Photo courtesy Tony Swain Collection unless otherwise credited
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One day my friend Harold turned up at the shop with an old scrapbook belonging to his chum in Victoria, a retired Navy Admiral.
Could I make slides for a show at the AFOA, Billy Bishop Legion, where-ever? So I did. But, frustratingly, the fascinating pictures were not explained, just cryptic headers, Wright Air School, San Antonio, RNAS Felixstowe, The Med, and that’s all. People surfing the album were just expected to know.
So, manyana, the project slipped away, and the 180 odd slides filed away in Tin box number 62, …until last week.
Sadly, Harold and his Admiral friend have faded away in the mists of time. So I’ve been trying to breathe life into these magnificent old images of the early 1900’s. Sigh.
Look at these grand fellows of the Wright Air School at San Antonio, Texas! The cocky Americans with their lettered sweaters, VIC, Dollar Man, the Flying A, and that exuberant girl!
Just who in 1910 would be able to take up this new sport? Are the chaps with ties Canadians? Maybe the gent on the right is our future Admiral?
Then see the couple doing their pre-start checks. The pilot sat on the left to balance the off-center engine, so a passenger in the middle didn’t change the trim. See the huge radiator up the starboard struts. So, who’s the instructor here? My moneys on the girl, destined later for fame as an ‘aviatrix’ in the thirties!
BIG PORTE BOATS
Then, I guess in the U.K., a big Porte Boat eases down the slip at Felixstowe. See the two white navy caps through the cabin window, and launching crew struggling to hold her steady against the thrust of the two mighty ten cylinder engines! Though I see no sign of a dolly under the hull?
What fantastic days they must have been. Think how grand we think the Strannies were. How about this monster ‘Aircraft Carrying’ patrol boat at Felixstowe, with the diminutive Beardmore ‘Ship Fighter,’ perched on the upper center section.
As pilot, did you lounge about in that spacious cabin till called on, then clamber up through those tangled struts in the screaming slipstream to your cockpit high above. Imagine the worry lifting off not to drift sideways into those huge whirling propellers. My, them was the days!
And, courtesy of the 1919 JANES, see the Italian’s aircraft carrier mother ship, with its brood of sinister S.I.A.I. bombing flying boats and their Isotta-Francini 190 hp engines. When not bombing, apparently, they ran a twice-daily postal service to Sardinia!
At first glance, the Port Boat at a mooring, appears equipped with huge Edo floats, but it’s actually a floating maintenance dock, and avoids the constant stresses of bobbing about to a buoy.
A WW-1 P-38 LIGHTNING?
I’ve queried both Aeroplane and John Batchelor regarding the Italian twin-boom float machine. A wondrous precursor to the Lockheed P-38! As I write, the consensus is a Caproni torpedo plane. A surprising number of twin fuselage designs existed in many countries those early days.
Toward the end of WW-1, monoplanes become commonplace, and local historian Jack Meadows thinks this example has a faint resemblance to early Bristol SE monoplanes, the roundels dating it after 1915. Looks like a trainer to me, and the U.K. experts have been contacted for the correct gen.
And finally, this fine group of Royal Naval Officers appear to be entertaining two German Navy chaps at the end of the war. Between them, I believe, is Harold Hope’s future Admiral friend. This could be at shore base HMS Harwich/Felixstowe, during the surrender of many U-boats in late 1918.
For all this I scoured my ‘history of’ books, JANES World’s Aircraft 1919, Chant & Batchelor’s ‘Century of Triumph!’ et al. I even queried Jack Meadows and AEROPLANE. No response yet. Can you do better? Here’s the pics, go to it!
SILVER DART FLIGHT
Hard to believe it’s 50 years ago at Lincoln Park, Calgary, I was told to ‘dream up’ an RCAF float commemorating the 50th anniversary of flight in Canada, to lead the 1959 Calgary Stampede Parade.
Some dream! With inspired input from the guys in the office, and enthusiasm from the shops, we built a plywood Bomarc missile, borrowed Tom Sigsworth’s new built WW-1 Sopwith Pup, faked up clouds from chicken wire and tank cocoon material, mounted it all on an Air Force Queen Mary salvage trailer, loaded it up with attractive living angels with silver wings, and wowed the parade.
Fifty years on it’s the Centennial of Flight in Canada, and the Delta COPA Flight 5 guys with the Boundary Bay Flying Club, pulled out all the stops. COPA Award winner Harry Pride organized things. He liaised with the various local towers about the route, clearances and timing, briefed the six volunteer pilots through a few training flights, and set things up on the day.
A flight of almost two hours, the route circled Greater Vancouver, snaking around the universities, English Bay, False Creek, City Hall, Pitt, Langley, White Rock, back to Delta, where they were plied with sandwiches in the Old Coffee Shop.
The pilots were, Don Hubble, (lead), Rick Blue, Gary Peare, Gerrard Van Dijk, Henry Ilg and Harry Pride. Tremendous show you guys.
LOCAL COPA APPRECIATION AWARDS
COPA Western Vice-Chair, Terry Wilshire requested my presence at the local COPA Appreciation Award presentations last month. They were held in the training room of the Pacific Flying Club at Boundary Bay Airport, an excellent facility. I was delighted to attend.
The presentation was made just before a practice briefing and training flight of the B.C. South Coast CASARA Command volunteers. The recipients were long time CASARA members John Cammidge and Fred Carey, both deputy Commanders, in appreciation of their countless hours of total dedication to the cause.
Commander Tom Fisher welcomed us and asked us to speak to the group. Terry spoke eloquently of critical continued support for COPA’s Special Action Fund, and I spoke about COPA’s Awards Program, and urged them to think not only of our friends who fly, but also of those others who support and nurture our flying hobby.
During the practice session later, I’m told they picked up a live ELT, and traced it down to a false alarm in a hangar, thus avoiding expensive commitment of military search aircraft. Well done.
HARRY PRIDE HONOURED
At the Boundary Bay AGM last month, the well-deserved winner of the John Grealis Trophy for Excellence, was the club’s Archivist and general workaholic, Harry Pride. Harry is incredible. He beavers away at Young Eagles, the recent Silver Dart Commemoration Flight, covers the club-house walls with wonderful pictures of the club’s many people and activities, and drops by local Control towers to touch base, and smooth the way for club group flights.
A short while ago, he commissioned a painting from local warbird aviation artist Ginny Ivanicki. It was to depict all the aircraft that Harry had flown in his 75 years in the air, including Tiger Moths, Hurricanes, and his present Cardinal.
In Ivanicki’s unique way of placing vintage aircraft in time, she shows the classic WW-2 hangar at Boundary Bay floating in space, with the planes flying in and around it, a beautiful and evocative work of art! Most fittingly, she delivered it personally to Harry in Delta’s Old Coffee Shop, right after he’d received his BBFC award.
CAMMIDGE HOUSE MEET
Delta Heritage Air Park is part of the Metro Vancouver Parks system, which encourages voluntary community volunteerism with its Parks Partnership Program, of which of course, Delta folk are enthusiastic participants. Our neighbour group down the Bay is the Cammidge House Committee, who look after the historic old house, and administer activities in and around it, very similar to our Delta Air Park Committee.
They invite us to their Christmas functions and the scrumptious food. We reciprocate by hosting their AGM, and The Mary rustles up one of her famous lunches. Both groups have found this a wonderful way of promoting understanding among different special interest users of the parks. Be it hiking, cycling, bird watching, environmental watchdogs, or flying people. We find we all have interests in common, and it’s great to socialize now and then.
That’s all folks.
Tony Swain & The Mary, a couple of old Copaguys. Email: email@example.com