The Great Bob Halford and His De Havilland Canada Archive

One of Canada’s leading aviation journalists and publishers was Robert G. Halford of Winnipeg. Having served in the Merchant Navy in WWII, Bob learned to fly, then was a cub reporter in Dryden in Northwest Ontario. In the late 1940s he became a junior writer at “Aircraft and Airport” magazine in Toronto.

Bob Halford WWII Merchant Navy

BLOG 2 - Bob Halford at The Brogue 28-2-2002

Bob Halford as a young man in the Canadian Merchant Navy. Then the famous quartet with whom I enjoyed many an inspiring lunch at The Brogue in Port Credit: Fred Hotson (DHC, nearest) and Ron Picker (Canadair) on the left, and Bob Halford (nearest) and Dave Clark (Canadair) on the right. When “Aircraft” magazine folded, Bob and his wife established The Canadian Aircraft Operator in Mississauga, a solid publication for readers in all aspects of aviation. “The Operator” continued to about 1990, when the Halfords retired. A few years later, Bob handed over his complete aviation archive to me. Many CANAV Books titles are the richer, thanks to Bob’s thoughtfulness. De Havilland Canada had figured hugely in Bob Halford’s world, beginning with the little DHC-1 Chipmunk in the late 1940s. This week let’s have a look at a fraction of the photos comprising the Halford/CANAV Books Collection:

BLOG 3 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk Line

With wartime contracts cancelled and most employees laid off over the summer of 1945, de Havilland of Canada had to scurry to keep its doors open. The old pre-war Fox Moth was reintroduced, some Mosquitos were sold to Chaing Kai-Shek’s army fighting Mao Tse Tung, and some PBYs were civilianized. But something more future-oriented was needed. The solution was a new basic trainer to replace the old wartime Tiger Moth. This project became the DHC-1 Chipmunk. Shown is the beginning of Chipmunk production at DHC. The Chipmunk first flew on May 22, 1946.

BLOG Halfdord De Havilland Book Cover

Details of this era are best found in Fred Hotson’s landmark book The De Havilland Canada Story (later revised as De Havilland in Canada). Copies can be found at … no kidding, you need this one.

BLOG 6 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk CF-DIO-X

Sleak and shiny Chipmunk No.1 CF-DIO-X at Downsview in 1946 with a crowd of proud DHC fellows. A.F. “Sandy” MacDonald is 2 nd from the right, then are W.J. “Jaki” Jakimiuk, P.C. “Phil” Garratt and W.D. “Doug” Hunter.

BLOG 7 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk CF-FHY

Chipmunk CF-FHY in the early years at DHC. Note how the canopy had changed from the squarish look to the bubble type. Most Canadian Chipmunks featured the bubble, while those built under licence in the UK, India, etc. had the squarish look.

BLOG 8 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunks CF-DJF-X

BLOG 9 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk CF-CXB

A pair of early Chipmunks on a bright winter’s day at Downsview. Then, a fine air-to-air shot of CF-CXB, part of a batch built for the Canadian Flying Clubs Association.

BLOG 10 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver No.1 CF-FHB First Flight Day 1946

Following the Chipmunk came the DHC-2 Beaver. First flown on August 16, 1947 by Russ Bannock, the Beaver went on to global fame as one of the great bushplanes. I found this historic view of prototype CF-FHB-X in Bob’s DHC files. It was taken a few minutes before Russ fired up “FHB” on first flight day at Downsview. The crowd would have been anxious to see how “their baby” was going to fly! Where is “FHB” today? Thanks to the stalwart efforts of the very founder of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ken Molson (nothing seems to work to get Ken inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame) “FHB” today is a premier display at the CASM in Ottawa.

BLOG 11 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Chipmunk DJS + Beaver FHB

The Halford files have endless surprises. For example, I only lately noticed this photo – “FHB” with an early Chipmunk.

BLOG 12 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver Final Assembly

BLOG 12A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver Line

Beaver production gets under way. Some 1600 eventually would be built. Beavers remain popular far and wide to this day and come in many versions compared to the “basic” old DHC-2.

BLOG 12B HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver Cockpit

The standard Beaver cockpit set-up c1950.

BLOG 12C HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 People scene Russ Bannock PC Garratt 19-8-1947 Milberry Collection 2019

People around “de Hav” were known as a jolly bunch, who loved their jobs. Here’s a typical scene from early Beaver days. Test pilot Russ Bannock, “big boss” Phil Garratt, and some co-workers are getting a good laugh out of something. Russ was a famous WWII Mosquito ace, while Phil had been a WWI DH bomber pilot.

BLOG 13 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Aerial View C1950

Here’s the “big picture” at DHC in the early 1950s. We’re looking north. At the bottom is some of the new housing spurred on by jobs at DHC. Notice the tightly-packed parking lot – things were hopping. You can see the big new post-war DHC factory in the middle ground. Across the field are the wartime hangars where the Mosquito was built. See the twin white towers to the left of there? Those were newly-erected jet engine test cells needed to support DHC’s contracts overhauling jet engines for the RCAF. These solid concrete structures still stand as artifacts of a forgotten era. Much of the land in the mid-part of this scene today comprises Downsview Park. New production bays have been added over the decades. Today, these turn out Bombardier Q400s and bizjets.

BLOG 14 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver CF-FHF Toronto Bay

Here’s a lovely 1951 Beaver pose: Serial No. 19 CF-FHF purring over Toronto Bay with the city’s iconic islands below. Soon “FHF” was delivered to the BC Pulp and Paper Co. Sadly, it would crash disastrously in Labrador in 1996. As often happens with wrecks, however, it was recovered, rebuilt, and flies to this day back on the BC coast.

BLOG 15 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver CF-GQE-X

There were many Beaver R&D projects, including CF-GQE with its ungainly empennage. This was the prototype for the Beaver with a 550-hp Alvis Leonides engine (vs the standard 450-hp P&W R985). After years in the UK, “GQE” served on missionary duties in South America. It later had a Polish PZL engine. In the 2010s it was in Saskatchewan as C-GHGN. Really … Beavers do have their stories to tell. Happily, these are beautifully covered on Neil Aird’s website … make a point to visit!

BLOG 16 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver OBS Dolly Take-Off_1

BLOG 17 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Beaver OBS Dolly Take-Off_2

Fred Hotson writes hilariously about efforts one day to launch a Beaver from a makeshift dolly. But dolly takeoffs soon became common. Here, the Ontario government’s CF-OBS (Serial No.2) “has a go” at Downsview. “OBS” today resides in the Bush Plane Heritage Museum at Sault Ste. Marie.

BLOG 18 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 L-20 Beaver medevac version

BLOG 19 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Budworm spray Beavers New Brunswick 1950s CF-GCZ

BLOG 20 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Field Air NZ top dressing Beavers Phil Hanson photo

Beavers quickly were at work around the world, whether as US Army L-20s doing air ambulance work in Korea, spraying the dreaded spruce budworm in New Brunswick, or as “ag” planes dropping fertilizer on sheep grazing lands in New Zealand. Fieldair’s ZK-CKC had begun as a 1956 US Army L-20, then reached New Zealand in 1964 to do ag work. It was wrecked in a 1968 prang. ZK-CLP (beyond) had also been a military L-20. It was destroyed by fire in a 1969 ag accident.

BLOG 22 Beaver 500 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019

Beaver No.500 at Downsview in May 1962. It may read “For Export” on the side, but No.500 became CF-MAA with the Manitoba government. Today it resides with the (presently dormant) aviation museum in Winnipeg.

BLOG 23 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter First Flight Day

DHC-3 Otter prototype CF-DYK-X ready at Downsview for its first flight on December 12, 1951. The great test pilot, George Neal, did the honours that day. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did. Note DYK’s small vertical tail. This quickly was redesigned to give a lot more area. “DYK” later was RCAF 3667 used for some exotic flight test programs at DHC. From 1965 it was CF-SKX for further trials, then was sold to Lamb Airways in 1969. While with Laurentian Air Service, on May 1, 1970 both wings came off “SKX” during a fatal test flight from Ottawa.

BLOG 23A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter as King Beaver 1951

Even by May 1951 DHC still was referring to the Otter by its original name — King Beaver. This diagram shows it configured for aero medical evacuation.

BLOG 24 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter US Army 55-3290

One of many US Army U-1A Otters from the 1950s. 55-3290 shows how it could carry a ready-to-fight squad. U-1As served in many theatres and were (along with L-20s) prominent in the Vietnam War. “3290” eventually ended back in Canada – at Kenora on Lake-of-the-Wood as C- GCQK with a 1000-hp PZL engine. In 2004 it migrated to Alaska to work as N560TR. By that time it had logged more than 15,000 flying hours.

BLOG 25 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter RCAF 3684 wheel_skis

Otter No.45 at Downsview on wheel/skies in 1954 ready for delivery. RCAF 3654 would have a short life. While on a supply run on the Labrador coast on December 15, 1956, it cracked up on landing. The damage was severe, so 3654 was “written off” as a dead loss.

BLOG 26 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter Philippines

Otters would serve on every continent. PAL Otters PI-C51 and C-52 were welcomed when they reach the Philippines in 1955 to serve remote communities. The great Otter aficionado Karl Hayes explains, “The benefits of these Otter services were clear. The land journey from Gingoog to Buenavista took five hours by car and cost 40 pesos. The Otter took 20 minutes and the fare was 9 pesos. Bislig to Davao was a 50 minute Otter flight – the alternative was a week on a coastal freighter, which sailed once a month. North from Lianga, the flight to Buenavista took 30 minutes by Otter and there was no land communication except a three-day foot trail.” On June 21, 1957 PI-C52 had to make a forced landing on a road due to engine failure. Both wings were torn off in the attempt, C52 was a complete loss, but all eight aboard were OK. Sadly, on May 20, 1954 PI-C51 crashed, killing all 11 aboard.

BLOG 27 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Otter Final Line

Otter production at Downsview.

BLOG 28 HALFORD DHC File Otter Cox PT6 Prototype

Many Otter mods were devised over the decades. Today, most Otters use turbine engines, mainly the PT6 or Garrett. The first such conversion was done in the 1970s by Ray Cox of Edmonton. The Halford Collection includes this lovely air-to-air photo of his prototype C-FMES-X. Originally (1961) with McMurray Air Services, “MES” next served Gateway Aviation, which crashed it badly near Cambridge Bay in 1973. Cox bought the wreck, repaired it and installed a PT6-27 to prove his brilliant idea that the turbine engine was the way to the Otter’s future. “MES” later was N4247A, when Cox moved to Seattle. On December 19, 1984 it crashed near Boeing Field. There were no injuries, but Cox then was forced to leave his vision behind. Others soon picked up on his PT6 idea and the “DHC-3T” now rules Otter skies.

BLOG 29 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 PC Garrett's amphibious DH60 Moth c1930

Here are a few miscellaneous DHC photos from my Halford files. This of CF-AGL is a rare one (aviation fans just love oddball conversions, right). In 1930 DHC executive Phil Garratt had this Gipsy Moth modified so he could more conveniently make the flight to his Muskoka summer cottage from Downsview. “AGL” simply was mounted to a centerline float and used underwing sponsons for stability on the water. Now, Garratt could take off from Downsview on wheels and land on the lake at his cottage. Later that year “AGL” was sold in Newfoundland. While on a 1932 flight, it disappeared forever. In later years, DHC provided Garratt with Beaver No.1000 CF-PCG, which he flew for years on his Downsview-Muskoka cottage get-aways.

BLOG 30 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 DH90 CF-MPA

Even in tough Depression times, DHC kept its doors open. One profitable sale was of several D.H. 90 Dragonflies to the RCMP. This was the beginning of the now-famous RCMP Air Division. Here is the first aircraft awaiting delivery at Downsview in 1937. CF-MPA served into late 1942, then went for scrap.

BLOG 30A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Sparrow Glider

The Sparrow glider was designed and built during the war by members of the DHC gliding club. Members included W.J. Jakimiuk, who later headed the Chipmunk design team; and Walter Czerwinski, who would create the project-saving fix when a grave design flaw arose with the CF-100 wing-to-fuselage attachment.

BLOG 31 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Mosquito Line 1946

As so well told in Fred Hotson’s book, DHC was swamped with work through WWII. Tiger Moths were mass-produced for the wartime air training plan, then a Mosquito line was established. Meanwhile, much overhaul work was completed. When the war ended, all this came to a screeching halt. To keep something going, the last few Mosquitos were completed while, behind the scenes in Ottawa, a deal was made with Chaing Kai-Shek for about 200 Downsview-made “Mossies” (mainly RCAF aircraft in postwar storage). This rare view shows the last of the DHC Mossies being completed. Beyond, you can see some war surplus PBYs being converted for commercial operators. This “busy work” served its purpose until DHC could find its way in the new peacetime economy.

BLOG 32 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Fox Moth CF-DIR 3-12-1946 at DHC

Also in this period, DHC took the ancient D.H.83 Fox Moth, engineered a few improvements, and offered it to commercial operators. 54 were sold, mainly to Canadian bush operators, but a few were exported as far away as India and Pakistan. Using a bank loan, a young Max Ward purchased a new Fox Moth, set up in Yellowknife, then went on to build Wardair into a respected global airline with 747s. Shown at DHC in August 1946 is postwar Fox Moth CF-DIR. Within a year it was with Nalanda Airways in India.

BLOG 32A HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 First RCAF Vampire TG372 Namao 1947-48

In 1946 the RCAF acquired its first jets – two Meteors and a Vampire. It then ordered 85 Vampires — its first operational jet fighters. These were assembled at Downsview and, later, went back and forth there for overhaul (D.H. Ghost engines included). Shown at Edmonton is TG372 — the first Vampire in Canada. TG372 remains in storage at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Its experience with the Vampire engine likely helped DHC win major overhaul contracts involving the GE J-47 and Orenda series engines used by the RCAF.

BLOG 33 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 Ghost engines at DHC

A busy scene in the DHC engine shop. These look like D.H. Goblins used in the Vampire. For this little-known DHC story see Fred Hotson’s book pages 141-143.

BLOG 34 HALFORD DHC Files 2-2019 VTOL Fighter_2

The Boeing era at DHC in the 1980s involved several R&D projects including a VTOL fighter project (about which little is known). Looking over an engineering model of this design in 1988 are veteran DHC men, Don Whitley, Director of Advanced Projects, and Mike Davey, VP

Cold War Shield, Vol.3 Is Still Available

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Cold War Shield is one of the glorious books covering the post-WWII RAF. A massive, very nicely-produced hardcore history, “CWS” is worth every penny. A few copies still are available. Compiled over a lifetime by renowned UK RAF historian Roger Lindsay, Vol.3 covers the colourful and exciting era of the Swift, Hunter, Javelin and Lightning. For more info, go to


Fighter Pilots and Observers Is on the Move + Chris Thatcher’s News Item about the DND/RCAF F-35 Botch-Up + A220 (Remember the CSeries?) Enters North American Service + The Enduring (Indestructable?) Beech 18 + CF-100 Notes

blog 1 vol.8 dust jacket

Published last October, Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by now “getting out there” and making a firm impression one reader at a time. Here’s a sampling of some of the notes I’ve received so far. Talk about encouraging, right!

“Your latest book is a treasure. Congratulations!”

“I want to express my appreciation and that of my colleagues for your championing Canadian aviation history. Thank you for your dedication.”
“Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever and people will thank you for the photographic research and the captions for years to come. What a great Christmas present it will make.” 

“Rich, nutritious, satisfying.”

Another happy development is the appearance of some fine recognition via the media. For any small Canadian publisher, that’s not the easiest thing to win, especially since many daily newspapers no longer review books. (What? Water down your paper’s intellectual content to save a bit pf space for a few more more adverts?) Happily, this trend is not everywhere. On December 31, for example, the Ottawa Citizen (traditionally a friend to Canadian arts and culture) published this succinct commentary under the banner, “New Books of Interest on Military and Foreign Affairs”, by journalist David Pugliese:

Aviation in Canada: Figher Pilots and Observers 1915- 1939 By Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday

This book honours Canada’s First World War pioneers of aerial warfare and includes extremely rare photos of some of those young men who were the leaders in the country’s aviation development. There is information on the more famous pilots, such as Victoria Cross winner Billy Bishop but equally covered are those who are no longer well known. The book also covers the interwar years when, following Nov. 11, 1918, some Canadian airmen fought in the Russian civil war. Some of these pilots went on to become Canada’s first bush pilots, helped establish the country’s aviation industry and of course aided in the development of the RCAF . This is another quality product from CANAV Books, with detailed information and an eye-appealing layout on high gloss paper.

Next, on January 9 the Sault Star published an in-depth feature by reporter Brian Kelly. After reading Fighter Pilots and Observers, Brian was especially interested in a former Soo resident whom we cover: Basil Hobbs was a WWI pilot and (postwar) a bush pilot and RCAF officer. Here’s Brian’s nifty story:

Sault’s Basil Hobbs Downed Zeppelin

Bringing down a zeppelin that bombed England during the First World War was a pretty big deal. Sault Ste. Marie resident Basil Deacon Hobbs did just that in June 1917. The British native co-piloted a Curtiss flying boat that brought down the German raider when returning from a patrol over the English Channel. His accomplishment is detailed in Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 by Larry Milberry and Hugh Halliday. The airships were a “terror weapon” which caused “an awful lot of death and destruction” in Great Britain. “The Brits considered themselves for thousands of years to be invulnerable,” said Milberry. Great Britain was “the safest place to be” until these “massive aerial weapons start showing up.” Zeppelin raids killed more than 550 and injured nearly 1,360.

“For a couple of guys to go up in a flimsy old airplane and shoot down one of those things, they were national heroes,” Milberry told The Sault Star during a telephone interview from his home in Toronto. “(Hobbs) was an exceptional Canadian airman in the First World War.” And, probably like many other Canadian aviators [Milberry] and Halliday detail in their new work, the public profile of Hobbs a century after the First World War ended is non-existent. “(He) is well known among people like myself, but to the general public he’s long, long ago forgotten,” said Milberry, publisher of CANAV Books.The Curtiss aircraft Hobbs co-piloted carried a crew of four. A wingspan of nearly 93 feet provided “an immense amount of lift,” said Milberry. Flying boats would usually patrol before sunrise in the area of the Frisian Islands watching for zeppelins returning from night-time missions. “Most days nothing happened,” said Milberry of the patrols. It was “just the luck of the draw” Hobbs and his fellow crew spotted the zeppelin on that mid-June day. “Advancing his throttles, Hobbs soared from 500 to 2,000 feet, then dived for the tail of the unsuspecting ‘zepp’,” Milberry and Halliday write in their 184-page hardcover release. Two fellow aircrew members opened fire with the zeppelin “immediately falling in flames.” Hobbs, who trained at Wright Flying School in Dayton, Ohio and sailed for England in December 1915, is also credited for sinking two  German U-boats while serving with Royal Naval Air Service. A 1987 inductee to Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, Hobbs’s other honours included a Distinguished Flying Cross, Distinguished Service Order and Officer, Order of the British Empire. “This man truly reached for the stars and through his flying achievements and ability in peace and war brought honour to the aviation fraternity of Canada,” the Hall of Fame says. “His tigerish spirit” made him stand out, says Milberry. That includes attacking a German submarine under fire. “He was not a shirker,” said Milberry. “He took his job seriously.” In 1920, Hobbs was part of the first trans-Canadian flight. The cross-country effort in a F-3 seaplane stopped in the Sault in October of that year, landing at Imperial Oil’s dock at the foot of Lucy Terrace. “The reception given the intrepid occupants of the plane was a hearty one,” The Sault Star reported at the time. “The large crowd pressed around the aviators admiringly, while cameras and moving picture machines clicked.” Hobbs, who came to the Sault in 1900 and lived in Korah township, died in 1965. A plaque honouring him was unveiled at St. Luke’s Cathedral in February 1973. Propaganda “on all sides” of the First World War suggested an atmosphere of chivalry in the skies above No Man’s Land. The reality was much more ruthless with pilots seeking advantage by attacking their foes from the rear and centring their fire on the cockpits. Getting out of the trenches was one draw for men to become pilots during the First World War. “Better to have the relatively comfortable life of the airman, while risking the airman’s shortened existence and the likelihood of a fiery death, than continue in the horrible trenches,” said Milberry. Aviation also offered the lure of a type of combat that was “something totally new and exciting.” “Patriotism was always a factor in drawing young men into the military,” said Milberry. Lack of experience meant most new pilots would die in the first four to six weeks of aerial combat. “You had to be lucky to live long enough to get the experience,” said Milberry. “Once a fellow was experienced, and he knew the rules of the game, he had a much better chance of surviving.” “A good half” of the Canadian pilots Milberry and Halliday document in their new book do not appear in any other contemporary books about the country’s military aviation history. Now’s time for younger Canadians to get to know them, says Milberry. “Let’s resurrect some of these great young men,” he said.

The Aviation Press Comments

It’s odd, but for quality aviation book reviews/critques, the Canadian book publisher usually must look abroad. Inexplicably, our homegrown aviation press (even some historical journals) have little space for books. Happily, though, elsewhere in the world the aviation book still is revered. This goes especially for the UK, EU and Down Under. So it is that the first reviews for Fighter Pilots and Observers in the dedicated aviation press are not from Canada, but from the UK. The respected journals “Britain at War”, “Cross & Cockade” (the journal of First World War aviation) and “Flypast” have taken very positive note of “FPO”. Here is what I recently found to my delight in “Britain at War”:

blog 2 britain at war cover hi rez

blog 3 britain at war reviews fighter pilots & observers12-2018blog 4 flypast advert fpo 1-2019 130mmx90mm

Senator critiques defence procurement process

An Ontario Senator says defence procurement needs better oversight and an improved process if it is to avoid the problems affecting the government’s efforts to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-188 fighter jet fleet.

Canada's CF-188 Hornet fighters will be participating in this year's Exercise Maple Flag. Mike Reyno Photo
Until the defence procurement process is overhauled, “Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars,” according to Senator Nicole Eaton. She called Canada’s efforts to replace its CF-188 Hornet fighter jets, pictured, a “fiasco.” Mike Reyno Photo

“The fiasco of fighter jet replacement is the best example of a procurement system that is cumbersome, bureaucratic and beset by political interference,” Senator Nicole Eaton wrote in an article originally published in The Hill Times.

“Unless ministers start to devote close attention to the management of major projects, or until the process is overhauled, Canadians can continue to expect poor outcomes and wasted taxpayer dollars.”

Eaton is a member of the Senate National Finance Committee, which launched a study last fall into the processes and financial aspects of defence procurement. It held its first hearing on Oct. 30 and expects to conclude later this year.

In her article, the senator critiqued the process by which Conservative and Liberal governments have struggled to replace the aging CF-188 Hornets, noting that while both Canada and Australia are members of the U.S.-led Joint Strike Fighter program to develop the F-35, Australia received its first two operational F-35s in December while Canada, as part of an interim measure, is poised to take delivery of the first of 25 “well-used” Australian F-18s.

“As we take possession of Australia’s scrap, Canada is in the early stages of a minimum five-year-long process to pick a replacement for the F-18, which will be more than 50 years old before it is retired in the 2030s,” she wrote.

The current government bears blame for creating some of the problems with the fighter file, she wrote, but “military procurement has bedeviled successive governments, Liberal and Conservative alike.”

She attributed part of the problem to political interference for both partisan advantage and regional turf protection, but said the main reason for “paralysis in military procurement in Canada is it is too cumbersome and bureaucratic. Process is paramount and results are secondary.

“There are layers of committees, depending on the size of the project, with membership from Public Services and Procurement Canada, National Defence, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development,” she wrote.

“The consensus-based decision-making process on which these committees operate is supposed to avoid a big mistake — no doubt an appealing quality for a risk-averse bureaucracy, but the downside is the system is not conducive to fast action. Simply put, the buck stops nowhere.”

Eaton suggested that bureaucratic morass has resulted in an inability to spend allotted project budgets, an indication the government could struggle to fulfil the commitments laid out in its 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE).

“In the last fiscal year, the policy projected capital spending of $6.1 billion, yet only $3.7 billion was spent. This year, $6.55 billion is called for under SSE, but total appropriations to date amount to $4 billion,” she noted. “Given this poor track record, the idea that military spending can be cranked up by 70 per cent over 10 years, as envisioned in Strong, Secure, Engaged, looks increasingly fanciful.

At the Finance committee’s first hearing on the procurement system, Patrick Finn, assistant deputy minister, Materiel at the Department of National Defence, and André Fillion, assistant deputy minister for defence and marine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, faced a barrage of questions on ongoing participation in the F-35 program, the authorities and mandates of interdepartmental committees involved in military procurement, and about the challenge of balancing military requirements with equipment costs and opportunities for Canadian industry.


“Buying a fighter plane isn’t like buying a compact car, and the role of the government is very important. We had to adapt our method of supply to the context of fighter jets,” Fillion told the senators.

He said a draft RFP released in late October “was the result of many months of consultation on all five potential options (to replace the CF-188s).

“There has been a lot of back and forth over the last several months to make sure that what we are asking meets the requirements of the Air Force and ensures that we do not inadvertently limit the competition. I feel very confident that what we’ve put together is fair, open and transparent to all the potential suppliers.”

Finn said the government had met with and learned lessons from allies who had conducted similar fighter replacement programs. He also dismissed some of the concerns about acquiring used Australian aircraft to fill a gap while the government proceeds with the replacement project.

“In our opinion, Canada has the best expertise related to this type of aircraft. Some companies in Montreal do maintenance for the United States and other countries because they have the necessary knowledge,” he said.

“This aircraft will really increase our fleet, and it is not the number of aircraft that counts; it is rather the hours of use in the future. We are looking for an aircraft that will remain in service for another 14 years. What is needed is enough hours on the structural side. We will be able to use these aircraft until the entire fleet is no longer in service.”


Delta Airlines Becomes North America’s First CSeries/Airbus 220 Operator

Take a look here View this email in your browser (then click on the link) to see how Delta of Atlanta is introducing the A220 to North American cities. When you notice “Watch the first episode here”, click, then just enter A220 in the search box and you’ll find several excellent video shorts that will show you a lot about this fantastic airplane — the one that got away — but that’s another story, right. A220 production is still centred in Montreal, but a new factory is being built in Alabama (google “Airbus’ U.S. A220 Manufacturing Facility – Let the Construction Begin”). And … on February 7, 20`9 Delta reported this g=huge news:

Delta’s long-anticipated A220 debut finally takes off

Image : Delta News Hub On February 7, 2019, Delta took its brand new A220-100 to the skies for the very first time. The introduction of the new aircraft type to its fleet has, of course, now gains its own momentum for the U.S. airline. But the fact that precisely this deal − Delta’s A220s order − had previously sparked a trade war between North American plane makers Boeing and Bombardier, makes the event even more significant.

Flight 744 took off from New York’s LaGuardia airport (LGA) in the early hours of the morning, marking the official debut of the state-of-the-art A220-100, Delta proudly announced on the day. The airline is not only the pleased owner of the aircraft, but also its biggest customer worldwide (based on Airbus orderbook as of December 31, 2018).

It is also the first airline in the U.S. to take delivery of the A220, after it was rolled out of the painting hangar in Delta’s signature livery at the A220 final assembly line in Mirabel, Québec (Canada), the European plane maker announced in September  2018. Having recently shaken up and expanded its initial order, Delta is now expecting to eventually have 90 A220s of both available variants in its fleet. Now belonging to Airbus, the aircraft had a different manufacturer and name when the U.S.  legacy carrier first ordered it in 2016. Delta placed a $5.6 billion (at list prices) order for 75 Bombardier SC100s around the same time it cancelled another aircraft order from Boeing, sparking a legal war and tariff battle between the two planemakers. Boeing accused the Canadian government of illegally subsidizing C Series program and launched a trade dispute against Bombardier in 2017 – pointing to Delta’s deal. Consequently, the U.S. government imposed 300% trade duties on C Series planes, but the decision was eventually overruled in 2018.

CANAV Classics Keep Rolling On

The heart and soul of CANAV Books never changes — it’s our readers. Quite a few names on our list go back to CANAV’s origins in 1981, when those sharp readers ordered our  first book, The Avro CF- 100. These solid citizens are still behind our efforts after the better part of 40 years. Even if a title hasn’t quite been “up their ally”, these true supporters invariably order a copy just to show their loyalty. Imaginez-vous! Here are two good examples of reader interest from one recent day on the job here at CANAV — January 22, 2019.

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First, from Manitoba came an email from a long-term reader who, having started as a junior Norseman pilot, ages later retired as a captain off wide bodies. Summarizing his take on Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, he concludes. “Finally finished working my way through the CAE book. What a great amount of material! I don’t know how you do it, just superb. The corporate coverage is a real eye opener as to how things are accomplished. Also, the details about the people involved are fascinating. Well done, for sure! You mention on p.53 about the twin engine trainers. We have two of those in storage out here.”  Little by little, our readers are discovering that The CAE Story is one of the more important and beautifully-produced CANAV titles. I hope you have yours by now. Otherwise, go to where you can order on-line. You’ll revel in this book, even if you have to be dragged to it screaming in protest.

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Next, along came Canada Post with a wonderful letter from Peggy, the widow of renowned Canadair tech rep, Jim Fitzpatrick. Jim worked for Canadair/Bombardier 1951 to 1996. Peggy mentioned how she recently received a copy of The Canadair Sabre and simply had to tell me what this meant to her. She related how she, Jim and their children lived all over the planet, two years here, three years there, while Jim handled tech rep and other company business. They roughed it in Colombia during the FAC’s Canadair Sabre 6 years, later were in Spain supporting the CL-215, in Germany with the Luftwaffe’s Challengers, and elsewhere (people used to have real jobs, remember). Commenting about The Canadair Sabre, Peggy begins, “I wish to thank you for all your hard work putting these 372 pages together … I spent three hours going through the pages starting the moment I opened the box.” Coming from someone who was right there “back in the day”, I’m humbled to hear from this stellar Canadian. It doesn’t get much better for an author. Besides The Canadair Sabre being perpetually “in the moment”, two of my other personal favourites from the CANAV backlist are the Leslie Corness and Wilf White propliner books. These are absolute gems for anyone looking for the ideal gift for any aviation fan. About The Wilf White Propliner Collection, the much-respected journal, “Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight”, commented, “Milberry’s treatment of his subject is personal and meticulous, the photo selection is eclectic and evocative, the captions knowledgeable and informative … thoroughly enjoyable…””Air International” also loved the book, concluding its review: “You will love this book”. Adding to the wave of such reviews, here is what Denis J. Calvert had to say in the November 2006 edition of “Aircraft Illustrated”

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The Enduring (Indestructable?) Beech 18

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An impressive view showing the packed Beech 18 final line at Wichita c1946. From 1937, Beech delivered 100s of these superb airplanes to Canadian operators. The last of 9000+ Beech 18s went to a Japanese customer in 1969. *Click on any image to see it larger. (CANAV Books Col.)

From Piper J-3 to DC-3 and 787 there’s a long list of great airplanes that have served Canada. If these go by general importance, near the top will be the Beechcraft Model 18. Commonly simply called “Beech 18”, “Beech” or (in the RCAF) “Expeditor”, the first of hundreds came to Canada in December 1937 for Starratt Airways of Hudson, a key transportation hub in northwest Ontario. Always forward-thinking, Starratt recognized the potential of Walter Beech’s new design (first flight at Wichita in January 1937). Registered CF-BGY, Starratt’s Beech 18 revolutionized bush flying. Below are three photos of this historic Canadian bushplane. These pix are lifted from p.128 of Air Transport in Canada (no other Canadian book has so much Beech 18 history – “ATC” has more than 80 Beech 18 entries in its index).

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Other “Beeches” soon were in service across Canada with such operators as Canadian Airways, the Hudson’s Bay Co., John David Eaton, and Prairie Airways. Then came WWII, when the Beech 18 became a prominent RCAF utility and training plane. About 150 were taken on RCAF strength in 1940-45.

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An RCAF Beech 18 “Expeditor” in wartime colours at RCAF Station Centralia. Then, a standard looking postwar Expeditor at RCAF Station Winnipeg in 1963. (CANAV Books Col., Hugh A. Halliday)

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Happily, the ultimate book about our subject is still available – Robert Parmerter’s spectacular Beech 18: A Civil and Military History. This book is essential for any reader with a healthy interest in general aviation history. You can order a copy through the Beechcraft Aviation Museum:

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Also in today’s blog are two of my own early Beech 18 photos. Here’s a one that I took at Toronto’s old Malton Airport (today’s YYZ) over the winter of 1959-60. Beech D18S CF-HXU had been built in 1946 for Robinson Airlines of upstate New York. In 1955 it came to Canada for Canadian Aircraft Renters, which operated from Toronto Island Airport as Southern Provincial Airlines (the colour scheme was red, black and white). When “CAR” folded in 1960, CF-HXU migrated west for Saskatchewan Government Airways to do air ambulance and general duties into 1972. Then, it just disappeared, likely going for scrap. Check out the Beech 18’s beautiful lines. Powered by 450-hp P&W R-985 engines, aviation couldn’t have had a finer light twin.

The Beech in Corporate Aviation

Corporate aviation in Canada dates to post-WWI days, when war surplus airplanes such as the Curtiss HS-2L flying boat were adopted by forestry and mineral exploration companies. Since then, business (always keen to use aviation to its benefit) has kept informed about developments. Not surprisingly, when Walter Beech introduced its Model 18 in 1937, business took notice of the attractive and speedy new all-metal twin. Two of Canada’s original corporate Beech 18s flew with the T. Eaton Co. (Toronto) and the Hudson’s Bay Co. (Winnipeg). Subsequently, the Beech became one of Canada’s popular business planes. The first I noted during my airport visits back in high school days was at Dorval in July 1959 — CF-IZO owned by a Quebec real estate company. Others that we would spot back then at Malton were CF-AMY of Automotive Products (Montreal), CF-ANT of furnace manufacturer Anthes-Imperial (St. Catharines), CF-FEM of Federal Equipment (Toronto), CF-GJS of Alnor Construction (Oshawa), CF- HOP of Canadian Breweries (Toronto), CF-JNQ of Chelsea Holdings (Montreal), CF-KJX of J.M. Gardner Ltd. (Noranda) and CF-LPC of International Harvester (Hamilton). Happily, after more than 80 years, several Beech 18s remain airworthy in Canada, mostly as work-a-day floatplanes in the bush.

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Here is CF-MCH at Malton over the summer of 1959. Having begun with the US military in 1943, it was N6424C after the war, then became “MCH” in 1956 with Charlottetown- based Maritime Central Airlines. In 1960 it joined Curran and Briggs, a Toronto construction company that had gotten a big boost in WWII building RCAF airfields and working on the Alaska Highway. Postwar, the company had contracts from 401 Highway in Ontario to the Churchill Falls hydro project in Labrador. With work all over Canada, having a company plane made sense. However, once business receded, “MCH” was sold. Its eventual fate isn’t known, other than it disappeared from the civil aircraft register in July 1964. “MCH” looks spiffy here in its shiny aluminum finish with white top and forest green trim. Note the company logo on the nose. Next time around, I’ll feature a bit more about the always-fascinating Beech 18.

CF-100 News

The Avro CF-100 was the first title published by CANAV Books. That was eons ago in 1981. I still love the gorgeous cover art done by the great Canadian aviation artist, Peter Mossman. Ultimately, the book sold out three printings totalling about 6500 copies, and now is a serious collector’s item. If you need a copy, your best source is or One day lately I checked on the former to find 65 for sale at an average price well over US$100. Failing all else, this shows that it pays to buy early, right!

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Each year the fascinating history and lore of Canada’s renowned CF-100 spreads wider and wider. Recently, there’s been increased interest in this fabulous “Fighter of the Fifties”. The City of Mississauga has done a total clean-up of its CF-100 Mk.5 18619 near the old town of Malton, and CF-100 Mk.5 No.100760 moved from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa for restoration at the Quebec Aviation Museum ( at YHU Longueuil airport. COPA reported on “760”: receives-avro-canuck/ More recently, a tired-looking CF-100 Mk.3 18126 (painted in ersatz prototype colours) received a boost, as reported by the Calgary Herald on January 23, 2019 (also see

Restoration of a Cold War-era fighter has been given liftoff by a city funding commitment, says the head of the Hangar Flight Museum. Although an $82,000  undraising effort fell $20,000 short of its Dec. 31 deadline, the city has agreed to  nject $243,000 into repairing a 1950s- vintage Avro CF-100 Canuck fighter plane, said museum executive director Brian Desjardins. The relative success in collecting $62,000 in just two months was probably a factor in the city’s decision, though fundraising continues for the project, he said. “I have every confidence the restoration will now proceed,” said Desjardins. The twin-engined interceptor jet has been sitting exposed to the elements for decades and has been deteriorating from the inside out, due to its unique metallic composition. It will probably take three years to restore the plane, which will be housed in a large tent hangar on the grounds of the northeast museum, said Desjardins. The museum is also seeking a grant from the province’s Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. “We have to show this is an aircraft that’s been important to the aviation industry in Alberta,” said Desjardins. “It looks like our project is a perfect fit for that program . . . it’s been here for 64 years.” The particular CF-100 came to Alberta with Canada’s armed forces in 1955 and eventually became a static display outside the Centennial Planetarium beginning in the early 1970s. Its fate struck a chord with individual donors with a family connection to the type of aircraft, said Desjardins. “Sons, daughters and families have made personal donations because their fathers had flown the CF-100,” he said. The museum is also expecting to take possession of a Second World War Hawker Hurricane single-engine fighter this spring, after its restoration in Westaskiwin. Also this year, the museum will mark the return of a 1930 de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer. The facility also recently saw its operating budget almost doubled by city officials to $475,000, which will enable it to better curate its collection by hiring a full-time collections manager, said Desjardins. “That’ll help immensely because we have not only our aircraft but other artifacts we need to have documented,” he said. “We’re happy with that, though we still have the smallest city budget among these kinds of organizations.” The museum is also examining the cost of expanding its tent hangar, which is aging and in need of frequent repairs, said Desjardins.

CANAV’s “Aviation in Canada” Series … Give
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So far CANAV has eight spectacular volumes in print in its seminal “Aviation in Canada” series. These books have been produced without a penny of your tax dollar – no government publishing grant has been so much as been applied for. No such aviation books have ever before been produced in Canada – nothing compares, not a chance. Above is the detailed coverage of our efforts (click on image to see larger). Make sure that you have your personal set up-to-date. Failing all else, print off this info sheet and show it to your local public librarian with a strong recommendation to order these important books (to supplement what in most Canadian public libraries is a shelf heavy with “Made-in-the USA” aviation books). Scroll on down a bit to the next item …

SAULT STAR Covers Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers

Brian Kelly of the Sault Star has had a good look at CANAV’s new book. His detailed story appears in this weekend’s edition. Brian focusses on one of the Soo’s most famous aviators — Basil Hobbs, some of whose incredible WWI actions we feature in the book. Read Brian’s story here:

SOMETHING NEW … A Tour of the Montreal Aviation Museum Pierre Gillard of Longueuil offers this outstanding “virtual visit” to the long-standing “MAM”. Check at his blog to see what a fantastic job the museum has been doing over the decades. Next time you are passing through the western reaches of Montreal, perhaps plan to drop by. You can use google to get the MAM co-ordinates and other basic info. Here’s where to enjoy Pierre’s wonderful presentation:

***********************************************************************************“And CANAV’s “And I Shall Fly” Book Launching 1985

Lewie Leigh’s wonderful 1985 autobiography And I Shall Fly. The cover photo shows him and wife, Lin, c1930 with Lewie’s Waco GXE CF-AOI. Then, Lewie’s Waco replacement: 3-seat Command-Aire CF-APQ, in which he barnstormed around Alberta for a few months in 1931. Too bad, but he doesn’t mention anything about his planes’ colour schemes. “APQ” last was heard of around Calgary in 1937.

The early years at CANAV Books were filled with challenge and excitement. A big part of it all was the honour of meeting the leaders of Canadian aviation, then getting to count so many as true friends. All that was 35-40 years ago. Few of these great old pals are still with us, sad to say. Lately, however, I came across an envelope of aging colour negatives labeled, “Lewie Leigh’s Book Launching at Wess McIntosh’s June ‘85”. I had a look and soon was scanning away with a blog item in mind.

Lewis at home in Grimsby c1975.

“Lewie Leigh” was Zebulon Lewis Leigh, born in the UK in 1906, raised on the Canadian prairies and destined for great things in aviation. Having retired from the RCAF in 1956, Group Captain Leigh and Lin settled in Grimsby in the Niagara district, where they enjoyed many years on their hobby farm. In late 1960s Lewie started on his memoir. Eventually, he met Hugh Halliday, a former historian in the RCAF history section, by then teaching at Niagara College. Hugh  streamlined Lewie’s manuscript.

One day Lewie called to ask if I would publish his project. I consulted with my literary guru, Robin Brass, who concluded that the manuscript had everything to make a solid book.

Lewie had lived a fantastic life in aviation from early bush flying days to joining newly-formed TCA in 1937 to commanding the RCAF overseas airmail service during WWII. In 1945 the latter evolved into RCAF Air Transport Command, with Lewie as its first commander (not that he is known in today’s RCAF for this fantastic effort). All through his RCAF career, Lewie would battle uphill due to his background as an ordinary airman who had “made good” in an RCAF where none but the graduates of Royal Military College aspired to air rank. Harbouring a bit of resentment about this to the end, Lewie retired as contentedly as possible as a “Groupie”.

In the spring of 1985 Lewie’s wonderful life story, And I Shall Fly, came off the bindery at T.H. Best printing in Toronto. Lewie took 1500 copies, CANAV took 500. I could market my 500 once Lewie’s were sold. This proved to be a good deal. Lewie’s stock soon disappeared in a phenomenal burst of interest. In 1985 he had been Grimsby’s “Man of the Year”, so sales in town were a breeze – the local stationary store sold 700 copies. Meanwhile, Lewie had gotten in touch with good friends in Fort McMurray, where he had flown as a bush pilot in the 1930s. Hill’s drug store there, on which was painted a mural showing Lewie and his old bucket of a Fokker Super Universal circa 1930, sold a further 700. My own stock also disappeared, so we considered our project a grand success. Adding to the fun, in 1989 McGraw Hill- Ryerson of Toronto undertook a 2000 reprint. Lewie’s little $12.95 book had become a blockbuster as far as such Canadian books went at the time (by today’s pitiful standards it would be a mega-success). Although long out of print, And I Shall Fly still can be found. It’s solid “Canadiana” for any sincere aviation reader — the straight goods all the way. There always seem to be copies available on such websites as so why not treat yourself? With that bit of background, here are some of the photos from our book launching 30+ years ago. It was a memorable evening with so many great Canadians present. The captions identify the people about whom I know a bit. Too bad, but our pre-digital photo quality is a bit spotty, but the point here is “content over form”.

Autographs that I collected through the evening at our And I Shall Fly book launch. I did OK, but missed such greats as A/V/M J.L. “Johnny” Plant. Books are fun in so many ways. Naturally, such a one-of-a-kind copy eventually becomes collectable — there still are lots of hardcore aviation bibliophiles around with a passion for the autographed copy. Autograph’s obviously drive up the desirability of a book, but who knew that typos (every decent publisher’s bane) could do the same? Don’t laugh. For the 2018 Boston Book Fair, Oak Knoll Press promoted a 1917 first edition of Parnassus on Wheels. Because of imperfections, Oak Knoll priced this book at US$2500. This is how one of the book’s flaws is described: “First edition … missing “l” from “goldenrod” on page 169, line 11.” That’s a good thing? Yes … to the rabid collector.

Lewie (left) chats at the book launch with his great role model, Johnny Plant. This reminds me of another anecdote. As my first book (Aviation in Canada, 1979) was nearing completion, McGraw Hill- Ryerson asked me to find someone to pen a Foreword. I forget how it happened, but Lewie Leigh agreed to do this, even though I barely knew him. After reading the manuscript, he concluded, “The end product is a well refined story of aviation in a country where the airplane has been prominent for so long.” Thank you for that, Lewie – the book went to 5 printings. A few years later, just before my fourth aviation title (Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924- 1984) was ready for press, I approached Air Marshall (Ret’d) Hugh Campbell for a Foreword. I visited the great man at his home in Ottawa and he agreed to do the job. However, long afterwards I learned a little secret (Lewie spilled the beans one day). A/M Campbell on the sly enlisted his former transport commander, G/C Z.L. Leigh, to do the actual writing. Further down the line, I convinced A/V/M (Ret’d) Plant to write a Foreword for our 1990 book, The Royal Canadian Air Forces at War 1939-1945.

Wesley and Joan McIntosh of Toronto hosted our book launch on June 11, 1985. Here they are in a candid shot with Joan splitting her sides over whatever Wess (left) has just said. Their good pal, Charlie Vaughn, is centre. Wess had his own amazing aviation career, starting in Manitoba pre-WWII. When war broke out in 1939, he became one of the first pilots recruited as an RCAF instructor. He later joined Lewie’s premier 168 Squadron based in Ottawa flying the B-17, B-24, Dakota and Lodestar on airmail duties. Postwar, Wess excelled in civil aviation (famously with Hollinger Ungava Air Transport 1948- 54). In retirement he ferried airplanes all over the world. Wess invited me on one of his final jobs, delivering DC-3 C-GWUG on October 30, 1989 from Kitchener to Kelowna (I got off in Winnipeg where I had some other duties). Wess never met an airplane that he didn’t enjoy. His own well-told story is Permission Granted: Slipping the Surly Bonds of Earth. Charlie Vaughn also excelled as a ferry pilot. His story is Don’t Call Me a Legend. You can (and ought to) have these two top 
books. Find them easily on the web.

Allan Coggan (left) chats at the book launch with Jack McNulty. Alan flew Dakotas in India-Burma in WWII, put in some postwar time with KLM and HUT, then had a long career in corporate aviation with Algoma Steel of Sault Ste. Marie, where his aircraft included the Beech 18, DC-3 and Gulfstream. Allan penned two books, including his superb memoir of the air war in India-Burma, From Wings Parade to Mandalay (also easily found by googling). Jack McNulty (as any CANAV reader knows) was one of Canada’s most diligent hobbyists chasing airplanes with his cameras. A Hamilton boy and steel worker, Jack encouraged we younger fellows coming up in the 1950s-60s, and always shared his knowledge and photos. Most of his collection resides at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.

Three other Canadian aviation greats at the book launch: Gordon Schwartz, Stu Parmalee and Bob Heaslip. Gordon’s many accomplishments included his early support post WWII of the Toronto Flying Club and his partnership in companies that imported some of Canada’s early Aero Commanders and Lear Jets. Stu spent his early years with RCAF Air Transport Command. One 1970 adventure was captaining the 437 Sqn Yukon that carried some FLQ terrorists from Canada to Havana (these losers eventually were welcomed back by Canada). At this time, Stu was busy bringing Cessna Citations into Canada. Bob Heaslip had a storied RCAF career that included commanding 108 Communications Flight, operating helicopters during the Mid Canada Line construction phase. Recipient of the McKee Trophy, Bob finished his aviation days as a vice- president at De Havilland Canada. For more about these fellows, see Sixty Years and Air Transport in Canada. If you are age 60 or less you may well not have these essential Canadian books. If so, here’s where to shop: Preview attachment Booklist 1 Fall:Winter 2018.pdf

Frank “FEW” Smith and Al Coggan sign copies of And I Shall Fly, as retired TCA pilots Don Patry and Gus Bennett stand by. In the 1980s Frank wrote a detailed history of CALPA(R) – the Canadian Airline Pilots Association (Retired) – but died before it got to press.

K.M. “Ken” Molson talks some history with Frank Russell. Both of these giants of Canadian aviation long since have passed. Ken is in a class of his own in Canadian aviation. From the Montreal Molson’s, Ken studied pre-WWII at the UofT, worked at Victory Aircraft (beginning on the Lysander), then stayed on through the Avro era at Malton to 1959. A dedicated history man, he was the founding curator at Canada’s national aeronautical collection in Ottawa. He authored several books that each reader here should have: Canadian Aircraft since 1909, Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport, and Canada’s National Aviation Museum. Copies usually can be found at, etc. Ken’s archive resides in Canada’s National Aviation Museum. Frank Russell joined Austin Airways in the 1930s. There he remained, spending most of his career as the company’s chief of maintenance. In his retirement in Grimsby, Frank devoted himself to restoring the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Lancaster.

Canadian Aviation Historical Society members George Fuller, Fred Hotson and John Biehler enjoy the book launch evening. From Whitehorse (but a long-time Montrealer), George continues to this day to record Montreal’s earliest aeronautical history, going back to 19th Century ballooning. Having built his own Heath Parasol kit plane as a high-schooler in 1930s Fergus, Ontario, Fred went on to a stellar flying career, including as a WWII Ferry Command pilot (making at least 20 deliveries), bush pilot (a Fairchild Husky man), long-time corporate pilot (DC-3 and Mallard), then demo pilot for de Havilland Canada during its Twin Otter heyday. Fred served the CAHS as national president and authored several renowned books from The De Havilland Canada Story to his award-winning The Bremen to his Grumman Mallard: The Enduring Classic. From Hamilton, John served the RCAF in WWII as a fearless Coastal Command Beaufighter pilot, (254 Sqn) then postwar in accident investigation, before joining Dominion Bridge.

Wardair’s famous captain, Ab Freeman, with Johnny Biehler. In The Max Ward Story Max describes Ab as, “a fine pilot and a meticulous and fair manager of other pilots … a strength for our crews and company”. Johnny’s terrifying wartime service is described in The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945.

James C. “Jim” Floyd (left) with Don “Smoky” Patry. Jim joined Avro Canada early after WWII to become chief designer of the C.102 Jetliner and CF-105 Arrow. Wiki has a good bio for Jim, who was still with us in 2018 at age 104. Jim’s The Avro Canada C.102 Jetliner is one of the most sought-after out-of-print Canadian books. A copy today at US$100 is a bargain.

Mick and Ann Saunders in good spirits at the book launch. Having survived his tour flying Typhoons in WWII (including a horrendous crash), Mick had a distinguished career as a test pilot at de Havilland Canada. Long after retirement, he died in the UK when the Dash 7 that he was test flying went down (Mick’s fellow pilot that day blew it). Mick first took me flying in Otter CF-HXY on June 12, 1961 (my first takeoff in a float plane). I scrounged another ride with him in “HXY” on August 31. Later, he took me along in Caribou “LAN” (August 30, 1962) and Beaver “GYR” (June 15, 1963). All the DHC pilots were keen to encourage any schoolboy showing an interest in aviation. Without this sort of support, most of us would never have been heard of anywhere in aviation.

Equipped with copies of And I Shall Fly and The De Havilland Canada Story, the great Archie Vanhee (1909-2009) chats with Mick Saunders. Frank Russell and Johnny Biehler are behind. Having learned to fly at Cartierville on the JN-4 in the 1920s, Archie had a storied career as a pioneer bush pilot, then as CO of a Canso anti-submarine squadron in WWII. With CPA in 1949, he co-captained the first CPA Canadair C-4 flight into Shanghai just as Mao’s forces were overrunning the city’s suburbs. In later years, Archie flew Field Aviation’s ice patrol DC-4s in the Arctic, flew for his good pal Carl Millard, then finished his flying days as a Twin Otter captain with Austin Airways. Archie is covered in such books as The Canadair North Star and Austin Airways: Canada’s Oldest Airline. By googling you can find Archie’s detailed obit.

Des Chorley, myself, aviation enthusiast and Air Canada tech Dave Thompson, and Jack McNulty. Des had been an RCAF CF-100 pilot, then made a bit of a living in aviation journalism. Any Chorley story could be counted on for high interest and accuracy. For one journalistic assignment, Des became the first Canadian civilian cleared by the Pentagon to fly on a SAC B-52 mission.

Gus Bennett and Harry Holland of TCA fame chat with W.H.D. “Wild Bill” Meaden, DFC. Gus had spent his war teaching flying, then joined TCA. He retired in 1979 as Air Canada’s 747 chief pilot. During the war, Harry had flown Halifax bombers, while Billy was a Lancaster man. Their stories are included in such books as The Royal Canadian Air Force at War 1939-1945 and Aviation in Canada: Bombing and Coastal Operations Overseas 1939-1945. Most such wartime pilots had exciting tales to relate. In one case, Harry carried a bomb home that, dropped from above, imbedded itself in his Halifax’s wing. Another time, he saved the day at Toronto’s Malton airport, when an engine on his TCA Viscount tore itself from the wing. Out of options, Harry crash-landed. Billy often had returned from operations with his Lancaster peppered by flak. One night his “Lanc” was attacked by a Ju.88, but his sharp tail gunner shot it down. A few missions later, however, the same young man died when he unthinkingly walked into a whirling propeller.

Canadian Aviation Historical Society stalwarts Sheldon Benner and M.L. “Mac” McIntyre. To this day, Sheldon does valuable work for the CAHS “National” and the CAHS Toronto chapter. Few have served the CAHS so faithfully. A superb aircraft mechanic, Mac was especially famous for his wood-working skills. He contributed to various replicas and restorations, including George Neal’s Sopwith Pup, Hawker Hind and Gypsy Moth CF-AAA, all of which reside today in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. In the 1960s, Mac’s efforts were invaluable, when a historic Curtiss HS-2L flying boat was being salvaged from a northern lake. This aircraft also may be seen at the CASM.

Geologist George Werniuk with Dave Thompson and Milberry sons Matt (behind) and Simon. Matt went on to a career in software development, while Simon is a ReMax agent.

George Werniuk and Des Chorley. The always-congenial artist Robert Finlayson (right) completed several CANAV Books aviation commissions.

Having begun as an RCAF Spitfire pilot, Ray Munro was invalided home after a crash. Postwar, he had many interests. He avidly collected stamps, coins and medals, parachuted at the North Pole, flew his own aerobatic plane, was the doorman at a ritzy downtown Toronto restaurant, formed an exclusive club into which he inducted a few select pals, and laid the groundwork for what today is Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. In honour of his best friend (Lewie Leigh) Ray had licence plate “ZEB 2” on his Mercedes sports car, and even changed his name (legally) to Raymond Zebulon Munro. Yes … Ray was an eccentric, but the world needs a few, right. Ray’s book is The Sky’s No Limit. We used to tease him about how 23 of the book’s 26 photos were of himself, one of the other three being of his twin brother!

Book editor and graphics guru, Robin Brass, with Lewie at a slightly later event. CANAV could never have gone far without Robin’s creative input. Then, Lewie and I. Having moved into a senior’s residence in the early 1990s, Lewie died of Alzheimer’s on December 22, 1996.

The great Z.L. Leigh’s obituary.

Brilliant Gift Giving Ideas 

Christmas a.k.a. the Holiday Season is upon us. You’ll be needing some special gifts for your aviation pals and relatives (of course you will, right!). What better gift than a world-class aviation book from CANAV? Here are two of this year’s A-1 choices. You can order right here on the blog homepage.

2 Fighter Pilots & Observers

Interesting photos crop up every day as I cull through filing cabinets and boxes. These two are worth an airing after so many years being squirreled away. First is a photo taken about 1985 at some gathering of TCA North Star pilots to which I was invited. Could have been something to do with my book about the old North Star, since a lot of these fellow had contributed. In the back row are Ron “RAC” Dennis, John Higham, Don Lamont, Lyle Greenlaw, myself, Don Lowry, Don Mclean, Gus Bennett and Glen Cawker. In front are Gerry Lloyd, Art Bush, Bob Penrose and H.P. “Harry” Clarke. If “FEW” Smith’s manuscript ever comes to light, we’ll know quite a bit about this bunch of great Canadians, most of whom have since passed.

This “group of four” was taken in the main passenger terminal at YUL Dorval c1982, just about the time I published The Canadair North Star. The great lady here is Beth Buchanan, who was so supportive while I was researching North Star history. For decades, she had been TCA president, G.R. McGregor’s, executive assistant and had ghost written his book, The Adolescence of an Airline (1970). In this era Air Canada maintained a magnificent corporate library and archive at company HQ – 1 Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal. In her later years, Beth oversaw these priceless Air Canada assets. Beth encouraged my efforts, making sure (for example) that I had Air Canada passes to get back and forth between Toronto and Montreal. When the book came out, she arranged a book launching lunch at Dorval. Many TCA old timers attended; so did Air Canada president Claude Taylor (those were the days when top executives in aviation actually had in-depth knowledge of and respect for Canada’s aviation heritage, so were not too “important” for such an event). Here is Beth with Air Canada PR man, Harold Dondenay (left), the great Don McVicar and I. This event had something to do with the plaque behind us honouring Ferry Command, where Don had played such a key wartime role. Don later operated World Wide Airways, a major Dorval-based DEW Line contractor with C-46s and DC-3s. Later, WWA had Super Constellations doing trans-Atlantic passenger charters, before folding in the mid-1960s. In his retirement, Don wrote some of the best “I was there” books about Canadian aviation. Several were published by prestigious Airlife of the UK – North Atlantic Cat, Ferry Command, More than a Pilot, etc. All are well worth tracking down. Don later published other books, including a rare history of Dorval Airport. Don died in 1997. His wake at the Dorval Canadian Legion was one of the more colourful aviation events of the year. Rarely have there been so many Canadian aviation “characters” in one place having such a good time. Years ago Don was nominated for membership in Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame. He’s still not inducted, so people need to have another go at the process. For more about Don see as well as Ref. the Air Canada library and archives. About this time (1982) the corporate bean counters in Canada were taking charge of day-to-day affairs and there was great joy being taken by them in “saving” money. What ensued was a diabolical wave that swept the country whereby the bean counters convinced corporate boards that libraries and archives were a waste of money. Within a few years most major Canadian corporations had shut their libraries and archives. To Beth Buchanan’s horror, this happened at Air Canada just as I was finishing my North Star research. One week there were notices placed around Place Ville Marie announcing that employees wanting free books could visit the Air Canada library and help themselves. Within days one of the Canada’s finest corporate libraries simply walked out the door to be scattered forever in a flash. Happily, most of Air Canada’s archive (photos and movie film included) was shipped to the national aviation museum in Ottawa. There it sits to this day largely still unavailable for researchers. However, at least it didn’t go to the dump, as did the archives of other companies in this period. Aren’t bean counters a breed unto themselves, and where was that highly-touted genius of Canada’s boards of directors when it was needed?


“Fighter Pilots and Observers” Book Launch at the RCMI + Some Other Worthy News and Nostalgia Items

Annual Beechcraft Fly-In … This year’s famous Beechcraft fly-in in Tennessee was a huge success, a fantastic event from biplanes to Starships (I had no idea that any Starships remained airworthy). Take a look: Starships, Bonanzas, Staggerwings and more flock to Beech Party Also, you can scroll back here (or search for) our detailed Canadian Beech Bonanza blog item.

CANAV’s 2018 Highlight! On October 4, 2018, CANAV Books launched Vol.8 of its “Aviation in Canada” series – Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939. That pushes our series beyond 2000 pages and thousands of photos. This year’s event was held at Toronto’s historic Royal Canadian Military Institute.

Fighter Pilots and Observers was decades in the making, then a push was made in the last three years. With Hugh Halliday turning up historic files and photos in Ottawa’s various archives, proof reading, etc., me piecing together all our raw material, and Linda Irvine doing the precision layout, the project finally came together and went to the printer in August.

Fighter Pilots and Observers is the first CANAV project where I did not visit the printer to do press proofs. Technology has made these visits optional. That said, it always was an adventure visiting Friesen Printers in Altona in southern Manitoba (see earlier blog items). So, with some trepidation I sat in Toronto receiving notice of this last- minute change and that by email from Altona. This turned out to be a serviceable process.

On October 2 my warehouser reported that I had two pallets of books just arrived from the west. From that moment, it was onward in a bit of a panic to the book launch two days later (we little publishers live on the edge). Those who joined us at the RCMI were CANAV fans and supporters having the right stuff (loyalty comes to mind). Three great Canadians in their 90s even showed up, having come down to the RCMI by public transit.

Consulting RCMI catering (such professional people), I had ordered food for 75. This panned out to a “T”, for by the time our 5- hour gig was done, the last treat from the kitchen had disappeared. In the end we all had a super time. Through the afternoon, the inimitable Gus Corujo was our event photographer and here is a selection from his camera:

What a super job, Gus, so thank you again for your contribution. And … thanks once again to all who supported our project over the years.

Early Reader Reaction

So far our readers are pleased with what they’ve seen of Fighter Pilots and Observers. One long-time bibliophile sums up the book in 3 words: “Rich, nutritious, satisfying.” Another old hand writes: “Yours is the most amazing treatment of Canadian fighter pilots in World War I ever and people will thank you for the photographic research and the captions for years to come. What a great Christmas present it will make.” A hardcore aviation bibliophileand CANAV fan adds: “Thank you very much for your efforts to capture and chronicle Canadian aviation. Your latest book arrived over the weekend … There’s something to be said for opening a package and breathing in a newly printed book. It brings a nectar of excitement. I thumbed through it and you have a wide array of great photos and the stories you’ve captured are outstanding.” Finally for today, Bill Wheeler, who edited the Journal of the Canadian Aviation Society for more than 40 years, writes: “The text is comprehensive and flows as would be expected of two such knowledgeable and accomplished authors. Although weighty, their book that is hard to put down.”

New Booklist: Fall/Winter 2018/19

CANAV Readers … Here’s your copy of this season’s CANAV choice of the best in aviation books. If you’re looking for some top reading or for a gift for some special aviation fan, you can’t have a handier solution than right here. Besides … doesn’t a good book still make the best, most thoughtful present?

Preview attachment Booklist 1 Fall:Winter 2018.pdf

Walter Eichhorn’s 2018 Toronto & CWHM Visit

Walter Eichhorn taxis Cornell CF-EHH at Toronto Island Airport on November 20, 1960. With him is his wife-to- be, Liesel. (photos by Larry Milberry) One of aviation’s well known warbird and airshow personalities is Walter Eichhorn. Born in Germany in 1936, Walter emigrated to Canada in 1955. As a truck mechanic for Loblaws his wages were skimpy, but he saved enough to pay for flying lessons at Central Airways on Toronto Island Airport. Then, to build hours, he bought Cornell CF-EHH for $1000. That’s when I bumped into him one day, while I was photographing at the island. Coincidentally, during my Air Cadet days I had acquired a set of Cornell pilot notes. Walter was keen about these and I was happy to do a trade in exchange for a flight. So it was that on November 20, 1960 I had my first Cornell ride. It was cloudy and a bit windy, but we flew over to Kitchener, where I photographed some interesting planes before we headed home. Walter soon stepped up to $2000 Harvard CF-MTW. Suddenly, however, he was called by Lufthansa, where he had applied for work. He sold “MTW” for $1500 and returned to Germany to begin a career flying airliners starting on the Convair 440, ending on the 747-200. Along the way he also excelled at his sport parachuting hobby, leading the West German national team to some firsts at home, also competing at the world level. Meanwhile, he was moving up on the warbird scene. Eventually, he flew Bf.109s at the Willy Messerschmitt Museum at Manching, and appeared in such big screen movies as “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise, and in the classic television series “A Piece of Cake”. Over the years he also flew a Ju.52, including on a North American tour. Meanwhile, Walter and his son, Tony, became well- known flying matching Harvards at airshows around Europe.

F/L Tommy Wheler while gunnery flight lead with the Sabre OTU at RCAF Station Chatham in 1952. Later, Tom flew in NATO with 444 Squadron. A man of many accomplishments, he was a very fine artist using several media. At 444 he designed the squadron’s famous cobra emblem that distinguished the “Triple Four” Sabres for years in the RCAF Air Division. (DND)

On October 14, 2012 several of us were awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in an Air Force Association of Canada ceremony at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. In the top photo (by Dean Black) are myself, LGen (ret’d) Lloyd Campbell, Senator Joseph Day (presenter), Eric G. Smith, DFC, and Tom Wheler, DFC. Below are two immortals” from “Triple Four” Sabre days — Arnold “AJ” Bauer and Tom.

Museum Activity Around the Country

Recently, there have been some major acquisitions by Canada’s aviation museums and other institutions where aviation history and heritage are paramount. A few weeks ago Canadian-built Lancaster FM104 was shipped from Ontario to join the BC Aviation museum in Sidney, near Victoria. Title to FM104 was held by the City of Toronto. However, FM104’s future had been in limbo for decades. I was happy to support the BC effort to acquire it for restoration. I wrote twice to Toronto historical bureaus, expressing my views. In the end, I was pleased to hear that FM104 was going west. The simple reason is that BC to date had no Lancaster, yet enjoyed an important legacy of Lancaster operations with 407 Squadron from Comox in postwar years. As we know, the rest of Canada has its Lancasters, including (in Ontario, alone) in Ottawa, Trenton, Hamilton and Windsor. Now, an important gap has been filled in BC’s aviation heritage.

Earlier this month the Alberta Aviation Museum acquired an original 1918 Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny”, the type on which hundreds of young men trained with the Royal Flying Corps (Canada) in Southern Ontario during WWI. Then, this week the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, Alberta acquired a beautiful example of the Cessna T-50 Crane, one of the key light twin aircraft used in WWII by the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Here is some background info about the T-50:

Here is the news about ENA at St-Hubert recently acquiring one of the CSeries prototypes. This is just as important in the long run as adding some ancient airplane like the JN-4. Imagine if back in the mid-1950s people had had the same fervour for Canada’s aviation accomplishments? If so, the Avro Jetliner could have been saved. So good on those “movers and shakers” at ENA who have saved this important CSeries prototype. Here’s the (abridged) Bombardier press release about the ENA CSeries:

On Oct.17, 2018 a CSeries landed for the first time at the St-Hubert airport, where it was handed over by Bombardier to the École nationale d’aérotechnique (ÉNA). This is the 38th aircraft to join the ÉNA’s static fleet, which already includes two Learjets and Challengers donated by from Bombardier. Hundreds of students welcomed the CSeries in an event attended by professors, staff and representatives from Bombardier and Airbus. The CS100 will create new training opportunities across the fields of avionics, maintenance and aerospace engineering, giving Québec students access to the most advanced technology in commercial aviation. Over the next few months ÉNA professors will study the unique features of the CSeries to determine how best to integrate this aircraft into their syllabi. “Building strong partnerships with local teaching institutions is key to develop the next generation of aerospace professionals,” said Alain Bellemare, president and Bombardier Inc. CEO. “The C Series integrates ground-breaking technologies and Canadian know- how into the world’s most innovative commercial aircraft. By donating a CSeries to ÉNA, we hope to inspire a growing number of Québec students to consider exciting careers in the aerospace industry.” As the third Flight Test Vehicle in the CSeries program, “FTV3 accumulated some 1,400 flight hours. It was mainly used for avionics and electrical tests as well as for community noise testing. “To be the first and possibly only school in the world to receive such an immense gift from our partner, Bombardier, positions our school as the best in the world,” said Sylvain Lambert, director of the ÉNA. “The public will be able to visit and experience our CSeries aircraft and our school at our Open House on November 11.” Last year, Bombardier donated a CRJ100  to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, and a Learjet 60 business jet to ÉNA. In June, it announced multi-million dollar contributions to the Downsview Aerospace Innovation and Research Consortium (DAIR) to establish an aerospace hub in Toronto. Bombardier also provides hundreds of internships annually to students across engineering, finance,  IT, marketing, production, supply chain management and other disciplines. 

Click here to see Pierre Gillard’s spectacular photo coverage of CSeries FTV3’s arrival and handover at St-Hubert/CYHU:

“Fighter Pilots and Observers” is Printed and Bound + CAE News + Gus Corujo’s Fantastic Toronto 2018 Air Show Coverage + Revisiting “The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection”

To all CANAV readers … Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 now is printed and bound. We’re launching tomorrow (October 4) at the Royal Canadian Military Institute, 426 University Ave. in Toronto. Solid Canadian history from start to finish, this authoritative book revives a key theme in Canada’s aviation heritage in a landmark year – the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War. This is Canada’s only major title in print covering the nation’s pioneers of aerial combat. It honours the men, the aircraft and the organizations, detailing in a fresh light the incredible story from training in Canada as early as 1914, to the deadly skies over the Western Front, Italy and wherever else the men were needed. The story continues after 1918, covering the many roles played by Canada’s wartime aviators through the interwar years – how the role of the fighter pilot and observer waned at first, then gradually was revived, initially with the Siskin and Atlas, finally — on the eve of war — with the Hurricane, etc. Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 is 184 pages, extra-large format (9×12 inches), hardcover, beautifully designed and produced with a spectacular collection of 350 photographs. There’s never been anything like it in Canadian aviation book publishing. Having seen our previous volumes in the series, you’ll know what to expect. Sticker price? $50.00. Delivered anywhere in Canada $67.20 all-in price. Drop me an email if you’d like a copy. Cheers … Larry (

CAE adds Bombardier Challenger 604 full-flight simulator

Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story ORDER your copy today straight from our blog home page. This spectacular title is the world’s most beautifully-produced aerospace corporate history. With its in-depth, authoritative treatment, The CAE Story is world class all the way. Ideal for any serious aviation reader and what a knock-out of a gift book!

CAE announced on Oct. 16, 2018, at the 2018 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention & Exhibition the expansion of its business aviation training footprint at its CAE Dallas training centre with the addition of a CAE-built Bombardier Challenger 604 full-flight simulator (FFS).

Bombardier Challenger 604 full-flight simulator (FFS) is now ready for training in CAE Dallas. CAE Photo

“We are excited to expand our training footprint in North America with our first Bombardier Challenger 604 training program in the United States, now available for training at CAE Dallas,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE’s group president, Civil Aviation Training Solutions.

“This latest addition complements our Bombardier offering and we are glad to build on our partnership with Bombardier as its authorized training provider.”

The Bombardier Challenger 604 FFS was delivered to the CAE Dallas training centre in Texas earlier this fall and is now ready for training. In addition to CAE Dallas, Bombardier Challenger 604 training programs are available at CAE Amsterdam and CAE Dubai.

CAE-USA Renews Historic USAF C-130H Training Contract

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has awarded CAE USA a contract to provide training services for C-130H aircrew, according to a Sept. 26 service announcement. The potential eight-year contract is valued at nearly $200 million and will begin Oct. 1. It comes with a one-year base period and seven additional option years. The company was a subcontractor on the training program for almost 20 years. “[W]inning the C-130 Aircrew Training System program to support the United States Air Force is a significant achievement and further testament to CAE’s experience as the world’s leading provider of training systems and services for the enduring C-130 Hercules aircraft,” said Ray Duquette, the general manager and president of CAE USA. Replacing Lockheed Martin as the prime contractor, CAE will be responsible for providing classroom and simulator instruction, training device modifications and upgrades, systems engineering support, program management, contract logistics support, and management of the C-130H Training Systems Support Center at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas. The formal training unit for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard C-130H training is based at Little Rock AFB, but is also provided at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Minneapolis Air National Guard Base, Minnesota; and Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. Each year, more than 11,000 crew members from the U.S. Air Force, other U.S. military services and over 30 other countries are trained under the C-130H ATS program.

Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story is  the most detailed and beautifully-produced aerospace company history. It’s a tribute to Canada’s longest-surviving aerospace company and the one that probably has had the widest involvement in aviation, from manufacturing flight simulators, to overhauling and manufacturing airplanes, to running its own airline, etc., on to being in automotive, forestry, medical training, space technology, power plant control systems, on and on. Today, CAE holds the lion’s share of commercial flight simulator development and sales, and ever operates flying schools around the world. Once you get your hands on this fantastic book, you’ll see what I mean. Cheers … Larry

Toronto Air Show 2018

This weekend saw the 2018 edition of the Canadian International Air Show. Take a look here at Gus Corujo’s wonderful photographic coverage of all the activty — the people and the planes:

Leslie Corness “Propliner” Review

In case you’re an aviation fan just arrived from Mars, I’d like to let you know about one of Canada’s most dedicated aviation hobby photographers – the late Leslie Corness of Edmonton. “Les”, his father and brothers all avidly followed the exciting aviation scene around Edmonton from the 1930s. For Les, especially, it all became a passion. If you search here for Leslie Corness Collection Keeps on Inspiring you can see one of my earlier blog items that gives you the quick course about the man.

If you are remotely interested in Canada’s great aviation heritage, generally follow old airplanes, or, are a keen “propliner” fan, you’ll want this book (160 pages, 350 b/w &
colour photos, large format, softcover, quality throughout). Current price for Canada is $25.00 (regular price $40.00) + $14.00 for shipping + tax $1.95 TOTAL CDN$40.95 for your
author-autographed copy. Outside Canada CDN$50.00 all-in. Mail your payment to CANAV Books, 51 Balsam Ave., Toronto, Ontario M4E3B6, or pay via PayPal to

Now … on to some more of Les Corness’ wonderful photographs that you haven’t seen before. A “mixed bag”, these were taken around Edmonton — Les’ local “stomping grounds”.

Corness Blog_1A Fairchild 82 CF-AXQ

There always were bush planes of one type or another at Edmonton. Les wouldn’t pass up shooting a one of them — even on a bone chilling winter’s day. His subject here is one of Canada’s own Fairchild 82s. CF-AXQ had been delivered in 1939 to Mackenzie Air Service, which later merged into CPA. “AXQ” was sold by CPA in 1946 to Waite Fisheries in Northern Saskatchewan. There it crashed on January 28, 1947. The beloved “82” first had flown at Longueuil near Montreal on July 6, 1935. Twenty-four were built, including examples for Mexico and Argentina. Further sales were squelched by the rise of the Norseman. C. R. “Charlie” Robinson, one of Canada’s great bush pilots from the 1930- 50s, dedicated the first two stanzas of his “Ballad of a Bush Pilot” to the”82”:
In days gone by I used to fly
A Fairchild Eighty-Two,
And was it fair or stormy air
We’d always muddled through.
For hours I’d sit upon the bit
Of Kapok-padded seat,
My knees tucked in underneath my chin
In comfort hard to beat!
The instruments, the cowling dents,
The grease spots on the glass,
I still recall them one and all
As through the years I pass.
I see also, in passing show,
The day my motor quit;
While taking off, it gave a cough.
There was no place to sit
But in the trees; and I said “Please
Don’t fail me now, old chum!”
With groan and crack she broke her back,
But I just cut my thumb!
My head I felt, undid my belt,
And said with logic true:
“Two motors would, if they were good,
Have carried us on through
Things happen strange, and courses change,
And soon there came a day,
In Sioux Lookout, when I took out
A Beechcraft “Eighteen A” …
You can see a beautiful “82” (CF-AXL) in Ottawa at the
Canada Aviation and Space Museum.


Corness Blog_2 Sikorsky S-39

From the 1920s, airplanes passed through Edmonton almost daily (weather permitting). As a rule, they were en route to or returning from points north, especially the Mackenzie River Valley, Yukon and Alaska. Then, in the 1950s Edmonton became a hub for DEW Line re-supply. Les would have been ecstatic about seeing this ancient Sikorsky S-39 amphibian (NC806W) likely on the Alaska run. There’s no date, but I’m guessing 1940s (I can’t find many particulars for NC806W).

Corness Blog_3 C-124

Through the 1950s Les photographed hundreds of aircraft plying the northern airways. Normally, these stopped for fuel or to collect freight for the DEW Line, etc. Every day seemed to bring some fascinating visitor to photograph. Here, it was a massive USAF C-124A Globemaster II. 50-109 may have been northbound for a DEW Line site, headed for Alaska on a military support mission, or maybe was on the way to Haneda, Japan via the Aleutians on Korean War duties. 50-109 served usefully into 1969, then went to the Arizona desert for scrapping.

Corness Blog_4 Skyrocket CF-DHE

There was so much going on in Edmonton after the war. One notable project saw Leigh Brintnell’s Northwest Industries Ltd. produce the Bellanca 31- 55 Skyrocket, an improved edition of the great Pacemaker of the late 1920s. As were others in Canada, Brintnell was convinced that operators would be rushing to re-equip, following the war, during which few had been able to obtain new aircraft. The first NWI Skyrocket flew on February 28, 1946. However, sales did not pan out. For one thing, operators could purchase cheap war surplus Norsemans. Then, in 1947 De Havilland Canada introduced the modern and affordable Beaver. Only 13 NWI Skyrockets were built, but they gave good service. When I visited it in Fort William in 1961, Superior Airways still was operating Skyrocket CF-DCH.

Corness Blog_5 Barkley-Grow

The airplanes of the 1930s – 40s certainly were durable. The Barkley-Grow light twin was introduced in Canada in 1939 with Yukon Southern Air Transport. Along with other operators, YSAT merged early in WWII into CPA, in which markings Les frequently saw CF-BLV. “BLV” remained in Edmonton when acquired by Associated Airways in 1951, also when Associated was absorbed by PWA in 1956. Sadly, it came to a harsh end in a January 12, 1960 crash at Peace River, Alberta. This is about the best basic angle for shooting a Barkley-Grow, Beech 18, any Lockheed twin, DC-3, or most “tail draggers”. Airplane hobby photographers understand such fundamentals.

Corness Blog_6 RCAF Dakota KG808

Les photographed any DC-3 that he spotted, be it static on the tarmac, taxiing or in flight. Action shots, however, were not the breeze they are today, due to slow shutter speeds and low film ASA ratings. Few of Les’ landing or take-off shots are “spot on”. Les had several favourite vantage points around Edmonton airport. Quite a few RCAF aircraft were shot from a certain spot, maybe an upstairs window at 418 Squadron, where he served in the 1950s. Parked handily for his lens this day was a beautifully-attired RCAF Dakota. KG808 had many RCAF assignments, eventually being re-numbered “12947”. Retired in 1971, it was sold in the US, where today it’s in Knoxville, Tennessee as N982Z. Check out “Cincinnati Magazine” to see what sort of work this ancient ex-RCAF Dakota is doing (you can see by such research why we hobby photographers and writers just love what we do): lunken

Corness Blog_7 RCAF Expeditor

Les’ affiliation with Air Cadets during the war, then with 418 Squadron, opened some important doors. In this case, he was flying in a 418 Mitchell, so was able to grab some candid snapshots of formating Expeditor HB105. In 1968 HB105 became N6694 with Priority Air Transport in California, but soon was sold to Hamilton Aircraft of Tucson. There it was cannibalized for useful parts needed in manufacturing Hamilton’s line of modernized Beech 18s.

Corness Blog_8 Halifax RG814

Immediately after the war, the RCAF began an on-going effort to examine the impact of severe winter weather on its men and equipment. “Winter Experimental Establishment” was set up in Edmonton to do the R&D (see Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984). Projects were conducted at such locations at Namao, Fort Nelson, Cold Lake and Churchill, and the fleet of aircraft was amazingly varied, even including Halifax bomber RG814. I like this shot and can guess what was happening. Les has slipped under the rope at this Edmonton airshow setting to grab his photo. Some people nearby are watching in surprise, and the cop down the line is heading over to chastise Les. The result? A bit on the wonky photo, but by 2018 an important scene in its own right.

Corness Blog_9 Bristol Freighter

In 1953 Trans-Canada Air Lines, experiencing a rise of postwar air cargo business, acquired several Bristol Freighters. These operated a cross-Canada service, but proved to be too slow and short of range. Instead, TCA converted some of its North Stars for cargo, and the Bristols were sold. With such northern operators as Associated, Maritime Central, PWA, Transair and Wardair, they demonstrated their true usefulness, the last example working into the 1980s. Les saw PWA’s CF-TFZ at Edmonton on a winter’s day in 1956. Unfortunately, “TFZ” was wrecked later in the year while landing on Beaverlodge Lake in the NWT. There it rests on the shore to this day. You can see photos and more details at Aviation History and Photography – Ruud Leeuw > Vintage Transports, photos by Friends & Guests and at Abandoned Plane Wrecks in the North

Corness Blog_10 Bristol Crash

On September 17, 1955 CF-GBT of Associated Airways crashed soon after departing Edmonton for Yellowknife. Two of the six men aboard died. Hearing of the disaster on the radio, Les drove out to photograph the aftermath (since by then he was an RCAF padre, he wouldn’t have had any trouble getting access). After investigating all the details, the Department of Transport concluded: “”For reasons as yet undetermined the starboard engine failed and as a result of being overloaded [SOP for most such northern flights “back in the day”], the aircraft did not maintain altitude on one engine and struck the ground with the starboard wingtip. A further contributory factor was considered to be the failure of the co-pilot’s vacuum-driven gyro instruments, without his knowledge.”

Corness Blog_11 C-46 accident

There was nothing remotely ghoulish about photographing wrecks. It was part of the aviation fan’s commitment to history. Here’s another case where Les was Johnny-on-the-Spot with his camera. Over the winter of 1946, USAF C-46 44-77678 had pancaked on the edge of Edmonton airport.

Corness Blog_13 CPA Britannia

For five decades Les covered aviation events around Edmonton. On this occasion it was the inaugural visit in August 1958 of CPA’s new Bristol Britannia. A gleaming CF-CZW “Empress of Edmonton” was assigned for the day’s duties and you can see that Edmontonians responded enthusiastically. Can you imagine such a casual community event today at a major airport!

Corness Blog_12 C-46 252 CF-CZH

Often including more than just an airplane, many of Les’ photos stand above the standard “set- up shot”. In this case, when he photographed CPA C-46 CF- CZH, he didn’t wait for the ESSO fuel truck to move off. Originally with the USAAF in 1945, this C-46 went to Flying Tiger Line in 1949, then joined CPA in 1955 to do DEW Line work. It migrated to Quebecair in 1962, thence in 1976 to Jack Anderson’s North Coast Air in Prince Rupert. On September 29, 1977 “CZH” was operating from Thompson, Manitoba, when there was engine trouble. Unable to maintain height, captain Fritz Bluethner put down in the bush. There “CZH” remains today. Again … for more detail and some great photos, see Ruud Leeuw’s fantastic website Abandoned Plane Wrecks of the North – Ruud Leeuw

If this is the sort of aviation history “gets you going”, The Leslie Corness Propliner Collection will not disappoint. Not only do you get Les’ great aviation coverage across southern Canada, but also much from his Arctic era in early DEW Line times (Avro York, C-46, C-47, C-54, etc.), and wonderful photos from his UK period of such types as the Ambassador, Britannia, Carvair, CL-44, Dart Herald, “Deux- Ponts”, Il-18, L.1649 Starliner and Vanguard. Having a biographic side, the book also includes some non-aviation photography (rail, shipping, etc., even some rare ethnographic photos from the \ Arctic). It’s an all-around production for the serious aficionado.

Fred Phillips of Canadair

Ken Swartz has sent along the sad news that the great Frederick Clayton Phillips has died at age 103. Fred spent the second half of his illustrious career at Canadair in Montreal, having joined the company in 1954 as Chief of Aerodynamics and Preliminary Design. Right away he became CL-41 project engineering manager, then saw that assignment through to production. He also instigated VTOL R&D and in 1956 presented his preliminary results to the Canadian Aeronautical Institute in 1956. Canadair pursued Fred’s VTOL concept and in May 1965 the prototype CL-84 Dynavert flew at Cartierville. It was the most advanced such “tilt-wing” aircraft in the world.

Corness Blog_14 Fred Phillips 8-2018 (1)

In this photo, Fred (left) is with another legendary Canadair designer, E.H. “Ed” Higgins. Here is Fred’s obituary (for more details see Canadair: The First 50 Years):

Hanover, N.H. — Frederick Clayton Phillips, 103, died at Wheelock Terrace, on Saturday, June 30, 2018, after a long and happy life. Fred was born in the small coal-mining town of Osceola Mills, Pa. on Jan. 18, 1915, the eldest child of Fred and Edith (Sankey) Phillips. He attended high school in Tyrone, Pa., graduating in 1932, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1931. After graduating magna cum laude in Aeronautical Engineering from NYU in 1938, and completing the course requirements for a master’s degree at M.I.T., Fred accepted a position as an aerodynamicist at the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Baltimore, Md., where he worked throughout WWII. In 1942, he wed Harriet Mae Cowher, an old friend from Tyrone with whom he remained happily married for more than 71 years. Harriet predeceased Fred in 2014.  As well as his aerodynamic work, during WWII Fred also taught the subject at night school at Johns Hopkins University. In 1947, he and Harriet moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he became a Professor of Aircraft Design for the Brazilian Air Ministry. Daughter Sarah Ann was born in Rio in August 1948. The three returned to the U.S. in 1951, where Fred took up a position at the McDonnell Aircraft Corp. in St. Louis, Mo. Son Jon Frederick was born in June 1953. In 1955, Fred accepted a position at Canadair Ltd. in Montreal, Canada, and son David Macready was born there in January 1957.  After 25 years at Canadair as the Director of a variety of aircraft productions, Fred and Harriet retired to Lyme, N.H. in 1981. He worked occasionally as an aircraft industry consultant for a few years, but both became very involved in the Lyme Congregational Church and local community. Among many ventures, Fred was active in the Boy Scouts, the preservation of the Lyme horse sheds, as a town trustee, and sang heartily in the church choir for decades. Fred will be lovingly remembered as a true gentleman, a man of spirit and conviction, loyalty and love. He was a keen gardener, a voracious reader, and a passionate lover of classical music, especially that of J.S. Bach. To those who knew him, he loved people, a good joke, good food and wine, but above all, his family. As well as the three children, Fred is survived by his three grandchildren: Rebecca, Tyler and Evan. A memorial service at Lyme Congregational Church is planned for late August. Donations in Fred’s memory may be made to local charities such as the Boy Scouts of America Daniel Webster Council, or The Lyme Foundation.

CANAV Books Summer 2018 Announcement + News from CAE: New Business, Profits Strong + Canada Post Passes up the 100th Anniversary of Our Air Mail 1918-2018

1 Blog Fighter Pilots Vol.8 August 2018

To all CANAV readers … Volume 8 of “Aviation in Canada” now is at the printer. You can expect to see Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 in September. Solid Canadian history from start to finish, this authoritative book revives a key theme in Canada’s aviation heritage in a landmark year – the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War.  This is Canada’s only major title in print covering the nation’s pioneers of aerial combat. It honours the men, the aircraft and the organizations, detailing in a fresh light the incredible story from training in Canada as early as 1914, to the deadly skies over the Western Front, Italy and wherever else the men were needed. The story continues after 1918, covering the many roles played by Canada’s wartime aviators through the interwar years – how the role of the fighter pilot and observer waned at first, then gradually was revived, initially with the Siskin and Atlas, finally — on the eve of war — with the Hurricane, etc. Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939 is 184 pages, extra-large format (9×12 inches), hardcover, beautifully designed and produced with a spectacular collection of 350 photographs. There’s never been anything like it in Canadian aviation book publishing. Having seen our previous volumes in the series, you’ll know what to expect. Sticker price? $50.00. Watch our blog for more details and drop me an email if you’d like to receive Volume 8 updates in the next few weeks. Cheers … Larry (


News from CAE: New Business, New Products, Profits Strong: “Flight Simulator’s CEO Says Bigger U.S. Armed Forces Budgets are a Boon” by Christopher Reynolds of the Canadian Press

Since CANAV published Aviation in Canada: The CAE Story, CAE has been on a steady climb, introducing new products and seeing share value and profits steadily rising. When I started researching the company’s history in 2011, a single CAE share was valued at about CDN$10.00, a price that had been stagnant for years. By the time the book was published in 2015, however, CAE share value had risen (literally) overnight to CDN$15.00 and today (August 15, 2018) sits at CDN$25.58. In his Canadian Press item today, Christopher Reynolds brings us up to date about this great Canadian company. If you don’t yet have your copy of The CAE Story (one of CANAV’s best ever titles — you’ll see what I mean once you get your hands on a copy) drop me an email today and fill that gap on your aviation bookshelf. Also … for more CAE info check CANAV’s blog:  Cheers … Larry                                                             

CAE corporate headquarters are shown in Montreal on August 10, 2016. The CEO of flight simulator CAE Inc. suggested U.S. President Donald Trump’s appetite for defence spending is a boon to the Montreal-based company, with newfound access to contracts tied to top-secret missions paving the runway for more revenue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – The head of flight simulator company CAE Inc. said Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump’s appetite for defence spending is a boon to the Montreal-based company, as newfound access to contracts tied to top-secret missions pave the runway for more revenue. “On the defence side, budgets continue to be on the rise worldwide, and in the U.S. they are at historical highs,” president and CEO Marc Parent told shareholders at an annual general meeting Tuesday. On Monday, Trump signed a $716-billion defence spending bill for 2019, an $82-billion increase from 2017 and a dramatic upswing from most Obama-era military budgets. CAE’s acquisition of Virginia-based Alpha-Omega Change Engineering earlier this month opens the hatch to “top-secret missions,” mainly out of the U.S., Parent told reporters.

An agreement between the U.S. government and a CAE subsidiary allows a proxy board made up of two American generals and a military contractor executive to oversee the high-security contracts, he said. “That opens up an extra $3 billion of potential market for us. So that brings our total addressable market in the world to $17 billion,” Parent said. As to what the classified missions involve, he said only, “You can speculate all day long.”

Parent defended how CAE potentially stands to benefit amidst heightened military spending south of the border, more combative language from the White House and the creation of a new armed services branch focused on fighting wars in space. “It’s certainly not offensive,” Parent said of CAE’s training and simulator programs. “It’s for defence and security forces and search and rescue. To me, there is a societal benefit to what we do. It’s to help personnel execute their mission and save lives that way,” he said. “I don’t see it negatively.”

The annual meeting at CAE’s Montreal headquarters Tuesday saw former federal finance minister John Manley named chair of the company’s 10-member board of directors. Manley, current president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, replaces James Hankinson at the helm. CAE, which operates in roughly three dozen countries, saw annual revenue rise five per cent year-over-year to $2.83 billion in 2018. Record order intake in the civil aviation wing fuelled the increase as that division’s operating income grew 12 per cent.

CAE also increased its dividend as it reported its first-quarter profit and revenue improved compared with a year ago. The simulator maker says it will now pay a quarterly dividend of 10 cents per share, up from nine cents. The increased payment to shareholders came as it reported a first-quarter profit attributable to equity holders of $69.4 million or 26 cents per diluted share for the quarter June 30. That compared with a profit of $59.6 million or 22 cents per diluted share in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue in the three-month period totalled $722 million, up from $656.2 million.



100th Anniversary of Our Air Mail: Canada Post Drops the Ball


Blog Air Mail 1 Leaside Pub June 30

Blog Air Mail 2 Leaside Pub June 30 2018

Lt Brian Peck of the Royal Air Force Canada flew Canada’s first air mail from Montreal to Toronto in a JN-4 on June 24, 1918. Here he is at the time, then a photo of his arrival with the mail at Leaside (Toronto). Read about this historic event in the June 2018 edition of the CAS publication, “The Canadian Aerophilatelist” and elsewhere. Peck’s mission was a bit of a comedy of errors, yet made it deservedly into the official records.

As you noticed in our previous blog (n.b. as always, any views stated on the CANAV blog are strictly my own), June 24, 2018 was the 100th anniversary of Canada’s first air mail. This event is covered in such books as Canada’s Flying Heritage (1954) and Aviation on Canada: The Formative Years (2009), and in the newsletter of the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society. If you follow the early years of Canada’s great aviation heritage, you will not regret joining the CAS (you don’t need to be a stamp collector). To follow through (please do) see http://www.aerophilately.caBlog Air Mail 3 Leaside Pub June 30 2018

Blog Air Mail 4 Leaside Pub June 30 2018

A sample page from Aviation in Canada: The Formative Years covering Canada’s earliest air mail flights. Then, the crowd scene when the second Canadian airmail flight (also a JN-4) reached  Ottawa from Leaside on August 27, 1918.

On June 30 an enthusiastic crowd packed into the Leaside Pub on Laird Drive in Toronto to celebrate Lt Peck’s historic mail flight. Represented (naturally) were the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society and the Canadian Aviation Historic Society, while such other organizations as the Great War Flying Museum and a number of history-minded Leaside people added to the fun. But what about Canada Post?

Blog Air Mail 5

Blog Air Mail 6

CAS members Chris Hargreaves, John Bertram and Dr. Robert Galway at the Leaside Pub “air mail bash”. Then, CAHS members Dick MacIntosh, Sheldon Benner and John Bertram.

Blog Air Mail 7

Old-time CAHS members Chris Terry and Jack Gow. Chris formerly headed the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.

Blog Air Mail 7A Edit

Aviation history researcher and author, Dr. Robert Galway, talks over some Leaside aerodrome history with event organized Chris Daniels.

Blog Air Mail 8 Leaside Pub June 30

Blog Air Mail 9

A highlight of the afternoon was the arrival overhead (to honour Lt Peck and his airmail “first”) of the Great War Flying Museum’s Sopwith 1½ Strutter replica. Pilot Kees van Berkel made several wonderful passes over the pub and neighbourhood. A hundred years ago the sky here would have been full of JN-4 Canuck trainers, for the Royal Flying Corps Canada’s Leaside aerodrome then occupied this very corner of Toronto. Sheldon Benner caught this candid scene. Then … the crowd having a great time in Leaside’s 30+ degree that afternoon.

“Leaside Life” has published this nifty little piece about the air mail celebration.

Around the world any major postal anniversary (such as a 100th anniversary of the air mail — what could be more important to postal historians) normally is greeted with commemorative postage stamps and important historic events sponsored by the post office itself. Totally befitting, right? However, as far as I know, Leaside was Canada’s only formal celebration of the 100th anniversary of Canada’s air mail. So … that Canada Post didn’t bother to send a representative is hard to believe. Neither was even one commemorative air mail stamp issued from Ottawa. Only in Canada you say? What? Take a look (in contrast) to what the ever-history loving United States did this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its air mail (also, look on the web to see how Australia celebrated its air mail anniversary in 2014):

United States Postal Service to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of U.S. Air Mail Service

First of Two United States Air Mail Forever Stamps to be Dedicated May 1WASHINGTON — The United States Postal Service will honor the beginning of airmail service by dedicating two United States Air Mail Forever stamps this year. The first, depicted above in blue, commemorates the pioneering spirit of the brave pilots who first flew the mail in the early years of aviation. The first-day-of-issue ceremony will take place May 1, 2018 at 11 a.m. at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., Washington, DC. The event is free and open to the public.

 On May 15, 1918, in the midst of World War I, a small group of Army pilots delivered mail along a route that linked Washington, Philadelphia, and New York—initiating the world’s first regularly scheduled airmail service. The United States Post Office Department, the predecessor to the U.S. Postal Service, took charge of the U.S. Air Mail Service later that summer, operating it from Aug. 12, 1918, through Sept. 1, 1927. Airmail delivery, daily except on Sundays, became part of the fabric of the American economy and spurred growth of the nation’s aviation industry. The second stamp, red and pictured above, will commemorate this milestone with its first-day-of-issue to take place later this summer. Both stamps, printed in the intaglio print method— a design transferred to paper from an engraved plate — depict the type of plane typically used in the early days of airmail, a Curtiss JN-4H biplane. The biplane was also featured on the stamps originally issued in 1918 to commemorate the beginning of regularly scheduled airmail service. The stamp designs evoke that earlier period.

 For airmail service to succeed in the early days of flight, the Post Office had to develop profitable routes, such as between New York and Chicago, and to establish the infrastructure for safely making night flights. It set up lighted airfields and erected hundreds of airmail guide beacons between New York and San Francisco so that by 1924 regularly scheduled, transcontinental flying was possible, day and night. Airmail delivery, daily except on Sundays, became part of the fabric of the American economy and spurred the growth of the nation’s aviation industry. The United States Air Mail stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First Class Mail one ounce price.

 On the 100th anniversary of the beginning of regular airmail service, this stamp celebrates the courage of the pioneering airmail carriers and the foresight of those who fostered the new service and made it a success. The stamp, printed in intaglio, features a drawing of the type of plane typically used in the early days of airmail, a Curtiss JN4H biplane. This type of biplane was also featured on the 24 cent stamp that was issued in 1918 to commemorate the beginning of regularly scheduled airmail service. The words “UNITED STATES” and “AIR MAIL” are respectively at the top and bottom of the stamp. “EST” is an abbreviation for “established.” The stamp designer and typographer was Dan Gretta; Greg Breeding was the art director.

Pretty impressive, no? But we’re talking about the United States of America, so what else would one with half a brain expect? This certainly makes one wonder about Canada Post being conspicuous by its absence at the Leaside Pub. Just another example of Ottawa’s growing insouciance when it comes to our great country’s incomparable accomplishments? Or … is it simply that Canada Post has no one with a clue? Regardless, Leaside, the CAS, CAHS, GWFM, etc. pulled it off royally.

Enjoy the rest of your summer … Larry

Canada’s Magnificent Dash 8

Dash 8 No.0 Air Ontario C-FJVV departing London, Ontario

A lovely Air Ontario Dash 8-300 departs London, Ontario on June 3, 1993, likely headed
for Toronto YYZ. Delivered in March 1991, some 27 years later “JVV” is still hard at work.

Books galore have been written about Canada’s astounding contributions in aviation dating way back to the Silver Dart of 1909, then progressing to the Vedette, Norseman, North Star, Beaver, Husky and Arrow to today’s incomparable CSeries (recently rebranded as the Airbus A220). Armchair fans and “experts” all have a list of favorites. Debates on the topic can get heated. But it’s mainly great fun, right.

One of my great Canadian aviation heroes is the late R.H. “Bob” Fowler. Having earned his wings during the war, Bob flew the B-25 Mitchell on such bloody operations as Market-Garden. Bob ended as a senior test pilot with de Havilland Aircraft of Canada. There he few all the types from the 1950s into the 1980s. A pilot of such incredible experience usually ends with a special place for one particular type. I asked  Bob one day what his was, figuring it would be something like the P-38 or Sea Hornet,  which he had flown doing photo survey after the war, or maybe the impressive Buffalo. No, by far Bob’s favourite airplane was the DHC-8 — the “Dash 8”.

On June 20, 1983 Bob, his great pal, Mick Saunders (a wartime Typhoon pilot) and flight test engineers Don Brand and Geoff Pyne crewed the first Dash 8 C-GDNK on it inaugural flight from Downsview airfield in Toronto. Having evolved from the (perhaps) overly specialized) Dash 7, the Dash 8 was to become one of the world’s top commuter airliners. With more than a 1200 delivered by now, after 35 years many of the earliest Dash 8-100s are still giving solid service around the world, and the series remains in production as the incomparable Q400.

It may seem surprising, but the Dash 8-100 now is reaching the end of its frontline years with several leading commuter airlines. In a recent case, on July 4 , 2018 Piedmont Airlines recorded its last of hundreds of thousands of Dash 8 flights. What’s the story about this great US airline? Check out Piedmont’s website for the details, but for our purposes I’ll quote a few points from the company’s own history that tie in to the Dash 8:

The 1980s were a decade of dramatic growth and change for us. The addition of new equipment transformed the airline into a modern regional carrier. The first significant change occurred in 1983, when Piedmont Aviation agreed to purchase Henson and our company became known as Henson, the Piedmont Regional Airline. The next year, eight de Havilland Dash 8 aircraft were purchased. Through subsequent re-orders for the Dash 8, we have become the world’s largest operator of that highly efficient, passenger-friendly aircraft. In 1985, we boarded our five-millionth passenger… By the end of 1987, the route structure touched 38 cities in ten states plus the Bahamas. In 1989, Piedmont merged into USAir and Henson planes were repainted to reflect the new identity of USAir Express. In 1993, Henson was renamed Piedmont Airlines in order to preserve the Piedmont identity within the USAir Group family. In 1997, USAir itself underwent a name change, becoming US Airways.

That year the company’s fleet totalled 37 Dash 8-100s plus 10 Dash 8-200s. Twenty-one years later the 37 -100s remained in service along with 50 -300s. At the same time, US Airways Express was flying 187 Canadair/Bombardier regional jets, so what a relationship between this star of an American commuter airline and the Canadian economy! I think you will enjoy this nostalgic video about US Airways Express and the Dash 8. This is what I call a heartfelt tribute to one of the world’s greatest commuter planes. Have a look here:

Next, you can flip through my own little album of Dash 8 photos. In scouring my collection taken over the decades, I was surprised at the depth of coverage. It seems that wherever I travelled since the mid-1980s, there often was a Dash 8 involved (I’ve roughly arranged these shots from west to east).

Dash 8 No.1 Air BC'sFleet No.807 Comox August 18, 1991

I grabbed this quick shot of Air BC 38-seat Dash 8- 100 No.807 at CFB Comox on a perfect April 15, 1991. “807” had just delivered its passengers from Vancouver, a scenic 30-minute hop across Georgia Strait. Notice the Dash 8’s pure aesthetics as far as airplane good looks go. This particular week I was on the BC coast gathering material for what eventually would become my 1997 book, Air Transport in Canada. A highlight during this Comox visit was a famil flight with 424 Squadron aboard DHC-5 Buffalo ‘456.

Dash 8 No.2 C-GTAG of Time Air at Vancouver on April 9, 1990

On April 4, 1990 I flew across to Comox from Vancouver to spend a few days with the Snowbirds. Heading back east on April 9, I crossed back to Vancouver on a TimeAir Short 360. Walking through the “YVR” terminal after arrival, I spotted Dash 8-300 C-GTAG (the 200th Dash 8) on the ramp. Built in 1990, at age 28 “TAG” still is on the go carrying the travelling public and making lots of money for current owner, JAZZ. For June 2018 alone, “TAG” completed 242 flights (8 per day), covering 56,485 miles (90,750 km). Cities served included Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Kamloops and Vancouver.

Dash 8 No.3 Horizon's N823PH landing at Vancouver

Having flown to Vancouver from Toronto on July 31, 1993 aboard a Canada 3000 757, I had to wait a while for my Air BC flight to Prince Rupert. In the process, I spent an hour or so taking landing shots. Several gorgeous Dash 8s came by, including Horizon’s N823PH. It would serve Seattle-based Horizon from 1988 into Y2K, when Bombardier took it back, perhaps as a trade-in. Next, it migrated to the Caribbean to fly for Air Jamaica Express as 6Y-JMZ, then in 2009 moved Africa, becoming 5Y-EMD. On arrival from Nairobi at Moba, DRC on January 13, 2010, “EMD” had a very hard landing and was written off. Happily, no one was injured.

Dash 8 No.4 C-GABH at Edmonton Municipal Airport June 25, 1993

While waiting at Edmonton “Muni” for a flight to Yellowknifeon June 25, 1993, I photographed Dash 8-100 C-GABH. Delivered new to Air BC in 1990, “ABH” next served Air Nova of Halifax 1999-2001, when Air Canada amalgamated several regional carriers under its new commuter brand – JAZZ. “ABH” was parked in 2005, then re-appeared later that year in North Caribou Flying Service colours. After several more productive years in the BC market, in 2011 it crossed the Pacific to start yet another career, this time in Papua New Guinea. Note the Air BC Jetstream in the background. This was the period of airline deregulation in North America that saw new carriers appearing, and modern commuter planes replacing the traditional old Beech 18s, DC- 3s, etc. that had been serving Canada’s smaller markets for far too long.

Dash 8 No.5 A pair pf TimeAir Dash 8s at Calgary April 7, 1991

A handsome pair of TimeAir Dash 8-300s on the tarmac at Calgary on April 7, 1991. I had just flown in from Toronto on a CAIL 767 and was headed to Edmonton to spend a week with 447 Squadron (Chinooks).

Dash 8 No.6 C-GHTA at Saskatoon

Every part of Canada has enjoyed Dash 8 service and talk about lucky for Canada. Here TimeAir’s C-GHTA waits at Saskatoon on a frigid winter’s afternoon January 8, 1993. At the time I was en route to Prince Alberta to interview the folks at Athabasca Airways, who recently had upgraded to the spiffy Beech 1900D. In you’re plane spotting around BC and Alberta this summer, you could be seeing a lot of “HTA” in the colours of Air Canada JAZZ.

Dash 8 No.7 CanForces CT-142 142802 Lahr

The Canadian military could not find much of a role for the Dash 8. This is an old state of affairs. In the 1940-50s the DND couldn’t find or make a role for the Beaver, and later couldn’t use the Caribou or Twin Otter other than in token numbers. With the Dash 8, two early examples joined the Canadian Forces in 1987 as utility planes based at Lahr, West Germany. Here is 142802 there on June 2, 1991. It was disposed of in 2002 and today is C-GSUR doing maritime surveillance with Transport Canada.

Dash 8 No.9 C-FGRC at Sault Ste. Marie

Air Ontario’s Dash 8-100 C-FGRC at Sault Ste. Marie on July 23, 1992. Right into the early 1970s such Northern Ontario cities had limited air service. One or two Viscount flights daily was about the max. Then, competition heated up with deregulation and there was overkill, as any airline with a 737 wanting into the Soo, Thunder Bay, even Dryden, anything to complete with Air Canada’s DC-9 skeds. But for these big jets there wasn’t the demand. Fortunately, fuel still was cheap. Then along came the Dash 8 and “problem solved” with the right size of airplane plus the ideal capacity, performance and economic specs. At its peak, Air Ontario was run by James Plaxton of London and the Deluce family of White River (Delplax Holdings Ltd.). They quickly identified the Dash 8 as the way to go for their Ontario-wide network, replacing an uneconomic fleet of Convair 580s. By 1990 Air Ontario had something like 27 Dash 8s and was building up a solid business at Toronto Island Airport with some 60 scheduled flights daily. In 1985 49% of Air Ontario was sold to Air Canada (Delplax kept 51%). Eventually, Air Ontario went outright to Air Canada, so the original Dash 8s today flit around in JAZZ or Air Canada Express colours. First delivered to Air Ontario in 1990, “GRC” remains in the JAZZ fleet. What was I doing in the Soo the day I saw “GRC”? I was travelling from Toronto to Red Lake with as many stops as I could arrange: Toronto-Soo-Thunder Bay-Winnipeg-Red Lake. I was on Brasilias to Winnipeg,  then took a Beech 1900C to Red Lake.

Dash 8 No.10 Air Ontario Toronto Island Fleet No.817

Air Ontario Dash 8s on the ramp during the company’s heyday there in the 1980s. When Air Canada bought out Air Ontario, it let the Island Airport business die. However, Air Ontario’s original boldness in developing a thriving Ontario network in its early years, provided a solid foundation for what followed in the 2000s – the world class Porter Airlines network founded by the Deluces using the amazing Q400 (i.e. the Dash 8-400).

Dash 8 No.11 Air Ontario Toronto skyline

Every Air Ontario passenger (and all who fly Porter today) revelled at the sight of Toronto’s landmark skyline each time they departed from or arrived at Toronto Island in a Dash 8.

Dash 8 No.12 US Air Express N975HA

Had the burgeoning US commuter airlines not seen the Dash 8 as “the” way to go for the future, the whole project would have fizzled. But early on de Havilland salesmen were able to sell American carriers on their new product and close the vital deals. Dick Henson took this Dash 8-100 serial No.176 N975HA in October 1989. Henson soon had a large Dash 8 fleet with nowhere to go but up – which happened. N975HA served Henson and Piedmont into 2015, when it parked. In 2017 it was sold to Avmac in Calgary, perhaps to be parted out. I wonder how many airframe hours this Dash 8 had piled up and how many cycles (landings and takeoffs). Here is N975HA at Baltimore on December 11, 1989. I was on a trip that week to Norfolk to spend a few days with the great RCAF legend, J.C. “Big Joe” McCarthy of Dam Buster raid renown. However, I didn’t fly once on the Dash 8 on this trip. My transportation was via 727, F.28, Jetstream and Short 360.

Dash 8 No.13 Eastern Metro Express

My very first Dash 8 flight was aboard this Eastern Metro Express example on October 22, 1986. Mike Valenti and I had just spent a fantastic few days with Canada’s ace CF-18 team competing at Tyndall AFB in
Florida for the William Tell Trophy. The party was over and we were headed home. This new Dash 8 took us from Panama City to Atlanta, where we connected back to Toronto. This carrier disappeared when “big” Eastern Airlines folded in 1991. In taking this quickie shot, I failed to include the registration, so don’t know which particular Dash 8 this is, other than fleet No.7.

Dash 8 No.14 Air Alliance Dash 8 C-FJMO at Sept-Ilse

Again while working towards Air Transport in Canada, in 1992 I made a trip down Quebec’s famous Côte Nord, working out of Sept-Îles for a few days. On November 18 I photographed Air Alliance Dash 8-100 C-GJMO there. Having begun in 1987 with Air Ontario, “JMO” moved the following year to Air Alliance, later was with Air Nova, and most recently has been in JAZZ colours … 31 years of steady service.

Dash 8 No.15 Air Atlantic at Fredericton

On November 28, 1990 I was aboard CanForces C-130 130325 returning from Honduras. The crew had a Twin Huey to deliver for CFB Gagetown, so had to go in to Fredericton on the way to Trenton to make the drop-off. We landed late at night in very claggy weather. While waiting for fuel, I snapped off a few time exposures. I was happy to catch these Dash 8s “being put to bed” after their day’s work. Nearest is Air Atlantic’s C-FDNF fleet No.153. In Y2K “DNG” migrated to BC operator Central Mountain Air.

Dash 8 No.16 Air Creebec at Waskakanish, Quebec

In the 1970s air transportation really started improving in northern Canada. The Twin Otter and HS748 revolutionized things, finally edging the DC-3 out of its hallowed place. Formed in 1982 with backing from Austin Airways (recently acquired by the Deluce family), Air Creebec brought modern service at last to the many small Cree Indian communities in James Bay Quebec. Even better, in the early 1990s the Dash 8 arrived. Here an Air Creebec Dash 8-100 starts up at Waskaganish. That day I was doing the rounds in Air Creebec 748 C-GGNZ from Timmins to six Cree centres and back one town at a time. Six hours on the flight deck with pilots Marc Boisvert and Bruce Godby. Although the 748 was a fine airplane for this region, the Dash 8 was the icing on the cake. Today, it brings top daily service to all of Quebec’s James Bay centres.