Way over 100 aviation folks enjoyed Delta Airpark’s open house on New Year’s Day.
The Delta Ladies provided a wonderful selection of scrumptious holiday table fare, and the socializing continued all afternoon.
Ginny Ivanicki, our celebrated top aviation artist, and new pilot, ensured the platters were full, and the coffee flowing. Whilst Eleanor Spence and Mary bustled about in the kitchen, the other ladies provided help as required, and I am a skilled dirty dish disposal person.
Ken Ayre arrived from Langley in his Bellanca Scout on skis, ever optimistic for snow at Delta. COPA Director Tim Cole and his wife Eileen mingled with the folks, checking Pigasus pins. Mine was upside down… perfectly legit, me being an old time acro guy. The Janes and Mann family arrived, some from as far afield as Ottawa! A really pleasant social gathering with all looking forward to next time.
And did that! Hard to believe sometimes. Memories get more precious as time swirls by. Every month Aeroplane Monthly queries a UK celebrity pilot about their flying memories… and though they’ve done ‘everything’ flying wise, their answers tend to be wistful and nostalgic. How would you answer what was your first aviation memory? Your best aviation achievement? Favourite airplane? Most magical flight, scary moment, et al?
Whether flying the Fraser Canyon in a Fleet Canuck, at forty thousand feet over Kenora in a Star Fighter, or pulling through a loop at the Abbotsford Airshow in your Christan Eagle… the intense feeling of privilege is there. It’s a special unique experience, difficult to articulate to non-flying people.
The excitement of that first solo, first real cross-country to someplace new, taking good friends, loved ones, or even your first instructor, on a magical trip. This all makes up for the logistics thus imposed to keep everything tip top and up to date. It is a most satisfying vocation.
So many memorable flights, that to sit down to write about just one, throws my mind into turmoil.
Too many memories tumble about, each demanding priority. Sigh.
Each story, fully told, far outstrips the 1,200 words asked of me by my COPA Flight editor. So I build my tale around the photos I hoard in multitudinous cardboard boxes. At least that’s the theory.
Mary and I have been fortunate with our friends, and the aviation era we enjoyed. Such eras overlap, and who’s to say which is better than what. There are no winners.
In 1911, the chaps flying Boxkites on Salisbury Plain must have thought their time was incredible. The thirties were incredible, and for me, forty years of Harvard flying was incredible… but there were still perks!
B-25 to go
When Jerry Janes turned up at Delta looking for a Harvard checkout, I tried fobbing him off to a real airplane guy, Mel Lee, ex RCAF instructor. “Mel Lee sent me to yuh!” he responded. Not really a check pilot those days, I suggested a flight school in Victoria, that had a Harvard, and off he went.
However, to our good fortune, he came back, and shared his Warbird hobby with the airpark gang of the day. The EAA Chapter guys and their homebuilt Flybabies, Jodels, Champs, etc., were already a gung-ho force for sport flying group in Western Canada, and for Big Jerry to turn up with his Harvard, Chipmunk, Mustang, Beech 18, Mitchell and all, the Delta Air Force became a force to be reckoned with at North West shows and fly-ins. They were heady days.
Going to a show with the B-25 was a tremendous adventure. Jerry generously recruited his crew from the guys at the airpark. The first big trip was across the Rocks to the Lethbridge air show. Everyone was new to aircraft, and the chance to ride in the seat of history was fantastic. The Mitchell was impeccably restored, and flew like a dream. Maintenance was awesome for we lesser folk, and we were pleased for Jerry when he got a ‘good deal’ on a huge cache of spark plugs, and a B-25 used a lot of ‘em.
It’s hard to explain the excitement when the old bird fired up! Like wow! Jerry’s Chipmunk driver wife Diana took right seat for the flight across the mountains, cool as a woman ferry pilot of WW II.
We were joined at the show by the Alberta Harvard and Beech 18 guys, and Bud Granley
came up from Seattle. I was copilot for the show. After join up, to starboard Bud Granley’s SNJ tucked in close, and the formation thundered around and down for the first pass. It was magnificent! Just like a WW II mission. What an experience, with little observed flack.
“Nuthin” said I…
Bam! …Bam! …Bam! … Granley peeled away like a scalded cat. “Waddaya do?” yelled Capn Jerry. “Nuthin…,” said I, frantically eyeballing my side engine for exploding mayhem. …Bam! Bam! Bam! “Jeez! …You sure?” I shrugged, palms out. “No, nuthin?”
“B-25 aborting… We gonna land!” he announced. I snugged my harness. Jerry wheeled her around, trimmed back, dropped flaps, gear and everything. The Mary was in the nose, and braced, watching wide-eyed as the runway came up fast! Then ker-plonk, we were down and rolling. Fantastic. We rumbled in and parked before a curious and excited crowd.
Anyway, ‘the show must go on’ so with many helping hands, the local maintenance guy took a look, scoffed at the plugs, threw em all away and replaced the lot, both engines. That’s a big job…36 plugs. And the show went on, followed by many more.
When Jerry got his beautiful Mustang, ‘Cottonmouth’, he gathered a crew for the Mitchell from among his far-flung aviation friends, Joe McGoldrick of Edmonton, Bud Granley from Seattle, Harry Kelly of Toronto, and most of the local Transport Examiners got checked out. That Mitchell was a magic carpet for a lucky few.
Eventually The M and I gathered a crew and flew it to the Confederate Air Force Show at Harlingen, Texas, accompanied by four Mustangs, a TBM, and Dennis Bradley’s Corsair. Over 4,000 nautical, round trip.
Western Warbirds/Canadian Warplane Heritage combined ‘ops’ and delivered a 50-pound B.C. salmon to Jerry’s mum at Shreveport en route! But that’s another story!
More on the Winnipeg Waco, etc.
Gerry Norberg of Winnipeg writes that CF-DTD is actually a 1939 Waco AQC-6 with the Jacobs L6MB engine of 330
horsepower (as is Langley’s CCW). It was delivered new to the DOT on March 29, 1939. The “-6” designates its first production year, 1936. Gerry believes the pics are from the late 1940s.
In November 1950, DOT sold DTD to George Dalziel of Dease Lake, B.C., who formed BCYukon Airways in 1950, operating out of Watson Lake. In 1956 it was sold to Kenmore Air Harbor in Seattle, Washington.
Gerry worked for BC-Yukon and in 2002 salvaged another AQC-6, CF-BJS. Of interest is that BC-Yukon is the longest serving air carrier in Canada with never a name change!
Bob Cameron of Whitehorse writes he is presently restoring an identical Waco (S/N 5000) CF-BDZ, which flew with Northern Airways.
Too corroded to fly again, the Waco is to be on static display in their Yukon Transportation Museum.
They also have Delta’s Dan McGowan’s old Fairchild 71 CF-BXF, which he obtained after a 1964 accident in Jervis Inlet. He passed it on to the Canadian Museum of Flight at Langley, B.C. Both aircraft flew in the Yukon with Northern Airways of Carcross, working long hours on the wartime Alcan and Canol projects. They’ll be restored in their old yellow and green livery to look ready for their next charter.
In 2002, Bob and Clark Seaborn brought the Fokker Super Universal CF-AAM to Delta Air Park, a very nostalgic day.
And that’s it…
That’s all folks. Fly safe now!
— Tony Swain & The Mary firstname.lastname@example.org