Welcome to This Week’s CANAV Books Blog

Air Force One Spotters + Canada Post on the Rampage Again + The Fabulous Lockheed Twins + The “Air Transport in Canada” book deal of the decade + The Great Janusz Zurakowski’s Autobiography + Air-Britain and the Nastiest of Nasty Book Reviews

Good day to all CANAV fans and I hope that your summer is humming nicely along so far.

Be sure to have your copy of this summer’s CANAV main booklist: 1-canav_books_may2021_lowres-summer_fall-2021

The Spotters are a Diligent Bunch … The comings and goings of Air Force One sure have been closely watched and enjoyed by millions in the UK and EU this week. Check out some of the pix & footage on the web. Google VIDEO: Air Force One lands at RAF Mildenhall for G7 conference, etc. Well worth a look at this spectacular flying machine!

Hot Off the Press for June 9! Canada Post Lays It on the Peasantry Yet Again (It’s Time to Sheer the Sheep)

Today, Canada Post announced a series of painful rate increases for this fall. If you’re feeling masochistic, you can get the ugly details from the Canada Post website. I’m writing about this to Mr. Doug Ettinger, Canada Post CEO and cc’ing my MP Hon. Erskine-Smith. Let’s see if I hear anything back — I’ll let you know. However, a few months ago I requested a replacement “Venture Card” from Canada Post. How simple, right. So far? Dead silence. But really … what a miracle it is to hear back from any Ottawa bureau, MP, etc., other than perhaps getting one of those insulting “Dear Sir or Madam” letters. Isn’t it great how closely connected and loved we peasants are to/by our masters in Ottawa? Here are my thoughts to Mr. Ettinger about this season’s postal rate hikes:

Thanks but no thanks, Canada Post. Each time you do this, you drive more small Canadian enterprizes such as CANAV Books out of business. Because of your Mafia-like rates, CANAV Books, for example, today has few USA or International customers. We used to have hundreds.

Your rates also have driven away hundreds of our domestic readers. Who will buy from us when postage exceeds the price of a book? You are out of touch and — sadly to say – appear instead to be greedy exploiters and tax collectors, instead of intelligent, clued-in, pro-Canada public servants who understand and respect Canadians’ needs and interests first and foremost.

Isn’t it ironic how the objectives of the Canada Council in promoting Canadian history, cultural affairs, etc., are directly undermined by what Canada Post does every year by punishing book publishers with higher postal rates? Aren’t the ministers involved supposed to be collaborating instead of torpedoing each other?

Too bad for your customers, for you certainly have us over a barrel, right. We small-volume businesses have few options, all things considered. Who else is going to deliver our books to Nunavut, NWT, remote areas of BC, Northern Ontario, etc?

Besides again hitting every average Canadian taxpayer in the pocket book, your actions today seriously undermine the important “Small Business” sector of our economy. Instead of giving us some postal rate relief, you’re once again happy to lead small business off for its annual Canada Post sheering.

One of our readers has made a good point. Canada Post presently couldn’t be much of a cash cow, as I earlier stated. This news release explains: “Canada Post recorded a loss before tax of $779 million in 2020, even while delivering record-high Domestic Parcels volumes.” That’ll be a story unto itself, right –volume of work soars, revenue pours in, profits head for the dumpster. With that out of the way, it’s on with the show:

The Great Lockheed Twins

Our main new item today covers the great Lockheed Twins in Canada – the L.14 Super Electra and L.18 Lodestar, with more to come in the next installment (and … if you search for it, trhere’s an earlier item about another great Lockheed Twin — the Jetstar). A bit further down there’s also the story of the great Jan Zurakowski’s autobiography, my first big aviation road trip, 400 Sqn at Camp Borden, Great Lakes freighters, and the world’s most horrendous aviation book review.

If you have an interest in northern flying, take a few minutes and search out these older blog items. Just enter the dates in the search box: June 29, 2012 … January 13, 2013 … February 27, 2017 … March 25, 2017 … and April 11, 2018. This is all solid history with loads of original photos and aviation trivia that any fan will love.

An item covering the great Lockheed Twins came to mind as I flipped through some ancient negatives. If you go back to our earlier blog item “Postwar Adverts” (find it by using the search box), you can get a bit of background to this story in the advert telling how TCA was selling off the last 18 of its 10-passenger L.14s and 14-passenger L.18s. Many of these soon were converted for corporate VIP use. In a nutshell, today’s item is about the tail end of the glory days for these great, pre-WWII and wartime airliners. Most of those with which we had become familiar already had given years of top service at CPA, TCA or the RCAF.

As boys hanging around Toronto’s airports in the 50s and 60s, spotting one of the big Lockheed twins made any visit worth the day’s effort. In fact, rarely a visit passed without spotting one, especially since several were based at Malton: BA Oil CF-BAL and CF-BAO, Canada Packers CF-CPL, Imperial Oil CF-TDB, Massey Ferguson CF-MFL and CF-TDG, Noranda Mines CF-TCV. Then, there frequently were visitors . We often saw the Kenting aero survey Hudsons and L.14s, the oil company “exec” Lodestars from Calgary, then there were the many US corporate Lodestars and Venturas. There was a certain allure about each of these handsome Lockheeds. While we seemed to take for granted all the lovely exec DC-3s, the Lockheeds stood apart, somehow.

With the war over, the RCAF fleet of Hudsons and Lodestars quickly had been put on the market for civil operators or scrap dealers. This business was conducted by government-run War Assets Corporation of Ottawa. Big dealers such as the Babb Co. of New York, Los Angeles and Montreal took the lion’s share of the business, buying up fleets of Harvards, Cansos, Lodestars, DC- 3s, etc., then re-marketing them to operators from the USA and Europe to Brazil, Indonesia, etc. To follow what happened to all the RCAF Lockheeds, the ultimate source is Air-Britain’s seminal book, The Lockheed Twins (Peter J. Marson, 2001). Many other important Lockheed books are available to broaden the interested reader’s horizons, including Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story (Walter J. Boyne, 1998). Naturally, much also is on the web, but start first with your books – the ultimate information goldmines. Copies of any of the Lockheed titles always can be found at such used book sites as www.bookfinder.com

For Part 1 of this presentation, I’ve pulled out a dozen of my by-now 60- year-old 2¼ b/w negatives, wiped off most of the dust, and made the scans. Most of the caption information comes from my old airport notes and several Canadian Civil Aircraft Registers of the day. Supplementing this is good info from various books, and Terry Judge’s important Canadian civil aircraft history website https://www.historicccar.ca Here you go, Enjoy the show!

Ex-RAF Hudson CF-CRJ is one of my earliest Lockheed Twin photos. Here it is in a standard ¾ front view at Malton Airport on October 9, Originally USAAC 41-23631, it was transferred to the RAF under Lend Lease to become BW769. It was delivered to RAF 45 Group (Ferry Command) at Dorval around October 1942, but some accident ensued. It then was acquired by Canadian Pacific Airline in 1946, repaired and registered CF-CRJ. CPA added six such Hudsons, but I know little about their use. Perhaps they were spares for CPA’s small fleet of L.14s. In 1949 CPA sold its Hudsons to the Photographic Survey Corp., which was more commonly known as Kenting Aviation Limited of Oshawa (base) and Toronto (offices). My earliest copy of the CCAR (1955) listed CF-CRJ, ‘K and ‘L. These served through the 1950s and early 1960s from the Canadian Arctic to South America, even distant Ceylon on aero-survey contracts. By good fortune, in 1967 “CRJ” was donated by Field Aviation of Toronto to some history-minded Newfoundlanders headed by A.J. Lewington, DFC. Thanks to this foresight, it survives today in wartime colours at the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in Gander.
L.14 CF-TCH originally joined Trans-Canada Air Lines in August 1938. Perhaps replying to the advertisement you’ll see in “Postwar Adverts”, Nickel Belt Airways of Sudbury bought “TCH” in January 1948, but this deal may have gone awry, or else, Nickel Belt suddenly re-sold “TCH” to the British American Oil Co. of Toronto. When “BA” upgraded to a Lodestar in 1953, “TCH” was sold to California-Atlantic Airways in California, where it became N66578. In December 1956 it resumed its old registration when brought back to Canada by Photographic Survey. While on an Arctic contract, “TCH” suffered an accident at Hall Lake on the Melville Peninsula, NWT in July Likely because Hall Lake had access to the summer supply barges serving the Canadian Arctic, “TCH” was shipped south for repairs. These were made, for here sits “TCH” at Malton on January 21, 1961. However, the era of such big old planes in aero survey was near its end, for companies such as Photographic Survey were starting equip with modern types such as the Aero Commander and Cessna 310 to fly many of their contracts. “TCH” went for scrap in 1962.
Another famous old TCA L.14 was CF-TCN, which had begun its Canadian career in May 1939. However, with its new fleet of DC-3s serving Canada so well postwar, in 1947 “TCN” was sold to Montreal Air Service. In May 1951 it moved west to Winnipeg for Central Northern Airways, then joined Argosy Oil and Gas of Calgary in 1956. Through the 1950s such Lockheeds were favored by Canadian oil companies. While a DC-3 offered a more comfortable VIP cabin, the Lockheeds had speed, so could reach their business destinations across Canada in Toronto, south to Texas, etc. much faster. I was quite excited when spotting “TCN” at Malton on November 25, Commander Aviation of Toronto had acquired it, so the freshly-painted “TransAir” colours were baffling. Others had title to “TCN” until in 1964 it finally went to Execaire of Montreal, an upstart corporate charter company. I’ve heard that “TCN” was Execaire’s first aircraft. The company gradually grew into Canada’s premier bizjet charter operation. Today it operates a fleet of Challengers and Globals. Does Execaire remember its humble beginning with a beautiful little 1939 Lockheed 14? I took this shot on the Airport Road side of Malton on the Sanderson Aircraft lot. Across the field (and across Runway 28- 10) you can see one of the old wartime hangars, which by this time mainly were occupied by corporate DC-3s, Lockheeds, Doves, Beech 18s, etc.
Another Kenting Lockheed 14 was CF-TCO, which had begun with TCA in July 1939, then joined Kenting in October 1947. It suffered a belly-landing at Aklavik in the Arctic in August 1959, then had another crash- landing at Cambridge Bay north of Aklavik about a year later. One can only imagine the brutal cost in manpower and expense in making major repairs at these remote sites. Around 1970 “TCO” was stored at the Bradley Air Museum in Connecticut, where it remained to the early 1990s, and where it received some storm damage. Today, it’s at the Kermit Weeks Museum in Florida. When “Hurricane Charley” hit the museum in 2004, “TCO” suffered more damage, so is not likely to be seen in pristine form in the very near future.
CF-TCO was a fine sight at Oshawa on July 9, 1960 as it taxied for takeoff. The only visible mod on these ex-TCA planes was their Hudson-type nose from where the navigator guided the pilot when they were flying photo or electro- agnetic lines. With these two views of “TCO”, you can see how photogenic a Lockheed was from any angle.
Having started as USAAC C-60A 42-56041, Lodestar CF- CPK came to Canada for CPA in July 1943. It then served the company’s far- flung routes from Vancouver, across the Rockies to Edmonton, and north down the route to Whitehorse and other points on the Northwest Staging Route. Duties included supporting wartime construction projects such as the Alaska Highway and the CANOL pipeline. With the advent at CPA of the DC-3, “CPK” was sold in 1950 to Canada Packers Ltd. of Toronto, a major meat processing company. With the market for surplus military and airline Lodestars then booming, several specialist aircraft refurbishment companies thrived at converting Lodestars, DC-3s, A-26s, etc. for executive use. These mainly were American-based, as was Remmert Werner of St. Louis. In Canada, however, Canadair of Montreal also turned out several impressive conversions from a Lodestar for Massey Harris, a Lodestar for BA Oil, a PBY-5 for Texaco and a DC-3 for Goodyear Tire and Rubber. On February 10, 1960, in the same ice- storm at Malton that led to a TCA Super Connie crash-landing (see blog item “CF-TEZ Comes to Grief at Malton”), “CPK” flew through a tree while trying to land, then diverted to Niagara Falls, NY. Soon afterwards it was sold in the US as N170L, where a list of owners ensued. Canada Packers then acquired Lodestar CF-CPL. On October 16, 1969 “CPK” was flying between Opa-locka and St. Petersburg, Florida when fire erupted. A successful crash-landing was made, but the old Lodestar was a dead loss. In this classic view, notice how “CPK” proudly flew the company logo. These still were the days when a corporate plane often showed the company colours, unlike today, when nearly all such aircraft operate in as much secrecy as possible. I photographed “CPK” running up at Malton on February 5, 1961.
On June 29, 1960 we again were skulking around Malton. When checking out the wartime hangar line, the magnificent Massey Ferguson Lodestar taxied in. What a shot it made with that great background of afternoon cumulous cloud. Ordered originally by LAN Chile, the Lodestar had been diverted as a C-57 to the USAAC, was delivered in April 1943, then loaned to CPA, where it became CF-CPJ. In August 1944 it moved to TCA, becoming CF-TDG. In 1948 it was converted by Canadair for the Massey Harris farm implement company of Toronto, and later was upgraded to Learstar specs, e.g. with the long, slim nose. Massey Harris soon became Massey Ferguson with a corporate fleet at Malton including the Learstar, Super Ventura CF-MFL and D.H. Dove CF-GYQ. By 1960 some flashy new turboprops were appearing in Canada. Massey Ferguson’s three older planes soon were replaced by one of the spectacular new Grumman Gulfstreams, CF-MUR. “TDG” briefly was registered in the 1960s to Execaire of Dorval, then ended its days as an attraction in a Montreal children’s park. Sadly, vandals spoiled TDG’s retirement when they set it on fire!
Lodestar CF-INY fires up at Malton on October 6, 1961, then is seen landing on Runway 23 date not known. Originally USAAC C-60A 43-16444, “INY” had spent the war with the Free French Air Force, then returned to the US in 1951, becoming N94539. It went to American Liberty Oil Co. in 1954, then became N30R with Continental Oil. In April 1956 it came north to become “INY” with Hudson Bay Oil and Gas of Calgary. It returned to the US in 1962 as N7994A, after which it faded into obscurity.
BA Oil’s glorious-looking Learstar CF-BAO at Malton on June 29, 1960. Starting as USAAC C-60A 42-55903, it served at a glider school, maybe as a tow plane. It was sold as war surplus in August 1945, becoming NC44886. There were various owners until Bill Lear acquired it in 1954 to make his first Learstar (N16L). Lear sold this flashy new conversion to BA Oil in February 1955. BA eventually became Gulf Oil and acquired a Convair 440 for its Toronto base. “BAO” still was registered to BA Oil in 1966, then was sold to the Clairtone company in Toronto. In 1968 it went to Newfoundland’s famous Lundrigan family, where it stayed into 1971, then returning to the US, becoming N41CA. Last heard of “BAO” was owned in Plymouth, Michigan, from where it finally was de-registered in 2012.
Another oil industry Lodestar visiting Malton from Calgary: CF-IAX had begun as USAAC C-60A 42-32181. Early after the war it went to Mexico, returned to the US in 1954 as N4652V, then moved to Calgary in 1965 for the California Standard Oil Co. It returned to the US in 1963 to fly as N3779G for such companies as Coast Redwood Products. “IAZ” is one of the rare former Canadian Lockheeds to have survived – it may be seen in RAF colours at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California. I can’t find the exact date when I shot “IAZ” on the Genaire ramp at Malton c.1960.
Our presentation finishes with the first Lodestar the I ever photographed. CF-TDE of Southern Provincial Airlines was based at Toronto Island Airport when I shot it there on September 26, 1959. Having joined TCA in October 1942, it later served BA Oil as CF-BAO (a previous “BAO” to the later Learstar), then reverted to “TDE” when sold to Canadian Aircraft renters, the parent company to Southern Provincial. This company then was searching for a raison d’être as a small charter airline, but soon realized that this market did not yet exist. “TDE” was sold in 1960 into the US as N9063R, then moved on to Peru to work in aero photography.

“Air Transport in Canada” — An Offer You Can’t Refuse

No Canadian aviation books covers the Lockheed Twins better than Air Transport in Canada. This massive (1030 pages, 2 volumes, 5 kg, etc.) title is a real treasure (see the details and reviews in the attached booklist). Besides everything else under the sun, “ATC” covers a long list of Lockheeds in their roles as airliners, executive planes and aero survey workhorses. You’ll be happy to hear that “ATC’s” $155++ sticker price no longer applies at CANAV. You can get an autographed set for yourself or an aviation pal for $65.00 all-in delivered anywhere in Canada. Really, no kidding! (USA CAD$80.00 all-in, International CAD$160.00 all-in)

Pay directly to larry@canavbooks.com with PayPal or Interac. Or … post a cheque in Canadian dollars (or US$ equivalent) to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Canada M4E3B6 (email me if any questions larry@canavbooks.com)

Janusz Zurakowski – Not Only about Flying

At long last here is the life story of the great Avro Arrow test pilot, Janusz Zurakowski. Originally written by Janusz in Polish, it’s now in English. This is what we’ve been awaiting for decades — the great man’s story starting with his boyhood, education and early years in the Polish Air Force. With the sudden fall of Poland in 1939, Janusz joins thousands of Poles escaping to the UK to continue the fight. The RAF/Polish fighter squadrons in the Battle of Britain help turn the tide against the Luftwaffe. Janusz shoots down several enemy planes and commands Spitfire squadrons. Late in the war he attends Course 2 at the Empire Test Pilots School.

The war over, Janusz’s joins Gloster as a test pilot first flying the Meteor, then the Javelin. Politics at Gloster leads him to Canada, where he becomes chief test pilot on the Avro Canada CF-100 program. Starting in 1957 he adds to his renown by making the first flight of the CF-105 Arrow. Finally, we hear from the great man himself about the Arrow – this you need to know. This exciting period suddenly ends with the demise of the Arrow, which Janusz had flown 20 times. The book finishes with the post-Avro years. Janusz keeps up his interest in aviation, but focuses on family and the famous Zurakowski summer resort in Barry’s Bay, Ontario. This is a really important addition to understanding and enjoying Canada’s aviation heritage. You’ll enjoy this well- crafted book with every page you turn.

224 pages, softcover, photos. $30.00 all-in (USA and International CAD$40.00) Pay directly to larry@canavbooks.com with PayPal or Interac. Or … post a cheque in Canadian dollars to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto Ontario M4E3B6

Air-Britain Goes After CANAV Books: The Nastiest of Nasty Book Reviews

We ran this item last time around. If you are new to our blog, for the full context you can scroll back and read the series covering the history of CANAV Books since 1981. For now, I want to keep this item front and centre, so all our visitors can get an idea about how organizations such as Air-Britain and their so-called book reviewers can be ever so nasty, deliberately causing real damage to small publishers such as CANAV Books over here “in the colonies”.

As expected, Air-Britain has not issued an apology to CANAV, but we live in hope. The “reviewer” himself has not yet crawled out from his slimy depths. Here’s the story:

So far there are 40 years of CANAV titles – 40 years, 39 books. As you have seen over this 7-part series, all have been eagerly received by readers and reviewers alike. Few aviation publishers have had such grand reviews. This leads us to scratch our heads at a review published by one of the world’s most respected journals, “Air-Britain Aviation World”. No serious aviation researcher can get by without Air- Britain’s books and other incomparable publications. We all lean in Air- Britain.

A particular review of Noorduyn Norseman Vol.2, appeared in Air- Britain’s June 2014 edition. Here at long last is my response to this outright attack against CANAV Books and myself by supposed professionals. Somehow, the Air-Britain train came off the tracks for this one. Instead of publishing a serious piece, the reviewer (sounding much like the fellow “reviewing” Pioneer Decades)and his publisher seem more like really angry people with some personal score to settle. (I equate the reviewer and Air-Britain, since they combined to produce this travesty.)

First some background: In its December 2013 edition, “Air-Britain Aviation World” published a so-so review of Norseman Vol.1, describing it as “well illustrated and full of personal accounts”. We can see, later, that this anonymous fellow has distain for the “personal” side of a book, as he demeans our Norseman Vol.2 for making use of personal accounts. This may trace back to the standard Air-Britain book, where references to human beings can be scarce to find among the masses of dates, places, and tail and serial numbers.

Next, this reviewer diminishes himself and his publisher by grumbling about how “expensive” the book is. Even worse, he rues the day that the second volume arrives, implying that no reader will be able to afford such a horrendously “expensive” pair of books. This sounds like someone with zero knowledge of book publishing. He apparently doesn’t even realize that most Air-Britain books cost more than our Norsemans! I’m looking for some logic here, but not finding any.

What devoted lover of aviation books ever fusses about sticker price? The book is the thing, the price is inconsequential, other than for those few idiosyncratic and obsessive cheapskates. They have a problem, but it’s not our. The question for a professional book reviewer is: how is CAD$50 “expensive” for such a large-format, beautifully turned out/costly-to-produce book? After all, $50 is not out of line these days even for a paperback! What gets into a “reviewer’s” head to make such a doltish comment? Notes this clueless person, “the two volume set will be expensive and we would have preferred to see the whole history combined in one book at this price”.

How Air-Britain’s editor accepted this submission boggles the mind. Nonetheless, he approved it and our book now officially is condemned as “expensive”. This is doubly stupid when, as mentioned, one looks at Air-Britain’s very own list of books. This is too funny. Here is a sampling of recent Air-Britain  titles, each by no means over-priced, yet ll pricier than our Norseman books. The Air-Britain staff and board should be ashamed of themselves for accusing CANAV of producing unfairly-priced books: Auster Production History £39.95 (approx. CAD$69.50)

Bristol Fighter £59.95 (approx. CAD$104.00)
Piper Aircraft £52.55 (approx CAD$95.00)

By comparison, Norseman Vol.1 is a bargain, especially considering its premium production qualities – the paper, glue and ink of any book. I’ve purchased many Air-Britain books over the decades and have never given thought to their sticker prices. These prices always are fair. To the true aviation bibliophile, we need all such books, we love them, we buy them. What does price have to do with anything? Another point about Air-Britain’s line of books … they are prized for their content, but rarely for their production qualities. Is this really what bothers Air-Britain about CANAV? That Air-Britain books are not beautifully-produced? I’m just floundering for an explanation here. With Air-Britain books, the paper and binding always are cheap. I have several which, after years of use, are falling apart (not that I care). However, show me a CANAV book that isn’t holding up. So … what is the logic with this so-called Air-Britain book review?

Its mind made up about “expensive” books, and with little interest in our Norseman books’ content, Air-Britain then lay in wait for a year for Norseman Vol.2. Finally getting his hands on a copy (but perhaps not, by the final look of his “review”), the reviewer was eager to tear Vol.2 to pieces – the only person in the world to date with such a twisted passion against our books.

“We have to say we are disappointed”, he begins, starting straight in about the price. This fellow is a laugh a minute. Then he attacks Vol.2 for not including enough about Norsemans outside Canada. Really? There is a mass of information and piles of photos, including a beautiful stand-alone chapter. How does this fellow put it? “We would also have expected more recognition of Norsemans outside North America than a couple of photos.” Here he really tips his hand – this is not a book review, it’s a personal, belittling attack by him and Air- Britain on a particular author and a particular publisher. Mr. Anonymous then moronically complains about no mention in our book of the Widerøe /Norway story. In fact, there are five pages devoted to Wideroes/Norway, all this good material gathered with the help of several competent Norwegian aviation historians, including an old-time Widerøe Norseman pilot. One wonders just how much further an author must go to please the hard-nosed, implacable people at Air- Britain?

Air-Britain continues by ranting that the French Norseman conversions are not included. No? Kindly see p.291. It then bemoans the lack of a production list. Of course, much of what Air-Britain produces is straight production lists and thank goodness that that is their passion – the rest of us need all that good material. So … where is CANAV’s Norseman production list?

CANAV Books knows all about production lists. From “Day 1” with our CF-100, North Star and Sabre books, etc., there are detailed lists galore in the appendices. All the top UK periodicals over 40 years have raved about our magnificent production lists.

However, Norseman Vol.2 already was at 304 pages. To add a production list and do it justice would have meant a good 40 extra pages, so made publication tougher to finance. Nonetheless, had a superb Norseman production list not already existed, CANAV certainly would have gone beyond the limit and included one. Anyone knowing CANAV understands that. However, our “reviewer” is so clueless as to be unaware that the very best Norseman production list imaginable already was available in 2014 at  noorduynnorseman.com  (today’s  norsemanhistory.com ). Had this doltish fellow simply read the Preface of our book, he would have seen this explained. Right there on Page 8, I praise this world-class production list and urge all to go there for what further they may require about individual Norsemans. (This makes me wonder … did Air-Britain actually ever have a copy of our book in its hands? It appears not.)

With such a beautiful, professional resource as  norsemanhistory.com  at one’s finger tips, CANAV was saved the huge extra cost of creating a Norseman production list and the months/years of work and cost required. Of course, there is no way that our “reviewer” might grasp any of this. But the Air-Britain staff and board surely understand such things, so why did they become partners in this nasty business?

To put the icing on his cake, look how this travesty of a book review ends: “The author seems to have little interest in the history of the aircraft and concentrates on the soft and easy focus on personal anecdotes and experiences and some pretty pictures.” So ends what likely is the most damning and utterly moronic so-called review in aviation book publishing history. Shame on this nasty dimwit and on Air-Britain, which is hugely diminished in the eyes of decent, intelligent, objective readers, historians and others who love good books.

By permitting such garbage to stink up the pages of their normally superb journal, the Air-Britain staff and board have done their organization a wretched disservice. Sadly, in pushing their role as an anti-CANAV outlier, they effectively managed to blacklist our Norseman books in the eyes of Air-Britain readers. They also turned booksellers against CANAV. Are they proud of this? This simply smells too much of being a planned conspiracy between Air-Britain and its “reviewer” to torpedo CANAV Books, certainly to keep our books out of UK bookstores, at which – sadly to say — they succeeded. What a poor show altogether.

New Booklist + Snowbirds News + Mid-Air Collision – Talk About a Close Call + COVID Alert + Chasing Airplanes: My 1961 Road Trip + New Brunswick Aviation Museum + Bush Flying Nostalgia + Great Lakes Scenes + 400 Sqn/Camp Borden + CANAV History: Air-Britain and The World’s Most Pitiful Aviation Book Review

New CANAV Books List … Here’s our new Summer/Fall 2021 Booklist. Don’t miss out. For any sharp-minded aviation reader this is a goldmine!

Snowbirds Update, Some Top News Reporting from the Soo

Being stuck in Toronto, it’s not so easy to find a nicely written, factually solid and interesting piece of reportage of local interest. Much of what we get in the Toronto Star, for example, is far left political rants. A good day for the Star is to publish 3, 4, 5 so-called news items rampaging against the ruling Conservatives at Queen’s Park. Don’t they get tired of this? It’s as if the Star was on the Liberal party’s payroll. They really need to calm down and get a grip. We subscribers would appreciate much more in-depth local, national and international news that isn’t spoiled by political haranguing. To be fair, however, there always is some excellent local coverage in the community newspapers. Thank goodness, right. My own neighbourhood Beach Metro News provides an escape from the all-too-unedifying Star.

I’ve always been impressed by the solid, in-depth news coverage from our smaller northern press, those stalwarts such as the Soo Star, Sudbury Star and North Bay Nugget. Lately, Darren Taylor of the Soo wrote this superb item profiling Snowbirds pilot, Patrice Powis-Clement. Here it is for your enjoyment. What a decent, edifying bit of hometown coverage. Certainly well worth clipping by the Snowbirds for their archives at Moose Jaw: https://www.sudbury.com/around-the-north/snowbirds-no-9-5-job-says-northern-ont-man-joining-aerobatics-team-3767643

Amazing Good Fortune after a Mid-Air Collision

Check out this story from Colorado yesterday. We know how such events usually end. But, on May 12, 2021 things panned out for all involved:

Laura, just a regular pilot turned writer@LauraSavino747·Breaking News – midair collision over Denver. Both planes landed with no injuries. #thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/2-planes-collide-mid-air-over-cherry-creek-state-park-no-reported-injuries-officials-say #aviation #Denver #cockpitchatter #Pilot #AvGeek

Also, here’s the summary from the Aviation Safety Network:

Date:Wednesday 12 May 2021
Type:Silhouette image of generic SW4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II
Operator:Key Lime Air
First flight:1978
Engines:2 Garrett TPE331
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants:
Aircraft damage:Substantial
Location:2,3 nm N of Denver-Centennial Airport, CO (APA/KAPA) (   United States of America)
Phase:Approach (APR)
Departure airport:Salida Airport, CO (SLT/KANK), United States of America
Destination airport:Denver-Centennial Airport, CO (APA/KAPA), United States of America

A privately registered Cirrus SR22 (N416DJ) and a Key Lime Air Swearingen Metro II (N280KL) collided on approach to Denver-Centennial Airport, Colorado, USA.
The Cirrus pilot activated the CAPS rescue parachute. The Key Lime flight reported issues with the right-hand engine and continued the approach for a safe landing on runway 17L.
Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: NTSB

A Few COVID Thoughts for May 7, 2021

West of New Brunswick, Canada’s ruling classes still seem to be clueless about Covid 19. Were they otherwise, Ottawa and the provincial governments long ago would have imposed the scientific/medical measures known to be effective in controlling the virus. Had they done so, the country today likely would be wide open and Mothers Day would not be down the drain again. So here we are in Year 2 with most of Canada overwhelmed by illness. Extra aggravating is our legion of deniers. They proudly remain tuned out to reality, preferring to protest about their supposed “rights” being trampled upon (with no mention, of course, of the duties that are emblematic of any civilized society). Google this and see some classic Canadian redneck yahoos: “Protesters, most not wearing masks, gathered in Montreal on Saturday to demonstrate against Quebec’s public health restrictions such as the curfew.” What’s the collective IQ in this photo?

Statistics for May 4 to 6, 2021 show how backwards Canada remains compared to other regions around the planet that got out ahead of Covid-19 from the start. These are simple, basic stats, but anyone without blinkers will get the message.

One wonders why the mainstream news networks are not highlighting such shocking data every day on the evening news and on the front pages. If they would, then maybe the government would sharpen up a bit. Where is the media’s conscience about this? Note the stats for Sweden, which pooh-poohed lockdowns, etc. from the start. Nonetheless, the anti-measures people still laud Sweden for its supposed iconoclasm in going against the grain. Well, compare Sweden’s neighbours Finland and Norway. Of course, Finland has been considered by the anti-everything clods to have gone overboard with its strict measures. But who gets the last laugh! The numbers don’t lie, take a look:

Country    Population 2019 New Cases May 4, 5 or 6, 2121

USA                  328.2 million                 43,235

Brazil                211 million                       73,380

Germany          83 million                        17,917

France              67 million                        21,712

South Korea     51.7 million                     525

Canada             37.6 million                     7,961

Australia          25.4                             11

Taiwan             23.6                             13

Sweden            10.2                             6526

Israel                9                                  61

Finland            5.5                               280

Norway             5.3                               506

New Zealand   4.9                                  1

In Canada (7916 cases compared to Australia with 11) the eastern provinces took the unpopular, yet, valiant approach of strict lockdowns right from the start. Provinces such as Ontario played a complicated political game that blew up in their faces. Here are some cases. Read ’em and weep, Ontario:

New Brunswick     777,000                    4

Newfoundland     522,000                    6

Ontario                14.6 million            3166

Quebec                 8.5 million              915

Alberta                 4.4 million              2211

Being a bit excited about my first Viscount flight, I snapped off a few “cloud shots” on the way in CF-TGR from Toronto to Fort William on September 3, 1961.

Chasing Airplanes: My 1961 Road Trip

By 1961 I had been on many airplane-chasing trips all around southern Ontario from Windsor to Ottawa, down to Montreal, even across the border. These ventures usually were with such pals as Merlin Reddy, Nick Wolochatiuk and Paul Regan. Eventually, some of the fellows had a car, but early on we got around via that tried and true method – hitchhiking. As such, we used to call ourselves “The Knights of the Road”. Hitchhiking still was a respectable way of getting around. We invariably reached our destination, although at times we had to wait for our next ride. Summers were busiest, since we were off school, but that never kept us from thumbing 25 miles out to Malton Airport to look for interesting planes to photograph when it was -20F in December.

In the summer of 1961, I was coming up to my 18th birthday and waiting to get back to Malvern Collegiate in Toronto’s east end. I’d spent the summer taking academic courses needed to move on to Grade 13, the final year of high school in Ontario. I’d also been working at my part-time job as a helper and delivery boy at Oakley’s Meat market at Kingston Road and Main St. For a few months I’d been thinking of doing a solo road trip across Northern Ontario, maybe as far as Winnipeg. I’d saved enough money to pull this off and worked out a plan. I did some serious research into what interesting aircraft I might see along the way. This mainly was done by scrutinizing every page of the 1959 Canadian Civil Aircraft Register. Various rare airplanes were listed between Winnipeg and Toronto, but which ones might I find? The register gave me the basic details for each of these plus the owner’s name and address.

The standard cover of the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register. A copy cost a mere $2.00 and the information provided was priceless.

Deciding to venture forth, for $50 I purchased 1-way ticket on Trans-Canada Air Lines to Winnipeg. I’d take an early flight to Fort William at the Lakehead, spend the day knocking around, then catch the late flight to Winnipeg. I loaded up on 120 b/w film for my main camera (Minolta Autocord) and splurged on one “36” roll of Kodachrome. I squeezed everything into one small bag and off I went to Malton on Sunday morning, September 3. Soon I boarded TCA Flight 59 (Viscount CF-TGR) departing at 0755. This was my first Viscount flight. By now (60 years later), I barely can remember how this went, but from my old notebook I see that we landed at Fort William on time at 1000. It pays to keep notes, right!

The TCA Viscounts that took me to Thunder Bay and Winnipeg on September 3 sixty years ago.

I immediately got to work snooping around Fort William airport. However, for some reason I didn’t get full photo coverage on the ramp. Although I noted RCN Tracker 1564, RCAF T-33 21463, a couple of North Central DC-3s, and other interesting planes, for some reason I didn’t shoot them. Maybe I got rousted off the ramp, or, was hesitant to give the ramp a try. However, around the hangers I shot such types as Lockheed 12A CF-EPF, and a rare BT-13 Valiant CF-HJB, which “OJ” Wieben of Superior Airways had converted to a single-cockpit fish hauler.

Lockheed 12A CF-EPF. My 1959 CCAR told me that it was Serial No. 1269. It looked as if it had been sitting for some time. Today, we know that 1269 had begun in 1939 in the US as NC17397 with the Reiss-Premier Corp. Many owners followed, then it came to Canada in 1953 for Argosy Oil and Gas of Calgary. “EPF” was sold in 1955 to Central Northern Airlines, which soon became Transair. It was somehow damaged at Winnipeg on January 10, 1958, patched up and sold to OJ Wieben’s Superior Airways. OJ’s daughter, Liz, recently told me that “EPF” wasn’t used in fish hauling and soon was sold. Most recently heard of in the 2020s, it was in storage on a farm in Southern Ontario.
In the early 1950s OJ Wieben added this Vultee BT-13, a type that had been an important trainer for the US military in WWII. Thousands of these were sold cheaply after the war, but few made it to Canada, where there already were plenty of cheap ex-RCAF Cornells, Harvards, etc., for sale. Wieben converted his BT-13 for fish hauling by installing a tub in the front cockpit, then fairing it over for streamlining. Hauling fish from northern Indian reserves still was huge business in the 1950s-60s and shipping by air was the way to go in those times, when planes, gas and pilots all were cheap.

One plane that I especially wanted to catch was Superior Airways’ Bellanca 31-55 Skyrocket CF-DCH, one of a small batch built postwar in Edmonton. At the airport I asked around to learn that “DCH” was in town, but at Superior’s water base on the Kaministiquia River – the “Kam” as locals called it. I got the directions and hit the road. Reaching the Superior base, I found that this also was where the Wieben family lived. Mr. Wieben met me at the gate and showed me around. He was keen to hear that some kid from Toronto was interested in photographing his big, tough Bellanca fish hauler. By this time the weather was overcast and it was drizzling – the hitchhiker’s curse.
In 1961 Superior Airways Bellanca Skyrocket CF-DCH was on my list of exotic aircraft to track down between Winnipeg and Toronto. In the end I was happy that I took the time to track it down. Recently, Ev Makela of Sudbury told me about “DCH” passing through that northern town late one season. It stayed overnight at the Austin Airways dock on Ramsay Lake, but in the morning was totally frozen in by an unexpected cold snap. There it stayed for several weeks. Finally, OJ Wieben sent a crew to Sudbury. With old-fashioned manpower they chopped “DCH” from the ice, fuelled it, checked it over one last time, then took off on floats on the ice and flew back to the Lakehead. In 1965 Superior sold “DCH” to Mattagami Skyways of Moonbeam, near Kapuskasing. Its C of A remained current only into July 1966, then “DCH” went to Georgian Bay Airways at Parry Sound, south of Sudbury. Plans were to do a rebuild, but this never happened and “DCH” faded away. For $500 Ev Makela’s brother, Reino, bought the floats off “DCH” to use on his Lauzon Aviation Norseman CF-DTL (“DTL” still flies on these very floats). Nothing much was heard thereafter, so what of “DCH” today? Happy to say, it’s been beautifully restored to flying condition by the Reynolds Museum in Alberta. In case you might be travelling in Alberta, you will be very pleased if you visit this important Canadian aviation collection at Wetaskiwin airport. The airport also is the home a separate institution, the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, also of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.

As I looked over the Bellanca down on the Kam, there was a sudden roar of some exotic plane in the overcast. This was tantalizing, so I decided to hustle back to the airport. I thanked Mr. Wieben and easily caught some rides. My timing was perfect. What was that mystery plane? I couldn’t have hit a bigger jackpot – the sun was out again and there on the ramp was a gleaming Lockeed P-38 Lightning. As the pilot was getting his kit out of his P-38’s long, photo-recce nose, I hustled across to start shooting. He was friendly and happily agreed to re- start his engines, so I could get a few action photos. The whole exciting scene had me fired up to the point that I later realized that I probably had clicked off too many frames of my lone roll of Kodachrome.

Operated by Survey Aircraft of Vancouver, P-38L CF-JJA was heading for Toronto, then on to Argentina to do high level aerial photography. It later entered the Argentine civil aircraft register and eventually was wrecked in an accident. For more about aviation at the Lakehead, check out these CANAV blog items: “Return to Northwestern Ontario 2017 Part I YQT Thunder Bay Photo Coverage”; “Visiting Lakehead Airport 1961 – 2012 Update”; and “Canadian Car and Foundry and the Curtiss SBW Helldiver”.

I knocked around Fort William airport for the rest of the day, until boarding TCA Flight 53 (Viscount CF-THX) for Winnipeg. Taking off at 2145, we landed 1:50 hours later. Having no options, I slept in the passenger terminal, then was up early to start the day. I had set myself a budget of $2 a day, so needed to be innovative about meals and accommodations. I could get something like a fried egg sandwich, or, wieners and beans plus a drink for about 50 cents. That was about the extent of the “admin” side of my trip.

I noted three TCA DC-3s at Winnipeg on September 4. These still were needed to cover TCA’s prairie routes to such smaller communities as Brandon and North Battleford. Here are views of CF-TES awaiting its day’s work. Originally RAF FL547 in January 1944, in 1946 “TES” was converted by Canadair for TCA. It later served Transair and Lambair.
What became of CF-TES once its flying days were done? The story came to me recently from Robert Arnold, one of the originals in the small group that decades ago evolved into the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg. Robert became one of the museum’s most accomplished scroungers and wreck salvagers. He tells me that during the war, when “TES” had been Dakota FL547 in the RAF, it had a Polish crew under skipper Jazefa Tyszko. The crew named their “Dak” “Spirit of Ostra Brama”, a holy site in the city of Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania). The name also relates to “Operation Ostra Brama”, the battle led by the Polish Home Army to free Wilno from Nazi occupation in July 1944. FL547 was also used as a personal transport of the General Inspector of the Polish Armed Forces, General Kazimierz Sosnkowski, whose son, Joe, became a leading postwar RCN and CAF fighter pilot. Once its civil career ended in 1970, FL547 was acquired by WCAM (today’s Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada). Its colourful military history later came to light, so it was transferred to Canadian Forces 17 Wing (Winnipeg) for storage and preservation. This got underway in October 2016. RAF/Polish markings eventually were added. You can see by these photos provided by Robert how this went. On March 12, 2018 parts of “Ostra Brama” were moved to 17 Wing’s Hangar 16 for cleaning before shipment to Warsaw. On March 8, 2019 Canadian and Polish military, the restoration team, and others gathered for the handover; then everyone enjoyed food and festivities in 17 Wing’s Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess, the food catered by Winnipeg’s Polish community. The RCAF Air Command Band provided an extra touch for this important event. Next day “Spirit of Ostra Brama” was loaded aboard a massive Antonov AN-124 cargo plane and departed for Warsaw later that afternoon.

At first light I was wandering around the Winnipeg ramp photographing and making notes about the many airplanes that caught my eye. I especially hoped to see Transair’s last Avro York CF-HAS. A Transair mechanic told me that “HAS” was up north, but he could get me on a flight if I was interested. Of course I was, but there was a clanger in the deal – I’d have to “give myself to Jesus” right now in the hangar in front of this Christian mechanic, otherwise — no flight. I decided that the price was a bit out of my range, so returned to the airplanes on the ramp, doomed to hell. There was plenty to see and shoot.

For my first time at Winnipeg I couldn’t complain about the great variety of planes waiting to be photographed. This Mallard looked fine in the early light. Notice the Spartan Air Services logo on its tail. Ottawa-based Spartan by this time had been bought out by Bristol of Winnipeg. Bristol had acquired CF-HWG from Timmins Aviation of Montreal, which had taken it in on a trade from J.F. Crothers Ltd. of Toronto. There it had flown as CF-JFC for many years, but Crothers recently had bought a new Grumman Gulfstream. Spartan soon sent “HWG” on a surveying contract to the Seychelles in the far off Indian Ocean. Last heard of many years ago, “HWG” was in storage in Texas.
The Transair ramp also included Canso CF-IEE. The historic type still was an essential freighter and passenger plane, chiefly for serving remote Indian reserves in northern Manitoba and NW Ontario. This was 1961, so almost none of these destinations yet had a runway. Lakes and rivers, however, were plentiful for a Canso. “IEE” had begun as a US Navy PBY-5. Transair imported it in 1953. After many years, it was sold to Austin Airways. While at Sugluk far up Hudson Bay’s east coast one day in 1970, there was an unexpected storm and “IEE” sank and was never recovered.
One of Transair’s fleet of hard working DC-4s serving the DEW Line at this time. DEW Line resupply contracts periodically changed. In the early years Maritime Central Airlines of Moncton dominated the show. Later it was Nordair from Dorval, periodically Transair, at other times PWA and CPA on the western DEW Line. CF-TAL was acquired in the US early in 1961 to bolster DEW Line capacity. It returned to the US in 1973, a time when Transair was modernizing with such types as the Argosy and 737. Last heard of (1983) “TAL” was N301JT in storage under the Arizona sun.
Of special interest to me was this ex-402 Squadron “City of Winnipeg” Aux. Sqn P-51 Mustang lying neglected in the open air. Having been on USAF strength since 1945, it was sold to the RCAF in 1951, going directly to 402. After an accident at Winnipeg in 1956, it was pretty well abandonned. In 1959 it was sold by Crown Assets Disposal Corp. of Ottawa. In 1962 it was rebuilt in Winnipeg by the Cavalier company of Sarasota, Florida, then flown stateside. Many owners came and went over the years. Today this old warbird is the beautifully-restored, airworthy N151BP with the Palm Springs Air Museum in California.

Next came the RCAF side of the airport, which I reached by hiking across the field and skirting the end of a runway. This got me right onto the RCAF ramp, where I started photographing the many aircraft shining in the early sun – mainly B-25s and Dakotas, but also Lancasters and a pair of new Albatross. I was acting as if I owned the place, until an officer appeared to ask what I was doing. Somehow, he bought my line, let me finish, then drove me to the gate.

No. 111 Composite Unit search and rescue Lancasters FM219 and FM224 still were at Winnipeg. I was lucky to catch these, since their replacements recently had arrive – a pair of factory fresh Grumman Albatross. These Lancasters had done years of solid SAR work. FM219 previously had served 407 Sqn at Comox 1955-59. From Winnipeg it was ferried to Dunnville, Ontario, from where it was sold to Toronto scrap dealer, G. Solway.
One of 111 KU’s new Albatross amphibians. The Albatross was a welcomed addition to RCAF SAR operations, where it replaced the Canso and Lancaster. However, no replacement could come close to the “Lanc” for high cruise speed and long range. 9309 served Canada into 1971, then returned to Grumman. It later was with the Mexican Navy.
RCAF 2 Air Navigation School in Winnipeg recently had retired its fleet of B-25J trainers. Eleven of them were lined up in the sun for me to photograph on this brilliant Manitoba morning. 5201 had joined the RCAF in 1951, then served 3 (AW) OTU at Cold Lake, Alberta training CF-100 navigators. It moved to Winnipeg in 1957. Shortly after my visit, it was ferried for storage to Calgary. From there it quickly was sold into the US, where it had several owners until fading from the scene in the early 1970s. Last heard of it was in the US BVIs.
One of the 15 Dakotas that I noted this morning on the RCAF navigation school ramp. KN201 had joined the RCAF in 1945, initially with Western Air Command at Patricia Bay/Victoria. Its tail number changed in 1970 to 12903. Crown Assets sold it in 1976, then it reappeared with Basler Airlines as N46938. Some time later it’s said to have migrated to Africa for the Malawi Air Wing.

My visit to the Winnipeg Flying Club hangar turned up a pair of one-of-a-kind 1936 Canadian biplanes – D.H.87 Hornet Moth CF-AYG, which was on my list, but supposedly far up north in Dauphin; and CF-CDQ, an Avro Avian. Both were in the back of the hangar, “CDQ” with its wings folded. The AME on duty was a friendly fellow, who was happy to find a kid with an interest. Before long, we had pushed some planes out of the way and had “AYG” on the tarmac to photograph. All was fine, except that the visibility was the pits, since forest fire smoke had reduced the airport almost to IFR conditions. (Google the “Maclean’s Magazine” article by Peter Gzowski “1961: Summer of the Angry Forest Fires”. This was 60 years ago, long before anyone heard the term “climate change”. These fires were worse than anything seen in Canada in the 2000s. Such fires have been roaring around the continent since time immemorial. Meanwhile, the climate has never stopped — and never will stop — changing.)

The lovely red-and-white Hornet Moth that I spotted in the corner of the WFC hangar. This was a peach of a find. Today you can see CF-AYG on show at the Reynolds Alberta Museum in Westaskiwin, Alberta now in the yellow and silver colour scheme reminiscent of its days in the 1930s with Consolidated Mining and Smelting of Trail, BC.

Early on September 5, I was watching a Winnipeg Flying Club Aeronca getting ready for a flight. I chatted with the young pilot, mentioning that I was headed over to Rivercrest airstrip a few miles to the west. For a bit of gas money ($2) this fine fellow was happy to drop me off there. Seemed like a deal, so away we went, landing 17 minutes later. Rivercrest was an interesting spot, especially with Beech 18 CF-NKL-X, sitting at the dock on new Bristol of Canada floats. I learned that the “X” in the plane’s registration was needed, since the floats still were experimental.

The Aeronca in which I flew from Winnipeg to Rivercrest. CF-IRX spent from 1956 to 2006 in Canada, then went south of the border as N9049F.
Beech 18 CF-NKL-X at the dock at Rivercrest. Since 1965 “NKL” has made its home with North Western Flying Services at Nestor Falls, Ontario in the Lake-of-the-Woods district. There are few airplanes that can claim such longevity. Another that comes to mind is Found FBA-2C CF-SDC that still operates from the same base in Hudson, Ontario to which it was delivered in 1965.

From Rivercrest I decided to hitchhike north to RCAF Station Gimli to try my luck. In those days, Gimli was a busy jet training base with 100+ T-33s. Off I headed using my trusty Shell roadmap to find my way. This all ended as a big flop, for there were no rides to be had. Also maddening was how I was pestered for an hour along a dusty road by a nasty big farm dog. Finally, I decided to backtrack and head east to Kenora. Rides remained scarce – it was just a lousy day. However, I had made it as far as Whitemouth when I got really lucky. A bus came my way, I flagged it down and happily paid $2.40 for a ticket to Kenora.

I still have the receipt for my bus fare from Whitemouth to Kenora on September 5, 1961. Arriving in Kenora late in the afternoon, I hitchhiked out to the airport, where I found several interesting airplanes. I took a few late evening shots, then the airport manager let me spend the night in his little shack. Soon after sunrise next morning I did my photography, made my notes, then headed downtown to shoot the bushplanes.
Ontario Central Airlines Canso CF-IDS was a great find at Kenora airport on September 6. Built by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville, Quebec in late 1943, it began as RCAF 11029. Eventually surplus to RCAF needs, “IDS” served Queen Charlotte Airlines 1956 to 1959, when it was sold to OCA. Through each summer season, it mainly supported sport fishing and hunting, most of the sportsmen being Americans, but general duties also were served. In 1963 “IDS” was based in Winnipeg with Northland Airlines, a fish hauling outfit. Next in the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, it’s listed in 1969 with North Canada Air of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan as a fire bomber. On September 1, 1971 it was in the circuit at a forest fire near Pine Point, NWT, when it collided fatally with PBY CF-HTN. As I recall, the colours here were dark blue and gray with some yellow trim.
Wearing the same colours as “IDS” was OCA’s Grumman Goose CF-GEB, equipped with 3-blade vs the usual 2- blade propellers. An ex-US Navy JRF-5 Goose, it had come to Canada in March 1944 as RCAF 384. Struck off RCAF charge in 1947, it became “GEB” serving BC’s forest industry. After a fatal accident at Vancouver in 1966, it was sold in the US, rebuilt, then operated in Alaska until wrecked for good in a May 1978 crash.
Always great to see were any Spartan airplanes. These were the days when the company still was flying the last of its Mosquitos. It was a legendary operation. Here for me to shoot at Kenora bright and early on September 6, 1961 was Spartan’s Beech 18 CF-MJY and its Anson V CF-HXA. “MJY” had been a USAF C-45, then was N3734G. In 1960 Bristol of Winnipeg bought it from John H. Horrell of Arizona (by this time, Bristol was taking over Spartan). “MJY” later did some offshore contracts, then was sold in 1973 to Kenting, another famous Canadian survey company. You can see “MJY” today at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Spartan Anson V CF-HXA on the same magnetometer mineral survey job at Kenora as “MJY”. Ex-RCAF Anson served far and wide in Canada after the war. Good examples could be bought for two or three thousand dollars in the late 1940s, and many still were giving good service by 1960. “HXA” lasted into 1962, then went for scrap.
OCA’s newly-acquired 1958 Piper PA-23 Apache CF-NPZ. In 1963 “NPZ” was sold to Smith Airways in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. In 2021, by when it had accumulated more than 4200 flying hours, this vintage Apache was in Texas as N469ET.
While I was keen to find Fox Moth CF-DJB in Kenora as per my CCAR research, I was pleasantly surprised on reaching Kenora airport to spot another Fox Moth — CF-BNN. It was looking a bit tired, but likely had been flying recently. Built at DHC in Toronto in 1946, “BNN” had been purchased new by Sherritt Gordon Air Transport, the aviation subsidiary of the huge Manitoba mining company, Sherritt Gordon. SGAT sold “BNN” in 1949 to Parsons Airways. Later it was listed to Wilbert K. Parsons of Kenora, then was bought by prospector Jack H. Edwards in 1959. By the time I came along this day, it was owned by two young fellows — Neil Walsten and Richard D. Jackson. Just lately, Neil told me that in 1961 he had bought “BNN” from Jack Edwards for $500, including floats and skis. Neil sold a half share to Richard. Then, they used the plane for about two years to build hours and haul fish for Bill Cameron, whose operation was on Stork Lake, about 70 miles north of Kenora. Without telling Neil, Richard sold BNN and left Canada. R.S. “Bob” Grant then takes up this great bushplane tale. In 1970 Bob, then flying for Georgian Bay Airways in Parry Sound, Ontario, heard that Paul Sigurdson of Winnipeg had “BNN” for sale. Bob was interested, since Sigurdson described it as almost ready to fly. Bob sent him the agreed-upon $1400, but this did not go well, as Bob told me: “The gamble did not pay off – the boxes that arrived at my parents’ place in Belleville, Ontario, actually contained many bicycle parts and no logbooks. The aircraft had been smashed with an axe to get it into the boxes. When I called Sigurdson, he said I had a real prize on my hands and no, he would not refund a penny. In desperation, we gave the boxes to the CPR to send back to Winnipeg, and that was the last we saw of them. So much for my dream of restoring a classic airplane. Over the years, I would hear many a Sigurdson story, none of them pretty.

Heading into town early on September 6, I looked forward to photographing the of Lake-of-the-Woods bushplanes most of which were at the OCA docks right downtown.

At Kenora’s downtown float base I was really happy to find this impressive yellow-and-red OCA Norseman. Someone loaned me a canoe so I could get some nice clear shots. Originally US Army UC-64 44-70407 delivered in October 1944, CF-IRI was the 672nd Norseman. Postwar, it went first to Byrd Aviation in Texas, then was acquired by OCA in 1956. Later with Canadian Voyageur Airlines, on May 25, 1966 it was wrecked in the Fort Francis area when the engine failed. Happily, all aboard survived.
Parsons’ CF-PAL was a vintage 1945 US Army Beech C-45 that still was in military colours into 1957, when it became N6789C. Parsons had just acquired “PAL” from Florida when I happened by. It later went to Chiupka Airways in northern Manitoba. Its last appearance in the CCAR is in the 1970 edition.
Needless to say, I was excited to find prospector Jack Edwards’ Fox Moth tied up at his lakefront property. Too bad, but no one was home, so I never met Jack. A photographer couldn’t be happier with a shot like this, right! “DJB” later was acquired by Wardair and restored to like-new condition as the first airplane owned by Canada’s great aviation luminary, Max Ward. It resides today in Ottawa at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. However, very little of Jack Edwards’ “DJB” can be found in the completely rebuilt replica.
Here’s an excellent photo by Gary Vincent showing “DJB” as you’ll see it at the CASM. Don’t aviation fans have just the best hobby!

Now it was time to hit the road. Always in my mind was the first day of school, for which I had planned to be on time — but hope was fading. Heading towards Fort William, I next was looking for the rare Stinson SR-JR bushplane, CF-HAW, said to be around Ignace. Too bad but I couldn’t find it. I pressed on and straight through Fort William, not stopping to see the airport again. My guess is that it likely was raining at the time. The weather sure was crappy for 2 or 3 days. At Nipigon I managed a ride in the back of a pick-up with some local Ojibwa fellows. The guys were friendly, sharing their moose meat sandwiches and trying to enlist me to go cutting pulpwood with them. It was a tough bush job, paid $16 a day, but I had to buy a chain saw and some bush gear. I thought about it, but finally begged off. By this time I had peeled off the Trans Canada (which still was unpaved and under construction for long stretches). Instead, I took the long way up Hwy 11. This turned out to be a dumb move.

There sure wasn’t much for me going this way. When it was quiet, I’d hang around the restaurant at whichever Husky gas station. For accommodations, I spent two nights with the Ontario Provincial Police at Geraldton and Hearst. I was able to sell the officers in charge to let me overnight in their drunk tanks. This wasn’t so bad, as my cellmates all seemed OK fellows. Mainly … the price was right for a kid on the road. At Kapuskasing on September 8, I hoped to catch the US Air Force Beaver belonging to the nearby radar site, but it was away. I pushed on with no luck until away down at New Liskeard and Temagami on September 9. Hitchhiking then became a real bind. I was stuck hanging around truck stops for a couple of days.

All I saw while passing through New Liskeard was this pretty little red-and-white 1946 Fleet Canuck on floats, owned then by A.J. Murphy Lumber Co. of nearby Latchford. Last heard of in the early 2000s, “ENE” was in Alberta.
Not far from New Liskeard I checked out the float base at Temagami, where I was happy to find a famous old Northern Ontario Stinson SR-9 Reliant, CF-BGM of Lakeland Airways. Having come to Canada in 1937 for British North American Airlines of Toronto, it briefly served the Ontario Provincial Air Service, then spent several years with the Department of Transport. In 1950-52 it was with Ball Lake Transportation of Kenora, with OCA 1952-55, then it went to Lakeland. Sadly, “BGM” crashed on August 12, 1973. It had been on a charter with four passengers, when it crashed while taking off on Sugar Lake in the Temagami area. Two lives were lost. The Reynolds Museum in Westaskiwin has beautifully restored a V77 Reliant to flying condition. It’s registered CF-BGM in honour of the famous original.

Reaching Sudbury on the 11th I was happy to see a Kenting B-17 that was getting set to fly south to Wiarton – somewhat in my direction. I tried my luck for a ride, but the boss wouldn’t bite. Even so, I still made it home later that day on the 200 mile standard route down Hwy 69. I was a week late for school, so was a bit nervous showing up next day. Nonetheless, our great vice-principal, Mr. Stubbs (RCAF WWII), welcomed me back like the Prodigal Son. So ended my first big solo road trip.

Austin Airways Anson V CF-JAW at Sudbury on September 11, 1961. Notice its magnetometer “bomb” under the belly. Austin Airways Ansons in this configuration usually were working for International Nickel Co., Sudbury’s biggest employer. “JAW” had been RCAF 11904 during the war. It finally was struck off strength in June 1954, then went to Leavens Brothers Air Services in Toronto, finally on to Austin Airways. Somehow, over the last 60 years I seem to have misplaced my negatives taken that day of the B- 17
For many years Austin’s CF-JAW has been stored for future restoration at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. Notice the remnants of its original RCAF WWII yellow paint job. (via Gerry Norberg)

New Brunswick Aviation Museum

Are you familiar with the New Brunswick Aviation Museum? Now in growth mode, this important regional organization aims to build an RCAF aircraft collection (Vampire, Sabre, T-33, etc.). The museum explains, “We plan to become a centre of excellence for the preservation of aviation history and the promotion of aerospace careers among New Brunswick youth.” Learn more at www.nbaviationmuseum.com Please show some support by taking out a membership.

Bush Flying Nostalgia

Several lovely old bushplane scenes recently popped up from the CANAV archives. Knowing this era of aviation in Canada is as important and interesting as contemporary content about F-35s, 787s, etc. (the aviation history “grown-ups” know this). I’ve covered much of this ancient history, chiefly in Air Transport in Canada and in Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years.

Built by Canadian Vickers in Montreal in 1930, Fokker Super Universal CF-AJH is shown in a typical bush setting, likely while with Dominion Skyways of Rouyn-Noranda (northern Quebec) in 1934-35. The engine “tent” was standard for winter operations. The engineer spent hours each day under his tent doing his daily maintenance. Note the dog team, another typical feature in any such scene of the times.
Fairchild 71C CF-AWU operated first with Northern Skyways of Noranda, then with Dominion Skyways. It went through the ice on a remote northern Quebec lake in January 1940. While being salvaged in February, it somehow caught fire and was lost. The Fairchilds and Fokkers were forerunners in the Canadian bush of the Beaver, Otter and Husky, then of today’s Turbo-Otter, Caravan and Twin Otter.
Another quintessential scene from Canadian air transportation history: No.1 Norseman CF-AYO. Pioneer bush aviator Syd Walker of Dominion Skyways took this snap of a situation at the company’s Rouyn base. “AYO” likely had been readied the night before for a morning departure. By morning, however, this part of Lake Osisko had frozen lightly, so plans for AYO’s first trip of the day had to be modified. That’s likely the pilot atop “AYO” with his broom ready to sweep the light snow and hoar frost from the wings. The other fellow is fuelling, while someone on the float is breaking ice. After the sun warmed things a bit, it’s likely the ice was soft enough for “AYO” to taxi. Out further there probably was open water for takeoff.
A classic scene at the Dominion Skyways base at Rouyn. FC-2W2 CF-AHG had been built by Fairchild of Long Island, NY in 1929. It came to Dominion in 1935, then served into 1941, when it went to de Havilland in Toronto for conversion to a “71C”. Its career from then to 1946 isn’t noted – it may have been stored at DHC until a buyer could be found. Finally, by 1946 it was hauling fish in the west. On January 2, 1947 it was lost at Cold Lake, Alberta when it caught fire on start-up. This was an old problem with fabric-covered bushplanes with their layers of paint, oil and other flammable crud. CF-ANU was one of the rugged old Bellanca Pacemakers built in New Castle, Delaware in the late 1920s. Dominion Skyways operated it 1936-40, after which its fate is unknown. Most such aged bushplanes ended as scrap, once their useful parts had been removed. Behind is an unknown Super Universal.

Today’s Great Lakes Page

For our shipping fans, here are some scenes that I caught along the Welland Canal on May 5, 2004. (I had detoured to the canal while heading for Niagara-on-the-Lake to meet for lunch with the Canadian Typhoon Pilots Association. What came up first on my canal sidetrip was the 730-foot Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd.’s John D. Leitch. Here it is rising in a lock, exiting, then sailing on. In the fourth scene, I had crossed the canal to get the ship coming on in its quest for Lake Erie. You can see that it’s empty. It likely was heading for a US port on Lake Erie for coal. A self-unloading bulk carrier, this vessel was built in Port Weller (St. Catharines) in 1967 and christened Canadian Century in honour of Canada’s centennial that year. Depending on the season, it could carry from 25,700 tons to 31,600 tons. Its main duty was carrying coal to Ontario Hydro generating stations, but trips also were made to such destinations as the steel mills in Hamilton. For its first season, Canadian Century made 63 revenue trips carrying 1.7 million tons of coal. It was overhauled and modernized at Port Weller in 2001, then re-christened John D. Leitch in 2002 in honour of Upper Lakes Shipping’s chairman. In 2021 this classic laker sails under the Algoma Central Corp. flag. Much detailed history of any such vessel can be found on such websites as boatnerd.com
CSL Niagara also was in the Welland Canal this day. Launched in 1971 as the J.W. McGiffin, it was built for Canada Steamship Lines in Collingwood, Ontario. According to the info at boatnerd.com, the price for this contract totalled $13 million. The 730-foot ship was built specifically for the coal trade, its first revenue trip being from Sandusky, Ohio to Hamilton on April 25, 1972 with 30,624 tons of coal. boatnerd.com adds about this ship’s usefulness: “Although much of the J.W. McGiffin’s activities were focused on the Lake Erie eastern coal trade between Ohio ports such as Ashtabula, Conneaut, Sandusky, and Toledo bound for the Canadian steel plants at Hamilton, Nanticoke, or Sault Ste. Marie; or the Ontario Hydro steam power generating plants at Courtright, Nanticoke, or Port Credit; the self-unloader also carried cargoes of grain, coke, stone, and iron ore. The vessel set a Thunder Bay, ON grain record on October 5, 1973 when she loaded 1,006,672 bushels; then broke her own record in 1980 when she loaded 27,566 metric tons of the same commodity from Thunder Bay to Montreal, QC. She also broke another eastern coal record when, on July 25, 1975, 35,292 net tons were loaded on board at Conneaut for Nanticoke.” After a major refit at Port Weller in 1998-99, the ship was re- christened CSL Niagara. Notice how the business end of CSL Niagara is at the stern, while for the John L. Leitch it’s at the bow. boatnerd.com notes the basic specs for the CSL Niagara as:

Overall Dimensions (metric)

 Length  739′ 10″ (225.50m)

 Beam  78′ 00″ (23.76m)

 Depth  48′ 05″ (14.75m)

 Capacity (mid-summer)  37,694 tons (38,299 mt) – CSL data
 at draft of 31′ 04″ (9.556m)

 Capacity (Seaway)  30,223 tons (30,708 mt) – CSL data
 at Seaway draft of 26′ 06″ (8.08m)

 Power (diesel)  9,000 b.h.p. (6,620 kW)

400 Squadron Ride-Along

In May 2007 Paul Hayes, Honorary Colonel of 400 “City of Toronto” squadron, invited me to ride along on May 18 for a shoot organized by Mike Reyno of “Skies” – Canada’s premier aviation magazine. I drove up from Toronto to 400’s base at CFB Borden, where several other air force supporters had gathered for this “photo op” on a fine bright morning. First, we sat in on the aircrew briefing. Naturally, there was an emphasis on safety, as there would be civilians in the four CH-46 Griffin helios, and we’d be flying over a densely-packed urban landscape on our way to Toronto Billy Bishop Airport about 50 miles to the south.
Once at the island, the photographers were dropped off, then the Griffins took off directed by Mike Reyno, so he could get just the photos he needed – the perfect set up with the CN Tower as his backdrop. I was just along for the ride, but still fired off some colour print film. Here are a few shots from the briefing to getting ready on the ramp at Borden, to the helios manoeuvring with the city backdrop, then, back at Borden where I caught a Griffin over one of the ranges as we headed in to land. All things considered … not too painful a way for an aviation nerd to spend a morning, right and all thanks to Paul Hayes, an old time F-86 pilot, and one of the solid supporters of RCAF heritage.

CANAV Books Moves Ahead — “Aviation in Canada”

To 2021 Canada Books has produced eight volumes in its “Aviation in Canada” series. As expected, those with a serious interest in and love for good aviation books have been enjoying this mini-encyclopaedia devoted to Canada’s aviation heritage. Having begun in 2008 with Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, the series goes well so far, mainly since the standard CANAV philosophy of the book universe remains unchanged. All the solid “book people” who have been watching the series get this.

Our Vol.1 Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades book reviews are what anyone would expect (ref. Parts 1 to 6 of this blog series), with one gross exception. One really nasty fellow in the UK set out to spoil our 40-year record. He lashed out against the book, finding only the most rotten things about it. This guy is the master belittler! My guess? This was strictly a personal attack on me and CANAV. This fellow has serious head problems. His editor should have intercepted this unprofessional rampage, and rejected it outright. Such garbage does not do wonders for the reputation of any aviation periodical. Intelligent readers notice these things. Here are some far more typical reviews of The Pioneer Decades, starting with Vol.57, No.2, Summer 2010 of “Air Power History” (the voice of the USAF “Air Force Historical Foundation”). Here is its take on The Pioneer Decades. Our reviewer was the late, great Robin Higham, PhD, professor of aviation history and author of several academic-level books. His reviews always were fair and balanced, with the strengths of any author and book highlighted. Dr. Higham begins: “Larry Milberry, the dean of Canadian aviation historians outside of the Directorate of History of the Department of National Defence, has spent a lifetime and a fortune pursuing many of the aspects of our northern neighbor’s flying history. This book, his newest offering, looks at the beginnings of Canadian aviation …” Since he’s writing for a learned journal, Dr. Higham describes the content of the book in detail – an older style but helpful for any librarian or general reader deciding “to buy or not to buy”. He ends simply: “The book concludes with a gallery of photos and biographies of Canadian airmen and a description of their lives on the Western Front. All in all, this is a pleasant and informative book. Dr. Robin Higham, Professor Emeritus, Kansas State University.” Other reviews mirror Dr. Higham’s. In Quebec’s beloved “Plein Vol”, Pierre Gillard built up interest by mentioning some of our earlier books, concluding that CANAV Books “ne devrait pas décevoir” (CANAV “will never disappoint you.”). Then he outlines the wide-ranging coverage in Pioneer Decades from ballooning in the 1940s to the end of WWI, all squeezed into 176 large-format, handsomely-designed pages, 300 photos included. Our book certainly succeeds in its simple objective – to present a basic outline through the decades and be enjoyable and educational for any intelligent reader, especially young people developing an interest in Canada’s aviation heritage.

France’s veteran researcher, writer, publisher, and former bush pilot in the Canadian northland, Philippe Listeman, reviewed The Pioneer Decades at L’@erobibliotheqe. He gives a fair and detailed analysis. In traditional fashion, he outlines the chapters, making such comments as, “Tout le long du texte, des récits extraits de rapports de combat, de communiqués officiels ou autres, en font un texte vivant à lire.” (“Throughout the text, stories extracted from combat reports, official statements or others, make it a living text to read.”) His finishing words? “Sans aucun doute un bon livre pour toute personne intéressée aux premiers pas de l’aviation et aussi à la Première Guerre mondiale.” (“Without a doubt a good book for anyone interested in the first steps of aviation and also in the First World War.”) A fair and tidy review.

Other comments from the professional book critics? “A treasure for anyone with an interest in Canada’s wonderful heritage in the air,” wrote Air Force Magazine. Bob Merrick added in COPA Flight: “The spectacular pictures perfectly supplement the tight, well-written, heavily researched narrative.” David Baker of the UK’s revered Aviation News concluded: “The … story is well written and easy to follow, logically connecting the images with the text – not always the case with history books … a story that is both inspiring and worthy … to be welcomed and treasured.” All of which makes one wonder what that first poor sod was trying to prove so nastily.

All moved along predictably since we dared to launch the “Aviation in Canada” series at great expense. No other publisher in Canada would dare take such a chance, especially the “big boys”, whose motto seems to be, “Never take a chance”. These mainly are American branch plant operations, taking their orders from New York.

Our Volume 2, which picks up where Pioneer Decades ends, is The Formative Years. It’s had nothing but praise. “What is it?” queried reviewer Bob Merrick in “COPA News”. “A learned treatise on how to deal with the intransigent teenagers in your care? Well, no. It’s written by Larry Milberry, Canada’s foremost aviation author, and while he may know a thing or two about raising teenagers, he knows a whole lot more about early Canadian aviation, the changes it made to Canada, and to Canadians’ ways and quality of life. He recently started a new series, Aviation in Canada, and this is the second volume…

“WWI had shown that aircraft and their much-improved capabilities were no longer just toys for the idle rich. A country such as Canada, blessed with an overabundance of acreage populated mostly by tiny, isolated communities, needed some way of defeating those distances. Might the sputtering aircraft of the day be of use … It’s about here, in 1919, where the new book starts. And what a book it is.

“You’d think that an author such as Milberry, with thirty Canadian civil and military aviation books under his belt, would have already said everything there is to say about aviation in the early years. But no, he hasn’t. He discovered still more aeronauts, companies and entrepreneurs whose stories were still untold… It’s unquestionably a Milberry book. It starts with meticulous research, and the information thus uncovered is transformed into readily understandable prose that flows easily and readably across the printed page.

“But, there are interruptions… Pictures, about 450 of them in this book. He has zillions of pictures in his personal 50-year-old files, and he has zillions of friends who are willing to share their pictures with him. Thus, the reader is not looking at the same old pictures that enlivened previous books … The Formative Years is a formidable addition to our gradually increasing knowledge of how important aviation has been to Canada’s development … Milberry has provided us with a first-rate, exciting chronicle that clearly demonstrates the hardships, the disappointments, and yet, the steady progress that has made it possible for most Canadians to enjoy fast, reliable air transportation from one point in the country to any other point in the country…”

The reviews piled up, not a one being disappointing. Britain’s “Aircraft” magazine crowed about The Formative Years, “Authoritative … Milberry is your guarantee here … readable, well-produced”.

Since those exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking times, we have forged on to build “Aviation in Canada” to eight titles, the others being Evolution of an Air Force, Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945, The Noorduyn Norseman Vols. 1 and 2, The CAE Story and Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. All have been beautifully received by the top “book people” writing for the aviation press, but, most importantly, by our loyal CANAV readership. Presently, we are battling to complete Fighter Pilots and Observers 1939-1945, and The Royal Canadian Air Force: 100 Years 1924 – 2024.

Here we are at Part 7 of my overview of CANAV Books in its 40 year history. By now you get the picture – people around the world love our books. I’ll spare you another excessive run of the reviews, except for these periodical and reader comments loving the Norseman books. Down the line, this all will appear in a book that’s in the making. To begin, this keen reader (like Dr. Higham, a history professor) reported about Norseman Vol.1, “The Noorduyn book is terrific. I like the weaving of anecdotes with the narrative, and the photographs are very nicely reproduced.” A retired airline pilot added: “The Norseman story is compelling and exceedingly well written. What airplane fan couldn’t love it! I’m standing by, straining at the chocks, for the next installment. Now I’m sure I should have bought that Norseman in Winnipeg in ’83, but I built a house instead.”

Len Halloran (RCMP ret’d) from New Brunswick who, with his Inuit companion, saved pilot Wiggo Norwang and his passengers following their horrendous 1958 Norseman crash on the tundra, admitted that he really wasn’t a student of aviation history. However, on going through his copy of Vol.1, Len’s key phrase about it all is “out of this world”.  “You sure put a book together, my friend.” From one of the great innovators of big water bombers in California, the word for Norseman Vol.1 was loud and clear: “Man oh man, the book came yesterday. Wow, is all I can say! Not since my teens, when I bought mail order from Beachcomber Books in the great northwest, have I gotten a more exciting book shipment. Methinks that American ‘airplane nuts’ are doing themselves a great disservice if not frequenting CANAV books.”

So it has gone. Meanwhile, how fares The CAE Story? You can see the reviews and reader remarks here on the blog (you can find anything on the blog by using the search box). Few books in the last 50 years have been so gloriously reviewed. The CAE Story turns out to be pretty well the best in its class over a good 50 years. Finally, what about Fighter Pilots and Observers? Happily, it’s the same story. 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.”

One of the world’s most historic, revered and long-lived journals – “Aeroplane” — thought Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 to be a decent effort, noting in its May 2019 edition, “The is volume eight in CANAV’s series… Those who have read … earlier volumes will be familiar with author Milberry’s style of writing, which strikes that happy, and all to rare, balance between being easy to read and rigorously detailed.” Reviewer Denis Calvert liked all the book’s content, concluding, “Illustrations are excellent with good reproduction.” This is an honest assessment by a top bibliophile. Denis gives more than enough to please any publisher or author. Yes, a book could not have received better reviews. This final example is from “Britain at War” (November 2018):

Air-Britain Goes After CANAV Books: The Nastiest of Nasty Book Reviews

So far there are 40 years of CANAV titles – 40 years, 39 books. As you have seen over this 7-part series, all have been eagerly received by readers and reviewers alike. Few aviation publishers have had such grand reviews. This leads us to scratch our heads at a review published by one of the world’s most respected journals, “Air-Britain Aviation World”. No serious aviation researcher can get by without Air-Britain’s books and other incomparable publications. We all lean in Air-Britain.

A particular review of Noorduyn Norseman Vol.2, appeared appeared in Air-Britain’s June 2014 edition. Here at long last is my response to this outright attack against CANAV Books and myself by supposed professionals. Somehow, the Air-Britain train came off the tracks for this one. Instead of publishing a serious piece, the reviewer (sounding much like the fellow “reviewing” Pioneer Decades)and his publisher seem more like really angry people with some personal score to settle. (I equate the reviewer and Air-Britain, since they combined to produce this travesty.)

First some background: In its December 2013 edition, “Air-Britain Aviation World” published a so-so review of Norseman Vol.1, describing it as “well illustrated and full of personal accounts”. We can see, later, that this anonymous fellow has distain for the “personal” side of a book, as he demeans our Norseman Vol.2 for making use of personal accounts. This may trace back to the standard Air-Britain book, where references to human beings can be scarce to find among the masses of dates, places, and tail and serial numbers.

Next, this reviewer diminishes himself and his publisher by grumbling about how “expensive” the book is. Even worse, he rues the day that the second volume arrives, implying that no reader will be able to afford such a horrendously “expensive” pair of books. This sounds like someone with zero knowledge of book publishing. He apparently doesn’t even realize that most Air-Britain books cost more than our Norsemans! I’m looking for some logic here, but not finding any.

What devoted lover of aviation books ever fusses about sticker price? The book is the thing, the price is inconsequential, other than for those few idiosyncratic and obsessive cheapskates. They have a problem, but it’s not our. The question for a professional book reviewer is: how is CAD$50 “expensive” for such a large-format, beautifully turned out/costly-to-produce book? After all, $50 is not out of line these days even for a paperback! What gets into a “reviewer’s” head to make such a doltish comment? Notes this clueless person, “the two volume set will be expensive and we would have preferred to see the whole history combined in one book at this price”.

How Air-Britain’s editor accepted this submission boggles the mind. Nonetheless, he approved it and our book now officially is condemned as “expensive”. This is doubly stupid when, as mentioned, one looks at Air-Britain’s very own list of books. This is too funny. Here is a sampling of recent Air-Britain  titles, each by no means over-priced, yet all pricier than our Norseman books. The Air-Britain staff and board should be ashamed of themselves for accusing CANAV of producing unfairly-priced books:

Auster Production History £39.95 (approx. CAD$69.50)

Bristol Fighter £59.95 (approx. CAD$104.00)

Piper Aircraft £52.55 (approx CAD$95.00)

By comparison, Norseman Vol.1 is a bargain, especially considering its premium production qualities – the paper, glue and ink of any book. I’ve purchased many Air-Britain books over the decades and have never given thought to their sticker prices. These prices always are fair. To the true aviation bibliophile, we need all such books, we love them, we buy them. What does price have to do with anything?

Another point about Air-Britain’s line of books … they are prized for their content, but rarely for their production qualities. Is this really what bothers Air-Britain about CANAV? That Air-Britain books are not beautifully-produced? I’m just floundering for an explanation here. With Air-Britain books, the paper and binding always are cheap. I have several which, after years of use, are falling apart (not that I care). However, show me a CANAV book that isn’t holding up. So … what is the logic with this so-called Air-Britain book review?

Its mind made up about “expensive” books, and with little interest in our Norseman books’ content, Air-Britain then lay in wait for a year for Norseman Vol.2. Finally getting his hands on a copy (but perhaps not, by the final look of his “review”), the reviewer was eager to tear Vol.2 to pieces – the only person in the world to date with such a twisted passion against our books.

“We have to say we are disappointed”, he begins, starting straight in about the price. This fellow is a laugh a minute. Then he attacks Vol.2 for not including enough about Norsemans outside Canada. Really? There is a mass of information and piles of photos, including a beautiful stand-alone chapter. How does this fellow put it? “We would also have expected more recognition of Norsemans outside North America than a couple of photos.” Here he really tips his hand – this is not a book review, it’s a personal, belittling attack by him and Air-Britain on a particular author and a particular publisher. Mr. Anonymous then moronically complains about no mention in our book of the Widerøe /Norway story. In fact, there are five pages devoted to Wideroes/Norway, all this good material gathered with the help of several competent Norwegian aviation historians, including an old-time Widerøe Norseman pilot. One wonders just how much further an author must go to please the hard-nosed, implacable people at Air-Britain?

Air-Britain continues by ranting that the French Norseman conversions are not included. No? Kindly see p.291. It then bemoans the lack of a production list. Of course, much of what Air-Britain produces is straight production lists and thank goodness that that is their passion – the rest of us need all that good material. So … where is CANAV’s Norseman production list?

CANAV Books knows all about production lists. From “Day 1” with our CF-100, North Star and Sabre books, etc., there are detailed lists galore in the appendices. All the top UK periodicals over 40 years have raved about our magnificent production lists. However, Norseman Vol.2 already was at 304 pages. To add a production list and do it justice would have meant a good 40 extra pages, so made publication tougher to finance. Nonetheless, had a superb Norseman production list not already existed, CANAV certainly would have gone beyond the limit and included one. Anyone knowing CANAV understands that. However, our “reviewer” is so clueless as to be unaware that the very best Norseman production list imaginable already was available in 2014 at noorduynnorseman.com (today’s norsemanhistory.com). Had this doltish fellow simply read the Preface of our book, he would have seen this explained. Right there on Page 8, I praise this world-class production list and urge all to go there for what further they may require about individual Norsemans. (This makes me wonder … did Air-Britain actually ever have a copy of our book in its hands? It appears not.)

With such a beautiful, professional resource as norsemanhistory.com at one’s finger tips, CANAV was saved the huge extra cost of creating a Norseman production list and the months/years of work and cost required. Of course, there is no way that our “reviewer” might grasp any of this. But the Air-Britain staff and board surely understand such things, so why did they become partners in this nasty business?

To put the icing on his cake, look how this travesty of a book review ends: “The author seems to have little interest in the history of the aircraft and concentrates on the soft and easy focus on personal anecdotes and experiences and some pretty pictures.” So ends what likely is the most damning and utterly moronic so-called review in aviation book publishing history. Shame on this nasty dimwit and on Air-Britain, which is hugely diminished in the eyes of decent, intelligent, objective readers, historians and others who love good books.

By permitting such garbage to stink up the pages of their normally superb journal, the Air-Britain staff and board have done their organization a wretched disservice. Sadly, in pushing their role as an anti-CANAV outlier, they effectively managed to blacklist our Norseman books in the eyes of Air-Britain readers. They also turned booksellers against CANAV. Are they proud of this? This simply smells too much of being a planned conspiracy between Air-Britain and its “reviewer” to torpedo CANAV Books, certainly to keep our books out of UK bookstores, at which – sadly to say — they succeeded. What a poor show altogether. 

Stay tuned, good readers, for our next installment. Who knows, perhaps by then we’ll have Air-Britain’s explanation, maybe even an apology.

Three More Reviews for Air-Britain’s Edification

In this CANAV Blog 7-part series, we have referred to dozens of world-class book reviews. Only one is in the Air-Britain category. This year I have been unearthing even more reviews, several that I hadn’t noticed until 2020-21. These keep arising, as I go through sets of old journals which I’m clearing out. Here are three of these items, beginning with a lead review of Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story in “Aviation News” from February 1993 (CANAV earned many a lead book review in the UK aviation press). Then, here’s one from “FlyPast” of December 1995 covering our spectacular title, Canadair: The First 50 Years. The reviewer’s final sentence tells the story, right! This reviewer actually read the book!

Finally, “Plein Vol” reviewed Aviation in Canada: Evolution of an Air Force in its October 2010 edition. This reviewer also read the book. I like his comment near the end, which reads in English: “Let’s hope that the Aviation in Canada saga continues for a long time to come. It represents an incredible mine of information that should be the reference for anyone interested … in aviation in Canada since Day 1, especially our young people.” This was an all-round reviewer, looking for a good book. Having found one, he lets loose, but in the opposite vein to Air-Britain.

CCF Curtiss Helldiver Update

In November 2019 I wrote about Curtiss SB2C Helldiver production at Canadian Car and Foundry at Fort William, Ontario during WWII. CCF delivered 835 Helldivers to the US Navy, while Fairchild at Longueuil, Quebec, built a further 300. You can find our detailed article by entering Canadian Car and Foundry and the Curtiss SBW Helldiver in the blog search box. If you haven’t yet read this item, you’ll get a lot out of it.

In its Vol.31, No.3, Fall 1986, the American Aviation Historical Society Journal ran a detailed history of US Navy VB-7 Helldiver squadron in action with Task Force 38 in the Pacific Theatre. Many VB-7 Helldivers were Canadian-built. During a big operation against Hong Kong on January 16, 1945, TB-38 lost 22 aircraft, including CCF SB2C 21377 of VB-7 based on the carrier USS Hancock. Lost in this same action was CCF-built 21406 of VB-20 off the USS Lexington. Here are photos from the AAHS article: two air-to-air scenes of VB-7 Helldivers, then, combat photos of VB-7 striking the Japanese heavy cruiser Nachi, and Hong Kong’s Talkoo shipyards.

CANAV’s Booklist — Great Reading for Any Serious Fan!

Access Booklist Here:

This Week’s Topics … Canadair Sabre for museum in India + Long Lost Book Review + Why Do the Greens Disgrace Themselves Like This + 747 Retrospective + More Great Lakes History + The Airborne Classroom + 1963 Spotters’ Road Trip + Canadair Sabre & CAE Reader’s Comments + Smashing Review Surfaces for Our 1986 Book, The Canadair Sabre

Our blog follower, Jagan, submits this news about Canadair Sabre 1606 ex-Luftwaffe, ex-Pakistan AF, ex-Bangladesh AF. See pages 325-326 in The Canadair Sabre, including a photo of 1606 in poor condition in a scrap yard. Enjoy this link for the latest news — 1606 now will be well cared for by the IAF Museum.


It’s always good fun going back through copies of ancient aviation journals on a quiet day. Over the decades, one of the very best of these was Alan Hall’s “Aviation News”. Fans in the UK and around the world waited eagerly for each fresh edition to hit the news stands, or, to arrive in the mail.

In those exclusive years of super-quality aviation periodicals, we aviation book publishers were certain to send review copies of our new titles to each. Rarely would any decent quality book miss being reviewed by the top magazines, and there always was the hope of winning a lead review, or, “Book of the Month”. CANAV has had a good share of the best that the book editors had to offer from Canada to the USA, UK, across Europe and down to Australia/New Zealand.

In flipping through “Aviation News” back issues today, I was astounded to come across a review in a September — October 1986 edition of The Canadair Sabre that I missed all those decades ago. Our book certainly excited “Aviation News” from top man, Alan Hall, to his deputy, Lindsay Peacock, to the rest of the staff, which included in those days such other UK “Kings of Aviation History” as Arthur Pearcy and Brian Sturtivant. I don’t know who was in charge of the book pages, but he certainly was smitten by our book. I’ve seen many a wonderful review of our efforts since 1979, but few have exceeded the praise doled out here by “Aviation News”. How the review finishes in itself is enough to explode a publishers head! “Rarely does one find such a complete exposition of a popular aircraft. We feel that Larry Milberry has set standards that will be hard to follow.”

The Canadair Sabre … order your copy today at the best offer yet! Usually $40.00 + shipping, with this offer you can own your personal copy (signed by the author) at $35.00 all-in for Canadian orders, or CDN$45.00 all-in USA or International (surface mail). Send payment by PayPal straight to CANAV at larry@canavbooks.com

PS … “Aviation News” today is one of the superb periodicals from Key Publishing. As Britain’s longest established monthly aviation journal, it’s renowned for providing the best coverage of every branch of aviation. Each issue gives you the latest info and in-depth features. Check out the details at the publisher’s website. You’ll be glad that you subscribed!

From the World Aviation News Front Page, March 5, 2021

What goes on with some of the extremist groups? How does moronic urban terrorism advance their ideological causes? Google this item and see what you think: Greenpeace Vandalizes Air France Boeing 777 in Paris ..

747 Retrospective

One of the great triumphs in aviation history since Day 1 goes by the simple name “Boeing 747”. You can learn all the basics starting with the Wiki 747 entry, then there’s a host of excellent books to read. Also, a real “must see” is Sam Chui’s nostalgic YouTube video – “The Last British Airways B747 Flight – An Emotional Farewell”. Sam has done a bang-up job covering the recent retirement of the 747 from British Airways. You can find this item by googling it by its title.

The 747 is such a magnificent story. In digging through old files lately, I came across some ancient Boeing PR photos and press releases. Inspired by Sam’s video and what I started unearthing around CANAV Books HQ, I decided to share a bit more about the 747, not that the interweb isn’t already bulging with material (I just know that you whiners out there know perfectly well where to find your favourite 747 content if this selection isn’t your cup of tea — yes there are whiners for any topic I can dream up). Mainly, you regular folks will be enjoying a few old 747 Kodachromes that Wilf White and I took in decades gone by, plus a few other pix that are credited:

To start spreading the word about its idea for a huge passenger jetliner, in the mid-1960s Boeing began sending the press 8×10 “glossies” showing scale models of the 707 vs These gave a rough idea of the size of the proposed 747, which eventually was dubbed “Jumbo Jet”. Check out the simple description accompanying the photo. True to form, the press was skeptical. “Time Magazine”, for example, declared that the 747 was guaranteed to be a dud. (Boeing Photo)
Air Canada was quick to place its order for the 747. The type first appears in the company’s 1968 budget as a proposal to purchase three. President G.R. McGregor simply explained how Air Canada would be sidelined in the industry, if it didn’t join the global 747 “club”. The price per airplane was $23 million. The company’s first 747-100 series — CF-TOA — was delivered to Dorval on February 11, 1971. Taking the official photos was the great Ed Bermingham. With his office at Dorval Airport, Ed had two main clients – Air Canada and CAE Inc. Talk about a dream job for a fellow who had begun as a kid tinkering with old cameras! If you have our book Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, you’ll be familiar with Ed’s magnificent photography. Here, “TOA” arrives, then taxis in. What a red letter day in the history of Air Canada and “YUL” Dorval. “TOA” would enjoy a long career before being sold to Guinness Peat Aviation in 1984. Thenceforth, it served carriers from National Airlines as N749R to People Express, Middle East Airlines and Flying Tiger Line. In 1988 it became N890FT owned by First Security Bank of Utah (banks and insurance companies often own the airliners we assume the operators must own). In 1992 “TOA” became N620FE with Federal Express. It finally went for parting out and scrapping at Marana, Arizona in 1995.
Ed Bermingham also photographed Air Canada’s second 747-100, CF-TOB, on its delivery to YUL on March 18, 1971.
CF-TOB served into 1985, then had a long afterlife with operators from Iberia of Spain to Middle East Airlines of Lebanon, and Canada’s iconic Wardair (1986-1990). It ended c.1995 with Air Atlanta Icelandic, then went to Marana, where it was scrapped in 2003. I caught “TOB” landing at YYZ on October 1, 1972.
This Air Canada B.747-200 was to have been CF- TOF, but instead was delivered in 1975 as C-GAGA. It was sold in 1988 to Canada Lease Financing, then leased back by Air Canada. I shot “AGA” on 35mm b/w film at YYZ on May 16, 1975. Notice the Lancaster beyond. That’s G-BCOH (ex-RCAF KB976) on its ferry trip from Edmonton to the UK for the Strathallan Aircraft Collection. A few of us got on the ramp for this festive event, but I’m glad I also grabbed this shot of “AGA” for the record (as we used to say). My vantage point was the rooftop parking lot in YYZ’s famous (and long gone) Aeroquay/Terminal One.
Over the decades “AGA” served other airlines on and off (e.g., Garuda of Indonesia). It finally left Air Canada in 1999 for Marana. It was bought for spares in 2003 by the great Detroit cargo carrier, Kalitta Air. The leftovers became scrap in 2013. Here’s “AGA” landing at YYZ on July 31, 1993.
Air Canada’s B.747-400 “combi” C-GAGL leaps into the blue at YYZ on May 27, 1997. Delivered in June 1991, “AGL” had been financed by Air Canada, but was sold in 1993 to GE Capital Corp., then leased back. It served into late 2004, then went to Guggenheim Aviation Partners. In 2006 it was flying for Air China, had subsequent operators, and most recently was ER-BBC with the Moldavian cargo line, Aerotranscargo. On a recent trip, on January 23, 2021 it operated from Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan to Budapest, Hungary. While most straight 747-400s have little use in today’s market, any “combi” (convertible from passenger to cargo) is greatly sought after, especially in Covid 19 times, when billions of doses of vaccines are being transported globally.
Delivered in November 1973, CPAir’s B.747-200 C-FCRA “Empress of Italy” is seen at Vancouver in September 1986. This was about when “CRA” was sold to Pakistan International Airlines, becoming AP-BCL. It served PIA to about 2000, then flew under Sierre Leone registration — 9L-LOR. It finally was N899TH in Thailand, where it was seen derelict in 2007 (since scrapped). In its final years, “CRA” clearly was with some sleazy operators. Who knows was illicit cargos were flown, but all those secrets vanished in the scrapyard. (A good book covering this topic is Matt Potter’s Outlaws Inc: Flying with the World’s Most Dangerous Smugglers.)
From my first book, Aviation in Canada (1979) comes one of my favourite pictures. Shown is the handover at Boeing of Wardair’s first 747, CF-DJC, on April 23, 1973. Boeing and Max Ward went all out for this glorious event, having Max’s pioneer plane (a De Havilland Fox Moth), his first 707 and his first 727 all part of the celebration. What a gorgeous set-up shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the great Gordon S. Williams was behind the lens for this shot. Gordon had begun shooting airplanes on the West Coast since he was a boy, then spent his working decades as a Boeing photographer. (Boeing Photo P48939)
Maintenance and overhaul were the other side of the 747 business. Here is “DJC” as I saw it on July 12, 1973. Wardair in Toronto must have been promised good weather this day, for some serious work was under way. In 2021 retired Wardair head of maintenance, Dan McNiven, recalled that, if this was an engine change, it would have taken a crew of five about 5½ hours, engine run-up included. Air Canada would have taken more like three days to do the same job in the luxury of a hangar (which Wardair didn’t have at YYZ in 1973).
Wilf White photographed “DJC” in the UK in August 1985. “DJC” was named “Phil Garrett” in honour of one of Canada’s revered WWI and pioneer bush fliers. It later flew in Canadian Airlines International, Nationair, Garuda, Saudia and Air Atlanta Icelandic colours. Sadly but inevitably it was broken up at Manston in the UK in 1999.
B.747-200 C-FXRA of Wardair about to land at YYZ in June 1983. Dubbed “Herbert Hollick Kenyon” after another pioneer bush and Arctic pilot, “XRA” was delivered from Boeing in June 1978. In 1986 it was sold to British Caledonia Airways, where it flew as G-GLYN. Other adventures ensued, the last in 2000 when it was with Philippine Airlines as RP-C8850. It made its final landing soon afterwards at Marana to be scrapped.
While waiting for a flight at Mirabel on July 29, 1994, I spotted 747-200 C-FXCE on the ramp in the colours of Fortunair, one of Canada’s many short-lived charter carriers. But “XCE” was by no means a short-lived 747! Originally 9V-SQF with Singapore Airlines in 1977, it returned to Boeing in 1984. Refurbished, it moved on to PanAm as N724PA “Clipper Fairwind”, then to Potomac Capital Investment Corp. in 1991. Various operators ensued, from United Air Lines to Tower Air, then Fortunair in June This company didn’t last, so “XCE” went into storage at Marana. Various adventures ensued, as in 2004, when it was 3D- NEF in Swaziland; then in 2007 as Libyan XT-DMK. As “DMK” it ended in storage at Sana, Yemen. A typical story for many a veteran 747 – from glory days to the bottom of the barrel.
BOACs 10th 747-100 series G-AWNJ was delivered in March 1972. It first was named “John Donne”, then “City of Sheffield”, lastly, “Bassenthwaite Lake”. “NJ” was sold in 1998 and sent to storage that December to Roswell, New Mexico. On December 6, 1997, it had taken off at 1446 hours at Heathrow for New York JFK carrying 18 crew and 323 passengers. Suddenly, a Canada Goose was ingested by No.2 engine. All standard procedures were carried out by the book and “NJ” landed safely at Part of the final report for this reads: “Whilst in the holding pattern, which was flown at 260 KIAS in the clean configuration, there was noticeable airframe vibration. The vibration level increased as speed was reduced and flap progressively extended and was most marked at 205 KIAS with flaps 5. However, the level of vibration did not affect the operation of the aircraft …” There would have been great anxiety in the passenger cabin, but all’s well that ends well. Post-landing inspection revealed the following re. No.2 engine: “Initial examination by the AAIB, after the aircraft had returned to a stand, showed that the left inner (No 2) engine had suffered severe damage to the fan; two adjacent fan blades had lost substantial portions of their outer length and all the blades had some hard object damage. It was also observed that the complete intake assembly, fan cowls, jet pipe and exhaust cone had separated from the powerplant assembly; these components, together with fragments of fan blade and some feathered bird remains were retrieved from the western end of Runway 27R.” For the full report, google “Boeing 747-136, G-AWNJ, 6 December 1997”. I photographed “NJ” at Toronto in all its BOAC impressiveness on June 30, 1972.
July 11, 1971 at Toronto. “Jumbo Jets” still were new, so we spotters barely could contain ourselves when OO-SBA drifted by so low and seemingly so slow. “SGA” was SABENA’s first 747-100. Delivered in November 1970 it still would have had “that new car smell” to its cabin. “SGA” served SABEBA into 1993, then was scrapped at Brussels.
The mainline airlines all jumped in to order the 747 once its true potential and magnificence became clear. Over the decades Alitalia would operate 21, all in the 100 and 200 series. I- DEME was the second to join the fleet. Delivered in July 1970, it returned to Boeing in 1981, after which it had a long list of owners/operators starting with SAS in 1982, finishing as N17011 with Continental Airlines into the early 1990s. It finally ended at Marana in 1995 to be scrapped. I caught “EME” landing at Toronto on July 6, 1973.
Seeing this Air France B.747-200 landing at Toronto on September 4, 1983 was a nice surprise for all the spotters that afternoon. The diehards, however, were extra interested when they caught the registration – N1252E. What? Yes, a US registration, and the same one with which the plane had been delivered to Air France five years earlier. It turns out that all along N1252E was owned by the Connecticut First National Bank and on lease to Air France. In 1985 it finally became F-BPVU, then served into 2002. It finally went for scrap at Chateauroux, France.
Delivered in May 1971, El Al’s first 747-200 4X-AXA was shot by Wilf White at Heathrow on August 10, 1980. “AXA” served into 1999, then was used at Tel Aviv as an anti-terrorist training facility. It finally was scrapped in 2019. Quite the career, half a century of usefulness. Then, El Al’s 4X-AXQ departing YYZ as I saw it on September 3, 1989. “AXQ” joined the El Al fleet in May 1988 after 14 years at QANTAS as VH-EBG. It served El Al into 2005, then was scrapped two years later.
Wilf photographed British Airways 747-200 G-BDXJ in August 1985. Delivered to BA in May 1980, it was named “City of Birmingham”, then served into 2001. Thenceforth, it flew with charter operators until retired in 2005. Its final flight was from Gatwick to Dunsfold (about 13 miles in a straight line), where it began a new career as a movie prop (“Casino Royale”, etc.). It survives to this day.
Iraqi 747-200 YI-AGN at Heathrow on August 10, Knowing Wilf, this day he might have been capitalizing on some free time to shoot airliners, while awaiting his flight to kick off one of his famous summer tours to Canada (his first crossing had been in a DC-4). He usually would fly in to New York or Toronto, then bus and train it cross-country at his own pace to spend a few days with his brother at Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. “AGN” had joined Iraqi in June 1976. It was seized by the Iranian government in 1991, becoming Iranian military 5-8106. In August 2020 it was badly damaged when it jumped its chocks at Tehran following a 6-year rebuild. Heads sure must have rolled following this botch-up. There’s a beautiful 1/500 th “Flight Miniatures” diecast model of “AGN”.
Another of Wilf’s shots that day at Heathrow – Northwest’s N601US. Delivered in April 1970, it remained with Northwest into 1986, then went to Maxton, North Carolina for storage. Eventually, it was scrapped, but its nose/cockpit were saved and now are on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. (NASM Photo)
Singapore Airlines 747 9V-SQO departs Heathrow on August 10, 1988. These all are actual photographs, taken by Wilf many years ago with a clunky old camera on which he needed to set f-stops and shutter speeds, remember his film ASA, focus manually, shoot with no more than 500/sec shutter speed, advance the film manually — all such prehistoric stuff. I say bravo Wilf and thanks for saving all such fantastic aviation history.

The grand 747 is gradually fading, but 30 – 40 years from now there still will be 747s at work. I suppose it’s a natural sign of “progress”, but the 747-800 (now on the line at Boeing) itself is edging towards the end. This is some news from Boeing and Atlas Air as of January 12 this year: “Boeing and Atlas Air Worldwide today announced an agreement to purchase four 747-8 Freighters… The 747-8F is the best and most versatile widebody freighter in the market, and we are excited to bolster our fleet with the acquisition of these four aircraft … This significant growth opportunity will enable us to capitalize on strong demand and deliver value for our existing and prospective customers… With a maximum payload capacity of 137.7 metric tonnes (137,750 kg), the 747-8 Freighter allows customers to access 20% more payload capacity while using 16% less fuel compared to previous-generation 747s. The jet also features 30% quieter engines. The 747-8 airplanes in this agreement will be the final four aircraft to roll off the production line in Everett, Washington… Atlas Air has 53 747s in its current fleet, making it the largest 747 operator in the world… The 747 program has produced 1,560 aircraft since launching the jumbo jet more than 50 years ago.”

CANAV Books has so many top-level readers and we’re steadily in touch. According to the CANAV grapevine, our 747 pilot friends have one thing in common – they love their 747. Recently, one pilot, who’s flying the mighty “8”, wrote to us: “I must admit, between the – 400 and the -8, I prefer the -8. It really is a wonderful machine. You’re correct, the 747 is an absolute wonderful flying machine. Having flown the classic -100 and -200, and now the -400 and -8, I greatly admire the design team and their philosophy. One NASA test said that the basic 747 airframe is an aerodynamic masterpiece. Good description for sure! Sadly, the production line is shutting down in 2022, but with all this Covid around the world, we’re extremely busy. We’re hiring pilots and adding aircraft. Out of Hong Kong we’re always pushing back at 990,000 lb with the -8. She’s remarkable and really efficient with those GE engines. The flying is straightforward, the ol’ 7-4 is fantastic!”

One of the last 747-8s on the line recently at Boeing in Seattle. (Boeing Photo K63934)

More Great Lakes History

I wasn’t surprised to hear that many CANAV fans share an interest in shipping, so here are a few more random photos from my Great Lakes collection. First, a few scenes from Kingston, an important centre at the east end of Lake Ontario. Kingston started in shipping in the 1600s — the days of Count Frontenac of New France. For centuries it was noted for shipbuilding. Those days are long gone, but the history of it all is very much alive and to be revelled in by anyone with half a clue. When in Kingston, enjoy its historic waterfront and visit the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes.

A general view of Kingston that I shot in August You’re looking upstream (west) towards the city with Royal Military College in the foreground. Downstream, the lake empties pretty well immediately into the mighty St. Lawrence River, which arises just out of the picture on the left.
Just off Kingston is famed Wolfe Island, where about 1400 people reside. Traditionally, they’ve travelled to and from Kingston by ferryboat, the Wolfe Islander being well known in this trade. In winter the local waters usually ice-up, so the ferry needed help getting through the channel. Here’s the Wolfe Islander in a distant shot from February 15, 1975 under tow by the tug Salvage Monarch. They’re approaching the dock at the foot of Brock St. Then, a couple of closer views. The Wolfe Islander was built in Collingwood in 1946. It was 144’3”x 43’1” with an 8-foot draft. It originally had been built as the Ottawa Maybrook as a gift to China, but when Mao took over there in 1949, it was acquired by the Ontario government and converted from a coastal freighter to a side- loading ferry. It served Wolfe Island until replaced in 1976. Today the Wolfe Islander is a divers’ delight lying 80 feet on the bottom of the St. Lawrence River, sunk there on September 21, 1985, having been forsaken by the local marine museum. As to the Salvage Monarch, it was built in Appledore, UK in 1959 and at this time was owned by McAllister-Pyke Salvage. According to the List of Shipping for 1968, it is 91’3”x26’1” with a draft of 11’4”. Gross tonnage 219. In 2021 Salvage Monarch was listed to Heritage Harbour Marine Co. of Goderich, but was residing in Toronto.
This summertime view (June 26, 1973) gives a better idea of the Wolfe Islander’s lines.

Built by Russel Brothers Ltd. in Owen Sound in 1949, the 86’4” passenger and car ferry Upper Canada originally was the Romeo and Annette serving the coast of northern New Brunswick and Gaspé. In 1965 it was sold to the Ontario government to bolster the Wolfe Island service. In the 1970s it left Kingston to serve Pelee Island in Lake Erie. In the 1990s it was on the Christian Island run in Georgian Bay, so what a useful little ferry for more than half a century. Finally, Upper Canada was sold to an individual, but its registration was not renewed after 2008. About this time it mysteriously turned up run ashore on the Black River in Lorain, Ohio. Nothing is known about this and the ship lies there year by year. russelbrothers.ca (well worth a look) explains: “City officials are unsure how or why a Canadian registered boat ran aground in Lorain, and with no way to contact the owner, there seems little that can be done at this point. Even the Coast Guard has no record of how or why it came to rest on the Black River. The Coast Guard inspected the ship to make sure that it did not pose an environmental hazard by leaking pollution. But beyond that, it doesn’t fall under their responsibility. In order to salvage the boat or remove it, someone would need to have a claim against the vessel to try and get a title for it, he said. Somebody would need a monetary claim to do anything with it.” I photographed the Upper Canada in Kingston on June 26, 1973.
Dedicated Great Lakes historian and photographer, Bill Kloss, photographed the Upper Canada derelict in the Black River near Lorain, Ohio in May 2020. Bit of a sad scene, no, but maybe someone still might save this historic ferry.
The Pike’s Salvage dock on the Kingston waterfront on July 31, 1975 showing the work vessel Mapleheath and tug Daniel McAllister, both of McAllister-Pyke Salvage. Mapleheath was built in 1910 at Newcastle-on-Tyne and christened Toiler. It was 255’4”x42’5”x17’3” with a gross registered tonnage (grt) as per records in 1968 of 1693. Its owners over the decades included Canada Steamship Lines 1918-1959. The Toronto Marine Historical Society newsletter, “The Scanner”, notes of the Mapleheath in its October 1981 issue: “On November 29, 1959, Mapleheath was purchased by the McAllister Towing Company Ltd., Montreal, (now known as McAllister Towing and Salvage Ltd.), and was reduced to a crane-equipped salvage barge and lighter. Her after end remained much as it had been, complete with funnel, but the forward cabins were cut away. A large crane was placed on deck for the lifting of cargo from stranded ships. Painted up in the same colours as McAllister’s Montreal harbour and wrecking tugs, complete with the bright yellow stripe around her hull, Mapleheath remains active in the McAllister fleet to this day, and she is frequently called upon to assist vessels in distress in the lower lakes area or on the St. Lawrence River. It is anticipated that there will be a need for her as a wrecker for many years to come and, provided that she is kept in reasonable condition, there seems to be no reason why Mapleheath should not still be active well into the future.” What became of the Mapleheath? The 268-ton tug Daniel McAllister was built in Collingwood in 1907 for Canada’s Department of Public Works. Originally, it was the Helen M.B. Thanks to the Musée maritime du Québec, in 1998 it’s now the largest preserved tug in Canada and the second-oldest preserved ocean-going tug in the world. It’s to be found in Montreal on the Lachine Canal at the foot of McGill St.
On a fine day in July 1951, Great Lakes historian J.H. Bascom caught Mapleheath inbound at Toronto Bay’s Eastern Gap with a deck load of automobiles.
Other salvage vessels in Kingston, this scene dating to November 1975.
These Hall Corp. Great Lakes canallers were in storage in Kingston when I photographed them on June 27, 1974. At around 250’ long and 1900 to 2500 grt, the canaller was the mainstay of the lakes in the decades of the small Lachine locks. With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, canallers gradually were squeezed out of the Great Lakes market. What about this quartet? They were awaiting disposal but, happily, would escape the scrapman and serve at least a few more years. Built in 1958 in Scotland, Westcliffe Hall soon was re-registered as Westcliffe to the Cayman Shipping Corp. (Cayman Islands). In 1982 its ownership changed to Durmar II, Ltd. in Panama. Reportedly, it went for scrap in 1986. Sister ship Eaglecliffe Hall went to Cayman Shipping as Eaglescliffe. While inbound for Galveston on February 8, 1983 and flying the Panamanian flag, its hull split. It went to the bottom next day. Coniscliffe Hall was built in Lauzon, Quebec in 1957. It’s listed as sold in 1973 and converted to a drill rig at Port Weller, Ontario. Re-christened Telesis, it was registered to Underwater Gas Developers. Telesis went to work drilling for gas in Lake Erie. In 1998 it became the Louis J. Goulet of Pembina Exploration Ltd. It continued in Lake Erie until sold in 2000, then was towed to the Bahamas. In October 2005 it was blasted by “Hurricane Wilma” and ended wrecked on a reef. The “Niagara Falls Review” later reported, “From there, the elements took over and the aging hull gradually succumbed to the ravages of rust and wear near South Man-O-War channel. The superstructure was later cut down to the waterline, and all that remains of the former lakes trader rests in shallow water at the site.” How could anyone not love Great Lakes history, right! Northcliffe Hall was built in Montreal, but began as the Frankcliffe in It was rebuilt in Montreal in 1959 going from 2197 grt to 2454 grt. In 1975 it left Kingston for the British West Indies, then returned to Canada in 1978 as the Roland Desgagnes. On May 27, 1982 it ran aground on the St. Lawrence Côte-Nord near Pointe au Pic, then sank while being freed.
Fellow airplane spotter and camping companion, Nick Wolochatiuk, and I always were on the go as young fellows. For one thing we often were canoeing on the Nottawasaga and other rivers in the Georgian Bay watershed. Along the way we visited many communities in the region, Collingwood included. In those times the great Collingwood shipyards still were busy. Today? They’re a distant memory. Here are two old Kodachromes from days of yore showing one vessel getting started (shot on July 1, 1965), then another nearing completion (August 20, 1974). Does anyone know by the dates which ships these are? Feel free to let me know at larry@canavbooks.com
Ferndale was built in Ashtabula, Ohio in 1912 and measured 505’x56’ with a 30’ draft and 6356 grt. It originally had been the Louis R. Davidson. In 1963 it became the Ferndale registered in Bermuda to Leadale Shipping of Montreal. In 1975 Ferndale was condemned. While awaiting its fate at Port Colborne, it was set afire by vandals. The forward crew quarters were burned out. Ferndale was sold for scrap in 1979. Towed in tandem with sistership Avondale by the Polish tug Jantar, it left Quebec City on July 6, 1979 for scrapping in Castellon, Spain, where it arrived on August 3. Such voyages must have been harrowing when the weather turned. I took this photo in Toronto’s eastern ship channel on November 7, 1974 as Ferndale was discharging salt. These were the days when we could roam around the port and photograph at will. The good old days for sure!
Avondale discharging salt along Toronto’s eastern ship channel on December 7, 1970. Avondale began in 1908 as the Adam E. Cornelius. Built in St. Clair, Michigan, it was 420’x50’ with a draft of 24’ and grt of 4900. Rebuilt in 1921, its new specs were 475.6’x52’x28.3’ and 5663 grt. As noted above, its fate was the scrapyard. Note the mountains of coal beyond. These were the dying days of open coal storage in Toronto harbour, but salt remains a bulk commodity carried by lakers. It’s mainly used to keep roads safe in winter.
On December 14, 1972 I caught Avondale at sunset in Toronto Bay, heading for its winter berth. There it sat until spring break-up, when the Seaway re-opened and bulk cargo started moving again.
One of the older lake boats that we still saw around Toronto was the Pointe Noire. Here it is on April 5, 1970 about to enter the Western Gap leading to Lake Ontario. You can see that Pointe-Noire was empty this day and that it still was a coal burner (it was converted to oil in 1971). Pointe Noire was built in 1926 in Lorain, Ohio in 1926 as the Samuel Mather 3. For its day it was a giant at 600’x60’x32’. In 1965 it was sold to Labrador Steamships Ltd. of Montreal, registered in Bermuda and re-named. It joined Upper Lakes Shipping in 1968. It was laid up at the end of the 1980 season and scrapped at Port Maitland near the mouth of the Grand River on Lake Erie two years later.

CSL’s Hochelaga waiting in the Welland Canal on May 20, 1967. It came out of Collingwood in 1949 with dimensions of 623’2”x67’2”x33’6” and grt 12,616. It was the first new laker launched on the lakes post WWII. In 1964 it was converted at Port Arthur into a self-unloader and oil burner. Hochelaga last sailed in 1981, then was stored at Kingston and Toronto. In 1983 it was towed to the breakers in Cartagena, Colombia.
Built in Collingwood in 1964 for Canadian General Electric Co., then leased to Canada Steamship Lines, Tarantau was 712’ with a beam of 75’2” and draft of 39’4”. Gross tonnage was 19,494. It later was owned by Power Corporation of Canada and leased to CSL. Tarantau was laid up at Toronto in December 1996, then scrapped at Port Colborne on Lake Erie in 1999. I photographed Tarantau while it was discharging coal at Toronto’s Hearn generation station on May 28, 1970.

The Airborne Classroom

From the beginning of our teaching careers c.1960, we young Toronto aviation fans had a real opportunity to pair our interests. Over the early years (before regulations rendered such teaching opportunities verboten), we could take our pupils on airport visits and even have airborne field trips. Over the years, our pupils had some exceptional learning experiences. We took our classes as far afield in the early 70s as the First Nations reservations at Ogoki Post in Northern Ontario, and Northwest River, Labrador. Visits to Toronto Island Airport were easy and, another time, I took a week-long Gr.8 history and geography field trip through the Kawarthas that included flights from Peterborough to see the great local drumlin fields and eskers. We got our keen young students up in such planes as the Ce.172, Beaver, Otter, DC-3 and 737. We were considered radicals, and there even was some negative gossip in the schools, mainly of the “How dare they” nature.

One of our more exotic trips sprang from the geomorphology that a few of us were teaching to our Gr.7 and 8 classes. This was based on a course that some of us had taken at the University of Toronto covering the geomorphology of southern Ontario. This covered the horseshoe-shaped area from Niagara Falls, around to a bit north of Hamilton, eastward towards Lake Simcoe and into the Kawarthas centring on Peterborough. Naturally, we also taught about the many human activities and features along the route. This field trip traditionally was done by bus, but in 1969 I dreamed up a plan to teach it in the classroom, then finish with an aerial review. This was agreed to by my principal and the parents all were happy. Each pupil had to come up with about $15.00. I talked it over with Carl Millard, who agreed to give us a DC-3 for two hours for $300 (the good old days, right).

Having briefed the class thoroughly about what to expect and what to see, we bussed out to Malton Airport on May 23, 1969. Everything was set, except that our DC-3 CF-WCO “The Voyageur” was short one seat. I forget how we got around that, but Carl figured things out and soon we were airborne on a sunny but too-steamy morning.

I handed our captain a map with the route roughly shown. This took us south from Toronto airport to spot the Lakeview generating station, on to Hamilton Bay to see the steel mills and Burlington Skyway, Niagara to see the Welland Canal, orchards/vineyards, Niagara Falls, etc., then out pilots swung around to give good views of the Niagara Escarpment and Credit River up towards “The Forks”. Next, we turned eastward to see the Holland Marsh, Barrie and Lake Simcoe. We skirted the Peterborough area to see the Trent Canal, then the great drumlins of Lake Scugog, and finally headed down along the Lake Ontario shore to take in the Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto Islands, Toronto central business district and back to Malton. All went well. The kids were elated, even if there was a bit of queasiness. After all, it was a really hot day and we were flying as low as legally allowed.

All this came back to mind when I happened across this old Kodachrome that I took in the cabin of “WCO”. My great little gang seems into it and keeping things together. I’m amazed that I was able to get such a decent shot with K64 in available light. Where are all these great little citizens in 2021? Did any of you go into geography, teaching, aviation? It was about 52 years ago, so you’re all in your 60s – hard to believe. What did Carl Millard think of all this? Carl was always keen to get involved, but also was watching for any opportunity. He looked over my lesson plan for this trip, “topo” maps included. Then what? He started marketing my brainwave of a trip to high schools in the Millardair catchment basin. He told me years later that he sold several trips to high school geography departments (but not likely at $300). He put one of his young pilots on this beat to bang on geography department doors. Good ol’ Carl Millard, a real case. I’d like to see him in Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, eccentric reputation and all.

While most of his DC-3s were work-a-day cargo planes, Carl kept CF-WCO “looking sharp” for passenger charters. Notice its panoramic windows, perfect for our class trip. Here’s “WCO” at YYZ Terminal One (the old Aeroquay, long since demolished) dropping off passengers on January 4, 1974. “WCO” had begun with the US Army in 1944, then served several US corporations as a VIP plane after the war. Carl acquired it in 1967, then made good use of it into 1979, when he sold it in Florida. From there it went to the Colombian military, then finally went for scrap in 1989.

A Spotters Road Trip

We Toronto aviation nerds always were dreaming up our next adventure, and did we have adventures! A typical road trip began on April 15, 1963 with Nick Wolochatiuk and I driving (in Nick’s VW, as usual) from Toronto to Chatham airport in southwestern Ontario. Next came Windsor, Detroit Metro and Willow Run all by day’s end. Can you imagine the craziness! On the 16th we covered Pontiac Municipal, Berz Airport, Ann Arbor and Detroit Municipal.

So far we had spotted such planes as Stitts Flut-r-Bug CF-RAK at Chatham, a Mong Sport at Windsor, a flock of C-46s and ANG RF- 84Fs at Detroit Metro, a Lockheed 049, DC-7 and PV-1 at Willow Run, an A-26, B-25 and DH Dove at Pontiac, an SNJ-2 at Berz, and two B-23s at Detroit Municipal. Nick and I were already solid aviation generalists. To us, everything about aviation was fair game. Unlike today’s scene, right, when too many tend to be really shallow about aviation. You’ll see these types around shooting nothing but airliners, or F-16s, or whatever. There’s no chance of a real aviation conversation with them. They’ve cut themselves off the great wide world of aviation to be so-called “specialists”.

On the 17th we hit up Toledo Express Airport, where the Michigan ANG 112 th TFS welcomed us to shoot their spiffy-looking F-84F Thunderstreaks, even though they were in the midst of a hot exercise. We then visited Cleveland Municipal where we found such goodies as a B-25, several DC-3s and UAL Caravelles, and spotted (in the distance) an AJ Savage. That brought us to our final stop on the of the day and the best of it all for this outing – Port Clinton, Ohio.

Somewhere we had heard or read about two Ford Trimotors based at Port Clinton and that they were work-a-day planes. When we pulled into this basic little airstrip on April 17, 1963, our info proved to be correct and then some. Sure enough, there sat Trimotors N7584 and N7684, plus Boeing 247 N18E. A billboard announced this as Island Airlines, and the people were friendly. We wandered around taking our photos and getting our questions answered, then topped off our visit with a short flight in N7584 over to Put-In-Bay on one of the offshore islands. As I recall, the fare out and back was $7.50. I noted that outbound we took off at 11:55 with seven passengers (having waited a few minutes for some latecomer) and landed at 12:02. We returned at 1:19 to 1:31. Jan Shaffer was our pilot. He flew us along at 85mph at around 500 feet.

Most traffic from Port Clinton was to Put-in-Bay, chiefly the daily shuttle taking the island children to Port Clinton, where busses picked them up to take them to school. The routine was reversed later in the day. Here are some of my black-and-whites and Kodachromes from the visit. By now I had learned a bit from my airplane photography mentors, so had started taking the odd detail shot. Too bad, but I still hadn’t grown up enough to know that I should also have been photographing the people to do with the airplanes. That maturity came too slowly, but finally arrived. The engine detail was taken from the cockpit, where Nick and I took a turn in the right seat. You can see that the cabin was purely utilitarian. The landing shot turned out not too badly. Don’t forget, film advance still was manual 58 years ago. Pretty sure these were taken with my Kodak Pony rangefinder. This was a hand-me-down from Nick, who had progressed to one of the early Pentax SLRs. Finally, my souvenier Island Airlines ticket. Lesson here? Never used scotch tape on anything you might want to keep pristine. Scotch tape the record keeper’s No.1 enemy, since it eventually will discolour everything it touches, as you can see.

What became of the Island Airlines fleet that we saw in 1963? For starters, look on the web – there is a mass of info for these planes. In one case, on August 24, 1992 N7584 was badly damaged by Hurricane Andrew at Homestead AFB, Florida. Restored, it’s still out there, flying with Kermit Weeks’ museum in Florida. On August 21, 1972, N7684 crashed when an engine failed on departing Port Clinton. There were 16 aboard, but no injuries. Then, on July 1, 1977 N7684 lost two engines on takeoff at Put-in-Bay and was severely damaged in the crash that followed. It last was heard of with Yellowstone Aviation in Jackson, Wyoming in the early 2000s. Boeing 247D N18E now belongs to the UK Science Museum.

Be Sure to Have Your Copy of The Canadair Sabre

Here are a couple of lovely “new” Canadair Sabre photos. I shot 23066 at Trenton on May 28, 1960. The resolution is so good on this original old 120 negative that you can read the pilot’s name by the cockpit – S/L Villeneuve, the Golden Hawk’s revered “Team Lead”. This great Canadian died last year. I can’t quite make out the techs’ names except for LAC Savoie. This was the team’s second year. I had caught the Golden Hawks first in 1959 at the spectacular airshow in Windsor, Ontario celebrating the 50 th Anniversary of flight in Canada.

For the time being CANAV fans can order a copy of this world- famous book at a real saving. I’m standing by to sign a copy for you. Anywhere in Canada? $35.00 all-in. USA and International? CDN$45.00 all-in (pay in Canadian dollars by PayPal depositing directly to larry@canavbooks.com and save another 25% or so on the exchange). Here’s a reminder of why you need this book (or an extra copy or two to use as knock-out gifts):

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.”

Our second Canadair Sabre photo today by Wilf White. I assume this is at Renfrew or Glasgow, two key maintenance bases for the RCAF No.1 Air Division operating then in France and Germany. 23038 is a Canadair Sabre 5 in 441 Squadron markings. This dates to 441’s Sabre 5 era 1955-56; it converted to the Sabre 6 in August 1956. The squadron had first gone overseas with Sabre 2s in 1952 first to North Luffenham, UK, then to Zweibrucken, West Germany in 1954, finally to Marville, France in 1955. I have little info about 23038 other than its RCAF dates of December 1953 to May 1960, and that 422 also had flown it. Wilf’s setting could be at Scottish Aviation Ltd. at Glasgow in or around May 1956, when 23038 was struck off charge and when it probably went to SAL for scrapping. Wilf photographed many ex-RCAF Sabres and CF-100s being cut up at SAL.

Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story

Many readers have commented about CANAV’s widely acclaimed history of the great CAE Inc. After he read his copy of The CAE Story, Meher Kapadia, who spent 25 years as an engineer at CAE, sent me these comments:

Hi Larry … My son has just brought over your book to England, so I am now well immersed in it. It really is a great, well researched book. I find it most interesting going through the early history of CAE from long before I joined the company. You have to be complimented for the effort and care that you took. We Canadians have a bad habit of not blowing our horn, when we achieve something great. I am of the opinion that CAE was the world’s best systems engineering company for many years. I think I can say that, as over the years I dealt with most of the best, large US and UK engineering companies, I never came across any as good as us. My congratulations and I hope you will make a lot of sales.

This is a gem of an aerospace history, one of the world’s finest such books in decades. A large format hardcover, it has 392 pages, hundreds of photos, a glossary, bibliography and index. It’s all there! Usually CDN$65.00 + shipping + tax, you can order a copy all-in at $CDN60.00 for Canadian orders, CDN$75.00 all-in for USA orders, and $90.00 all-in for International orders. Pay by PayPal or Interac straight to larry@canavbooks.com If any questions contact me at larry@canavbooks.com Cheers … Larry

PS … for more reader comments, use the search box, just enter CAE Story.

The Canada Council — Kenneth Whyte Keeps an Eye on this Shady Outfit

Do yourself a big favour and google SHuSH by Kenneth Whyte, former editor of “Saturday Night Magazine”. If you like a bit of intellectual stimulation, this will work out nicely for you.

In his current piece, Whyte takes on the Canada Council, which today is a purely politically correct Ottawa institution doing the PMO’s bidding. Whyte reminds us: “The Canada Council was established as a crown corporation, arms-length from government, precisely to protect it from political interference from government officials (particularly the elected variety), preserving the freedoms of the arts community. The idea was to elevate the arts above politics.” Instead, the Canada Council has become a megaphone for Government of Canada causes such as “colonialism”, “systemic racism” and “climate change”. How do these get to lead the Canada Council agenda? Do these causes not already have their own super ministries? So much for “arms length from government” at the Canada Council. It looks as if social radicals/extremists are subverting the Canada Council.

CANAV Books has waged its own little campaign against the political correctness, etc. of the Canada Council, that grand, all-powerful Ottawa institution that places the 35+ world-famous books that CANAV has published since 1981 in the category of “not real books”. You can scroll back and see my rant about this. In a nutshell, when CANAV submitted Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story for consideration for the 2016 Canada Council Canadian Business Book Awards program, we were told in so many words, “The CAE Story is not a real book. Go away and start publishing real books.” The Canada Council then proceeded to award most of its 2016 business book awards to books published by the Canadian arms of huge American publishers. When I enquired about this at the Governor General’s office and the Canada Council, I received meaningless “Dear Sir or Madame” form letters in reply. Kenneth Whyte at SHuSH is doing Canada a good service with his latest item – take a look.

The CANAV Books Story Part 6 + A Long-Ago Visit to the USAF Museum + More Vintage TTC + A Few Old Toronto Aerials

CANAV Books from Y2K to 2007

With today’s short section, our on-going CANAV Books history reaches the end of our era of randomly publishing titles. The last of these was Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange. Then began our “Aviation in Canada” era, which numbers eight titles into 2021. For today we’re covering Y2K to 2007 starting with our 3-volume history of the RCAF. This had begun a few years earlier as a project to produce a single book honouring the RCAF in its 75th year. However, as usually happens, the project took on a life of its own, ending in 2000-01 as our 3-volume Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace with more than 1000 pages.

All things considered (text, illustrations and presentation) “CAFWP” is a grand Royal Canadian Air Force history that readily complements the 3-volume RCAF Overseas official history (1944-45), and the DND’s subsequent 3-volume official RCAF history published in 1980, ’86 and ’94. I regularly nag CANAV readers about building a foundational library of all such RCAF books. Some have done so, of course, but far too many (pitifully) have capitulated to the internet as the source of all they need to know about the RCAF. I hope you don’t know any of these intellectual sellouts.

In some 20 years, not a negative word has been published about “CAFWP”, other than that Vol.4 remains conspicuous by its absence. Circumstances in 2001-03 kept delaying Vol.4, mainly a lack of funds. Time inevitably passed the project by. Happily, much of the material gathered for Vol.4 (CF-5, CF-104, etc.) will appear in our forthcoming RCAF 100 th anniversary blockbuster.

Here are a few “CAFWP” comments from our always well- informed and critical reviewers. To begin, Scale Aviation Modeller International selected “CAFWP” Vol.1 as its “Book of the Month”: “Well, what can we say! This is a book that truly deserves the ‘must have’ title… one that all RCAF and Canadian aviation fans will want…” Writes Airforce: “…the most comprehensive history of Canada’s air force ever produced.” Canadian Flight called Vol.1, “The grand-daddy of all Christmas presents for air force vets … a superb work to delight all RCAF or CF veterans.” Many such reviews ensued. Re. Vol.3, for example, Air Pictorial observed: “Milberry has excelled in this volume by combining riveting personal experiences from air and ground crews with an unrivalled selection of llustrations… rarely does a book so handsomely exceed the most sanguine expectations as does this outstanding publication.”

There’s a special price now for a 3-volume set of CAFWP: Canada $75 all-in, USA CDN$90 all-in, oversea CDN$180 all-in. Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address larry@canavbooks.com … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

Fighter Squadron 2003

For Fighter Squadron: 441 Squadron from Hurricanes to Hornets (2003) we still are awaiting the first negative review. In one case the journal “Combat Aircraft” could only say in its review (regarding the difficulty of getting any book about a squadron right): “They are intrinsically difficult to write … the overriding need is to get the right balance… [Fighter Squadron] has achieved the elusive balance … Everything about this volume has the feeling of authority and authenticity.” Due to the steep cost in finishing this project, it had to be priced accordingly. As a result, Fighter Squadron joined the ranks of those books we have published that were born of red ink and are wallowing in it to this day. C’est la guerre. If one is in history and in book publishing for the long haul, be ready to take your lumps. For now you can order a copy of Fighter Squadron at a real bargain. Anywhere in Canada $30 all-in, USA CDN$45 all-in, Overseas CDN$60 all-in Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address larry@canavbooks.com … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

The Leslie Corness and Wilf White “Propliner” Collections 2005 and 2006

Years ago CANAV Books honoured two dedicated aviation photographers: Leslie Corness of Edmonton, and Wilf White, residing in Glasgow in the very house where he lived since a lad. I had known these stellar fellows since the 1970s, when we would exchange photos and airplane “gen” of all kinds. Sadly, both fellows long since have passed on.

The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection was published in 2005, The Wilf White Propliner Collection in 2006. Each was splendidly received. The respected journal, Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight, was quick to react, describing “LCPC” as, “A photo album with style and intelligence … to be savoured.” Airways next wrote about “WWPC”: “Milberry’s treatment of his subject is personal and meticulous, the photo selection is … evocative, the captions knowledgeable and informative … thoroughly enjoyable.” Who put these bons mots together? None other than the beloved John Wegg, author of such world class books as Caravelle, Finnair: The Art of Flying since 1923, and General Dynamics and Their Predecessors. What an honour to be reviewed by such a “King of Aviation History”.

Then came Vol.39, No.11 of the UK’s beloved “Aircraft Illustrated” with another masterpiece of a review covering “WWPC”. Here is how UK book aficionado, Denis J. Calvert, lays the groundwork for his magazine’s review for November 2006: “A few weeks ago, a photo album arrived … which genuinely merits the title ‘Book of the Month’”. Denis concludes, “This volume, beautifully produced, offers the very highest quality … and comes confidently recommended.” Here is the full review. Also … you can order both of these outstanding books at: Anywhere in Canada $45 all-in, USA CDN$55 all-in, Overseas CDN$80 all-in. Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address larry@canavbooks.com … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange 2007

When we published Canada’s Air Forces on Exchange in 2007, the usual string of top reviews appeared. In one case, reviewer Robert Merrick (RCAF ret’d), himself having had a USAF exchange on RF-4s, and at this time reviewing for the prominent “COPA Flight” journal, summed up his feelings: ““Truly an enlightening book … Those pondering the ideal Christmas gift for your local Fireside Aviator need look no farther.” “CAFEx” remains one of the best ever RCAF histories that focusses upon a specific (and rare) subject. No one who opens “CAFEx” is ever disappointed, other than at not finding himself listed in the index. Quite a few such fellows have contacted me over the years, the odd one being almost distressed. The best consolation I can offer is to suggest that he write the next book about exchange postings. What else is to be said? Although “CAFEx” lost CANAV a lot of money, I can’t imagine not having published such an important RCAF history. So ends today’s episode. Next time we’ll start into “Aviation in Canada”. For now you can order a copy of Fighter Squadron at a real bargain. Anywhere in Canada $40 all-in, USA CDN$55 all-in, Overseas CDN$70 all-in Payment can be send directly by PayPal or Interac to CANAV’s email address larry@canavbooks.com … or post a cheque or money order to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4E3B6

The USAF Museum in 1964

For 1964 we local Toronto spotters didn’t do as much travelling as usual. I’d have to dig into the old files for a full explanation, but I’m pretty sure it was because the likes of Fred Guthrie, John Kerr, Nick Wolochatiuk and I were busy teaching school or doing university courses. Certainly, summer courses kept us grounded well into August. That’s when Nick and I decided to squeeze in a quick road trip the week before we returned to the classroom.

On August 26 we drove the Goderich airport on a rumour that there was a Lancaster to be seen. Good move, for we found ex-RCAF Lancaster FM213 recently arrived there to become a historic display. Happily, it still was on its own wheels, so was perfect for photography (it later went atop a pylon and today is airworthy with the Canadian Warplane Heritage). We also were happy to spot such planes as Fleet Finch CF-GER, Tiger Moth CF-IFB, Pitts Special CF-REH and Aeronca C3 N13886, but all were in the Sky Harbour hangar. We then pushed off for southern Ohio. Our mission? Visit the USAF Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base not far from Dayton. In the afternoon of the 27th we pulled in to a camp ground not far from “Wright Pat”.

Next day we spent several happy hours at the museum. Due to a shortage of hangar space, many aircraft still had to be kept outside. Meanwhile, it was so dark inside, that photography was hopeless. By contrast, today’s museum at Wright Pat is magnificent. Even where galleries are dark, today’s digital camera technology allows for photography. It’s also well worth a visit to the museum website, where you can take wonderful virtual tours. You’ll be able to spot most of the airplanes shown here – you can make a bit of a game with that. Don’t miss this, simply google: https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Virtual-Tour/

For today on the CANAV blog, here are a few photos that I took on this trip. These are un-retouched, just basic scans from my old “2¼” b/w negatives. Unfortunately, over the decades many of these negs have suffered in their individual glassine envelopes. Most hadn’t even been looked at for more than half a century, so I was disappointed finding so many to be blotched. I’d always assumed that the “glassines” we used for negative storage were the best solution. It’s hard to say what happened. Perhaps it’s more a humidity issue than a glassine issue? Happily, however, my trusty Epson V700 pro scanner has come to the rescue – I’ve been able to get a good basic scan in most cases. Some PhotoShop pro easily could make any one of these photos really sizzle. Anyways, on the CANAV Blog it’s a case of “content over form” any day of the week. After all, this isn’t a contest, just a hobby.

Aircraft of the USAF Museum in 1964

This is a small, random selection, starting with some of the fighters sitting outside that day at the museum. Stunningly attractive was this Bell P-63E Kingcobra 43-11728. For those not familiar, the P-63 and its predecessor, the P-39 Airacobra, had their engines installed behind the cockpit. Of the 3303 P-63s manufactured, 2397 went to our wartime ally, the Soviet Union. Mainly, they contributed to Stalin’s defeat of Japanese forces in and bordering on the eastern USSR. This example was flown postwar by Bell Aircraft, whose main factory was in Buffalo, NY. Bell flew ‘728 on experimental postwar projects. It was briefly with the Honduran AF in 1948, but soon was back at Bell, where it worked into 1958, when Bell donated it to the museum. This is an excellent P-63 site: https://acesflyinghigh.wordpress.com/2019/11/20/the-bell-p-63-kingcobra-all-hail-the-king/
Here’s the museum’s rare Japanese WWII Kawanishi N1K Shiden Kai fighter. Known to the allies as the “George”, this advanced fighter appeared late in WWII. It was fast, agile and well armed. Only four examples survive, three being in the US.
Nick and I had never seen such a vast collection with so many aircraft types, so our USAF Museum visit was eye watering from start to finish. Here is the North American P-82B Twin Mustang – it literally was that. On his website, the great Joe Baugher notes of 44- 65168: “The plane (named ‘Betty Jo’) set a record by flying from Hawaii to New York City nonstop on Feb. 27, 1947, covering 5051 miles in 14 hrs 33 min at an average speed of 334 mph. This was the longest nonstop flight ever made by a propeller-driven fighter.” In 1950-57, ‘168 was at the Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio flying experimental ram-jet engine missions. It joined the museum in 1957.
One surprise after another. The sight of a Northrop P-61C Black Widow made our trip more exciting than ever. Delivered too late for wartime operations, 43-8353 found work starting in 1947 doing thunderstorm research from Clinton County AFB, Ohio (SE of WPAFB). In 1948 it moved to Wright Field near Dayton to work in experimental radar research. From 1949 – 53 it could be seen in Urbana, Ohio as a static billboard advertising the Boy Scouts. The Scouts donated it to the museum in 1958. With its limited resources, the museum put a standard night fighter colour scheme on ‘353. Everyone wandering by this day at WPAFB was much impressed by the awesome “Black Widow”. You can see how each of these aircraft looks today by spending some time playing with the museums virtual tours.
Several experimental fighters from early post-WWII days caught our eye at WPAFB. The Republic YF-84F and McDonnell XF-85 Goblin were totally exotic, having been designed as “parasite” fighters. As such, they would be appendages on SAC’s B- 36 global bomber – the epitome of “power projection” back in the day. You can see the special gear used to dock with the “mother” plane. Should enemy fighters threaten a bomber, it could launched its parasites to provide air cover, then recover and refuel them (all going well, which it never would, of course). The general idea from parasite fighters dates to WWI, then was pursued in the 1920s-30s using US Navy airships. Millions were spent on these R&D programs over the decades. In the end no practical use was found for parasite fighters. Happily, these examples have been preserved by the USAF Museum. You can find masses of info about all these individual aircraft on the web. Wiki is especially handy to get “the basics”.
The late 1940s engendered many advanced fighter designs including the long-range Republic XF-91 Thunderceptor. Prototype 46-680 first flew at Edwards AFB on May 9, 1949. It’s said that ‘681 burned in a crash, so it’s a bit confusing seeing ‘681 on the tail of the survivor of the two XF-91s. Check the entry for 46-0680 and ‘681 on Joe Baugher’s 1946 list of USAF serial numbers, also the excellent Wiki entry. Of the other great concepts from these days, the Convair XF-91 evolved into the F-102, then the F-106, while the McDonnell XF-88 evolved into the F-101 Voodoo.
The USAF Museum had two of its historic “X Planes” in the air park in 1964 – the Douglas X-3 Stiletto and the Northrop X-5. The sole X- 3, which looks like its moving at the speed of heat even though it’s sitting still, first flew at Edwards AFB on October 20, 1952. It was intended for Mach 2-Mach3 research, but was underpowered and hard-pressed to reach Mach 1. See the excellent Wiki X-3 page. The X-5 was the first aircraft having in-flight, variable-swept wings. Two X-5s were built, ‘838 being No.1 (first flight February 15, 1951). X-5 No.2 crashed fatally at Edwards AFB on October 14, 1953. No. 1 was used at WPAFB into 1958. The best books on this subject are Vols. 1 and 2 of The X-Planes by Jay Miller.
Another exotic fighter in the air park in 1964 was Convair F- 106 prototype 56-0451. As the YF-106A, it first flew at Edwards AFB on December 26, 1956. It was delivered to the museum from Convair in San Diego on March 27, 1960. In 1989 it was trucked from WPAFB to the museum at Selfridge AFB. There you can see it marked as 59-0082. The USAF Museum now has F-106 58-0787, which gained accidental fame for having landed in tact one day after the pilot ejected. ‘787 later returned to service. In 1986 it retired from the 49 th FIS at Griffiss AFB, from where it found its way to the USAF Museum.
The museum’s Douglas B-18A Bolo 39-0025. An offshoot of the DC-2, the B-18 was a modern bomber when delivered in 1937, but was hopelessly obsolete by 1941. However, it performed useful service with the USAAC flying coastal and anti-submarine patrols, and as a trainer and transport. It also served well in the RCAF as an early anti-submarine type on the East Coast, even sinking one U- boat. About 350 B-18s were built. Five survive in US museums. See the amazingly detailed history of this B-18 at Joe Baugher’s page for 1939 USAF serial numbers. ‘025 resides today in the museum at Lowry AFB, Colorado. Postwar, it even had been used by Castro revolutionaries to run guns from Florida.
The museum’s Douglas A-20G 43-2220 still looked fine in 1964 after its first few Ohio summers and winters spent outdoors. ‘220 had never been under fire, and actually had been a high speed USAAF transport in 1945. Postwar, it served a long list of companies as an executive plane, before landing at WPAFB for handover to the museum in the early Sixties.
Joe Baugher summarizes the museum’s B-24J 42-72843 in his 1942 USAF serial numbers list: “In August 1943 it was assigned to Herington Army Air Base, KS, for acceptance flight and training. On August 23, 1943 it began its flight to Egypt, via Maine, Newfoundland, Scotland, Cornwall, England, Morocco and Algeria, arriving at Deversoir Field, Egypt on September 7 th . After combat modifications, the plane was delivered to the 512th Bombardment Squadron, 376th Bombardment Group, at Benghazi, Libya. After two combat missions, the squadron moved to Enfidaville, Tunisia, from where it flew seven combat missions (on one of which it suffered damage from anti-aircraft fire). On November 11th it moved to San Pancrazio, Italy. It was there that it picked up its name, Strawberry Bitch, and Vargas Girl. From there it flew eight more combat missions, the last on being on February 2, 1944. Due to its age and obsolescence, the plane was sent back to the USA in April The year 1945 found the plane stored at Freeman Field, IL, intended for use as a museum aircraft. On May 9, 1946 it was flown to Orchard Park, IL (now known as Chicago O’Hare), and a month later to Davis- Monthan AFB, AZ for storage. On May 12, 1959 the plane was flown to the Air Force Museum at Patterson Field, OH.” Happily, the museum has seen fit not to bow to political correctness about having a “non-PC” name on a famous old bomber. It’s still displayed as “Strawberry Bitch”. Horror of horror, non! Beyond is one of the museum’s two B-36s — YB-36 42-13571. Later, the museum deemed ‘571 to be surplus and it was sold for pots and pans. We might shake our heads at this, but sometimes museums have tough decisions to make.
B-29 44-27297 ”Bocks Car” is the very aircraft that dropped a “Fat Boy” atomic bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. In 1964 it was looking a bit rough, but a glorious restoration lay ahead. Along with the bombing of Hiroshima two days earlier by the B-29 “Enola Gay”, these missions brought to war against Japan to a swift end. Although today’s history re-writers, anarchists, America-haters, etc. loath hearing such things, the alternative was many more months of fierce warfare that would have cost millions more lives. So … there’s no doubt about it to anyone who has a clue about the actual history of WWII — these two bombers are American heritage treasures par excellence. ‘297 is named for the skipper of its crew late in the war, Capt Frederick C. Bock. However, Maj Charles W. Sweeney’s crew flew “Bock’s Car” on the Nagasaki mission. The Wiki entry gives an excellent summary of all things to do with ‘297. It flew into WPAFB for the museum on September 26, 1961. “Enola Gay” resides at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington. In modern years two other B-29s have been restored to flying condition in the United States.
Sitting in a distant corner away from the museum was a glorious sight — Convair B-36J Peacemaker 52-2220. It first had joined the 11th Bombardment Wing at Carswell AFB, Texas in January 1954. It later served the 42 nd BW at Loring AFB, Maine, and the 95 th BW at Biggs AFB, Texas. It flew in to WPAFB for the museum on April 30, 1959. This was the last ever B-36 flight. The Wiki B-36 site is well worth a visit. Some other good sites include: Six Turning Four Burning – Convair B-36 “Peacemaker” (HD) YouTube · Petittwo Nov 3, 2016, Inside The Convair B-36 Peacemaker, Youtube, The Flight of the last B-36 Peacemaker – Avgeekery.com, B-36: Bomber at the Crossroads, History
A one-of-a-kind transport on display at WPAFB in 1964 was YC-124A Globemaster II 42-65406. The prototype C-124, it had begun in 1946 as a C-74 Globemaster I. It first flew on November 27, 1949 and later operated as a day-to-day USAF transport until retired to the museum. Too bad, but the museum eventually decided that ‘406 was “too big”, so handed it over to the base fire department as a training aid. As such it was burned and re-burned in practice fires until no longer of any use. Most countries have such black marks in their aviation history records. Canada, for example, once had a chance to save the prototype Avro CF-100. 18101 eventually went for scrap from storage at Lethbridge. No institution wanted it, one museum “explaining” that it was not a representative CF-100, since it had used British engines. Talk about a disgrace! Of course, the inexcusable destruction of all six finished CF-105s remains the blackest mark on Canada’s aviation heritage. Once again … be sure to visit to USAF Museum website. By taking some of the virtual tours you’ll see how the aircraft Nick and I saw in August 1964 appear 57 years later.

A Few More TTC Scenes

Have you had a look our earlier blog articles covering Toronto Transit Commission streetcars over the decades? If not, you can scroll back and have a look. After all, any grown-up aviation fan revels in all forms of transportation and the joys of photographing them.

Today, I’m adding a few TTC scenes that I captured long ago – photos of some unusual work cars plus some busses of the Sixties. The work cars were used on a host of duties including rail grinding, clearing snow and delivering supplies and equipment to track construction sites, etc. Many of these units were built around retired TTC passenger cars. The snow plowing cars disappeared by 1980, when city works took over the job, while the rail grinders made their final runs in 1999.

TTC snow sweeper S-41 at the Roncesvalles car barns at Queen and Roncesvalles on February 9, 1969. Twelve such cars were acquired in the 1940s. Note that these had a sweeper at each end. They also had double-ended controls. Any such car always caught the keen observer’s eye and excited any photographer, especially on such a bright winter’s day. What a sight so late in the game was such a “prehistoric beast” . The last I saw one of these at work was in the Sixties as it was sweeping the loop at Queen and Coxwell one night. Two such cars survive. S-36 is in the Shore Line Trolley Museum in Connecticut, the S-37 is in the Halton County Railway Museum in west of Toronto.
General purpose work cars with snow ploughs: W-1 at Russell barns at Queen St. East and Connaught Ave. on June 15, 1969; and W-5 at Hillcrest barns up Bathurst St. on September 19, 1969. Behind W-1 is TP-11, a car that specialized in snow clearing.
W-3 westbound on Carleton St. a bit west of Parliament St. in October 1975. Looks like it has some rails on its bed. Today W-3 resides at the Shore Line Trolley Museum (check out their website).
While snooping around at Hillcrest on June 7, 1969 I was lucky to catch crane car, C-2. You easily can envision C-2 craning heavy steel rails some place along the line where old rails were being removed and new ones laid. C- 2 is preserved with the Ohio Railway Museum in Worthington, Ohio.
The TTC’s famous rail grinder W-28 seemed to be endlessly out on the job. Here it is westbound at Queen and Simcoe streets leading a couple of PCCs in October 1975. W-28 today is with the Halton County Railway Museum.
Restored Peter Witt car 2894 on a tourist run westbound on Queen St. at Beech Ave. in September 1975. This famous type served the TTC from 1922 to 1965. Not counting trailers, there were more than 500 TTC Witts. This example is preserved with the Halton County Railway Museum. I often rode Peter Witts on Kingston Road, Queen St., Roncesvalles and Weston Road, when I was a boy in the 1950s.
This former TTC Peter Witt while in service on Toronto Harbour in the 1970s as the Seamens Mission. Visiting sailors were welcomed to drop by for a snack, to relax, read and socialize. Such landmarks always fade away. Does this historic “building” still exist somewhere else?
Naturally, photographing TTC busses always interested us. Life had much more to offer than plane spotting. Just as TCA had DC-3s, Viscounts, North Stars, etc., the TTC had an interesting variety of busses. Here is Twin Coach Model 41-S 1336 at the Castle Frank station on the Bloor St. subway line on March 27, 1969. Built in Kent, Ohio, the 41-S had 41 seats. The TTC acquired 75 of these in 1948, then got stellar service from them for many years.
GMC Model TDH-4507 at the Coxwell and Danforth TTC car barns in May 1975. It was part of a batch of 20 units acquired in 1948.
The TTC only ran 10 of these Mack C-50-Ts. Usually I saw them only on Spadina Ave. This was a 50-seat bus. Notice how each bus maker had its distinctive look. Check out the classic Mack logo.
TTC GMC bus 2155 was a “stretched” early-1960s iteration of the 1940s TDH series. I spotted 2155 in May 1971 as it waited on Gerrard St. E. in front of Riverdale Collegiate.
The City of Toronto Archives holds this excellent photo of 2155 taken during maintenance.
This is my first shot of one of the TTC’s GMC “New Look” busses. I saw 3126 at the docks around the foot of Bay St. on October 12, 1963. I shot it with my twin lens Minolta using “120” Ektachrome. The “New Look” series became Toronto’s most widely-used bus design. It has lasted into the 21 st Century.

For more info about the historic TTC fleet these are 3 of many excellent sites on the web: https://cptdb.ca/wiki/index.php/Toronto_Transportation_Commission#Streetcars



Also of interest: TTC orders 160 new cars in 1921: Electrical news and engineering : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Toronto from the Air

I started shooting aerial views of Toronto in 1961 and have never missed a chance to keep up on this exciting sideline. My first few photos really were “accidental” in that I was shooting air- to-airs of airplanes, where Toronto happened to be in the background. Here is (by far) my favourite such shot. Joe Reed of AIRGO (based at Toronto Island Airport) had asked me to shoot some of his planes for publicity reasons, but AIRGO soon was broke, so I doubt that my photos were of much use. The date for this scene was March 10, 1961, the view is NNE as we flew westward over the city across the Lake Ontario shore. I was up in AIRGO Ce.172 CF-LWE. We had the door off, so it was great fun in the open air on a fine day as we formated on Cessna T-50 CF-HXW. Its paint job? A very nice powder blue and white. The T-50 looks super and the Toronto background is astounding for its breath and detail. I especially love how the central business district stands out with the Bank of Commerce especially prominent – it still was Canada’s tallest building at 34 storeys. You can see how the city spreads out from the CBD. Check out the Don River Valley cutting north-south with the Bloor Street viaduct spanning it. The viaduct had opened up great new stretches of land for urban development especially along the key new thoroughfare – Danforth Avenue. The urban-rural divide at this time looks to be about where today’s 401 Hwy cuts east-to-west. That’s likely the new 401 corridor stretching away to the east just beneath “HXW’s” tail. Down in the bottom right you can see a hint of Toronto’s vast railway yards. (I’ll dig out some other Toronto CBD aerials for future use here.)
On an earlier trip, on February 12 Joe Reed put me in Luscombe CF-LVV to photograph AIRGO’s new (1960) Cessna 172, CF-MTT. Someone will be able to write a paragraph about what’s below, as we flew parallel to the “The Queensway” just a bit west of High Park. Looks like the Humber sewage plant on the lower right, and the north edge of the Ontario Food Terminal below us across the bottom. The Humber River meanders just under the tail. Talk about getting the camera-perfect angle on a 1-72, no! In 2021 “MTT” was based near Pembroke, Ontario with Laurin Jones, who recently spent three years restoring it. Total time on “MTT” since 1960 is about 5000 hours.
A more recent scene: I took this westward view across Toronto Bay towards the CBD and beyond on November 20, 1972. For some dumb reason I didn’t log this flight, so can’t say from which plane or chopper it was taken. There are so many features here, from the foreground showing how industrialized the eastern harbour still was. Today? Very few of these features remain, certainly the tank farms all are long gone. However, there still are mountains of road salt stored along the ship channel. Look at all the ocean-going ships, at least ten. These were the days when Toronto would welcome 700+ large freighters a year. Today? Maybe 30 will visit in an entire year. Check out the skyline. Things definitely were starting to happen. Today, skyscrapers stretch westward from the CBD in a solid wall of concrete and glass as far as you can see. Notice the lovely old Bank of Commerce — it’s there to this day.
Here’s a close-up of one of the ships that day. This was 49 years ago, the Greek-registered MV Ioanna was in from China with a load of electronics and medical supplies. Getting a shot like this makes me think I must have been in a chopper this day. There are several outstanding Great Lakes websites. A good one to check out is http://www.greatlakestoday.org
Going on foot in this part of Toronto Harbour, all sorts of great subject matter met any photographer any day of the week. Snooping around along Unwin Ave. on March 10, 1972 I came across a mountain of ex-RCAF F-86s and T-33s ready to go into the melting pot at Bristol Metals. What a sight, eh! I wish I’d kept closer tabs on this operation over the days, but at least I took a few shots this day. Another day I spotted a ship at one of the Toronto terminals that had a deck cargo of T-6 Texans from some African country. They were headed up the lakes to Chicago. I’ll dig out some more such photos for future use on the blog.
A nifty June 26, 1970 north-looking view of the Richard L. Hearn hydro generating station at the east end of Toronto Harbour’s shipping channel. The two ships are tied up in the “eastern turning basin” at the head of the channel. You can see that this part of the city mainly was an industrial cesspool in 1970. The Hearn was burning coal upwards of 3 million tons of which were stored here at a time. The new Hearn 70-foot stack is almost finished in this scene. The three stacks pumping it out in mid-view pinpoint a city incinerator. It’s also long-since closed. Cutting across the middle is the Gardiner Expressway. This stretch since has been removed in favour of an improved version of Lakeshore Blvd. You wouldn’t recognize this area today if it weren’t for the Hearn, which still stands as a giant industrial era ghost. Opened in 1951, it closed for good in 1983.
For wider perspective, here’s a view back down the shipping channel looking west. The new stack by this time was in service. In the distance is the Eastern Gap, Toronto Bay and the Toronto Islands. I caught this view on November 10, 1973.
Here’s the Hearn on July 27, 1993 as photographed from a Cameron Air Cessna 206 while Rick Radell and I were returning to Toronto Island after doing an air-to air shoot with a Sunderland flying boat. You can see the beginning on urban renewal vs the previous shots. The Hearn is closed, so is the incinerator across the street. Several grubby old factories by now are vacant lots, but the eastern Gardiner is still standing. Vast changes have taken place since, so I look forward to another photo flight down this way.
Two closer-in views over the CBD (probably from a helicopter). In these photos, taken on June 8, 1970, you can see the famous Royal York Hotel, the twin Toronto Dominion Centre towers (the first modern skyscrapers in the CBD) and the Bank of Commerce tower under construction. Many of the old buildings seen here long-since have been demolished.

Dancing in the Sky & Flying to Extremes + “Ghost” Canso Update + Visiting the 10th Mountain Division + CANAV History Pt.5 + More Bob Finlayson Photos

Canada’s Best Aviation History Booklist Is right here: Download

One title that you’ll really treasure in your library is Dancing in the Sky: The Royal Flying Corps in Canada. By 2020 few Canadians know much about this monumental WWI story. This gem of a book tells in details how the RFC, desperate for pilots in 1916, solved its problem by establishing a magnificent air training plan in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, the plan almost overnight built massive aerodromes starting at Camp Borden, then Armour Heights and Leaside in Toronto, Deseronto east of Toronto, finally Beamsville in Niagara. There also were recruiting, indoctrination and trades training centres in Toronto and Hamilton. Soon thousands of young men were training here to learn to fight in the world’s first great aerial war. Thousands were sent overseas and by war’s end there still were 12,000 men in the RFC Canada system. The plan brought with it Canada’s first aircraft mass production, more than 1200 JN-4C trainers being built at a vast factory in west Toronto, plus parts for hundreds more.

Author C.W. Hunt presents all the fine details – how the plan was organized, the camps established, the training of pilots and mechanics, much about the problems of weather and accidents, and how thousands of Americans also passed through the RFC system.

Suddenly, the war ends and overnight the plan folds. Hunt brings the story right to the end in 1919. This is one of the really important Canadian books about WWI — how Canada went from being an aviation featherweight to an aviation powerhouse all in about two years. Believe it or not, but some of the sturdy hangars from RFC Canada days are still in use at Camp Borden and Beamsville! Order your copy by sending (for Canada) $43.00 by PayPal or Interac to larry@canavbooks.com , or, post a cheque to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Canada M4E3B6. USA or Int’l orders send CDN$50.00.

You’ll also be tempted by this new beauty — Flying to Extremes, Dominique Prinet’s new book about his career as an bush and Arctic pilot. Much about the Cessna, Otter and Beech 18, but many other well-known types as well. This is very much a book about the north and its people — not just the airplanes. Besides that, it’s really well designed with many colour photos, some excellent original aviation art and some very useful original maps. 278 pages, softcover, glossary, index. This one is irresistible! $42.00 all-in by PayPal or Interac to larry@canavbooks.com or mail a cheque as mentioned above. USA or Int’l orders send CDN$50.00.

“Ghost” Canso Update – Something’s Up

Many of you regular CANAV blog followers enjoyed our recent item about Gananoque’s “Ghost” Canso, CF-NJL. Last August, my old pal from high school days, Nick Wolochatiuk, visited Gananoque to see what was doing, then submitted this summary:

Most of Gananoque’s triangle of 2530’ runways are now devoted to corn, but in the decaying hangar at the east side of Runway 36-18, Canso “NJL” still sits, outer wing sections by now removed. Fortunately, it’s an amphibian, as the hangar roof really leaks. Snuggled nearby is wingless Bush Caddy C-FZGG. Its elongated nose gives the appearance of an ant eater. Some other planes are scattered around, including Pietenpol C-ILTB. Due to COVID-19, the local parachute training school was shut down. Outside, we spotted Bush Caddy C-GIRU. For a very long time, not a BCATP Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch or Harvard has been seen at Gananoque. As you can see by the crumbling hangar, those glory days are long gone.

Here are two shots that Nick took in August. These can be compared with our main article to which you can scroll back, if you have the time. That’s all the current “intel” for “NJL”. Let me know what else you might hear via the grape vine.

CANAV Books Visits the 10th Mountain Infantry (Light)

The 1980s were full of great aviation history projects. Besides working on such books as Canada’s Air Force Today and AIRCOM, I was burning the candle at both ends doing a lot of aviation journalism. I had begun to dabble with this in the late 1950s by submitting photos and short items to such journals as “Air Pictorial”, that great UK monthly. Eventually, Toronto aviation editors such as Bob Halford (“Aircraft” magazine) and Hugh Whittington (“Canadian Aviation”) were giving me assignments, then I started writing feature stories for “Aviation News”, “Air Classics” “Air Combat”, etc. It was great to be making such connections. The pay ranged from zero in those days to $50 – $750 for a feature, even $2500 for something Hugh sent my way – a detailed overview of Canada’s aerospace industry. Every penny counted back in those times.

Meanwhile, with travelling pals Tony Cassanova and Mike Valenti I had begun branching out into New York, the nearest US state to our base in Toronto. I already was familiar with Niagara Falls, NY, home to the 136th FIS. My old pal, Merlin Reddy, and I first had visited the 136th for Air Force Day on May 16, 1959, then Nick Wolochatiuk and I covered the open house on May 20, 1960. These were a really impressive events. What we thought was amazing was how the general public was not herded around like cattle. Instead, we could wander on the ramps even as airplanes came and went, everything from an L-19 to a C-124. Here are a few photos that we took both years mostly using Merlin’s twin lens Yashika loaded with 120 b/w film. As I recall, I also was shooting with an old Permaflex. Everything in black-and-white, of course:

Shown first is locally-based F-86H Sabre 52-5739 of the 136 th FIS NY Air National Guard, one of the hosts of these open houses. We learned here that the “ANG” fighters were the most photogenic, usually having particular state markings. The tail band for the 136 th was yellow. The Sabre “H” was the hottest of the USAF Sabre day fighters. It was faster than earlier models and armed with 4 x 20 mm cannons compared to the usual 6 x .50 cal machine guns. Something else we learned was how friendly the ANG usually was should we come to the gate hoping to get on base to photograph.
Next is a standard side view showing Indiana ANG Republic F-84F 52-6455. Its trim was in white and red. It’s a bit tricky to read the names stencilled on the canopy frame, but the pilot’s name looks like Capt M. Vin L. Coffty. This F-84F was noted on the other side of the nose as “Sparky the Cable Breaker”. During a low-level mission it had flown through a fairly hefty cable, the impression of which had been left on the intake frame. “Sparky” survives on a pole at American Legion Post 490 in Houston painted in Thunderbird colours.
One of the big treats for at Niagara was seeing five Vermont ANG Northrop F-89D Scorpion all-weather fighters come into the circuit after their 300-mile flight from Burlington, Vermont. Fitted with their big long-range fuel tanks, they had plenty of gas. Here, 54-0193 parks while we keen fans pressed in with our cameras.
While we should have been taking extra photos of the vintage F-89s, we were mesmerized by a flight of five sleek Convair F-102A Delta Darts. Being from a regular USAF squadron, they were quite drab compared to the colourful ANG fighters.
The air show planners at the NY ANG always had good relations with the nearby RCAF. This 416 Squadron CF-100 Mlk.5 came down from St. Hubert, just a few miles north of Burlington. These NORAD squadrons often exercised together.
This beautiful SAC B-47 from the 40 th Bomb Wing was almost the top find of the day for us at the 1959 Niagara show, but it was not an easy call. Sadly, not long afterwards (February 24, 1961) 53-2347 crashed in Wisconsin killing the 4-man crew.
Another great find for us at Niagara was C- 124C Globemaster II 52-1064. It served into 1969, then went to the desert at Davis-Monthan AFB for scrapping.

Fort Drum Visit

Any time we were on military assignments in the United States, we depended on base, wing or squadron public affairs staff. Invariably, over the decades these proved to be top professionals, none better. You’ll appreciate this as you read. Tony Cassanova has provided these photos. First is Carl Sahre, PR man with the 416th Bomb Wing at Griffiss AFB. Carl was our guide and mentor during several visits in the 1980s. Lee McTaggart took royal care of us at Fort Drum. Here are myself and Lee with one of our helio crews one day. Then, Tony and Lee.

Through the 1980s we made good connections at Griffiss AFB near Rome, home to the 416th Bomb Wing (B-52s) and the 49th FIS (F-106). The 416th PR man, Carl R. Sahre, was keen to have us down to see what Griffiss had to offer. Another good spot for us was Syracuse, from where the 174th FS of the NY-ANG flew (AT-37, later A-10, F-16, Predator). Finally, through 10th Mountain PR man, Lee McTaggart, we got our connection to Fort Drum where the 10th Mountain Division (Infantry) recently had reactivated its aviation battalion. “Aviation News” would take a story about this famous unit. In typical US military style, he jumped at this as an opportunity to promote the 10th Mountain and my first visit was set up.

I drove down the NY State freeway early on March 13 and soon was busy doing interviews and shooting Kodachromes. There were no restrictions – whatever I needed, 10th Mountain PR was on it. An OH-58 piloted by 1Lt Richard F. Delev was at my disposal for getting out onto the Fort Drum Range, then I was offered something I hadn’t dreamed of – a famil flight in an AH-1G Huey Cobra gunship flown by CW4 Howard.

Typical of such trips, Fort Drum was a whirlwind affair, but chalk up another great experience in US military aviation history. Back home, as soon as I had my slides from Kodak, I got to work on the story. As things often went, however, the story didn’t see the light of day until November.

Here is a random selection of Kodachromes from my March 1989 trip and a copy of the ”Aviation News” report. Each such story tended to build up an aviation journalist’s reputation. I guess that was one good reason to keep up with such strenuous fieldwork. In the end, we “Canucks” got to know the USAF and US Army in upstate New York in the 1980s. Eventually, I visited, flew with and had stories published about the 416th at Griffiss (B-52 and KC-135) and the 49th (F-106). I also wrote about the 174th and flew on a photo trip in an AT-37 (PA-ANG) shooting some 174th A-10s. Finally came the helios of the 10th Mountain.

To add to up my knowledge of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain, I revisited on January 8, 1990 accompanied by Tony Cassanova. That was another red letter day, as we again had carte blanche. Highlights included having the base commander’s UH-1 Huey as our taxi for the day, then each having a flight in a mighty CH-54 of the PA-Army Guard that was busy that day repositioning targets on the Fort Drum range


AH-1 scenes at Griffiss.
The 10 th Mountain temporarily was using the former F-106 hangars from 49th FIS days (the 49th had stood down in 1987). The 416th still was at Griffiss with its B-52s and KC-135s. It finally stood down in 1995. Today, Griffiss is a civil airfield.
An OH-58 Kiowa formed up with us for a photo session.
A medevac Huey of the 10 th Mountain, then one wearing some off-beat “camo” paint job not usually seen at Fort Drum.
We dropped in on a 10th Mountain artillery training session. This was the kind of access the aviation journalist and historian dreams about!
On such a visit we’re always spotting for anything a bit different. This was a nice find — Beech U-21 66- I assume that it was for “the brass” at Fort Drum. It was sold as Army surplus in 1996 and today is N72L. The U-21 looks like modified Beech Queen Air. It was unpressurized. Also seen this day at Griffiss was transient F-15E 86-190. Beyond is a departing KC- 135 of the 416th . In the 2020s the 10th Mountain (aviation) flies the AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Blackhawk.

The CANAV Books Story Part 5

Moving right along with our rough ‘n ready story of CANAV Books, here’s a bit about three other leading titles of the 1990s (in the not-too-distant future, the plan is to refined these items into a book):

The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945 1990

For 1990 CANAV Books published the grandest single volume covering the RCAF during WWII. This time, I teamed with Hugh A. Halliday, Curator of War Art at the Canadian War Museum (1976- 1985), RCAF researcher and writer, and long time member of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society. This became another 480-page blockbuster. For this project I went to Bob Baglow in Ottawa for the graphics side of the project. I forget how this came about, but assume that Robin Brass was overworked that year.

Besides its massive text, the book ended with some 1600 photos and it could not have been better reviewed. Summing up its point of view simply, the great “Aviation News” of the UK (Vol.19, No.20, Feb. 1991) noted: “All you ever wanted to know about the RCAF in action in World War 2 … is contained in the thumping big book … as comprehensive a record of the vital part played by this Dominion as ever received in the editorial office. A goldmine of factual information.” Covering it for “Canadian Geographic” (January 1991) was David McIntosh. As was reviewer Ron Lowman of the “Toronto Star”, Dave had been an operational navigator on Mosquitos, and not one to suffer the least gaff by any author.

In early reviews of CANAV titles, Dave already had fired a few sharp rounds, when he found the least point with which to disagree. But both he and Ron mainly were fair. The fellows would read and digest every line. Both also had a quirk of straying off topic, something a bit odd for high-speed, low-level navigators. Dave got somehow distracted in this review when he launched forth with this tirade: “The RCAF at War at last fills a need that the government’s and the defence department’s lassitude has denied Canadians for nearly half a century. The official air force history is so far behind that it can be carbon dated. Milberry and Halliday, old and practiced hands at such compilations, have flown to the rescue of all the airmen- survivors of the war who have slipped the surly bonds of earth.”

Dave’s review was shaping up, but it wasn’t making friends for CANAV in official Ottawa circles. His comments suggest that he was unaware of two fairly recent, massive Canadian military histories – Canadian Airmen and the First World War (1980) and The Creation of a National Air Force (1986) produced by the University of Toronto Press for the DND Directorate of History. (These would be joined by a third volume in 1994, The Crucible of War 1939-1945. These absolutely essential books total some 2500 pages and beautifully cover Canadian military aviation from pre-WWI to the end of WWII.) How could Dave have missed the first two of these? Perhaps he just had an urge to take a shot from the hip at DND? Happily, he was bowled over by the masses of content in our book, which he described as “packed, crammed, stuffed and stomped into this bulging volume.” He also appreciated how the photo captions are “as informative as the narrative”, an important detail that evaded most reviewers.

Another top review appeared in the “Ottawa Citizen”. Brereton “Ben” Greenhouse, a respected military historian/author at DND Directorate of History, called our effort, “massive, heavily illustrated and thoroughly enjoyable … a book for browsing, focussed on operations and service life rather than concepts and policy”. Ben showed a clear awareness of good books by commenting about our $75 sticker price – “… no more than the price of a good meal nowadays”. A perceived “flaw” mentioned in passing is that such great RCAF wartime figures as “Moose” Fulton and John Fauquier are not widely covered. This is easily explained — we were looking to write more about “ordinary” (less-well-known) airmen, compared to those about whom so much already had been written. CANAV is always looking for new material, so those old, well-ploughed fields tend to be avoided when we set to work.

Reviewing RCAF at War in the “Cobourg Daily Star” of August 30, 1991, D.G. McMillan made a nice point: “While the authors claim this is not a definitive book on the RCAF, it comes mighty close… a vivid picture of a period of Canadian history that is now long gone.” McMillan considered the book’s 1600 photos/captions to be “a book within a book”. RCAF at War also was reviewed in detail by Dacre Watson on “The Log –Journal of the British Airline Pilots Association”. Again, the general plan of the book is neatly summarized around the concept of how the RCAF, “… came from a small, ineffective force to become one of the largest air forces by the end of the war.” He was struck by how we authors easily might have lost our readers in the book’s mountain of facts but, instead, “managed to circumvent this by dealing with each theatre of war individually and each command … in its own way. Not only does this make the book easily readable, but also easy to use for reference.” For its part, the amazing “Aviation News” concluded, “It is as comprehensive a record of the vital part played by this Dominion Air Force as any received in the editorial office. A goldmine of factual information.” More locally, Joe Chapman of “The Spectator” in Hamilton concluded his review in a no-nonsense way – “Even at $75, the enthusiast will find it one of the best investments in aviation history and treasure it forever.”

What days these were for book reviews. The book still reigned as far as the daily press was concerned, and subscribers to aviation journals never missed their monthly book review page or two. Only begrudgingly do the major dailies run a book review in 2020. Much worse, many of the aviation periodicals consider a book review a waste of a page. Too intellectual for the 2020s, perhaps? Any of today’s magazines that brought back the book review soon would see a spike in readership. Readers want such thoughtful content.

“Air Force Magazine” of the United States Air Force Association (December 1990) also was impressed by RCAF at War: “The Royal Canadian Air Force’s contribution to the Allied victory is an often overlooked segment of World War II history. This book remedies that omission … the authors have assembled a complete look at every facet of the RCAF’s wartime operations.” The UK’s famed “Air International” also could not restrain itself, beginning its review, “Any CANAV book is worthy of attention and the latest volume to appear, The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945, is a splendid addition to the ranks. Those who have the same publisher’s Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984 will have an idea of what to expect… It is an excellent example of popular history that brings to life an important period as no academic work could. If you liked … Max Hastings’ Bomber Command, you will enjoy this massive work.” Good grief – imagine a couple of “colonial” authors being compared to one of the UK’s most revered historians!

In “Legion”, Brown’s Books had a solid go at RCAF at War. This excerpt is my favourite: “Larry Milberry … and Hugh Halliday … have done a magnificent job of compiling the most wide-ranging and complete book yet on WWII Canada in the air … A tremendous accomplishment by the authors.” Mike Filey of Toronto’s beloved “Sunday Sun” also covered RCAF at War glowingly (in his column “The Way We Were”). Mike even published my phone number and urged his fans to drop by my house for an autographed copy! Now that’s a review and a half!

In its December 1990 edition, Sidney Allinson reviewed RCAF at War in the “Canadian Defence Quarterly”. Seemingly thunderstruck by the book, Sidney produced the lengthiest review that we have seen of this title. His commentary includes at the start: “It is such a rich source of information, facts, anecdotes and images that the most avid aviation buffs can gorge themselves … the depth of research … indicates a labour of love by the authors. Nothing less could inspire such a comprehensive account.” Sidney goes on: “A good deal of thought has been given to the book’s organization … This logical form of presentation, coupled with a lengthy index, helps both the casual reader and the more serious researcher to home in on specific areas”, then winds up about the authors that they are to be complimented, “… for creating this fine testimony to the quarter-million members of the Royal Canadian Air Force who valiantly served the cause of freedom …”

Also in December 1990, one of aviation’s greatest journalists and publishers (the late) John Wegg wrote about RCAF at War in “In Flight” magazine. John began his review: “Stunning, superb, unrivalled.” After the usual summary of content and organization, he concluded: “Everyone who has had contact with the RCAF in this period will snap up this treasure, destined to be a collector’s item of the 21 st Century.” I really like John’s take on our $75 sticker price – “It works out to just 15 cents a page, or, 5 cents a photo”! Then again … no one knew an aviation book better than John Wegg. Rest in peace, old pal.

What place does RCAF at War hold today in the wide domain of RCAF history? Sad to say, but by 2020 it’s yet another forgotten Canadian aviation book. But did it ever bask in its well-deserved glory for a brief moment. Naturally, to this day RCAF HQ in Ottawa has no idea about this book.

What was the bottom line for this book? As usual, that starts with the invoice from our great printer back in those days, The Bryant Press. There were many other expenses from graphics (quoted at $15,356) to brochures, magazine and newspaper advertisements, book launching, thousands in postage and shipping, taxes galore, etc. In the end it never was easy to make a penny in books, but we were always dumb enough to keep trying. From Bryant came this rude awakening — $75,222.50 for 3959 copies. Some years later Van Well Publishing in St. Catharines did a 1500 reprint. There are no new copies left, but I see today (December 5, 2020) 72 copies for sale at http://www.bookfinder.com many being reasonably priced below $90++. If you earnestly follow RCAF history and don’t yet have a copy, you really ought to buy in. You’ll be making a solid long-term investment:


Our invoice for printing and binding for Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945.

Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story by Hugh A. Halliday 1992

In 1992 CANAV published a ground-breaking history of two great WWII fighters, the Hawker Typhoon and Tempest. At the time this seemed to Hugh and I to be a good time to tell this story, since so many pilots who had flown these planes in combat in the RAF and RCAF still were on the go. We rolled out the book at a gala event at Canadian Force Staff School officers mess in Toronto, then let the book speak for itself. Naturally, all with an interest soon were reading Typhoon and Tempest, and the reviews were glorious. Today, the book is long out-of-print, but it did the job we set out to accomplish.

Here are excerpts from one of the many reviews. These comments are from Bill Musselwhite of the “Calgary Herald”: “A splendid book … pure history but … thoroughly readable… the book’s backbone is made up of those who climbed into the cockpits to dodge flak and telephone wires while taking out trains and tanks.”

This is how the French journal, “Air Action” reacted in its Vol.1, No.1, Summer 1993. Being the book professional that he is, reviewer Jean-Michel Guhl began by honouring the existing body of published Typhoon and Tempest history, while explaining that many extant books seemed a bit short of specific history of the people involved. He credited Halliday with visiting the archives to study the RCAF personnel documents for many individuals, and going out to interview many of them, to tap their memories, view their logbooks, and see what photos and documents they still might have. Guhl concluded, “Printed and bound to the high standards we’ve come to expect from Larry Milberry’s publishing company, Typhoon and Tempest is a superb and thoroughly researched work… In this truly pleasant book, Halliday provides us with action from cover to cover… One more ‘Must’ from CANAV Books.”

Meanwhile, in its February edition the inimitable “Aviation News” printed its own take on our Typhoon and Tempest effort. This sharp- minded reviewer also acknowledges the important existing literature, then explains, as did Guhl, how Halliday’s work in the official personnel records resulted in a valuable new perspective. “Aviation News” found our photo selection and appendices to be magnificent, then concluded that the book is “a very fitting tribute” to all the Canadians who had served on these two mighty fighters. Much respected “Aeroplane Monthly” also (September 1993) gave a positive run-down of the book, concluding, “The former Typhoon pilot certainly has nothing to complain about with this book.”

For production, this time I went to a good Ottawa book manufacturer, Tri-Graphic (also long ago defunct). This likely was based on the quotes I had received from other printers. Tri-Graphic was good to work with and turned out a really outstanding product. Typhoon and Tempest: The Canadian Story is revered to this day by true fans of the RCAF’s great heritage. Anyone interested in a copy can fish around on the web. bookfinder.com has 51 on sale today starting at $64.00++. Here’s the quotation I received back in 1990 from Tri-Graphic. The book was still two years away, so these projects were never for the faint of heart.

Some Great Lakes Shipping Photos

As keen young aviation fans, most of us also were getting interested in photographing other subjects. The more we hung out together, the more we learned and broadened our horizons. Several of us having gone into teaching, we quickly realized how we could use our camera skills to boost our classroom productivity. To this day (50-60 years later) former students still comment about the slide shows we’d use to brighten up and intensify a lesson.

As good pals since about 1959, Nick Wolochatiuk and I became famous among the Toronto aviation hobbyists for our exotic non- aviation field trips. One of our many haunts was the Toronto waterfront, where we photographed any ship we came across. Soon we were making Great Lakes driving tours chasing planes, boats, trains, you name it. We could never understand why for some of our buddies there was nothing worth photographing than airplanes. But … chaq’un a sa choix, right.

I’ve dusted off a few of the ancient slides I shot of Great Lakes tankers mainly spotted in Toronto harbour about 50 years ago. The diehard Great Lakes fans will know more about these ships that I. Happily, I still have my hefty 1968 Canadian Department of Transport List of Shipping. This invaluable book provides the essential facts for most of the tankers shown:

I’ll start today with two photos I took as a fan of Great Lakes shipping over decades. The Imperial Windsor was a tanker built at Haverton Hill-on-Tees in 1927. She previously (to 1947) had been the Windsolite. At 250 feet by 43 feet 2 inches and with an 18-foot draft and 1990 gross tonnage, she was ideal for the canals of the pre- Seaway Great Lakes. I took this shot in Toronto Harbour on April 7, 1969 as Imperial Windsor was heading for the Western Gap, then the only entrance to the harbour for large ships (today the few big ships that visit used the rebuilt Eastern Gap), while small vessels use the Western Gap. The winter photo was taken on December 26, 1970 as Imperial Windsor was departing the ship canal in the far eastern harbour. That’s the famous R.L. Hearne coal-fired generating station in the background – coal still was king in those times. It kept hundreds of ships busy year ‘round on the lakes. You can see that Imperial Windsor was well-laden in both cases, so she looks very tanker-like. A great source for details about such ships is “The Scanner”, the monthly newsletter of the Toronto Marine Historical Society. Such Great Lakes publications are equal if not more detailed and passionate in their content as the best in aviation journals. For example, its May 1971 edition “The Scanner” reported:

The Port of Toronto was officially opened for the 1971 season on March 24th when the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR arrived with a cargo for the Imperial terminal here. The ship was also the first vessel to leave winter quarters this spring, having cleared port at the beginning of the same week. All told, it was a record-setting winter for the veteran canaller. She had also closed out the 1970 navigation season for Toronto, arriving in port on January 8th, 1971.”

Later, Imperial Windsor was sold to Hall Shipping as the Cardinal. This report showed up in “The Scanner” of April 1973:

As we announced recently, Hall’s subsidiary, Algonquin Corporation Ltd., had purchased the tanker IMPERIAL WINDSOR and was in the act of having her name changed to CURLEW. As the papers were being processed, the Canadian Government brought it to Halco’s attention that there already was a fishtug by the name of CURLEW on the register and accordingly this could not be used as the new name for the tanker. Since CURLEW was to be named for a former Hall vessel, the company did some quick checking into their fleet lists and came up with the name CARDINAL which will now be used. The new name will honour not only the town of Cardinal on the old St. Lawrence Canals, but also a wooden tug, built in 1875, which served the Hall fleet for a short period around 1911.

Reading this, anyone can see how pricelessly important are such historical society journals and newsletters.

What a great historical resource such a ship would be (museum- wise) on the Toronto waterfront. Sad to say, however, Imperial Windsor went for scrap in 1974. On May 23, 1974 she had been up- bound in fog on Lake Erie, bound for Sarnia, when she was in a serious collision off Pelee Island with the 7600-ton Great Lakes bulk carrier George M. Steinbenner. Two Cardinal crewmen had to be cut from their smashed forecastle and flown to hospital by US Coast Guard helicopter. George M. Steinbrenner was lightly damaged, but Cardinal was un-repairable (see http://www.boatnerd.com ). At https://amp.en.google-info.org/ there’s a short clip about life aboard Imperial Windsor.

In its August 26, 1974 edition, the “Globe and Mail” printed a very worthy letter-to-the-editor from former Imperial Windsor crewman, J.M. Prince:

You published a picture (Aug. 20) of the S.S. Cardinal being towed out of Toronto Harbor bound for the scrap yards of Hamilton. Such an ignominious end for such a fine ship. Since the mid-1920s she had served her owners well, carrying petrochemical products for years as the Imperial Windsor, part of the great Imperial Oil fleet, and for the past two years for Hall Corp. as the Cardinal. And now, after almost fifty years of service, to end up just another carload of scrap for Stelco’s furnaces. During my five weeks service on her as an Ordinary Seaman and then as Able Seaman, I rarely gave any thought to her cramped quarters, or grotesquely blunt shape, but rather, as did the rest of the crew under Captain Walter Poole, her ease of handling and plucky ability to plow through the roughest weather to her destination. Funny-looking she may have been, but she had a heart.

Views of the Johnston Shipping Ltd’s tanker, Gulf Sentinel (previously B.A. Sentinel — as in British American Oil Co., and, even earlier, was Good Hope). At 178 feet 9 inches by 34 feet 2 inches and 649 gross registered tonnage, she had been built in 1933 at Wallsend, UK. Her engine produced 600 hp compared to 900 for Imperial Windsor. I photographed this dowdy-looking little tanker first at the end of a long winter in March 1972 in the eastern ship channel. Then, I caught it from Toronto Island Airport on September 17, 1973, as it was departing with a light load headed for the Western Gap. The CN Tower is rising in the distance. Toronto’s skyline was hardly noticeable by today’s standards. These small tankers often were in the bunker fuel trade, refuelling ships far and wide in the Seaway system, or delivering bulk fuel to remote Great Lakes bulk fuel storage centres like Byng Inlet or Brit on Georgian Bay. In its April 1974 edition, “The Scanner” had some notes for Gulf Sentinel:

Also on the subject of bunkering services, we can report that the small tanker GULF SENTINEL (whose charter to Gulf for the Lake Ontario bunker trade has not been renewed) will be chartered this year to Shell, her earlier owners. She will be taken to Sarnia, but it is not yet clear whether she will run a mobile service from the Shell dock at Corunna (which might counteract the competition from the newdock at Windsor and at the same time eliminate the long lineups of steamers in the Stag Island channel), or whether she may be destined to run a cross-river service in a move to eliminate the traffic of tank trucks through the town of Marine City and over on the ferry DALDEAN. One thing is sure – she will certainly get a new name. We might hope that her old name of RIVERSHELL might be returned to her.

At a glance I don’t see any info on the web telling the fate of Gulf Sentinel.
Like Imperial Windsor, Texaco-Brave also was built at Haverton Hill- on-Tees, but two years later. She had almost the same specs. She previously had been Cyclo Brave. The February 1975 issue of “The Scanner” summarized Texaco-Brave’s long life just before she was sold for scrap:

There she sits in all her splendour, her paint a bit faded now but still a cut above the other ships nearby. Her black hull with its bright orange boot-top and red-and-white trunk still looks sound. Big she’s not, but beautiful she surely is as she presses her bow up tight against the bridge, lifting her head up majestically as if she really were getting ready to do battle once again with the stormy lakes. As if… Forty-six seasons of hard use have been kind to the TEXACO- BRAVE, but the end has to come sometime… The flag at half-staff is appropriate to the BRAVE’s present situation. The BRAVE began her life back in 1929 as Hull 145 of the Haverton Hill-on-Tees yard of the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd. Of course, back then she was christened JOHN IRWIN (I) and she entered service for the McColl- Frontenac Oil Company Ltd., the predecessor of her current owner, Texaco Canada Ltd. With a length of 250 feet and gross tonnage of 1,926, she was a typical steam-powered canal tanker similar to many others produced by British yards for the McColl-Frontenac, British American and Imperial Oil fleets. Her triple-deck bridge was set back off the forecastle and she sported a tall, well-raked funnel sprouting from a cabinless quarterdeck.

She sailed as JOHN IRWIN until 1940, was known as CYCLO- BRAVE until 1947, and then took her present name which, incidentally, is not spelled with the hyphen in the registers, but which is hyphenated on the bow and stern of the ship. She has always been kept in immaculate condition and by now must have more paint on her than any other ship her age. Normally used in lake service, the BRAVE has spent the last two years operating on the St. Lawrence River. During the summer of 1974 she lost almost a month of service due to boiler problems.

TEXACO-BRAVE arrived at Toronto on November 11 and did not let down steam until December 20, a fact that led us to speculate in our last issue that she had received a mechanical refit. Not only didn’t we get on base with that guess, we didn’t even hit the ball! Seems that Texaco was simply waiting to see if a deal could be closed on a new boat before a decision was made on the future of the BRAVE. Now Texaco Canada Ltd. has purchased a 2,901-ton, 48,000 bbl.- capacity British tanker which was built in 1970 for Thun Tankers Ltd. and given the unlikely name of THUNTANK 6. In 1972 she was sold to Thames Tankers Ltd. and rechristened with the equally unlikely name of ANTERIORITY. She will make her appearance on the lakes in 1975 under the name of TEXACO-WARRIOR (II). Meanwhile, scrap bids have been called for TEXACO-BRAVE.

Why do we write this sentimental tripe about the demise of just another superannuated and outmoded ship? Well, we just happen to think that the disappearance of the last example of a particular class of vessel is worthy of special mention. And that is exactly what the BRAVE is – the last operating steam canal tanker on the lakes (excluding the converted CAPE and COVE TRANSPORT). The last of a beautiful breed that was once so common. She’ll never pass this way again and never more will we hear her deep steam whistle echoing across the stillness of a hot August night on Toronto Bay. But for just a little while longer, she’ll rest in her spot by the bridge, showing off her lines for all to see, even if most who pass don’t care. So do her honour of going down to the Cherry Street bridge over Toronto’s Ship Channel. Sure, take your camera along, but just stand there on the bridge for a minute and think about what you’re seeing. And take your hat off, buster, ’cause you’re watching the passing of a lady.

In April 1975 the tugs G.W. Rogers and Bagotville towed Texaco- Brave from Toronto to Ramey’s Inlet near Port Colborne on Lake Erie to be scrapped. In 1978 a new Texaco Brave of 8545 gross registered tonnage was built in Japan for the eastern Canada trade. Still on the Great Lakes in 2020, she operates in the Algoma fleet as Algoeast.

The tanker Elmbranch of Montreal’s famous Branch Line empty and at slow speed leaves the eastern ship channel on August 20, She was built in Collingwood in 1944 as one of the famed (and great looking) wartime “Park” ships — Norwood Park. As such she was 251 feet and 2381 grt. In 1960 she was lengthened at Sorel to 321 feet and 3367 grt. Elmbranch left Canadian service in 1977. Sold, it went to Panama, becoming Whitsupply II. Stranded off St. Maarten in 1989, she was scuttled. For the best history from a Canadian viewpoint of the great “Park” ships, you really should track down a copy of the great Robert Halford’s 1995 book, The Unknown Navy: Canada’s World War II Merchant Navy.
Built in Sorel in 1950 by Marine Industries, the 284-foot tanker Willowbranch often visited Toronto back in the day. In 1966 she was back in Sorel for a major re-fit. Here she’s moored on the north side of the eastern ship channel on August 1, 1969. Those were the days when the east end of Toronto harbour had its historic trademarks of tank farms, mountains of coal and salt, and scrap metal operations. All ugly stuff but absolutely indispensible to keep any modern society operating. On July 15 1959 Willowbranch had collided outside Halifax harbour with Imperial Halifax (Imperial Halifax later was Congar, see below)You can see the results of the lawsuit that followed the collision at: https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc- csc/en/item/6843/index.do?site_preference=normal&pedisable=true. The stats given here for Willowbranch show that she was a smaller boat before being re-built in 1966. Willowbranch was laid up at the end of the 1975 shipping season and was scrapped in Toronto in 1978.
Congar of the Johnston Shipping Ltd. fleet was around Toronto and Hamilton for years while we were in our Great Lakes ships phase. She seemed to be mainly in the bunkering trade. Here she is riding high in the Eastern Turning Basin (at the eastern head of Toronto’s ship channel) on September 8, 1969. In the winter months this basin usually was packed with laid-up lake vessels. Congar had been built under a wartime contract in 1945 in Sunderland, England as Empire Maldon. She was sold as war surplus in 1946 to Imperial Oil of Toronto. There she sailed as Imperial Halifax until 1969, when sold on to Johnston Shipping Ltd. This is the same ship described above in the Halifax collision. Her final voyage brought her into in Toronto in 1975. Soon after, Congar was scrapped in Hamilton. For further details see such wonderful Great Lakes shipping sites as https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/c/congar-
Imperial Sarnia was launched in Collingwood in 1948, then re- built in Sorel in 1954. In 1953 she left the Great Lakes trade to journey down the Mississippi and up the east coast back to Sorel. There she received the ocean-going (i.e. “salty”) bow seen here. She returned to the lakes in 1965, then was sold to Provmar Fuels Inc. of Hamilton in 1983, becoming the fuel barge Provmar Terminal II. She still was there in the early 2010s. Here Imperial Sarnia is steaming light out of the eastern shipping channel on May 21, 1973. She was 396 feet x 53 feet x 4580 grt.
Here’s the well-known lakes tanker Liquilassie at the Snell Lock near Cornwall on August 19, 1970. This historic ship is described in this nicely-crafted item from “The Niagara Falls Review” of May 20, 2016:

It was 35 years ago that the once well-known Great Lakes tanker Liquilassie struck the Gandy Bridge at Tampa, Fla. The vessel, operating as a barge on Feb. 6, 1981, was inbound when it caused $174,000 damage to the bridge and closed a vital land link for three months. Liquilassie had been built at Duluth, Minn. in 1943 and left the Great Lakes, via the Mississippi River system, to serve Creole Petroleum, part of Standard Oil, around Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. The 111.56-metre-long tanker was too large for the old St. Lawrence locks, but was able to get to saltwater by way of the mid-continent route due to its shallow draft. Originally known as Temblador, the vessel often loaded crude oil for Aruba and trans-shipment north. Once again, the shallow draft came in handy and the vessel could carry 42,000 barrels of petroleum.

Following a sale to Porter Shipping, Temblador returned to the Great Lakes in 1960 and was renamed Liquilassie in 1961. It operated around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, and often took cargoes directly from deep sea carriers anchored at Montreal to allow the latter sufficient draft for them reach the dock. Liquilassie was reduced to a barge in 1977 and saw service around the lakes, where the vessel often carried liquid asphalt. It departed our inland seas in November 1980 for the Gulf of Mexico, only to get into trouble in the south. Since then, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge has been built to replace the vehicular traffic across the old Gandy Bridge. The latter, which had dated from 1956, later served as the Friendship Trail Bridge. Liquilassie took a cargo of liquid fertilizer to Tahiti in 1982 and spent the rest of its career in the South Pacific.

An addendum adds a note that could be considered a brief obituary: “The cargo tanks were cleaned in the spring of 1987 pending the sinking of the hull as an artificial reef at Tonga.” Photographing ships was much the same as the many other interests we had been following since the late 1950s – planes, ships, trains, antique cars, streetcars, bridges, historic buildings, anything really. Certainly, it all was similar to chasing airplanes, our main hobby. I recall several great trips with Nick Wolchatiuk from about Sometimes we’d circumnavigated the Great Lakes in 2-3 weeks. Of course we’d stop at Duluth, Minnesota to photograph the F-89J Scorpions, F-106s and whatever other aviation we could find as we scorched down the highways and byways in “NJW’s” VW bug with his red canoe on top. But… if the place was a port, as was Duluth, we’d normally see what was tied up at the dock, or, visit the local marine museum, as we did in such places as Chicago and Erie, PA. Photographing an airplane or a ship was pretty well similar. If your subject was static, you usually picked a slightly front angle (ships rarely look all that great from the rear). If your ship was under way, however, you had all day to get your shot lined up, compared to panning a North Star on approach, or, a sizzling Golden Hawk Sabre whizzing across the Toronto Island Airport during the CNE airshow. One way or the other, it all the as good fun as young fellows could have had back in the day.

You Wanted More Bob Finlayson Pix

Not surprisingly, all you serious aviation fans loved our recent Robert Finlayson  “slideshow”. Folks never tire of good, basic airplane photography showing such wonderful types. At the last moment, I’ve picked a few more from this rare collection, but haven’t had the time to get too in-depth with the historical details. Anyone who can add some hardcore details, please send along to larry@canavbooks.com Let’s start with the standard production light planes starting (above) with Luscombe 8A CF-FZD, which Bob shot at Mount Hope on June 4, 1967. According to the invaluable Canadian Civil Aircraft Register site historiccar.ca “FZD” was imported in 1947. As you’ve seen on some of our earlier blogs about light planes, over the decades many such aircraft suffer accidents of varying degrees. On April 29, 2001, “FZD” did just that, flipping onto its back, while landing at a private farm strip near London, Ontario. How goes “FZD” in 2020?
 A beautiful Stinson Voyageur 150 4-seater, CF-VME is seen at Mount Hope on October 22, 1967. The “108” always is a peach of an airplane to see and photograph. When Bob took this photo, “VME” recently had been imported from the US and was visiting from Niagara Falls. What became of this postwar classic? Today, its registration is used on a Robinson R44 helicopter.
Ercoupe CF-MMS at Mount Hope on July 30, 1967. Built in 1946, it was imported in 1960. The basic specs of such classic postwar types usually can be found by using the search box for the blog or go to wiki. Last heard of in 2016, “MMS” had moved west to Alberta. 
Bob photographed Republic Seabee CF-GAD at Buttonville airport, situated a  short distance north of Toronto and now part of Markham. The date was September 16, 1967 when an airshow was going on. You can see a trio of Harvards zipping along in the distance.
Bob shot this handsome little Cessna 150G at Mount Hope on August 6, 1967. The markings would have been familiar to any local aviation fan. Central Airways at Toronto Island Airport was known from coast to coast as one of Canada’s top flying schools. Running since just after the war, its famous owners were brothers Bob and Tom Wong. On September 21, 1969 Michael Mushet invited me to fly with him as his first passenger, he having recently earned his private pilot licence. All went well on our “historic” little flight – in “VGQ”. Michael went on to instruct student pilots over many years and to enjoy aviation adventures enough to fill a book..
Bob caught this great Mount Hope scene on August 14, 1966. Refueling is Bowers Fly Baby CF-RXL. One of the classic postwar homebuilts, the Fly Baby was designed by the great hobby aviator and photographer, Pete Bowers (1918-2003). It’s worth your time to look up Pete on the web. He flew his prototype in 1962, then sold plans to hundreds of avid homebuilders. The great Canadian EAA pioneer, George Welsh, built “RXL” around 1965. In May 2020 it was lost in a crash, when the engine failed after takeoff. The pilot, Mr. Horsten, survived with injuries.
How’s this for as cute a wee biplane homebuilt as you’ll ever see. Bob would never pass a chance to shoot any such treasure. Smith Miniplane CF-YSC is shown at Brampton, Ontario in August 1970. I have no history for this plane.
CF-PKX at Mount Hope on October 1, 1967. This is another standard Finlayson photo. Bob knew that all small biplanes look quite attractive in a rear ¾ view. “PKX” was a 1963 “Little Toot” built by the team of Gelder and Ellis of Brantford, Ontario, and is yet another classic of early EAA years. George Meyer did the original design in 1952. A Little Toot could use as big an engine as a 180-hp Lycoming 0-360 and hit 135 mph. Plans for this type still are available, as they are for other homebuilts of the 1950s.
Bob photographed Gerry Younger’s beautiful Pitts Biplane at Mount Hope on August 21, 1967; then Ron Ellis’ 1973 Pitts S2A there at the June 1981 airshow.
Bob also always was on the lookout for any light twins that might be visiting Mount Hope. Here are two real gems: Apache CF-WSP and Goose CF-IFN. He caught them both on a sunny and snowless December 17, 1967. “WSP” belonged to Mooney Aviation at Toronto Island, while “IFN” was owned by big time Toronto mining man, M.J. Boylen. It was based for years at Toronto’s Malton Airport. Since 1991 a Zenair 200 has carried registration C-FWSP, so the Apache had disappeared by then. “IFN” later was sold in the USA, but returned to Canada. As C-FPCK it flew with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Sadly, it was lost in a disastrous mountainside crash soon after departing Vancouver on November 16, 2008.

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.

CANAV History 3A

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”:

CANAV History 19 Feature Financial Post 25-6-1983

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.”