Photos © Ruud Leeuw
|My itinerary dictated a 'last minute' friday afternoon visit here.
Since I was uncertain about whether or not I could make the appointment happen in my busy travelling schedule, I had made no definite arrangements. So I walked in on 23Jun06, more or less unannounced, and was very much relieved when Dennis made some time available to show me around. Thanks!
In the middle of the season most aircraft were out on contract, but a few were still around.
This Canadair CL-215 C-GFSM is c/n 1098. It was registered to Conair on 20Apr01 and when I checked at time of writing, Dec.2006, it was registered to Conair Group Inc / Conair Aviation again on 05May06. I don't know why.
It still wears Alberta titles from previous assignment.
This piston-engined scooper was built by Canadair Inc in 1988.
Tanker 103's right engine has been taken off end it seems the prop of no.1 has been removed too.
C-FKUR is former Canadian Air Force 12150, c/n DH-49.
I would welcome details about it service records.
Here is some information from the Gruman S-2 Tracker web-site:
The first production version wasn't much different from the prototype. The engine power was increased from 1500 hp to 1525 hp. The S2F-1 had an AN/APS38 search radar in the fuselage that could be lowered during ASW missions and a MAD boom in the tail area that could be extended 9 feet. On the fuselage, over the cockpit a APA69 ECM antenna was installed. This was later replaced by an AN/APA69 antenna in a radome.
The fuel tanks could contain 520 gallons of av gas, enough for a combat range of 841 sea miles or a 6 hours flight. The cruising speed was 130 knots and the top speed was 230 knots.
Under the right wing a very powerful search light was installed for night missions. Later version received an even more powerful light. The Tracker could carry three underwing station for 5 inch HVAR rockets, Mk54 depth carges or 2,75 inch rocket pods on each side. In the internal bay the S-2 could carry a Mk34 or Mk43 torpedo.
In the end of both engine nacelles tubes were installed for 8 SSQ2 and 2 SSQ1 sonobouys.
A total of 755 S-2F-1s were built.
The aviation history of this Six (c/n 44893/647) reads as follows:
In Dec.2006 I received following email-
Tailnumber C-GHCB was removed from the Register on 21Jul09, as 'without further use / scrapped'..
By 2012 the last DC-6 of Conair was taken out of the firefighting industry:
UPDATE: it seems likely that C-GHCB was scrapped some time after 2009.
Ken Swartz provided the following information-
C-FKVR is a Canadair-built CS2F-1 with c/n DH-89, former CAF 12190.
This is a really good, complete website on the Grumman Tracker: http://home.wxs.nl/~roden171/historye.html
|C-FKVD is another Canadair CS2F-1, c/n DH-67; they were all purchased from governmental surplus stocks to support the S-2 airtankers in use by Conair.|
|During Dec.2006 (when this page was compiled) I received follwoing contribution:
"Conair aircraft were all originally 'organized' according to type: 100 - bird-dog planes etc.; Firecats were always 500-something, such as 568 or 572, but only the last two numbers ever appeared on the tail. 400s were the DC-6s, etc., same with the tail numbers.
The boneyard you photographed, or known locally as Conair's Bird Sanctuary, are all Canadian-built, purchased at a time when Conair was converting them to turbo-props and selling them to France (they had already sold about 20 of them, so the design was well accepted).
There was a proposal to convert all of the fleet to turbos for the BC Forest Service, an untendered contract for $40 million was awarded by the Social Credit government of the time, then the government fell and the contract was cancelled by the NDP... because the whole thing was a sweetheart deal that would not result in any new jobs. Rumour has it there were penalties paid so that the purchase of the Canadian fleet was compensated for.
When the sale of the fleet was considered, they were all flown to Halifax and given new grey paint jobs for $40,000 for each airframe, even though they had been sold (the government at work!). They were then ferried to YXX (mostly by Rod Boles and Gord Darnborough, as I recall) and were parked, engines were removed from some, and eventually they were moved to the east end of the airport.
The military stuff was largely discarded. None of them are Grummans, all are DeHavilland-later-Canadair. They are slightly shorter than Grumman models as ours had to fit on the Bonaventure."
[Name of writer withheld on request].
From left to right: C-FLQZ - C-FLRA - C-FLRB - ?
Their construction numbers (resp.): DH-54, DH-58, DH-64.
This is former CAF 12173.
Update 21Jan21:"A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum."
Also of note to the update above:
C-FKVQ is Canadair CS2F-1 with c/n DH-88.
Canadair built it for the Canadian Air Force, serial 12189.
These are C-FLRD and C-FKUR, resp. DH-65 and DH-49.
Former CAF 12166 and 12150.
|C-FKVK is DH-77, a CS2F-1 formerly with the CAF as 12178.|
|C-FKUQ is ex/CAF 12147, Canadair-built with manufacturer's serial number DH-46.|
| C-FLR? (O?)
Another one I have difficulty in identifying: the last letter seems removed on purpose. |
I was feeling guilty and rushed: coming here unannounced and having someone in the car (no doubt thinking: what the hell does he want to photograph these old hulks for?), who was delaying his test flight of an aircraft just out of maintenance (on a beautiful sunny friday afternoon), waiting for me to finish taking these pictures...
It sure was appreciated Dennis!
|C-FKVS - C-FLR? - C-FKVB ? - ? - C-FKVR|
Plenty of spares in supply here..
|C-FKVR is DH-89, in its military days for the Canadian Air Force it wore serial 12190. Service records for all these "Stoofs" would be greatly welcomed.|
C-FKVB is Canadair CS2F-1 DH-62, ex 12163.
C-FKVP has c/n DH-82 and it too was built by Canadair as a CS2F-1 (ex CAF 12183).
This is a helpful link for
Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers
David Dwight Jackson has a considerable website on the Grumman Tracker: www.s2ftracker.com
|Now we come to the nearby airtanker base and we see the reason of all these stored Trackers: to support a selection to Firecats and then maintain them. |
This is C-GWUO, Tanker 63, c/n 39 and conversion 003 and its days of firefighting seem over.
It was built as CS2F-1 by Canadair for the Royal Canadian Navy as RCN 1540. Later it was reregistered as CAF 12140 as CP-121 COD Mk.II. Ownership went to Airborne Geophysics (Tucson,AZ) and it became N99261 tanker 75.
Until Conair bought it in 1980 and changed it to C-GWUO; it was converted to Firecat (Apr80) and was decorated with tailno. 563. this was current in 1999, but by 29may01 it was reported as stored at Abbotsford and the same on 09apr02, but now as Tanker 63.
|C-FOPV (c/n DH-34 and conversion no.006) was built as CS2F-1 by Canadair for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), registered as RCN 1535.
It was bought by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and reregistered as CF-OPV, coded 55 in 1972.
In 1980 Conair bought it and its tailnumber was revised in C-FOPV; Conair converted it to a Firecat during Apr81 and had tailnumber 566 decorated the aircraft on its aerial firefighting missions.
I have no info when it was put aside in storage, nor when the 3-digit firefighting code was replaced by a 2-digit, '66'.
|This is the Abbotsford airtanker base and we see here 'birddog' C-GSXX , an Aerostar 600 , registered to Conair 24Sep91 and also equipped with piston engines (manufactured by Ted Smith Aerostar Corporation in 1977, last Certificate of Registration 02Apr02).|
|Tailnumber of this birddog, or leadplane, is C-FFIF which makes it a Piper PA-60-600 according to Transport Canada's online database; it was registered 29Apr93 to Conair (last Cert. of Registration issued 02Apr02) and is also of piston-vintage.|
Jeff Rankin-Lowe published the following, written by Jerry Vernon, on Yahoo's Classic-Propliner forum in Nov.2010:
Our after-dinner speaker at the Quarter Century in Aviation Club on 16Nov2010
was John Laing, from Conair. John has been with Conair for 37 years and says
that he is now Numero Uno on the pilot's list. He is chief Convair pilot at
Conair, a training captain with them, and said that in the off-season he
exercises his various licences and does pilot check rides, recertifications,
etc. outside of Conair.
The Conair Firecats are on standby here for any fire alerts. The weather, hot and sunny, had the fire risk pretty high up.
|Firecat 71 sits nearby the retardant pit and everything has been arranged for quick turnrounds when "the shit hits the fan!"|
C-FOPY is Tanker 69 and it sees some maintenance on no.2 engine.
Something about the history of c/n DH-24/019:
And I came across C-FOPY at Abbotsford, stored, on 26Sep19. CANADA 2019
C-GHPJ was built by Grumman as a S2F-1, serial 13660 in its military days. It was later converted to US-2A (I have no idea what such modication would entail).
Construction number is 509.
After Conair bought it (rereg'd C-GHPJ) they converted it to Firecat in 1986. It was first operated with Tanker no. 571, this was later changed to 71.
As a Conair Firecat it has c/n 022.
Tanker 73 is a former Grumman S2F-1 (136465), later converted to US-2B. It was bought by Conair as C-GHDY and converted to a Conair Firecat in 1988, fighting fires as Tanker 573.
I saw it in 1999 at Williams Lake as Tanker 73.
C-FEFK is Tanker 74 and also built, as S2F-1, by Grumman (c/n 360, later converted to US-2B, 136451).
It was bought by Reagan Enterprises (of Chico,CA) in 1982 and reregistered N3231H.
Conair bought it in 1982 and flown to France for the Securite Civile via Glasgow (12jun83) as F-WDSY, sunsequently rereg'd F-ZBEH after delivery.
It was returned to Conair (via Southend, 26mar89) as C-FEFK. And I saw it at Kamloops,BC as Tanker 74 on 19Aug98.
Since its conversion to Firecat it has c/n 014.
Back to CANADA -2006-
In 2019 I revisited Abbotsford and photographed many of Conair's firefighting aircraft: CANADA 2019