Bill Norberg sends this response referring to the "Cabbage patch" photos in NetLetter nr 1055
Fascinating pictures of the famous incident!. I believe the person identified as Russ Thatcher is his brother Ralph Thatcher.
Ralph was a very competent individual. I knew him well and had him on a CANAC assignment in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania heading up the maintenance organization for the Tanzanian Government Air Service..That was many years ago!
Regards. Bill Norberg
Brian Dunn, who issues the YYZNEWS sends this observation regarding the information from "Between Ourselves" in NetLetter nr 1055
The caption and headline beside the picture of the first Air Canada
747-133 taking off at Seattle has it placed at the wrong airfield.
Renton WA was only used for 707/727/737/757 production. All 747s were manufactured at the "new" plant built at Everett WA -Paine Field (PAE).
This photo is most likely taken at PAE, or possibly at BFI (Boeing Field) in downtown Seattle, but certainly not at Renton.
Bill Norberg has sent us this information referring to "Sign over YWG o'haul base" in NetLetter nr 1052 The picture of the Winnipeg Base turnover ceremony in the last Netletter brought back some interesting memories for me.
I was responsible for arranging that ceremony after working very hard for many months to bring the agreement about. It was a very tense time as you can imagine for all the Base employees and management. Feelings were running very high to say the least.
Officials from both Air Canada and CAE had arrived in town to handle all the legal matters as well as to participate in the public ceremony. Very shortly before the ceremony was to take place we had received an anonymous telephone call that..."Someone was going to get shot at the ceremony". We felt this was a crank call but with all the tension about the turnover we had to consider carefully what action to take. Should we cancel the ceremony or proceed? I contacted all the officials involved for their views and also stated that I felt it was a crank call. I was to be the MC and felt I would certainly be a likely target.
We decided to proceed and as we all know,there was no shot fired.
It was a tense time for me for many reasons and this certainly added a serious dimension. I was also coming down with the flu and fighting a high temperature. It was the end of a long and nerve wracking task for me.
regards Bill Norberg
And this from Jack Stephens referring to the same article
This hangar was used for Line Maintenance and was next to the hangar where the aircraft were overhauled. This ceremony was 'bitter sweet', not only for the employees present but for the City of Winnipeg.
Years before the headquarters for Air Canada was moved to Montreal and a huge overhaul facility built. When Winnipeg was selected as the overhaul base for the Viscounts, it was hoped that the Base would continue and expand. It was a huge political issue
that fanned the flames of the power of eastern Canada versus the interests of western Canada. The 'war' still goes on today.
While Winnipeg would continue to have line maintenance facilities, all those faithful employees, who loved the Viscount, and who could have very easily switched over to the Vanguard, and the incoming jets, watched as signatures sealed their fate.
A few would transfer within the company, some would retire and others would seek, new employment. These men and women would watch as the jet aircraft would slowly chip away at the numbers of Viscounts in service.
They would help prepare Old Faithful for sale, and watch them take off for airports around the world. Staff was reduced in the process, until that day when the daily whine of four Darts warming up at the blast fence was no more.
A beautiful era had ended.
In response to an appeal by George Brien in NetLetter nr 1053 regarding Pennfield Airport, we have received copies of the information George received.
Here's the promised article
TCA at Pennfield Ridge- Apr 1, 1947- Dec 30 ,1951
In 1947, the Dept of Transport had taken over the operation of the Pennfield Airport, as the RCAF moved out. TCA realized that this airport, on a main highway from Saint John would serve the city much better than the long dirt roads up to Blissville and on Apr 1 1947.
Blissville was closed and the Pennfield Ridge Airport (YYP) was opened for scheduled service with all DC3 service.
A new route from Halifax/Yarmouth/Saint John/Boston also began on Apr 1 1947 and the Halifax Montreal flight now stopped in Pennfield.
TCA minimum Navigation equipment at airports included the installation of a "Radio Range" type of instrument landing system.
This allowed the pilots to line up on the runway and descend down as low as 400 feet and visibility of one half mile. With the threat of fog off the Bay of Fundy, this certainly was a help although many time, diversions had to be made to the alternative airport at Blissville.
We have this photo of a DC3 on the ramp at Pennfield -1950-
Vince Briscombe, TCA retiree recalls.
I can relate to the memories of Pennfield Ridge as I was transferred from Montreal to Saint John on the opening of Pennfield Apr 1st 1947.
Agent in charge of reservation at Saint John. . Blissville was still
being used as an alternate to Pennfield based on weather conditions.
I recall that we would check with the airport approx 1 hour prior
departure of flights on foggy or rainy days to see if they were still
operating . We had an arrangement with the Limousine Co to phone the office in Saint John about half way to Pennfield to ascertain the flight would be landing in Pennfield, if not, it would use Blissville and the limousine would then divert to Blissville. We did this on many occasions.
"I knew Pennfield Ridge as a T.C.A. mechanic. I was transferred from Moncton to Pennfield in April 1947 for the purpose of making Pennfield Ridge the base for the St. John - Boston traffic. I spent three or four months before being bumped out by Dave Rose.
We stayed at Murray Hotel in the little town of St George, about 10 miles away and used the TCA van to travel back and forth. Other staff to come down from YQM included Jacques Vernier and Walt Hines.
TCA had use of one of the RCAF hangers with the Passenger
terminal/operations office attached." Like Jim MacBurnie, Gordon never looked forward to the drive up to Blissville when flights diverted. The "infamous Woody Wagon" they drove in had barely survived a head on crash with a CPR train near Blissville a couple of years before and had to be completely rebuilt from bits and pieces.
Straining the Avgas through a felt hat before refueling wasn't much fun either.
Gordon left TCA but eventually moved on to Montreal, Moncton, Sydney, Tampa, Mexico and the Caribbean, returning to Montreal in 1955 - 1982 to spend his life as a crew chief, foreman and Maintenance Control Manager."
I was at Pennfield in 1948. At that time the TCA staff consisted of 12, three passenger agents including the agent -in-charge, three radio operators, three ramp/load agents, 2 mechanics and the station manger. Their names are as follows:
Jim MacBurnie, radio operator;
Bill Scott, radio operator;
Frank Cottingham, radio operator;
Art Jones, Ramp/load agent;
Oscar Cormier, Ramp/load agent;
Eddie Lirette, Ramp/load agent;
Freddie Robinson, Agent-in-charge;
Wendell Cook, Passenger agent;
Reg. Walker, Passenger agent;
Shorty Neil, Mechanic;
Dave Rose, Mechanic.
Shorty was senior to Dave and considered as mechanic-in-charge.
Bill Hegan, Station Manager. Most of the staff lived in St. George and the TCA panel truck was used as our means of transportation to and from the airport. Some of the married personnel such as Bill Hegan and Reg Walker lived in renovated former air force huts located on the base. Eventually single people like myself without a car had to move to the airport area because the company discontinued allowing us to use the panel truck for transportation.
Pennfield was a uncontrolled airport and the TCA radio operator was required to go remote to a position in the former air force tower, to monitor our landings, checking for wheels down and providing current wind information to the landing flight. The operator would also provide information with respect to ceiling, sky condition, visibility etc. as deemed necessary. In those days navigation aids at YYP were limited to a low frequency range.
Because of the airport location, summer evening fog drifting in from the Fundy was frequently a problem. The company used YYS (Blissville) as an alternate for YYP. I can assure you no one looked forward to driving to YYS in the panel truck to work a flight.
A chap by the name of McDevitt had the mail contract and he also had the TCA passenger ground service contract. He provided service from the Admiral Beatty, Saint John to the airport for all our flights.
By the way, shift coverage at the airport was from around 7am to 2100 hours daily. YYP was used as a relay for YQI which did not have teletype service.
YQI would radio YYP, point to point radio, with requests for passenger reservations on TCA flights. The YYP radio operator would transmit these requests on the teletype to AC Moncton. Confirm or unable messages were sent by AC to YYP for radio transmission to YQI.
We used HF, a 14C transmitter for radio communications with YQI. VHF was installed at YYP and we used it for in range contact with our flights.
Yarmouth did not have a reservations office so all reservation
messages were handled this way.
The Radio Range office was next door to the TCA radio office. The
federal government built three two storey houses at Pennfield for its radio operators. When our Company transportation to and from St. George was no longer available, I moved to Pennfield and had room and board with George Davidson a DOT radio operator at YYP.
We have this photo of the ramp congestion at the Pennfield mini Hub in 1950.
I started my career with TCA in Pennfield as a Station Attendant in 1951 and moved with the airline to Saint John. The Air Force H-Huts barracks were converted to apartments for Use of the staff.
Myron "Ziggy" Zeggerchuk, Radio Operator was one of the staff by that time.
These were the days when it was fun working even though it was hard work. I can still remember Mechanic Ernie Crawley starting a DC 3 with a long rope over the propeller a definite no no!
Retired Capt. Don Mackay comments,
Wow, some of the names from Pennfield brought back memories. I worked with most of them @ YSJ. I worked as a ramp rat while going to high school, summers, Christmas etc. so knew Bill Hegan, YSJ Stn Manager, Ziggy & Bill Scott & Bob Anderson I knew very well.
I do believe Jim McMillan & Ernie Crawley both mechanics were also @ Pennfield prior to moving to YSJ. Jim is long gone . I had coffee with Ernie about 3 years ago.
In June 1951, Hugh McElliott who was District Sales Manager was
reporting over 1000 passengers a month through Pennfield, these figures are a bit deceiving as it included through passengers.
Ten DC3 flights a day operated through Pennfield by that time.
By December 31 1951 TCA moved its staff from Pennfield over to the new airport In Saint John.
Thanks to Jim McQueen and the NB Pionair Group/National Pionairs.
And Netletter for posting my request for information about Pennfield
All pictures Courtesy of Chris Larsen-Pennfield Ridge Historical Society.
1950 timetable showing flights into Pennfield/Saint John.