Check out this lovely period photo showing RCAF Norseman 3528 at Watson Lake in the Yukon on June 15, 1944. Whatever task 3528 was about, in these few moments the crew was not too worried. Who would know there was a war on, eh, with the fellows having knocked off for some fun in the cool, fresh water under the wing of their big yellow bird.
Earlier, Norseman 3528 had been on strength at 124 (Ferry) Squadron based at Rockcliffe, but in August 1942 had be reassigned to Northwest Air Command for duty in the Yukon, mainly supporting the Northwest Staging Route and CANOL Pipeline projects. In the Yukon, 3528’s usual pilot into 1943 was a pre-WWII northern legend, F/L Carl Crossley. See Aviation in Canada: The Noorduyn Norseman, Vol.1 for the Crossley/Norseman story.
And what of 3528 in the end? It’s not a happy tale. Moments after taking off from Fort Simpson, NWT on July 10, 1945, it crashed. Crewman LAC Sidney B. Ladell freed himself from the wreck, but powerful currents in the Liard River carried 3528 away with pilot F/O Charles T. Wheeler trapped in the cockpit. He was never seen again. (DND PL25434, click to see full screen) One of Canada’s best-known Norsemans in recent years has been CF-DTL, owned by Gord and Eleanor Hughes of Ignace, Ontario. Since the 1980s, it’s been a regular summer visitor across the North. Having begun as RCAF 2484 in 1941, postwar CF-DTL had served the Department of Transport and Wheeler Airlines, until wrecked at Moosonee in 1965. Rebuilt by Lauzon Aviation, it flew again for years in the Quebec bush. Gord and Eleanor eventually did their own restoration of this historic Norseman, and still care lovingly for it. While visiting Red Lake from France for the 2009 Norseman Festival, Michel Léonard photographed CF-DTL with Gord up top refuelling.
The Toronto Sun’s Peter Worthington had this piece last week about Canada Post‘s new commemorative stamp marking the 100th anniversary of the Silver Dart, which was the first heavier-than-air machine to fly in Canada.
These stamp stories have been circulating lately, mainly about how the artist totally left the tail off the Canada Post plane. Talk about a boo-boo! That’s the real topic and the one that Jack Minor, retired RCAF and Silver Dart aficionado, should be grousing about. It’s probably not a “mistake” that the image of Douglas McCurdy on the first-day cover was used. My guess is that it was used because it’s such a nice picture of McCurdy, probably the best of him in any airplane. The McCurdy Biplane was a basic Curtiss design, likely built in Curtiss’ workshop in Hammondsport, NY. It was a far better plane than the Silver Dart.
Well, I’d say this just makes the first-day cover more interesting, as the collectors always love something to gossip about. I like the looks of the new stamp regardless of it being non-airworthy without a tail, and bought 4000, which I’ve been using on a mini-mailout. I’ll use the rest for the spring mailing (keep your eyes peeled!). Supposedly, the print run was small, maybe three million, so collectors will be loving these stamps for the next few centuries. Collectors really got off on the Canada Post stamp years ago showing an Air Canada Boeing 767 without engines! Now that’s pushing artistic licence…
There’s a version of the 767 called the 767 ER (extended range). Air Canada pilots call the plane on the stamp a 767 ER for another reason, ER standing for “engines removed”! Once when Canada Post botched a commemorative, they corrected the art and re-issued the stamp. Guess what that did to the value of the originals? Well, the philatelic folks just thrive on this stuff. Let’s see if CP re-issues the Silver Dart stamp.
Also great fun is how I wrote a year ago to Canada Post asking if they were planning to do an aviation commemorative for 2009. I’m still waiting to hear back about that! Any of our knowledgeable aviation history people sure could have saved Canada Post from putting out the tail-less Silver Dart stamp, if only they’d ask or answer their mail! Ah well, I guess that’s the Ottawa way…