Thursday, December 30, 2010

::..: AND SOME…::

…jus' get into LIFE more than others~



Will Hamilton still have the Ti-Cats in 2012????

Is 2011, the VERY LAST YEAR at IVOR WYNNE and the very last year of the HAMILTON TIGER-CATS?

Will a 150 year (almost - 1873) football tradition really end?

Will Head Coach of the Ti-Cats cheerleaders LESLIE STEWART save the day?? Again???

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Golfer MARLENE STEWART STREIT and Brampton's Christmas Miracle of 1954!

MARLENE STEWART STREIT, Order of Canada, was born on the farm, in Cereal, Alberta on March 9, 1934. Two years later her family abandoned the family farm because of the unrelenting locust hordes of the past two years. These locust storms had consumed all their crops. The Stewarts resettled in Ranier Alberta, in the irrigation district, where crops were bountiful with fruits (like melons) and vegetables they had never even seen before.

So far, so good.

Eventually, horrendous sand storms killed crop production in Ranier, so the Stewart family in 1941 again pulled up stakes, and moved to Fonthill near to the US border at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Marlene's father, Harold, had tried to join the RCAF but because her dad was a skilled electrician he was immediately dispatched to work for Fleet Aircraft of Canada, there in Fonthill.

Still, good.

Starting off as a golf caddy for a friend of hers, Marlene learned how to play…and really win at the game…from golfing master and pro Gordon McInnis Sr. at Fonthill's Lookout Point Golf Club. Putting spikes into her street shoes, and rewrapping her golf club's because Marlene's hands were so small…McInnis taught Marlene the techniques showcased in Ben Hogan's book, Power Golf.

Tiny Marlene, she stood only five feet tall, was so persistent and so damn determined. She got golf right, and right from the start immersed herself in the game, practising golf day and night. Soon she started winning tourneys. After she won the Ontario provincial championship, before financially committing to take Marlene to the Amateur level, Harold Stewart asked McInnis to fairly assess his daughter's potential future success.

Marlene's dad asked the seasoned McInnis, "How far can she go?"

McInnis thought about the father's searching question, and honestly responded, 'She can go the limit. She can be the best.'

And that's exactly what she started to do…

By December, 1954, at a mere 20 years old, and standing only five feet tall with tiny hands, Miss Stewart had garnered some pretty spectacular golfing achievements for a young Canadian lass.

Have a looky for yourself:

▪Ontario Junior Girls (2-time winner)
▪Ontario Ladies' Amateur - 1951
▪Canadian Women's Amateur - 1951, 1954
▪CLGA Close Amateurs - 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954

EXCELLENT!! Way to go Marlene!

But on December 17, 1954 Canada's brightest golfing star boarded a triple-tail TCA Super Constellation in Tampa, Florida with…Canada's worst pilot, Captain Norman Ramsay, at the helm.

Oh. No.

Marlene, not good~

I can't look. Quick, take another afternoon flight!!

Too late folks, airborne now…

Trans-Canada-Airlines newest type airliner took flight on a route straight north from Tampa to Malton airport, now known as Pearson International or YYZ.

At 9:32pm, Mount Pleasant - Brampton, Ontario time, Captain Ramsay vectored his large and brand-new 1.5 million dollar Constellation to line-up with Malton airport's northwest runway. He coaxes the graceful bird into position, drops his wheels, drops his flaps, throws his canteen out the window, and brings her in to land.

Trouble is…Norman and his TCA Constellation…are 12 miles from the airport.

Very soon, Norman's Super Constellation's fuselage and delicate underbelly is being ripped up by the very rough, and very frozen, unforgiving farmland fields of Mount Pleasant in Brampton.

All 27 passengers aboard the TransCanada Airlines flight had only just been told, and had only begun to prepare, moments before, for landing at Malton…when their unexpected disaster struck.

On the descent, the Super Constellation struck several trees which sheared off one of the wings of the ill-fated airliner. Good grief. The speeding airliner stared sliding along the frozen Brampton tundra for nigh of a 1000 feet. When the botched-landing airplane came to rest, it was on the farmland of Clure Archdekin. And fortunately, for the passengers and crew, Clure was right on hand to give help.

Some of the passengers were able to escape through the large fuselage hole created when the Connies' wing was torn away. Other dazed survivors just jumped to the ground unassisted from the former aircraft, while Clure got the rest of the passengers, and all three crew members, out from the other end of the burning wreck. Everyone survived, and as they ran from the fire engulfed airplane, it proceeded to explode sending a huge ball of orange flame that went a hundred feet into the air.

At the time, 1954, it was the most miraculous escape in Canadian aviation history.

Marlene Stewart, herself, sustained only slight injuries from the accident. Not only did everyone survive, but miraculously…no one was even seriously injured!

These TCAL air crash survivors were cautiously sent to Brampton and Weston hospitals. Brampton firefighters who had rushed to the scene mostly assisted the crash survivors by getting them into arriving ambulances, as they were not able to save the burning airplane. TCA's pride of the fleet, the Lougheed Super Constellation, was stuck 1000 feet from the nearest road, on frozen, rough farmland…and remember Brampton at the time did not have the elaborate fire hydrant system that it has today. In short, the firefighters were not able to get any significant amount of water out to the airplane, in order to save her.

Very shortly after this crash, Malton Airport's flight approach route was altered, so that descending airliners would no longer take this approach…and fly over the centre of Brampton.

Good idea.

This Trans-Canada-Air-Lines crash, and Hurricane Hazel's terrible October flooding of Brampton two months earlier, convinced Brampton politicians that the city needed full-time firefighters, modern equipment, and a disaster plan for this growing community of British and Portuguese immigrants.

Only 16 short years later that very disaster plan would have to be put into effect for another large airplane that would crash in Brampton, this time, at the other end of the city.

That would be Air Canada Flight 621 on July 5, 1970.

Only this time there would be no miracles, because there would be no survivors.

Marlene Stewart Streit as we know survived the forgotten Trans-Canada-Air-Lines crash of 1954, and went forth to become the most accomplished Canadian amateur golfer…in Canadian history, male or female. Marlene also became the only golfer in world history to have won the Australian, British, Canadian and United States Women's Amateur Golf Championships.

In total career wins Marlene won 11 Canadian Ladies’ Open Amateurs, nine Canadian Ladies’ Close titles and four Canadian Ladies’ Senior Women’s Amateur tournaments. She won the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1956, and again in 2003.

When Marlene was 69 years young she became the oldest person to win a USGA championship.

She claimed her third US Senior Women's Amateur Championship at this time.

Today, she is 76 years old.

In 2004, Marlene Stewart Streit was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame becoming the first Canadian to be so honoured.

Marlene resides in Florida, but was not able to be reached for comment related to this post. I hope to do a follow-up piece interviewing Marlene about herself, and her TCA experience.

A special thanks to Carolyn Crawford who helped me find the location of the accident, and provided me with some background details about the community at the time of the accident. Carolyn's father resided on the farm beside, and south of Clure Archdekin's. Both her aunt and her father boarded their tractor that fateful evening, and drove out to the accident to see if they could lend a hand, only to find the passengers rescued, and the airplane burning out of control.

An additional special thanks to former Brampton firefighters who helped me identify the "famous" golfer who was aboard this flight, and to Rhonda Glenn, for additional details about Marlene's career.

The TOP photo is a TCA Super Constellation
LEFT photo is part of the crash in Mount Pleasant
CENTRE is Marlene at 20
RIGHT is the location of the crash arena in Mount Pleasant, Brampton

FAMOUS QUOTES from Marlene:

"Don’t be a spoiled brat; get out there and do it. Beat everybody. Don’t go around with a chip on your shoulder. Just beat ‘em."

“When you write about me, don’t forget Canada. Canada (fist clenched, tapping it on her heart) is right here!”



+++++MERRY CHRISTMAS to ALL in 2010!+++++

(As with all my articles…this is a first post that will be revised several times over time.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

:: THE HAUNTED TANK : a Kid's Christmas ::

'COURSE CHRISTMAS wouldn't have been right if I didn't get a coupla' Haunted Tank comics for Christmas.

Yup, there in my bedroom reading comics (or building models)…safe away from that whip-snap cold of our Canadian winters just outside my window.

Good times, for sure…

And remember, they DON'T come up with creative story-lines (a Civil War ghost general aiding an American tank crew during WW II) like this anymore~

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rock-Paper-Scissors - the Airbus Version

THIS ANCIENT CLASSIC hand game played by two, or more people, has, not surprisingly, evolved into a modern easy to play, aeronautical, version.

It's the new Airbus version.

Here's how it goes.

PAPER covers rock.
ROCK beats scissors.
SCISSORS cuts giant Airbus A380 wing root.

Rock-Paper-Scissors - the Airbus Version…has the same ole' 5 count, and is still used as a selection method.

If you win, your Airbus flies.

If you lose, well, like the giant Emirates A380 airliner did on December 7, 2010 at Toronto's YYZ…a catering truck's scissor lift collapses, and drops it's heavy load on the leading edge of your Airbus, slicing through precious wing as only falling scissors can…right into the very wing-root of your mega-big super Jumbo!

Then your Airbus gets to sit around indefinitely, right out there, in the harsh Canadian winter (as seen, yesterday), losing a half million in revenue daily, while local air techs build silly treehouse structures around your airliner, supposedly, to more effectively work on your Airbus…even though these guys haven't ever worked on anything larger than a Dash 7.

Good luck with that—

What will happen in the end, when all this "playing" is done…is this A380 will be written off as a complete hull loss.

Then this fatally wounded Emirates A380 will re-appear next summer as a fully taxiing, flashing lights extravaganza "700 seat kiddies airplane ride", complete with with a jazzy new ride name, and its own newly built 3000 foot mini-runway at Vaughn's Canada's Wonderland. Cool, eh?

Kids, you can start screaming right away…

Buy those Wonderland Season Passes early.

You've been warned.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010



He beat the odds.

MOST, didn't.

Now a free man…in a free world. A freedom he helped win for generations of Canadians to come after the war.

THEN, aboard Halifaxes and Lancs.

The average lifespan of a rear-gunner, or tail-gunner, was about 10 missions. Being generous here.

I talked to him about the Halifax heavy bomber vs. the Lancaster heavy bomber…you know, which did he like better?

Hands down the Mighty, Mighty Lanc.

Seems it boiled down to the shape of the Lanc's wings which meant the Lanc was highly manoeuvrable in tense situations, compared to the lumbering Hally.

And safer.

Caught in a Nazi spotlight?

No problem.

The captain of his Lanc would dip the Lanc's wings to a 90 degree angle (to the ground) and proceed to drop, slicing downwards through the air…for hundreds of feet…effectively losing the lifetaking spotlight.

And then complete the bombing run.

I was so immeshed in our conversation (which had gathered a small crowd), I forgot to ask our homegrown hero what his name was!

AND, I wasn't the only curious one! As I left, another guy appeared and was rifling questions at this guy like there was no tomorrow.

So…what do we know about him?

Our tail-gunner was assigned to Bomber Command, of the illustrious All-Canadian Group 6: RCAF 428 Squadron, Ghost Squadron. The "Ghost" moniker was earned through its many night bombing ops. And through the death and destruction which the Canadian squadron meted out to the Nazis, and to their incessant efforts at war production. The squadron badge depicted a skull in a shroud…a chilling death head.

Squadron 428 flew in night and tail-gunner was responsible for being on the lookout for any approaching enemy fighter-planes.

RCAF Lancaster bombers flew as solo aircraft, while American bombers flew in formation.

Therefore when the tail-gunner, rear-gunner, or "Tail-end Charlie" as they were interchangeably called, spotted an enemy night-fighter he radioed his captain who would then engage in radical flying maneuvers like a corkscrew roll, etc. to escape. When all else failed…the tail-gunner would cock his machine-guns and open fire on any pursuing enemy aircraft!

This gentle warrior comes out to CWH every year for Remembrance Day. To remember his fallen buddies.

Wouldn't be anywhere else.

What do we know about the 428 of the RCAF?

Hailfaxes of 428 Squadron, flying at 15,000 feet carried out the first highlevel bombing of Brest with mines!

In June 1944, the squadron struck their Handley-Page Halifaxes off charge… and were re-equipped with Canadian-built Mark X Lancasters…which were made in Malton.

After the war 428 was stationed in Yarmouth Nova Scotia, until the 5th of December when the squadron was disbanded.

RCAF 428 Squadron re-formed mid-June 1954 as a night-fighter squadron flying CF-100 Canucks and was scheduled to be the first Canadian squadron to receive, and put into operational status, the never-to-be Arrow.

In 1961, specifically May 31…the squadron was again disbanded, for a final time.

:.:..: RCAF CANSO…somethins' a foot .::.:.:.

STOP. THE. PRESSES.…just in…

THAT'S an ORIGINAL CANSO. The one in tatters…

The white one just behind this bare-metal beastie is how most Cansos and Catalinas look today! But not during WW II, folks! They had a gun turret in front! And here's the CANADIAN WARPLANE HERITAGE SECRET…CWH's flying Hornell Canso will have that turret mounted onto her airframe and be flying anew by summer!

Is there anything these CWH guys can't do?!

Methinks that this is quite an amphibious, no, sorry…quite AMBITIOUS winter project.

PLUS…Transport Canada has demanded an additional mod…a new door on the side of the Canso…see the green tape outline!

If I was Prime Minister of Canada, I would put CANADIAN WARPLANE HERITAGE MUSEUM in charge of getting things done, especially the improbable. Just when you think they've done all they could…they come up with this!

Can't wait!!!!!

††† GLORIOUS ††† is Our LANC

MADE IN MALTON. Made in Toronto. Now residing at the old, former, RCAF Station: Mount Hope in Hamilton, Ontario.

One of the best Allied tools for ensuring our freedom, used by free men, to maintain a free world…a world that we inherited…and are to maintain.

Remember, need I say it again…"A new war is coming…"