Pionair George Brien is preparing an article on Pennfield Ridge Airport near Saint John. He is looking for anyone who has some information or stories about the site and any of our members that may have had an association of sorts with that airport in the "Ol' days".
Mike Leduc sends this after reading NetLetter nr 1050 -
It was a real pleasure to see the photograph of the gang at Station & Cargo Services circa 1969. I worked in that department for eight years and remember the gang very well.
At the time of the photograph, I was a young Programmer in the Cargo Service Section. That time was just before the great re-organization of 1970 that saw many changes throughout the company.
Thanks for the memories.
Jim McKeachie sends us this information -
The two-part NetLetter article about Paul Gilmore and Bill Snyder ditching in the frigid Greenland fjord while participating in the July 1971 air race from London to Victoria (actually from RAF Abingdon near Oxford) really rang a bell with me.
I had taken holidays from my job at the PR Dept. of CP Air at Vancouver to join the CBC-TV crew which had been assigned to cover the air race as the writer/researcher.
The race was sponsored by the Canadian government as its contribution to the centenary of B.C.'s joining confederation.
While flying in an Air Canada combi flown by Capt. Jack Muir, we intercepted the news that one of the race aircraft was down in a fjord in Greenland. Not knowing whether the two men had been rescued, we and the race officials kept quiet, since the wife of one
of the downed crew (I think it was Paul Gilmore) was passenger on our AC flight.
As the NetLetter reported, both men were rescued.
As part of the CBC documentary production, I was sent to Buttonville Airport near Toronto a month or so after the race.
I did an on-camera interview with Paul Gilmore, standing by an aircraft, with a distress radio beacon of the type that had been deployed and directed rescue aircraft to the downed plane.
It certainly added realism to the story--one of several intriguing events and incidents which marked the historic air race, retained in history as a one-hour CBC documentary.
Jim McKeachie, West Vancouver (retired PR Director, CP Air)
We received an article from Bill Marr, which we have edited and hope you enjoy reading this -
Regarding your invitation "to relive our history", in your last Newsletter, I submit the following article on the DC-3.
Bill Marr Langley, B.C.
" The Spirit of Skeena "
(A story of a DC-3)
The DC-3, CF-PWH "The Spirit of Skeena" is one of the oldest surviving DC-3 in Canada, and on static display that is open to the public to view within.
It is owned by the Museum of Flight and is located at the municipal airport in Langley B.C. No aircraft can claim to have played a greater part in the development of modern air transport than the incomparable Douglas DC-3, and no other aircraft can ever replace the respect and esteem of those of us who flew these aircraft.
This DC-3, was manufactured on February 24th 1940, and is a true DC-3 and not a C-47 conversion, which was the military adaptation. It first flew as American Airlines "Flagship Texas" but it was almost immediately commandeered by the USAAF. The C-47 Dakotas coming off wartime production lines made this early DC-3, with a light floor and the small starboard side passenger door, an oddity in their transport fleet. As a result it was returned to civil registry and sold to Trans Alaska Airlines.
Later it was owned successively by Queen Charlotte Airlines, Pacific Western Airlines, Great Northern Airways and finally Trans Provincial Airlines. Her flying career ended in 1972 when she was stripped of spare parts and abandoned as a derelict at Terrace B.C. The he aircraft was later purchased from a scrap man by a member of "Friends of the DC-3 -Canada" and moved to the then Transportation Museum in Cloverdale. Upon the closure of that facility, the Township of Langley invited the Museum to relocate the aircraft at the Langley Airport.
Canada purchased 570 Dakota aircraft for the wartime RCAF. Many DC-3s entered commercial aviation at the end of the war, when these military DC-3s were released for sale.
Almost 200 RCAF repatriated aircraft were placed in Canadian civil registry.
Trans-Canada Air Lines acquired their first three from the USAAF in the fall of 1945.
A total of thirty ex military DC-3s (C47s), were eventually purchased by Trans-Canada Air Lines with the last aircraft retiring in 1963, their registrations were alphabetically CF-TDJ to CF-TET; interestingly in its twenty-eight year history with the airline, no Trans-Canada Air Lines DC-3 was ever written-off as the result of a crash or accident.
Canadian Pacific Airlines operated seventeen DC-3s, having received these aircraft between 1945 and 1947, with most of their fleet being sold-off by 1959. One aircraft, CF-CRX flew on alone in Canadian Pacific Airline's colors, until 1974, on lease to Harrison Airways.
This was the last of the DC-3s to fly with TCA or CP AIR, and also the last of the piston engine powered aircraft in Canadian Pacific Airlines service.
Truly the end of an era!
The museum's DC-3, "Spirit of Skeena", was named, owned and
operated by our "home grown" B.C. airline, Queen Charlotte Airlines; Jim Spillsbury's "Accidental Airline!". In June of 1953, at which time this airline was purchased by Pacific Western Airlines, Queen Charlotte was operating a fleet containing three DC-3s, this one and two C-47 conversions. This aircraft being a true DC-3 was given preference by Pacific Western Airlines and became their first DC-3, reregistered CF-PWH and given a company fin number 301.
In total PWA operated seven DC-3s, two of which were written-off, but CF-PWH, which was not sold until May of 1973, was to survive for another 35 years. She flew on for a few more years but had become too old to be useful, yet not old enough to be of historical significance and so was abandoned at Terrace B.C., stripped of what was of little value and pushed into the bush to quietly rust and disintegrate.
Fortunately this was not to be, she was rescued by a group of friends and brought to the Lower Mainland; a story in itself! This is the DC-3, "The Spirit of Skeena" that is now so proudly displayed by:
The "Museum of Flight" in Langley, B.C..
Drop in sometime and see this wonderful old aircraft.
Captain Bill Marr,-an old Trans-Canada Air Lines DC-3 pilot
(We have information that suggests CF-CRX last flight was for CPA from Abbotsford to Vancouver July 4th 1974 - eds).
In a subsequent email, Bill tells us - I. There is one ex CPAL aircraft, CF CZZ that was purchased by PWA that may have been still flying at that time, although I contacted Don Watson and to the best of his recall it was gone by '74.
Interestingly the last two issues of Canadian Aviation magazine had articles by Robert S. Grant, where-in he mentions his DC-3, CF-FTR that is still working!
Amazing old birds! All the best in "09.