40 Years for CANAV Books Part 4 + Norseman News + A Robert Finlayson “Slide Show”

Norseman Update: Visit to Norseman Festival website www.norsemanfestival.on.ca/airworthy-norseman-list-2019/ to get the latest news, including what’s happening with the restoration of Red Lake’s famous Norseman CF-DRD. Also, see the great list there by Rodney Kozar of Norseman survivors current to 2020.

Formidable Hero Update:

(Click on any image to see it full screen.) In Part 3, I didn’t show you the cover art for the first edition of A Formidable Hero. Here it is. I’ve always liked the looks of any cover by designer Robin Brass. Look how attractively he set up the front and back cover design for this dust jacket.
Here’s another short “episode” of the CANAV Books story. Last time we arrived into the mid-1980s with The Bremen, Woody, and A Formidable Hero. Just lately I was flipping through some fine old copies of that incomparable UK journal, “Aviation News” when, in Vol.16, No.17, January 1989, I spotted reviews for Woody and A Formidable Hero, very nice write-ups that I hadn’t noticed until 30+ years later. Better late than never, that’s for sure. Note how on the same page Woody is followed by a review of A Formidable Hero. Since the latter mirrors the first (it’s mainly a quickie outline of the book’s content (not really a review) I don’t include it today, but still do appreciate any such mention.
My invoice from T.H. Best for 2124 copies of Woody. Next day I received the invoice for A Formidable Hero — $8904.61 for 2066 copies. Naturally, I took the 2%/10 days discount offer. I never fretted too much about expenses, knowing that there was a good chance that any such book eventually would return its expenses and maybe even turn a small profit.

Canada’s Air Force Today & AIRCOM 1987 & 1991

The cover art for our 1987 best selling book, Canada’s Air Force Today. In researching for this one, I spent about two years on the road visiting and flying with squadrons from Comox to West Germany. The air force opened all the stops to make sure that I got to photograph anything I needed. Imagine getting to shoot all these scenes anf f;y in most of the planes with the air force’s full co-operation!

For this session I’ll pick things up with our blockbuster 1987 and 1991 titles, Canada’s Air Force Today and AIRCOM: Canada’s Air Force. This pair served well in updating Sixty Years of 1984 fame. We also put out a 24-page 1991 update for CAFT. All this was done when there was next to nothing else coming out in books about contemporary Canadian military aviation history.

These were really exciting times for CANAV, for the air force in those years had command people who appreciated our efforts. In researching for these books, I was welcomed to air force bases from Greenwood and Summerside to Namao and Comox, and invited to fly in all the aircraft in service, whether the humble Musketeer trainer, Tracker and Aurora patrol planes, the mighty Voodoo and Hornet fighters, T-33 and Tutor jet trainers, and all the helicopters. In these long ago times, AIRCOM commanders would be calling CANAV to invite me to special events, even to ride along on major overseas operations. These days CANAV Books doesn’t even qualify to receive RCAF press releases. But … times change and we go with the flow and get our books out one way or the other.

Front and back of the AIRCOM dust jacket. Then, a sample page from my fading old passenger log book showing some of of the great flying I got in when doing my field work for Canada’s Air Force Today. I sure am glad that I kept up my rough little log books. Without such records no one could piece together such a history. This page alone shows that I flew in 9 different AIRCOM types in about 5 weeks.

Both of these books were well received. Canada’s Air Force Today sold out its 4000 first printing. Then, McGraw Hill-Ryerson did a 6000 reprint that also sold out. AIRCOM followed (4000 copies). Both now are long out-of-print, but you always can find good, affordable copies on the web. I still hear from readers about how much they continue to enjoy these detailed, authoritative histories of Canada’s air force 3 – 4 decades ago.

The invoices due for CAFT and AIRCOM. Each came as a bit of a wake-up call to CANAV, as we learned a bit more about book publishing day by day. Somehow, the bills always got paid on time, even in advance. In unearthing such ancient CANAV paperwork, I’ve been getting a better historic overview of CANAV. Something like an old invoice nails down the exact print run (incorrect numbers sometimes have appeared due to fading memory cells). Gradually, I’ll get all this squared away for the final version of this wee history.

Both of our modern day air force books were widely reviewed, including CAFT by Hector Lindsay in the 1989 “Canadian Book Review Annual”, one of the top sources for library acquisition staff. Canadian librarians ordered many copies of CAFT and AIRCOM, but, mysteriously, by 2020 they had lost all interest in such important Canadian subject matter. I suspect that this has something to do with Canada’s new national religion which worships at “The Church of Political Correctness”. Airplanes carrying bombs and rockets are nasty things for the PC crowd to contemplate, and Canadian public institutions such as libraries certainly at dominated by political correctness. Also of interest, if you check the usually puny aviation bookshelf in a typical Canadian public library, you’ll mainly find American books. In 2020 not one Canadian library ordered a single book from CANAV. In comparison, 25 years ago public librarians eagerly would anticipate receiving their seasonal CANAV Books mailing. Meanwhile, your neighbourhood library today has no shortage of the latest in American published sexercise books and many other such edifying “quality” titles. Canadian aviation? Not so much, although there are a few library branches where serious Canadian non-fiction still is respected. Perhaps there’s a public librarian out there with an explanation? But … I digress.

Hector’s critique is refreshingly different. Commenting on Canada’s declining defence budgets, he suggested (tongue in cheek, I suspect), “Perhaps Milberry’s book will help to tip the scales, as he illustrates how much our Air Force has managed to do with so little”! He adds, “The illustrations … are outstanding in every way … The author has done all Canadians a service with this loving portrait of our Air Force.” You must be convinced by now that CANAV must have paid Hector handsomely for this write-up, but … not so. I never knew Hector. He just told it as he read it. Good job, Hector, even if the people who need to see such solid commentary – RCAF HQ and library acquisitions people, for example — almost never seem to find such reviews as they coast along semi-oblivious to the importance of our military aviation heritage.

As you’ve seen by now in this series, the sources of book reviews vary. Some are local, such as a small town weekly, or, a base newspaper. Others are national, such as the “Globe and Mail” or aviation periodicals such as “Air Classics”, “Flypast”, or quarterlies such as the “Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal”. The US Navy’s authoritative journal, “The Hook”, wrote about AIRCOM in its Spring 1992 issue: “An up-to-date account of military aviation in Canada … a spectacular collection of over 300 color photographs … attractive layout, informative captions and overall attention to detail.” Nice, eh, but I suspect that no one in today’s RCAF HQ reads “The Hook”. Too bad. Further praise for both books came from the “Journal of Military Aviation” (July/August 1992): “Both are superb photographic collections … highly recommended.”

Topping AIRCOM’s reception is the lead review from “Aviation News” of December 20, 1991. This begins by congratulating CANAV for having survived its first 10 years in business, then outlines the book’s content in predictable style, concluding: “It is a timely production … Certainly an authoritative comment on a varied and contemporary subject.” With this kind of wide support, a small publisher back in those times could get the word about any such new book spread around the world in about a year.

Power: The Pratt and Whitney Canada Story 1989

Being in English and French editions, Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story/Propulsion: L’Histoire de Pratt & Whitney Canada was CANAV’s first book in translation. Bush and Arctic pilot, and aviation journalist, Richard Beaudet, did our original translation for this book. It was not a walk in the park, since engine makers speak a very complicated language. Here is the stunning cover art created for Power by the great Tom Bjarnason. Then, a snapshot of Tom (nearest) in research times. On this day we were touring Pratt’s Plant 22 in Mississauga. Manager John Blackie was showing us a beautiful new PW205B turbine engine, as Tom was filling his head with dreams of cover art. Does anyone know where Tom’s original cover art is today? It has to be somewhere.

Published in 1989, Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story was CANAV’s first “mega” project. Although we already had turned out Fred Hotson’s De Havilland Canada Story, the P&WC project was different. I still recall how it all started. One day in 1987 the phone rang. When I answered, no one at the other end said “Hello”. Instead, there was this sudden blunt message: “My name is Smith. I work for Pratt & Whitney Canada. We’re having some trouble getting our company history into print. Can you help us?” That was it – a very direct call from the no-nonsense Elvie Smith, President and CEO of P&WC (CASI McCurdy Award, later Order of Canada, and Member, Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame).

Over the ensuing months there was a mad flurry of activity as I, co-author, Ken Sullivan, researcher Ken Swartz, P&WC PR vice- president, Pierre Henry, CANAV editor and graphics guru Robin Brass, and artist Tom Bjarnason teamed to complete in spectacular form the 60th anniversary history of this spectacular Canadian company. To this day, Power remains one of most beautifully presented and historically detailed aviation corporate histories. P&WC and the world loved the book from Day 1. But … what would the critics think? Well, if such a Canadian book could pass muster with Paul Dilworth, one of Canada’s senior aeronautical engineers, then Ross Wilmot, a dean among Canadian aviation journalists, let alone the great global aviation publisher, John Wegg, then I think Power “cut it” fairly well.

In his review of Power in “Engineering Dimensions” of September/October 1990, Paul summed up his thoughts: “This book is a fascinating, comprehensive history of Pratt & Whitney Canada, and contains a kaleidoscopic range of text and photographs on the company’s evolution… the book also serves as a convincing message, by example, for all Canadians concerned with our industrial health and ability to compete under free trade … Power should be required reading by Canadians responsible for the future of Canadian industry, including senior corporate executives, managers of engineering and marketing, and federal and provincial politicians, civil servants and advisors.” Talk about an endorsement! Ross Wilmot penned his own thoughts for the “Canadian Book Review Annual”, doing the expected summary of contents, then concluding (a bit blandly) how, “The book … would be of interest to general readers and aviation buffs alike.”

Bland is not the story of the great John Wegg’s review of Power in “Airways” magazine. After carefully scrutinizing our book, John described Power quite simply as, “an attractive example of how to make a company history come alive.” The “Canadian Aviation Historical Society Journal” added, “”If you have enjoyed previous books published by CANAV, you will treasure this one.”

Power Goes off the Rails

Not everything went smoothly with the P&WC project. Big trouble came with production, which was done in the old T.H. Best plant in Toronto. Dating to the 1800s, Best was Canada’s oldest book manufacturer, so could turn out a nice product. This time, however, things went south in what I sometimes call, “the primitive art of book manufacturing”. Firstly, Power went on press during a brutal heat wave and something was not working in the plant environment. The heat combined with intense humidity resulting in the entire first run being lost due to offsetting – the problem whereby ink on sheets coming off the press does not dry instantly as needed. As sheets poured off the press at Best, ink from one sheet was offsetting to adjacent sheets, in spite of liberal use of a drying powder. Astoundingly, no one caught this, the run was spoiled and we had to start over. Then … another disaster. Once the final pallets of sheets off Best’s big 72-inch Harris presses were ready for the bindery, someone again was asleep, and too much glue was used in the binding process. Something like 10,000 books were pretty well ruined before “quality control” woke up. This was about as bad a week as Best and CANAV could have, but Best made good, and P&WC was delighted with their huge shipment of some 26,000 books — half in English, half in French. Part of the shipment comprised books salvaged from the botched-up run that we found could be bound as softcovers. Soon afterward, Best went under – a sad ending for a great company. General mismanagement was to blame, after Best’s “old guard” passed control to a new generation, which didn’t connect with the complexities of printing, binding, advancing technology, marketing, customer relations, etc.

Power Makes a Comeback

P&WC’s very swish reprint and update of Power and Propulsion. I like the way the cover art mirrors that done by Tom Bjarnason decades earlier.

As the years passed, P&WC inevitably exhausted its stock of books, and CANAV sold its own 4000 copies (that’s how I had taken my payment for the project instead of in dollars). In 2012 P&WC wanted the book updated and reprinted – the company understood something about the importance of corporate history and culture, something that mainly is lost in Canadian aerospace by 2020 (the other exceptions that come to mind are Bombardier and CAE). The smoothest way to get this done was for P&WC to assume rights to the book and complete the project to its own specs. In 2013 “Pratt” turned out a straight re-print of the original book (which needed no correcting, so I heard), then produced a smaller companion volume covering 1990 to 2013. These books are presented in an attractive slipcase. The only glitch was that our Tom Bjarnason cover art was nowhere to be found. I had thought that it had stayed with Pratt, but to this day it has not re-surfaced. However, Pratt had two lovely new covers produced. So it goes that our world famous 1989 Power and Propulsion heads into its 4th decade.

“Power” Book Review Surfaces from 31 Years Ago!

I’m finding lots of good reading by going through ancient copies of all those famous and revered  UK aviation periodicals. Lately, I found reviews of Woody and A Formidable Hero in “Aviation News”. Today, in flipping through “Aviation News” of August 4 – 17, 1989, to my pleasant surprise I spotted this really well-crafted and insightful review of Power. This one’s really worth a read, the reviewer was totally on the ball. 

Power remains a treasure to this day for any reader following aviation history in depth. Yes, believe it or not there is far more to our favourite hobby than airliners or fighters. Although Power is long since out-of-print, any keen reader will love this book. You can find very nice and affordable copies on the web. See what you think of this resurrected book review:

Air Transport in Canada 1997

The magnificent cover art done for Air Transport in Canada by Tom Bjarnason. You can learn more about Tom by scrolling back on the blog. There’s one item about him and his famous Port Hope studio, another about his wake. Also, find more about Tom on the web.

The research and info-gathering for this book kept me busy for years from the late 1980s. Travel alone took me to most parts of Canada and many international spots. Once we started putting things together, Robin Brass was committed for more than a year, as the book expanded. Eventually, it went to Friesen printers in Manitoba to become a 1040-page, 10-pound “monster” in two volumes having more than a million words and 3500+ photos. Why the move from Bryant Press? For one thing, Friesens was very hi-tech for the times (and has remained so), while Bryant was slower to adapt. Secondly, Friesens offered quite a better price.

Leaving Bryant was tough, for the company had been good to CANAV since 1981. It was well-run and very customer oriented. I learned the ropes there, having begun as a total dunce about book manufacturing. Founded in 1897, Bryant Press had been owned by the Weld family since 1903. In 2000 it was taken over by Gandalf Graphics of Toronto. In CANAV times, Bryant was headed by John Weld, and his son and daughter were there learning the trade. The quality of such business leaders as Mr. Weld (1928-2013) can be gauged by a few words from his obituary: “John was … educated at Ridley College and the University of Western Ontario. John started work in Winnipeg with the Farmers Advocate, but the majority of his career was with the family book manufacturing business, The Bryant Press, where he became President and C.E.O. He was a past president of the Ontario Printers Association, the Toronto Hunt Club, and a member of the Board of Governors of the North York General Hospital.”

Based in Altona, about an hour’s drive south of Winnipeg in Mennonite country, Friesens also was an old family business. When I started dealing with the company, it was still a closely-run family operation and very prosperous. The staff was tops for customer relations and quality work. Employees worked at a lower pay rate than union shops, but Friesens had a profit-sharing plan. People on the presses or in the bindery seemed like any other hourly workers, but many of them had profitted handsomely from the company’s generosity. From a fellow pushing a broom to the chairman of the board, everyone I met was friendly and helpful. The main book operation had the latest in printing and binding equipment, far ahead of Bryant and Best in Toronto (you can scroll back and see some Friesen photo coverage on the blog).

Friesens was a bit of a culture shock for a big city easterner, for the place was all Mennonite to the point that in 1997 when I started visiting, I was a bit surprised to see that men and women still had their own eating arrangements in the cafeteria. Friesens remains our printer, even if things gradually have changed in Altona. Many non- Mennonites now work at Friesens, and what once was almost at the heart of the operation – Friesens’ booming cafeteria – now is closed, replaced by a row of vending machines. All in the name of modern-day efficiency, I guess.

To compile Air Transport in Canada I travelled the world for many years starting in the late 1980s. Here are some pages from my passenger log books that help tell that story with examples from 1992 to 1995. You can see that this largely was one grand adventure. It also was hard work but all the great people met along the way and the astounding variety of places, aviation activities, weather, etc. made it an unforgettable time.

Published in 1997, ATC was the world’s largest ever such aviation history title. It also became one of the most costly trade book “indi” publishing projects in Canada. When the bills were tallied, CANAV had spent some $400,000, which it had no prospect of recovering. After almost 25 years ATC is going out of print still owing me about $100,000. C’est la guerre, oui!

Here’s the invoice for Vol.2 of Air Transport in Canada. 3649 copies came off the bindery at the final price of $161,850.38. Vol.1 totalled 3615 copies for $54,147.37. Total for the printing job? $216,578.55. With all else spent on the project, the book passed the $400,000 mark.

Once launched at the old Constellation Hotel near “YYZ” in November 1997, ATC was hailed for its fine production qualities, wide coverage, and comprehensive treatment. There never has been since, nor will there ever again be anything comparable in Canadian trade book publishing. Much comes to mind when thinking back about ATC, including how – just hours before our Constellation Hotel launch – books still had not arrived from Friesens in Manitoba, and Friesens dispatch couldn’t say where the books were, especially since there had been bad winter roads along the way from Steinbach. Finally, at about 1500 on that blustery day, the truck finally pulled in to TTS Distributing in Aurora, north of Toronto. The load totalled 3650 sets weighing about 20 tons.

Yes … aviation book publishing in Canada can be a bit crazy, and definitely is not for the faint of heart. In the end, the launch turned out, with hundreds of fans from aviation braving the nasty weather to show their interest and support. At the time, it was especially fitting how the Constellation Hotel had an actual L.1049 Super Constellation as part of its set-up. The old-time “Super Connie” people who attended were delighted that they had made the effort that evening.

How did the press view “ATC”? We were all anxious to know, of course, but when the reviews started to appear, we had no worries. Wrote “Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”: “These volumes are possibly the world’s most inclusive ever devoted to aviation history.” Added Ottawa’s famous graphics house, Aerographics: “This is the Oshkosh of aviation books”. The “Montreal Gazette” added, “Impressive! The word is sometimes misapplied to a book that is merely interesting, but for these two volumes, it may well be an understatement.” American Aviation Historical Society reviewer, Robert Parmerter, noted, “If I were to be stranded on an island and could chose just one aviation title to take, this two-volume set would be it.” Robert himself is author and producer of one of the world’s greatest modern aircraft histories, Beech 18: A Civil and Military History.

Own a Piece of Air Transport in Canada

Air Transport in Canada includes one of the finest galleries of original Canadian aviation art found in any such book. Here are three examples by one of our artists, Robert Finlayson of Hamilton. These paintings are another brilliant reason for having your own set of ATC, even for ordering several sets at our special price (see below) to use for VIP corporate gifts, etc. Here are Bob’s lovely acrylic renditions of RCAF wartime Goose 917, Don McVicar’s WWA C-46 CF-IQQ on the DEW Line as one of Don’s DC-3s arrives, then one of Spartan’s famous P-38 Lightning aero survey planes on a Whitehorse assignment in the early 1950s. The many large, original paintings from the ATC art gallery now are on the market, in case you spot one of these treasures that you really like. Prices start around $3500.

Should you still not have ATC in your aviation library, here’s the best chance to date to latch on to an autographed set. Sticker price? $155.00, but this special deal gets you ATC all-in (shipping & tax included) at CDN$65.00 for Canadian orders, CDN$80.00 USA orders, CDN$160.00 overseas orders (surface mail). Drop a note to me if any questions larry@canavbooks.com That’s it for today for CANAV history. Thanks for dropping by and stay tuned for Part 5. Meanwhile, enjoy what’s below – an exclusive slide show from a fellow “who knew what’s what” in airplane photography.

Airplane Photographer Par Excellence: Bob Finlayson

One of the really dedicated Canadian aviation hobby photographers, aviation artists and all-around serious history buffs was Robert “Bob” Finlayson of Hamilton (1930 – 2000). The Finlaysons lived on Dalewood Ave. S., a few doors from another avid aviation photographer, Jack McNulty. Jack eventually would get Bob and I together. Bob’s father was interested in aviation and his older brother, Ross, flew Mosquitos with 409 Sqn during WWII, so Bob was keen on aviation from the start. His parents ran a sporting goods store, where Bob helped for decades. He also worked in a Hamilton camera shop, where he became expert in darkroom work back in “black and white” times. Around 1950, Bob took some flying lessons. He had a motorcycle, so got around to the local airstrips, where he mainly enjoyed photographing. In 1965 Bob became Member No.441 in the nascent Canadian Aviation Historical Society.

Bob also enjoyed sketching in pencil, especially in natural settings. The birds of southern Ontario became a great passion, along with airplanes. Eventually, Bob started using oil paints. By the time I met him about 1980, he had painted many airplanes, whether in scenes, or, as impressive side profiles. In the early 1980s, he painted a nice series of colour profiles for Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984, then some lovely pieces in the mid-1990s for the art gallery in Air Transport in Canada, including two of my favourites – the RCAF Canadian Vickers Vedette and the RCAF Grumman Goose.

Besides painting, over the decades, Bob printed innumerable photos for my projects in his basement darkroom (long before digital times). Also, having a vast research library, he could always be counted on to check some obscure fact of Canadian aviation history, should I be stuck. All along, Bob lived with diabetes, which he had contracted as a child. This was serious, forcing him out of school in about Grade 5. Regardless, Bob forged ahead as if all was well, he had a best disposition. He once told me about his first helicopter ride – a flight in a medevac chopper to hospital, when he collapsed at the Hamilton airshow one year! That was typical Bob, things didn’t get him down.

Besides photographing and reading up on airplanes like a real pro, Bob was always on the go spotting birds in the outdoors. I remember going along on one of his daily walks in the countryside. A flock of crows came our way and circled. Then Bob opened a bag and started tossing out chunks of wieners. Down came the crows to enjoy Bob’s treats. He called them “my boys” and apparently this was a routine. Something else we sometimes did was drive around Hamilton Harbour to photograph the ships. Bob was always a versatile fellow with a camera. Once, he had a contract with the Foundation Co. of Canada photographing bridges.

Bob had been feeling a bit down early in 2000. Typically, he didn’t complain. Then, on March 20 that year he suddenly left us. Brother Ross gave me the bad news and a few days later called me over to take away Bob’s vast photo collection, books and a few sample paintings. Sad to say, but Bob hadn’t had time to finish the blue jay he was doing for me, so all I got was his rough for that assignment.

Over the decades I’ve been able to feature some of Bob’s photos in various books. You’ll see more in our RCAF 100 th anniversary book in 2024. For today, I’ve selected a few Finlayson Kodak Ektachromes featuring the typical light planes that Bob loved to shoot at Hamilton’s nearby Mount Hope Airport. He spent endless enjoyable days there and, if it had wings, to Bob it was always worth a frame. Mostly, Bob was shooting black and white, but usually had a “35” along loaded with a roll of Ektachrome. Some of the fellows used to prefer this transparency film vs the richer-coloured but “slower” Kodachrome. It was about Ektachrome’s “softness” and higher speed (160 ASA vs 25 or 64 for Kodachrome). For today I’ve picked a random selection of Bob’s Ektachromes from 1966-68, all but one shot at Mount Hope. Any aviation fan will love these. They’re a nice break from the airliner and jet fighter photos that seem to dominate among today’s spotters. If you scroll back in the blog to such items as the Al Martin photo gallery, you’ll find lots of further details about the airplane types shown here today.

To start this blog item, here is a very historic Finlayson colour ½ frame Kodak transparency featuring Old Hamilton Airport. Mr. Finlayson often would have taken his two boys to the airport to let them enjoy the action. That’s likely where they both got their lifelong interest. This priceless photo complements those you can see on our earlier blog item, “Old Hamilton Airport” (take a look). T.M. McGrath describes this airport (eventually known as Hamilton Municipal Airport) in detail in his ace of a 1992 book, History of Canadian Airports. He notes, in part, that in 1927: “A new airport site of 227 acres was acquired two and a half kilometers south of the Elliot field [Hamilton’s first airfield] and west of Redhill Creek. It had three sod runways 2640, 2260 and 2760 feet long … it was opened on June 6, 1929.” International Airways, Canadian Airways, Leavens Brothers and the Hamilton Aero Club used this field in its early years. McGrath adds how, “By the summer of 1931, the airport had two hard-surfaced runways and two hangars.” In October 1931 the Hamilton Aero Club assumed management of the field from the city for a nominal one dollar per year. Around 1938 Cub Aircraft of Canada became a resident. In 1940 a large, modern airport was built in the countryside near Mount Hope to accommodate the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, to which the Hamilton Aero Club moved in 1943 to be manager. Cub aircraft and Peninsula Air Service were the main residents in the immediate postwar times. McGrath notes of the old airport, “It was used by light aircraft in daylight only … In 1949 Glen White founded Trans Aircraft Ltd. from the old Cub Company, but Hamilton Municipal Airport had to close in November 1951.” Glen White then moved his business to Mount Hope. Seen in this wonderful old photo are the two original HMA hangars. Cessna 120 CF-FPB and Piper L4B CF-EGN are awaiting their next trips as kids and parents “hang over fence” at the gate. Before much longer, someone needs to write a detailed history of this historic Canadian airport. Blog reader Cameron Price (Cub Aircraft Corp. Ltd Historian) has sent me some additional info about this photo and caption. He has new information from the White family: “I immediately recognized the picture of the Hamilton Municipal Airport and the distinctive (PA12) colour scheme of CF-EGN 240C. On November 4, 1959, EGN perished in the Regina airport fire along with 2 other Cub aircraft. Glenn White’s name has cropped up often in my research [which] has also uncovered factual details that show Glenn’s involvement with Cub Aircraft, Trans Aircraft Ltd. and, in parallel, Peninsula Air Service. I believe Glenn was in fact the General Manager of Trans Aircraft in 1949 that remained as a subsidiary of TransVision Television (Canada) Ltd. following the February 1949 shareholder-inspired changes. I think that Glenn purchased Trans Aircraft around 1952 that included the Piper Aircraft distributorship, but the exact dates need further research.”
CF-LBP Piper J3C65 First appeared in Canada in 1959, when it was owned by G. Gobert of Tod Post, Manitoba. When Bob photographed it at Mount Hope on September 3, 1967, it was owned by E. Brindell of Weston, Ontario. The most recent info that I have is that “LBP” is current in the Winnipeg area. Doesn’t it looks spiffy here with its wheel pants and that simple, classic colour scheme!
Piper’s answer to the Cessna 150 in the mid- 1950s was the PA-22 Colt. The Colt’s legacy dates to the postwar PA-20 Pacer tail dragger. In 1951 Piper brought out a tricycle gear version – the PA-22 Tripacer, then further extended the series in 1960 with a 2-seat training version, the PA-22-108 Colt. Some 9490 Tripacers of all types were delivered to 1964, when the series was replaced by the new, all-metal Cherokee. CF-WSX is seen at Mount Hope on August 18, 1968. It looks very fine in this slightly rear angle (we didn’t often shoot like this, since we were so well indoctrinated about the mandatory “front ¾” view). Some time after 1982 “WSX” disappeared from the CCAR. Today’s “WSX” is a WestJet Boeing 737.
G.J. Wallis of nearby Stoney Creek owned this attractive Cessna 140 CF-LHF, when Bob photographed it on April 9, 1967. “LHF” had been imported in 1959 for Airgo, a Toronto Island-based flying school. This is a nifty example of how the serious spotters in this period would take any chance to record any airplane. “LHF” was parked nicely in the clear at the front of a hangar, so made for a decent photograph. +However, some of the anal photographers wouldn’t “waste” film on such a shot, the plane not being “out in the clear”. Talk about pitiful, no! In this period all the main hangars at Mount Hope still were those built during the war for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. These had been built to be disposable, but quite a few still stand across the country.
Cessna 150 CF-LEL is seen at Mount Hope on September 10, 1967. The “1-50” first flew in September 1957 as the replacement for the “1-40”, which had been phased out in 1951. Production ensued in 1958 and the first 1-50s soon were in Canada, Central Airways of Toronto Island Airport possibly being the first operator. Central’s “LEL” was a 1959 model. Tens of thousands of Canadian student pilots learned to fly on the 1-50 and its successor (in 1977), the 1-52. More than 22,000 1-50s were delivered, thousands of which remain in use. “LEL” still was flying in the mid- 2010s. It must have a ton of flying hours by now!
Cessnas are naturally photogenic — they are simply lovely-looking airplanes. The 1-72 first flew in 1955 as the 1- 70’s replacement. Production began in 1956. “KJK” became one of Canada’s first examples, when Grand Valley Air Services on Breslau, Ontario bought it in new in 1957. Kingsley Brown of Hamilton owned it when Bob shot it at Mount Hope on March 24, There had been a late snowfall, which always made for an extra nice shot, but Bob would have had to adjust his f-stop to compensate for the extra brightness. “KJK” may still be around somewhere, but I don’t have the data.
CF-UHQ. Bob photographed this very sleek- looking Ontario Provincial Police 1966 Cessna 172G at Mount Hope on June 4, 1967. CF-UHQ likely was on a lease to the OPP this year from Peninsula Air Service of Mount Hope. Eventually, most such police planes did not have any identity such as “OPP” showing. The policy in modern times is to remain incognito. “UHQ” is current today, based in the Montreal area.
CF-SOW The Cessna 180 continued the company’s traditional great looks. Bob shot Cessna 180G CF-SOW on November 6, 1966 in Spartan Air Services markings. Spartan had imported it the year before for some aerial surveying project, but sold it in 1970 to Douglas Hemby of Hall Beach, NWT. Other owners followed until August 20, 1988, when “SOW” crashed at Amherstburg, Ontario.
Then owned by David MacDonald of nearby Oakville, this handsome Cessna 180 was at Mount Hope on amphibious floats on June 4, 1967. Such 1-80s were perfect for summer trips to such Ontario cottage regions as Muskoka or the Kawarthas. CF-SEA disappeared from the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register in 1969. I wonder where it went …
In the postwar economic fervor that swept Canada, many young men, especially RCAF veterans back from the fighting, wanted to get into sport flying. There was no shortage of war surplus trainers at bargain prices, and hundreds of new planes from the USA were pouring into Canada at affordable prices. Here’s one of the dozens of attractive little Ercoupes.
CF-HVL was imported a bit later than usual – 1956. When Bob saw it at Mount Hope on August 13, 1967 its owner was H.H. Richardson of Ottawa. It last appeared in the CCAR in 1972. You can see why an Ercoupe creates an irresistible “photo op” for the serious aviation buffs.
Not Mount Hope. Globe Swift CF-IQW somewhere within Bob’s reach (not having his own transportation for his latter 40 or so years, he didn’t often stray far from the Hamilton area). At this time, “IQW” was owned by A.J. Dinnin of Lachine/Montreal. With its fighter plane lines, the natty Swift became one of the most beloved of American “classic” light plane designs. Today, “IQW” belongs to Ontario-based vintage airplane collector, Hannu Halminen. Besides having the essential reference books bout such designs as the Swift in your home aviation library, you usually can find their basic specs and history at wiki.
Republic Seabee CF-GAD was owned by Dennis J. Bradley when Bob shot it at Mount Hope on March 24, Dennis would go on to found the Canadian Warplane Heritage and fly many classic warplanes. Seabee No.965, “GAD” had been N6682K. In modern times it underwent the “Robinson” conversion to a 300+ hp Corvette engine. “GAD” was damaged in a crash landing on July 25, 2014. Its last known owner was the late Dr. Andy Chapeskie of Barry’s Bay.
What fine subject matter for any true fan with a camera, right! Another traditional favourite is any Luscombe, another of the types that invaded the private plane market right after the war. A 1948 Luscombe 8F, “UKZ” was imported in 1966 by Edward Lovell from the Windsor, Ontario area. He and “UKZ” were a team into 1990, when he sold “UKZ” locally. In 1996 it returned to the USA. Bob photographed it on May 13, 1967.
St. Catharines Flying Club Fleet Canuck CF-UXN at Mount Hope on July 1, 1967. I wonder if this Canuck was the one built by Leavers Brothers in Toronto in 1966 from left over parts – supposedly “the last” Canuck. That was about 20 years after Fleet had packed in Canuck production, once the Canadian market had been overrun by USA imports and war surplus Cornells, etc. In his essential 1982 book Canadian Aircraft since 1909, Ken Molson notes that Fleet built 198 Canucks, then Leavens Brothers added a batch of 26, but the last three in Ken’s list are later serial numbers 300, 305 and 306. However, “UXN” is s/n 307. I’m sure someone can enlighten us about this. I hear that “UXN” resides today at Edenvale, Ontario.
Bob photographed this nifty-looking Aeronca 7FC “tri gear” as the snow fell at Mount Hope on January 15, 1967. Frank Blais of Stoney Creek owned “KFC” at this time. It still was on the CCAR in 1982, but, since then it disappeared. Whenever a bit of snow started to come down while we were out shooting, we rarely were deterred (unless it was a blizzard) and usually were anxious to see how our shots turned out. This is a good case where it was worth Bob’s effort. A nice, different sort of shot.
All we fans enjoyed photographing any of the light twins of the times, so a Piper PA-23 Apache always was a treat to shoot. Bob saw Apache CF-KQY at Mount Hope on July 1, 1967, CF-NVE on May 13 the same year. “KQY” had come to Canada in 1958 and at this time was owned by Hamilton’s Trans Aircraft Co., a Piper dealer and charter operator. Today’s “KQY” is a hot air balloon based near Ottawa. We tend to associate Spartan Air Services with P-38s and Mosquitos, but over the decades it operated many ordinary types as well. These usually were worked very hard, often on contracts in far distant countries. Trans Aircraft imported “NVE” in 1961, then leased it to Spartan until 1971. It then went to Victoria Motor Sales in Kitchener. Other owners followed and it may still be around somewhere. Feel free to add any details for these captions. Thanks as always … larry@canavbooks.com

A Remembrance Day 2020 Gem + 40 Years for CANAV Books Part 3 — CANAV Forges Ahead through the 1980s + Austin Airways Update + TCA Memory Lane + A Very Special Offer for “Air Transport in Canada” + LGen W.K. “Bill” Carr, DFC+ The Harvard in Canada

Here’s a pure gem of Remembrance Day 2020 creativity. Well worth a couple of minutes out of any Canadian’s day.


Helicopters: The British Columbia Story 1985

Helicopters: The British Columbia Story was delivered to us on May 30, 1985.

Not only had 1985 been a stellar year at CANAV with the Austin Airways book, but we also published our first collaboration, and turned out more than one title for the first time. Our baby steps were over. Helicopters: The British Columbia Story (1985) was the first major book covering the rotary-wing industry in Canada. Authors Peter Corley-Smith (1923 – 2002) and David N. Parker (1945 – 2018) then were historians at the BC Provincial Museum. They had an idea for a book, but the museum wouldn’t fund it. Such things are a mystery. Why would a major museum not recognize the great opportunity and honour in publishing such an important book, especially when the job could be done affordably and to the museum’s specs? Something to do with the eternal verities, I suppose.

A call from Peter and David to CANAV Books got them on the right track. The fellows worked well as a team. Peter was especially qualified – he was well-known as a pilot with experience flying large choppers on such projects as the Mid Canada Line (you can look up Peter on the web to see more about his aviation accomplishments). The fellows wrote an excellent manuscript, found all the essential photos, and produced an important map. Topping it off, they found Clive Brooks, a talented Victoria artist, to paint a series of impressive helicopter colour profiles. CANAV did the rest, paying all the bills, turning out a very fine book, etc. Oddly, the BC museum was less than happy about the book and ordered almost no copies. Nothing ever was explained, yet, over the decades everything that CANAV ever heard about the book was positive. Not surprisingly, Helicopters: The British Columbia Story sold out. That said, I still have a few copies. If you’d like one, email larry@canavbooks.com All-in? CDN$33.50. Here’s a sample page from the book showing three of Clive’s wonderful colour profiles.

Above: A copy of the ancient invoice covering our bill for printing and binding 3175 copies. The project soon paid for itself and earned a small profit. Mainly, however, it had been fun to do and was a feather in CANAV’s cap. Typical of the aviation press, “Air Classics” praised “HBCS”: “Rich in anecdotes — first person accounts from the school of hard knocks days of helicopter pioneering — the book tells an exciting story of aviation progress.” In 1998, Peter Corley-Smith organized an updated 2nd edition. This was beautifully produced by BC’s beloved (by now extinct) Sono Nis Press. Another CANAV highlight for 1985 was our Sixty Years first reprint. Our initial 7810 copies were gone in record time, so I ordered a further 2500. These were delivered in October at $41,835.34. Sixty Years would keep surging – three more reprints to come. To 2020 it remains the best, most widely referenced and beloved single-volume history of the RCAF, regardless of officialdom’s insouciance. Is there no love in NDHQ/RCAF HQ for a beautiful book in praise of the RCAF? To my knowledge, after 35+ years DND and RCAF HQ have ordered but a single one of our 20,000+ copies Sixty Years. No … I didn’t just make this up.

CANAV Books that Might Have Been

Also of interest in these early CANAV Books years, I had to turn down some tempting outside offers. Les Wilkinson wanted CANAV to publish the book he and his “Arrow Maniac” pals were doing about the Avro Arrow. Being buried in work with CANAV’s own CF-100 book, I had no choice. The Arrow book was published in 1980 by Boston Mill Press and went on to huge success in multiple printings. A bit later, Jim Floyd succeeded in having me at least consider his Avro Jetliner book. On April 1, 1985 Bryant quoted me $18,739 for 3000 copies. In the end, my own pace of work overcame things and I had to stand aside. In the end, his lovely book, The Avro Jetliner, was nicely produced by Boston Mills. Today (September 24, 2020) I noticed that bookfinder.com was listing 46 used copies, the cheapest at CDN$108.09++, the priciest $288.80++. Quite literally, these would be cheap at twice the price — book lovers understand such things. Another book that I had to turn down in these years was Ken Molson’s history of Canada’s national aviation museum. Ken was adamant that CANAV publish his book, but my workload and lack of experience led to my decision – can’t do it, Ken. In the end (1988), the museum published the book in co- operation with the University of Toronto Press. One of Canada’s finest aviation books to this day, Canada’s National Aviation Museum: Its History and Collections ought to be in your library. You can find a nice used copy on the web.

The Canadair Sabre 1986

The glorious cover art for our Sabre book was created by Geoff Bennett. This was Geoff’s first book cover. Geoff passed on in 2018 at age 87. His magnificent art adorns homes, military messes and museums from coast to coast. Having studied art as a young man, Geoff joined the RAF in 1953 to do his national service, then switched to the RCAF in 1957. Initially, he instructed at Moose Jaw on Harvards. He was involved in the formation of the RCAF’s 1959
Goldilocks flight demo team, and designed the paint job for the RCAF Golden Centennaires of 1967 fame. On the side, Geoff flew the Argus 1966-86. He left air force in 1986, then flew for 10 more years with Transport Canada at Moncton.

While I still was struggling with the CF-100 and North Star projects, I was gathering material for a book about the Canadair Sabre. This just seemed “a natural” for our on-going series. In 1985 I already was making trips to Canadair at Cartierville, scrounging for old records and interviewing staff and retirees. I also got on the road to interview such Sabre luminaries in Moncton (for example) as Al Lilly, Ed Lowry and Jack Seaman, or, in Winnipeg — Bill Bristowe and John Greatrix, and. closer to home the likes of Ralph Heard and Bob Caskie.

I see from the CANAV archives that Bryant first quoted on the Sabre book on September 24, 1985. I already had decided to walk the plank by ordering 10,000 copies. This was pretty well an absurdly large quantity at the time for any Canadian trade book, but something told me that 10,000 was the way to go for the long haul. Bryant gave me a quote of $94,300 and I mustn’t have flinched! By then, thankfully, I was No.1 in their good books.

Besides doing interviews, I also was hunting down Sabre squadron DROs (daily routine orders), ORBs (operational record books), and annual reports to see what history I could unearth. Besides the RCAF, I also had to cover other air forces that had flown Canadair Sabres. In this quest, Roger Lindsay in the UK and Gerhard Joos in Germany laid the groundwork for two major chapters – the RAF and Luftwaffe. I also needed material for Colombia, Greece, Italy, South Africa, Turkey and Yugoslavia. There even was a story about an Israeli order to track down. Then, there was the question of what happened to all those Canadair Sabres after their military days. It was mind-boggling and to this day I have no idea how we ever finished the job. Somehow, things again came together in a glorious book delivered to me in August 1986. Some 35 years later The Canadair Sabre (all things considered – see the reviews below) still holds up well.

Bryant’s invoice detailing in a few lines the charges for the Sabre print run: 10,422 copies for $89,280.64, a bit below the original quote. Book manufacturing being so competitive, producers tried to keep their numbers as low as possible, while still delivering a nice product. Once again, I was able to pay this bill in a few days, having already brought in substantial cash with advance sales. If you still need a copy of the beauty of a book, or could use extras for gifts, drop me an email at larry@canavbooks.com

Over the summer of 1986 we put on several book launchings. If you have the time, scroll back in the blog to find “CANAV Anniversary Highlight: The Canadair Sabre” featuring our Toronto book launch on August 19 that year. People came from far and wide, Roger and Gerhard included. This was such a crazy time that some of our events are “missing” from the record. For example, we had a book launch at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto, where the renowned 72nd scale model-building club – the “Aero Buffs” – turned up with dozens of beautiful Sabre models to play their part that afternoon. Sad to say, I’ve never seen a photo from that event. Of course, not everyone carried a camera back in 1986.

Sabre Book Launch in Ottawa, June 19, 1986

Another book launch from which I have no photos was the great one at Ottawa’s International Hotel located a stone’s throw from the Public Archives of Canada. Being “back in the day”, this was a fantastic event, a real who’s who Sabre people. There were something like seven RCAF pilots who had flown Sabres in action in Korea (Bruce Fleming, Omer Levesque, Andy Mackenzie and Eric Smith come to mind), there were Golden Hawks, COs, all sorts of squadron pilots, technical people, folks from DND HQ who came by after work, etc. Our big room was shoulder-to-shoulder and the great WO Vic Johnson had an AV program going, including a classic Golden Hawks 16mm movie.

The special bit about our book launches this summer was a sign- in book put together by Sabre pilot Paul Apperley. Paul carried this around with him to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal launch events to collect autographs without me spotting him (until the end), then presented this magnificent souvenier to me, something that knocked me over with surprise. What a treasure to still have decades later, after so many of my great Sabre pals (Paul included) have left us. Here are two sample pages from Toronto. Anyone familiar with the RCAF fighter scene of the 1950s-60s will relate to this astounding gallery of autographs. You can be sure that Paul Apperley was responsible to a fair degree for this large turnout, many of the fellows having travelled a good distance to attend …

… a page from the Ottawa launch:

… and one page from Montreal. At the top is the great Jean Gaudry’s signature. Eric turned 90 on October 9, 2020. Further down is Bob Carew, another RCAF Korean Sabre pilot. Several Canadair people also attended this launch, which we held at the International at Dorval.

Sabre Book Launch in Montreal

Here are a few photos from our Dorval book launch of June 25, 1986, where I finally got wise to Paul Apperley’s “sign-in book” skit.

Gerry McDougall and JT Price sign “the Apperley” book. After his tour in the Air Division with 422 Sqn, Gerry flew with the Montreal air reserve. JT was famous from “Air Div” years, especially as a flight demonstration pilot. JT later excelled with as a Golden Hawk.
Some of the fellows supposedly being serious for a group shot: Robert St-Pierre, Jean Gaudry, Robert McIntyre, Larry Milberry, Richard Beaudet and JT Price. I don’t know who was so thoughtful as to take these pictures, but “thanks” all these years later.
Besides his engineering prowess at Canadair, Hank Volker (left) was a very serious philatelic man. For the book launch, he brought along some of his aerophilatelic albums for the crowd to enjoy.
Gerry McDougall, Jean Gaudry, unknown, and Lou Loubert flip some pages. After 35 years the old Sabre book still stands up to scrutiny, not that everyone was 100% happy with it. The main complaint? “Why am I not in your book, Milberry!” Well, no book is all things to all
people. Happily, in his world-class book A Tradition of Excellence, Dan Dempsey fills in some gaps in my Sabre book. Other authors contribute in the same way. That’s how RCAF history tends to go and is why each serious reader needs an extensive library with all the basic Canadian aviation titles. PS … put your books first, use the web for the kids stuff.
As usual, our Dorval book launch was crowded with “Kings of Canadian Aviation”. On the left is Bob Raven, then a V-P at Pratt & Whitney Canada (across the river from Montreal in Longueuil). On the right is pilot Richard Beaudet, then with Transport Canada at Dorval (in 2020 finally on the verge of retirement). Typically, Richard had begun in the school of hard knocks, doing his early penance flying Twin Otters for Bradley up on Baffin Island. In spite of working decades at their jobs, such fellows always delighted in anything like a book launch. Not long after this evening, Bob invited me to Halifax to tour a new engine plant that P&WC had just opened for robotic PW100 production.
The great Paul Apperley 1925-2007– back in his glorious Sabre days.

Sabre Book Reviews

How about the official reviews for The Canadair Sabre? Well, they could not have been better. The leading French journal “Air Fan” loved The Canadair Sabre, calling it: “The aviation literary event of the year.” Greece’s journal “Ptisi” added, “A real oasis for F-86 fans and anyone interested in the Golden Years of the 1950s-60s.” “Air International” called the book, “A mine of information … there seems scant prospect of a better history.” Even more glowing commentary came from Bob Halford’s “Canadian Aircraft Operator”, Vol.24, No.20: “With The Canadair Sabre [Milberry] continues to enhance his reputation for producing top-of-the-class books that compare more than merely favourably with any of the works of the major publishing houses. This is a remarkable achievement …” Typically, “CAO” goes on to describe the book in detail. Bob, of course, knew his stuff … the Sabre in particular. He had visited Canadair during Sabre production years, also the RCAF’s NATO bases in Sabre years during his time editing “Aircraft” magazine. Bob concluded, “The book is, indeed, all that anyone could ever want to know about the Canadair-built Sabre … it’s a people book as well as an airplane book.”

Fighter Pilot Biographies 1987

In 1987 CANAV Books published the biographies of two
important Canadian fighter pilots: Vernon C. Woodward, DFC and Bar — Woody: A Fighter Pilot’s Album, and Robert Hampton “Hammy” Gray, VC, DSC — A Formidable Hero: Lt R.H. Gray, VC, DSC, RCNVR. For production, I turned for some reason from Bryant Press the T.H. Best (located not far from Brant in east Toronto), then Canada’s oldest book manufacturer. Maybe I went to Best since these books were small format and small runs that Bryant wasn’t crazy about doing. Who knows at this stage, especially since both companies have long-since faded away. The main thing is that each of these biographies was welcomed and nicely reviewed. However, likely since they were small hardcovers and “quick reads”, reviewers made quick work of them. “Brown’s Books”, for example, simply concluded about Woody: “A worthy history of a relatively unknown Canadian ace.”

Hammy Gray biographer, Stuart Soward, himself had begun as a Canadian naval fighter pilot. Having earned his book authorship “wings” with A Formidable Hero, he went on to self-published a monumental (and essential) 2-volume history of aviation in the Royal Canadian Navy, Hands to Flying Station. Certainly, it was CANAV’s honour to publish Stuart’s first book.

As did The Bremen (see below), A Formidable Hero had important spin-off. After decades in the shadows, thanks to Stuart, “Hammy” Gray was re-introduced to the Canadian history scene. Our book launching was auspicious, being held in Ottawa at a convention of RCN aviators known as the CNAGs – Canadian Naval Air Group. From there, of course, word spread across the land about A Formidable Hero and our small 2000 print run sold out. In 2003 Stuart produced an important update of his book.

The cover of Stuart Soward’s own edition of A Formidable Hero. I highly recommend this edition – you’ll be able to find a copy on the web. In this version, Stuart added the important story of how (not that he takes any credit) his determined work resulted in renewed interest in Hammy Gray, VC, to the extent that a monument to Hammy now stands in Japan. This major accomplishment chiefly was organized by Stuart and financed by private donations, when Ottawa seemed uninterested.

Yes, in 1989 Stuart’s dogged efforts led directly to a permanent monument in Hammy Gray’s honor. This was dedicated at Onagawa Bay, Japan, with Stuart in attendance, even if the DND could not find a place for him on the 707 it sent to Japan with VIPs and freeloaders. Get all the details from Stuart’s own edition of the book – this is one story you don’t want to miss! Subsequent to CANAV’s and Stuart’s Hammy Gray books, and to Stuart’s Onagawa triumph, late last year I had a call from the RCN seeking a copy of A Formidable Hero, although my caller wasn’t sure that the navy could afford a copy, or, if he could authorize a purchase (this really drives me crazy about Ottawa). We finally negotiated a price (what a laugh, eh), a purchase order was struck, and I mailed the RCN my last new copy. What was this all about? I was delighted to hear that the navy had decided to name one of its new Harry DeWolf-class offshore patrol vessels in honour of Hammy so, in advance of commissioning the ship in 2021, the navy wanted to know all it could about Hammy Gray himself, and what better source than Stuart’s book!

Hugh Halliday’s Woody also fared well. Although both books today are “OP” – out of print – nice used copies can be found at such internet book sites as http://www.bookfinder.com Today for example (October 10, 2020) I noticed that there were 83 copies of Woody for sale there, 61 of A Formidable Hero. Get these two little gems into your library before it slips your mind.

The Bremen 1988

Our 1985 book — The Bremen, by Fred Hotson — is the in-depth history of the 1928 trans-Atlantic Junkers christened “Bremen”. Beautifully designed by Robin Brass, this book caught the eye of many serious bibliophiles and aviation history organizations. In one case, the American Aviation Historical Society journal observed: “There are many books dealing with pioneer ocean flying, but only a very small number can be classified as important. This book belongs in that select group.” On top of the AAHS’s magnificent conclusion, for his decades of Bremen research and our efforts in publishing it all, in 1988 Fred received the “Best New Aviation Book” annual award from the Aviation and Space Writers Association of America.

CANAV’s first title in Translation was The Bremen —

Not only did The Bremen bring kudos to Fred and CANAV, but it had major historic spin-off in Germany. Firstly, Fred teamed with publisher, Josef Krauthauser (NARA-Verlag Books) to have a German edition – Die Bremen – – published in 1996. This spurred further interest in Germany in that the City of Bremen sent a delegation to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan to negotiate the repatriation of “The Bremen” to Germany. An agreement was reached, and Fred and I later were VIPs at the Ford Museum, when the Bremen delegation visited for several days. Plans were finalized and the tired-looking, dusty old “Bremen” was dismantled and flown home aboard two Luftwaffe Transal transport planes. A fastidious restoration was undertaken and the resplendent Junkers was dedicated in Bremen in June 1998. Fred Hotson was present as the very deserving guest of honour. How more delighted could a small aviation book publisher be than to see such results from his efforts – a war memorial erected in Japan and a historic airplane restored in Germany.

Autographs of some of the “Bremen” committee from Germany at the Ford Museum with Fred Hotson and me on April 15, 1997.

Austin Airways Nostalgia

In our last blog cycle we looked back at the Austin Airways book. Since then, I came across an old Kodachrome that I shot when spending a few days in August 1980 at Jack Austin’s cottage in Muskoka with Jack (right), Jim Bell (centre) and Frank Russell (left). Jim was Austin’s chief pilot for years, while the always gregarious Frank was chief engineer and the company’s first employee back in 1934. This get together was a chance for me to pry some Austin Airways history from these top men. However, I was stymied, since Jim was his well-known, taciturn self. However, since we published the Austin Airways book in 1985, I learned much about Jim from a set of letters provided after his passing. This incredible history appears in Air Transport in Canada (1997). Further important company history has come to light, especially with a new series of glorious colour photos in The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.2 (2013). I hope you are enjoying these little bits of book publishing history. Stay turned for “Episode 4” in 2 or 3 weeks.

Trans-Canada Air Lines 1945 Historic Timetable

TCA’s February 1, 1945 timetable is a time capsule for a very important sector of air transportation in Canada 75 years ago. This magnificent 8-page treasure of a collectible is packed with history. Check out these panels to see the North American route map, sample timetables, general info with many interesting entries from photography to baggage rules, TCA’s trans-Atlantic air service, even info about the company’s “Air Travel Card” (nothing new under the sun). Sample fares shown in the timetable include Calgary-Vancouver $62.80, Winnipeg-Toronto $107.80, Toronto-Vancouver $220.00, Toronto-Halifax $95.30, Montreal-Toronto $36.25. On the face of it, these fares look quite affordable. But, reality tells another story, for a Canadian dollar in 1945 would be worth about  $15.00 today, making your Montreal-Toronto flight almost $550.00 in 2020 dollars.

Speaking of air transport, here’s a very special offer for CANAV’s world-famous Air Transport in Canada. At 5kg and 1040 pages, ATC remains Canada’s grandest-ever aviation title. What’s covered? To give you an idea … pioneer days from 1919 to TCA & CPA, Canada’s air force from Day 1 to modern operations around the world, Canada’s postwar airlines: EPA, MCA, Nordair, PWA, QCA, Quebecair, Transair, etc., the DEW Line, SAR, aerial survey, the great Canadian airliners from North Star to Q400, helicopters, and government and corporate aviation. “ATC” also includes the largest gallery of original Canadian aviation art. How say the reviewers? “These volumes are possibly the world’s most inclusive ever devoted to aviation history.” (“Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”) “The Oshkosh of aviation books.” (“Aerographics”). “Impressive! The word is sometimes misapplied to a book that is merely interesting, but for these two volumes, it may well be an understatement.” (“Montreal Gazette”). 53 chapters, 2 volumes, hardcover, 800,000+ words, more than 3500 photos, maps, glossary, bibliography, appendix, index. Sticker price? $155.00, but this special deal gets you a set all-in (shipping & tax included) at CDN$65.00 for Canadian orders, CDN$80.00 USA orders, CDN$160.00 overseas orders (surface mail only) This is the best deal ever offered for ATC, it can’t get any better! Drop a note if any questions larry@canavbooks.com … For more info about “ATC” scroll back to
“Air Transport in Canada Hits 20”

Be sure to check out the CANAV aviation blog … http://www.canavbooks.wordpress.com

General W.K. Carr, DFC

This week we are saddened to hear that the great LGen W.K. “Bill” Carr has passed in Ottawa. Over the decades, Bill always supported CANAV Books, not that he was a push-over for such recognition. One always had to perform exceptionally well to rate an “atta boy” from LGen Carr, who had a practical scepticism regarding historians and writers. Detailed information about this exceptional Canadian is at these links (Dave O’Malley’s “Vintage Wings” coverage is wonderful): http://www.vintagewings.ca/VintageNews/Stories/tabid/116/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/631/Born-to-Lead.aspx?fbclid=IwAR2iJp3WWA3bt3P562ZUtld6YM9UL6VnJjlwTXsaFQ_H7uOlFtgIp3bVQ



The Harvard in Canada

Anyone interested in the great North American Harvard trainer in the RCAF wil enjoy visiting the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association website. Take a look! www.facebook.com/canadianharvards

“Arsenal of Democracy” Warbird Video + Norseman CF-DRD News + The A380 Bows Out + 40 Years for CANAV Books (Part 2 September 2020) + Photographing the Great 4-Engine Douglas Propliners + Two Books You Need

Arsenal of Democracy” Check out this impressive AOPA video of this September 2020 warbirds event — includes the great WWII types from Hurricane to Spitfire, P-40, P-51, Corsair, Mosquito, Tiger Moth, T-6, B-25 on to the A-26 and B-29 … all in the air! Hosted by the Commemorative Air Force’s Capital Wing, this took place at Culpeper Regional Airport, Virginia. Not be missed! https://youtu.be/yIvTgqFe1cA

Norseman Update … Good news from the Norseman Festival in Red Lake. Google

SAVE DRD – Red Lake’s Norseman icon – GoFundMe

to get the latest news about the restoration of Red Lake’s world famous Norseman CF-DRD. Since “DRD” was badly pounded by hail several years ago, this has been a long haul by many dedicated enthusiasts. Be sure to make a donation to the cause while catching up at the site. Help get “DRD” to its $50K goal! Cheers … Larry

End of “The Quad” Era — The Mighty A380 Bows Out

This melancholic piece is a nice encapsulation of an important and exciting piece of the global air transportation story: https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/final-airbus-a380-assembled/index.html Well worth a look. Reminds me of the fighter pilot’s frequent claim — “Timing is everything.” Also, you can scroll back to see a bit about Canada’s role in A380 development (see A380 Cold Weather Trials at “YFB” Iqaluit).

Here’s the current CANAV booklist. Be sure to have a least a quick browse. If you’re an aviation reader, you’ll find some real treasures here.

CANAV Booklist Summer_Fall 2020

40 Years for CANAV Books (Part 2 September 2020): An Interesting Detour to 1979

Welcome to all who have been enjoying, or, have just discovered, this little ramble through the dusty boxes and files of the CANAV Books archives. Thanks for your many calls and emails. I’ve especially been interested in how often you’ve been referring to our 1979 McGraw Hill-Ryerson book, Aviation in Canada, as the book that initially got you fired up about aviation back in your school days (the very same book that launched me into CANAV Books). A few have commented about how Aviation in Canada actually was the inspiration that steered you into a life in aviation. Very nice to hear for your aged scribe! It’s also a bit sobering, when you add that by 2020 you’ve ploughed through your career in flying and now are retired! Talk about time flying, right!

Here’s how the cover of one my special copies of Aviation in Canada looks 41 years later. This is the copy I took along to the RCAF 60th Anniversary mess dinner held at Canadian Forces Staff College in Toronto on March 30, 1984. The CFSC Commandant deserves a medal for pulling off this historic event, which included several First World War combat pilots, many prominent RCAF WWII types, others from the Korean War and early Cold War, along with many serving members on staff and on course. This was an evening to remember.

As the evening progressed, I sent Aviation in Canada up and down both sides of the dinner table to collect as many autographs as possible. I got away with this, probably because I was the only civilian attending, was known by this time as the budding RCAF history publisher, and was about to release Sixty Years. Here are two pages that give you an idea of the incredible “whose who” of aviation history that this was.

Some of the RCAF serving officers and veterans on hand for the CFSC RCAF 60th Anniversary Mess Dinner in Toronto. I only have some of the names so far, but hope to fill in the gaps. In the back row are: AJ Bauer (OC 421 & 430 Sqns, CF-104s), Col Fraser Holman, 2 unknown, Ron Lowman (Mosquito nav), Daniel Reevy Walker (617 Sqn dams raid, nav), Jim Hanna (Spitfires), Don Bell (617 Sqn Tirpitz raids), Bob Hayward (Spitfires), Peter Gilchrist (Bomber Command, OC 405 Sqn). In the middle are Nelles Timmerman (Bomber Command, OC 408 Sqn), E. Dean Kelly (Spitfires), Bill Swetman (Bomber Command, OC 432 Sqn), R.J. “Herbie” Herbert (OC 440 Sqn, CF-100s), Paul Davoud (OC 409, 410, 418 Sqns Mosquitos, OC 143 Wing Typhoons), unknown, John Gellner (Spitfires), Chester Hull (Bomber Command, OC 428 Sqn), unknown, Don Morrison (Spitfires, POW), Ken Hayroe (Mustangs), Richard Rohmer (Mustangs, OC 400 & 411 Sqns, 2020 Honorary LGen of the Canadian Armed Forces). In front are Lew Twambley (CF-101s, pilot), C.H. “Punch” Dickins (WWI pilot, D.H.9), Mel Alexander (WWI ace, Naval 10 “Black Flight”, Sopwith Triplane), two unknown, BGen Bill Murdoch (CFSC Commandant).

Thanks for reminding me about this fine old book and how it provided the incentive to some keen Canadian highschoolers to go into aviation. Amazingly, worn and dusty old copies of Aviation in Canada still can be found in public libraries across Canada. However, they’re usually a bit lonely, since most other aviation books on the shelves tell the story of American aviation. I have not had an order from one Canadian public library for as much as a single book for years. Perhaps the Canadian Library Association can explain?

Austin Airways: Canada’s Oldest Airline 1985

Better get going again with the serious side to Part 2 of the CANAV Books story. In 1985 CANAV published a history of the famed Northern Ontario bush operator, Austin Airways. This had an odd genesis, something that today reminds me of a quote from the great writer and literary thinker, Graham Greene (The Power and the Glory, Our Man in Havana, etc.): “Books are a labour to write and a hell to publish. Why does one do it?” Here’s the genesis part of it. In Aviation in Canada of 1979 fame, I had included a bit about Austin Airways. The coverage was typical for this type of general interest book that tries to encapsulate the fundamental aspects in Canada’s aviation history. My point with Aviation in Canada was to update and complement Frank Ellis’ superb 1954 book, Canada’s Flying Heritage (you need a copy, see http://www.bookfinder.com, etc.) with just such interesting highlights of our aviation history. Who would object? Well, when Jack Austin, the renowned founder (along with his brother, Chuck) of Austin Airways read the book, he called to complain quite bitterly about how little his company was covered (Graham Greene would agree that it’s not unusual to hear from irate readers). Jack and I talked this over and, in a few weeks, were getting together planning an Austin Airways history project (at my expense other than for the artwork). All this is for some future chapter, but (suffice to say), the result of one phone call was a lovely book — Austin Airways.

Here’s the invoice for the first printing of Austin Airways. Again, you can see how such a job got billed for the 2590 copies delivered. I always ordered a few extra dust jackets as replacements for the occasional damaged ones, and to use as promotional items. These soon paid for themselves.

Another Fine Success Story

Book that it is, it’s no surprise that Austin Airways was well received. We began with exciting launch events in Sudbury, Timmins and Toronto. The Timmins “Daily Press” covered our book launch at the Senator Motel, where a crowd of fine Austin employees, retirees and local fans attended. Stan Deluce and family, who recently had acquired Austin Airways, picked up the tab, and also flew some Milberrys and friends to Timmins from Toronto on a “748”. Those were the days!

Autographs that I scrounged at some of the Austin Airways book events 35 years ago. Many who worked for Austin, who were company clients, suppliers, etc., or just fans of bush flying and books attended these gatherings. At a glance on these two spreads I see such famous Austin names as Helen Austin (her husband Jack had passed on by this time), Hal McCracken, Ray Lejeune, Johnny Der Weduwen, Brian Steed, Ray McLean, Larry Raymond, Frank Russell,
Len Harper, Frank Fisher, Bob Petus and Al Scully; plus such good general fans and supporters as George Thompson, Archie Van Hee, Bob Halford, Ron Lowry and Fred Hotson. What a priceless little piece of history such a book becomes as the decades roll by.

Our print run soon sold out, then McGraw Hill-Ryerson turned out a 1500 reprint. As usual, we received much praise in the aviation and general press. In one case, “Air Classics” (February 1986) observed, “This finely-produced book (typical of what we have come to expect from CANAV) is the exciting story of Austin Airways … illustrated with a fabulous selection of … photographs [and] an excellent selection of quality color profiles …” Then, “Canadian Geographic” of February/March 1986 had its say (it always was a highlight when a publisher had a book reviewed by this stellar journal). Given the reviewing task was Robert “Bob” Bradford, at the time the associate director of Canada’s National Aviation Museum under the great K.M. “Ken” Molson. After nicely reviewing the book’s chapters, Bob concluded, “Anyone who has even a passing interest in bush flying or a good Canadian success story will enjoy it,”

A lot happened with Austin Airways since 1985, including how the new owners absorbed a string of air carriers west to Air Manitoba, brought things together under the Air Ontario banner, built up Toronto Island Airport as a serious commuter hub, etc., all the way to 2020, when the Deluce family’s renowned Porter Airlines remains the direct descendant of Austin Airways of 1934. It’s probably a good time for an updated Austin Airways book. Interestingly, a used copy of Austin Airways in 2020 will be a deal at around the old $24.94 sticker price. On September 15, I noticed that http://www.bookfinder.com had 54 used copies listed, most being in the $40 – $80 zone, but nine were above $100. Cheap at twice the price, right!

It Can Be Aggravating, but the Perks Are the best!

Remember what novelist Graham Greene said long ago? He was right — books are huge investments in time, energy, misery and money. In my work over the decades, however, I’ve been able to temper the pain that’s a big part of the process with a great deal of good fun. I’ve gotten to fly all over the world in 100+ aircraft types from the Piper J-2 to the Chipmunk, then so many others from the DC-3 to the DC-4, C-46, Caribou, Buffalo, T-33, AT-37B, Tutor, CF-5, CF-101, F-106, F-16, B-52, EB-57, LACV-30, Beech 18, Lancaster, Turbo Otter, C-130, Argus, Aurora, CH-54, Kiowa, Chinook, Sea Knight, IL-76, AN-2, AN-124, on and on. We keen types are always up for any new such adventure. Here are a few miscellaneous photos from my days laying the groundwork for the Austin Airways book. I got to ride along on several company types:

In the late 1970s and early 80s Austin Airways still was turning a good profit with the DC-3, which by then finally was showing its age. But, DC-3s were cheap to buy, maintain and operate, all things considered. Here’s Austin’s CF-NNA loading groceries at Kapuskasing, Ontario on August 23, 1979. It might have been heading for some remote town, or maybe a mine site. Originally RAF KG448 in February 1944, post WWII “NNA” was RCAF 993, then Stan Deluce acquired it in 1975 from Crown Assets Disposal Corp, in a period when a nice ex-Canadian Forces DC-3 could be bought for around $10,000. Sad to say, but “NNA” crashed at Sachigo Lake in NW Ontario on January 19, 1986. On nearing destination in “woxoff” conditions (weather overcast, ceiling obscured, visibility zero in fog), “NNA” ploughed into the Sachigo Lake NDB tower and crashed. The captain and a passenger were badly injured. C-FAAM is seen on August 31, 1982, a good day for me as I got to ride along Timmins-Cochrane-Detour Lake-Timmins with Capt Serge Lavoie and FO Wally Watts. One detail I learned along the way was that, by this day in its long career, “AAM” had piled up 19,300 flying hours. “AAM” had been delivered to the RAF as FD941 in July 1943. It then had tours with BOAC and Northwest Airlines, before joining the RCAF in 1951 as 10910. It finally went to Austin in 1968, then battled along until sold in 1989 to Central Northern Airlines of Smithers, BC. “AAM” crashed disastrously at the Bronson Creek mine on January 14, 1993, killing both pilots, including my pal, Captain Grant Webb.
Once Stan Deluce took over at Austin and Air Manitoba, he brought in a fleet of HS748s to replace the DC-3 and to build much bigger markets. On August 21, 1979, I got to ride along on a typical “748” trip. It was a good solid day to see a 748 and crew earning their salt. Here, 748 C-GSXS loads groceries from a Jessel truck at Kapuskasing, a short hop for us from Timmins early that morning. Next, we flew to LG-2 “LaGrande” in Quebec, thence to Fort George (today’s Chisasibi) on Quebec’s James Bay shore, then we crossed the bay to Attawapiskat and Fort Albany back on the Ontario side, thence home for a beer in Timmins. Here’s the crew that day – pilots Jacques Giroux and Joe Deluce, and crewman Barry Sahler – 41 years ago. New in 1970, “SXS” had spent its early years in Mexico, before coming to Austin in 1977. It later served Air Creebec of Val d’Or. “SXS” went for scrap in 1999. Before going for pots ‘n pans, it had earned a great deal of revenue for Austin Airways.
A couple of scenes as we cruised north up the Hudson Bay coast. The scenery is spectacular all the way.

In creating of the Austin Airways book, I got to spend several years interviewing Austin Airways pioneers and flying throughout the company’s vast northern domain with its great people. I had some exciting trips in everything from the Ce.185 with the legendary Jeff Wyborn, to the Twin Otter, DC-3 and HS 748 ranging from Pickle Lake to Cape Dorset. In the end, I was happy with the results. Austin Airways tells the basic story well, it has few gaffs, and, thanks to the CANAV team, became a model with its many rare photos, in-depth, authoritative text, premium production qualities, and Peter Mossman artwork. Just look at cover art alone – what true aviation fan could resist buying a copy!

And I Shall Fly 1985

Another early CANAV title was And I Shall Fly, a fine autobiography by Canadian aviation pioneer, Zebulon Lewis “Lewie” Leigh. A prairie boy, Lewie lived his dream, learning to fly in the 1920s, barnstorming and operating in the bush, becoming the first pilot hired by TCA in 1937, then founding RCAF No.9 Transport Group, which carried the “troops mail” in WWII via 168 Squadron B- 17s, B-24s Dakotas and Lodestars. No.9 Group reformed in 1945 as RCAF Air Transport Command, G/C Z.L. Leigh being the founding commander. Postwar, he continued in uniform with such postings as station commander Goose Bay. In 1947 he received Canada’s top aviation award, the McKee Trophy. Retired, Lewie and his wife, Linny, enjoyed life in the Niagara Peninsula, where once a month Lewie had a few friends for lunch in what became known as “Club Zeb”. Our members included such characters as Ray Munro, a wartime Spitfire pilot, and postwar newspaper man, restaurant bouncer and Pitts Special pilot. Ray’s own autobiography is The Sky’s No Limit, which his friend Anna Porter (Key Porter Publishing) produced. Ray so admired Lewie that he changed his name to Raymond Zebulon Munro, and the licence plate on his Mercedes sports car was “ZEB 2”. How’s that for adulation! In the 1980s Ray pushed hard to establish what today is Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Deservedly, Lewie Leigh became one of the first inducted members. Old-time Canadian aviation writer, Ross Wilmot, covered And I Shall Fly in the 1986 “Canadian Book Review Annual”. He beautifully summarized it, simply concluding how Lewie, “deserves credit for making public his memoirs” (book reviews need not be verbose, right). Over the decades, several people have told me how much they have enjoyed And I Shall Fly to the point of reading and re- reading it. For good coverage of our And I Shall Fly book launch, it’s all here on the blog, including photos of many a kingpin from Canadian aviation. In the blog search box just enter: “And I Shall Fly” Book Launching 1985

Lewie Leigh (centre) during our 1989 launch for Power: The Pratt & Whitney Canada Story. This grand event was held in one of Carl Millard’s hangars at YYZ. On the left is another great Canadian aviation pioneer, Archie Vanhee. “Ye olde scribe” and publisher is on the right. I have a few new copies left of And I Shall Fly each at CDN$28.00 all-in. If interested, let me know at larry@canavbooks.com For our next “episode” of this on-going story, we’ll begin with another legendary CANAV project – Helicopters: The British Columbia Story.

Shooting the Great Douglas Propliners

For the 1950s-60s, I’m tempted to say that of all the categories of airplanes to photograph, none were so attractive as the classic Douglas 4-engine propliners – the DC-4, DC-6 and DC-7 series. What gorgeous, photogenic flying machines! Here “for your edification” are a few that I picked randomly from my old files.

Built in early 1945 for the USAAF as C-54E 44-9035, this DC-4 (civil designation) was sold within months by the US government Reconstruction Finance Corp. to Pan American World Airways. “Pan Am” operated it as N88882 “Clipper Malay”, until selling it in 1951 to CPA, where is became CF-CUJ. “CUJ” would fly many a trans-Pacific trip supporting UN efforts in the Korean War, and later to the Arctic, during DEW Line construction. In 1957 CPA sold “CUJ” to Maritime Central Airlines, where it became CF-MCI. We spotted “MCI” at Malton Airport (YYZ) several times in the early 1960s, when it mainly was busy on two accounts here – either flying in rhesus monkeys from India by the thousands (at a time) for the production in Toronto of polio vaccine, or, doing summer tourist charters in the trans-Atlantic trade. One wonders if they ever got the smell of the monkeys completely out of the plane, so that passengers could be carried! On this occasion, “MCI” is arriving at Malton on a very blustery January 30, 1960 with a load of monkeys. Imagine crewing on such a flight that would have taken a good 3 – 4 days from India on the other side of the world at a plodding 170-180 mph. I wish some of the old time Canadian DC-4 pilots had written their memoirs, so we could get the inside story of their work. But … the lazy sods traditionally have been loath to pick up a pen. “MCI” later served Eastern Provincial Airways and Nordair. Its flying days ran out in 1968, after which it disappeared for scrap.
Another handsome DC-4 at Malton … at this time (on April 22, 1960) D-AMIR of LTU also was in the European tourist trade. I caught it in this ¾ front view as it started up in front of the old Malton terminal. To get this shot, I had to stroll illegally across the tarmac, then wait for the engines to get running. Meanwhile, even though I was clearly visible to those in the nearby DOT tower, no one rousted me. This is the standard spotter’s “ideal” DC-4 shot, with the company name, logo and registration clearly seen and the whole scene “pristine” to the eye of the fanatical airplane photographer. D-AMIR was a 1945 C- 54D. Initially, it served the US Navy until becoming N6874C with Twentieth Century Airlines in 1957. It next served LTU 1958-60, then bounced around to British, Belgian, other German, and Italian operators. Long- lived, in October 1979 it became N8060C with Tiburon Aircraft in the smuggling business. A few weeks later – November 19 – it crashed fatally in flames while trying to land near McCormick, South Carolina, loaded to the hilt with more than 7 tons of marijuana. A case of “You pays your money, you takes your chances.” In the distance here is the newly-built Imperial Oil hangar, where the company kept its Convair 240, DC-3 and Lodestar. This historic hangar still stands 60 years later. Also at Malton this day (the reason that I hitchhiked out in the first place) were two Air France L.1649 Starliners supporting the state visit to Canada of Charles de Gaulle.
The first place that I photographed a DC-4 was at Dorval in 1959. Here’s a later scene there showing CF-JIR in Nordair colours on September 5, 1960. Delivered to the USAAF in 1944, it had gone to Pan Am in 1947 as N88923 “Clipper West Wind”. It migrated to Colombia in 1953, before reaching Canada in 1957 for Eastern Canada Stevedoring Col, which used it to position ships’ crews around the country). Various Dorval-based air carriers later flew “JIR”. It returned to the USA in 1969 as N3802. Various adventures ensued, some suggesting that the old crock still could get into trouble. It was scrapped in Florida in 1984. Check out the always-interesting 1950s Dorval background.
In this era the DC-6 dominated at Malton for American Airlines, but it was soon to be replaced by the glitzy new Lockheed Electra turboprop. Here, AA DC-6B N90767 “Flagship Indianapolis” taxys early on the morning of November 2, 1959. Its beautiful Douglas lines could not be any better portrayed. Having served AA 1951-65, N90767 moved on to the Ecuadorean government. It last was noted as stored at Quito in 1974.
The spotters of the times would call this an almost ideal DC-6 landing shot, spoiled only by my having clipped the tip of the fin. This is so typical of our landing shots taken at Malton “back in the day”. But these were not the busy times of hundreds of daily flights at today’s YYZ. We often waited half an hour between arrivals. Shown is N90733 “Flagship Albany”. It served AA 1947 – 66. It went for scrap in Tucson in 1980.
Malton’s classiest DC-6s were the CPA Empresses. These were almost daily Malton visitors into 1961, although CPA’s Britannias were taking over. Seen on November 28, 1959 is CF-CZV “Empress of Suva”. These long-range beauties ranged far and wide on CPA’s routes from Vancouver to Hawaii, Fiji and New Zealand, down to Chile and across to Amsterdam. Anywhere that they wouldn’t step on TCA’s toes back in those deeply regulated Canadian airline days. Delivered new in August 1957, “CZV” served CPA into late 1961, when it was sold in Sweden. Many global operators followed (Greenland Air included), with the old classic eventually ending in 1998 with the South African Airways Historical Society. In 2010 it was made airworthy for a final flight to a private dirt strip in the RSA. See this exciting event at http://www.aerialvisuals.caAirframeDossier
On February 2, 1963 I was visiting Buffalo, NY. Among other nice surprises that day was United Airlines’ DC-6B N37560. In a way, just another “shot for the record”, but 50+ years later, we’re always delighted to have shown the interest in the first place. N37560 served United 1952 – 68, so it carried tens of thousands of passengers and earned millions in revenue. Its subsequent career looks pretty spurious. It went for scrap in Miami in 1986.
Always a real coup for spotters at Malton was a BOAC DC-7C. These were not easy to catch, since they tended to arrive in the late afternoon, by when were usually had headed home for supper. However, sometimes we were lucky to photograph a landing such as this one, featuring G-AOIF flaring to land on Runway 32 mid-afternoon on June 4, 1960. By this time, the DC-7C was starting to give way at BOAC to the Britannia. G-AOIF had joined the fleet in December 1956, then remained into 1965. Many subsequent operators ensued. G-AOIF ended in the aerial application business with T&G Aviation at Chandler Arizona in 1994, around when it went for scrap. Could a photographer hope for a better DC-7C photo that this one!
Yet another wonderful landing shot, this one showing Northwest Orient Airlines’ N291 at Minneapolis on August 20, 1963. This was during one of the great cross-country driving trips that Nick Wolochatiuk and I used to make in Nick’s VW “Beatle”. In this case, we were on the road living like street people on a few dollars a day — for 3 weeks! How is this for a perfect angle on a DC-7C? Notice how these old propliners were so filthy underwing, where the exhausts spewed out their smoke and crud. N291 served NWA 1957 – 65, then it spent a few years as CF-TAY with Transair of Winnipeg. Again, many outfits followed, the plane finally ending as freighter HI-524CT in the Dominican Republic and going for scrap around 1990. That’s all for now. I’ll see what nifty old negs I can resurrect for our next blog session.

Important Reminder … Two Magnificent Canadian Books that Belong on your Bookshelf!

A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage CANAV’s pleased to re-introduce you to Dan Dampsey’s ace of a book. Here at CANAV HQ, I have my autographed copy on a shelf with what I call “the finest aviation books in the world”. This truly is a magnificently-produced Canadian aviation book, a treasure deserving a place of honour in your library. “TradEx” will give you decades of fabulous reading. Full coverage from 1919 into the 2010s of such great teams as Bishop-Barker, the Siskins, Golden Hawks, Golden Centennaires and Snowbirds. Everything from the Fokker D.VII to the Harvard, CF-100, Banshee, Sabre, T-33, Tutor, CF-104, CF-18, Kiowa – even such surprises as the Argus & Sea King in “demo” mode! Fascinating civil types also pop up. Some 2000 photos + 42 original paintings by the great Peter Mossman. You’ll revel in every page. Treat yourself & show your support for someone who put it on the line for Canada’s aviation heritage! 766pp, 4 kg, hc, 9.5×12 in., app’x, biblio, index. Your signed copy: all-in just $130.00 Order directly from Dan at afteams@gmail.com

The Bell 47 Helicopter Story … And — here’s a reminder about another extra special book, one to be savoured by anyone with the remotest interest in aviation history. Here’s a summary (for the full story, just search for the title): This landmark book has been very nicely printed and bound by Friesens of Altona, Manitoba. Bare bones it weighs an amazing 2.9 kg. It’s a hardcover with dust jacket. There are 730 pages with 1200 b/w and colour photos. Sincere fans of aviation history owe it to themselves to get hold of a copy … If you have not yet delved into helicopter history, a fast flip through this book will convert you. Order your copy at helicopterheritagecanada.com or … e-mail author Bob Petite in Leduc at bpetite@telusplanet.net

40 Years for CANAV Books (Part 1 August 2020) + Some ancient Toronto (CIAS) Airshow Pix + Arctic Sovereignty + California Fires

1st pic

Next year being the 40th in business for CANAV Books, I’ve started on a history of our operation. Who knows where it might end, but every book publisher needs to do this – there’s always an important story to be told. Too bad, however, but few in Canada have bothered. Guess why? It takes somebody with an interest to get the ball rolling. Besides … it’s work! When CANAV began in 1981, there were hundreds of members in the Canadian Book Publishers Association. Today? Few of those from ’81 still exist. Curiously, while most of the great names have faded, it’s mainly smaller publishers that have survived — Annick Press (Toronto, 1975), CANAV Books (Toronto, 1981), Dundurn Press (Toronto, 1972), General Store Publishing (Ottawa Valley, 1981), Harbour Publishing (Madeira Park, BC, 1974), Pottersfield Press (Nova Scotia 1979), etc.

While few specific histories have been published about our Canadian industry, there is a very serious, 3-volume series from the University of Toronto Press — History of the Book in Canada listing at about $240. Then, there is Roy MacSkimming’s well- researched and eminently readable 2003 general history of Canadian book publishing – The Perilous Trade. MacSkimming chose a really apt title – if nothing else, this is perilous business! The Perilous Trade should be required reading for Canadian business history courses. Too bad, but few such courses any longer require students to do any serious study – such as reading actual books, where course members will find actual knowledge.  Few other Canadian histories of the MacSkimming standard exist, but there is David Mason’s 2013 The Pope’s Bookbinder, an important history of the antiquarian and used book businesses in Canada. Try to find copies of these two key titles — try http://www.bookfinder.com. Meanwhile, in 2020 most Canadian book publishers have little-to-nothing to say on their websites about their histories. Too bad, right, but few in today’s trade have any connection with the past, and even less interest. Believe it or not, some publishing staff barely can muster the energy to sound interested when a customer calls with an order (in my experience, the bigger the publisher, the less the enthusiasm).

Getting Started

CANAV Books began with an idea about challenging the Canadian aviation history status quo, a devil-may-care attitude about the risks ahead, and some dumb notion that things would pan out. Now, after 40 years I find myself toying with a chapter about how/where CANAV Books has fit in based on the basic, old time book review. Some academic likely could earn a degree by methodically studying the vast subject of book reviews over the decades. Here, I’m just going to present a summary of CANAV’s experiences and how reviews were seminal in CANAV’s survival.

For any publisher, reviews can be nervously anticipated, once the review copies have been distributed. The results might call for a toast, but also bring a bit of stress. Publishers normally take reviews as they come, even if wish-washy, not that CANAV has had any serious negative comments for its 36 titles over our decades. On the whole, our books have been wonderfully received by the top Canadian, UK, European, US, and other worldwide aviation periodicals, and the general daily press. However, publishers can’t expect everything to go their way. For example, there crank “reviewers” exist, who are ready to pounce and tear a book to pieces simply out of vindictiveness. These pitiful kooks are to books what malicious hackers are to your home computer. The mystery is – why would a self- respecting journal or newspaper publish such a travesty? CANAV has had two of these attacks over the decades (more about this, later).

CANAV’s products have survived the test of time. Particularly, this is thanks to our original editor and graphics guru, Robin Brass. Having had a solid career in books, beginning in the UK, Robin was at McGraw Hill-Ryerson when I met him about 1975. We both then were in our early 30s. As a sponsoring editor at MH-R, he accepted my proposal for a general book about Canada’s aviation heritage. This was an idea that I had been “shopping around” since 1968, first with the famous book publicist and agent, Peter Scargill, then on my own, after Peter had run out of ideas. It didn’t hurt my cause that Robin knew a bit about aviation, for his father had been a wartime squadron commander (W/C D.M. Brass, DSO, 612 Sqn) and after the war had introduced Robin to the great Farnborough airshow. Simply entitled Aviation in Canada, the book came out in 1979, then went on to something rare in Canadian trade book publishing — five printings and status as a best-selling hardcover. Robin soon went into freelancing, with CANAV as an original client.

A Strong Beginning – The Avro CF-100 1981

Creating CANAV’s first book, The Avro CF-100, involved a serious team effort. To begin, I was in touch with many who could tell me the story of the CF-100 from personal experience, whether at Avro Canada, or, in the air force. I mainly gathered the basic information by a dogged letter-writing campaign – I still have the hundreds of letters, a real treasure “for future reference”. I also interviewed many people by telephone and in person. Masses of documents were unearthed and the writing began. As a sub-story was roughed out, usually I mailed it to some knowledgeable person to correct for errors and make suggestions, provide further leads, etc. I also scrounged for aircrew logbooks, photo albums and tech manuals. Over about 15 months, all such raw material came together and an plan for chapters was emerging. Meanwhile, I had gathered a hands-on crew of experts, whom I’d needed for production. Besides Robin, I needed a printer/binder. Knowing the game well, Robin connected me with Bryant Press, a prominent Canadian company. It dated to the late 1800s in downtown Toronto, and by this time was in a modern plant in east Toronto. At Bryant, I teamed with one of the firm’s old-time customer reps, Joe Matiasek. Joe was eminently qualified to guide me through the processes, for I knew almost nothing about the trade. He toured me though the plant and I started to get clued-in. Meanwhile, as I began feeding chapter material (manuscript, photos, etc.) to Robin, he started the page layout (book design). Next, he sent his work on to Arlene Weber and her company, Second Story Graphics on Queen St. in east Toronto. Arlene was our “page paste-up” expert, right down to making single- word corrections by cutting out each typo/change with a razor knife, then waxing the tiny corrections in place (these, of course, very much were pre-digital days).

For artwork, I connected with the great Peter Mossman, a fellow member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Toronto chapter. Peter’s reputation as a fine artist preceded him, so we could not have had a better man for the job. Peter agreed to do the cover art, plus several CF-100 colour profiles to appear in the book. His art was the icing on the final product. Anyone seeing his jacket design on display in a bookstore would be hard-pressed not to stop and take a look.

CANAV’s small team beavered away to meet our deadline of having a book in print for the stand-down in September of the CF-100 in Canadian air force service. For this, there would be a grand final gathering of CF-100 people at CFB North Bay, home to 414 (Electronic Warfare) Squadron, flying Canada’s last few CF-100 “Clunks”. In aid of this, the Defunct Clunk Club had been formed and people everywhere were planning to attend the weekend. Reality check — I happened to have little cash. I had packed in my day job in June 1980 to re-do myself as a book publisher, so had only a pittance of the money needed for such a project. Happily, there always seemed to be a solution. With financial advice from an old friend, N.K. “Bud” Found of Found Brothers Aviation, I made a connection with the Bank of Montreal, where I secured a Bank Letter of Credit for $22,000 to cover essential expenses. It was great to have such top professionals nearby at every step, right down to Robin designing my flyer for advance promotions, and Arlene printing it, to the DCC supporting our project by letting its 1000+ members know that a special book was on the way.

CANAV History 2

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Bits of CANAV ancient history: the agreement for my $22,000 bank loan that financed the CF-100 book, then, a typical cheque written to team members, this one to Arlene Weber’s company that did the final book set-up needed by the printer. Close to the end, her job included making hundreds of pesky corrections, some made on the very day the layout pages were going out her door to Bryant Press. CANAV being so new in the business, there were quite a few final corrections, and others that evaded detection. Live and learn!

Once “the book” reached Bryant Press about mid-July 1981, all the layout sheets were photographed. The resulting negatives were used to produce plates, which went on Bryant’s massive 72-inch Harris press. Everything finally printed, the big sheets were “folded and gathered” in the bindery, then turned into absolutely beautiful books. Going for broke, I had ordered 3500 copies, a quantity that then was typical with the big publishers for such a book. In August, Bryant delivered 3520 copies, which it even was happy to store for me at no charge – Bryant was treating me like royalty all the way. I don’t have the records today, but within a few days we had a wonderful book launching at Peter and Ruth Mossman’s place in downtown Toronto. Too bad, but no photos survive from that evening.

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Wake-up call! This was my first serious invoice as a book publisher. The main items were plate making, printing the main text + the appendices on a different paper stock + the endpapers + the dust jackets, finally book binding for a grand total of $26,351.09. The book was priced modestly at $24.95. The first re-print came in November – another 2697 copies at $20,400.02. These were extra pricey due to corrections and other changes. I could see that this was not going to be a game for the faint of heart, but it was too much fun to bale out … yet!

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Memories of the “Defunct Clunk Club” – the famous DCC “zapper”, the weekend schedule, an invitation.

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All weekend at the DCC, I carried around a copy the book for people to autograph. Nearly 40 years later this by-now battered old artifact still brings great enjoyment. Hundreds of people signed it for me. Pete Mossman’s colour profiles were favourite pages to sign, as were those of a particular CF-100 squadron. Notice the 440 Sqn photo. Signatures include 440’s then CO, Paul Manson. Not long after the reunion, Paul became commander of AIRCOM — Canada’s Air Force. Check out the shot of the pranged CF-100. It was extra fun having the very crew aboard that day sign this dramatic scene!

Naturally, when The Avro CF-100 appeared, all involved were on pins and needles. Would the book fly, or, would it crash and burn? You can imagine our relief when it quickly sold out. Initially, we had received at least 1000 advance sales from CF-100 fans around the world (I had been doing a lot of advertising before the book came off the press). Meanwhile, glowing book reviews were starting to appear. The CANAV team was relieved – to say the least. The day that Bryant delivered our books, I wrote them a cheque for the full amount due. This cemented our relationship for projects to follow. I then was busy for a couple of weeks shuttling books from Bryant down to “CANAV Books World HQ” (my house). With the help of friends, we soon shipped all the advance orders. Len Neath’s newly-formed Aviation World (then a basement operation) did a land office business, selling something like 500 copies. The book was sold out in nine weeks, the DCC gathering at North Bay greatly helping that cause. Hundreds who attended bought their copies in the hangar, while the stationary shop in downtown North Bay sold another 500. Only in my wildest dreams could I envision selling out CANAV’s first book, but so it happened. Next, Bryant Press was delighted to re- quote me for a 2500 re-print. All the enthusiasm over the book saved my bacon. After all, those B of M funds had been dwindling and the bank was looking for steady loan payments. Somehow, things panned out, even though I was the least experienced book publisher in the country.

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Of necessity, I was getting familiar with the business side of being a publisher. Here’s the August 1981 quote from Bryant Press for our 2500 re-print – imagine a neophyte publisher having the nerve to request a reprint quote the very week the first printing came off the bindery! Then, an old scrap of paste-up art used to print our announcement for the reprint. A few years later, I made a deal with McGraw Hill-Ryerson, which did a third printing (2000 copies), so The Avro CF-100 eventually totalled more than 8000 in print. This was more than just credible for a first book in a very unforgiving market “back in the day” (it’s a much tougher market in the 2020s).

Book Review Tidal Wave

Book reviews for The Avro CF-100 soon began appearing in the world press. Imagine still being on your book launching high, then receiving a review from the “United State Air Force Times” describing your book as, “One of the best aircraft biographies … possibly the best of the decade.” So it began. The leading French aviation history journal – “Air Fan” – published a superb review (No.35, September 1981), noting, “Le livre … rend magnifiquement honneur à cet avion … en plus de 300 photos de qualité irréprochable …” Writing in “Air Fan”, the respected historian, Jean-Michel Guhl, identified our book’s special features, even reminding readers how much blood and sweat go into such a project. This was a solid, all-around piece, concluding that our efforts were “complet et objectif”.

Meanwhile Germany’s leading modeling journal, “Modell-Fan” (August 1982) published its own take. Retired Arctic pilot, Roland Brandt, recently did a translation for me, revealing some very nice comments of which I had remained clueless for 40 years! One says it all: “This book about the CF-100 is one of the best publications in the genre of aviation literature. Hardly any other book measures up to the high quality standard in text and pictures.” Of course, “Modell-Fan” was blown away by the book’s 300 photos — ideal references for the model builders of the day.

Another wonderful review came from one of Britain’s and the world’s most revered journals, “Scale Models” (Vol.13, No.148, January 1982). Clearly, the reviewer had devoured the book with relish, before concluding: “The reader is taken through the development and service life in a most detailed manor. The bald facts are fleshed out with numerous verbatim accounts and the text is rounded off by a number of appendices.” The photos, charts, colour profiles, etc. are given top marks, and the reviewer concludes, “All in all, The Avro CF-100 is a beautifully produced book … Recommended”.

Britain’s highly regarded “Air Pictorial” also zeroed in on our book. As boys, we used to wait anxiously for the monthly editions of “Air Pic” to reach Canada. It had been in a 1959 issue that I first was published, so what an honour 20+ years later to receive an “Air Pic” review for CANAV’s first effort. “This is a superb book,” began “Air Pic”. “The easy style and injection of many personal accounts and anecdotes from those who made, flew and serviced the CF-100 provides an extra dimension to this work … Lavishly illustrated throughout … large, fine-art paper format … This is a book which will cause the reader some regret when he reluctantly reaches the last page.” You can see what I mean about “effusive”. A tuned-in reviewer catches on quickly when there’s a good book before him.

Being recognized by “Air Pic” was honour enough, then the UK’s beloved “Air International” stepped in with an item in its October 1982 edition. This reviewer also looked at the book’s overall qualities, such as recognizing the great Peter Mossman, who painted our colour profiles. “Air International” concluded, “The production quality of this book is excellent and it is one of the best “one type” coverage we have seen.” Meanwhile, “The Financial Post” already had observed: “Milberry’s photo- and fact- crammed book omits few of even the most trivial details of the aircraft’s history … the super collection of photos would be more than enough to delight those who flew it, or, aviation buffs in general.”

Even the crankiest reviewer was hard-pressed in 1981-82 to find anything negative to say about The Avro CF-100. In one case, I was apprehensive on hearing that a particularly “grouchy” reviewer (so he sometimes was known) at the “Toronto Star” was going to have at The Avro CF-100. This piece appeared as the Star’s lead review on October 3, 1981. In trepidation I started to read, but soon was elated. Reviewer, Ron Lowman, had been a wartime Mosquito navigator and recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. Ron concluded, “Though his book is a little technical in spots for an average reader, Milberry has nevertheless done a masterly job of research on the Clunk. The book is crammed with anecdotes from people who flew, navigated and serviced the aircraft.” Talk about dodging a bullet!

The great W.J. “Bill” Wheeler, editor of the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (Winter 1981) concluded: “I would like to have tempered this rather glowing report with a mention of some small shortcomings; but I’ve found none. Nor has anyone among the many people I have asked been able to offer any criticism.” In another case, the Royal Aeronautical Society (founded in 1866) joined in. In its June/July 1983 edition, the RAeS “Aeronautical Journal” (likely the most respected such UK periodical) passed judgment, claiming that The Avro CF-100 provides “everything that can be said of the aircraft, the people associated with it during its 30 year life, and even the songs and poems to which it gave rise … The author describes … every inch of its development and service.” Like a truly professional book man, RAeS reviewer, W.P. Hildred, finished with praise of the book’s many exceptional features from photographs to appendices, bibliography and index.

In the history of modern aviation book publishing, few books have been so well received. Here’s a further example. In its No.63, Autumn 1983 edition, the American Aviation Historical Society centred on our book’s special features, even commenting regarding its “high quality paper”. The AAHS concluded, “American publishers should take a look at this superb presentation. Definitely a “10’”. Further? This could offend a small category of literary snobs, but we also garnered an “Air Classics” review. Of course, since “Air Classics” is American, some fans turn up their noses at it, but this was a solid, reliable, beautifully-produced periodical. It survives to this day.

To open his detailed critique in the May 1983 “Air Classics”, the reviewer observed: “Right up front we should probably qualify this review by stating that The Avro CF-100 is one of the best if not the best aviation book published in the last several years. … [it] gives aero historians exactly what they want.” Again, this serious reviewer zoomed in on the book’s features, especially liking the Peter Mossman artwork. Further support came from renowned CF-100 test pilot, Stan Haswell, in his column in the Royal Canadian Military Institute’s “SITREP” of September 1981. Then, writing in The Royal Canadian Geographical Society journal, former RCAF CF-100 pilot, William Marsh, concluded, “This book is both a remarkable historical documentary and a people story. It makes good reading and gives a penetrating insight into a 30-year epoch of Canadian military aviation.”

Besides all the mainstream publications, many that were lesser known  reviewed The Avro CF-100. A typical case was “Trident”, the base newspaper at CFB Shearwater. G.R. Jenkins, there, somehow got a copy. He had heard that a second CF-100 history was imminent (so it was – Ron Page’s excellent Avro Canuck). Jenkins put it this way: “[Page’s book] will have to be superb to top Mr. Milberry’s”.

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CANAV History 13C John Coleman PeteMossman The Brogue Aug.19 2010

At artist Peter Mossman’s wake in Oshawa on March 8, 2020, many examples of his superb work were displayed. Here you can see some typical side profiles, from a contemporary Hawk to one of the originals painted for the CF-100 book, some of Peter’s gorgeous aviation coins from the Canadian mint, and typical dust jackets done for CANAV. Finally, a typical snapshot of Peter (right) with RCAF WWII pilot, John Coleman, at The Brogue pub in Port Credit for the August 19, 2010 book launch party celebrating Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force.

The Canadair North Star 1982

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Having survived at publishing the CF-100 book, then being buoyed by the support of readers, booksellers and reviewers around the world, CANAV decided on its next subject — the Canadair North Star. This was another landmark Canadian industrial project of the early post-WWII era. Our plan was the same – fastidiously gather the essential history, design a lovely book, then see what people thought. The Canadair North Star was launched at an exciting event near Toronto YYZ on November 4, 1982. It was a stormy night, but people had come from the UK, Bermuda, Montreal and the West Coast to take in the festivities. So keen in those days were aviation people that some old- time TCA retirees turned up in their wonderful old stewardess and captain uniforms. The Montreal contingent arrived in foul weather aboard Canadair’s corporate LearJet. (See http://www.canavbooks.wordpress.com for the details and photos, just search for North Star and you’ll find the item and many great photos.) Within a few days a hundred or so review copies were heading for the world’s aviation magazines and journals, as well as to Canada’s daily newspapers. On top of that, Air Canada president, the great Claude Taylor, packed 20 copies with him on a business trip that week to Switzerland.

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Now that it’s such ancient history, I can look at the invoice for the North Star book without being terrified by that big, ugly number at the bottom — $43,768. I had ordered 5000 copies, Bryant’s bindery gave me 4914. In the early 90s, McGraw Hill-Ryerson did a 2500 re-print. I still have a few of those in pristine condition, for anyone interested ( look at the above booklist, or, drop me an email larry@canavbooks.com ). Looking at the details of the invoice – it was a complex printing and binding job, for the book included foldouts + a complex foldout. About this time, Jay Miller (Aerofax) in Texas published a similar, beautifully-produced book about the X-1 planes. He was amazed that I was nervy enough to order 5000 North Stars. His book was equally a gamble, but he didn’t run 50,000 copies, as the comparative populations of Canada and the USA might have suggested. He ran 5000 in the same fear and trepidation as CANAV. Henceforth, pretty well every CANAV production has been financed by a new mortgage on 51 Balsam Ave. After 40 years, there’s still a fat mortgage owing on our recent books, but use what resources you have and – above all –don’t chicken out, right!

What the Reviewers Decided

The great “Air Pictorial” summarized The Canadair North Star about as succinctly as possible – no additional verbiage required: “A magnificent book in every respect… Highly recommended”. “Scale Models” (Vol.14, No.164, June 1983) concurred: “The usual superlatives fail to convey the quality of the 252 page book, which has to stand as a model of how to write a type monograph. It really is all here: development, use, engines, sidelights, production lists, the whole works … The author has worked a mass of technical detail into the story without allowing it to overburden the general flow of the work … the reader will find a discreet pocket attached to the inside back cover containing a folded, 3-view sectioned plan. It’s that kind of a production. … A book should be well written, enjoyable and leave the reader knowing more about the subject on the last page than he did on the first. “North Star” comes high in all three categories. Most highly recommended.”

In its March 1983 edition, “British Airways Touchdown also noticed the North Star book. Legendary BA senior purser and avid aviation photographer, Peter R. Keating, took the chance to direct fans at BA to the famous Aviation Hobby Shop, where they could buy their copy. Peter also thanked the various retired BOAC staff, who had assisted with that chapter of the book. Covering the book in the RCAF Association’s “Air Force” magazine (March 1983), reviewer Graham Wragg also liked what he read: “It’s a tremendously evocative book with something for those with a casual interest, but especially for those whose hearing is just coming back.” A bit droll, Graham, but well understood by those who had suffered the North Star’s infamous cabin noise.

The Journal of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society continued in its Vol.21, No.1: “[Milberry] has succeeded to the extent that I cannot imagine any member being without a copy … As with Aviation in Canada and The Avro CF-100 [he] has refused to let the cost factor detract from the quality of his work.” France’s highly regarded “Air Fan” also got on the band wagon with a major review with such comments as, “Le livre est magnifique, l’histoire de l’avion ne l’est pas moins.”(“The book is wonderful, the story of the plane is no less.”) Going even further, Air Fan crowed, “Remarquable. Décidément tout ce que signe Larry Milberry mérite ce qualificatif. (“Remarkable. Definitely everything Larry Milberry signs deserves this qualifier.”) Concluded “Air Classics”: “This book is produced to the highest standards – perhaps even higher than the almost perfect CF- 100 volume… Don’t miss this one.” I’ll quote one final superlative. The Italian aeronautical journal “Aerofan” put it this way: “Il prolifico autore canadese he prodotto questa volta un’altra eccellente monografia che è forse piu perfetta di quella precedente al CF-100”. This one just sings — no translation needed, right! (Nonetheless: “This prolific Canadian author produced another excellent monograph … perhaps, more perfect than the one before — the CF-100.”). Now … on the CANAV book No.3.

And the reviews go on … nearly 40 years later, our readers still are enjoying the North Star book and letting me know. One fan (ex-RCAF) this month put his thoughts in a September 2020 email: “I just finished The Canadair North Star. It is a great history lesson. It’s interesting, well illustrated and a joy to read. I liked the narratives provided by the pilots and navigators and the technical information is very good. There are also good explanations given for the politics and economy of that time and as I was reading I thought this would make a great reference for high school students and college campuses across the country. Well done!” Drop me a note if you’d like an autographed copy. Canadian readers all-in $54.60, USA/overseas CDN$70.00. Let me know if interested — larry@canavbooks.com

The De Havilland Canada Story 1983

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In 1983 we published a history of De Havilland Aircraft of Canada. Our author, Fred Hotson, was the most qualified historian to do this book. After graduating pre-WWII from Central Technical School in Toronto, Fred had worked at DHC on the Tiger Moth line. With the war, he had a distinguished career in the BCATP and Ferry Command. Postwar, he was a bush pilot, flew many years in corporate aviation (Mallard and DC-3), was a leader in the early days of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, then returned to DHC for several years demonstrating the Twin Otter around the world. Fred already had written a 50th anniversary history of DHC, when the company asked him and CANAV to produce a major book for the April 1983 rollout of the Dash 8. With Robin Brass, Peter Mossman, Arlene Weber and other  professionals, we started on a tight timeline, but somehow were able to deliver a spectacular book for the rollout. Once again, people loved what they saw, especially DHC CEO, John Sandford, who once had warned me that, if the book was one minute late for his Dash 8 event, I’d better not show my face ever again at DHC! It was a tight squeeze, but we made it with three days to spare. Just under the wire, the truck arrived from Bryant Press with Mr. Sandford’s 3000 copies (total off the bindery was 5970 of my order for 6250 copies). Waiting at DHC reception was my cheque. With that in my pocket, I drove straight back to Bryant to pay my invoice in full.

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CANAV History 18 Larry, John Sandford DHC President, Fred at D.8 Rollout 1983

In its October 1984 edition, the monthly journal, “New Zealand Wings”, took a close look at The De Havilland Canada Story. Reviewer Janic Geelen was impressed, observing in part, “The book provides interesting reading, but the photographs selected complement the text well… Fred Hotson through his long connections with the company, is able to provide a unique insight into the affairs of employees and management … a high quality, superbly illustrated book, which is as much about the De Havilland Canada people as the products which have made the name famous worldwide.” Janic did wish that there was more New Zealand content in the book, but was intelligent enough to realize that a general book can only go so far.

Writing in the “Toronto Star” on June 25, 1983, Ron Lowman, DFC, eased back a bit on his usual prickly style to dole out some praise, saying early in his lead review, “Author Fred Hotson, a former De Havilland employee, who is also an air enthusiast, pilot, engineer, and president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, has produced a readable and reasonably critical “biography” of a company. The pictures alone are worth the price of admission.” After taking a few shots here and there – even at his own beloved D.H. Mosquito, on which he flew a combat tour – Ron admitted (no doubt with some pain) that, “The book is a valuable anecdotal addition to the shelves”. Ron let us off the hook again!

Another solid review appeared in the “Vancouver Sun” about the same time. Penned by the always clued-in Phil Hanson, it covered the book’s content in detail, then gave The De Havilland Canada Story high marks: “DHC is one of the world’s most respected aircraft companies and Hotson’s book does it justice.” Enough said, right! On June 12, 1983, Mike Filey, our prolific Toronto historian (to this day) covered The De Havilland Canada Story in his regular “The Way We Were” column in “The Sunday Sun”. Mike gave a nice, compact summary of the book’s content, then told his readers two key details – where to buy a copy, and that the book is, “A real treasure.” The “Financial Post” of June 25, 1983 also covered CANAV Books — The De Havilland Canada Story included –in serious fashion. We really would have been on Cloud Nine back in these days when CANAV Books was being praised around the world. Here’s the column penned by FP’s Eva Innes in “Faces & Places”:

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Often over the decades we also were honoured with reviews from one of Canada’s kings of aviation news and history, the inimitable Robert “Bob” Halford. Early after his wartime career in the Merchant Navy (see Bob’s ace of a book, The Unknown Navy), he edited Canada’s aviation monthly, “Aircraft and Airport” (later renamed “Aircraft”), then, for decades published his own popular bimonthly, “Canadian Aircraft Operator”. Bob was always attuned to the latest in worldwide aviation news and was highly literate. CANAV received “CAO” reviews one book after the next as the years passed. Each review was intelligent, while critical. Bob loved Fred’s DHC book: “Beautifully produced by CANAV Books of Toronto, The De Havilland Canada Story reflects the author’s deep affection for the company, where he got his first aviation job and where, after a long wartime and postwar absence, he returned for his final years of aviation employment.” Bob concludes that: “Fred Hotson has written an absorbing and highly readable story, not easy to do when the story is a company history and the type of composition which, wrongly executed, can have the effect of a sedative.” Bob adds that no review of Fred’s book would be complete “without mention of its high production values, equal or superior than those already established by CANAV Books.” Meanwhile, “Aviation News” in the UK scrutinized our DHC book. Bottom line? The book is superb! “The Aeronautical Journal” of the Royal Aeronautical Society (October 1983) also had a look. It liked everything about our book, concluding, simply: “This is a book to delight any aviation enthusiast.” After praising Fred’s book’s many fine qualities, Enid Byford of “Canadian Geographic” added her own special point (as intelligent reviewers will do): “Of pleasure too, to an editor, was the absence of typographical errors, all too common in many books today.”

In briefer reviews “Aero News of Belgium” (No.3, 1984), “Air- Britain Digest”, “Air Classics” (September 1983), “Aircraft Illustrated” (August 1983), “Flypast” (July 1983), “FineScale Modeler” (October 1984), “Metropolitan Toronto Business Journal” (Vol.5, No.6) and “ScaleModels” (August 1983) all agreed, the latter observing: “We have always been impressed by the sheer quality of aviation titles from Canada, and the latest publication from CANAV Books can only enhance that reputation… There’s a lot for modelers here … Congrats to CANAV for their efforts and we eagerly await further publications from their stable.” In this period, any review from the inimitable “Propliner” is a serious honour. Look at Propliner’s decision regarding our 1999 “born again” version of Fred’s book — De Havilland in Canada: “The amazing selection of colour and black and white photographs is stunning. If only someone here in England could match your quality and depth of research. There were so many interesting aircraft manufacturers in England, but none has ever received the equivalent of the CANAV treatment”

Sixty Years – RCAF Anniversary Book 1984

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Our 1984 landmark title Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 was destined to become one of Canada’s most widely read and beloved aviation books. Following our success with three major books in less than three years, it didn’t take a brain surgeon to see that a book covering the RCAF 60th anniversary was crying out to be done. This was especially so, since no current general RCAF history existed. Time being so tight, I set straight to work, mainly to get a small group of fellow researchers busy covering the basic themes. The De Havilland book had only been delivered in May 1983, yet enough progress already had been made on the RCAF project that I had a quotation for 8000 copies from Bryant Press on February 24, 1984. It all was going ahead “at the speed of heat”, 7 days a week. So much had to be done – compile an authoritative text, find some 800 essential photos, have a team of top artists produce 94 magnificent colour profiles, get a glorious piece of cover art painted by the world-renowned Tom Bjarnason, edit and proofread non-stop, create an appendix and detailed index, plan for production and promotion, figure out funding, etc. Somehow, things stayed on the rails. Colin Clark delivered the last colour profile pretty well as the project was going out the door to the printer. Bryant Press delivered 7810 copies in the last week of August. (For Tom Bjarnason … search for him at http://www.canavbooks.wordpress.com , especially see “ CANAV says farewell to one of its original artists ).

It was a whirlwind experience, now (as they say) “the rubber hit the road”. Advance sales had been encouraging, to the extent that we shipped 2000 copies in the first week. Not surprisingly, hundreds of our newfound readers were WWII RCAF veterans. We were pretty well out of stock by spring, so I was keen to act on Bryant’s March 14, 1985 quote for a quick 2500 re-print. Sixty Years eventually would go through 5 printings and some 20,000 copies. To this day Sixty Years remains the best and the only single-volume general history of the RCAF. That will change in 2024, when we produce our sequel to Sixty Years – an RCAF 100th Anniversary book.

After more than 35 years, Sixty Years hasn’t received a negative comment in the global aviation press. Could a publisher dream of a better scenario? The redoubtable UK journal, “Aircraft Illustrated”, decided that Sixty Years was: “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”; “Air International” commented on the process of creating this mammoth book: “[Milberry] has been able to draw upon a large number of contributors. … they make up a team of researchers, photographers and writers with a unique talent and an enormous fund of resources and materials, as is evident on almost every page of the work … an outstanding product … a fascinating, deeply researched text … the photographs alone are worth the price”. “AI” provides a sharp example of “the good ol’ days” of book reviewing. As you can see, bibliophile professionals used to look much more deeply than just at the pretty pictures, flap copy, or sticker price (the latter sometimes seems to rile the weaker of book reviewers – relax, fellows, our readers will make the decision to buy — or not).

Also raving about Sixty Years from the UK was “Aviation News”, which noted, in part: “The photo coverage is as great as the written story”. “AvNews” even enjoyed the book’s occasional humorous anecdotes, then concluded: “The long, 480-page book is extremely interesting … worth every penny … a magnificent effort”. Our favourite UK journal of the day — “Air Pictorial” — also went overboard: “This is a prodigious book … with no wasted spaces … unrivalled by any other work surveying the Force as a whole.” “Flypast” had its say in No.44, March 1985: “A barrage of illustrations … backed up by a very authoritative text”. The reviewer especially noted the 37 pages of original art and the detailed appendices, finally concluding, “This … is a faithful book of reference … A worthwhile investment.”

Praise also poured from “Air Fan” (January 1985), although its reviewer seemed a bit overwhelmed: “Voilà, quelqu’un a enfin raconté l’histoire de la Royal Canadian Air Force … Fruit de plusieurs années de travail passées a compiler et à collectionner des piles et des piles de documents, le liver … se présente comme un grosse brique très illustrée Fruit de plusieurs années de travail passées a compiler et à collectionner des piles et des piles de documents, le liver … se présente comme un grosse brique très illustrée …” (“Here it is — someone has finally told the story of the Royal Canadian Air Force … Fruit of several years of work spent compiling and collecting piles and piles of documents, the book … appears as a big, very well illustrated brick …”).

“Canadian Aircraft Operator” devoted half a page to Sixty Years, summarizing its content, then concluding that it’s “a more than worthy library addition even at $50, really a bargain price for a hardcover so profusely illustrated and with such high production values”. “CAO” especially praised the extensive gallery of original aviation art. (The following year, CANAV Books donated this unique Canadian collection of 105 paintings to CF Air Command. It then became known as “The Air Force Art Collection” and ever since has adorned the halls and offices at Air Command/RCAF HQ in Winnipeg.) Sixty Years also caught the eye of Hamilton’s daily, “The Spectator”, even if ages after the book appeared. Writing on July 3, 1991 reviewer, Joe Chapman, called Sixty Years “a splendid book” that would “thrill younger readers, while the technical data will delight aeronautical enthusiasts”. Joe then sent me a letter apologizing for the brevity of his review, “for the editors are more and more restricting my column”, then finished: “I thought Sixty Years was a tour de force and many readers have told me that they bought it as a gift. It should become a treasured possession for many air force veterans and part of the libraries of many Legion or RCAFA clubrooms.” Even to this day, such venues as Canadian Legion branches often still possess a dog-eared copy of Sixty Years.

In these heady years for CANAV, one of Canada’s most popular book columns was “Brown’s Books” in the Canadian Legion’s journal, then with something like 600,00 subscribers. In the December 1984 issue of “Legion”, we received another wonderful review:

RCAF veterans and others interested in aviation or military history will be happy to find Sixty Years, edited by Larry Milberry, under the tree … an enormously detailed volume, full both of the sweep of air force history as well as massive quantities of memorable minutiae. The contributors were many, their input expert, and the total effect is awesome – more than 450 pages, 800 photos with an emphasis on people and planes, and 90 colour profiles of aircraft. Sixty Years is an accomplishment, fills a real need and will bring great pleasure to the reader … priced at a justified $50.

Talk about wrapping up the whole thing with big red Christmas bow! Few could “nail” a book review like “Brown’s Books”. It was a sad day when Legion decided that books were dead, so it was time to re-categorize the brilliant “Brown’s Books” column as irrelevant for the new century.

Meanwhile, in his “The Way We Were” spot in Toronto’s “Sunday Sun” for October 25, 1984, Mike Filey summed up Sixty Years as, “a 480-page book that brings together the most comprehensive history of our several air forces and uses the largest number of photographs ever assembled for a book on the subject of Canadian military aviation”. A few weeks later, in the “Toronto Star” of December 8, 1984, senior book editor, the renowned Lew Gloin, decided that Sixty Years was worth his “lead review” status. Imagine an upstart book publisher rating such a plum. Naturally, Lew gave the assignment to his tough, in-house aviation expert, Ron Lowman, DFC. Ron began by describing Sixty Years as “a six-decker sandwich for aviation buffs”, before getting into the content. As usual, his style was colourful, such as: “In this prodigious work, editor Milberry vacuumed together material from all points of the compass, tossed in some splendid color photography and let some of the flyboys have their head with anecdotes.” He then summed it up: “If father or grandfather was in the air force, Sixty Years will suit him nicely for Christmas. Only snag is that the stocking will have to be outsized and reinforced.” (Find a copy of Ron’s own best-selling book, Terror in the Starboard Seat, covering his wartime tour on Mosquitos.)

In these years, when it came to new books it was an exciting world compared to 2020. Canada’s daily and periodical publishers still were very much “book people”. On staff were sharp-minded writers waiting to pounce at the next interesting story, such as a book like Sixty Years. After all, the war still was a mere 15 years in the rear view mirror. Newspapers and radio stations were staffed by reporters who knew all about WWII, the Korean War and the current Cold War. So it was at the “Edmonton Journal”, where aviation had been prime front-page content since the 1920s. In 1984 the paper had its designated aviation writer — Ken Orr. Ken recently had served a tour as a tech on NATO duty with an RCAF Sabre squadron. Like so many young men, he had been living the dream by servicing top Cold War fighters on a frontline NATO base. Now, he was writing aviation for a lead Canadian newspaper. Ken was elated at receiving a review copy of Sixty Years from his boss with an assignment to turn in a review. Such a paper never underplayed aviation, so this became a 2/3 page story in a broadsheet paper. Here’s Ken’s write-up of February 10, 1985.

CANAV History 21CANAV Review Edmonton JournalFebruary 10, 1985Several other publications also covered Sixty Years with similar enthusiasm, the “The Edmonton Sunday Sun” (October 7, 1984) and “Winnipeg Free Press” (September 29, 1984) included. The “Free Press” had its own old hand specializing in aviation – Fred Cleverley (1917-2010). Fred was a pre-WWII aeronautical engineer, a WWII combat veteran and, in postwar years, a private pilot. His take was typical: “The air force history is well told in both text and pictures in Sixty Years, a truly impressive book of military history.” Fred especially liked the tail end of the book, where the commander of Air Command, LGen Paul Manson, presented his ideas and hopes for tomorrow’s air force. Impressed by the review copies that we had sent around, other top columnists wrote items about CANAV, and there were radio interviews, including seven minutes “live” with the CBC’s great Peter Gzowski of “This Country in the Morning” fame. This came about after I had sent a review copy to Peter. His assistant, Sandy Mowatt, phoned to check me out, then booked me for an interview. Peter’s studio was the worst experience for a nervous little book publisher. To begin, I had been expecting a taped interview, so almost fell off my chair when Peter suddenly announced that we were “live”. Meanwhile, I was almost suffocating, since he and his all-female technical handlers were frantically smoking, creating a solid blue cloud — instrument flight rules “weather” in the studio. Regardless, I survived, and later that week the great test pilot, R.H. “Bob” Fowler, called to congratulate me. He had tuned in to the interview in the cockpit of the Dash 7 he had been testing that morning over Lake Ontario.

Here are CANAV items published in this period by two of Canada’s top journalists and book people, Beverley Slopen (Toronto Star, November 17, 1991) and Sandra Martin. Sandra’s story was a lead item in CP Air “Empress”, the airline’s in-flight magazine. About this time, Dan Proudfoot of the “Toronto Sun” ran a story with more of a local “small business” slant.

CANAV History 22 Feature Sixty Years Slopen

CANAV History 23 Feature Sandra Martin CPAir

CANAV History 24 Dan Proudfoot News Story Toronto Sun Story

CANAV History 25 Sixty Years Feature Dan Proudfoot Toronto Sun Photo

Dan Proudfoot set up this photo in our back garden. Here’s the author with children Kate, Steff and Simon. Notice the hi-tech word processor of the times. Guess what … it worked!

Besides scoring a spot on “This Country in the Morning”, I also was on air with other famous local broadcasters — Bill McNeil and Cy Strange of CBC’s hugely popular (to this day) “Fresh Air”, and Joe Coté of CBC’s lead Toronto weekday show, “Metro Morning”. On November 26, 1984 Sandy Fife of “The Globe and Mail Report on Business” took his own go at the CANAV phenomenon, pairing us with another upstart aviation publisher, the renowned Don McVicar of Montreal. Under the headline “Flying Solo No Mean Feat, Small Publishers Discover”, Sandy began interestingly: “Book publishing, like film making, is a high risk business with a glamorous image. But entrepreneurs attracted to the business by visions of prestige and quick profits are likely to be disillusioned quickly, veteran small publishers say. Larry Milberry, owner of Toronto-based CANAV Books, spends more time boxing books in his basement and worrying about bills than attending literary luncheons … Don McVicar’s Ad Astra Books based in Dorval, Que., also specializes in aviation titles, summed up his experience in the publishing field bluntly, “This isn’t a business anybody’s going to get rich at.” Sandy then pointed out that Statistics Canada reported that small Canadian publishers accounted for a mere 1.1% of the country’s $1 billion in annual book sales [$1,670 billion in 2017].

Sandy did a solid job, seeking info from professional groups, and prying into CANAV, finding out such details about the Sixty Years project as, “Milberry … raised the $40,000 needed through bank loans and advance direct mail sales”, and that sales of Sixty Years were 20% to mail order readers, 80% to “200 independent book sellers and retail chains across the country.” Peppering Don McVicar with questions, he reported, “After examining the costs, Mr. McVicar … decided not to go into the publishing business … he set up a book distribution company to handle his work … The former Royal Air Force pilot, Canadian airline owner, consultant and broker, started writing about his flying past in 1977. Ferry Command was done by Airlife Publishing Ltd. of Britain in 1981. It sold 4000 copies world- wide… By this time, Ad Astra Books was handing 10 Airlife titles in North America… [McVicar] is hoping the company will be making money this year, but if it were not for his continuing work as a consultant, he would not be able to keep operating …”

CANAV History 26

You owe us $123,277.18. Thanks … The Bryant Press! Welcome to the real world of book publishing, aptly christened (by Roy MacSkimming) as “the perilous trade”. I took on the RCAF 60th anniversary project while still on financially thin ice. However, with the CF-100 book, I had mastered the art of advance book sales. I’d launch a mail and advertising campaign in the weeks before publication. Orders would start rolling in, so the CANAV bank account would skyrocket just as the hefty bills came due. Other funds were provided via CANAV’s bank line of credit. So, when this massive invoice that you see here arrived for 7810 copies (8000 had been ordered) of Sixty Years, it swiftly got paid and the CANAV financial merry-go-round began again at square one with the next project.

By standard trade practice, Sixty Years should have been priced at $75 (a book’s sticker price then usually was determined as being five times the “plant” cost. i.e., the cost of printing and binding). However, by running a tight ship, I was able to fly with a $50 sticker price. Later editions by McGraw Hill-Ryerson went at $60, but sold out, regardless – clued-in readers know a good book and care less about the price. Meanwhile, CANAV had not yet applied for any sort of Ottawa or other “arts council” grants (neither have we done so to this day). Many Canadian book publishers seem to exist chiefly to collect these government handouts. I always figured that if I chose to gamble in the book publishing game, it would be poor form for me to pick my neighbours’ pockets in the process.

Final Word for Sixty Years

All things considered? There’s no argument about Sixty Years being the best single volume ever produced under the heading “general history of the RCAF”. It’s a real gem for anyone with a passion for RCAF heritage. A few new copies of the fifth (final) printing still are available. See the attached booklist: CANAV Booklist Summer_Fall 2020 or drop me an email: larry@canavbooks.com Watch our blog in the coming weeks for Part 2 of this series. We’ll pick it up with notes about our Austin Airways and Canadair Sabre books.

CANAV Photo Archives … A Few More Old Gems

CANAV History 27 Victor XD830

I hope you enjoy these early photos that I shot at Toronto’s old Malton Airport – today’s famous “YYZ”. On nearly every visit there in the late 50s and early 60s, we were sure to find some nice surprise or other — a local or visiting plane to photograph, make notes about and simply marvel at. Then, there were those special days, when airshow participants would line the tarmac. In our early Malton years, these usually parked across Runway 10-28 from the main terminal by the old wartime hangars. Since the Toronto Flying Club was there, we usually simply called this “the flying club side”, although most of the WWII hangars then were occupied by corporate aircraft. September 6, 1960 promised to be one of these special days.

My airplane spotting sidekick, Merlin Reddy, and I drove out to Malton that day in his old ’54 Ford. It was Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition airshow week, so we were looking for some excitement. Topping the bill were three impressive Vickers Valiant bombers of RAF 90 Squadron, and the US Navy Blue Angels Grumman Tigers along with the team’s R4D-8 and F-9F-8 Cougar support planes. As usual for 1960, I was shooting 120 black-and-white film with my Minolta Autocord. In those days, we tended to frame our shots a bit tight. In the first 3-4 decades of hobbyists shooting airplanes, this somehow had become one of the basic rules. Happily, we gradually realized that this was dumb (along with other of those early rules).

CANAV History 28 Victor XD871

In subsequent years, we’d see the Valiant’s V-Bomber stable mates, the Victor and the Vulcan at the Toronto airshow. One or the other invariably turned up following 1960. To get a detailed picture of the Valiant development program, treat yourself to a copy of Brian Trubshaw: Test Pilot. An absolute gem of a book. “Trubbie” flew most of the early Valiant trials, before eventually becoming chief test pilot on the UK Concorde program. You can find copies of this fine biography on the web.

Here are shots I took of Valiant XD830 and XD871 taxiing at Malton on that September 6. The trio had arrived together, likely after a refueling stop at Goose Bay. They were in the standard RAF “anti- radiation” all-white colour scheme of the day. The squadron logo on the fin (“XC) indicates 90 Squadron from RAF Station Honington (situated about half way between Cambridge and Norwich). The low- slung Valiant was an impressive sight with its massive shoulder- mounted wing, huge 1500-Imp.gal. underwing fuel tanks and hefty undercarriage. A crew of five occupied the pressurized nose compartment. The bulge under the nose housed the ground-mapping radar. All our Valiant shots this day were real set-ups, since each plane taxied by slowly. The other two Valiants this day were XD830 and XD862. All three went for scrap in 1964-65, after corrosion was discovered through the fleet. The government decided it was time to retire the Valiant, rather than face costly repairs. Of 107 Valiants built, the only complete example is XD818, which may be seen at the RAF Museum at Cosford.

CANAV History 30

Next from September 6, 1960 are shots of three Blue Angles Grumman F11F Tigers. First is 141872 flown by the CO, CDR Zeb V. Knot (USN 1942-1974); then 141868 No.2 flown by LCDR Kenneth R Wallace (USN 1946-1974 Team CO 1961-1963); finally 141883 flown by Lt Chuck Elliott.

CANAV History 31

CANAV History 32

What a photogenic fighter plane, right. The Tiger looked great from any of the standard angles that we fans liked (often we’d circle such a plane taking several angles). 141872 now resides at the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum in Michigan. Where is 141868? Se it in the Planes of Fame Museum in Valle, Arizona. 141883 came to a bad ending on March 15, 1964. It crashed that day while attempting an emergency landing at Apalach airport in Florida. The pilot, Lt George L. Neal, died while ejecting. The Tiger’s predecessor, the F-9F-8 Cougar also was fun to photograph. Here’s the team’s Cougar 2-seater 142470 on September 6 at Malton. It was used to fly media on “famil” or photo flights, and did odd jobs, such as dashing here and there when spare parts were urgently needed. Today, 142470 sits aboard the historic aircraft carrier USS Lexington at Corpus Christi, Texas.

CANAV History 33 Cougar 142470The Airplane Photographer’s “Rules of the Road” 1930- 1960

Through the 1930s-50s a loose association of airplane photographers (chiefly in the USA) was establishing the basic rules for this hobby. Initially, the group was called the International Amateur Aircraft Photo Exchange. Such Canadians as Gordon Irons of Vancouver, Jack McNulty and Basil Vansickle of Hamilton, and Peter Troop of Toronto were early members. You can read about the IAAPE in two articles by the well-known American photographer, Brian Baker, at: 116/616 Photographers – Areoflies

Also, see Brian’s longer article in the July/August 2020 edition of “Vintage Aircraft” ( http://www.vintageaircraft.org … subscribers only, however). My pals and I became strict adherents of these rules, when getting into airplane photography in the 1950s. My photos here reflect some of the basic rules then being strictly preached by our mentors who came out of the 1930s. Check the three Valiant photos, for example. For this exciting shoot, we were on the mandatory “sunny side” (“shadow side” was to be avoided at all cost), the foreground is unobstructed by people, vehicles and other dreaded “clutter”, there is no “unsightly” background such as buildings or wires, the horizons are straight, the aircraft markings are evident. In a word, my Valiants are all ideal “set-up shots”. If you’re one of today’s airplane hobbyists, you’ll enjoy “116 / 616 Photographers – Aerofiles”,  so track it down and have a look.

Arctic Current Events

Arctic readers take note … There’s a website with a very informative selection of daily news reports about Arctic developments, especially regarding Russian and American military happenings, including a recent exercise with RNoAF F-16s and six USAF B-52s. What does the future hold across the to

West Coast Wild Fires … here’s a good summary of how aviation is helping with this season’s West Coast wild fires:


FYI …for your copy of  CANAV’s Extensive List of Misc. Books, Journals etc. contact me:  larry@canavbooks.com

Norseman + Air Canada 2020 Updates + USAF Assesses Its Arctic Stance

When we start some new research project, all sorts of material of peripheral interest to one’s new work will surface. So it is happening as I begin preparing for what will be CANAV’s 2024 blockbuster 100 th Anniversary the RCAF (if you have our Sixty Years book, you’ll know what to expect). Just this week a lot of Norseman photos popped up “out of nowhere”, so I can’t let this go by. Before these got re-buried in some filing cabinet or dark corner, I fingered them for blog use. So … let’s have a look.

BLOG 1 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Norseman 44-70362 CF-GPG cr.Gander Lake 18-8-1950 McLaren Album 4 Bill Wheeler 2020 28-8-1944 Cartierville_1
In our book Norseman Vol.1, there are some wonderful photos taken at the Noorduyn factory at Cartierville. Here’s a new one that comes from a collection saved by the late, great Duncan D. McLaren, chief test pilot at Noorduyn in 1944. In the early 1990s it was my honour to visit and interview this great man in California, where he retired. Duncan later published one of Canada’s best personal aviation stories, Bush to Boardroom. See if you can find a copy at www.bookfinder.com Look at this wonderful Noorduyn photo as US military UC-64A Norsemans prepare to depart on delivery. First is 44-70362. Delivered to the USAAF on August 28, 1944, it was headed for Luke Field in Arizona. After brief service there, and storage in Georgia, it was sold as war surplus materiel to Kansas City Southern Skyways. However, it quickly was re-sold to Newfoundland Airways, becoming VO-ABW. When “Newfie” joined Canada in 1949, it became CF-GPG, but soon ended in a crash at Gander Lake on August 18, 1950 that killed Mr & Mrs F.M. Henderson. Beyond in this scene is Norseman 44-70364. Its destination from Cartierville was Alaska, where it was in service by late September. When its military days ended, it was purchased by a D.J. King of Minneapolis, but its history then dries up.
BLOG 2 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren (2nd froim left) Bill Wheeler 2020 Cartierville 1944
Perhaps at the same time, Duncan McLaren organized this rare US Army UC-64A Norseman formation “photo op” over Cartierville. Duncan was flying the plane second from the left.
BLOG 3 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Bill Wheeler 2020 Noorduyn Pilots 1944_1
This really is a fantastic shot for anyone seriously interested in Noorduyn history. I suspect that Duncan McLaren organized this scene showing Noorduyn test and evaluation pilots at a 1944 after work “cocktail hour”. How horrifying for today’s young pilots, eh. However, fellows actually used to whoop it up a bit after a long day on the job, testing who knows how many airplanes. These fellows all would have been qualified to fly anything that Noorduyn was building (Norsemans and Harvards), plus diverse types in the shops for overhaul. Shown are (front) Gren Joselin, (middle) Dick Fawcett, Frank Crang, Bob Ramsey, F/L Jack Arthur and Eddie Palmer, and (back) Gordon Ballantyne, Phil LaRivière, Duncan McLaren, Alfie Cockle, and an unknown air traffic controller.
BLOG 4 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Bill Wheeler 2020 Noorduyn Pilots 1944_2
Here are some of the same renowned fellows in their work clothes. In front are Gren, Dick, Bob and Eddie. Behind are Frank, Gordon and Duncan. These were roaring times for everyone at Noorduyn, where hundreds of Norsemans and Harvards were rolling out monthly.
BLOG 5 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Bill Wheeler 2020 Noorduyn Staff Phil Lariviere mechanic Hal Suddes Project eng D. McLaren pilot cabin heater tests StJovire 7-1944
Top Noorduyn Norseman men in 1944: Phil LaRivière chief mechanic, Hal Suddes project engineer and Duncan McLaren chief pilot. Phil remained at Noorduyn through the postwar years, and, later was involved in an effort to revive the Norseman.
BLOG 6 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Norseman SkiTrials LacQuimet StJovite 4-1944 Bill Wheeler 2020
Noorduyn men installing skis. Check out the sledge hammers – always handy to have for that final little “touch-up”. After all – it was a Norseman!
BLOG 7 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Bill Wheeler 2020 Norseman VI 43-5174 FloatTrials StJovite 11-1944 To Argentina_4
US Army Norseman 43-5174 at Quimet Lake near St. Jovite, Quebec while it was test plane for evaluating EDO 7170 floats. “5174” spent almost two years at Noorduyn doing such work under Duncan McLaren. Postwar, it flew in Argentina into the early 1960s as LV-AAT, then LV-FES.
BLOG 8 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Bill Wheeler 2020 Norseman 43-5174 FloatTrials EDO 7170 StJovite To Argentina_3 All via Milberry 7-2020
“5174” on Edo 7170s with a canoe fitting being evaluated. “7170” indicated the gross weight (in pounds) permitted for this aircraft type on floats.
BLOG 9 McLaren Album 4 D.. McLaren Bill Wheeler 2020 P-63+Norseman SkiTrials Lac Quimet Gray Rocks Inn StJovite 4-1944
Norseman 43-35348 and a USAAF Beech C-45 at Ouimet Lake in 1944 during ski trials for the Bell P-63 fighter. “5348” was delivered to the USAAF at Peterson Field, Colorado in April 1944. In this pre-delivery scene, it likely was serving temporarily as a project support plane. Notice the wheel/ski arrangement on the C-45.
BLOG 10 McLaren Album 4 D.D. McLaren Bill Wheeler 2020 HBC Norseman V CF-BHT
For the postwar civil market, Noorduyn produced the Norseman “V” – “V” for Victory. One of the first was delivered to the Hudson’s Bay Company of Winnipeg. CF-BHT was delivered in November 1945. The HBC flew “BHT” into 1955, after which there were several operators (chiefly Wheeler Airlines). Phil LaRivière was operating “BHT” at Sept-Îles, Quebec, when it crashed on June 2, 1967. By then, the log book showed that it had amassed 9265 flying hours (all such great info can be found at the magnificent Norseman website, see http://norsemanhistory.ca/Aircraft.htm You need to bookmark this very special site!
BLOG 11 Norseman John Knudsen Kakabeka Falls 30-7-1994_1
BLOG 12 Norseman John Knudsen Kakabeka Falls 30-7-1994_2
In surveying some of the great W.J. “Bill” Wheeler’s archives lately, I spotted these two Norseman photos. Bill took these shots at Kakabeka Falls near his hometown of Port Arthur/Thunder Bay on July 7, 1994. This is thought to be CF-OBG, the first Norseman “V”. Having begun in June 1945 with the Ontario Provincial Air Service, around 1960 it was at Kenora with Ontario Central Airlines, then ended in Sioux Lookout with Slate Falls Airways. Is there any news about this airframe in 2020?
BLOG 13 Norseman Sweden David Godfrey photo
In Norseman Vol.2 there’s a similar photo to this Norseman of the Swedish Air Force Museum at Lingoping. Having begun as USAAF 43-35418, it served in the UK and perhaps the “ETO” – European Theater of Operations. In 1947 it was sold in Sweden to Norrlandsflyg AB as SE-ASC. Various others flew it until it was acquired by the museum and displayed in air force ambulance colors.
BLOG 14 Book Cover Vol.1
BLOG 15 Book Cover Vol.2
In case you still don’t have your set of our by now renowned Norseman books, here’s the info and how to order. Vol.1 Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, by Larry Milberry and Hugh A. Halliday is acclaimed as one of the world’s most in-depth airplane “bios” and one in which any fan will revel. From early years in design to WWII. The transition to peace as the Norseman makes itself useful with bush, coast and polar operations. Writes Scale Aviation Modeller: “Packed with the kind of photographic material you won’t find on the internet … well-researched and comprehensive.” Our readers add: “I like the weaving of anecdotes with the narrative.” “What airplane fan couldn’t love it! I’m … straining at the chocks for the next installment. See our blog for more reviews 232 pages, hc, lf, 450+ photos, gloss, biblio, index. $50.00 … Vol.2 Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman. The Norseman in Canada and around the world from war’s end to the present. From Newfoundland to BC & Alaska, Norway, New Guinea, Australia, Latin America. How one Canadian product made its mark across 9 decades. Spectacular presentation with 650 colour and b/w photos – exactly what you’d expect from CANAV. A book for anyone wanting the solid goods! 304 pp, hc, gloss, biblio, index. CDN$65.00. Canadian orders both books CDN$115.00 + $18.00 post + tax $6.65 TOTAL CDN $139.65 by PayPal or INTERAC to larry@canavbooks.com , or, or by cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E3B6. USA and overseas pay in CDN dollars (USA save the 30%+ on the exchange). USA and overseas email me for shipping costs. Other questions? Send me an email. Cheers … Larry

Air Canada 2020 Overview For a really excellent look at Air Canada today, please see this top WNED Buffalo interview by former CTV news anchor, Jim Deeks, with Air Canada President and CEO, Calin Rovanescu. Guaranteed … this will be time very well spent. This program brings those two seminal TCA/Air Canada books into perfect 2020 focus — G.R. McGregor’s The Adolescence of an Airline, and Philip Smith’s It Seems Like Only Yesterday. See WNED: Episode 9 | April 5 | Calin Rovinescu – President and CEO of Air Canada.

USAF — What’s its Future in the Arctic? Also see https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2281961/air-force-reveals-cold-facts-on-new-arctic-strategy/source/GovDelivery/

Canada began establishing its Arctic aviation interest/policy in 1922, when the great S/L R.A. Logan accompanied a scientific expedition that visited such far northern locations as Pond Inlet at the top of Baffin Island. See www.aina.ucalgary.ca › scripts › proe › propubnameUnfurling the Air Force ensign in the Canadian Arctic : the 1922 eastern Arctic and 1927-28 Hudson Strait expeditions / Lackenbauer, P.W. Eyre, K.C. [Calgary …

S/L Logan being particularly capable, the site that he recommended as a possible landing area at Pond Inlet actually did (post WWII) become the hamlet’s airport. So it remains to this day. The 1927-28 Hudson Strait Expedition added greatly to the RCAF’s knowledge of this vast, forbidding region (see Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force, The Creation of a National Air Force, Canada’s Flying Heritage, etc). With WWII, much more was learned, starting with an expedition using two RCAF Norsemans, something that led to the establishment (by the US military) of important airports from Churchill and Ungava to Baffin Island and Greenland. This network arose from the need to ferry airplanes from North American factories to the UK for the war effort. Subsequently, in the 1950s the Cold War saw many new Arctic bases established under the DEW Line project. By 2020, this nearly century-old evolution sees aviation as the glue holding together Canada’s Arctic real estate.

Meanwhile, from the 1950s the RCAF was operating frequent (usually monthly) Northern patrols (NORPATs) using the Lancaster, Argus and Aurora. In 1977 I was on one of these with 407 Sqn. We flew two patrols that week in an Argus from Cold Lake. Each mission was packed with objectives. What else should an Arctic nation be doing, right? Much on-the-spot info was gathered on NORPATs, then Ottawa cut the budget and patrols became fewer and fewer. In more modern times (1980s) came the establishment of very expensive Arctic FOLs (forward operating locations) for Canada’s CF-18s. These were built at Rankin Inlet, Yellowknife, Inuvik and Iqaluit. However, Canada’s commitment to such bases and other serious Arctic defence measures has been fading (the FOLs were left to deteriorate even before the USSR collapsed).

Much Arctic hoopla has been displayed in recent years by PMs Harper and Trudeau taking glitzy summer swans across the north, promising huge development, even a deep water port. These swans were little more than expensive photo and political campaigning ops. Any tangible Arctic development has been hard to measure. Meanwhile, the USA, Russia and China all are very seriously focused on the Arctic. Does Canada intend to get back into this high-stakes game, or will Ottawa sit on its hands and let our Arctic prerogatives wither? These two recent news items (the first published at “Breaking Defense”) puts the spotlight on what the USAF is contemplating for the Arctic. Is Ottawa even clued in about this? As we sit here, the only RCAF aircraft based in the Arctic remain 3 or 4 ancient Twin Otters (440 Sqn) that have been flying from Yellowknife for decades. These support our famous Canadian Rangers, but also (and infamously) have been used to take VIP flunkies from Ottawas on exotic summer fishing trips. This is not what we can call a serious Arctic commitment to Canada’s air defence/sovereignty. See what you think of these USAF papers where Canada barely gets a mention:

New Air Force Arctic Strategy May Update Planes For Polar Ops

“Historically the Arctic, like space, was characterized as a predominantly peaceful domain,” the Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett said. “This is changing.”

By   Theresa Hitchens on July 21, 2020 at 4:58 PM

A Royal Canadian Air Force C-130 Hercules comes in on final approach to Thule.

WASHINGTON: As part of its new Arctic Strategy released today, the Air Force is eyeing how to modernize mobility aircraft capable of polar operations, improve existing bases, and expand allied cooperation as it gears up to face increased challenges in the region from Russia and China — as well as the changing environment.

“Historically the Arctic, like space, was characterized as a predominantly peaceful domain,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett told the Atlantic Council Tuesday afternoon. “This is changing with expanded maritime access, newly discovered resources, and competing sovereign interests.”

The new Air Force strategy document, which follows from Department of Defense’s 2019 Arctic strategy, touts the service’s extensive northern network of airbases and radar stations. The study even says that the service is responsible for “close to 80% of DoD resourcing to the Arctic region.”

Now, that surprising figure is sourced to a single DoD paper from 2016, and the Navy submarine force, which regularly sails under the ice and holds an annual ICEX, might challenge that contention. As Breaking Defense readers are well aware, the Navy has been ramping up efforts in the Arctic over the past year, and new Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite is a former ambassador to key regional ally Norway.Air Force graphic

SOURCE: Air Force Arctic Strategy

In Tuesday’s event, the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein, was politic enough to emphasize that the service is working closely with the other services, especially the Navy, and with the joint Combatant Commanders to ensure “seamless” joint operations in the region.

In particular, he referred to the ongoing series of Global Integration Exercises — launched by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford — that are designed to allow more fluid operations across and between Combatant Commands. Indo-Pacific Command, European Command, and Northern Command (which covers North America) all have jurisdiction over pieces of the Arctic.

Sec. Barrett cited DoD’s familiar litany of concern with Russian and Chinese aspirations and activities in the far north.

“No other country has a permanent military presence above the Arctic Circle comparable to Russia’s. Recent Russian investments in the Arctic include a network of offensive air assets and coastal missile systems,” she said. (Of course, no country has as long an Arctic coastline as Russia, either, and Russian leaders remember the US and other Western powers staged a desultory intervention in Siberia in 1918-1920).

China, she added, is setting potentially “predatory” eyes on newly opened access to natural resources, including oil.

“China is not an Arctic nation by geography, but through its One Belt, One Road initiative It has laid the claim to an Arctic role, and has become an observer to the Arctic Council,” she said. “We’re perfectly prepared to accept fair and benevolent action there and having China as a participant, but we will be attentive to overreaching.”

The strategy, signed by Barrett, Goldfein, and Space Force/Space Command head Gen. Jay Raymond, lays out four lines of effort along with the sub-elements of each: “Vigilance in All Domains; Projecting Power through a Combat-Credible Force; Cooperation with Allies & Partners; and, Preparation for Arctic Operations.”

Barrett said that the “vigilance encompasses everything from weather forecasting and consistent communications to threat detection and tracking.” The strategy document further notes that missile defense and space capabilities — including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and all-domain awareness — also are key to the mission.

As for power projection in the region, Barrett mentioned in particular the Air Force’s deployment of F-35 stealth fighters to Alaska as critical in enhancing capabilities. The service is in the process of moving some 54 F-35s to Eielson AFB in Fairbanks.

“When the full complement of planned F-35s arrive at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska’s unparalleled concentration of fifth-generation fighters will project unmistakable influence,” Barrett said.

She also noted that the service is looking at recapitalization of Lockheed Martin’s LC-130, the ski-equipped polar version of the C-130 Hercules transport plane. The Air National Guard currently has 10 operational LC-130H aircraft, according to the service’s 2021 budget documents.

“The LC-130s have been pivotal to getting access to terrain that otherwise would be inaccessible,” Barrett said. “So the LC-130 is very important, and recapitalizing is a significant issue to us.”

“The Air Force will advance recapitalization and explore modernization of existing and emergent polar mobility platforms that are critical for reaching remote areas,” the new strategy says.

In addition, the strategy emphasizes efforts to sustain and modernize bases in Alaska and at Thule, Greenland to allow regional power projection. As Breaking D readers know, Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of Northern Command, is particularly interested in upgrading command, control and communications (C3) capabilities in the Arctic. 

Raymond told the Atlantic Council webinar that one of the new challenges for Arctic infrastructure is dealing with new challenges cropping up due to the warming climate.

“What has changed is the thawing and the melting of the permafrost,” he said. “It can have significant challenges on our infrastructure. It can cause foundations of buildings and equipment to shift. It can impact the structural integrity of those facilities .. for example cause increase runway maintenance,” he said.

Goldfein stressed the strategy’s high priority to enhance operations with NATO and regional allies, including Canada, Denmark and Norway. “You know only through cooperation with our allies will be be strong in Arctic or any other location in the globe,” he said.

But he also said DoD and the Air Force should be making an effort to establish rules of the road and norms of behavior in the Arctic, and reaching out to Russia to identify mutual interests.

“So, the question is: are there areas of common interest we can find above the 66th parallel that perhaps we’re not able to find below?” Goldfein said. “There has to be a few areas of common interest that we can find where we can be better together than we are separately.”

RCAF Lancaster FM104 Update + CATP Museum Tour + Air Cadets Update (Must Read) +”A Tradition of Excellence” — a Book for Any True Fan + Good News from Harbour Air

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Here’s one of the vintage b/w photos that I took at the Lancaster retirement weekend at Downsview on April 5, 1964. That’s search and rescue FM104 in the foreground with “long nose” reconnaissance KB976 beyond.

Aviation fans everywhere love the Avro Lancaster. Canadians had begun crewing on Lancasters with RAF Bomber Command as soon as the “Lanc” began operations late in 1941. The distinct RCAF bomber group formed a year later (No.6 Group) was flying Canadian-built Lancaster Xs by war’s end.

Today, I’m looking back to April 4/5, 1964 in RCAF Lancaster history. That was somewhat melancholic, being the week the RCAF retired its Lancasters. For the occasion, Lancasters KB882 and KB976 (both the long nose, Arctic reconnaissance version) and FM104 (search and rescue version) had starring roles at RCAF Station Downsview in Toronto. Many RCAF veterans attended to honour their beloved “Lanc” and walk around it on the ramp for one last time. Thanks to “Lancaster KB976 – The Full Story” (you can google it) we know all about KB976. For KB882 see such sites as Lancaster KB882 – National Air Force Museum of Canada

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A shot I took of FM104 in Coronation Park on July 31, 1967. It still was looking impressive, but the following years to 1999 would be hard on this famous wartime treasure. Birds nested in it and human squatters even moved in — talk about pitiful. eh. Notice the Sherman tank and artillery display beyond.

What about FM104? Although it had gotten to the UK in 1945, it arrived too late in the war for bombing operations. It soon flew home to spend several years in storage, before being converted for its important SAR role. FM104 then put in several years at Torbay, Newfoundland patrolling Eastern Canada and the NorthAtlantic with 107 Air Sea Rescue Unit. Once retired in 1964, it was acquired by the RCAF Association and displayed for decades atop a pylon in Coronation Park on Toronto’s downtown waterfront. Nearby were some other important emblems of Canada at war – the famous RCN destroyer HMCS Haida,a Sherman tank, and an artillery piece. Eventually, Toronto’s anti-war city councilors prevailed and all these historic reminders of Canada’s revered (by most decent citizens) military past were removed.

Happily, FM104 was saved. In 1999 some avid Toronto Aerospace Museum volunteers dismantled it and moved it to Downsview airport in north Toronto for gradual restoration. Some solid progress was made, then the museum suddenly folded. Inevitably, a discussion arose about FM104, ownership of which by then was with the City of Toronto. Various museums made cases for acquiring FM104. For a few months the story became a bit of a media sensation, especially when the British Columbia Aviation Museum made its proposal. Some factions in eastern Canada campaigned to “save” FM104 from going west. However, eastern Canada already had nearly all of the country’s Lancasters. The only example in the west was in Calgary, but the West Coast had had its own impressive postwar Lancaster history. From 1952 to 1959, No.407 Squadron at Comox on Vancouver Island had operated Lancasters flying such important missions as anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and fisheries patrols. It made sense to me that FM104 should go to the BCAM, so on January 31, 2018 I wrote this letter:

To: Ms Gabrielle Major, Registrar, Toronto Museums and Heritage Services. Dear Ms Major … I have heard that the British Columbia Aviation Museum would like to acquire the City of Toronto’s Avro Lancaster WWII bomber. This brought me back to April 5, 1964, when I attended the official retirement at Downsview airport of this very Lancaster — FM104. Since then we enjoyed the sight of FM104 when it was on display for decades in Coronation Park down on the lakeshore. In more recent times, we watched as work was done towards its restoration at Downsview with the now-defunct Toronto Aerospace Museum. It would be good to get this Lancaster out to the West Coast, since the Lancaster made a major contribution towards Canada’s West Coast defense, and search-and-rescue in the postwar years. Yet, BC has no Lancaster, while quite a few are east of the Rockies. I hope that the BCAM can meet your standards for acquiring this piece of Canadian history. I have seen the high quality work that the BCAM has done on many restorations, so the museum has what it takes. Best regards and feel free to call any time if you have an aviation history query. Larry Milberry, Publisher, CANAV Books.

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One of the great photos by Grant Hopkins that you’ll see in the “Skies” magazine update covering the restoration of FM104 at the BCAM. FM104 now is 75 years old, but somehow seems to be getting a bit “younger” looking by the day.

Happily, FM104 today resides with the British Columbia Aviation Museum near Victoria International Airport. Who knows, eh, maybe CANAV’s letter helped the BCAM cause. You can see much about the museum and how FM104 is progressing by surfing the net. This week, Canada’s magnificent “Skies” magazine published the latest FM104 update. Be sure to take a look:



Envisioned as Canada’s premier and world class youth development movement, the Air Cadet program seeks to encourage and enhance the development of well-adjusted, civic minded youth in undertaking leadership roles in a great Canada and a better world.  The Air Cadet League of Canada’s mission is to promote Canadian youth to develop an interest in aviation and aerospace and to provide opportunities to engage in enriching program elements such as physical education, music and public speaking.

Supporting Air Cadets makes a difference in the lives of young people.  Let’s work together to make sure that every Cadet has the opportunities – Donate Today!

Click Here to Support Air Cadets, Today!

Every cadet has a story …

“My name is Warrant Officer 1st Class Heather Blake. I am a member of 514 Air Cadet Squadron in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. When I joined cadets as a 12-year-old, thanks to growing up around members of the program, I already knew a lot of the opportunities that would be made available to me. What I could never have anticipated, however, is the way being an Air Cadet would make me feel. The camaraderie, the self-discipline, the adventurous spirit – but most importantly, the desire that comes only from the pursuit of your dreams. That is exactly what Air Cadets has allowed me to do – it not only gave me the opportunities, but it gave me the courage and the drive to both reach for my dreams and achieve them. I can never truly express how grateful I am for that.”Warrant Officer 1st Class Heather Blake (center of photo) 514 Kinsmen Air Cadet Squadron

Your Gift … Supporting Air Cadets makes a difference in the lives of young people.  Let’s work together to make sure that every Cadet has the opportunities that cadets like Heather are so grateful to have had – opportunities that shaped their lives!

Thank you for supporting our Air Cadets and a special thank you if you have donated recently. You can donate to the Air Cadet League of Canada online with credit card or by sending us a cheque with the printable donation form also found on our website. Together we can make another 78 years of excellence and innovation in youth development programming a possibility. Yours sincerely, James Hunter, CD


A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage CANAV’s pleased to re-introduce you to Dan Dampsey’s ace of a book. Here at CANAV HQ, I have my autographed copy on a shelf with what I call “the finest aviation books in the world”. This truly is the most magnificently-produced Canadian aviation book, a treasure deserving a place of honour in your library. “TradEx” will give you decades of fabulous reading. Full coverage from 1919 into the 2010s of such great teams as Bishop-Barker, the Siskins, Golden Hawks, Golden Centennaires and Snowbirds. Everything from the Fokker D.VII to the Harvard, CF-100, Banshee, Sabre, T-33, Tutor, CF-104, CF-18, Kiowa – even such surprises as the Argus & Sea King in “demo” mode! Fascinating civil types also pop up. Some 2000 photos + 42 original paintings by the great Peter Mossman. You’ll revel in every page. Treat yourself & show your support for someone who put it on the line for Canada’s aviation heritage! 766pp, 4 kg, hc, 9.5×12 in., app’x, biblio, index. Your signed copy: all-in just $130.00 Order directly from Dan at afteams@gmail.com


Reader comments: Ref. our 2015 blog item “A Few More Norseman Tidbits for the Fans“… our blog readers always provide valuable input, once they’ve had a look. Today, for example, I heard from someone who found an item on the blog that could make someone melancholic, but, in her case, happy, as well. She writes: “Thanks for this little bit. My father in law was the referred to S.B. Ladell. He suffered major injuries in the crash but did meet his future wife while in hospital.” There’s a lot more to aviation history than we sometimes realize, right!

Harbour Air Boosts Operations from Vancouver … Canada’s famed West Coast operator is edging back into the business. The CBC tells the story:
Preview YouTube video Harbour Air banks on B.C. tourists, adds routes

Gananoque’s “Mysterious” Canso + AN-225 Hotline + Conair from Stearman to Q400 + A Little-Remembered but Dramatic Episode of “Canada at War” + Reminder: “A Tradition of Excellence” — A Spectacular Canadian Book

For decades, many a keen member of “the aviation circle” has dropped in to the former British Commonwealth Air Training Plan aerodrome north of Gananoque, Ontario. The place had been built in the early 1940s as a relief, or, secondary field to serve No.31 service Flying Training School at Kingston (see “RCAF Station Kingston” on wiki). “Back in the day” No.31 SFTS was doing advance training mainly for RAF student pilots on the Battle, initially, then, on the Harvard, once they were available.

A relief field served several roles. Instructors could take students there from the busy Kingston circuit to practice “touch-and-goes” and other procedures; advanced solo students could do the same. If a runway incident closed a runway at Kingston, Gananoque would save the day, the same if local weather conditions closed Kingston, while Gananoque still was open. Such fields were bare bones. They had the standard BCATP runway layout, but usually just one small hangar, a few other basic buildings and a skeleton staff.

After the war most relief fields soon disappeared. Local farmers often bought the buildings and equipment (even some airplanes, if any were lying about), then the place normally reverted to agricultural use. It’s a bit of a miracle that Gananoque survived, certainly passed 1960. I don’t know how this happened, but a few such aerodromes did have temporary RCAF use postwar. Carman, Manitoba, for example, was used for aircraft storage into the 1960s. Does anyone know what purpose Gananoque served from 1945 into the 1960s?

One thing we do know is that – subsequently — the place was taken over for skydiving in 1971 when the Gananoque Sport Parachuting Centre opened. The company website is sparse about history, but does mention that in 2020 the founding family remains in charge. My last visit was in 2015, but Richard Mallory Allnutt visited in 2018, so has some more current info. His follow-up article is published on the web in “Warbird Digest”.  ere it is: http://warbirdsnews.com/warbirds-
news/the-ghost-of-gananoque-a-flying-boat-in-a-barn.html This is really tops — well research and smoothly written. Richard polished up his story with some good solid photography, so be sure to have a close read. You’ll love it! I like his reference to the old Hitchcock “North by Northwest” – the dusty road leading to the field would remind any film buff of that great classic flick.

Over the decades, owner Dave Dorosh has visited Gananoque most years from Alberta to inspect and clean up his beloved Canso. He made the trek as recently as this fall — 2020. Here are a few Gananoque photos from my August 23, 2015. Hope you enjoy them and the general story … Larry

Gananoque Photo Tour

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Here’s your first general look at present day Gananoque once you pull in. This is the standard BCATP 2-bay aircraft hangar. After nearly 80 years not much has changed. Even the cladding is standard wartime cedar shingles. The ancient control tower really “makes” the scene. I suspect that most aircraft comings and goings at such a field were handled by controllers using an Aldis Lamp. It’s great how this wonderful WWII tower has survived. The tarmac at a glance appears to be original.
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Judging from the sign on the hangar, the club goes back a year or two (1971).
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Of course, what mainly draws the history buffs here is the Canso. I remember first visiting in the 1970s following up on a rumour about a possible Canso. This panned out – there it was, as Richard describes. Its original ID was RCAF 11093, which was built by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville in 1944. Richard outlines its basic military history. Very little has change here over the decades. Hard to believe, no! On earlier visits I always found the Canso inside with no lighting for photography. This time, however, I hit the jackpot, for 11093 was out in the air. This was a scenario that called for a series of photos.
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Postwar, the RCAF retained a fleet of Cansos for such duties as search and rescue, and supporting Northern and Arctic operations. As kids we always loved to see a Canso at the airshows, especially if a JATO take-off was on the program. In 1960, however, the Grumman Albatross entered RCAF service – the Canso was on its way out. The last went into storage in 1962, but soon were in demand by commercial operators, especially when the Canso’s usefulness as a water bomber was understood. The government’s surplus sales corporation, Crown Assets of Ottawa, quickly sold off the Cansos stored at such bases as Dunnville. It was a buyers’ market. Old time Canso man, Joe Reed, once told me that he flew a Canso out of Dunnville in the early Sixties, having paid a mere $1500.
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11093 close-up shots. Note how the wartime aft observation blisters have been removed and replaced on both sides by cargo doors with small blisters.
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Anyone dropping in to see the Canso can’t resist spending an easy hour watching all the jump club activity. Jumpers are known for their hospitality, so no fear of being rousted off the ramp, etc. Here are some typical scenes. Sometimes 3 or 4 ‘chutes will be in the sky, if the single Cessna is the jump plane, but if the King Air or Skyvan are at work, the sky will be crowded with parachutes.
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Gananoque’s jump planes in August 2015 included this vintage 1965 workhorse in “Cabotair” colours. A Cessna 182H Skylane, “GDJ” looked about as well-worn as any typical jump plane. It came to Canada from the USA in 1991. Notice – pilot’s seat only, the rest stripped out to make room for the jumpers.
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Jump plane N32BA getting set for a circuit. It’s a 1969 Model B90 sn LJ475 with a pair of PWC PT6A-60A turbine engines. Then, Skyvan N192WW. Both planes were chartered from US owners and equipped for the para role. The pilots were very experienced at this demanding sport aviation specialty.
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The spacious Skyvan cabin. Then, jumpers heading out ready for their one-way Skyvan flight.
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The Skyvan back at base and taxiing by the Canso after another drop.
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Watching some happy jumpers on the way down.
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Some final views from 2015. I look forward to dropping by again to see “what gives” with Gananoque’s trademark Canso (there sometimes are rumours that it has been sold, etc.) and to enjoy all the jump school fun and games. Notice the tired old 1973 Piper PA-31 (C-GIRU) Chieftain in one photo. It has gradually been fading into the weeds. PS … yet another little know fact about Gananoque: if you drive downtown to the waterfront, you can see the old Link Trainer factory, now a condo development. Link manufactured some 5000 of its basic flight simulators here in the 1930s and through WWII.

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It’s printed off a bit of a dirty old “120” negative, but here’s a shot I took of “NJL” in the early 1960s when it was dormant at Ottawa “YOW”, before going into long-term storage at Gananoque

AN-225 … World’s Most Amazing Airplane!

AN-225 Hotline … Check out this world-class, one-of-a-kind, astounding airplane visiting YYZ Toronto 30 May 2020 . A couple of weeks ago the “225” was at Montreal Mirabel via Anchorage. Notice how antonov.kiev.ua and canavbooks.com are equally shameless in their self-promotional efforts! But … at least CANAV has flown a couple of AN-124 global trips, so all you poor little critics who don’t know the joys of a real Antonov adventure kindly bow your heads respectfully!

The great Gus Corujo also covered the AN-225 at YYZ this day. Few are able to capture such an event better than Gus. You really need to have a look: http://gusair.com/htdocs/Aviation/2020/20Antonov-225-CYYZ/20antonov-225-cyyz.html

Conair — A Great Canadian Company’s History in Fire Bombing & Aerial Application. Stearman to Q400 in 5 minutes: https://vimeo.com/421329061?ref=em-share

A Little Remembered but Dramatic Episode of “Canada at War”. How Canadian Paratroops Helped Save Denmark in May 1945. See ehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWcRl7Q7pGs  

A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage CANAV’s pleased to re-introduce you to Dan Dampsey’s ace of a book. Here at CANAV HQ, I have my autographed copy on a shelf with what I call “the finest aviation books in the world”. This truly is the most magnificently-produced Canadian aviation book, a treasure deserving a place of honour in your library. “TradEx” will give you decades of fabulous reading. Full coverage from 1919 into the 2010s of such great teams as Bishop-Barker, the Siskins, Golden Hawks, Golden Centennaires and Snowbirds. Everything from the Fokker D.VII to the Harvard, CF-100, Banshee, Sabre, T-33, Tutor, CF-104, CF-18, Kiowa – even such surprises as the Argus & Sea King in “demo” mode! Fascinating civil types also pop up. Some 2000 photos + 42 original paintings by the great Peter Mossman. You’ll revel in every page. Treat yourself & show your support for someone who put it on the line for Canada’s aviation heritage! 766pp, 4 kg, hc, 9.5×12 in., app’x, biblio, index. Your signed copy: all-in just $130.00 Order directly from Dan at afteams@gmail.com

CANAV’s Blog for May 9, 2020 … Where Have All the Airliners Gone? Gemini, AN-225 and Norseman Updates + Other Worthwhile History Bits

A Really Keen Photographer Covers the “Parked Airliners” Scene You’ll find it well worth looking at this outstanding album of fantastic photos. The man behind the lens  tells the sad story of what the C-Virus has done to World Air Travel. Here’s the link to open: https://www.businessinsider.com/inside-a-photographers-quest-to-photograph-hundreds-of-parked-planes-2020-5#though-initially-worried-about-heading-to-a-major-city-like-kansas-city-luten-described-the-measures-he-took-such-as-sleeping-in-his-car-and-wear-protective-masks-when-required-31


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Hundreds of you have been enjoying our recent item covering the wonderful photos of the great Al Martin. Here’s another of Al’s always-interesting shots. So far as we know, only two Miles Gemini light twins ever came to Canada. One (G-AJKS) returned to the UK, the other became CF-HVK. Al spotted “JKS” at Toronto Island Airport some time around 1950. Here’s the story:

First flown in 1945, the Miles Gemini 4-seat light twin looked promising. Then, as the initial surge in postwar Great Britain’s recovery cooled, Miles folded in 1947. About 150 Geminis were built. Initially, G-AJKS came across on a Miles demo tour. Its arrival was impressive, since it came aboard the RCN aircraft carrier, HMCS Warrior. Once Warrior was about 20 miles off Nova Scotia, demo pilot, Jim Nelson (an ex-RAF American), flew the little Gemini off the deck to Halifax. Can you imagine pulling off such a stunt in 2020? Not a chance, right! The Gemini visited Ottawa, Oshawa and Toronto Island Airport, then back-tracked to Montreal and on to New York City. The tour and a demo flight were written up in detail in the October 1947 edition of “Canadian Aviation” magazine. One comment may explain why no sales resulted – the Gemini carried a hefty price tag of $16,000. G-AJKS was shipped home where, among other owners, it served Eagle Air Services of Baginton airport from 1955-59. Too bad, but it was scrapped in 1965.

Nothing else was heard of the Gemini in Canada until 1955, when John E. Pitt of Montreal ordered one. Pitt hoped to fly his new plane across the North Atlantic to Montreal. Happily, sanity prevailed, and the Gemini was crated and shipped by sea, then assembled at Dorval around June/July 1955. Registered CF-HVK (previously G-AJOH in UK), it sounds by the archival paperwork that Pitt hoped to convert it to US-made Continental engines. By late 1955 “HVK” was resident at Cartierville airport a few miles from Dorval. How did this unusual Canadian light plane end? Not well, but its final days suggest that John Pitt really was an adventurer, who probably would have tried an Atlantic crossing if allowed. In March 1958 he had “HVK” in Mexico. Such a long flight from Canada to Mexico in a tiny plane was uncommon in those times. Was Pitt on an exotic vacation? Was he in Mexico to sell his plane? The sad thing is, while taking off at Mexico City on March 28, 1959, he had an engine fail and crash-landed. Nothing further is known about “HVK”.



Here are two rare colour shots of “HVK” at Dorval c.1955. These were taken by the renowned John Caron of Montreal, one of the early supporters of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, and of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Notice the great setting, including the Dorval Air Transport C-46 CF-FBJ and a T-50 still in RCAF yellow. I photographed “FBJ” on the same ramp just a few years later. Sadly, it crashed disastrously in Lac St-Jean country when it got entangled in a fierce thunderstorm. Cessna Crane N60536 had been RCAF 8662 during the war. Montreal surplus airplane kingpin Wally Siple acquired it, then sold it to a US buyer. As usual, there’s often more to an ordinary airplane photo than the foreground, right!

Reader Update

Further to our Gemini blog item, Ian M. Macdonald already has been in touch. Ian had done his own research into this interesting little plane. He reported his findings in the March 2010 edition of “The Observair” (newsletter of the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society). Ian learned that in 1946-47 a third Gemini was destined for Canada. The registration CF-EMW was reserved for it for the Bata Shoe Company of Batawa, Ontario. However, for some reason the Department of Transport in Ottawa denied importation authority, so “EMW” remained in the UK.

Ian also clarifies that for the planned trans-Atlantic delivery flight of CF-HVK, an inexperienced ferry pilot was hired. This likely explains why the DOT nixed the flight. Another Gemini did, however, reach Canada, but this story ended badly just a few hours after the plane entered Canadian air space. As Ian explains, Thomas James Binderman of Montreal purchased Gemini G-AKFU in the summer of 1965. A low-time private pilot, somehow he was authorized to fly the North Atlantic to Canada:

On August 14, 1965, Binderman left Narsarssuaq, Greenland, at 0758 for Goose Bay, NL, a 685-nm leg. His last radio communication was with Cartwright, NL, at 1425, and at 1528, fuel was considered exhausted. An RCAF 107 Rescue Unit Albatross crew spotted G-AKFU five days later; 65 miles east-south-east of Goose Bay, overturned in a bog after attempting a wheels-down landing. The pilot had survived apparently uninjured, and spent one night with the aircraft before walking away. A helicopter and foot search in all directions yielded nothing, and the search was reduced on 28 August 1965. Pressure from family and friends caused the search to restart on 3 September, and Binderman’s wife flew to Goose Bay, but he was never found, the search finally being abandoned on 11 September 1965. A number of errors were found in the navigation log and this quote from the accident report is telling: “… the distance between Narsarssuaq and Goose Bay was measured in nautical miles whereas the estimated ground speed was shown in statute miles per hour. This error in calculations would have shown the flight to be feasible; when the correct computations were applied it was evident that it was almost impossible … with the fuel available.

AN-225 World’s Biggest Air Transport Lands at Mirabel May 1, Offloads PPE,  Departs Next Day … Well Worth a Look. What a Magnificent Flying Machine!

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Norseman update: We haven’t featured much new about the Norseman for ages. Happily, Al Bieck – a renowned Ontario government pilot recently sent along this fine old snapshot of Slate Falls Trading Co. Norseman V CF-HPY upended at Big Trout Lake in NW Ontario on February 8, 1963 (the landing had gone badly due to a misaligned ski). Once inspected, “HPY” was found to be badly damaged, so never flew again. Eventually, it was acquired by aviation history aficionado, Joe McBryan, of Fort Simpson, NWT. Due to Joe’s efforts, “HPY” has been restored and may be seen today at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton. If you don’t have your set of Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman Story, you can order right here on the blog or via this booklist “1 CANAV Booklist Fall/Winter 2019-2020.jpg

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With 1040 pages, our famous title Air Transport in Canada has the best coverage of its subject matter of any book ever published. Since ATC was published in 1997, I’ve gathered vast amounts of subsequent material, including these historic old black-and-whites. First, CPA’s DC-3 CF-CUE on its nose. A note on this original print says “Yellowknife” (“CUE” is said to have been the first DC-3 to land at Yellowknife – I hope this wasn’t on that auspicious occasion!). “CUE” had served initially in the USAAF in WWII. At war’s end it was acquired by war surplus magnate Charles Babb, who sold it to CPA in January 1947. It moved to the Department of Transport in 1956 for a much more sedate existence, then joined Buffalo Airways in 1992. In 2020 “CUE” is in storage in Red Deer, Alberta.



The Hudson Bay Company’s Canso CF-BSK burns furiously at Yellowknife in one of a series of dramatic snapshots taken on February 9, 1947. “BSK” had begun as RCAF 9797. By then having logged 1698 flying hours mainly with Eastern Air Command, and by then being surplus to RCAF needs, in April 1946 9797 was sold to Charles Babb, who re-sold it to the HBC in July 1946. The HBC christened it “Polar Bear” and planned to use it for supplying and communicating with its far flung Arctic trading posts. The fire is said to have been caused by static electricity during refuelling.



In the 1950s-60s, the great Leslie Corness covered the Canadian aviation scene chiefly in Alberta and the Arctic. However, he travelled east and west on occasion. He would have been delighted one day c.1960 while driving through the BC interior to spot this Pacific Western Airlines Junkers W-34. Talk about a classic bushplane! CF- ATF had begun in 1932 with Canadian Airways. Some of its detailed history is covered in K.M. “Ken” Molson’s seminal book Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. Do your best to find a copy of the gem on the web (try such sites as http://www.bookfinder.com). Finally retired, “ATF” was acquired through Ken’s efforts for Canada’s National Aviation Museum, which he then was building up from scratch. That is where you can see “ATF” today in all its glory (even though you will be hard-pressed to find any mention of Ken’s great deeds in the present museum, nor anywhere else, officially, around the Canadian aviation museum scene). Happily, this is an active effort to have Ken inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.



While working on today’s blog, I also came across Leslie Corness’ dramatic aerial view of the crash of Associated Airways Avro York CF-HMY at Edmonton on May 26, 1955. This disaster is covered in detail in ATC and The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection. The accident resulted strictly from pilot carelessness. It’s fortunate that the York ended in the Calder rail yards at the end of the runway. Damage was great, but casualties were limited to the two pilots. The die was cast when the captain attempted takeoff on a 5700-foot runway, when aircraft weight and weather conditions clearly required at least 7100 feet to get airborne. Leslie heard about the crash on the radio, hurried to the airport, rented a small plane from the Edmonton Flying Club, then took off to shoot his series of now-historic photos.


Speaking of Air Transport in Canada, in the fall of 1997 the great artist, Tom Bjarnason, and I visited Bill Wheeler (CAHS No.5) in Markham to show him Tom’s original artwork for the cover of ATC. If you search for Tom on this blog, you can learn a bit about him. A solid Manitoba Icelander, Tom truly was one of Canada’s great artists. I greatly treasure this lovely world class aviation painting. Tom also did wonderful paintings for Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command (cover), The Canadair North Star and De Havilland in Canada (cover).

BLOG 11 Russ Bannock with 3 Milberry Boys Hunt Club 2019 Resized

This is the last personal photo I have with Russ Bannock. One of Canada’s greatest aviation figures. Russ’ magnificent flying career spanned from before WWII to his fame as a leading Mosquito ace, to postwar at De Havilland Canada, where he rose to be President, to many subsequent productive decades in Canada’s aviation industry. Here is Russ in 2019 at age 100 with three of the Milberrys – Simon, Larry and Matthew. We were at the Toronto Hunt Club, where our Legion branch (Br.165) was having a monthly dinner. I first covered Russ in my 1979 book, Aviation in Canada. At the time he was President of DHC. When I asked for an hour of his time, he welcomed me instantly. We met in his office and had a fine session mainly flipping through his amazing wartime logbook. Back in the 1960s-70s, I was struggling as an upstart in the history business, so having the support of such aviation heroes and kingpins really was encouraging.



Someone else who always encouraged me was a great Don McVicar 1915-1997. A leading pilot with Ferry Command at Dorval during WWII, Don got into the hurly-burly of ferrying airplanes at war’s end, did some bush flying down the Quebec North Shore and into Labrador, excelled in heavy transport once the DEW Line project got going about 1955, freighted to Cuba during the dicey days of the 1960s US embargo, then finished with a flurry doing trans-Atlantic passenger charters with Super Constellations. Ultimately, Don tread on far too many bankers’ and politicians’ toes, so he had to fold his renowned World Wide Airways. Having hid out for a few years in southern places, he retired with his lovely wife, Loretta, to a modest apartment in Dorval, from where he wrote several wonderful books. From More than a Pilot to North Atlantic Cat to Mosquito Racer and A Change of Wings these all are real gems. See what you can find on the various internet used book sites. Here is Don at some Ferry Command event we attended at Dorval c.1982. That’s the great Beth Buchanan of Air Canada. Beth was G.R. McGregor’s long-serving secretary at TCA and ghost-writer for his TCA memoir Adolescence of an Airline (1980). Later, she oversaw the Air Canada library and archives (sadly, later dismantled) in Place Ville Marie, and supported my Canadair North Star research project in the early 1980s. Without such backers, no such aviation history projects could ever succeed. On the left is Beth’s assistant, Harold Dondonez, I on the right. Then, Don McVicar at his home in Dorval not long before his passing. Don was always happy to have a visitor, so long as that conversation was about aviation. Other than that, as NWT Air/First Air/Buffalo Airways pilot Tony Jarvis and I recall, there was a small price of admission – a few Molsons and some Colonel Sanders chicken. Here’s Don in his glory at home, surrounded by his beloved aviation library. Notice that very impressive decoration — his “Distinguished Reading Cross”. Having created the “DRC”, he awarded it to a few particular characters. Rough and ready if it came to changing an engine on a C-46, Don was a class act an author, publisher and friend.


Hugh Fraser — He Got an Me.262



It’s been such an honour over the decades meeting and working with hundreds of Canada’s aviation leaders, whether civil or military. Their photos keep popping up as I go through the CANAV Books Archives. Having lunch here with Canada’s renowned artist, Ron Lowry, is the great RCAF Typhoon pilot, Alexander Hugh Fraser, who had come to Toronto from Kingston to meet us at “The Feathers” pub on Kingston Rd. A Montreal boy, Hugh had excelled at flying the Typhoon with 439 Squadron. The highlight of his tour came New Year’s morning 1945. Hugh was airborne on a dawn patrol with three squadron mates when they heard on the “RT” that their base – Eindhoven, Netherlands – was being clobbered by swarms of Luftwaffe fighters. Back safely on the ground, Hugh reported to his Intelligence Officer how he just had scored two kills in the furious dogfight that ensued. He quickly had gotten on the tail of an Fw.190:

“I gave him a short burst at 10 degrees angle off and airspeed about 190-200 mph. Pieces flew off his aircraft, he caught fire, turned over on his back and went straight in at approximately E6715. By this time I had lost my leader. Somebody took a squirt at me … judging from the holes in my aircraft. At this time I saw four aircraft hit the ground, and one parachute. I was then at about 1500 feet and saw a long- nose Fw.190 in a shallow dive underneath me going toward Venlo. I dove after him. When he was about 100 feet above the ground, I was closing rapidly and took four short bursts at him. It was line astern shooting and my last burst was from about 50 yards. Pieces flew off his aircraft. I must have severed his elevator controls because he never leveled off. He went into the deck somewhere near a large windmill at about E7919. I had to break very quickly to avoid hitting the ground at approximately 400 mph. Pieces flew in every direction.”

The entire encounter (including the Typhoons briefly being jumped by some Spitfires) lasted from 0945 to 0950. Three of the Typhoons then diverted to the Allied base at Volkel. Sadly, their mate, F/L Angelini, did not survive the battle. On April 14, 1945 Hugh Fraser had another exciting operation. While on a patrol led by F/L Lyle Shaver, two Me.262 jets were encountered. Shaver quickly shot down one, Fraser the other.

In the second “Feathers” photo, Hugh is with (from his right) aviation aficionado Ralph Clint, me, Annie McKay (daughter of the great 438 Sqn Typhoon pilot, Ed McKay) and Ron Lowry. Hugh’s RCAF history is well told (along with much other wonderful material) by Hugh Halliday in our 1992 book, Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story. These two archival RCAF photos are included. First, the famous RCAF PR photo with Hugh in his beloved Typhoon 5V-X “Nicky”. Then, with 439 mates Lyle Shaver and Jim Beatty discussing their Me.262 kills. Hugh died at age 75 in Montreal on October 6, 1998.




Aviation art … over the years I was honoured to work with many of Canada’s “modern” (post-WWII) aviation artists. This is a story for another day. Just for now, here’s an interesting bit of CANAV Books history. For the 60th anniversary of the RCAF in 1984, I published Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984. To this day, this massive and spectacular book remains the best ever history of the RCAF in a single volume. It’s also the most successful ever, having lasted through 5 printings and more than 20,000 copies. Sixty Years includes nearly 100 original paintings by those fine artists whom I was fortunate to meet at the time. Soon after the book was published, General Paul Manson, who then commanded Canada’s air force from his HQ in Winnipeg, contacted me about acquiring this collection of original paintings. We soon agreed. The paintings all went to Winnipeg, where they were framed and put on display throughout Air Force HQ. I haven’t seen the arrangement for decades, but one day while on a visit, I snapped this small plaque in the lobby. Beside it at the time was a typical piece from Sixty Years – a magnificent Ron Lowry colour profile of a post-WWI RCAF Avro 504. Nice, eh!

The Book Is Alive (No Apologies) + New Projects + Surviving in Canadian Book Publishing + A Reminder about the Ultimate history of the Bell 47+ A340s in Formation + Pandemics Today and Yesterday

Vol.8 ACFPO Dustjacket 400dpi

Be sure to check out Pierre Gillard’s wonderful aviation blog. Keep up to date with what’s going on anywhere from St. Hubert to points around the world where Pierre travels: http://www.pierregillard.com/blog/index.html

How are the airlines doing these days? Here is a very good overview: OPINION: Aviation is being reshaped, and governments are in control

How is the book doing these days? “Good question”, as the typical radio host would reply, right. Here’s one very nice little piece that helps explain: Mike Valenti sent along this interesting bit of “history of civilization” today (April 7). One of the fathers of the internet back in the 1960s was J.C.R. Licklider. Wiki describes him as “an American psychologist and computer scientist who is considered one of the most important figures in computer science and general computing history“. While he was envisioning the internet away back then, Licklider also correctly envisioned the future of the book, penning this succinct summary. This has proven to be true, at least for the brighter members of civilized society: “As a medium for display of information, the printed page is superb. It affords enough resolution to meet the eye’s demand. It presents enough information to occupy the reader for a convenient quantum of time. It offers great flexibility of font and format. It lets the reader control the mode and rate of inspection. It is small, light, movable, cuttable, clippable, pastable, replicable, disposable, and inexpensive.” Would Marshal McLuhan — along with CANAV’s advanced thinkers/readers — ever cheer at this brilliant little prophecy. Something to think about, as our mothers used to say.

There always are projects in the works at CANAV Books. Most eventually surface as books, while others are delayed (sometimes the holding pattern lasts for years). Other brilliant CANAV ideas fade into the sunset, although the raw research gathered for them often appears in later books. Meanwhile, our classic “old tyme” CANAV titles mostly soldier on. Today (April 14) I heard from one of my readers in Finland, reminiscing about The Canadair North Star, published in 1982 “I still remember when I finally got your North Star book. I was in Victoria BC visiting friends. We went to Tanner’s book store in Sidney to see if there was a copy available. There was and I was extremely happy! That was back in 1992. A beautiful book about beautiful aircraft!”

These days, CANAV has two big projects on the go: (1)Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1939-1945 and (2) a grand history for the RCAF 100th Anniversary. The former, obviously, is the sequel to Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939.

Ancient history: CANAV is a serious publishing house that does not exist — as do most Canadian book publishers — chiefly to collect government grants. Having published 37 titles since 1981, CANAV has yet to apply for any such government handouts. It’s just not in my nature to figure that my neighbours should be paying for my projects. Instead, CANAV survives by publishing good books for which serious readers actually will pay. For pretty well 40 years this has worked, but staying above water has been a dicey little game and the game gets no easier.

Many of you have our world famous RCAF 60th Anniversary title, Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984. This is the very best, single-volume, general history of the RCAF ever published. So, you know what you can look forward to with our sequel in 2024. Sixty Years comprises 480 pages of in-depth RCAF history, including something like 800 photos. It also has an aviation art gallery the likes of which has never been seen in any Canadian book. Noted the UK’s “Aircraft Illustrated” about Sixty Years: “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.” Added another renowned UK journal, “Air International”: “An outstanding product combining a fascinating, deeply researched text … the photographs alone are worth the price…” What aviation publisher receives such plaudits, so what RCAF fan couldn’t be won over?

It’s Up Hill A Lot of the Way

Over the decades I’ve seen many a dog-eared copy of Sixty Years. Readers sometimes contact me for a new copy, having worn out their 1984 “original”. With some 20,000 in print over 36 years, I call Sixty Years CANAV’s flagship book. Ironically, it’s sad how RCAF HQ remains fairly oblivious about such a downright glorious RCAF history book. I’m not making this up, but I never receive an order for any of CANAV’s RCAF books from anywhere at DND/RCAF, save maybe for a lonely, single copy when a book is new. CANAV survives, regardless, but sure could use some substantive actual air force support after our 40 year grind. Another Ottawa bureaucracy, the Canada Council, is just as discouraging. I’m not making this up either, but the Canada Council does not recognize CANAV Books as an actual book publisher. It has declared our beautiful books, that are applauded by serious aviation historians worldwide, to be inadmissible for a Governor General’s book award, explaining that CANAV has not published enough authors to be consider a “real” book publisher. What? Can you imagine such utter Ottawa arrogance/stupidity? CANAV has published 10 authors to date. How many are needed to be considered a “legitimate” Canadian book publisher? This gets more offensive when one looks at the annual Governor General’s book awards and notices how many are awarded to authors who have American publishers.

I once wrote (nicely) to the Governor General about this travesty. His reply was for me to contact the Canada Council. Fun and games with Ottawa, eh. This is all the more reason why your personal order for even a single book is extra appreciated these days. It directly helps CANAV to keep publishing. Now, let’s get “down to the nubbins”. If you don’t yet have Fighter Pilots and Observers or Sixty Years, or if you could use spare copies to use as gifts, this is your chance.

Sixty Years dust jacket 6-2019

Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939

CANAV published Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 in 2018. It’s Volume 8 and the latest in our on-going series (would I ever like to sell you a complete set, if you don’t have one). With its in-depth and original content, and magnificent photo collection, this is another grand CANAV effort. Both you and our always critical book reviewers tell me this, so I’m satisfied about this side of the business. Some readers comments about “FPO” include:

“Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever, and people will thank you for years to come for the photographic research, and the captions. What a great Christmas present it will make.”

“Rich, nutritious, satisfying.”

“I want to express my appreciation and that of my colleagues for your championing Canadian aviation history. Thank you for your dedication.”

“Your latest book is a treasure. Congratulations!”

The last of these comments is from General (Ret’d) Paul Manson, former commander of the Canadian air force in Air Command times. Paul has been a solid supporter since 1981, and in 1984 contributed the final paragraphs that you’ll read in Sixty Years (“What the Future Holds”) on pp455-6. Such support has helped CANAV squeak by in the tightest of times.

Besides all such wonderful personal comments, Fighter Pilots and Observers has been beautifully reviewed in the aviation press. In the prime UK journal, “Flypast”, historian Andy Thomas describes “FPO” as, “beautifully-produced”, then Andy adds: “This very readable volume features good quality photographs that will appeal to Great War ‘buffs’ as well as the more general historian, and as a reference for modellers. Highly recommended.” The renowned WWI aerial warfare journal, “Over the Front” observes: “This new book’s unassuming title modestly hides the treasure of photographic and text material stored within its large-format pages … One of the true joys of this volume is the wealth of original photographs, drawn from official and many private sources. These images portray the breadth of aircraft types and the variety of squadrons manned by Canadian fliers.” Finally, writing in the USAF “Air University Press”, Dr. J.A. Boyless concludes: “The authors’ information and anecdotes convey the glory and pain of flying … The book is a window of the past … The stories of the men and machines that fought the war came alive as I read … I don’t hesitate to recommend this volume … Understanding the past assists in applying the best to the future.”

Here’s a bit more “from the trenches” … A few weeks ago I heard about Fighter Pilots and Observers from John Wiseman, one of my long-time Québecois readers:

Your book has been open full time at the kitchen table where I get reading sessions at breakfast and lunch. Wonderful photos we see so rarely of this period and fascinating reading. Being more a student of WW II era aviation, I have limited knowledge of Canada’s participation in the aerial warfare of WWI, other than the classics, like Bishop. So it is somewhat of a revelation to read about Canada’s contributions to the air war and the efforts expended — and so much tragic loss of life. Incredible to think of the wild escapades so many young guys had flying those rickety early flying contraptions. Life expectancy was in very delicate balance and it seems just the luck of the draw for any that came out alive. If a fellow wasn’t being picked off by the enemy, his wings could be just as likely fall off!

Recently, Rob Henry, emailed from Alberta with some general thoughts about aviation books and history. Wow … talk about food for thought:

One tends to forget how sparse the Canadian aviation history scene was in book form before you started producing. While there have been some very good individual stories, there really weren’t the photographic histories (and no interweb back then). Computers have definitely brought a lot to light, but I am old enough that there is no satisfaction in punching keys and looking at a screen that even comes close to holding a book and reading it. I appreciate what you (and others) have done and enjoy every word and picture in the books and journals I have collected over the years.

So … in case you are in a mood to build up your personal aviation library, or just to treat yourself to a lovely autographed aviation tome, give this offer a thought. Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 is $50.00 ++ (all-in $65.10), while Sixty Years is $60.00, but on special at $25.00++ (all-in $38.85). Still not interested? How about both books all-in for $100.00? These two beauties give you 664 pages/3kg of the best in Canadian aviation reading. If ordering … you can pay using PayPal to this email address larry@canavbooks.com, or, mail your cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto ON M4E3B6

The Bell 47 Helicopter Story … here’s a reminder about this extra special book. To be savoured by anyone with the remotest interest in aviation. Here’s a summary. For the full story, just search for the title (or … scroll back a mile): This landmark book has been very nicely printed and bound by Friesens of Altona, Manitoba. Bare bones it weighs an amazing 2.9 kg. It’s a hardcover with dust jacket. There are 730 pages with 1200 b/w and colour photos. Sincere fans of aviation history owe it to themselves to get hold of a copy … If you have not yet delved into helicopter history, a fast flip through this book will make a convert of you, so long as you have the least bit of gumption. Order your copy at helicopterheritagecanada.com or e-mail author Bob Petite in Leduc at bpetite@telusplanet.net

Something else exciting to watch … South African Airways recently folded. Here’s some wonderful footage of two SA A340s doing some very impressive formation flying in 2019: https://youtu.be/SN5ORNXlSqw

Al Martin Photo Collection — Reader Input

One of our more popular recent blog items features the wonderful 1950s b/w photos of Al Martin. One reader sums up his impressions:

I enjoyed reading your blog and looking at Al Martin’s photos. I actually had to spread it out over 72 hours and finished last night. I certainly see why you published them and  enjoyed the commentary … What I really like is how the B&W photos seem to capture not only the aircraft, but a point in time. Years ago I read an article about a modern landscape photographer who chose the B&W medium because it forces the viewer to think. Normally, I wouldn’t have looked any further at Tiger Moth CF-CHM and noticed the distant A.V. Roe hangars, if you hadn’t noted that – but there they are clear as day!

BLOG Influenza 4-2020

We do really need fundamental Coronavirus info. Happily, we receive good daily updates – there’s no shortage of news. Ironically, we also can get pretty maxed out with all this. To level things out a bit, maybe some historical context about “C-Virus” will be of interest. Here’s the thing — for centuries we’ve had to face epidemics. Nothing new, right. Once you’ve read this over, you may wonder a bit about a few things, such as Ottawa’s slackness in warning and protecting us in the early days of C-Virus. Of course, Ottawa already has absolved itself, and gets rewarded for its incompetence with a pay raise. Leave it to the MPs to take good care of themselves. The Toronto Sun’s Brian Lilley explains. “Well, add another roughly $2,800 to their annual salaries. For the Prime Minister, who earns double what an MP makes, his annual salary of $357,800 is about to go up by almost $5,700. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, it makes no sense and has them all looking a little out of touch.” Lilley is very kind,

Get Yourself Informed

Back to some history … if I can recommend a book for understanding today’s predicament, it’s John M. Barry’s bestseller The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Barry covers the horrible 1918-19 epidemic in tiny detail. You’ll absolutely revel at his in-depth treatment, although you may be frustrated that pretty well no one in Ottawa actually knows beans about this quite recent pandemic. Besides the book (your No.1 source), see the Smithsonian documentary series “America’s Hidden Stories”, then scroll for the episode “Pandemic 1918”. Well worth a look. This is the bumph for this episode: “The Spanish flu was one of the most devastating natural disasters in history, an unstoppable virus that swept the planet in 1918, killing tens of millions of people. New evidence suggests the possible birthplace was actually in America’s heartland. Witness a globe-spanning story of death and denial on an epic scale, as we visit a mass gravesite, pore over old medical records and diaries, and use cutting edge scientific research to reveal the horrific truth behind this deadly pandemic.” The 1918-19 plague ought to be the “model” and what every federal, provincial and municipal health department should have been studying since January this year. They’ve all missed this boat — big surprise.

Decades ago Canada could design, build and fly something astounding like the Avro Arrow. Now look where we’ve ended? Here we are a supposed “First World” country that’s incapable of producing something as simple as a fabric face cover. Talk about a national a disgrace! Happily, someCanadian  tech companies have been scurrying to close this gap.  Anyway … you can find an affordable copy of The Great Infuenza at www.bookfinder.com or at www.abebooks.com. Well worth your time and minor investment. You’ll be amazed at what Brown covers. For example, it’s shocking, but US Army high command tended to belittle its own Surgeon Generals in the early 1900s. Washington starved Army medical development well into the WWI years. One interesting point Brown makes contrasts this with Canada. While the US Army was establishing huge training camps on the edges of disease-infested swamps, and sending trainloads of infected recruits cross-country on packed trains, then aboard troopships for already-beleaguered France, look what Brown says about Canada: “Since 1916 the Canadian army had segregated all troops arriving in Britain for twenty-eight days, to prevent their infecting any trained troops ready to go to the front.” US Army Medical Corps kingpin, William Henry Welsh, urged the US Army to do likewise. Sadly, the Medical Corps still was not being taken seriously by US Army command. This book is hugely recommended.

London 1665

Plagues have been written about for millennia and the story from one to the next is similar. I’ve been reading Jonathan Bastable’s wonderful book, Voices from the World of Samuel Pepys. Included is much excellent coverage of the Great Plague of London in 1665. This is another book that you can find on the web, usually cheaply (under CDN$10 today April 3). You’ll learn here how similar were the problems and solutions to an epidemic in London 350+ years ago, compared to C-Virus today. People stayed at home, used whatever “medicine” was available, practiced social distancing, left town for their summer homes, even washed their hands if they knew about this practice. However, the quarantine was rather brutal. If the plague appeared in a family, its house was marked with a red cross and an armed guard was posted to prevent any comings or goings. Often, all within died horribly and alone. Here’s a brief excerpt written in 1665 by a London churchman, Thomas Vincent. Sound in any way familiar?

Now the highways are thronged with passengers and goods, and London doth empty itself into the country. Great are the stirs and hurries in London by the removal of so many families. Fear puts many thousands on the wing, and those think themselves most safe that can fly furthest off from the city. In July the plague increaseth and prevailest exceedingly. The number of 470, which died in one week by the disease, ariseth to 725 the next week, to 1089 the next, the 1843 the next, to 2010 the next. Now the plague compasseth the walls of the city like a flood, and poureth in upon it … Now the countries [country people] keep guards lest infectious people from the city bring the disease unto them … the poor are forced through poverty to stay and abide the storm.

Canada and the 1918-19 Epidemic

A final note … the Canadian newspapers from 1918-19 covered the rise and gradual decline of the horrendous flu epidemic in that period. With my Toronto Library card I can access (free) the “Toronto Daily Star” and “The Globe and Mail” archives to see each day’s news in 1918-19. Perhaps where you live, some similar public library free access to local newspaper archives exists?

It’s interesting to see how (as a rule) little epidemic news existed in 1918-19. Attached, however, is one very open account of the flu as it started to decimate Toronto in October 1918. Most of the page is devoted to the epidemic. Normally, however, all one finds in the newspapers is a tiny squib that overnight another 65 died of the flu in Toronto, etc. This was wartime-level censorship in action, and this continued for a year after the Armistice of November 1918. Have a look at the attached excerpt. Notice how familiar this all sounds, including the gutless waffling of the politicians and even some medical people; then the grassroots concerns of regular citizens about school closures and everyday issues. Thanks again and all the best … Larry

PS … failing all else, please take a look at CANAV’s great (attached) list of misc. books. It’s the best you’ll find in Canada and you probably have a bit of spare time for reading these days. No? CANAV needs and appreciates your support as always.

Flu 1918 Toronto Star October 7, 1918

2 CANAV Booklist Special Items March 2020


Light Planes: Al Martin’s Photographic Handiwork from the 1950s + Some Reader Reaction

In January 2006 the great Fred Hotson handed over part of his
archives to me, including what he had of the Al Martin aviation photo
collection — prints, negatives and transparencies. Fred had retrieved
Al’s collection from a garage in BC, and earlier had shared it with me,
as I researched for what in 1997 became Air Transport in Canada.
Al was born Elmore Owen Martin in Ontario’s Niagara region on
February 2, 1923. During WWII he trained in the RCAF as an air
gunner and served a tour in Bomber Command. Postwar, he became
a private pilot. We had met Al about 1960, back in the days when my
pal, Merlin Reddy, and I were spending a lot of time at Toronto’s
Malton Airport spotting planes and photographing. Al then was a
passenger agent for Trans-Canada Air Lines. He gave we newer
spotters good tips about photography and always was emphasizing
the importance of Canada’s aviation heritage. He had great tales
about such things as attending the rollout of the Avro Arrow in 1957,
and would phone us with tips that this or that exotic airplane would be
visiting Malton. In his TCA uniform, he could escort us onto the
tarmac in front of the terminal to photograph the airliners. One day he
invited us for the visit of a Lockheed 10A on the 25th anniversary of
TCA. Another time it was about the visit of the Vickers Vanguard
demonstrator. Another day he even got our sidekick, Nick
Wolochatiuk, a press flight aboard a new American Airlines Electra
during a 1960 PR visit.

Al knew the great names circulating in aviation photography from
Howard Levy to Ken Molson, Jack McNulty and Harvey Stone. In
1962 he told us about an effort to form an aviation history group. This
developed into the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. He put the
squeeze on us to attend the society’s second ever meeting. There,
Nick Wolochatiuk, Paul Regan and I became CAHS members 9, 10
and 11.

By the late 1960s Al had moved into public relations with what by
then was Air Canada. He was downtown, now, so we didn’t see so
much of him. Nonetheless, he still got some things organized,
including the week an American Airlines Ford Trimotor visited Toronto
and Al got a crowd of CAHS members out on the ramp to photograph
the Ford. Retiring from Air Canada in 1985, he moved to the West
Coast. He died at age 71 in White Rock, BC, on May 9, 1993. Fred
Hotson tracked down Al’s sister in Vancouver and retrieved his
aviation collection. If you have a set of Air Transport in Canada you
can see some nice spreads of Al’s wonderful photos on pages 718-

We early Malton spotters photographed every type of airplane,
but each fellow usually had some favourite categories. Al’s included
light planes, the types he grew up with as a boy in Niagara. He
revelled in something like a club fly-in where 200 – 300 light planes
would turn up. When I bumped into him at the 1961 Kitchener-
Waterloo fly-in, Al took me up in Cessna 172 CF-JBS to shoot some
aerial photos of the whole scene. For this blog item, I’ve decided to
feature Al’s wonderful collection of light airplane photos. There’s no
great plan to this, so, if you wonder where are the photos of the
Helios, Jodels, Mooneys, etc., it’s because I haven’t yet found these
among Al’s material. It all starts right here. Enjoy the show!

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Some of the first members of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society at an early meeting in Toronto in 1962. Al Martin was instrumental in the formation of this pre-eminent group. Shown are Jock Forteath, Al, George Morley, Bill Wheeler, Herman Karbe, Jeff Burch, Charlie Catalano, Harry Cregan and Roger Juniper. Then, CAHS member Sheldon Benner’s wonderful historic photo mainly of CAHS people at Malton airport during the visit of the American Airlines Ford Trimotor on June 30, 1964 (today it’s in the Smithsonian Institution). Standing are Bob Bradford, Charlie Catalano, Fred Guthrie, Terry Judge, Bill Wheeler, Peter Mossman, M.L. “Mac” McIntyre, 2 unknowns, Jack Phipps, 2 unknowns. Kneeling are the American Airlines people and (from the little boy) Sam Schlifer, Boris Zissoff, Clint Toms and Al Martin. Of these, Bob, Terry,
Jack and photographer Sheldon are the survivors 56 years later.

The War Surplus Years

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At war’s end when the RCAF disposed almost overnight of thousands of surplus airplanes, the commonest to reach Canada’s civil aviation market was the de Havilland Canada D.H.82C Tiger Moth. This is not surprising, since the RCAF had taken 1546 on strength from just before WWI to 1941, when production in Toronto ceased. As soon as the Tiger Moths were offered by Ottawa’s War Assets Disposal Corporation, they were snapped up, whether by individuals for a few hundred dollars, or by companies wanting parts (especially engines) and scrap metal. Others were donated by Ottawa to Canada’s many flying clubs that were being revived, now that the war was over. We always enjoyed these interesting ex-military trainers. Al Martin photographed CF-BQT at some event at Toronto’s Malton Airport early after the war. “BQT” had been RCAF 4198. It spent its war with 15 Elementary Flying Training School in Regina, where it logged some 2143:15 flying hours. In June 1945 it was released as “free issue” to the Royal Canadian Flying Clubs Association (RCFCA) and in July the following year joined the Ontario County Flying Club in Oshawa, a few miles east of Toronto. “BQT” flew there until sold in 1952. Various owners followed, including de Havilland Canada test pilot, George Neal, who owned “BQT” 1968 to 1986. George sold it to Mr. Hindmarsh of Toronto Star fame. Sad to say, but he crashed fatally in “BQT” near Goderich on November 25, 1994. This interesting scene shows many of Malton’s wartime British Commonwealth Air Training Plan buildings. These served No.1 Air Observation School, which trained navigators on Ansons. These buildings all soon were demolished. On the far left you can just see the top of Malton’s 1938 TCA hangar, used later into the 1970s by Genaire Ltd.

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Originally RCAF 3900, Tiger Moth CF- CHM went to the RCFCA in August 1945, moved to the Barrie Flying Club in July 1946, then was sold in January 1949 to Doherty Air Services of Gravenhurst. Other owners ensued including (July 1952) Charlie Catalano of Toronto. Charlie was doing aerial advertising using towed banners, but also had rigged a system whereby he could use rows of lights under a plane’s wing to flash advertisements after dark. Charlie was a keen supporter of general aviation and for many years flew his own Aeronca from nearby Buttonville Airport. He also was an enthusiastic member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. Sadly, his Tiger Moth came to a bad ending on August 23, 1952. By some arrangement that day, Charlie had loaned “CHM” to ex-wartime pilots Charles McKay and John Pretner. A few minutes after they took off from Toronto Island Airport, the plane spun into a backyard on Markham Street in a crowded downtown neighbourhood. Both men died. Al photographed “CHM” at Malton Airport. You can see the big “A.V. Roe Canada” sign on the distant hangars.

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Since the Tiger Moth was happy on wheels, floats or skis, quite a few ended as useful bushplanes after the war. We sometimes saw one on floats at Toronto’s famous island airport. Ex-RCAF 3975 CF-CKW had spent its war at 7 EFTS in Windsor, Ontario before being donated by the government in June 1945 to the RCFCA. It served first with the Hamilton Flying Club, then had a list of private owners. Some time in the early 1960s it was sold in the USA. Al photographed it on Hamilton Bay with a Hornet Moth and a Cub. In this period there were frequent advertisements featuring such war surplus aircraft for sale. This one appeared in the “Toronto Star” of November 7, 1952: “D.H. Tiger Moth in good shape. Engine 700 hours until major, airframe, fabric, instruments and tires in good condition. Range receiver installed. C of A due March 11, 1953. Price $550. Box 65, Toronto Star, Hamilton.” A few years earlier this Tiger Moth might have be purchased from WADC for as little as $50.00. Today, a nice Tiger Moth can bring US$100,000.

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In 1928 Consolidated Aircraft founder, Reuben Fleet, founded Fleet Aircraft of Canada in Fort Erie, Ontario at the US border. Here, Fleet manufactured his proven line of biplane trainers and sport planes. The RCAF had acquired 51 of the trainers by the time WWII began, then added a further 431, those being the Model 16B Finch. By war’s end the surviving Finches went on the surplus market, but were never as popular as the Tiger Moth. The only Finch we used to see around in southern Ontario was CF-GDM, which had begun in November 1940 as RCAF 4683. On June 4, 1942 it survived a serious accident at 22 Elementary Flying Training School at Quebec City, but was rebuilt. Declared surplus, it was purchased by Marc Cinq-Mars of Quebec City. “GDM” had other owners in Quebec, one being Arthur Marsh in distant Sept-Iles. In October 1950 he sold to Roy McIntosh of Stony Creek, near Hamilton. However, McIntosh seems to have abandoned “GDM”, which sat until sold in 1953 to Russell Norman, a flier who later was famous in the homebuilding world. From 1955 (when it still didn’t have even 200 flying hours) “GDM” would have a host of owners. In one case, vintage plane connoisseur, Cliff Glenister, operated it from Maple, Ontario from 1968-73. In 1991 “GDM” was sold south of the border, becoming N116TR. It last was heard of in Sandwich, Illinois.

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On July 9, 1942 the RCAF took on strength its first of 1555 Fairchild Cornells. These were known in the USAAF as the PT-26, and were built under licence by Fleet in Fort Erie. The Cornell proved ideal as a BCATP training plane — the perfect replacement for the those well-worn Finches and Tiger Moths. Most Cornells flew over the prairies from such places as Virden, Manitoba. As soon as the war ended, many private pilots rushed to get their hands on a Cornell for a few hundred dollars. Al Martin photographed CF-FEA at Toronto Island Airport in the 1950s. Having begun as RCAF FV688, it was on RCAF strength from September 1944 to May 1947, then became one of 51 Cornells donated under Ottawa’s “free issue” program to Canada’s flying clubs. As such, in May 1947 it went to the Brantford Flying Club in Ontario. “Free issue” proved important at this time in getting Canada’s flying clubs back in business training the next wave of fresh pilots. In September 1949 “FEA” was bought by Jim Leggat, who recently had founded a general aviation company at Toronto’s Barker Field. John re-sold “FEA” to Sidney Klein, then a series of owners ensued. Vincent Clothier of Toronto owned it in 1955-61. Then, it fades into oblivion. In a way this is a typical scene for a war surplus ex-RCAF trainer. Note how the weeds are growing tall and “FEA” doesn’t look too active. The fellows who enthusiastically purchased such planes, often soon lost interest. The great Canada Malting Co. elevator beyond is still standing in 2020. Maple Leaf Stadium, just visible to the left, is long gone.

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Another of Al’s Cornell photos from Toronto Island shows CF-GIQ. All I can find about it is that it had been RCAF 10534, and that its RCAF dates were 28-12-42 to 21-8- 46. In one War Assets Disposal Corp. advert from 1947, Cornells were offered at $650 each. The advert noted: “Single engine, low wing monoplane, fabric covered, tubular metal fuselage with plywood covered wooden wings … Adaptable for private ownership, club or school use, or light executive transport.” Re. such war surplus planes, not all who bought one were experienced, so aircraft suffered from rude usage. Although the planes were bought “for a song”, owners soon faced expenses from engine maintenance to insurance, so, many fellows quickly tired of their “prizes”. Something like a Cornell would go from one owner to the next, the price always falling. Before long, the engine would be causing problems. Wings being of wood, the weather soon was burrowing into them. Once a wooden wing spar started to go, something like a Cornell was pretty well kaput. By about 1960 when I was getting into photography, there were few Cornells, Finches, etc. left, other than a few sitting around in the weeds.

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Al’s lovely photo of Cornell CF-GDG, ex- RCAF 10676, dates 30-4-43 to 8-11-46. I remember seeing “GDG in the early 1960s at its Mount Hope, Ontario base. It fooled the experts, becoming one of the last surviving airworthy Cornells in Canada. For many years it was base in Rouyn, northern Quebec with Laurent Balaux. He finally sold it to Mssrs Glover and Upham in nearby Val d’Or. The Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) finally expired in May 1974.

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There also were war surplus RCAF Harvard trainers, but there’s a different story to these. To begin, the RCAF retained hundreds of Harvards for postwar requirements. Then, it was big companies such as Aircraft Industries and the Babb Co. with Montreal offices that scooped up most Harvards from WADC. These outfits then made quick sales of shiploads of Harvards to European militaries starting to rebuild after the war – Netherlands, Norway, etc. However, there were some Harvards for sale on the general market. One 1947 WADC advertisement offered Harvards at $800, noting, “Adaptable for executive work or sportsman pilot”. The main problem with a Harvard compared to a primary trainer like the Cornell, was its complexity. Few private flyers dared step up to the hefty Harvard with its 600 hp compared to 200 hp in a Cornell. Other issues included much higher maintenance and operating expenses. On the whole, Canadian private flyers steered away from the Harvard until a new wave was released by the RCAF starting around 1960. Here’s Al’s photo of one of these. As far as he was concerned, other than a standard straight side view, this was a fine angle for shooting a Harvard on the ground. A slightly rear angle also worked well. CF- HWX had been built by North American at Inglewood, California in 1941 for the French military. By then, however, France had been overrun by Nazi Germany. The RAF then took the plane from Inglewood and somehow got it onto RCAF strength in July 1941 as AJ583. Thenceforth, it served into June 1960 when Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (new name for WADC) sold it to J-P Rheault of Trois-Rivières for $750. Various owners followed until 1986 when “HWX” joined the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association of Tillsonburg, Ontario. It flies annually with the CHAA in its original RCAF “Yellow Peril” markings. A nice Harvard these days sells for around US$200,000.

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While Canada was flooded by surplus ex- RCAF training planes, a Consolidated BT-13 Valiant was a rare sight. The reason was simple – the BT-13 was not used in Canada, but was an American wartime trainer. Even so, a few trickled into Canada after 1945, some purchased just for their P&W R-985 engines. With the engine removed, the airframe would be scrapped. I found these rare photos of an Edmonton-based BT-13 in Al’s collection. I have little info, except that “GVS” was used by Dominion Skywriters of Edmonton for sky writing in smoke, and aerial advertising using an under-wing light array (in these two photos you can see this odd installation). “GVS” is listed in the 1956 CCAR, but is missing thereafter. The men behind this business were A.J. Laing and W.L.G. Greenaway. Let’s hope that someone will come up with the history of this operation. Another BT-13 was operated (1954 to around 1960) by Superior Airways in Northern Ontario to haul fish from northern lakes to Fort William for sale. I’m not sure how Al would have gotten such Western Canada pictures. We heard that he had been a ferry pilot after the war, so may have photographed such planes in those travels. Or … maybe he got to such places as Edmonton and Vancouver on his airline pass once he joined TCA. “GVS” Update: On April 8, 2020, CANAV reader, Trevor McTavish, wrote from Alberta about “GVS” having operated overhead during the Calgary Stampede. Trevor notes: “The message flashing on the light-rig beneath the wings advertised BA gasoline – a major automobile and aviation fuel dealer at the time.” That of course was the British America Oil Co. As a boy 7 or 8, I clearly remember the same basic  “BA” message. However, what we kids were watching (to our great amazement) was “BA” being painted in the skies over Toronto by some hefty biplane.

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Al spotted this BT-13 at Calgary in the 1950s. Trevor McTavish has determined that CF-DRN was Consolidated serial number 7704. So far its military identity is unknown, but postwar it became N68007. It was sold in February 1953 by a Virginia Knechtel to Skyway Air Services Ltd of Langley, BC. In March a permit was issued to Skyway to ferry N68007 from Bremerton, Washington to Vancouver. After clearing customs, it flew on to Langley. “DRN” next is noted as registered to Chinook Flying Services Ltd. of Calgary as of November 13, 1956. It then fades from the CCAR. Trevor adds, “It was purchased by Franz McTavish of Calgary’s Chinook Flying Services as a source for a spare R-985 Wasp JR. motor for the company’s Avro Anson. As there were no plans to use ‘DRN’ in either the flying school or charter operations, the otherwise intact airframe was pushed into the weeds beside the fuel shack. There it became a play-toy for my father, who was a little boy at the time.” In the 2010s “DRN” was under restoration in Alberta, destined to fly again.

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In 1949 this oddball BT-13 appeared across Canada during an effort to fly around the world soon after WWII. A 25-year-old Britisher, Ricarda “Dickie” Morrow-Tait (1923- 1982) was behind this, flying a Percival Proctor with companion, Michael Townend. Departing the UK from Croydon (London) on August 18, 1948, they flew eastward to India and Japan. Next they reached the isolated Aleutians and Alaska, but the Proctor would go no farther, as explained in a caption in the “Globe and Mail” of December 1, 1948: “Their plane crashed on the Alaska Highway 230 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Townend is flying to Toronto to arrange for new wings and landing gear, and Mrs. Morrow-Tait intends to get a job in an Anchorage night club to get funds to pay for them.” This got even more complicated and the Proctor was abandoned. To further her mission, Richarda tried fundraising by speaking engagements, firstly in Calgary, but this did not pan out. The duo returned to the UK, then some 1949-style “crowd-funding” resulted in the donation of N54084, a surplus 1942 BT-13. After a few months, the odyssey re-started in Edmonton (where my old pal Les Corness took his own wonderful photo N54084). This time Richarda had a new second pilot, Jack Ellis of Seattle. They flew eastward, but there was trouble here and there, as in Chicago when the local FAA grounded the plane due to fishy paperwork. When things were quiet on May 28, however, Richarda and Jack fired up, regardless, took off and flew to Toronto, where they landed without contacting the control tower (this led to a scolding, but Richarda’s radios had been u/s). At Malton it was clear that N54084 had no C of A and its ownership was unknown. The G&M reported, “There was the fact … that a British- licenced pilot was flying a U.S.-registered plane in and out of Canadian airports. The confusion knew no bounds.” The story gets crazier for, somehow, Richarda ferried the BT-13 to Buffalo for maintenance. Meanwhile, Townsend returned to replace Ellis. At some point, Richarda flew on to Montreal, then Goose Bay. Here, Richarda again stomped on the toes of officialdom. While there for fuel and rest, she had been ordered to fly to Bangor, Maine, and forget about the north – Canada’s DOT declared that such a flight (eventually) across open northern seas was illegal for a single-engine plane. Richarda agreed, but once airborne thumbed her nose at her orders and turned north. Some 7:25 hours and 800 miles later the BT- 13 was at Bluie West 1 in Greenland. For 1949 this was an unheard- of, amazingly skillful and gutsy venture in a rickety plane. A long- range RCAF Lancaster had escorted her all the way to BW-1 regardless of the nuttiness of it all. Townsend later glibly reported, “We had a straight-forward flight. Once out of Montreal we had the best weather … on the Atlantic route.” On August 18 the G&M reported that the adventurers had reached Keflavik, Iceland, then they pressed on the Scotland and south to Croydon, landing there on August 19, 1949 a year and a day after setting out in the Proctor. Richarda thus became the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe. Hereafter, things were not perfect for her. In 1950 she bore a son by Michael and divorced her husband. You’ll have to dredge around on the web to see how her life went thereafter. She died in 1982. I wonder what ever happened to Richarda’s old clunker of a BT-13? FAA records show that its registration was cancelled in 1955. Why is there no Hollywood blockbuster movie about all this!

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Soon after the war, the Canadian Army acquired Auster Mk.VI liaison aircraft. By the time I started shooting airplanes, however, these had been replaced by Cessna L-19s. Starting around 1960, I was photographing these same Austers in civil markings. Austers were always a special treat to see. You can tell by the background where Al shot Army Auster 16663. Retired in 1957, it became CF-KJP. It was flown for the next few years by Norman Corp of Campbellville, Ontario. “KJP” last operated from Selkirk, Manitoba. Its C of A expired in 2011. “KPJ” is now with the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.

Civil Light Planes

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Many new light plane designs appeared immediately after WWII, including some interesting little single-seaters. These were attractive, especially with their low “sticker” prices, low operating costs, and ease of flying. One of the more revolutionary designs was Al Mooney’s 1946 M18 Mite. Powered by a 65-hp engine, it was just 18’ long with a wingspan of 26’10”. All-up weight was 850 pounds, so “Mite” was a good name! Top speed was 138 mph, making a Mite speedier than most personal planes of the day. In the end, however, just 283 were built by the time production ended in 1954, although a few later were made as kit planes. Regardless, the Mite led the way to the classic Mooney 20 and all its follow-on versions. The first Canadian Mite was CF-HFN, seen in these Al Martin views taken on different occasions at Toronto Island Airport. Local pilot, Frank Ogden, had ordered “HFN” from Mooney in Kerrville, Texas, then took delivery in August 1953. The basic list price at the time was a fairly hefty $3695. The “3” in the side suggests that “HFN” had been in some sort of an air rally. “HFN” had a busy life in Canada, including four accidents all involving a collapsed undercarriage (these were pilot related mishaps). It looks as if Frank Ogden let a lot of pilots try out his nifty little plane, some of whom were not too skillful. Several others owned “HFN” after Ogden sold it in July 1956. Little is known of it after it moved to Quebec in 1963. It disappeared from the CCAR in 1968.

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The rare Culver V traces its origins to the 1930s when Al Mooney teamed with K.K. Culver to form Dart Aircraft at Port Columbus, Ohio. Their little “Dart” 2-seater had limited success. In the late 1930s the Dart evolved into the Cadet, but early sales were only in the dozens. With WWII, the US Army adapted the Cadet as the PQ-8 target drone, about 400 of which were built by Culver Aircraft Co. Predicting a booming post-war market, Culver then introduced its Cadet V – “V” for victory – based on the PQ-8. Culver thought that the market would be insatiable for its greatly improved little cutie. Introduced in September 1947 at a $3589 sticker price, the Culver V went nowhere, only about 100 being built at the company’s Wichita factory. Culver quickly folded, its people dispersing to look for opportunities. Al Mooney, for example, went off to design his “Mite”. Two or three Culver Vs made it to Canada, CF-EHG. W.B. Riggs, F.L Wood and J.R. Wood of Windsor, Ontario imported “EHG” in April 1948. I don’t know the price paid, but about a year later the fellows must have been happy to forget about “EHG”, when they sold it to Robert J. Henderson of Willowdale (a Toronto suburb) for $800. He resold it quickly to Clyde Thorpe of Toronto. Other owners ensued, including Sten Lundberg, a former Spitfire pilot of Blind River in Northern Ontario. The last known owner was S.D. Archer of Dorval, Quebec in 1966. “EHG” last was spotted in a Quebec junkyard in 1973. Al’s photo shows it at old Hamilton airport. Al also photographed the unknown fellow on the wing at time, but he didn’t leave a note about whom this is.

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Homebuilt aircraft fascinate every versatile aviation fan, and Knight Twister CF-GRK-X is an exceptional case study. This exotic little biplane racer was designed in Chicago in 1928 by Vernon Payne and first flown in 1932. Few were built and the plane’s reputation was one of being “a bit too hot”. Leon Beliaeff built “GRK” in 1949, then flew it for a few years from Cartierville near Montreal. In 1954 Beliaeff sold “GRK” to William Zegil of Fort William. While taking off there on June 13 that year, the plane was badly damaged. Al Martin saw “GRK” at Toronto Island Airport, perhaps while it was en route to Fort William. However, there’s a comment in the DOT files that “GRK” was trucked to Toronto after its accident. So … maybe this shows it after being repaired at the island? The DOT files close with a comment that the Knight Twister was sold in the USA. Plans for this vintage design still are sold by Steen Aero Lab of Palm Bay, Florida. The company notes: “The Knight Twister in any version is a true thoroughbred. While it is not like the average trainer in control response, the fact is that the design simply doesn’t need to be horsed around the sky. It is the kind of plane that thrives on smooth control inputs, and in return she will reward the pilot with smooth, perfectly-balanced performance. Properly-built Twisters tend to be very straightforward and easy to fly airplanes with excellent performance, which give great enjoyment to their pilots.” If you get curious about the Knight Twister, the Steen Aero Lab website is worth visiting. Of special interest under “History” is a 1985 letter from Vernon Page to the great Pete Bowers, designer of the Bowers Fly Baby homebuilt and a renowned aviation photographer.

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Around 1960 most of us were keen on the homebuilding movement. Of course, Canada’s first powered airplane – the “Silver Dart” – itself was a homebuilt, so we took the homebuilts seriously. Through the 1920s-30 many Canadians had built single- seat kit planes. Typical was young Fred Hotson who eventually finished a “Heath Kit” plane, most of which he bought while in high school in Fergus, Ontario. When he had a few dollars, Fred would order some more bits and pieces from the US. These would come by mail. The day finally came when his little plane, CF-BLS, took to the air. It flew very nicely. After WWII the homebuilding movement really took off, encouraged especially by the US-based Experimental Aircraft Association. Knight Twister CF-GRK-X was a pioneer Canadian homebuilding project, its owner, Leon Beliaeff, being years ahead of the official movement. About 1957 the DOT set aside the “R” registration series for these “restricted” aircraft, the first of which started appearing in 1957 (the DOT officially categorized these planes as “ultra lights”). Some designs were homebuilts from the plans, others ere highly modified production planes. Many soon were turning up at the summer fly-ins we attended – modified Aeroncas, Corbens, Druins, Emerauds, Fly Babys, Jodels, Pietenpols, modified Pipers, Stitts, Whites, etc. We knew them all as well as we knew an F-86 or a Super Constellation. After all, Al Martin had taught us to be aviation “generalists” (we didn’t think too highly of any spotter boasting about being a “specialist”). One of the first “R’ series homebuilts that we saw was this Stitts SA6B Flt-r-Bug — CF-RAK, built by P.M. Prisner in Chatham, Ontario. Many others later had the pleasure of flying this fine little 2-seater. Last heard of, “RAK” was flying from Anola, Manitoba in the 2010s, having by then been on the go for about 60 years. In 2020 it’s still flown by Jeremiah Mustard from Anola, Manitoba. The website “As cute as a bug: The Stits Flut-R-Bug – General Aviation News” tells the Flut-r-Bug story very nicely.

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Two other top postwar light planes were the Ercoupe and Globe Swift. These were among the avalanche of fine new American types vying for attention in 1946-48. The general info about these can be found by going back on this blog (use the search box) to our item The Beech Bonanza at 70 and the Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes then scrolling passed the Bonanza to find the Ercoupe and Swift. However, to save you the trip, this is the ERCO text you’ll see there: “Two especially beloved, all-metal, 2-seat light planes mass-produced in the 1940s are the ERCO 415 Ercoupe and Globe Swift. The Ercoupe first flew in 1937. It went on sale in 1940, but the advent of war delayed production until 1946, when the Model 415 appeared with a $2665 sticker price ($35,250 in 2020 dollars). When the postwar light plane boon faltered, ERCO ceased production, having turned out an astounding 4311 Ercoupes. Happily, others took an interest and, over the decades, more were built under such banners as Forney, Alon, even Mooney. Some 5700 Ercoupes eventually flew…” Shown is Ercoupe CF-HOL which was registered in Canada on August 26, 1954 to D.E. Wilson of Springford, Ontario. Thereafter, it served many owners in Southern Ontario until listed as “Cancelled 2001-06-25”. At the time it was owned by ex-RCAF wartime pilot J.F. “Joe” Reed, one of a real “characters” of Canadian aviation. The natty Globe GC-1 Swift also was a pre-war US design, which had to wait for 1945 to get going. After rushing out more than 1200 Swifts, however, Globe ran out of money and was sold to Temco. Temco added 260 more Swifts, before ceasing production in 1951. “DXZ” was registered in Canada on September 11, 1947 then flew for some years with Fred Oystrick of Toronto. Al photographed “DXZ” at Toronto island in Fred’s “Electric Motor Service” markings and with a dedication to “Maria” on the engine cowling. It was still current about 1980, then faded. In 1989 a Bell Jet Ranger assumed its registration.

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There still were many planes from the 1930s active in Canada when Al and the rest of us were avidly taking pictures in the 1950s-60s. Here’s 1937 Waco ZQC-6 CF-BDO that Al shot one day at Toronto island. Behind is the famous 1938 hangar that’s full of airplanes to this day. “BDO” first was owned by Laurentian Air Services of Ottawa, a prominent air charter and bush flying outfit. Sold in 1951, it flew a bit longer privately, then went to the Blount Feed Co. in Rhode Island, becoming N1130.

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The Beech 17 Staggerwing is one of the loveliest personal planes of all time. The first of Walter and Olive Beech production planes, it first flew in November 1932. It continued being built into 1948, by when the Bonanza had totally overshadowed it. Some 781 Staggerwings were built. Many came to Canada beginning with CF-BBB of Mackenzie Air Service in late 1936. These served well in the bush and also were some of Canada’s first executive planes with such owners as the Eaton department store family, and Imperial Oil. Here is Al’s photo of Beech D17S CF-GLL early in the 1950s, when the owner was Lodestar Drilling Co. (this company still exists in Texas). “GLL” had served the US Navy in 1944-45, was sold surplus in 1946 as N67737, then became “GLL” in 1951. The 1955 CCAR notes the owner as Montague S. Hall of Hope, BC. Various owners followed until “GLL” disappeared from the CCAR in 1975. It next emerged in Colorado, where it was refurbished and became N35JM. Most recently it was on show at the Historic Flight Foundation in Seattle.

Cessna Takes Canada by Storm

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Prior to WWII only four lonely Cessnas had been registered in Canada, but come 1946, this changed electrically. Cessna was ready for the peacetime market with three lovely new products – the Ce.120, Ce.140 and Ce.170. The Ce.120 2- seater went on sale in 1946 at $2695. There were 2172 delivered, but at the same time the company was marketing the more sophisticated Cessna 140 (1946 price $3245 with 4904 built). Both types were phased off the Cessna lines in 1949. The further improved Ce.140A then was built into 1951 (525 delivered). Many Ce.120s/140s came to Canada for use mainly at flying schools. Al Martin photographed this little beauty at Toronto Island Airport. The famous Wong brothers of Central Airways had brought it in new in April 1950. Hundreds of student pilots won their wings after training on “FPW”. It served the Wongs into 1961, then had a list of owners until disappearing from the CCAR in 1971.

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As noted, Toronto Island was a busy general aviation airport with plenty of interesting aircraft to photograph. This was especially so from spring through fall, when many float planes could be found at the buoys and docks. Al Martin caught this typical scene c.1955. It’s a beautiful Cessna 170B with the city skyline beyond. To the right is Toronto’s tallest building of the day, the Bank of Commerce. Beside it is the massive (for the times) Royal York Hotel. Looming just ahead of the tail is the Canada Life Insurance building on University Ave. All three stand to this day, but that massive grain storage and milling complex was gone by about 1990. The 4-seat “1-70” was introduced in 1949 at $5995. Production ended in 1956 with 5173 delivered. Many remain in use in 2020. From what little I know of CF-HXK, Carl Millard imported it in 1955, then sold it to a local company, Murfin Sheet Metal Works. Last heard of around 2010 “HXK” was based at Hearst in Northern Ontario.

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The “Cadillac” of post-WWII Cessnas was the Ce.190/195 series. Powered by radial engines (Ce.190 Continental 240 hp, Ce.195 Jacobs 245/300 hp), these all-metal beauties had roomy, 5-seat cabins that appealed to families and small business operators. The introductory price for a “190” in 1947 was $12,750. Some 1200 190/195s were delivered. Over the decades many served in Canada. An early example was CF-HXT, a 1951 model (sn 7679) registered first by the DOT on February 21, 1955 to Carl Millard in Toronto (Carl brought hundreds of light planes into Canada over his long career). “HXT” had various owners over the decades, including Toronto funeral director, John A. Jerrett. On May 25, 1963, he ground looped “HXT” on landing at Malton, damaging the undercarriage, wing and tail. Many such airplanes have at least one such event noted in their logbooks. “HXT” last was heard of in Courtenay, BC around 2016.

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Ce.195B CF-FRO in Vancouver on September 25, 1956. For years this handsome plane served the Finning company, which had a Caterpillar equipment franchise in BC. Following an accident of October 23, 1972, “FRO” was sold to a buyer in Kent, Washington. The last heard of it was a 1996 notice in the Ce.195 club newsletter that a few of its bits and pieces were for sale. Parked behind and to the right in this fine view is a 1951 Nash Ambassador. Keen aviation fans like Al Martin revelled in everything to do with something like the Cessna lineage. They followed the least model upgrade (Ce.195, Ce.195A, Ce.195B, etc.) or local “mod”, and were sure to photograph any such changes.

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In late 1955 the Ce.170 was replaced by the Ce.172, a design that brought a whole new look to the Cessna line. Gone were Cessna’s classic curved “tail feathers” and “tail dragger” look. As you can see in this view, Cessna switched to a new squared-off look, plus tricycle gear with steerable nose wheel. The new plane came on the market at $8750. The Wong brothers of Central Airways were quick to recognize where things in their world of aviation were heading, so immediately ordered one of the first 1-72s — CF-IKB. Current owner, Jim Bray, notes, “IKB came off the line at Cessna on October 28 and left for Canada on November 3, 1955”. Al’s view includes the Central Airways office. He probably set this up deliberately. In 1956 I was in Air Cadets in Toronto at 172 Squadron. My first ever airplane flight was in “IKB”. Today,  Jim, who has owned it for 35 years, keeps “IKB” at Brantford, Ontario. In 2020 its airframe time is a bit less than 6000 hours. The initial production batch of 1- 72s totalled 1178. Since then more than 45,000 have been delivered.

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Cessna introduced a host of new produces in the early 1950s, the 4/5-seat Ce.180 included — one of the great light aircraft of all time. First flown in 1952, this all-metal workhorse was produced into 1981, some 6200 eventually coming off the Cessna line. Powered by a 230-hp Continental O-470 series engine (145 hp in a 1-72), the “1-80” soon was beloved in private and commercial use. It especially excelled in the bush on wheels, skis or floats. Many Canadian operators got in on the earliest deliveries (1954-56: 2003 aircraft). Al photographed CF-ICE at the island in the mid-50s. He would have been extra interested to see this lovely plane on amphibious floats. “ICE” had been registered in Canada on May 19, 1955 to the McNamara Construction Co. In 1958, however, it was listed to Executive Air Services at Malton Airport. Here it bears the company logo of Federal Equipment of Montreal (in the 1950s Federal was a key DEW Line contractor, which might have had a lease on “ICE”). For several years after 1958, R.J. McCullough of Toronto owned “ICE”, then followed various owners. “ICE” was active as recently as 2016.

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Another early Cessna 180 was CF-IIX, which Al Martin shot at Vancouver. It had come to Canada in 1957 for Vancouver-based Canex Aerial Exploration Ltd., but faded from the CCAR in 1963. Survey aircraft led rough and ready careers – it was a dangerous field of operation, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that “IIX” had ended badly. Canex also had Beaver CF-JOE, which itself was wrecked in 1957. These days C-FIIX is a BC-based Cessna 182D. PS … in this view notice the beautiful “torpedo-back” in the background.

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Al Martin photographed Ce.180 CF-HEF in Vancouver in early 1-80 times. The Bourne and Weir tire company had purchased in 1953, then operated it into 1960. It then was sold to Island Airlines, a small Campbell River operators destined to become famous on the coast. A dedicated general aviation fan such as Al could never pass up a nice set-up shot like this, especially since “HEF” bore the company name and logo so prominently. By 1966 this 1-80 was with Leask Lake Logging of Campbell River (logging companies quickly gravitated to the versatile, speedy and economic 1-80). For some reason, “HEF” is absent from 1968 onward in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register. Often, the reason was an accident, although a plane also faded from the register if sold into the USA. Many Ce.180s still operate daily in Canada, often “out in the boonies”, where they always have been at home.

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Cessna introduced the Ce.182 Skylane in 1952. A tri-gear spin-off from the 1-80, it appealed to those looking for a high-end light plane (list price was $13,750). Cessna delivered 844 in Year 1. For 1957-58 it added a further 1713. Originally N6320A off the line at Cessna, Skylane CF-IUE (perhaps Canada’s first 1-82) is seen at Toronto Island Airport when new. Keith Hopkinson of Sky Harbour Aircraft at Goderich, Ontario had imported it in 1956, then operated it for 2-3 years on behalf of the Iowa-based Sheaffer Pen Company, which had a Goderich plant. “IUE” then had a long career serving several owners in the Toronto area. Latterly, it was with North-Way Chrysler in New Liskeard in Northern Ontario. However, its C of A is listed as cancelled in 2018. For the best in Cessna history, I strongly recommend that you track down copies of Edward H. Phillips’ classic 1984 book, Cessna: A Master’s Expression, plus his follow-up (1986) title, Wings of Cessna: Model 120 to the Citation III. You are far better off with such books than depending (lazily) on google.

Stinson Endures, Piper Forges Ahead

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The first Stinsons started appearing in Canada in the mid 1920s. There were four of these, all Stinson SB-1 Detroiter commercial planes (Stinson was based in Detroit). One was G-CAFW purchased for Patricia Airways and Exploration to serve the Red Lake region during the gold rush there of 1925-26. The others trickled into Canada, but accidents soon claimed them. Late in the 1930s, however, a new Stinson type was turning heads – the Reliant. With more efficient and reliable engines, and good load-carrying ability, these became popular. Then, for wartime use the RCAF acquired 25 little Stinson HW-75 Voyageurs (also known as the Stinson Model 10 and Model 105). Most of the 25 survived the war and soon were turning up in civilian markings. Here’s a typical example that Al photographed at Toronto island. You can see that the HW-75 was a bit on the dumpy side for looks. Having come to Canada in the spring of 1941, CF-DTH served the RCAF very briefly as 3487, then joined the Department of Transport in Moncton. It seems to have served there to war’s end. No longer needed, it was sold for $750 to Paul Huot of Ottawa. He quickly re-sold it to nearby Bradley Air Services. In November 1954 “DTH” was acquired by Harold Meiteen and Harvey Zellan, who flew it from Toronto Island. “DTH” faded from the CCAR by 1958.

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Stinson was busy near war’s end planning its own return to the peacetime world. A quick solution for making the transition was to modernize the little 2-3 seat Voyageur. The sharp-looking Model 108 4-seater was the result. Al Martin photographed this one at Malton airport. Having come off the Stinson line in July 1947, CF-EYG was ferried to its first owner, Curtiss-Reid Flying Service of Cartierville Airport near Montreal. Within a month, however, “EYG” was with Cranbrook Flying Service in BC. Later it served the Aero Club of BC into 1956, when it was sold to Abbotsford Machinery Sales. On that July 5 it was wrecked in a takeoff accident at Vedan Lake, BC. Notice the Fleet Canuck and DHC-1 Chipmunk in the background – two other typical light planes of the times. Stinson would turn out more than 5000 “1-0-8s” in several versions with a range of engines. Many served in Canada and a few survive. A nice 1-0-8 today sells starting around US$40,000.

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Another fine Al Martin Stinson 108 photo. CF-FJW was registered in Canada on May 23, 1947 for Imperial Oil Ltd. This company had been boosting the airplane for business use since 1920, when it imported two rugged little Junkers bushplanes to explore for oil in the Northwest Territories. Note the prominent Imperial Oil Ltd. markings on “FJW”. By 1955 it was in far away Norman Wells, NWT with R.G. Hattie. After moving to Taylor, BC, it went missing from the CCAR in 1960. Most recently (2005), this registration was on a Piper Navajo in Quebec. Toronto Bay in the 1950s usually was filled with floatplanes. Today, few ever are seen, other than runway-bound planes at the island on amphibious floats. In the distance across the bay in this scene is the spire (still standing in 2020) of St. Mary’s RC church on Bathurst St.

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Al also caught this fine 1-0-8 at the island one day. CF-GZI was a Stinson 108-3 “Flying Station Wagon” – the last production model before Stinson was taken over in 1950 by Piper and easily recognized by its enlarged tail feathers. Imported in May 1955, “GZI” belonged to the St. Lawrence Starch Co. of nearby Port Credit – the makers of a product that in those days was in every kitchen in the land – “Beehive Golden Corn Syrup”. “GZI” was beloved at the starch company, where it served into 1965, likely as a company luxury item that got “the boss” and company executives and clients to cottages and prime fishing and hunting spots “up north”. From 1965-71 “GZI” was owned in Sioux Lookout by a well-known local operator, Norm Otto. Later, it went west to places like Uranium City, La Ronge and Yellowknife. I don’t know where it ended, but today C-FGZI is a speedy little Douglas A-4 Skyhawk electronic warfare trainer owned by Montreal-based Top Aces.

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Stinson 108-3 CF-HOS runs up at Toronto Island Airport. Originally registered in Canada on September 9, 1954, it was owned by Reilley’s Lock Corp. of Toronto into 1967. Some 1760 were produced. In the mid-1970s “HOS” was in Haileybury with Carrier Industrial Supplies, but later in the 1970s I lose track of it. These days “C-FHOS” is used on an Air Canada Embraer EJ-190 jetliner. If Al had a chance to re-take this photo, I bet that he’d take 1-2 steps to the right so he could include the tip of the fin. Usually, we were a fussy about such matters of “composition”, or, “form”.

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There are so many Pipers in Al’s files that I was a bit bamboozled. Let’s start with one of the oldest examples, Taylor J-2 CF-BED. In April 1937, F.H. Armitage of Hamilton imported this fine little J-2, or, “Taylor Cub” from the US. A popular Depression- era design, the J-2 had come about through a collaboration between designer Clarence Gilbert Taylor and businessman William Thomas Piper. The first successful Cub, the E-2 went into production at Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1931 at a list price of $1325. In 1935 the improved J-2 Cub appeared at an even lower price of $1270. Eventually, Taylor and Piper merged into the Piper company. More than 1200 J-2s were built, a few making it to Canada. What became of CF-BED? Nobody seems to know other than that it faded from the CCAR in 1947. The Cub story is especially well told by Edward H. Phillips in a wonderful book, Piper: A Legend Aloft. Do yourself a big favor and track down a copy.

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The J-3 succeeded the J-2 at Piper. Al spotted this fine-looking example at the old Hamilton airport early after WWII. The earliest info I could find for CF-DSI is that it was registered with the DOT on August 19, 1946. I’m guessing that it was built here early after WWII by Cub Aircraft of Canada. In 1955 it was owned by a John Morris of Hamilton. From 1959 to about 1965 it was with the Halifax Flying Club, but thereafter is absent from the CCAR. Aviation fans of the day rarely could resist photographing such an inviting scene – a pretty little plane sitting well lit in the open and with an interesting background. In these days Al still was an active private pilot, and certainly would really have enjoyed flying any such Piper.

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Piper L-4B CF-EEG was manufactured in Canada in 1946 by Cub Aircraft of Canada at old Hamilton airport. Happily, in his seminal book Canadian Aircraft since 1909 (get yourself a copy, this book is 100% essential for your library), the great K.M. “Ken” Molson includes a short history of this operation. The L-4 series had been used by the US military in WWII chiefly as an artillery spotting aircraft (it was a slightly modified J-3). Piper delivered almost 5000 by war’s end. To keep itself involved once wartime contracts had expired, Cub Aircraft adopted the L-4 for Canadian use. This likely was easy to arrange, since there were masses of surplus L-4 components at Piper in Lockhaven, Pennsylvania, which Piper would have been happy to ship to Hamilton. Cub Aircraft of Canada delivered 128 L-4Bs from 1945-47, promoting the type as the “Prospector”. Typical was “EEG”, which was registered with the DOT on May 22, 1947. It was part of an almost solid block of Cub Aircraft of Canada Pipers CF-EEA to CF-EEZ. All were listed as J-3C-65s except for “EEG”, the sole L-4B. From this batch the only one that seems to still be flying in 2020 is “EEI” in NW Ontario. In the first of my old copies of the CCAR (1955) “EEG” was with Gananoque Air Services in Ontario’s Thousand Islands region. By 1958 it was with the St. Maurice Aero Club in Trois-Rivières. From 1962 to at least 1979 it was with Roland Verville of Sherbrook, Quebec. He must have had countless enjoyable flying hours in this little classic. Transport Canada lost track of “EEG” years ago, but such mysteries sometimes get resolved. Such aircraft sometimes still turn up in garages and barns decades after disappearing.

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J-3C-65 (65 hp) CF-DCS was assembled in Hamilton and registered on April 30, 1946. The “C” in the type indicates made in Canada. When Al photographed it around 1955 it had been converted as a dusting plane by Leavens Brothers Air Services. Each year in this period, Leavens (one of Canada’s oldest air services) had farm and forest contracts to keep several J-3s busy (these usually had been upgraded to 85 hp). This also gave many young pilots some valuable (if dangerous) flying experience. About 30 years ago Paul Apperly told me a bit about this for some brief bit I was writing that never came to light. This is that: “Beginning about 1946, Leavens converted several 85-hp J-3 Cubs and 65-hp Aeronca “Champs” for aerial spray and dusting work. Spray bars and hoppers (200-lb capacity) were installed at Barker Field. The flying was done mainly in southwestern Ontario spraying tobacco (main base at London, George Walker manager), but there also was work in the Quinte area, treating fields of corn and peas. The Champs soon were withdrawn from ag services, since the Cubs had better maneuverability, plus 85 hp. Rock Hodges and Paul Apperly were two prominent young Leavens’ pilots in this era, flying such spray Cubs as CF-BUG. When bigger contracts were under way, Leavens brought in US sprayers to help, as with Cub NR35320 of Milwaukee-based Fliteways. Hodges would go on to found General Airspray in St. Thomas, Ontario, while Apperly joined to RCAF to fly Sabres. Many lessons were learned in these early years. Liquid fertilizer, for example, was found to be corrosive on hoppers and spray components. Overall, Leavens found the ag business a hard sell — few farmers yet were ready to accept aerial application as a practical or affordable process. To offset this, Leavens found other work. In 1951-53 it used J-3s on floats and a Seabee on Ontario government contracts spraying against mosquitoes in the Muskoka region. Ontario Hydro hired Leavens to spray herbicide along rights of way to keep them weed free. Leavens also operated in Quebec and New Brunswick during Operation Budworm. For a mosquito spraying contract at Forestville on the Quebec North Shore, it converted Cessna T-50 CF- BRK. This was on-going for several years until July 11, 1958, when ‘BRK crashed fatally on operations. In 1952 Leavens ran a course at London to train 12 prospective ag pilots in all aspects of the trade, from handling chemicals to the special flying skills required. For 1953 Leavens recorded 5840 flying hours, 64% in flight instruction, 12% in spraying and dusting. The fleet included 35 aircraft of many types including three Cranes, four Stearmans and seven 85-hp Cub spray planes. In 1953 Leavens changed its focus from flying to overhauling aircraft, propellers and accessories; component and materials sales; and light manufacturing. In the 1950s it produced the last 26 Fleet Canucks. In 1972 it moved into a new facility near Toronto International Airport. In later years Leavens, always supportive of Canada’s aviation heritage, restored and flew a Waco 9 (G-CAII), which the company later donated to Canada’s national aviation museum. The museum displays another aircraft with Leavens Brothers’ roots. Its Taylorcraft BC-65 CF-BPR, restored by Harry Drover and donated to the museum in 1999, originally had been imported to Canada by Leavens 60 years earlier. Leavens closed its doors in 2012 after 84 years of service. As to “DCS”, it had various post-Leavens owners. Last heard of in 1967 it was owned by Wesley Howe and Earl Ethier in Sudbury. I don’t yet have a date, but “DCS” came to a bad ending. Wes Howe was buzzing his house near Azilda one day when he struck wires and crashed, killing himself and his passenger.

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Piper introduced the PA-18 “Super Cub” in 1949. Improvements over the ubiquitous J-3/L-4 series included a 105-hp engine (compared to 65 hp) and three notches of flap. Larger engines gradually became available – 125-hp, 150-hp. The Super Cub became more of a utility plane, being so useful as a bush and agricultural plane. Many Super Cubs still operate in Canada. “GOJ” was registered on July 10, 1952 and last appeared in the 1974 CCAR.

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PA-18A Super Cub CF-JAG came into Canada in 1957-58 for Sulo K. Korpela of Kormak Lumber Co. based near of Chapleau, Ontario. Not long afterwards it was with Thessalon Motors of Thessalon, a town between Sudbury and Sault St. Marie. In 1964 it was sold to Ross McNeice and R. Smith of Sudbury. In 1966 it went to Georgian Bay Airways of Parry Sound, but is absent from the CCAR from 1968. The unusual undercarriage here is a system designed by Art Whitaker of Portland Oregon. It was designed for extra rough take-off and landing conditions. I found this comment on the web from stoney727, “Art Whitaker developed the tandem landing gear right here at my home drome, Pearson Field in Vancouver WA. Before the oversized, low-pressure tires came along this was thought to be an answer for landing on rough, unimproved terrain.” I wonder if “JAG” made much use of its Whitaker gear? Canada still has many PA-18s in private and commercial use.

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Besides avidly taking airplane photos, most of us back in the 1950s collected all sorts of other aviation things of interest, post cards included. Here’s a typical example that I found in one of Al’s shoe boxes that features the famous float base at Owen Sound on Georgian Bay. Shown are Piper PA-12s CF-FIZ and PA-12 CF-EUR, and Fleet Canuck CF-EBO. I can’t find any info for “FIZ”, but know from Terry Judge’s research that “EUR” came new to Canada in 1947 for Cub Aircraft of Hamilton. Cub sold it to Peninsula Air Services, a famous local operator. PAS re-sold “EUR” to local flyer N.P. Boychuk, who flew it into 1952, then sold to Owen Sound Airways. There were many subsequent owners, including one renowned fellow whom I knew – J.F. “Joe” Reed. Joe had “EUR” at Toronto Island Airport for a while in 1954-55. Eventually, it had a sticky ending. On landing on Gull Lake, Ontario on May 17, 1959, it crashed, then never re-appeared.

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Piper PA-22 TriPacer CF-FVW at Toronto Island Airport. One of the truly beloved postwar Pipers, the TriPacer evolved from the PA-20 Pacer “tail dragger”, and first flew in early 1951. Sales instantly took off, outnumbering the Pacer 6-to-1. Production continued to 1964 by when some 9400 had been delivered. That year the TriPacer was replaced on Piper’s Vero Beach, Florida production line by the first of what would become an even more popular type – the PA-28 Cherokee. Hundreds of TriPacers came to Canada, where many still operate. “FVW” originally was owned by the Carl Millard of Toronto, Carl having purchased it from Safari Flying Services in the USA in September 1952. The same month Carl sold “FVW” to Len Ariss, a keen private flier who had developed the airstrip at nearby Guelph. Thenceforth, this fine little 4- seater had a long list of Ontario owners from Chatham to Blind River, Hamilton, Brantford, Centralia, North Bay, Sudbury and elsewhere. It seems to have remained in use at least into 1991, when a note in one record states that it had flown more than 2400 hours. However, “FVW” is absent from the CCAR after 1975. TC says that its C of A was cancelled in 2002.

Canada’s Own Fleet 80 Canuck

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One of the big stories in Canadian aviation immediately after WWII was the Fleet 80 Canuck. Evolved from a 1940 design by Bob Noury, which Fleet bought in 1945, production initially was brisk. Fleet had just ended its Cornell production, so had the space, labour, tools and equipment, plus the incentive to jump right into what management envisioned as a strong postwar economy. Nearly 200 Canucks were sold to private and commercial operators, the sticker price initially being $3495. But production tapered as such other new civil light planes as the Aeronca 7, Cessna 120, Ercoupe, Globe Swift and Piper PA-12 began flooding Canada. Fleet, which had been so busy through the war building Finches and Cornells, lowered its asking from to $1600 when sales stalled, then abandoned the Canuck altogether. Carl Millard of Toronto bought up dozens at $1500 each, then re-sold them slowly at a profit of about $1000 each. Eventually, Leavens Brothers Aircraft of Toronto bought the Canuck rights and hand-built a final few. Nonetheless, the Canuck proved to be a gem of a 2-seater. Companies such as Central Airways at Toronto Island Airport trained thousands of young Canadians to fly on the Canuck. Al Martin photographed CF-DEE (sn 16) at Toronto island about 1950. First flown at Fleet’s Fort Erie, Ontario field on October 6, 1946, in August 1947 it was sold to Barrie Aircraft and Supplies of Barrie, Ontario. Thereafter, it had a long list of owners and many adventures. One owner (1951-53) was John Roberts, who kept “DEE” at Toronto island. He sold it to Carl Millard, who quickly flipped it to Roy Brett in British Columbia. Henceforth, “DEE” had a long list of BC owners. Today, it resides in Langley, BC.

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Fleet Canuck sn10 at Toronto Island Airport in Lome Airways markings. Lome was a versatile operator in the early 1950s with such diverse interests as teaching basic flying with the little Canuck to hauling heavy loads in its gigantic Avro Tudor freighter. Having first flown on May 14, 1946, “DDY” went initially to Aero Activities of Toronto. Then, it joined Lome early in 1949. It flew there into October 1952, when sold to Trans Aircraft of Hamilton. “DDY” last appeared in the CCAR in 1958. Behind is the original Toronto Island Airport terminal, which survives and awaits restoration.

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CF-EBE was famous enough for decades around Central Airways in Toronto, but is even more so today as “the” Fleet Canuck that you’ll see when visiting Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. The great Ken Molson writes about “EBE” in his classic book, Canada’s National Aviation Museum: Its History and Collections: “After almost 24 years service with Central Airways, the aircraft was sold in 1971 to Dr. J.D. Robinson of Flesherton, Ontario, who after two years passed it on to Ernest Weller of Port Loring, Ontario, from whom the museum bought it in 1974.”

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Once again, Al is docked a couple of marks for clipping off the tip of the tail of Central Airways Fleet Canuck CF-EOH sn 206. It’s in a typical Toronto Island Airport scene in the early1950s. The paint job was yellow and dark blue. “EOH” was one of 26 Canucks assembled by Leavens Brothers from leftover Fleet parts. Its first flight was February 22, 1952. Central Airways, operated by the famous Bob and Tom Wong, purchased it in April that year. As with many such little planes that had long lives, “EOH” had the occasional “fender bender”. In one case, on September 25, 1964 pilot Ricky Hicks had his engine quit. Following the forced-landing instructions that the Wongs had taught him, Ricky set down OK on the exhibition grounds close to the island airport. In 1967 “EOH” started a new career with the Edmonton Flying Club. Over the years there it suffered 7 – 8 minor accidents. In one case, on April 5, 1980, while the pilot was practicing touch and go landings on a soft grass strip, “EOH” struck a bank of crusted snow, damaging the left main gear, left wing tip and prop. On September 8, 1982, while the pilot was near Smokey Lake south of Edmonton, he landed “EOH” in a farm field with low fuel. In the process, he bent the propeller and broke off the left landing gear. In 1986 “EOH” was sold to Peter D. Moodie in Winnipeg, who continued into 2020 to enjoy this magnificent little Canadian plane.

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Fleet Canuck CF-HOU sn 220 (the second last built by Fleet) at Toronto Island Airport. Wouldn’t this have made fine subject matter with Kodachrome! But … black-and-white film remained the standard in early post-WWII times, since colour film cost “an arm and a leg” back then. Canadian Aircraft Renters was another island airport resident in the 1950s. Its Canuck earned its keep in pilot training, doing tourist flights, etc. Meanwhile, the company had such bigger types as the Beech 18, Goose, Lodestar and DC-3 CF-CAR. By 1960, however, “CAR” and many similar air services across Canada had disappeared. “HOU” later was with Sudbury Aviation, then a final private owner. It faded from the CCAR in the mid-70s, after the owner discovered too much corrosion for “HOU” to be worth repairing..

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Fleet Canuck CF-DQE sn 057 first entered the CCAR on June 22, 1948. Lome Airways kept it on floats at Toronto island over the summer. Those ridges on the floats identify the floats as Fleet’s own design. Many owners have enjoyed “DQE” over the decades, including (in the 2000s) aviation history researcher, Robert Stitt, on Vancouver Island.

Other Great Types of the Era: The Aeronca Line

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The rugged and ever-reliable Aeronca Model 7 Champion series first appeared in May 1944, then was publicly revealed in San Diego in November 1945. With a sticker price of $2095, it was a rival for the revered Piper J-3 and such similar post-WWII types. Hundreds of “Champs” soon were in Canada whether as private or commercial planes. In April 1946 “Champ” CF- DFL came to Canada new via the busy dealer, Leavens Brothers Air Services, at Barker Field in Toronto. Leavens sold it to C.M. Birchard of Oshawa, who sold it in 1948 to the Ontario County Flying Club at Oshawa airport. There it toiled as a training plane into 1962, when it was sold to Carldon Aviation. Many owners ensued. For several years since 1992, “DFL” was owned by Jerry Billing (1921-2015) of Essex, Ontario, near Windsor. Jerry was a renowned RCAF Spitfire pilot during WWII and had pioneered postwar with such jet fighters as the Vampire, Sabre and Swift. For many years Jerry also flew a lovely Spitfire owned by actor Cliff Robertson, but he still used to crow about his Aeronca.

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According to Department of Transport records, Aeronca 7CCM CF- FMK came to Canada in June 1948 for Leavens Brothers Aircraft of Toronto. Not long afterwards, Al Martin photographed it in Calgary with Chinook Flying Service Ltd. Other info says that “FMK” was purchased new by Chinook Flying Service of Calgary in 1946. There it operated as a primary trainer, rental plane, crop sprayer and even flew on floats while being used by a movie maker on a film project in the North. “FMK” holds the distinction of being the only airplane to land (on floats) on the water hazard at McCall Lake golf course immediately south of today’s Calgary International Airport (YYC). It later passed through a number of private owners and was still flying in recent years. Some 8000 Aeronca-built “Champs” were manufactured from 1945 to 1951. Others were built when Champion Aircraft, Bellanca, and American Champion had production rights.

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Pacific Wings of Vancouver brought Aeronca 7AC CF-HUU to Canada in 1955. It likely was used for float training for junior pilots, and local light duties. It operated with several private owners into the 1970s. We used to loath having to take such a photo, which we classified as “cluttered”. Besides being driven by “content” when photographing, we also were “form” guys, so this shot of Al’s is a good example in any such discussion. But … better to take the shot and preserve the scene, than worry about a debate. Besides, airplane fans normally also love cars — check out that beautiful new 1955 Plymouth Belvedere (also the interesting “Warning” sign).

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Pretty little Aeronca 11CC “Chief” CF- ICD at Toronto Island Airport in the early 1950s. This model appeared in 1945 and was widely sold until production ended in 1950. The Chief shares about 75% parts commonality with the Model 7 Champion, but is a side-by-side 2-seater compared to the “Champ” with its tandem seating. “ICD” first came to Canada in 1955 for Clayton Hutchings of Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Thereafter, it spent from 1957 into the late 1970s with the Barnard brothers (Cheminis Lumber Co.) of Kearns in Northern Ontario. I don’t know about its fate.

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While most of Aeronca’s post-WWII production at Middletown, Ohio centred on the 2-seat Model 7s and 11s, the Model 15 4-seat “Sedan” also contributed to the company’s stellar success in the late 1940s. First flown in 1947, some 400 were produced to 1950, when production ended. The Sedan proved popular as a “family” plane, but also commercially as anything from an air taxi to a rugged bushplane. Several still operate in Canada, but the Sedan now is more of a collectors “antique”. Based in Wisconsin, the first Sedan — N1000H — is still was airworthy in 2020. A nice Sedan today sells for about US$30,000 (1948 price was about $4500). CF-DDA came to Canada in January 1949 for Leavens Brothers Air Services, then was sold to John H. Neilson of Toronto. He flew it into 1955, after which it had various owners. Typically, such a plane did not depreciate much. Having come to Leavens for about $5000, when it was sold in 1956 by Len Ariss of Guelph to the Brant Norfolk Aero Club of Brantford, it went for $3950. In December 1958 Canadian Airmotive of Hamilton sold DDA to Testex Ltd. of Toronto for $5950 (perhaps the price went up due to floats being included, or maybe some pricey new radio or avionics equipment?) About two years later “DDA” was sold to Victor Parentau in northern Quebec. He crashed it into a swamp on July 22, 1961, after which it was repaired and sold to Roger Coulombe of Senneterre. Later that year Roger reported to the DOT that “DDA” was a dead loss after sinking in a lake. Over the years “DDA” had logged about 1500 flying hours.

De Havilland Chipmunk

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While Fleet had a spurt of activity building the Canuck in 1945-46, De Havilland of Canada introduced its own light plane – a trainer for the RCAF to replace the obsolete Tiger Moth. UK test pilot, Pat Fillingham, flew the first example at Downsview on May 22, 1946. Production ensued, the RCAF and Canadian Flying Clubs Association receiving 113, while others were exported as far away as India. Soon UK and Portuguese manufacturing ensued, the licence-built total exceeding 1000. Al photographed the first RCAF Chipmunk at Downsview c.1950. 18001 was taken on RCAF strength on April 1, 1948, then was struck off on May 6, 1959. Its activities are unknown to me thereafter until it was acquired by the great aerobatic pilot, Art Scholl, in 1968. Art modified it greatly for air show purposes, then flew it for many years as N13Y. We used to see it at the Toronto airshow in the 1970s-80s. Today, N13Y may be seen at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Institution near Washington, DC. Essential books regarding the Chipmunk are Fred Hotson’s De Havilland in Canada, Hugh Shields’ The De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk: The Poor Man’s Spitfire, and the Air-Britain title, Chipmunk – The First Fifty Years. I recommend all three very highly – your library will be the richer if you can find these books (and don’t give me that pitiful old complaint that books are “expensive” – how pitiful that is, eh).

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Chipmunks 18012, CF-CYB and 18001 in another Downsview scene. 18012 served the RCAF into the 1960s and last was heard of as C-FCYK in Manitoba in the early 2000s. “CYB” crashed near Caledon, Ontario on September 18, 1957.

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Chipmunk CF-CXQ at Toronto island. It was one of a batch loaned by the DND to Canadian flying clubs to be used by wartime pilots to “keep current”. “CXQ”, by then privately owned, had a bad ending at Vancouver airport on February 7, 1968. That day a Standard Airways 707 on lease to CPA was landing from Honolulu, when pilot disorientation due to a sudden fog resulted in a dreadful crash. The 707 went out of control, careered across the airfield, ploughing up cars, parked planes and buildings – “CXQ” included. A “Globe and Mail” report quoting the head of Standard Airways said, “Neither [the captain] nor the control tower had been aware of this fog. Then, suddenly, all hell broke out.” The report adds, “The plane slewed right, away from the terminal, crashed through a wire fence, burying its nose in the Aviation Electric Pacific Ltd. building.” One of the 707 crew and a man on the ground were killed.

Some Other Beloved Types

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On the same day that Al photographed Cessna 170B CF-HXK, he clicked off a frame on this lovely little Luscombe 8F bobbing at Toronto Island Airport. CF-IBH was a Lucombe 8F owned in the mid-1950s by Michael C. Sawchuk of Toronto. The following year, however, it went to D.A. Yanta in Chapleau in northern Ontario. Charles Gareau of Sudbury had it in 1961, then it suddenly disappeared from the CCAR. Luscombe is one of the great stories in the light plane universe. See if you can find a copy of John Swick’s ace of a book, The Luscombe Story. Otherwise, the story is very covered in Joseph P. Juptner’s indispensible US Civil Aircraft, Vol.7, an essential series for any serious aviation buff. The renowned Luscombe 8 series dates to 1938. About 1200 were built in New Jersey and Texas before the US entered WWII. The Luscombe really took off in 1946, a big attraction being its metal fuselage and metal-framed wing (at a time when most light planes still were fabric covered). Serial numbers since war’s end run from 1934 to 6774 (“IBH” was 6746, so was one of the last from Texas in 1950, when the original Luscombe closed its doors). The post-WWII rush to build light planes proved to be a huge flash in the pan. By 1948 most types were out of production and their manufacturers either “bust” or focusing on other products. In these years Luscombe had Canadian distributors from BC to the Maritimes, one being the great Don McVicar on Montreal. The last few Luscombe 8s (86 aircraft) were completed in Colorado in 1960. For a bit more about this general era in aviation, search at this very blog for “The Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes”. You’ll really enjoy this item.

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A very spiffy looking Luscombe, which Al Martin photographed at Toronto Island Airport in the early 1950s. Could there be a cuter little 2-seater! So far I have no data about “GVX”, which is absent from the 1955 CCAR onward. The stylized “S” on the wheel pants and fin stood for “Silvaire”, Luscombe’s name for the Model 8. Of the many Luscombes in Canada over the decades, according to the Transport Canada CCAR website only about 10 have current C of As.

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Luscombe CF-GJB served Gateway Aviation of Edmonton in the mid-1950s, then was with Central Aviation in Wetaskiwin, Alberta for many years into the early 1970s. “GJB” looks at home on skis on what likely was a very chilly Edmonton day. Its registration later was assigned to a PA-28 Cherokee.

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Also keen on the personal plane market was Ryan, which built the 4-seat Navion. Designed by North American, its looks are reminiscent of the wartime P-51 Mustang. But North American decided not to challenge the postwar civil market after all, selling the Navion to Ryan in 1948. About 1200 were produced before Tusco took over c.1955 and kept the Navion alive a bit longer, modernizing it mainly in the form of the handsome Rangemaster, which endured into 1976. In the 2000s there still was interest in this fabulous design from Sierra Hotel Aero Inc. in Minnesota. SHA’s website notes: “As holder of the type certificate for the Navion, Sierra Hotel Aero, is dedicated to improving the safety, support, performance and preservation of all Navions worldwide.” See info@navion.com. As with most of the great light planes of the 1940s, there also is a Navion owners club. See navionx.org and look for the many other Navion-related sites. Shown is CF-GIY of Chinook Flying Services, Calgary. It was registered in Canada November 5, 1948. Trevor McTavish adds about “GIY” on April 8: “Chinook used GIY and its processor, Navion CF-FJC, on a variety of missions – usually general charters and sightseeing trips. Both also were used as air ambulances, as Chinook had the contract from the Alberta Air Ambulance Service. At a time with few hospitals offering specialized treatments, stable patients would be strapped to a litter and flown to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The Navion was also well-used on powerline patrols in the Alberta Rocky Mountains on a route running west from Calgary into the mountains, down the Spray Lakes to the BC border at Blaremore (Frank Slide), then back to Calgary. Chinook sold GIY in 1954 and replaced it with civilianized Beech AT-11 CF-IBT (see Air Transport in Canada p.723). Like most planes of the era, “GIY” migrated to various owners. In 1961, for example, it was in BC with the Victoria Flying Club. Last noted by Transport Canada, in the early 2000s it was registered in Alberta to Golden Valley Grain Ltd.

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Al Martin’s nice set-up shot at Toronto island of St. Catharine’s Flying Club Navion CF-HJI, which was registered first in Canada on December 15, 1953. Later owners from Quebec to Saskatchewan enjoyed this fine airplane. In recent years it was listed in Westlock about 100 miles north of Edmonton.

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Always nice to see in our airport travels was any Beechcraft Bonanza. For a good overall coverage of this phenomenal airplane, search at this site for item The Beech Bonanza at 70 and the Golden Age of Post-WWII Light Planes . I can’t tell where Al photographed CF-HIB, but it’s a typical lovely looking Beech C35 “V-Tail” – sn D2948. Built in 1951, it was registered in Canada on November 23, 1953. Initially, it was flown by the great John Bogie (Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, etc.) of Ottawa-based Laurentian Air Services. Many other Canadian owners ensued. After all its decades in Canada, D-2948 today its back in the USA as N673D.

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Of all the new light planes of the mid-to-late 1940s one of the most representative is the Republic RC-3 Seabee. Invariably referred to as “an ugly duckling”, it’s endured and is greatly sought-after by sport aviators. Being all-metal, rugged and amphibious, the Seabee originally found eager fans among sportsmen, cottagers, and bush and coast air taxi services. Designed in 1940 by Percival Spencer, who first had flown in his own hang glider in 1911, the Seabee flew in December 1945. It immediately entered production at Republic, which recently had been churning out P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. Production suddenly ceased in October 1947 at 1060 aircraft, many of which were sold in Canada. Republic then concentrated on mass-producing F-84 Thunder Jets for the USAF. Subsequently, many Seabee survivors have been restored, especially with modern engines, e.g., Eric B. Robinson of Lindsay, Ontario has turned out several “new” Seabees powered by the 425-hp Corvette V-8 engine (the Seabee originally came with a 165-hp Franklin), plus other upgrades. Shown at Toronto Island c.1950 is Orillia Air Service Seabee CF-GAF. It came to Canada officially on March 30, 1948 for Leavens Brothers Aviation, a Seabee distributor. This is one of my favourite Al Martin Toronto scenes. In 1955 it was with Allan A. McMahon of Creighton Mines (near Sudbury), Ontario. McMahon ran a small local air service. Everett Makela on Sudbury told me lately that on October 14, 1954 (the day before Hurricane Hazel) he had a trip in “GAF” to a camp on Tooms Lake near Kormak northwest of Sudbury. The winds already were well up and “on the nose” as “GAF” hammered along. It took “Ev” almost three hours to make this trip and he used most of his 60 gallons of fuel. He borrowed what he could in fuel from a nearby lumber camp — 15 gallons. He then raced back to Sudbury in 45 minutes, thanks now to a helpful tailwind from pending Hurricane Hazel. That winter “GAF” was wrecked while taking off on skis from Rome Lake north of Sudbury. The cause might have been overloading, since there were four people aboard with their kit and the ski installation weighed 250 pounds. Everyone survived, by “GAF” was a dead loss. Ev and some pals later went into the bush to salvage the engine and propeller.For all the latest Seabee news visit this wonderful website http://www.seabee.info .

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Seabee CF-GZX taxiing in front of the old Malton airport terminal building c.1955. Originally (1947) NC6364K with Livingston Airways of Waterloo, Iowa, it first was registered in Canada on May 28, 1951. In 1955 it was owned by C.V. Thornton of Toronto. It’s nifty how he had added some nose art. James Alton of Willowdale (near Toronto) took over “GZX” in 1957 and still had it in 2004! In modern times, “GZX” was converted to a “Beeboyz” Seabee with a GM LS2 Corvette sport scar engine, so was re-categorized as an “amateur built” plane. Last heard of in 2011 “GZX” was based at Baldwin, Ontario.

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One final Al Martin Seabee … why not, right! Al shot CF-ECX at Malton at the Toronto Flying Club annual fly-in on May 15, 1951. The Seabee appealed to many small operators such as Port Colborne Air Services. “ECX” had begun with Curtiss-Reid Flying Service at Cartierville, Quebec. By 1955 it was owned by L.E. Force of Norwich, Ontario, then knocked around for years in Quebec. By 1979 it had moved to Pickle Lake in Northwest Ontario, after which I have no other info. These days C- FECX is a Cessna 185.

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As high school kids in the late 1950s, I and my pals were just learning the ins and outs of aviation photography, how to keep notes and how to do research. Happily, we had some people to look up to about all this. Around Toronto at the time were Al Martin, Jack McNulty and Harvey Stone. These fellows all had wide- ranging interest, while ours at first tended to centre on military and the airlines. Sabres and Super Constellations were what we wanted to shoot. Learning to branch out was a slow process for us. I remember seeing Cole Palen’s Avro 504 A1996 at the Oshawa fly-in on June 15, 1963, but wasn’t really impressed for some dumb reason. But Al Martin, Ken Molson and the more mature fellows were all around it, looking closely at every detail. These fellows always would try to get us interested, but we could be slow learners. Happily, I did shoot off a few frames of A1996 and Cole’s other plane that day, his Sopwith Snipe. A1996 today belongs to Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. This is a good example of a well-composed view of the “504”. It looked especially nice anywhere from a slight ¾ front angle right around to a fairly extreme rear angle. If shot from too sharp a front angle, of course much of the fuselage and tail would be obscured. The “old timers” like Al would always point out such details to us until we finally caught on. Note also how Al came in quite tightly on the sides in order to maximize the detail. Not having people standing around also made for what the experienced photographers considered to be a solid “set-up shot”. We all eventually became a bit fanatical about this and even would shoo people away (politely, of course) in order to get the ideal photo.

That’s it for this blog item. I hope you have enjoyed Al’s great photos of Canadian light planes along with the commentary. I’ll see about dipping again into Al’s wonderful negatives and prints. Meanwhile, if you have Air Transport in Canada, you can see several pages of additional Al Martin photos in several different categories.

PS … As usual, my blog readers started enjoying this item almost from the minute it appeared. Rob Henry from Alberta is typical, writing on March 25, “Fantastic photos Larry. Amazing how pictures from the 40s, 50s and 60s seem to make even the simplest Cessna or Piper look exotic. The work of yourself and some of the others from then (and now) have captured so much of the way things were, not just the planes, but the backgrounds, vehicles, buildings and so much more. Fascinating to look back and I hope the next generations find these just as important. Rob”

PPS … here’s a December 2020 offer for Air Transport in Canada that’s irresistible: At 2 volumes, 5kg and 1040 pages, ATC remains Canada’s grandest-ever aviation title. What’s covered? To give you an idea … pioneer days from 1919 to TCA & CPA, Canada’s air force from Day 1 to modern transport operations around the world, Canada’s postwar airlines: EPA, MCA, Nordair, PWA, QCA, Quebecair, Transair, etc., the DEW Line, aerial survey, aerial application, the great Canadian airliners from North Star to Q400, helicopters, SAR, government and corporate aviation. “ATC” also includes the largest gallery of original Canadian aviation art. How say the reviewers? “These volumes are possibly the world’s most inclusive ever devoted to aviation history.” (Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight) “The Oshkosh of aviation books.” (Aerographics). “Impressive! The word is sometimes misapplied to a book that is merely interesting, but for these two volumes, it may well be an understatement.” (Montreal Gazette). 53 chapters, 2 volumes, hardcover, 800,000+ words, more than 3500 photos, maps, glossary, bibliography, appendix, index. Sticker price? $155.00, but this special deal gets you a set all-in (shipping & tax are included) at CDN$65.00 for Canada, CDN$80.00 for USA, CDN$175 for International (surface mail only). Anyone can order via Interac or PayPal straight to larry@canavbooks.com, or by cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E3B6. Feel free to call for further info 416-698-7559 Cheers … Larry Milberry, author

Books, Books, Books!

“For your edification”, attached here are the current CANAV Books lists. Feel free to treat yourself to some of these wonderful prime sources of aviation history (in a class by their own compared to the internet’s endless “quickie” info sources. Books give the true fan the solid “gen” by comparison, and the shear joy of handling an actual book. If ordering from the 2 nd list, please get in touch to ensure that your choices are still available. If outside Canada, please ask me for a postal rate. Thanks and I hope that 2020 so far is going well for you. Cheers … Larry Milberry larry@canavbooks.com

Book list 1

1 CANAV Booklist Fall_Winter 2019-2020 Goes at the END

2 CANAV Booklist Special Items March 2020

PS …Our “2 CANAV Books list” is the best and most surprising such list in Canada. Failing all else, you’ll find that it has its own built-in entertainment value! Better to spend your spare time here than on some mindless video game (so says ye olde scribe — your inveterate publisher).

Special publications offer … “The Aeroplane Spotter” … A collection of about 200 nice copies (4.5 kg) of this renowned British weekly news sheet from “The Aeroplane” magazine. Issues are dated from 1941-48 (Vols.1 to 9), but this collection does not include complete annual sets. These newsprint issues are in good condition considering their age. Seventy+ years ago, this beloved 7.5×11.5 publication kept everyone in the business, and, all the general fans current about developments in industry, in the air war, about the airlines, airport movements, etc. The wartime issues are big on aircraft recce and military intel. Postwar, military content holds its place, while there’s more about civil aviation’s resurgence. This lot is for some serious collector starting an “Aeroplane Spotter” collection. Lot only CDN$125 + shipping. A nice price if you’ve been shopping for this publication on the web. Serious enquiries to larry@canavbooks.com

The Fans Respond to the Al Martin Photo Presentation:

Taylorcraft in Chilkat River

CANAV’s blog publications invariably bring forth some thoughtful and informative comments from my readers. You sure have been enjoying the Al Martin item so far, but what’s not to like about such a special aviation hertitage collection, right? Here are some wonderful memories from Dennis Bedford in Alaska, that Al’s photos have stirred up:

Finally found time to sit down and read the latest on the Al Martin photo collection. All these photos and captions have brought back a lot of memories. My Dad worked for Alaska Coastal Airlines mostly on Gooses and PBYs, but he spent a lot of his “off” hours working on the types that Al photographed. Our family aerial chariot was a 1946 T-craft on floats. The airplane is still in the family, though not flying and in need of restoration. My father bought it in the late ‘40’s, used it on the first “date” with my mother, then on their honeymoon to fly the length of the Yukon river. In the attached photo from long ago, you can see dimension lumber strapped to the floats. Plywood was carried in full sheets strapped to the spreader bars. I wanted to move plywood into the lake recently and asked several seasoned float pilots what they thought about tying it onto the 185 — they all thought yjis was a really bad idea. Dad also flew in a small, wood burning “cookstove” and whatever else was needed. He said his worst load was a mattress wrapped in visqueen (plastic wrapping), which started to come loose and billow in the slipstream. It took all 65 horses for the T-craft just to stay in the air. 

Another of my memorable learning experiences was driving a Crosley car around the yard long before I was legal on the public roads. The first Mooney Mites used a Crosley car engine with a reduction unit.

Alaska Coastal Airlines bought a lot of something like 50 BT-13’s just for the R-985’s for use in Gooses. As I recall, these airplanes were located somewhere in the central U.S. Oklahoma. Coastal paid a contractor to remove and ship the engines and propellers, then to scrap the rest of the airplanes. I also recall the hulk of a BT-13 being back in the woods near Yakutat. It’s my understanding that it had been used to haul fish.

For something like $400 – $600 each, Coastal also bought a lot of R-2600’s from somewhere in central Canada, maybe Calgary.  I think there were 110 of them. They were military surplus, freshly overhauled and packed in steel “cans” charged with nitrogen. There was a road that ran off to the east of the Coastal hangar at the Juneau airport and they were stacked 2 high “as far as the eye could see” along the road. Coastal used them all up before they ceased PBY operations in the early 70’s. I think TBO (time between overhaul) was 1100 hours for the R-2600, but it was rare for one of them to make it that far. Lots of memories. Picture is the family T-craft hauling lumber for the family cabin near Haines. Thanks … Dennis