Wednesday, December 30, 2009


On April 2, 1942 Flight Lieutenant Leonard Joseph Birchall, DFC, OBC from St Catharines, Ontario was assigned a posting to Columbo, Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

Leonard and his air crew, were sent to Sri Lanka to hopefully help stem the recent tide of military disasters that had already befallen the Allies (SEAC - South East Asian Command), in the Pacific South East, since the Imperial Japanese Navy's recent attack on Pearl Harbour.

Remember, "Pearl Harbour" was less than five page flips on the calendar or, for linear thinkers… only five short months ago at this point.

The Japanese had been quite busy since.

Right after Pearl Harbour… Japan had attacked Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaya! Soon thereafter, while on the march again, they attacked Burma, the Dutch East Indies, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.

The Japanese war pace was swift. And successful. Honestly, the Allies were taking a beating.

British Navy ships HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales had just been sunk by the Japanese.

Thailand had fallen, and then allied itself with Japan.

Malaya soon fell.

Hong Kong finally fell. But the Canadian forces, there at least, had held back the attacking Japanese for an unbelievable 17 days!

But now, even Northern Australia, was under siege! Yikes!

Folks, in the early 40s, Japanese victories were counted in days, not weeks.

That's why Birchall's unit, 413 Squadron RCAF, had been hurriedly dispatched to Sri Lanka; to immediately bolster area surveillance for any Japanese activity, or for any incursion attempts into the remaining, and precariously held, Allied territory.

The Allies just couldn't afford any more losses in the South Pacific to the Axis!

It would be only TWO DAYS after his arrival, that Birchall's new posting, would pay off for the Allies.

Late afternoon, April 4, F/L Birchall was on long patrol.

Wait! He thought he saw a a tiny smudge over on his southeast horizon.

Better have a look, he thought. The large PBY Catalina floatplane Leonard was flying was gently coaxed to its starboard side, and was now on an intercept course with this mysterious "smudge".

As Birchall and his crew flew closer, he and his crew were all alone, should they meet up with the enemy.

Worst fears were soon confirmed! It was the Japanese!

And not just a lone ship. A task force of the Imperial Japanese Navy!

They would have to get the hell outta' there… but not before they got closer, unbelievably! Yes, CLOSER!

NUMBERS, COURSE, and SPEED of the Japanese Imperial Fleet had to be accurately determined, and radioed back to base!

As more ships kept appearing over the horizon… Birchall finally counted five aircraft carriers, four newer class battleships, attendant cruisers, and destroyers. This was a large and threatening force, Leonard noted.

WAS THIS the very fleet that had attacked Pearl Harbour five months previous?

Their RCAF Catalina was soon spotted. Birchall could see in the distance Japanese Zeros rising up from the aircraft carriers. Flying at only 2,000 feet, soon those distant Zero fighter-planes were on the attack, and all over Leonard's lumbering Catalina. All 12 of them!

But it was too late for the Japanese. Too late!!

Leonard's crew HAD sent off two encoded messages straight back to their base at Columbo.

The presence of the Japanese Imperial Fleet was now known by the Allies! This action of discovery, by Birchall and his crew, would later be praised by the then larger-than-life prime minister of Great Britain, none other than Winston Churchill, himself!

The Canadian press would refer to Birchall as the "Saviour of Ceylon".

The Royal Navy's Indian Ocean Fleet had gotten the heads up. With plenty of time to prepare, and respond. They now knew the Japanese Navy was on the way. There would be no second Pearl Harbour, this time.

It didn't end as nicely for Birchall.

Wish we could say differently—

Leonard's Catalina, now badly shot up, damaged beyond imagination, and on fire, lurched downward. Birchall skillfully piloted the gravely wounded bird down, until it's flight controls no longer responded!

… and thus it finally crash landed on the seas below.

Once down the Catalina was quickly evacuated. The severely wounded of Birchall's crew were fitted with life jackets, and pushed out, and away, from the sinking floatplane.

UNBELIEVABLY, the Zeros continued their attack! The defenceless, and helpless wounded, were fired on, and murdered! Wearing their Mae Wests, they couldn't dive to escape the Zero's strafing runs!!

Birchall, and the men of his that escaped these merciless Zeros, were soon picked up by a Japanese destroyer.

Once on board they were treated brutally. They were violently interrogated. Had they dispatched a warning message back to their home base?

Yes or No?

During their torture, Birchall encouraged his crew.

These RCAF airmen never did reveal to their torturers that messages, had indeed, been sent.

In the meantime, these Canadian heroes were housed in a small paint locker where one person could stand, two could sit, and only one could lay down. They had to sleep in turns. They received no medical attention, and very little food.

Eventually, they were transferred out, to another ship, and sent back to Japan.

The Japanese military who, by edict of the Emperor were not allowed to surrender, looked down on captured Allied personnel who allowed themselves to be taken alive. And the Japanese PoW camps were well known to harshly treat their captured, who they deemed as ethically inferior.

In spite of this, Birchall who spent almost 40 months as a PoW, and was often the most senior officer present, protested the abuse of prisoners at his camp. He stood up to his Japanese captors. And he was routinely beaten as a reward.

When Birchall's camp was finally liberated by the Allies, his acts of courage were relayed back home.


Was Birchall really the "Saviour of Ceylon?"

The Sri Lankans at the time certainly thought so. But we now realize that this was not the case. The Japanese only intended to raid Ceylon's two main ports, Columbo and Trincomalee.

So what did Birchall really do?

He saved the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy's Indian Ocean Fleet, that is. Birchall allowed them to get away to their secret base in Addu Atoll, 1,121 kilometres away. Upon word of Birchall's sighting, the British High Command ordered the Indian Ocean Fleet, to preserve themselves, for future operations.

Canadian F/L Leonard Joseph Birchall was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his discovery, and subsequent reporting of the position of the Imperial Japanese Navy Fleet in the South Seas. This action caused his airplane to be shot down, and his crew to be taken prisoner. This correspondence saved the Royal Navy from surprise attack in the South Pacific. Mr. Birchall was also awarded the Order of the British Empire for his courageous actions, taken to protect his fellow prisoners, while he was a PoW.

In 1950, US President Harry Truman appointed Birchall an officer of the Legion of Merit, saying: "His exploits became legendary throughout Japan and brought renewed faith and strength to many hundreds of ill and disheartened prisoners."

Air Commodore Leonard Joseph Birchall, CM, OBE, DFC, O.Ont, CD, Order of Canada became the longest serving officer in the RCAF (Air Commodore) and received a fifth bar to his CD in 1996, for six decades of military service in times of both war and peace! He died on September 10, 2004.

(PICTURED ABOVE: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's "Catalina". Birchall's SEAC Catalina was not likely painted in the same colour scheme as this, which is David Hornell's Catalina (really Canso) flying toward us. Birchall's Catalina was mostly olive green.)

©2009 Paul Cardin - Special Projects in Research

Monday, December 28, 2009


THEY FOUGHT UNDER the most horrendous conditions.

Tropical weather extremes, incredible heat, tropical disease, and against a merciless and inhumane Japanese enemy.

Many, became heroes.

Can you name any of these Canadian war heroes?

Know any of their exploits?

… that's what I thought.


Back to sleep, Canada.

And you're still paying property taxes, to fund Canadian schools, that fail to teach significant Canadian history, because… why?

The DC-3 above carries a low visibility SEAC roundel. Canadians flew under SEAC as RCAF personnel in their own Canadian squadrons AS WELL as in RAF squadrons stationed in the same Asian area of conflict.

SEAC stands for South East Asian Command which was a joint venture of all Allied nation's fighting forces.

CANADIANS in the RCAF also flew in RAF squadrons in North Africa, and in Great Britain, as well as in their own separate RCAF squadrons fighting alongside these very RAF squadrons!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


… comin' right at cha'.

A PICTURE… I wish I had taken…

Year in, year out… the Canadian Christmas shopping hordes make their rounds at Best Buy, Zellers, Future Shop, HMV, Canadian Tire, MALWART etc., you know, like THESE are the only stores that are out there.

Folks, this year be original. You got a few days left.

Don't get the same old tired-out predictable gifts you always buy your loved ones.

If you already did… take 'em back!

Remember why your ex-wife left you? You know some of those nasty things she said about you were true. Stop keeping' her predictions alive! She lives to mock those sweaters, scarfs, gloves, chocolate, and after-shave you always buy. Every year.

This year its gonna' be different.

Go to your local aviation museum and admit to them… you need help. Laugh about it for sure, but they'll get it.


The one in TO is the Canadian Air & Space Museum.

I go to both.

They got great mags, movies, models, shirts, framed art, jackets, calendars etc. Different stuff. Not what every other store is offering.

Again, wish I had taken this picture. But Rick Radell took this, and the other glorious photos inside. This pic alone makes this 2010 calendar worthwhile for me.

And if ye needs a calendar for 2010, you might want to consider this one available at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum for $20 CDN!

Yup, $20 CDN!! Cheap—


::: OLYMPIC FLAME Passes Thru Brampton … December 18, 2009

… by torch relay… on its' way to VANCOUVER for the 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS .

Monday, December 14, 2009

BEFORE THE Riverboat Cafe: The PURPLE ONION, Buffy Saint-Marie, FrizzText and ME!

HAD A BIT OF CHRISTMAS shopping to do in Downtown Toronto this weekend so down we all went!

Simple, enough.

I drop my lot off at the Eaton's Centre, one of the last remaining remnants of the Eaton Company family empire, that ended with a fizzle in the early 90s.

Soon I'm flying up to Yorkville because of FrizzText, and this:

Donovan, the folk singer who sang Universal Soldier made it a hit BUT IT WAS always Buffy's song. Thought everyone knew that. Me was wrong.

AND yes, THAT Yorkville, where the Toronto International Film Festival descends every year in a lot of puffery, and makes it's base. YO is the upscale part of TO where one can get executive gifts, and a whole lot of snobbery.

I'm here, for neither.

I get out, my vehicle not entirely stopped.

I'm on Yorkville Ave. I see a short row of low-rise buildings. One of these IS the The Purple Onion Cafe.

I approach some of the locals. "Do you know the location of the Purple Onion Cafe?"

The Purple Onion predates the Toronto's famous Riverboat Cafe era, where all the Canadian folkies used to jam during the hippy-trippy Woodstock era, so we could in trouble here, folks.

The answers are varied.



"Hell, no!"

Finally, I get a break—

"Hey man, that was the 60s and I lived through it! Don't remember any of it!! Wait, the Purple Onion, you say… no, I do remember it. It was on a corner somewhere."

None of the pictures I have look anything like the buildings in front of me. So, I walk down to the corner.


Bingo, there it is, a match. The "Seen" now… but once the Purple Onion cafe.

Here, in the basement of the Purple Onion, in 1963, Buffy Saint-Marie wrote her classic anti-war song, "Universal Soldier". She was in LAX (Los Angeles airport) when she first saw wounded soldiers returning from Vietnam, and when she flew back to Toronto later that day, Saint-Marie penned her famous song. Personally, I thought her 1970 video ( ) was the best version of the song, but this rendering, sung from the heart, was never a success commercially.

In 1965, Donovan made a hit of it.

Universal Soldier became the anthem for the Vietnam Peace movement.

In the naive 60s, the hippies wrongly believed that if everyone would just lay down their arms, then the world would become this wondrous, peaceful place. That approach offered no real solution to those hostile types that would never lay down their arms. Those lunatics, worldwide, who forever think that America, or the Western world is responsible for their local woes.

Buffy Saint-Marie is a Canadian First Nations (Cree) singer-songwriter, guitarist and mouthbow player who shuns fame, and lives in self-imposed exile in Hawaii.

She was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. Saint-Marie wrote Up Where We Belong, Until Its Time For You to Go, Universal Soldier, He's An Indian Boy in a Rodeo, and several native songs. Buffy was probably the first artist of note to use an Apple Computer to compose, and send her songs to her producer in Europe, through an early version of the internet.

© 2009 Paul Cardin - Special Projects in Research

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

:::: Who can say forever? :..:::..:...

THIS IS YOUR hour, girl.

Your, springtime.

Beauty fades, and lovers leave.

And everything, everything, is unfolding as it should.

Play the hand you've been given…

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

60 YEARS AGO: Dow Chemical CEO, and Four Others, Perish in Fanshawe, Ontario

MARCH 31, 1949

JOHN W MCKAIG had stepped out of his house and was going up the laneway to check the mail, at roughly about 10:30 am, when he heard an airplane flying nearby. Thought nothing of it really. He lived close to the airport, and he heard twin engine airplanes, like these, all the time.

But, when he finally did look up, what he saw, startled him!

He set his eyes on a Dow Chemical Beech 18 coming from the west, and it was heading directly for his house!

His wife and the children, he thought. Have to warn them… to get out. He started running back to the house…

Good grief, the aircraft was now flying only about twelve feet off the ground! And look at how fast it was going!

Suddenly, AJ Bowie, the Dow Chemical pilot, violently swerved the company's Beech 18, just narrowly missing the occupied home. John noted that Beech 18 had already passed between the Dobinson home, and the Dobinson barn safely, when the collision course toward his homeshead been adopted.

Thankfully, the pilot had been able to make this crucial, last second, adjustment.

John watched, spellbound, as the Beech with its wheels down, dropped even lower, and continued on.

Finally, tragically, it plowed into a knoll that was on the far reaches of his property, only about a half mile away. As it hit the knoll, flash fire flames engulfed the entire cabin of the aircraft. It became a flaming streak as the plane bounced, and continued forward for another 200 feet before it heaved to a full stop.

ERNIE DOBINSON who was entering his barn when the Beech 18 flew by, watched in horror as it passed, only to crash into the knoll.

He was the first person to arrive on scene.

What he saw when he got to the flaming wreck astounded him.

Somebody, was actually, getting out of the airplane!

Soon enough, they'd learn it was Calvin Campbell. And he was trying frantically to pull something out of the wreck!

NO! Not something! Someone!!

Sadly… it was the body of his wife!

But the heat was too much, and Calvin finally stumbled backwards to safety. Momentarily. He attempted yet again to enter the burning plane, but had to fall back even more quickly. The heat was so intense. He couldn't accept it, but he knew then, that she was already gone.

Calvin, and Ernie watched helplessly now, from a much safer distance, as the inferno consumed the rest of the cabin.

The engines and the Beech undercarriage were behind the wreck! But how?

WILLIAM CORFIELD was flying overhead and was amazed at what was unfolding on the ground below him. He swung his single seater around, and immediately dropped down to the runway, which surprisingly, was almost just below him. By the time he had stopped and was out of his airplane at the other end of the runway, there was now an RCAF airport truck bearing down on him. Someone motioned him to get on, and so he, too, was on his way back to the crash.

When William got out to the crash, about a dozen folk had gathered. They were milling about the wreck. John and Ernie brought Calvin, who was now overcome with grief, over to the RCAF truck. He had to be helped aboard, he could hardly stand, and as soon as Calvin had settled in, the truck lurched forward, and left, speedily making its way to St Joseph's hospital.

Calvin couldn't understand it. How did this happen? Sure the weather had been sketchy, yet the flight crew didn't seem overly concerned. And now, everyone, was gone!

What would he tell his kids?

William walked up to the Beech 18. The onlookers were silent. Courtesies, were extended through nods. Stoic, these Ontario farming types, he thought.

The Beech 18 was not an airplane Bill liked. He wasn't impressed with it, at all. The manufacturer sung a different tune, for sure… but he had flown the "18", and he didn't like it.

As he approached charred wreckage, "– – – – – –", he thought to himself, "…the Beech's magnesium roof was gone!!"

William was absolutely shocked. Since the Beech's roof was conveniently gone, burned off, he could lean over the still mildly smouldering fuselage, and look right inside the cabin, and into the cockpit!

Like some sort of horrendously, gruesome, displayed cutaway!

Everyone was in position.

The five occupants though were burned to an unrecognizable mound, of charred, glazed flesh, and clothing materials.

Willard, and the women, or even the flight crew, hadn't had a chance to move. They were roasted alive in that final 200 foot journey inside that burning coffin!

What a horrible way for these RCAF airmen to go, William thought.

A flash fire had enveloped the Dow airplane as it struck the knoll, and that horrific fire was fed by the airplane's full to capacity fuel load.

At this point in time, no one knew that it wasn't an RCAF aircraft, as all aircraft registration and identification lettering, had been burned off the Beech's fuselage. And the RCAF had lots of Beech 18s.

No one even thought it for a moment that it could be a civilian airplane.

Clearly, it was a Beech 18, and that's all that was immediately known.

It would be later, as Calvin was checked out at the hospital, that the true identities of the airplane, its destination, and its occupants would become known.

And when that knowledge was imparted, to the people that needed to know, the crash investigation would take a whole different and more serious direction.

One toward secrecy and containment, and a need-to-know basis.

A famous person and his wife, had died, right here, in the small town of Fanshawe, near to the London airport, and no one had a clue as to why—

But the investigators were going to find out… make no mistake about that friends… and a large entourage of Dow people, American crash investigators, and Michigan police were packing their things, and getting ready to fly up to Canada, from that state, to make sure of that.

One additional, startling, revelation emerged rather quickly.

There was something missing from the airplane.

And it was something important. Something expensive…

TO BE CONTINUED… (Part 2 of 3)

Top photo: Crashed Dow Chemical Beech 18, cabin and cockpit, fore of the antenna are clearly burned out…

Bottom Photo: (left - right) DA Brown (expeditor, Dow Chemical), RW Rogers (Chief of Police - Midland), Ira Smith (Sheriff - County of Midland), Ray Rowe (Constable - Midland Police)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

60 YEARS AGO: MARCH 31, 1949, Two Beech 18s Attempted to Land at London Airport, one RCAF, one Dow Chemical… One Turned Back, and One Didn't…

THIS IS THE STORY of the Beech 18 THAT didn't turn back

WINSTON CHURCHILL had just given his famous Iron Curtain speech in America. In it, Churchill lamented the future plight of European nations which would be threatened by an ever greater Russian expansionist influence that had already begun, just after World War II. He was still in America, and now he was scheduled to give another speech in Boston. Churchill promised it would be as important as the previous Iron Curtain across Europe speech. The world would be listening on radio broadcasts all over the world. These stations would be airing his 40 minute address live.

Some would be lucky enough to attend.

Some, had received personal invitations, from Winston Churchill, himself.

One of those very few, was Dr. Willard Dow, 52 year-old president and CEO, of the industrial corporate giant, Dow Chemical Corporation of America.

Willard was somewhat of a giant himself.

His father, Canadian, Herbert Henry Dow, established the company in 1897. But it was the son who developed and expanded his father's company far beyond the original vision. Rarely does a son reproduce the success of a father. But Willard did, and he was a genius.

Not only did he carry around company's 700 chemical manufacturing formula's in his head, in 1940 he had developed a process to produce magnesium from seawater, now allowing "man to mine the oceans for metal". Dow Chemical became a strategic partner to the Allies during WW II because of this. Magnesium, which was needed in abundance, could now be had, in abundance, because of Dow's new process. Fabricating large quantities of lightweight magnesium parts for military aircraft would never be easier. And since Dow's North Carolina plant was the only plant on the east coast producing bromine, it was the one attacked by a German U-boat in 1942.

In 1943, Willard had received the Frederick Chandler Award by Columbia University for his "dynamic and successful leadership of the American Chemical industry.

Dow "always seemed able to come up with the right formula at the right time!" Chemistry became magic for him.

Sorcerer or conjurer, Willard could bend chemistry's laws to his will. And in 1943, he produced synthetic rubber and plastics for the first time. In 1944, he was honoured by the American Institute of Chemistry when they bestowed their annual Gold Award on him.

Times were never better for Willard, and his family. Youngish looking and sharp, he was known and loved by thousands of men, from his various plants all across North America. Employees, he had grown to know personally, through the years.

Maybe millions of people worldwide didn't know who Willard was, but those very millions used dozens of his products on a daily basis. Products, that had been produced, by his incredible ingenuity.

On March 31, 1949, at about 9:10 am Willard, his wife Martha, Calvin Campbell , head of Dow's legal department, Calvin's wife, AJ Bowie, the pilot and Fred Clements, the co-pilot, took off from an airport near Midland, Michigan where Dow Chemical had made its headquarters, and where they all lived.

Only one of them would ever see Midland again.

Onboard, the mood was festive. The world was waiting for Winston's latest pronouncement. And the Dow women had risen to the occasion by being decked out in their very finest. Extravagant jewellery few mortals had ever seen, let alone owned, and wore, were soon to be appreciated by Boston society's elite, and the numerous international attendees.

Yes, soon the Dow representatives would be rubbing shoulders with other dignitaries, and notables, in Boston, and there with "Winnie", reflecting on, and enjoying those recent hard won freedoms, that had emerged for the world from the bloody battlefields of World War II.

Or so they thought.

Dow chemical's Beech 18 had been flying for a little over an hour, uneventfully, and had already flown past London, Ontario, vectoring its way towards Boston, at a steady pace of 175 mph. And that's just when trouble began.

A garbled message came over the radio at the London Airport.

It was from the Dow airplane.

The Dow Chemical Corporation's Beech 18 had turned back! It was seeking the safety of London.

It was now speedily heading west, back, toward London Airport for an emergency landing!!


© 2009 Paul Cardin - Special Projects in Research

Monday, November 30, 2009

AVRO CANADA "STAT", yes… long before the Concorde, and long before the "Concordski", there was…

The Avro Canada STAT… and there it is above—

And something called a Space Threshold Vehicle. Goodness!

What the hell was that??

Such a cost…
Give me things,
That don't get lost ~

Sorry, Neil.

These additional remnants of Avro Canada glory (there's always more stuff to look at), all days gone by now, I'm afraid. This VISUAL reflection (graphic) is courtesy of Jim Floyd.

Jim has been the Keeper of the Avroite Kingdom through the decades.

JIM FLOYD was Avro Canada's former Chief Design Engineer. Back in the 50s, Jim received aviation's prestigious Wright Brothers Medal for his groundbreaking work on the Jetliner and became the first non-American to receive it. And like an Old Testament prophet of the past, he sometimes shows up unexpectedly at Avroite, or other notable Canadian aeronautical gatherings. And when he gets his chance to speak, he looks out at the crowded gathering, and he points to us while thundering, reminding us that WE, WE, gave away Avro Canada and all her fine achievements.

And there I am, just as I'm about to pop my World War II souvenir SS cyanide pills, you know, to end it all, Jim bellows, and points at me,

"That's not the answer!"

I look at him. His eyes are fierce and like burning charcoal.

He is cradling a model of of the C-102 Avro Canada Jetliner under his arm.

"But, Jim"…I weakly respond, "There never was an Arrow, all of Diefenbaker's cabinet said so…"

"THERE WAS AN ARROW!!!!!!!! And A JETLINER, and AN AVROCAR, and A CANUCK, AN ORENDA and a AN IROQUOIS… and a whole lot of other things!!!!!!! You have no idea!"

Jim continued,

"YOUNG MAN, get rid of your despair, and throw off your apathy!! THE FUTURE, I repeat, the future is wide open!!!"

And with that, he hurls, hurls, his Jetliner model right at me.

I have no time to move. OR THINK. CLUNK! (no pun intended), the Jetliner hits me square in the forehead! And like being hit by Canadian boxer Eggerton Markus… down. I. Go.

I awake, a day later, in the hospital.

The attending staff tell me I had a seizure, and they can't explain the welt on my forehead.

They attempt to console me and tell me, it probably happened when I fell to the ground. I attempt to correct them. I tell them no, that I was actually hit by an Avro Jetliner.

And like any other no-nothing dummies, this nation turns out in droves, they ask me what's that?

"Well, you know, from Avro Canada. The people that produced the Arrow, produced the Jetliner first. It was the first jet powered airliner in North America, and the second in the world, at the time."

"What", the young doctor scoffs, "Before the Americans?"

"Nurse, 200 cc ----------------------, stat… stat!!"

"Hey, hey…", I respond, just barely conscious, "You know about the STAT?"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

:.::. Where I Was Before ::.




Montreal vs. Saskatchewan
November 29 | 6:30 PM ET


WE REMEMBER!: 66 Years Ago: The RCAF vs. The German Navy (Part 2)

THE NIGHT BEFORE remembered alongside the cartoon of the U-boat sinking.

ANOTHER RCAF airman named Bishop distinguishes himself.

U-489 is sunk, by RCAF SQN 423, again by a Short Sutherland III just south-east of ICELAND at co-ordinates 61.11N, 14.38W, but the cost is high, as five Canadians of Bishop's crew are killed.

FOR GREAT, IN-DEPTH coverage of this U-boat attack and others, SEE:

This little VISUAL was created by moi…

The little figurine is a rare RCAF airman from a dissimilar series!

©2009 - Don "Red" Macfie and James Stewart

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

WE REMEMBER!: 65 Years Ago: The RCAF vs. The German Navy

THE AIRPLANE you're looking' at is a Short Sunderland Mark III.

It would be identified as 2•U of 422 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force (Overseas).

Below that is U-boat 625, or U-625.

It's March 10, 1944.

And today there is going to be a showdown.

Just short of noon, RCAF Sunderland Mk. III takes off from Castle Archdale where it was based in Northern Ireland. U-boats had been sighted just west of Ireland. And sure enough, just 10 km out U-625 is spotted by RCAF F/L Sid W. Butler. Port side.

With all Sunderland crew eyes now on U-625, Butler drops 2•U down to only 400 feet and manoeuvres onto an intercept course. The massive flying boat shudders in disagreement.

U-625 is taking drastic measures as well.

Siegfried Straub, her captain, swings the U-boat 'round so its stern-mounted flak guns can meet the flying boat head-on. Straub's German Navy crew have been quite successful on these open North Atlantic seas. They have sunk five ships. Three British, and two Russian. Two were even auxiliary warships. 19, 880 tons GRT total.


More sadly, 185 lost their lives to U-625. Many others were wounded.

But today, the tables will be turned.

And today it IS their turn to die.

The hunter is being hunted.

So a quarter hour passes, as both sub and flying patrol boat try to get into the best position to attack, and defend. But a stalemate of positioning is occurring. Butler, finally, has had enough.

Forgetting he is in a large, jumbo-sized airplane, Butler takes the Sunderland into a deep, deep, spiralling dive. Corkscrewing the flying hulk now through fierce U-boat flak, the RCAF flying boat descends to just 50 feet above the water for a strafing run and unloads six 250 pound Mk XI Torpex-filled depth charges.

Only four explode.

U-boat 625 submerges.

RCAF Sunderland 2•U circles. Waiting. Waiting.

Three minutes pass.

U-625 surfaces! Her movement is slow. Very slow.

Confirmation. She's done!

No U-boat would resurface unless she was in trouble, and certainly not with an Allied patrol boat flying above.

But, RCAF 2•U has no more depth charges, and continues watch as U-625 struggles. Sid Butler, calls for assistance. The job must be finished. There will be no limping home by U-625 to return another day.

More waiting.

Eighty minutes later, U-625 flashes Fine Bombish and abandons ship. The job is finished.

The U-boat crew man their life-rafts. At 17:40 the sub sinks at 52.35N, 20.19W.

An RCAF 423 Squadron Sunderland finally shows up to relieve 2•U.

Butler and his crew set the wounded Sunderland on course for home. The main hole caused by U-boat flak is fixed by the crew. But there are numerous smaller holes that pose a serious collective problem for the flying boat.

Remember, flying boat, water, numerous leaks, soon equals sunk!

Surprisingly, Wrigley's Spearmint Gum saves the day!

Flight rations for each member of the flight crew included five sticks of Wrigley's Spearmint gum. These were properly chewed up, and applied to each hull breach to harden nicely in the cold air!

The 53 survivors of U-625, do not survive.

It's March. It's the North Atlantic. And the sea, is, merciless.

They are never seen again.

423 Squadron hung around as long as they could, but finally had to head for home. With no rescue ships in the area, the 423 Sqn. Sunderland tips her wing, and bids these German Navy sailors farewell.

Frank Cauley, from 423, captured these intense pictures of U-625 sinking, and of her survivors looking on.

These PHOTOS and part of this remembrance was taken from the newly released, Canadian Aircraft of WW II which I highly recommend!! First volume of an eventual 9, from AviaDossler.

A MUST BUY. But only… if you 're real Canadian. A proud Canadian.


© 2009 AviaDossler - Canadian Aircraft of WW II - Volume 1

Monday, November 16, 2009

MOST CANADIANS don't realize…

… THE PRICE PAID for their FREEDOM, that they enjoy today—

GREAT DOCUMENTARY ( you need to buy it!) of two stories.

Those real bomber boys who flew a mighty, mighty, Lancaster bomber on harrowing missions over Nazi Germany are individually retold alongside rare WW II aerial footage, CGI graphics, and period photos. The "Boys" even meet up, one more time, with live Lancaster bomber stationed at Hamilton, Ontario's Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

The primary accounting is intermingled with the tale of the "Boys" descendants who agree to be exposed to the same RCAF training their grandfathers experienced.

(©2005 excerpt from the"Bomber Boys: The Fighting Lancaster")

Monday, November 9, 2009

Whatever became of LESLIE STEWART??

THE ARGOS lost again this weekend.

They got STOMPED by Montreal (42-17!) and finished the season with only 3 wins and a hundred losses.

So here's Leslie, a throwback to better times for the ARRRRGGGOOOOSSSS!

ME REMEMBERS when the Toronto football team was better, when the cheerleaders were better, and heck, even when the uniforms of the Argos AND the cheerleaders, were better.

But time moves on… and Leslie or DOUG FLUTIE won't ever be back in Toronto.

Leslie IS NOW the early morning Weather and Traffic host on the newly re-organized CHCH Channel 11 AND the Hamilton Tiger-Cats cheerleading coach!

Leslie in action:

5 YEARS AGO: Air Canada RETIRES its last 747 in TO!

AIR CANADA 747 Service begins… with a pamphlet!

In 1971.

And the six page pamphlet proudly showcased Air Canada's new breed of luxurious aircraft that was more like an upper class hotel, than an airplano. My dad got me this AC pamphlet back in the day… but I somehow lost it through the years, and when I saw it again, one day on eBay, well…

BACK WHEN I WAS a kid, a coupla' years ago… the 747 was a brand new thing!

B I G and LOUD!!

And AC had bought three!

We lived 2.5 miles from Toronto International Airport, on one of its' glorious flightpaths.

The neighbours hated that reality!

I loved it.

Those early 747s had a very distinct sound.

There were STILL a lot of propliners back then, and the 747s sounded nothing like those harsh, struggling, turboprop engines.

As the JUMBO JET left the runway, you could hear the loud drone of the 747's massive four Pratt and Whitney's all the way from airport, out, into our little Etobicoke neighbourhood.

BACK THEN there wasn't the skyscraper, or housing density, to block that drone… not like the Toronto GTA has today, at an overpopulated 6 million inhabitants. And illegals.

Showcased are just two pages, of the battered six page ambassador, and why someone couldn't take a non-blurry image of an Air Canada 747 in flight, well, I'll never know!

So there's the past. Have a look ~

5 YEARS AGO on 31 October 2004, the last Air Canada Boeing 747 flight landed in Toronto from Frankfurt as AC873, ending 33 years of 747 service with the airline.

Friday, November 6, 2009

50 YEARS AGO: A Microburst… Trans-Canada Air Lines, and the Shameful Treatment of Captain Harry Bell

AS YOU SALUTE US, Captain Harry Bell, decorated WW II Halifax bomber pilot, formerly of RCAF Group 6 of Bomber Command, we salute you.

Good father. Faithful husband. Churchgoing man. Proud Canadian.

Esteemed, Trans Canada Air Lines (TCAL) captain…

Well, until October 3, 1959, that is.

And on that day, Harry’s whole world would change and the rest of the world wouldn’t catch up to Harry until 16 years later. When he should have been vindicated.

But, even then, he wasn’t.

That wasn’t TCAL, or Air Canada’s way.

Admitting that a mistake had been made, that blame had been placed on a proud man’s shoulders, where it never should have been, well, they couldn’t just do that, now could they?

Through the years there would be Workers Comp hearings. Harry’s back was pranged after the accident, but TCAL didn’t believe that, either. So Trans Canada Air Lines even got Harry a job at Japan Air Lines! Right after, they fired him!

But Harry didn’t show up at the new job, the refusnik!! The logic escaped Canada’s national airline at the time, but everyone else could see it. If Harry can’t fly airplanes for TCAL, how could he possibly fly them for JAL?! Tokyo comfort girls be damned!

Worker’s Compensation eventually sided with Harry, and forced the petulant airline management to compensate him monetarily for the injury that he had sustained while flying for them. And thereafter he received a pension from Trans Canada.

But what solution to Harry’s battered reputation?

Well, that too appeared to come out of Japan.


Only 16 years later.

In 1975, Japanese meterologist Tetsuya Fujita, provided the explanation, which had eluded Harry in 1959, when his TCAL four-engined Vickers Viscount (CF-TGY) quite suddenly slammed into the ground.

On that day in October of ‘59, Harry had just taken over from his co-pilot who had been piloting the new aircraft, but had become alarmed, even bewildered, by the intensity of a localized thunderstorm that had appeared unexpectedly, and only last ed briefly, over Malton Airport.

And which, they were now flying into.

Captain Bell assured his First Officer, John M. that he had control, could see the runway clearly, and would take passengers and crew, in. Check.

Maybe ten seconds later, there was a sudden drop of the Viscount, a whoosing sound, a loud thud, followed up by that even louder, unbearable sound of metal tearing.

They had landed alright. Before the runway!

Straight through a reservoir.

And the new Vickers Viscount?

Well, now, only a broken mess.

A complete write off. Hull loss, as its known in the airline biz.

John pulled Harry out his pilot’s window. Harry couldn’t move.

Jane N. the stewardess, got all passengers safely out, and away from the plane, that was now lying on the ground, broken, just aft of the cockpit. Its undercarriage… well, no where to be seen.

Harry couldn’t explain what had happened. But he knew that he had made no operational mistake in the execution of his duties as a pilot.

It didn’t take Trans Canada Air Lines long to decide what would happen, though.

Harry got his last pay cheque the following week, stapled to a letter of recommendation from Trans Canada Air Lines. The page was blank.

And Harry had kept it through the years.

Still outraged, some forty-five odd years later when I met up with him, as anybody rightly should be for being blamed for an event, especially something as colossal as a airplane crash, which he hadn't actually caused.

So WHAT was the cause, folks?

A microburst.

Oh, Microsoft… that explains it!

No, NOT MICROSOFT, they weren’t even around then… a MICROBURST!

Here’s how it happens, and yes, microbursts have thrown around even larger aircraft than Harry’s, with even more tragic results!

Harry’s Viscount entered a suddenly appearing, localized severe thunderstorm, at Toronto International Airport (Malton Airport, back then) while on the landing approach. When that flight crew had originally plotted this flight from Montreal making their customary weather check, there were no storm warnings coming out of Toronto.

The coast, or rather Malton, was clear.

All right then.

As Harry was landing his Viscount and began entering the microburst, he encountered headwinds that increased the air speed of his airplane. To maintain a slower and proper airspeed for landing, and the aircraft’s rate of descent, Harry reduced engine power to compensate.

However, just as the Viscount got through the headwind, it encountered a downdraft.

Then a tailwind.

The Viscount was now flying too slowly to stay aloft, and since power had been cut previously, the Viscount was left without the necessary power to quickly climb again.

Some aircraft go nose first after flying into a microburst.

Fortunately, Harry’s Viscount just pancaked onto the ground and thus everyone onboard survived.

Fujita published his theories on microbursts in 1974. The scientific community both embraced his theories, and reviled them at the time.

But on June 24, 1975 Eastern Air Lines Boeing 727 crashed in New York City at Kennedy Airport killing 113 of the 124 aboard. That accident was blamed on a severe localized thunderstorm that caused an intense downdraft which forced the Eastern 727 airliner to pancake into the runway. Fujita, had earlier stated that when something comes down from the sky, and hits the ground, it will spread out. That was the observed pattern of the 727 crash. This outburst effect, and pattern, Fujita first noticed after flying over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.

But the blame for the accident and loss of the Viscount prop-liner STILL remains on Harry's reputation to this day, because no one at Air Canada has done the right thing, and reversed the ancient conclusion, or offered him apology.

I have no idea whether Harry is still alive, but expect his family would certainly accept the proper overture from Air Canada. One, cancels out the other. Even many years hence.

But that is the realm for gods, and for the high, and mighty.

And not, not, for an airline that seems to be on the verge of bankruptcy, and internal disaster, every other year—

(Pictured is Harry in his RCAF bomber's jacket… and a battered and weathered Trans Canada Air Lines Vickers Viscount just like the ones Harry used to fly)

Monday, November 2, 2009

55 YEARS AGO: Trans-Canada Air Lines Super Constellation CF-TGG Crashes in Brampton

FOLKS, I'M GONNA' ask you one question, and one question only.

Does this look like a good place to put a large airliner down?

For a landing??

In 2009?


Yeah, that's what I thought.

But on December 17 in 1954, just beyond this, the boarded up Norman Breadner/Monkman farm storehouse… there were no other houses back then, only an empty farmer's field with snow on the ground, this was a great place to land!


So down swooped Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCAL) Lockheed Super Constellation (CF-TGG) L-1049E at 175 miles-per-hour, lights on, wheels down, landing configuration for the instrument approach for Runway 10 at Toronto-Malton airport. Returning from Tampa Bay, direct to Toronto… it's 9:32pm, local Brampton time. The large, brand spankin' new, luxurious, elegantly-designed, tri-tail Lockheed L-1049 Constellation ("Connie" to her pilots) turns slightly, and flies flawlessly, as she responds to Norman Ramsay, the TCAL pilot, at her controls.

She trusts him unconditionally.

Swoosh… touchdown.

Bang, bang, crunch, crunch… gee, this is a strange runway, pilot Norman Ramsay thought.

And no runway lights, either.

Skidding now for 2000 feet.

This can't be Toronto, Norman realizes.

It isn't. Runway 10, at Malton, is twelve miles away.

Somehow, Norman calculated Runway 10 was here, on the Breadner/Monkman farm.

As the roughed up Connie finally slows, it looks like things are actually going to be okay… when suddenly the Connie's wing tip hits a tree.

Damn luck—

What could have been a recoverable situation, now becomes a disaster.

As all pax and crew deplane safely, and without injury… the new pride of the TCAL fleet starts to burn slowly. But it's a miracle crash really. No one was killed, or even hurt.

But this airplane is now on fire, and that's aircraft fuel burning, so very quickly engulfing billows eat up the Connie's wing.

And soon the hopelessly stranded airplane burns to the ground, in the middle of that field that was posing as Runway 10.

From a distance, Brampton firefighters, locals, and the aircraft crash survivors look on, as firefighting equipment is also stranded on Chinguacousy Road, 1500 feet from the luxury airliner, with no way into the field…

The pilot, 34 year old Norman Ramsay was later found guilty of negligence by Ontario's transport department board of inquiry, and had his flying license suspended for six months.



THREE and a HALF YEARS LATER, Norman now flying for Maritime Central Airways crashed a DC-4 near Issoudon, Quebec on August 11, 1957.

Flying at an altitude of 6000 feet, Norman flew his propliner directly INTO a thunderstorm.

Severe turbulence, power disruption, and finally loss of control of his DC-4 resulted in 79, passengers and crew, perishing.

© 2009 Special Projects In Research, © 2009 Paul Cardin

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

The ARROW: How Close Can You Get?

Here it is, folks.

It was almost destroyed. Twice.

During the making of the CBC production, the unexpected blockbuster hit movie: "The Arrow".

That be another story.

Gwen asks us, "What is it?"

We do not laugh.

A lot of people ask that question.

Before a military airplane is created live ( aluminum, steel, rubber, secret materials etc.) there will be a wooden mock-up made of the intended aircraft just to start working out some of its' design aspects.

From a hands on, three-dimensional standpoint.


Here you have the original wooden mock-up of the COCKPIT of the CF-105 Avro Arrow!

Not the whole airplano. Only the cockpit… where special attention to detail is paramount because this is where the pilot lives. Reacts to the enemy. Or simply flies patrol. At a thousand miles-per-hour.

All the minutiae were worked out here. Before everything got stripped out, (seat, electronics, control wheel) it was pretty much a functioning cockpit. And if there was a problem in design, location of a gauge, etc., it all got settled right here.

Need more details? Read the plaque, in the picture, itself.

Housed at the Brampton Museum (Peel Heritage Museum) as an ongoing Avro Canada exhibit, it resides at 9 Wellington Street East, less than a quarter mile from my house.

But that's not the clincher.


THE GUY who designed the cockpit was Wilf Farrance. While he now lives in London, Ontario, he used to live at 14 Crestview, in Brampton, which, by road, is just one mile and about a hundred feet south of the museum. And this exhibit.

His baby.

THREE MONTHS after Black Friday, Wilf went south to Martin Baker where he became plant manager. But had he stayed put, in retirement, he could have simply strolled up to the museum to see his former "workbench".

Nah, you're right. Too painful.

So few artifacts remain from the Arrow program… that every single one causes us to pause, and think.

What if?

It has taken us 60 years to leap back from the Avro Jetliner cancellation, and Bombardier has done well in the commercial aircraft segment…

But Canada never bounced back in the military aircraft sector.

Once the Arrow was murdered, we never went back to the military stuff. We bought it, but never again did we produce it.

But it is museum pieces like these that remind us of the tenaciousness, the intensity, and the success of Canadian ingenuity in the early part of the Jet Age, in the late 1940s and 50s. It was a new frontier, folks. New, to everybody. And a small country like Canada (through research and development) could be as successful, and even more so, than some of the more established players in the aviation field ( Britain, the USA, France).

Even if, only, for a time.

So, meander your way up to that there museum, and look at this artifact, and many other Avro Canada ones. Each will leave you with an impression of how grand the aeronautical endeavours, and undertakings were there in Malton in the 50s. You'll note at Avro Canada, their strong employee social network, this carefree and serious "country" within our country, that would eventually have such a huge impact on our tiny, tiny, nation.

And of, course the world around us. Because nothing is ever done in a vacuum, folks.

What was happening at Avro Canada was noticed worldwide. And what was learned there has been passed on through, to later aircraft design.

The BAC TSR.2 benefited heavily from the Arrow program. No less than 15 design inputs snafu'd from Avro Canada engineering data given to BAC for free, for FREE, by the Canadian government! Stupid is, as stoo'pid does—

The Concorde, and its Olympus engines both benefitted from our Canadian successes at Malton (YYZ). More freebees. To any who just asked! First "acquired" from Avro Canada, and next from Orenda Engines (the engine subsidiary of Avro Canada).

And I could go on, but won't.

Do yourself a favour.

Visit the museum, and breathe it all in.

Stop pretending you're a Canadian… be one.

And, I, am, outta, here…

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rare!! AVRO ARROW Photo… before engines installed!

(photo credit: unknown)

Unknown also, are the identities of these Avro engineers who posed in front of their baby.

AVRO CANADA was way ahead of the "times" in the 50s because they gainfully employed over 300 people with disabilities.

THIS PHOTO comes my way by Robert Millie.

You know his dad who designed the CF-103. The CF-103 was an Avro Canada precursor design and fighter interceptor concept consideration which became another stage in the design process, that would eventually evolve into the CF-105 Avro Arrow.

The Tiger Boys' Aeroplane Works OPEN HOUSE 2009: GUELPH, Ontario

This brother and sister team were mighty impressed with the Tiger Boy's kid's version of the de Havilland Tiger Moth. It can taxi! This baby Moth has working pedals and a steering stick!

GUELPH, Ontario… The Tiger Boys' Aeroplane Works OPEN HOUSE 2009: …really, AIR SHOW, with loads of airplane ride opportunities. You're up there flyin' for only $40! Dawn to Dusk. Saturday and Sunday in Guelph, Ontario. Third week in September. Always.

The Tiger Boys' motto : "Where Old Planes Go To ... Fly!"

Located on the outskirts of Guelph, it's a tiny airport. They call it an air park.

But every year, there is a surprise.

One year a CF-18 came to visit!

THIS YEAR there was a Silver Dart replica with Flight sim booth so you could try to fly a the AEA Silver Dart yourself.

ONE HUNDRED years ago, in Baddeck Nova Scotia, the AEA Silver Dart was the first heavier than air, airplane, to fly a powered, AND controlled flight, here in Canada. The Silver Dart may not have had a telephone, BUT Alexander Graham Bell was one of the five AEA designers of the Dart!

But, I digress…

So what will be "the surprise" next year?

Next year… well, I heard… that the Arrow that got away… may, may, show up.

Hey, you never know.

So you better be there. Tom Dietrich and Bob Revell who oversee the Tiger Boys put on a great show. THIS IS the way an air show SHOULD BE. Every one settles in around the runways and you let the show go on! It's also a fly-in. So bring your airplano! There was a ban on Taylorcraft products this year, but next year the ban should be lifted,

ONE GUY who flew in, landed, had sup, and then had to go. He flew back over the Air Park at an altitude of about 500 feet, and then throttled down his engine. A woman lying under a Cessna became alarmed and suddenly sat up scanning the sky for the airplane in trouble. At that moment the pilot yelled down to the unsuspecting visitors, to have a good day! And off he flew… to parts unknown!

Airplanes are taking off and landing every other minute. All at arm's length!

Folks, you are missing a GREAT, GREAT EVENT that runs every year! Lots of historical artifacts are also housed at the airport. Several static airplanes at the Air Park have appeared in blockbuster movies, etc.! And there old-timers there with stories to be told. But if you insist on being a couch potato…

The Tiger Boys' Aeroplane Works OPEN HOUSE 2009: The De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth

AT A FLY-IN… sometimes the most unexpected visitor shows up!

ALMOST 3,000 of these were made in Toronto, folks!

CANADIAN TIGER MOTHS were modified and upgraded from the original design. Upgrades included… float and ski fittings, sliding canopy, cockpit heater, redesigned cowling, increased power, and a tailwheel. The British liked the Canadian mods and ordered 200 Tiger Moths of the DH.82A version. This was the FIRST TIME the "flow" went in the opposite direction. Usually Canada ordered aircraft from Britain.

From DND (Department of Defense),

"A vital Aircraft in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was the DH-82C Tiger Moth, in which thousands of Commonwealth pilots soloed. Built by de Havilland in Toronto, over 1500 Tiger Moths equipped many Elementary Flying Schools throughout Canada."

The Tiger Boys' Aeroplane Works OPEN HOUSE 2009: Fleet Finch

SURE… I COULDA' reached out and touched her.

THIS WAS an air show!! Right up there with CWH's!!

FLEET FINCH Model 16s were developed specifically for the RCAF by Fleet Aircraft of Fort Erie. These aircraft were used exhaustedly to train Commonwealth pilots of the BCATP at 12 EFTS (elementary flying training school) sites across Canada during WW II.

They stayed in service with the RCAF until 1947, and 430 were built for the RCAF!

A grand total of 437 Finch Mark 16s were made, altogether.

CORNELLS eventually replaced all of the Finches on charge.

THIS FLEET FINCH can be seen flying out of Windsor Mills, in the 1940's film, Knights Of The Air.

THIS FLEET FINCH can be seen flying out of Windsor Mills, in the 1940's film, Knights Of The Air.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

:::. The HERO… that TORONTO Forgot ~

THIS IS Flight Lieutenant D.E. Hornell, VC's Canso of RCAF No. 162 "Osprey" Squadron.

Well, THIS WAS the paint scheme of Hornell's Canso (PBY Catalina, to the Americans) and brought back to life through the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, in Hamilton, Ontario. Here CWH's Canso is being put back into the hangar after an unscheduled flight on Thanksgiving Day.

Hornell's Canso attacked, and sunk, U-boat U-1225 on June 24, 1944 using depth charges at co-ordinates 63.00N, 00.50W which is north-west of Bergen, Norway.

AND ALTHOUGH, David Hornell born in Toronto, was awarded the Victoria Cross for both his conduct in the attack of U-boat U-1225, which they sank, and whilst awaiting rescue in their dinghy (they were also shot down during their attack), he isn't worthy to title a Toronto airport.

Namely, Toronto Island Airport.

Nope, that honour must go to Billy Bishop who apparently is the only Canadian war hero Toronto City Council has ever heard do of.

And… he ain't from TO.

The mayor of Toronto, David Miller, recently stepped down as mayor.

Good riddance.

::: The Airport That Time Forgot


The Tiger Boys' Aeroplane Works OPEN HOUSE in 2009 and that's a Fleet Finch.

Made in Fort Erie, during WW II, for the BCATP.

BCATP? What, who dat?

Well… start Googling…

Saturday, October 10, 2009


AN IN-PROPORTIONALLY LARGE part of Canadian history revolves around aviation.

BASICALLY nothing happened in Canada, until we embraced the world of aviation.



And then, we almost went to the moon. By ourselves.

Canadian innovation.

We didn't have much as a nation. And we were pretty small, population wise. But, by gosh, we ran with what we had—

'Course you'll never learn that in school.

Elementary, collegiate, or post-secondary.

Oh, no.

Let's talk about Louis Riel, Pierre Trudeau, the suffragettes, …etc.

Hey! Let's not…

… and say we did.

WAY BACK IN GRADE 8, I had a crush on an attractive little blond girl.

Course, a lotta' guys in my class did. And we had some hockey stars, and some hunks, a guitar player or two, and a whole bunch of other guys that would appeal to a little girl a lot more than I would. I mean these were the days before my weightlifting, wrestling, and boxing obsessions.

I mean, I was pretty nerdy kid.

So I would talk about the only thing I knew. Those mighty, mighty Lancs.

I mean, I was just a dumb little kid.

Well, she laughed, and she laughed hard. And she laughed often. And soon enough everybody was jeering at my mighty, mighty Lanc stories.

Course, it only got worse.

I had just about given up. And, I had just about tossed in the towel because the object of my affection was further away than ever.

But then again, we're Canadians. And we never give up, and of course, we never say quit. Unless you're born out of that "New" Canada. Then you can, and will do, whatever.

So I took the ridicule. And I waited.

And then something extraordinary happened. All stars the aligned. And almost overnight.

She came over to me one day, and smiled. She said, "You know I saw a special last night on TV that had these Lancasters flying in it. There were all these people walking around and…"

That's when I cut her off.

"You mean, they were talking about my mighty, mighty Lancs!?"

"No", she quietly responded, "They were talking about OUR mighty, mighty, Lancs."

"Do you want to walk me home, today?"

"Yes, I believe I do—"

There are people who say we can't rebuild Canada. That we're done. Well… I don't think so.

They also say there will be no more great stories of Canadian innovation. And that's where I cut them off.

Folks, it all unravelled with the Avro Arrow, and that's what we have to go back to. That's where we have to begin.


A new Arrow. Several marks to meet the varying, but ever-present defence needs of Canada. But that will be just the beginning. That is only a start, towards a renewed national independence and a more enlightened nation-building policy.

Since that IS where we lost our Canadian soul, that IS where we have to take it back.

We have to re-establish Avro Canada.

We can't go forward…until we go all the way back. Yes, even past the Arrow… to the Jetliner!

But… I'm showing too much of my hand.

'nuff said.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I SHALL never… fly again ~

The MIGHTY, MIGHTY, LANC' flys again… but this grand, old Harvard, will never fly again.

MUSEUMS only have much money, folks. And a flying museum is expensive to run. So choices HAVE to be made. Hard ones. Spend here for this, and let that go. And so as bitter as it is… this HARVARD will not get the new $50,000 engine it needs to take to the air once more. Nope.

A 100 GRAND recently had to be spent on the MIghty, Mighty, Lanc, earlier this year… as you know, and so, this Harvard had to make the sacrifice.

And this Harvard was proud to do it, damn it!

To step up to the plate. To take the "hit" for the Lanc. It's all in the line of duty.

In the RCAF. Airman, or airplane.

Then. Now.

Old soldier, old workhorse, that she is.

So, this Harvard is done—

THIS GLORIOUS airplane that once rose to the occasion and trained hundreds of future fighter, and bomber pilots to fly, in perilous times past… and later pleased tens of thousands of both the young and old in peaceful times, at air shows annually… has reached her end of days.

'Course, if you have a Harvard engine lying around, one that you're not using, or don't want… and you have a feverishly generous soul… I'm sure the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum will thankfully take it off your hands.

Until that day… SHOULD IT EVER arrive… old valiant shall never fly again.

This will be her final, undignified state.

And here we are, in the sadness, and the quiet… just you, and me, and an ole' RCAF Harvard—

Friday, September 25, 2009


USAF Heritage Flight at CIAS 2009!

The PAST (P-51 Mustang), the PRESENT (F-16 Fighting Falcon), and the FUTURE (F-22 Raptor).

THE EMPTY CONCEIT of Canadians is that they are neutral "peacemakers" on the world stage.

Well CANADA, look above… here are the real peacemakers.


Our NOW small and vetted Canadian Air Force, works in conjunction with these guys, the USAF, who are are the real protection of Canada. And, not through any fault of the tough and proud Canadian military, itself.

Since the anemic (Liberal and Conservative, NDP, and separatist) political parties have ignored the needs of the Canadian military for so long… Canada is in NO POSITION to defend its northern border, which is PRESENTLY being internationally challenged!

CANADIANS thought the loss of the AVRO ARROW was unforgivable.

There will be no forgiveness from Canadians, for any political party here in Canada that gives up any of these northern lands. Take note.

More overt challenges are coming folks, and don't think they're not.

So, the next time, you, as a knee-jerk, mealy-mouthed, leftist-Canadian, want to criticize the Yanks… just stop.

Thank your lucky stars that our southern neighbour is the United States of America, and not the former USSR… or we'd have already been annexed, just like Poland was, right after WW II!

CANADA looked good to the former USSR, except for that giant, resting just below the 49th.

And nobody wants to wake that sleeping giant.

Well, except for the Japanese, but they've learned never to do that again.

So… I'm off my soapbox now. But just for a few minutes—


Here I am, at Toronto Island Airport (YTZ)… oops, and sorry OwenSounders, I mean Billy Bishop Island Airport!

Before me is a P-51D, one of the Mustangs from the aerial demonstration team, The Horsemen. The pilot is just starting to juice the goose!!

You know any other day of the year I'd be arrested for being this close to runway but hey, you know, this is CIAS… or what the locals simply call "the Airshow" and its all good.

The CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL AIR SHOW closes out the Canadian National Exhibition on the final three days of the "X".

And this year is no different.

And I particularly like the Mustang's backdrop (Toronto's Waterfront) in this capture—

This P-51 was built in 1944, and served with the USAAF, the Swedish Air Force, the Nicaraguan Air Force and spent most of the 80s as an air racer at Reno, Nevada.

The BLUE ANGELS come to CIAS in 2009.

Fine performance. Been a while since these guys were in TO!

I tried a new location this year to photo from… so I got faraway shots of formation bursts etc.

HOWEVER, I got fully lit shots of reformations, rogue turns, unexpected strafing etc.

(my settings were a little off with the new DSLR)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I AM… a star-crossed lover, no more.

I FINALLY get to see and photograph a flying GOLDEN HAWK.

The wondrous Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, in Hamilton, has a static see-thru Golden Hawk on display, which is the other Golden Hawk all should see. I have some great shots of that one, but unfortunately, it can't fly.

I missed all of Vintage Wings of Canada's HAWK ONE'S appearances at every Ontario air show this year. And not by choice. The Hawk didn't even make it to Wings and Wheels earlier this year in TO after I told the whole city to come out!

A couple weeks ago, while on a movie set, I threw my DSLR in to a mirky lake and killed it. By fluke. And with no one around I also ran into the Bear-walker.

So without a DSLR to power my lenses, odds were workin' against me to see HAWK ONE during the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Powered Flight in Canada.

But I got a new DSLR, and finally I did photograph "the Hawk" (seen above)!

MY DAD would've seen many performances of the RCAF Golden Hawks. In fact, he had a signed 13 x 19 colour photo of them in formation… back in the day.

Not easy to come by.

I think these are the best Sabre colours ever.

REMEMBER: The GOLDEN HAWKS were Canada's first military aerobatics team, long before the Snowbirds, and were created to celebrate the (Golden) 50th Anniversary of Powered Flight (1959) in Canada. The Golden Hawks also helped celebrate the 35th Anniversary year of RCAF.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

::::: BILLY BISHOP Gets A Second Airport!


Although BILLY BISHOP was from Owen Sound, Ontario, 200 miles northwest of Toronto, the Port Authority of Toronto has decided to rename the Toronto Island Airport… Billy Bishop Island Airport!

Billy landed there a couple of times apparently. Although, no one is really sure when.

What a minute!!

Isn't there ALREADY a Billy Bishop Airport? In Owen Sound??


But, OwenSounders, didn't you know that outside of Toronto, nothing else exists? Do you really think that Toronto city exec types know about your itsy-bitsy airport?

The mayor of Owen Sound is pi- - ed! He has threatened to come down to TO and kick ass!

Mayor, all I ask, all I ever ask… is one thing. Just let me know when you are going to said, kicking. I will pay good money to watch this.

Apparently, Toronto has no homegrown RCAF heroes to name airports after.

F/L David Ernest Hornell, VC from Mimico comes to mind, but I'm so silly.

But hey, David only died in the line of duty attacking and sinking a Nazi U-boat near Denmark, all the while his PBY Canso (Catalina) was furiously ablaze. Somehow, he landed the badly damaged amphibious aircraft, and the Canso crew was saved a day later by the Royal Navy.

David blind, and weakened from exposure, however, died a few days later.

Apparently, DAVID HORNELL VC isn't a big enough hero for Toronto City Council or the Toronto Port Authority!

You already know what my political party would do.

Statue, DAVID HORNELL VC renaming, 100 jet fighter aircraft sonic-boom flyover smashing City Hall windows etc. just to send the message home to those TCC and TPA commies.

See how HAMILTON, yes Hamilton, has honoured Toronto's DAVID HORNELL, VC:

… and by the way that is the Canadian ace BILLY BISHOP, and he was another REAL CANADIAN I might add.

Here, during World War II, Billy Bishop D.S.C., V.C. is giving the address and send-off at this British Commonwealth Air Training Plan pilot dedication!

And those men you see in this clip from Hollywood's "Captain of the Clouds" were real airmen from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and the United States of America. They really did receive their RCAF pilot's wings at that moment in time.

And some of them really did, never return. But they knew it was their call to join the great battle, to free the then-embattled world from Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo. More real Canadians.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

::.:. Beware the BEAR-WALKER!

"The woods are lovely,
Dark and deep…"

Robert Frost

NOT SURE WHAT Bear-walker means in Ojibwa Indian folklore but in my survival training courses, it was noted as uncontrolled fear or anxiety, either individually, or collectively as a group, with the end result being impulsive and dangerous behaviour that would impede or extinguish your chance of survival in the great outdoors.

It's a seasoned hunter lost in the wild for only a few days whose mind has snapped and who runs away from, and not to, a Canadian Forces search and rescue helicopter. It's a firefighter who gets lost in the wild, and keeps pushing forward, going, going…trying to catch up to friends, until exhausted, at which point both thirsty and hungry, he slips. Down a small hill. And his leg, is now broken. So, now what?

And when you're in the wild… you are not at home. Which should be obvious enough, but it often isn't.

You are far from having the usual community supports.

And that's when the Bear-walker can descend on you suddenly.

And if you lose the battle with the Bear-walker… you can easily forfeit your life.

I was taking a few shots of a Great Blue Heron that was in the clearing, near-by. It took off from a rock and I followed its flight when suddenly my camera strap caught my canoe paddle handle, wrenched the camera from my hand with great force, and out of my hands it went.

I last saw my Canon DSLR fly straight away, and then immediately down into the mirky waters.


My Canon SLR that had cost me $2600, my pro lenses that cost $1300, my memory card etc., now gone!

Enter the Bear-walker.

The Bear-walker is telling me to jump in. Go after your equipment. Quick!!!!!!!!!!


Cool head prevails.

The water is mirky. Can't see a thing. Could jump in and get skewered. What about lake reeds? Could get tangled up and hopelessly trapped. Not likely any undertow. Not likely. How do I secure the canoe so that it doesn't float away? Actually I can't. If I jump in, I could capsized all the canoe's contents! And of course, there is no one else around!

Of, course.

No, no, no…jump in. Soon there won't be a trace of your camera…

(Shut-the-hell-up Bear-walker)

Did you catch that, readership?

The Bear-walker is using my $4,000 anxiety to get me to react without heeding the danger. I acknowledge he is there, and remind myself of his existence by entering into brief dialogue with him (that single shut-up I issue to quiet my mind). He is the watcher in the woods. But the harmful one. He waits for you to make a mistake. Then, he'll help you to make more, always, always under the guise of making your situation better.

Desolate areas are always the haunt of demons.

At least that's what my Catholic version of the New Testament alludes to.

All right. Take a breather.

Slow it down.

Surprisingly, a steady stream of bubbles are marking the descent of my camera.

Gee, how far down is it?

Clips of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea fill my head, briefly.

Seaview One. Damn, I loved that show. Whatever happened to that show?

Paddle goes down into the brackish waters.

Pure stench.

And my arm and paddle are now submerged up to my armpit.

I think I'm hitting bottom.

Yes, I am!

I pull my arm out. Hey, where'd that black licorice come from?

Uh, oh… not licorice, but leeches!! Deal with those later.

I maneuver the canoe about. There is sun glare everywhere.

I take the second paddle, and block the sun over the canoe gunwale. Turns out to be a good idea.

Can see a little into the mirk, now.



Is that my camera strap shooting straight up, with the eyelet drifting backward from an unseen current?

Damn hell, it is!!

Oh, no. Can I even reach the camera-strap eyelet?

Plus, I've also got to deal with light refraction in the water.

Where the camera strap appears to be… is NOT… where it is.

Try to snag it.

I'll use the thoughtfully placed hook on paddle's hand grip, yeah! Who thought to put a hook there?

Damn, good, idea.

Numerous snag attempts. Numerous more snag attempts. Fifteen minutes pass.

Keep light blocking paddle in place. Leaning forward, but… careful, don't TIP the canoe!

The Bear-walker wanted me to lean further out. Nope.

Almost there… almost there…


I got my camera.

Pull slowly to the surface.

Yahoo, I got my camera back! I ACTUALLY, got it back.

But… is it any good?

Remove battery. Remove memory card.

Back on shore I separate lens, and camera to dry out separately.

I return the canoe to the outfitter. I tell my tale of camera woe to a disinterested youth manning the canoe hangar.

He looks away, as I speak. Women in bikinis, frolic by. I reach back and grab one of the canoe paddles, and slam the oar down on the picnic table he is sitting at.

He is now max. attentive to every word I say.

Damn, I hate the rude.

I realize right away, I don't think he's ever met a real Canadian.

Bet, he never forgets me.

He smiles and waves as I leave. The smile is fake.

Back home, I put both lens and camera back together, and right into a ten pound bag of basmati rice! That should pull the remaining moisture out of the camera.

In five days I should know IF my camera and lense can be saved! Keep ya' posted.

And Clear may laugh at the Bear-walker. But the Bear-walker has claimed many, many lives. And he's right there in your thoughts, pushing you to keep going, to act quickly without taking inventory, to not bother to hydrate yourself etc. and a million other things ill thought out things.

The Bear-walker stalks people in restaurants. Sometimes, even in your home.

Do you know how many people have died from choking in restaurants?

Here's how it unfolds. A person in trouble, starts choking and can't clear his/her throat. They don't want to make a scene so they get up and leave the table. They'll wave off others who try to help. They make their way to the bathroom because it's embarrassing to cough up dramatically in front of denizens of other folk seated around you.

If a cougher leaves the table follow him, and alert staff. Panic is starting and the person is not thinking clearly. With each step, the person is running out of air.

In the restaurant setting, the person can maintain their composure. But in the bathroom, pure panic will set in. And now the person is alone!

It will end horribly, and quickly.

That's exactly what the Bear-walker wanted. You remove yourself from friends, and family, and specially trained restaurant staff who could very easily have saved you.

When you are running out of air… you won't be able to save yourself. Remember that.

And at home don't let the Bear-walker tell you to ignore that unusual pain in your abdomen, or chest. Don't let him trick you into thinking you can sleep it off.

Yes, be aware of, and beware, the Bear-walker!

© Paul Cardin
© 2009 Special Projects in Research



Always. Well, at least ,when they can.

And portage.

And CAN SURVIVE in the wilderness for a month, no problemo.

With the bare minimum.

You don't need a tent. Or matches.

You need to be able to recognize edible plants. Set traps. Make a shelter. Keep a fire going. Protect yourself from predators.

If alone, you need to protect yourself from the bearwalker.

If really lost, you need to stay put, conserve energy and create a highly visible SOS.

Boil water and flavour with cedar leaves.

And drink LOTS!

If your urine is dark yellow… you're in trouble. On your way to dehydration.

Lose 10% of your body's water and you'll be incredibly weak, fatigued… lose a few more points and YOU'RE DONE! Delirium will set in and… that's all she wrote.

And at least ONCE in their lives, 12% of folks will be involved in a situation that will call upon survival skills.

Hope you're ready.

THIS IS the CANADIAN WILD and it shows no mercy to the careless, to ninnies, to prissies, or to the ill-prepared.

Enjoy it and savour it. BUT ALWAYS respect it.

About 20 minutes after this picture was taken, the bearwalker would put my ancient survival skills to the test. Yes, out of nowhere danger lurked, but I beat the bearwalker back. I stayed in charge.

So I lost only $4,100 dollars of camera equipment and NOT my life!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

'Course, if you look hard enough…

… you'll still find remnants of the RCAF…… and here's one.

A North Star. C-54.

71 of these were built in Montreal.

The RCAF, Trans-Canada Air Lines, Canadian Pacific Air Lines and BOAC all operated these aircraft as airliners or transports.

BOAC called them "Argonauts"

That's all.