Photos © Ruud Leeuw
|After visiting Vancouver and Calgary earlier on this trip, I stepped into the Alberta Aviation Museum (located at Edmonton's Municipal Airport, which has its ground saturated with aviation history) on Wednesday 28Jun06.
Although initially my main interest was the DC-3 preserved here, I found many more treasures of aviation folklore and (g)olden days ...
|Vickers Viking IV (the displayed aircraft is a replica)
The original G-CAEB was the first amphibious aircraft in Canada; it was built in 1923 and one of the first aircraft used for bushp plane operations.
In 1927 it participated in a search of a lost gold mine in the barren lands of the NWT...
The original was destroyed when, in 1932, it caught fire during a flight over the Straights of Georgia.
The Avro Anson was a maritime patrol version of the Avro X1X airliner. |
It was the first RAF aircraft with a retractable undercarriage. But they were obsolete when the war broke out and were offered (!) to Canada and other Commonwealth countries.
In Canada it became the standard multi-engine training aircraft and was even put in production as the Mk.II, with American Jacobs engines and other modifications.
The hangar the museum is located in was part of the no.2 Air Observations School (operating 125 of these aircraft, training Navigators and Bomb Aimers).
The deHavilland Mosquito hardly need an introduction...
This particular airframe was produced too late to participate in WW2 and was stored in Scotland, where it was bought by Spartan Air Service (from Ottawa) in 1955 and was used in Kenya (and Canada) for aerial survey work.
Its plywood construction suffered through years of inactivity and in 1993 the aircraft was handed over, on loan, to the museum for extensive restoration; over 10.000 hours of work went into this. The aircraft has been restored to represent an operational FB Mark IV wartime aircraft with the markings "TH-Z" , serial number HR 147.
Beech D18S-3NM C-45 Expeditor CF-RSX. |
I was pleasantly surprised to see this aircraft still listed on the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register: CF-RSX has been registered to the museum since 08Jun92, has c/n CA 245 (you will also see reference to A-895) and was manufactured in 1952.
It was built for the RCAF, designated a C-45 Expeditor.
Stubb Ross bought CF-RSX in 1967 to start Lethbridge Air (which later became Time Air and later again, Canadian Regional Airlines). |
After operations by Pem Air it was donated to the museum, restoration was completed in 1991.
Now this is a rare specimen too...
It much resembles a Beech 18 but was produced by Barkley Grow from Detroit, USA.
Only eleven of these Barkley Grows were produced but 5 ended up in Edmonton area. Three were flown by Yukon Air Service and two by MacKenzie Air Service.
CF-BLV was the first Barkley Grow to arrive at Edmonton's Blatchford Field during the late 1930s. Some 30 years later, in 1960, it crashed on take off at Peace River,ALB and the wreckage was left in the bush (finding use as a playground at some point in time!) until it was recovered for restoration. CF-BLV is on loan from the Aero Space Museum, where it was also restored.
The Aero Space Museum in Calgary has another Barkley Grow in their collection!
That wonderful skytruck of the bushplanes: the Noorduyn Norseman!
CF-EIH was originally built for the RCAF. After WW2 it was sold to Associated Airways of Edmonton and registered CF-EIH; shortly after this CF-EIH was bought by McDonald Aviation.
Fate struck a blow in August 1947 when 'EIH was damaged beyond economic repair while attempting to land on Allan Lake,NWT.
|But Stan Edkins salvaged the Norseman in 1993 and restoration took place 1994-1997. It has been restored in the colours of Mackenzie Air Service.
In April 1998 it was presented to the public in a ceremony also attended by Bob Noorduyn, the son of original designer and builder R.Noorduyn.
The website http://www.ody.ca/~bwalker/RCAF_451_500_detailed.htm has this airframe as c/n 94, formerly used as by the RCAF with No. 1 Operational Training Unit, RCAF Station Bagotville, Quebec in 1943. See also further below!
|The Norseman was the brainchild of R.B.C. (Bob) Noorduyn. Born in Holland, he worked as a young engineer in England for Sopwith and Armstrong-Whitworth. He emigrated to the US in 1920, to work for Anthony Fokker. He organized the Atlantic Aviation Corporation, which became the Fokker Aircraft Corporation. Together they conceived the Fokker Universal, later followed by the Super Universal. He was also instrumental in the design of the Fokker Trimotor. In 1928 he joined the Bellanca Aircraft Corporation and worked on the famous Bellanca Pacemaker.
In 1934 Bob Noorduyn and Walter C. Clayton went to Montreal,Canada and started Norseman Aircraft Ltd. The prototype Norseman first flew November 14, 1935. Many Norseman were used during WW II by many countries, but chiefly by the US Army Air Force as a utility cargo plane designated UC-64A. It became the popular replacement of the Fairchild and Bellanca bush planes of the North.
|In Shirlee Matheson's book 'Flying the Frontiers, Vol.III' (subtitled 'Aviation Adventures Around the World') its short career is detailed as well as restoration of CF-EIH.
The cChapter 'The Merger of the Masters' details the background and anecdotes of two volunteers working for the museum: Chuck MacLaren and Gordon Cannam. They got stories to tell.
This Noorduyn Norseman CF-EIH, with construction number 94, began its life in March 1942 and first carried RCAF serial 493. In August 1946 it was struck of charge by the military and on 05May1947 sold by War Assets to Associated Airways of Edmonton for one dollar through Kashower Air Service Ltd in Oshawa and duly registered CF-EIH.
A major overhaul and replacement of component parts was undertaken by Weston Aircraft Ltd in Oshawa on behalf of the new owners, Associated Airways.
The work that went into it, to obtain its Certificate of Airworthiness, seems to indicate it had been involved in a major accident or had been assembled as a 'hybrid'.
On 29May1947 it was sold to McDonald Aviation Company Ltd in Edmonton.
A document by J.J. Currie (Resident Inspector, Air Regulations, Edmonton) dated 12Jun47 confirmed CF-EIH as a hybrid. It had been registered as a Mk.IV, yet had Mk.V landinggear and the fuselage incorporated a detachable engine mount which wasn't original to the Mk.IV but rather Mk.V or Mk.VI.
There were other issues.
But when things were resolved satisfactorily a CofA was issued on 08AUg47. The mongrel departed for Yellowknife in early August 1947, where it was operated through Charter Airways Ltd.
Its life terminated just a few weeks later, on 25Aug47 !
"It had only a few hundred hours on it when they put it in the bush!", Gordon 'Gordi' Cannam tells in this account. It was damaged beyond repair at Allin Lake on the Cameron River, 52 miles north of Yellowknife, during an attempted landing in a strong cross-wind.All 5 occupants survived the crash.
CF-EIH lay on the shore of remote Allin Lake, abandoned and wrecked, half in and half out of the water, for many years.
Then in 1960, Stan Edkins of Fort Smith decided to salvage it and ship it home.
By this time 'visitors' had taken all kind of removable parts from the aircraft: flight controls, doors, floats, instruments, etc. A tree was growing through the spars of one wing; when the stump was cut, 50 rings were counted on it (the stump all resides at the museum!). The Norseman was donated to the museum by Stan Edkins and was stored, awaiting a plan and funding.
Restoration of such a wreck takes a lot of money, but an associated company in England wished to donate a sizable amount of money for a worthy cause.
Sandy Mactaggart, a well-known businessman in Alberta, had been involved with aircraft for many years. The Mactaggart Third Fund and the Mactaggart family, headquartered in London (UK), released some $25.000 to restore CF-EIH.
A good supporter was also Joe McBryan, owner of Buffalo Airways. Many required parts were obtained from or through him.
Manhours was all done through volunteer work; funding went to essential components or work that needed doing by others outside the museum.
Norseman CF-EIH was by Oct.1997 partly restored (Matheson's book, which details this history, was published in 1999). MacLaren and Cannam pointed out a few items to the author.
The skis had been donated by Joe McBryan; they are traditional ones, designed by the Elliott Brothers who made many such types for different aircraft over the past 70 years; but the modern 'wheel-ski' has completely replaced the all-wood Elliott Brothers ski.
CF-EIH was rolled out on 18Apr98, restored after 8.000 hours of volunteer labor, in the presence of Robert Noorduyn Jr as well as former Norseman pilots, engineers and other lovers of 'Canada's Thunder Chicken'. This Norseman was dedicated to Chuck MacLaren, just like the Fairchild 71-C CF-ATZ has Gordon Cannam's name on the fuselage.
The story in the book continues with many more 'tales' and also tells about the many restorations carried out by these men for the Alberta Aviation Museum.
The entire book is recommended reading. Also check out Volumes I and II.
|To illustrate some of the 'old school' bushflying, I here reproduce an obituary (kindly relayed to me by Dirk Septer) of bush-pilot Jimmy "Midnight" Anderson. It was written by Nigel Hannaford and published on 29Jan08 on the website of Calgary Herald:
They held bush-pilot Jimmy "Midnight" Anderson's funeral in North Cariboo's Fort St. John hangar, Saturday. The weather closed in, so a fly-past of four Piper Super Cubs, the kind he used to fly, was scratched. That's now set for summer, when they scatter his ashes near his Pink Mountain cabin at Mile 147 of the Alaska Highway.
Otherwise, with people crowded into the place around the planes, it was a Viking send-off: Some speechifying, a video, a pot-luck overabundance -- that's a North Peace thing -- and an open mike.
Who knows how much of it was true, but after a life like Jimmy's, some had to be. You probably couldn't live this way in the 21st century. It was remarkable enough in the 20th.
They called him Midnight, because he liked to fly at night, which in northeastern B.C., where nav-aids are rare, takes a quite different competence than it does out of Springbank.
I first heard of him in the early '70s. The guys were in the Mile 293 cafe, telling a very green "lorry driver" from England, Alaska Highway lore.
Another word for lore is B/S. These are the tales men tell each other, over and over again. Like kids, they grow and get unruly, but true or merely containing an isolated shred of truth, they become a canon of sorts, myths to which we join ourselves in pursuit of belonging. The Alaska Highway has plenty; American bulldozers left in the bush, Suicide Hill, runaways on the Steamboat grade, the bomber in Watson Lake, bottomless Muncho Lake, beneath whose murky waters are sometimes found trucks that drove off the road in a snowstorm years before and thought stolen, the driver's waxy corpse still gripping the wheel . . . all offered as gospel, on the say-so of somebody, who somebody else knew. And, it had Jimmy.
"Touched down on a hi-boy, he did," says one. "Ripped his wheels off on the headache rack when he took off again." The others smirk. I get it: He was said to have briefly set down the Jackpine Savage on an empty semi to give the driver a fright, then gunned it but hit the steel installed on oilfield trucks behind the cab.
"Sure," I thought. But, years later, I met a man who claimed it was his truck.
Certainly, Jimmy landed where he wanted to. In '75, travel writers, guests of B.C.'s tourism ministry, made an ill-conceived raft trip down the Prophet River. The rafts broke up, people got wet, it was a mercy nobody drowned, and several were stranded.
The short take off/landing abilities of the Super Cub are legendary: It's like a motorbike with wings, and in the hands of a pro like Anderson, it can land on a sandbar, and that's how six soaked travel writers got back to town. One was the late Bill Dyer, then publisher of the Alaska Highway News, who started me in this job, and always stood by this explanation of what happened to the company Leica. With five witnesses.
They also called him Outlaw Pilot, because he didn't care much for MoT rules, and had many a run-in with their inspectors. For instance, there's the occasion a biologist hired him to catch and transport caribou to his northern Alberta ranch. Also a hunting guide, Jimmy caught the beasts on a mountain. Easy. But, flying them out, one got loose in the back of the Cub, jammed his rack into Jimmy's back, and forced an immediate landing on the Highway.
Sequel: The MoT ticketed him for transporting caribou without a commercial licence. So, there's a paper trail for that.
Years later, I met his son Jamie when he was writing of his fabled father. "The old man always leaves you guessing. He never tells you what's true, and what isn't. He likes ambiguity."
He also liked being the outlaw. Until six months before he died, he ran a pilot-car company: Outlaw Pilot, of course.
What is certainly true, is that he was a very fine pilot, logging more than 20,000 hours in extremely hard country. What airstrips there are outside town tend to be short and rough -- if there's a strip. at all It's a measure of skill, not the opposite, that he survived 17 "uncontrolled landings," usually flying out with improvised repairs.
It was after such a self-rescue the MoT padlocked his plane. (Willow is not authorized for aviation repairs.) They tracked him to a Fort Nelson bar, took his keys, left for Fort St. John, and vanished in bad weather,. Hearing their plane was lost, Jimmy drove to where he thought they would have gone down, skied in, and found them right where he expected.
Probably saved two lives that day. That's definitely true.
Much was forgiven after that. In the hangar, they read a note from the tower: "Picking up transmission from Jackpine Savage, calling Pearly Gates."
Jimmy Anderson was born in 1926, joined the army in 1944, went trucking on the Alaska Highway after the war, hunted, flew, drank and smoked too much, and 500 people braved 40-below, to say goodbye to a legend. For once, a legend whose exploits justified his reputation. Of course they came.
Fairchild 91C CF-ATZ was built in 1933 and bought by Canadian Airways (later: Canadian Airlines Int'l).
Territorial Air Service bought it in 1941 but its flying career ended abruptly, when it crashed at Lake Aristofats, 110 miles East of Yellowknife on 24sep49.
Max Ward and Matt Berry salvaged the crumpled airframe, but it remained at the lake until 1981 when the Alberta Aviation Museum (with great help from Buffalo Airways and 435 Sqdn of CFB Namao) brought it over to Edmonton.
Some notable pilots included Punch Dickens, Wop May, Matt Berry and Lewis Leigh.
An overall view of the museum.
Here is more info, provided by the museum, of various aircraft in their collection.
Douglas DC-6 Flight Similator.
This similator was bought by Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPA) in the 1950s. The DC-6 cockpit had been taken off the Douglas production line and modified to become Canada's first multi-engine commercial aircraft training simulator. in the mid-1960s Pacific Western Airlines bought six DC-6 aircraft to provide service on the Edmonton-Calgary route as well as to many Northern communities (e.g. Inuvik and Resolute Bay).
This simulator was bought from CPA and placed at the PWA Training Facility at Edmonton Municipal Airport.
This C-47 Skytrain (c/n 13028) was delivered to the USAAF as 42-108918 and transferred to RAF Montreal as KG545. It remained in RCAF's (designated a CC-129 Dakota III) military service (at one time reregistered to 12927) till Buffalo Airways bought it in 1980 and had it registered as C-GPNW. Later it became C-FROD and it was stored at Red Deer until May 2004 when it was brought by roadtransport to this museum.
After the museum closed FROD/927 returned to Buffao A/ws; a link here as seen on 06Jun2016 at Red Deer elbows-aviation-shots.co.uk/RDR(16-03)C-FROD.JPG
C-FROD was assigned to several DC-3's, as is explained HERE
C-FROD was originally assigned to Buffalo's C-47A c/n 12307, but it was cracked up during an emergency landing 26Jun94 at Simpson. It may still linger at Hay River, Buffalo Airways' maintenance base.
Ian Macdonald wrote: "the online CCAR shows c/n 12307 was C-FROD until 15SEP95, when it was cancelled. The same day c/n 13028 was registered
As Jeff Rankin-Lowe wrote: "The owner of Buffalo Airways is Joe McBryan. His brother's name is Rod,
Strange: I could not find this DC-3 on the Museum's website!
YouTube has a taped interview, dealing with the history of the aircraft here at the museum.
I only know this because I have (on occasion) worked on a DC-3 that is now in Holland and had to remove the batteries. They are very heavy!"
The restoration hall; a smell of glue (I think) prevailed.
This page does not give a complete inventory of what is to be seen at this museum, more can be learned by taking the tour offered on the museum's webpage.
And from this tour I suspect that the aircraft under restoration on the right is Stinson C-FOAY.
By the info provided on the website Aero Vintage Books / B-25 Locator I found this to be a B-25J Mitchell bomber, USAF 44-30791, RCAF 5273.
It was reported to be in storage (a fuselage and center section) but comparing it with the photo on that webpage I'd say some restoration has been done.
Long way, still...
Timo de Vries sent me this photo, taken by him at the museum on 21Sep07: proof of progress having been made!
Good work by the staff and volunteers of the museum !
No part of this museum (as yet?) but a pleasant surprise nevertheless! This Beech D18S C-FDSV proved to be elusive on my visit to Westlock earlier this day but now I stumbled into it by accident!
C-FDSV (c/n A-25) was apparently bought from that parachute club, but was unable to support it. On 26Oct06 it was bought and registered to James A.M. Salzman of Edmonton so maybe there still may be a flying career awaiting this fine looking taildragger.
After a chat and a purchase in the bookshop, this concluded my visit to the museum and I stepped outside in the blistering sun...
I stopped at a nearby photography store (McBain) to get a problem solved on a compactflash card (since I still had some photography in front of me, I decided to buy an additional one).
Then I joined the traffic jam, Edmonton in rush hour, to have a quick (unrewarding) look in West Edmonton Mall ("Mother of all Shopping Malls", but I'd rather say "Disney-style Shopping Mall") and back to the motel near the airport, for an early start to:
Back to CANADA -2006-
The wheels on the Alberta Aviation Museum's prized Boeing 737-200 lifted off the tarmac at the City Centre Airport never to return, with the same fate awaiting at least 15 other historic aircraft before the last runway officially closes at the end of November.
"It feels pretty sad to lose it," said Roy Reaville, who piloted that very plane until his retirement while conducting the last public tours of the jet for the foreseeable future. "We've spent the last eight years looking after it, I've spent the first 12 years flying it, and to see it go, it's not a very good feeling."
The aviation museum hosted an unofficial final fly-in on Saturday, Oct. 12, that saw over a hundred aviators from the far reaches of the province and even as far as Saskatchewan make their final touch-down at the City Centre Airport, celebrating the century-long history of Blatchford Field.
In the early 1930s, Canada carried more air cargo than the rest of the world combined, with more cargo carried off of Blatchford Field, known now as the City Centre Airport, than the rest of Canada.
During World War II, over 30,000 recruits from 15 different countries were trained for combat there. The far end of the field was home to the United States Army Air Force, where, as part of the Northwest Staging Route, thousands of aircraft were sent to the Soviet Union to combat Nazi forces on the eastern front, all launched from Blatchford Field.
During that time, Blatchford Field became the busiest airport in the world, seeing nearly a thousand aircraft a day flying in and out, necessitating the creation of modern day air traffic control.
Grant McConachie, a Canadian bush pilot who became the CEO of Canadian Pacific Airlines, pioneered Orient routes flying over the pole from Blatchford Field, earning him the McKee Trophy for his contributions to Canadian aviation and a place in Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973, while earning Blatchford Field the nickname "Cross Roads of the World".
Wilfred "Wop" May invented Para-Rescue, where paratroopers would be dropped onto airplane crash sites in the second World War, a technique he created in the hanger where the museum still exists, receiving a medal from the Government of the United States for all of the lives saved by his efforts.
To this day, one third of the museum's visitors are from out of the country, many veterans coming from Europe to show their families where they learned to fly, perhaps even where they met their mother.
After opening on Jan. 2, 1927, the airport will be officially closed to make way for redevelopment on Nov. 30 of this year, bringing an end to 102 years of history and leaving the future of the Alberta Aviation Museum in jeopardy.
While the museum had lobbied to keep enough space for a taxi lane to be able to remain operational at a basic level, that request was denied and they will be restricted only to their existing footprint.
This means at least 15 historically-significant aircraft will have to be evacuated and kept in long-term storage offsite, never to return to the museum.
"If they fly out, they will not be returning to this museum," Hinderks said.
To make matters worse, the museum, housed in the last remaining "double-double" Second World War British Commonwealth Air Training Plan hangar, will have their lease expire in four years, with no guarantee of renewal.
This uncertainty has made fundraising nearly impossible and, with lost revenue from the aircraft that used to rent space as well as rising costs of storing these precious historic airplanes offsite, has left the museum in a desperate scramble to survive.
"We will do everything we possibly can to remain on this site," said Hinderks. "This is where the ghosts still walk. Moving the aviation museum makes about as much sense as moving the Tyrell dinosaur museum to downtown Calgary."