighters. These served numerous air forces, the RCAF receiving about 200. Dubbed the “Missile with a Man in It”, the Starfighter proved to be a marvellous and versatile design (see such books as Starfighter: A Loving Retrospective of the CF-104 Era in Canadian Aviation 1961-1986 (the original such book, Bashow), Canadian Starfighter: The CF-104 and CF-104D in Canadian Service 1961-1986 (Martin, the newest), Canadian Profile CF-104 Starfighter (McIntyre), Starfighter CF-104 (Stachiw & Tattersall) and Canadair: The First 50 Years (Pickler & Milberry). If you have the least interest in CF-104 history, you can find most of these for sale on line using a Google search).


Many Canadair-built F-104s/CF-104s survive in museums all over the world, and at least four are known to have been restored to airworthiness, including ex-RCAF 12637. Having served Canada from 1962-72, it transferred to the Royal Norwegian Air Force, where it flew into 1983. After years in storage, it was acquired by a group of CF-104 supporters who set out to make it airworthy again. If you go here /starfighter-test-flight/ you can see the full story leading to “637” flying again last year. This is well worth a good look. Meanwhile, enjoy a few miscellaneous CF-104 photos right here:

Starfighter Gallery Here are a few CF-104 photos from my own archive, just typical photos of the millions taken over the decades by those fascinated by this classic “Fighter of the Fifties”. Enjoy these 1-0-4 pix taken in the 1960s-80 by Les Corness and me:


Who has ever seen a “snakier” looking jet fighter than Lockheed’s F-104? The first that I got up close to was 12700, which was in Toronto for the 1965 Canadian National Exhibition. Here it is at Malton airport near Toronto, about to be trucked down to the CNE. “700” had begun as USAF F-104A 56-0770. After working in the development program at Edwards and Eglin AFBs, it was stored until c.1959, when it became the prototype F-104G — the version aimed at NATO and other allies. In 1963 it became Canada’s first 1-0-4, then served with Central Experimental and Proving Establishment at RCAF stations Cold Lake (Alberta) and Uplands (Ottawa). In 1969 it was turned over to Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa, where you may see it today. Naturally, for Toronto’s few airplane spotters, getting ramp access at Malton on August 14, 1965 to photograph “700” was a very big deal.    
In June 1967 I travelled to Ottawa with my airplane spotting pals Paul Regan and Nick Wolochatiuk. As usual, we travelled in Nick’s well-travelled VW, The big draw was Canada’s Centennial Airshow at Rockcliffe, then still an RCAF station. Having attended the show on Saturday, we used some connection to get on the tarmac at Uplands where several CF-104s were beautifully lined up. Here is 12783 as it looked that Sunday morning (June 11). This bird today is with the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum at Halifax International Airport.

CF-104s, CF-5s and CF-101s on the ramp at Uplands the same day. By this time I had learned (mainly from Mo Reddy and Nick Wolochatiuk) that there was more than one was to photograph airplanes.

I was on the road again on the weekend of September 1-2, 1971. Most of the aircraft for that year’s CNE Airshow were flying from Trenton, so that was the big draw. A few CF-104s were present, one of which (104772) had some sort of emergency on returning to base. Here it sits mid-field as the base fire fighters stand ready. On April 18, 1973 this 417 Sqn Starfighter crashed on the range at Cold Lake, killing Capt J.K. Salter.


On our August 31, 1975 swan to Trenton to photograph CNE Airshow planes, I snapped this angle on CF-104 104790 (Nick was a proponent of using relevant foreground in photo composition, something that gradually rubbed off on his buddies). This also was the first we had even gotten close to the F-15, and the Thunderbirds with their T-38s were very exciting as they returned from their Toronto performance. After some years as an air force ground training aid, “790” found its way to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. On 104711 note that small appendage near the exhaust. Maybe a radar warning device? Anyone know? “711” survives today in a Turkish museum.

The great Edmontonian, Les Corness, took these three photos. I tell his story in The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection, a wonderful book which (after 12 years) Edmonton has not yet discovered and seems determined never to do so. No one did more to record Edmonton’s aviation and rail heritage than did Les, his father and his brothers Dennis and Norm. It’s just a shame how such things go, but there sometimes simply no dragging people into the light. I really enjoy this candid shot of Les’ showing Starfighters leaping into the air at Moose Jaw on June 29, 1968 as four local airshow rubes watch in amazement.

Having begun photographing in the late 1930s, Les always had his connections around Edmonton’s airports. By some good fortune, on June 24, 1963 he was at RCAF Station Namao a bit north of the city. I wonder what was going on? Maybe these new CF-104s were being tweaked up before delivery to 6 ST/R OTU at Cold Lake or to 1 Canadian Air Group in NATO? Nearest is 12755, which spent its career with 1CAG, before transferring to the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 1973, where it flew for a decade. Today, it’s on display at Kjeller Air Base.

Not an every day sight … an amazing mass fly-by with a dozen 1-0-4s in nice close formation. Les captured this rare scene at Cold Lake on July 3, 1977. Any old-time 1-0-4 man will hear that unique whine of J-79s and smell the JP4!

Abbotsford Airshow action … Starfighters on the ramp there on August 13, 1976. A shot like this could be made if a fellow could get up on a refuelling truck, into the cockpit of a C-5A, onto a hangar roof, etc. We always took any such opportunity. Nearest is “750”, which ended its days ingloriously as a ground training aid with 1CAG.


Starfighter 104652 served the Aerospace Engineering and Test Establishment at Cold Lake for years, before being shipped to Toronto, where it’s now memorabilia at Canadian Forces College.

A typical scene at Baden-Soellingen showing a 441 Sqn CF-104 being readied for a mission. Beyond is a standard NATO “HAS” — hardened aircraft shelter”. These would protect against most conventional weapons, but everyone in 1CAG knew that if ‘the balloon” ever went up, every such NATO base would be nuked within the first hour or two of WWIII. Mutual assured destruction was the secret to keeping that from happening, and it worked. Such “assurance” is not so readily available in 2017.

CF-104s ready for action at Lahr on July 7, 1982.


Aircraft “743” at Baden-Soellingen on April 17, 1978. Note the 441 Sqn “Checker Board” emblem on the rudder. In 1986 “743” became one of 54 Starfighters transferred to Turkey. Today, it’s on display at a trade school in Jordan.


Starfighter RT-664, seen at Baden-Soellingen on April 17, 1978, was Canadian to 1972, then Danish to 1984. It went for scrap in 2012. When on any such base it was always great fun when a visitor like this one dropped by.

A pair of Dutch F-104Gs at Baden also on April 17, 1978. There might have been a mini-NATO air conference going on, but maybe these fellows just dropped by for lunch.

For Canadair’s anniversary celebrations at Dorval on June 10, 1994 this lovely CF-104 2-seater was on the ramp. You’ll see it if you visit the wonderful museum at RCAF Trenton.
To finish this little gallery, here’s another of the countless photos of Canada’s CF-104s. “787” and “790” are seen taxing in at Trenton on August 31, 1975. The first went to Turkey in 1986 (it crashed there on January 24, 1990), the second ended as scrap. Keep reading up on the great deeds and aircraft of the RCAF. Two of your best possible books to get you well informed are CANAV’s own Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 and Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace (3 huge volumes). They’re both on sale in your new CANAV list.

CAE Family Day 2017


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A real highlight of the plant tour for CAE Family Day 2017 was getting a close look (even a visit to the flight deck) of one of the world’s most advanced flight simulators. Here are a couple of scenes from this year’s Family Day, held on September 23. Nearest is a “sim” (full flight simulator — FFS) for the new CSeries jetliner – it’s almost ready for delivery. Then, a display explaining “Methods” – how parts get machined, completed, inspected, delivered down the line for assembly, etc.

Each year CAE throws its doors wide open, inviting in its huge extended family for “Family Day”. This is a truly wonderful event. This year alone, some 10,000 attended, all welcomed to tour through almost every nook and cranny in CAE’s vast facility on the edge of Dorval airport. Moms, dads, children, grandparents, retirees and friends all enjoyed every minute from early morning to late afternoon. Entering at the front door, the crowds were guided towards the shop floor, “where it all begins” – the process of manufacturing a flight simulator. The tour kicked off at the “raw materials” start line. Nothing here looks anything like a flight simulator. It’s just piles of materiel and all sorts of machines and processes going on. For Family Day actual production was shut down, but at each work station were volunteers to explain or demonstrate what goes on – milling or plating a part, cutting or assembling sheet metal, installing wiring, etc. There were line-ups all along the way and great fun for the little ones — clown acts, acrobats, etc. As the crowd moved along, people could see how an actual flight simulator takes shape.
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A display of flight simulator motion system hydraulic components. Since CAE’s first motion system-equipped flight simulators in the 1960s-70s (early DC-8, 747, etc.), “sims” were powered by heavy-duty hydraulic systems. Periodically, there was talk of using electric power, but no such system could handle the heavy installations and punishing cycles. In the 1990s, however, R&D led to lighter installations and improved electrical power systems. These have been perfected and now are universally used. However, CAE continues supporting older hydraulically-powered “sims”, many of which remain in use around the world. See Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story for the history of how technology has evolved at CAE over the last 70 years. Then, a view showing CAE family members checking out an electronics equipment display.

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All of a sudden, this “aviator” from some other planet dropped from the sky to stir things up among the families.

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This station demonstrated the key phase whereby a new flight simulator gets “wired up”. Miles of electrical wiring are needed to bring a big FFS up to operating standards.

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As I walked through CAE’s main plant, the nose of a Beech 350 King Air (formerly C-FRLD of Carson Air) caught my eye. Sitting there, it looked like scrap metal. Before long, however, C-FRLD will be re-manufactured as an “all new” flight training device. In an earlier such case, CAE converted a MiG-29 jet fighter ready for scrap into a new MiG-29 flight simulator for the Malaysian Air Force. Using a discarded airframe is a practical solution vs paying for an expensive new factory-made airframe, or building up a new facsimile structure in the CAE shops. While the typical new CAE FFS, does start with an all-new cockpit frame manufactured in the sheet metal department, for “one off” devices such as the King Air, renovating a discarded airframe makes a lot of sense, especially to the customer.

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Here’s another example of the same practical solution. On the right is a well-worn actual Airbus A320 throttle quadrant. The A320 FFS cockpit certainly needs one of these, but a new one is cost-prohibitive. On the left is how the restored component looks.

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Airbus EC135 helicopter flight simulators near completion on the shop floor at CAE.

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The cockpit structure of a new airliner FFS takes shape in CAE’s sheet metal department.

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Super-thin, super-reflective Mylar is essential to any CAE FFS visual system. Notice in this Family Day display how magnificently the ceiling is reflected in the Mylar. In early days, CAE depended on outside suppliers for FFS visual system. Through years of R&D, however, CAE attained world-class status manufacturing its own visual systems.

Finally, at the top end of the vast manufacturing facility, several complete full slight simulators were sitting ready for customer acceptance.


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Pilots soon will be training on the CSeries FFS. Then, a CAE MD-11 FFS manufactured ages ago in 1992 for the UPS fleet. Presently, it is back for complete modernization. Just for fun, for Family Day it was programmed to “dance” to some popular tunes. Originally with a hydraulically powered motion system, this FFS has been retrofitted with electric power.

Moving from the production bays, families passed through a hall of CAE history with displays and activities to interest anyone. I was fascinated to see some early products about which I had only heard, while researching the history of CAE a few years ago. Included were priceless artifacts from CAE’s “Consumer Products” department of the early 1950s – Dumont/CAE television sets, high end sound systems of the day including a rare radios/record player combo, a portable radio, even one of CAE’s battery-powered portable scintillometers, used by prospectors searching for minerals.


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“Ancient history” – a beautifully-crafted 1950-vintage home entertainment system – the CAE “Sonoramic Mark II” radio-record player combination. While watching one little guy scrutinizing this equipment, I saw him look down at the turntable and happily conclude, “Oh, it’s a CD player.” Then, a close-up showing the tuning panel. Third, attached to the unit’s back is its authenticating data plate. Too bad that I didn’t have these photos for The CAE Story, but it’s fun to be able to add them now as blog images.

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In Montreal in the early 1950s,CAE was assembling DuMont TV sets (from that New York company’s high-end line). CAE initially sold lots of these, but in the long run could not compete with such big producers as RCA, or such entrenched retailers as Eatons. Next … a 1950s CAE “Lodestar” portable radio and one of CAE’s portable scintillometers used in the search for metals. See The CAE Story for more about CAE’s consumer products years.

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Family Day along the CAE “Museum” corridor with beautiful 1950s CAE/Dumont TV sets in the background. Then, Larry Milberry autographing a copy of The CAE Story. Finally, CAE retirees Richard Valiquette and Hani Macramalla (a long-serving CAE Electronics Ltd. executive), Larry again, plus Robert, an officer with 785 Air Cadet Squadron visiting from St-Eustache, Quebec. (CAE & Andrea Marcoux photos)

From the history displays came more kids activities and, downstairs, where there were outstanding displays of aerospace training equipment, and demonstrations of CAE Healthcare’s latest medical training aids. CAE Family Day 2017 was a real summer highlight for anyone lucky enough to be there.


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Much advanced pilot and technical training now can be done using programs loaded into laptops. CAE has been on the leading edge of this type of training.

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One of the human-like training aids marketed by CAE Healthcare.

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Being CAE’s 70 th anniversary, there’s a big emphasis on company heritage. One important recent event was naming a street (with appropriate plaque) not far from the plant to honour CAE founder, Kenneth R. Patrick. In this photo taken at the naming are (on the left) CAE V-P Communications, Hélène Gagnon, City of St-Laurent Mayor DeSousa and CAE President Marc Parent. Far right is Ken Patrick’s grandson, Glenn. Then, a 2017 Family Day CAE volunteer shows off the Ken Patrick street sign.

Anyone with a connection to CAE will want a copy of Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story. To get you copy autographed by the author send $80.85 to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6; or send that amount by PayPal to

For more details about the book (and to order a copy on line) check out the rest of right here. There lots more CAE history and info if you scroll back (all the way to 2015, if you have the time).

Announcing … Three “Must Read” Canadian books now available from CANAV and … Important Norseman News!



Bush Hawk Rick Found’s detailed history of Canada’s famous Found Brothers Aviation. Having written the original history of FBA (see Air Transport in Canada) I can highly recommend this fine new book. Bush Hawk covers everything from the early Found years to the late 1940s FBA-1 “Green Hornet”, then on to the FBA-2C bushplane. Production ensues in 1963, but there are steady company’s woes. Sales are difficult and there is head-butting in the marketplace with Cessna, Piper, etc. FBA is forced to close its doors, then comes a failed effort under new management with the FBA Centennial 100. FBA is revived again in the 1980s, produces the outstanding Bush Hawk, morphs into the Expedition company, then fades again in the 2000s. This is an important Canadian story, on a parallel with the Fleet 50, Fairchild Husky, Avian 180, ST-27, etc. Highly recommended for anyone seriously following Canada’s great aviation heritage. 199pp, softcover, photos. $27.50 A

Blog 1A DSC_4065 Blog 1B DSC_4421During my travels this summer in Northwestern Ontario I came across three of the original 1963-64 FBA-2s, including C-FRXJ near Nestor Falls. These rugged old work horses barely hiccup decade after decade, clear proof that the Founds designed a good one starting back in the 1940s. On the same trip I spotted 1990s Bush Hawk C-FEJM at Red Lake. Cheers … Larry


Exile Air: World War II’s Little Norway in Toronto and Muskoka Andrea Baston has spent years working on this epic WWII story. To begin, she provides detailed background ref. the 1940 Nazis invasion of Norway, and how Norway and the UK struggled to stave off disaster. Coverage of the air war includes RNoAF 1920s Fokkers and RAF biplane Gladiators putting up strenuous opposition.

Norway is overwhelmed, but the government, treasury and many citizens make it to the UK. By June 1940 arrangements are made to establish a Norwegian air training plan in Canada. “Little Norway” is established at Toronto Island Airport, with almost a hundred aircraft initially assigned, Curtiss P-36 fighters included. Training officially begins in November. All the details are here, including the expected growing pains and how Little Norway dovetailed with the BCATP. Besides all the training, contracts, administration, housing, sports, social life in Toronto and — sad to say — accidents all are part of this outstanding book. Little Norway adds a base in Muskoka to the north, where pilots train on the Fairchild Cornell. Eventually, the Norwegian graduates man RAF squadrons flying Spitfires, Catalinas, etc. All this also is carefully covered in detail.

Many personal profiles (based on in-depth research and interviews) are interwoven and everything is carefully covered to war’s end, the aftermath included, e.g., important events such as unveiling the commemorative monuments in Toronto and Muskoka. This nicely-produced, 240-page softcover is one of the most important Canadian aviation stories in recent years. Many photos, essential maps, notes, bibliography, index. An all-around beauty of an aviation book. $30.00 + $12.00 Canada Post + $2.10 tax = $ 44.10 (Canada). USA and overseas CDN$52.00.

Blog 3 Bagotville BookBagotville: 75 Years of Air Defence Here’s the info about Canada’s aviation blockbuster book for 2017. It’s a heavy duty effort – 512 pages, hardcover, some 1600 photos, 30 paintings and colour profiles – on and on, so no one will be disappointed in this wonderful production. Marc-André has done his usual in-depth coverage, assembling the exciting history of one of the great RCAF air stations, while blending both languages in his attractive/seamless layout. The book begins with WWII, with Bagotville training fighter pilots on the Harvard and Hurricane. Many famous aces pass through on instructing tours, many students go on to stellar careers. Next, comes the postwar era with Vampires, Sabres and CF-100s – all the historic squadrons, especially the all-weather CF-100 units – 440 and 432 form with CF-100 Mk.3s in 1953-54. Then come steady developments – 440 goes overseas, 413 forms up, the CF-100 Mk.4 and 5 arrive, there’s a steady stream of NORAD exercises, etc.
The CF-100 gives way to the CF-101 Voodoo era (410 and 425 sqns), then the tactical world arrives with the CF-5 and the renowned 433 Squadron. Finally come he CF-18 Hornet years with 425 Sqn. The evolution of Base Flight/439 Sqn is also covered – from T-33 to Griffon helio. Many other aspects of life at “YBG” are included in this huge colour production, from DEW Line helicopter times to Air Cadets and airshows. So don’t think that this overview begins to cover all the exciting content – the photo presentations alone will knock you out!

All things considered, Marc-André’s book is a bargain at the sticker price of $60.00. Add $12.00 for postage (Canada only) + tax $3.60 … Total in Canada $75.60


How to order? Let me know which of these lovely books you wish. Pay the sticker price, add (Canada only) $12.00 for one book, or $16.00 for two or more (USA and overseas send me an email to get a shipping price). You can use PayPal (pay to, or post a cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6.

Norseman Updates: New Pix of CF-GLI

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Recently, Jim Campbell of Winnipeg submitted these two lovely photos of Norseman CF-GLI, which he took at Snow Lake, Manitoba in 2008. In 2017 “GLI” is a restoration project in the Netherlands:

Other Norseman News

This summer brought some newsworthy Norseman activity. For one thing, in July I attended the Norseman Festival in Red Lake. This year’s event was just the best fun, pretty well the whole town and lots of visitors turning out around Howey Bay to watch the usual floatplane activity, line up for flights in the Norseman, Otter and Caravan, and enjoy the practices and shows by the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team, and the bushplane fly-past. There also were wonderful dinners at the Legion, a great ribs BBQ in the park, and fun and games in Centennial Park. Just a super weekend. Here are a few photos:

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Two new “takes”on Red Lake’s famous “Town Norseman” CF-DRD.

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Red Lake’s work-a-day Chimo Air Norsemans CF-JIN and CF-KAO at the dock at Howey Bay. Then, a closer view of JIN and one of KAO offloading passengers after a sightseeing ride.

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Chimo Air has been expanding. Added to the fleet recently is turbine-powered Otter C-FODG.

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The Green family’s own Norseman CF-ZMX was one of the first bushplanes operated by Bearskin Airways. From humble beginnings, Bearskin today is one of the major airlines operating between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, and many points north.

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This important part of Northern Ontario is founded on gold mining, a story that dates to the Red Lake Gold Rush of 1925-26. It was the bushplane that opened up the area and allowed the whole Red Lake economy to develop. Here’s an aerial view in July of one of the great mines at Cochenour, a few minutes’ drive from Red Lake.

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An aerial view of Red Lake taken this July of the head of Howey Bay, where the main bushplane docks are found.


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The CHAT Harvards arriving at Red Lake for the 2017 Norseman Festival. Then, views of the team performing over Howey Bay.

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This year’s Norseman Festival even included a Norseman tattoo competition!

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Norseman author Larry Milberry visits Lemar Weaver’s excellent shop “Treasure House of Red Lake”. Lemar supports CANAV’s “Aviation in Canada” series, as well as Rich Hulina’s fantastic book Bush Flying Captured.

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Sad to say, but just a couple of weeks after the Norseman Festival, a severe hail storm struck around Howey Bay. All four Norsemans were badly damaged. Retired Red Lake bush pilot, Joe Sinkowski, sent me this detail showing the serious damage to CF-DRD. Repairs are going to be costly and lengthy.


In case you still don’t yet have your 2-volume set of Norseman books, let me know at, and I’ll send you the info you need to place your order. This is one Canadian aviation history that you’ll happy to add to your library. It will give you decades of enjoyment.

Montreal Aviation Museum Acquires Norseman CF-GYY

Other very big Norseman news this summer comes from Robert St-Pierre, director of the absolutely amazing Montreal Aviation Museum: “Last Friday [September 1] with a little delay, our Norseman was finally delivered to us … All the parts are now stored in the 40’ trailer, the fuselage will be transferred inside in the west wing. Find in attachment a few pictures of the day and one showing it in its operational days in Ontario. Thank you to all the volunteers that were able to come in help for this very special day.”

This was a huge achievement in 2017 Norseman heritage. The plane is CF-GYY, which had been rusting away for years in Kuby’s airplane maintenance base and scrapyard in Kenora.

CF-GYY originally was a 1945 US Army UC-64. Delivered late in the war, it saw little service before being disposed of to a buyer in Michigan. In 1950 it joined Vancouver-based Queen Charlotte Airlines, then served various Northern Ontario operators from 1953. It ended in Kuby’s yard following a 1985 accident.

The MAM plans to restored CF-GYY to the specifications of the 1935 Norseman prototype CF-AYO.

Here are four photos from Robert St-Pierre showing the Norseman arriving at Ste-Anne de Bellevue, located a few miles west of Montreal. I like that great shot of the MAM volunteers doing the heavy lifting that day. The final shot (from the late Mike Ody’s collection) shows CF-GYY during its working days.
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Here is your contact info for the MAM: email Tel (514) 398-7948 Location: McGill University, Macdonald Campus, 21 – 111 Lakeshore Road, P.O. Box 64 Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec H9X 3V9.














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 for further information. Cheers … Larry Milberry



Homebuilding Roots in Canada

The original powered airplanes were “one off” homebuilts, the “Silver Dart” (built and first flown at Glenn Curtiss’ farm in Hammondsport, NY in 1908) being first to succeed in Canada. J.A.D. McCurdy flew it in Cape Breton in February 1909. Since then, homebuilding has been part of Canada’s aeronautical fabric.

WWI brought advances in aeronautics that boosted postwar homebuilding. For a few hundred dollars in the 1920s-30s, anyone could build a tiny Corben, Heath, Pietenpol, etc., and many did. However, with recreational flying on hold through WWII, all such planes were grounded.

Homebuilding was slow to re-emerge, but it did – one project at a time, modified Taylor Cub CF-ANT-X possibly being the first. Then, in the 1950s several homebuilders started a movement. Led by pioneers Keith Hopkinson and Gus Chisholm of Goderich, the first Canadian branch of the US-founded Experimental Aircraft Association arose. Soon there were EAA chapters across Canada.

Some really enjoyable events in my early days as an aviation fan were flying club and EAA breakfast fly-ins. A few of us kids usually attended, armed with our twin-lens cameras. On a typical sunny weekend, among the 250 planes showing up at the Oshawa Flying Club on June 18, 1961 were eight little homebuilts each with an “R” registration — “R” for restricted: Corben Baby Aces CF-RAO and CF-RCB, Jodel Bébés CF-RAM and CF-RBE, White Parasol CF-RCT and modified Taylorcraft, Piper J-2 and J-3 CF-RAG, CF-RAS and CF-RCX.

Above is a shot I took on July 9, 1961 at the Waterloo-Wellington fly-in showing Keith Hopkinson taxiing his famous Stitts Playboy “Little Hokey” CF-RAD. This was Canada’s first officially registered (1954) post-WWII homebuilt. Years later I learned from Gus Chisholm that CF-RAD had cost about $1000 and took 1200 hours over 11 months to build. It weighed 685 lb empty, 960 all-up, and was 17’4” long with a 22’ wingspan. With its 100-hp Lycoming, it cruised at 125 mph, burning about five gallons of fuel per hour. To illustrate the meaning of “homebuilt”, CF-RAD had a Piper engine cowling, Cessna 170 spinner, Tiger Moth struts, Cessna 140 undercarriage and Stinson wheel pants. Today you can see this wonderful little aviation treasure at Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa.

Corben Baby Ace CF-RAC

At the same time that “Hoppy” Hopkinson was building his Playboy, his pal Gus Chisholm was building a Corben Baby Ace. Through their enthusiasm, many others in Canada were getting involved in the homebuilding movement.

The Baby Ace was designed about 1932 by West Virginian, O.G. “Ace” Corben. Having learned about it in a 1955 issue of “Mechanix Illustrated”, Gus ordered plans for $125. Just scrounging for the bits ‘n pieces was a chore – wood, steel, wheels, struts, fabric, instruments, an engine, etc. Luckily, one day Gus found an old 65-hp Continental, for which he paid $100. He slowly built his Baby Ace wings at home in his basement, while the fuselage took shape in Keith’s “Sky Harbour” hangar on the edge of Goderich. Finally, after 2 years, 8 months and 15 days of meticulous effort, the Baby Ace was done. Registered CF-RAC (Gus’ initials) and christened “Bits and Pieces”, it had cost $620. Keith did the taxi tests on August 1, 1958, made the first flight on the 3rd, then Gus took up CF-RAC the same day.

“Little Hokey” and “Bits and Pieces” became the talk of the homebuilding movement throughout Canada and south of the border. Many an enjoyable day’s flying followed. Each summer meant a few breakfast fly-ins and Gus once even ventured as far as Oshkosh. Finally, having logged about 200 hours in it, in July 1965 he sold CF-RAC to Tony Brown in nearby Stratford. Tony flew it to the 381:45-hour mark by the time he sold CF-RAC in 1977. Other owners followed until 2017 when, more than 50 years since first flight, “Bits ‘n Pieces” is still on the go, owned in Guelph in 2017 by Canada’s famous aircraft restorers – “The Tiger Boys”.

Over the decades, many pilots added “Bits ‘n Pieces” to their logbooks. Keith Hopkinson’s son, John, made his first flight in it on May 16, 1962. From Guelph, pilots have included pioneer post-WWII homebuilder, Andy McKimmon (May 1, 1993) to Fern Villeneuve, none other than leader the RCAF Golden Hawks in 1959-60 (September 18, 2005). To July 2017 the famous little Canadian beauty had logged 783.5 flying hours. Meanwhile, the Tiger Boys, always eagle-eyed about preserving aviation heritage, have acquired another of Canada’s 1950s homebuilts – Jodel D.9 Bébé CF-RAM. Above is a photo I took of Steve Gray landing CF-RAC at Guelph on November 25, 2007. Below, Gus Chisholm beside his pride and joy on the same day (Gus has since passed on).