A Pigasus Christmas



‘Porky,’ the Chilean Pig meets ‘The
Mary’ on Christmas Morning!
Photo courtesy Tony Swain


Tony and the ‘New Bessy’ on routine
Pigasus Patrol in Kitsilano.
Photo courtesy The Mary Swain

Joe Howse’s Pezetel 101.
Looks like a giant Super Cub
sporting a 260 HP radial engine.
Photo courtesy Joe Howse



Leah Hammond
at work at
the family Merlin
Rebuild shop in
the village of Eye,
Suffolk, England.
Photo courtesy
Tony Swain


Maurice Hammond’s daughter Leah
climbs away in his T-6 for her
pre-solo check last fall.
Photo courtesy Leah Hammond
Collection, UK

Leah rolls out after first solo in her
Dad’s T-6/Harvard.
Photo courtesy Tony Richards



Leah Hammond, 22, new Harvard
Pilot, Hardwick, U.K.
Photo courtesy Tony Richards


"WOA! There it is!"
Neil’s elusive stepladder!
Courtesy Neil Thompson

And there it was! GONE!"
Courtesy Neil Thompson



"Song of the Sun"
by Lawrence McCarthy, Vancouver.

The late Jack Crosland in his new
Starduster at Delta in June 1975.
Photo courtesy Tony Swain

Click pictures to view larger image

The Honourable Members of the Not So Ancient Order of the Flying Pig at Kits Beach Squadron had it tough this Christmas when lumbered with a couple of newbies, a new Bessy and Porky, a Chilean Black Pig.

Head Hog Tim Cole at P. Pen HQ (National Headquarters) ordered onerous house-training and security patrols to cope.

Kits C.O. The Mary, PGP, (Pigasus Gold-Pinner), a Tri-lingual, took charge of the new foreign recruit, Porky, whilst I, semi-versed in fighter pilot lore, was assigned tedious patrol work.

The modern Bessy has distinct advantages on patrol, not only does the armament vibrate, flash, and make appropriate ratatatat sounds, but soothing ‘tea’ is available on demand at all times. The photographic record says it all!

Official Procurement P.S. The New Bessy was a secret lend lease gift deal from Dave Desmon and family, retired president of the EAA Warbirds of America Cascade Squadron, WA, USA. Delivered by Delta Stealth Roussey Navion courier.



Our friend Joe called yesterday to say he’d traded his big ole PZL 101 for a new homebuilt project, a jet powered 185 or something. These vintage guys’ll do anything to keep busy! Far cry from the old days sticking Bowers Flybabies together with glue. Sigh.

Anyway, he sent pics of this Pezetel, and it is one big baby. A sort of huge Piper Cub with 260 horses in the round that leaps off the ground as you crack the throttle.

From Bulgaria, G-YAK did crop-dusting, glider towing and skydiving, a pretty versatile machine. The starter, brakes and two position flaps are air operated. Just like a Vampire.

It’s better known as a Yak 12, is forerunner of the amazing Wilga and nips along at a good 80 knots. So hang on!

However, it’s now at Victoria Air Maintenance, pining for a new owner, just like our old Volvo here in Kits. Sigh!



In 2006 we spent a few days in the UK with our friend Maurice Hammond, who generously lent us his mint T-6 to fly around the Brit East Coast. What an adventure!

This Christmas, their 22 year old daughter Leah, bubbled on about soloing her dad’s Harvard, and enthused how smooth and effortless were the controls, something few believe! They think "cantankerous monster,’ which isn’t so.

It’s great now more women fly. It’s not easy, so it’s wonderful they make the effort! Leah’s dad Maurice is a genuine Warbird enthusiast, who rebuilds Merlin engines. Leah works there full time and helped restore two P-51s from scrap. Real beauties.

Their P-51 ‘Janie’ is popular at U.K. shows. Maurice may have to chain it down! We all share the dream with Leah and can somehow borrow her enthusiasm.



Before I became a Poohbah at COPA and Delta, I had a real job in a small Drafting Office cum wannabe Mini Art Gallery. Whenever drafting was thin on the board, I dug out old sketches from Air Force and car racing days, and per Toni Onley’s expert advice, fancied them up with water-colours. I even advertised in Artsy catalogues.

So, one day a lady bustled in looking for ‘airplane art’ for her husband’s birthday. Could I do that? Hey, hey, hey! The client from heaven.

However, she had specific wants. Seems her husband was very intense about his airplane, and she wanted to poke fun at his passion. I requested a frustration list, and chose four. Here’s a couple.

His plane’s huge hangar was full of other intense guys, whose planes randomly moved and things got borrowed. His personal stepladder always ‘walked,’ being perceived as ‘general hangar stuff’ which drove him nuts. In big hangars, planes are regularly shuffled just to extract one, so no one has a specific spot.

So, after gassing up for a big flight, he’d leave the plane on the ramp and go flight plan. Ramp staff comes along and helpfully pops it back ‘somewhere’ in the hanger. He’d come back ready to go, loaded with wife and stuff, there it was, gone! Sigh.

Poking fun at peoples hobbies is scary stuff, but par for the course for a cartoonist! So we sweat some.

Ruth Thompson’s husband Neil is a COPA member, flies a Cessna P210M, is president of ATI Aero Technology Inc. and consults in computerized aviation system scheduling and dispatch. His birthday pictures were apparently a big hit, and still grace his office at Vancouver’s Airport Road South.

Neil was happy for his artwork being used with my column, and as they are quite big, have been digitally consolidated here for better readability. Enjoy!



Speaking of art, I often wander galleries seeking aviation stuff. Sigh… just don’t exist outside big aviation events. Even then it’s all clinically correct. Not much dreamy stuff.

Artists like romantic sailing ships, trains, and old junk cars, but a magical airplane eludes them.

So imagine my surprise, wandering on Granville, to spot a yellow biplane in blue skies, over fields of golden corn, staring right at me!

Perfect pilot’s puffy clouds graced the scene. The artist captured an idyllic grass roots moment that struck a chord, and titled it Song of the Sun. The aircraft looked familiar but wouldn’t gel. A Travel-Air, Jenny, and Fokker D-7 cross! Fascinating.

Surprisingly, the gallery specializes in spiritual and sensual art! I went in. Gallerian, Marilyn Mylrea, was sorting stuff at her desk. I asked about the airplane.

She said artist Lawrence McCarthy loved the symbolism of a lone plane over a vast landscape. She put me in touch. He said.

"I grew up 10 minutes walk from Winnipeg Airport in the ‘fifties. It was a big part of our lives so we paid lots of attention to what flew over our heads. My father had a boy-like fascination with airplanes.

"My ‘biplane’ themes are from a childhood recollection of a single-engine airplane droning across the sky one quiet summer afternoon. That slow arching drone still captures my attention, and I always stop and listen until the sound fades.

"I try to incorporate sound into the painting, and the biplane image best triggers that memory."

Beautiful! He simply recalls a mood intensely felt many years ago. We discovered we’d both worked at Bristol Aero a long time since. Me in 1957, an immigrant draftsman, and he in the 1970’s, a Photo and Graphics technician. It’s a small world!



It was a sad Christmas at the passing of old friend Jack Crosland, of cancer. He faded quite recently. He was 82. Our condolences go to his dear wife Betty who relied on him so much, and to his grieving family.

Jack’s loss to aviation is great. Many local pilots depended on his cheerful maintenance at Crosland Aviation. Modest traditional AME services like his are hard to find.

From Portage La Prairie, he ran a flight school, was with Canadian Pacific Airlines, Martin’s Hydraulics, and was a valued member of RAAC Chapter 85 at Delta. In 1975, he built a Starduster biplane.

The service was at St. Andrews Anglican Church, Langley, and reception at the Canadian Museum of Flight. The Fraser Blues Navions flew a traditional missing man formation. We’ll miss you Jack! Farewell old friend. Sigh.

And I guess that’s all for now. Fly safe everybody.

Tony and The Mary Swain, old COPA guys in Vancouver