_| TCA |_ B E T W E E N y O U R S E L V E S
_|\| AIR |/|_ N E T L E T T E R
> CANADA <
>_./|\._< for Air Canada retirees
number 259 date Apr 10th, 1998 1st Published in October 1995
. We welcome the following 'cons' -
Gus MacLean who left Air Canada in 1959 as Station Manager, Gander,
Norman and Marg Teal living in La Have, NS. Retired from Maintenance
in Halifax. Norman and Marg can be contacted via
Bob Affleck retired District Manager Houston, living there as well,
" ' "
. WHERE ARE THERY NOW?
" ' "
. Here's yet another story from Bill Norberg -
Not everyone may be familiar with the role TCA played in air services
across the North Atlantic during the war years and afterwards until the
arrival of the North Star M1 aircraft in late 1947/48. There were two
aspects of their involvement:-
1.The Canadian Government Trans-Atlantic Air Services utilizing
converted Lancaster Bombers.
2.Maintenance of Liberator B-24 Bombers used by BOAC to operate the
Return Ferry Service which returned Canadian pilots to Canada after
delivering aircraft to the UK.
The experience gained during operation of the Canadian Government
Trans-Atlantic Air Service (CGTAAS) formed the groundwork for our trans
Atlantic air service to England after the war was over. This service used
Lancaster Bombers built by Victory Aircraft in Toronto and converted to
passenger operations. Their role was to carry mail and V.I.P. passengers
from Canada to the UK.
The nose and tail gun turrets were removed from the aircraft and replaced
by streamlined nose and tail sections to reduce drag. They also gave the
rather clumsy looking aircraft a less threatening appearance.
Two rows of 5 seats were placed in the cabin and extra fuel tanks installed
in the bomb bay areas.
The aircraft were powered by 4 Rolls Royce Merlin liquid cooled engines
with all that implies. Aircraft # 102 had 4 TML power plants installed in
place of the regular military versions of the Merlin. These were the type
of power plants being planned for eventual use on the North Star aircraft
to be built at Canadair. This aircraft was used as a form of flying test
bed for these power plants in order to gain some experience. These power
plants differed from the normal Merlin by having circular nose cowls and
engine cowlings to house the circular radiator system.
This aircraft was to crash after takeoff one day in Dorval landing on a
field in Strathmore. George Lothian was flying it and the crew as well as
several mechanics on board were able to walk away through the cockpit area
which split upon landing. No one was injured which was a miracle.
The Lancs had an outstanding record as a heavy bomber with the RAF and RCAF
but it was no winner as a commercial transport. The military Lanc was lucky
to have an average life of 250 flying hours while a Lanc in commercial
service was expected to fly that much time in a month....and on time!
The Merlin engine was fraught with problems in those early days and keeping
it operating with any level of reliability was a great challenge.
I personally never liked the aircraft even though I recognized its military
accomplishments. There was never a quiet moment it seemed.I still thrill to
the unique drone of the Merlin engines in flight. I was privileged to see
and hear one when it visited the Western Canada Aviation Museum a few years
ago. I have a video I made of it's approach and landing at Winnipeg that
The propellers on the aircraft were of British design and had long slender
blades known as the "Toothpick blade". The Merlin engine was known for its
surging problems. When this surging was combined with the toothpick blades
it had the effect of flexing the tip of the blades in flight as surging
On one flight one of these blades suffered a fatigue failure of the metal
in the tip portion of one of these blades. The tip hit the front part of
the plexiglass astrodome on the top of the cockpit area and sheared off the
front portion.. This acted as a scoop and caused a rush of air into the
flight deck area. One of the flight crew I am told managed to stuff a great
coat into the gap to stop the flow of air. As a result of this problem the
propellers were changed to a Hamilton Standard propeller of a paddle
design which was shorter and wider. This solved the problem.
I remember one flight Ron Baker was taking overseas that experienced an
engine failure around Quebec City. He returned to Dorval and enroute a
second engine failed. A third engine was also giving some trouble by the
time he set down at Dorval. I believe engine fuel hoses were the cause.
I had an interesting test flight in lanc # 104 one day that I will never
forget. I was on the flight to do some testing on the G.E., electric
autopilot that was installed on the aircraft. I believe it was there to do
some research for the autopilots to be eventually selected for the North
Stars. Apart from the two pilots Ernie Hand and I were the only others on
Ron Baker was flying the aircraft and after we reached the test altitude
Ron said we were losing hydraulic pressure. There was a large hydraulic
leak on # 3 engine and we could see the fluid streaming out the rear of the
Our concern was about being able to lower and lock the landing gear. After
a discussion with Ron we developed a plan. We had a case of 1 quart cans of
hydraulic fluid on board and the hydraulic tank was accessible in the
As soon as Ron was on final approach Ernie and I would pour as much fluid
as we could into the tank, Ron would then give us a hand signal as soon as
he was beginning his landing flare. We then ran back and lay behind the
main spar which traversed the main cabin just behind the flight compartment.
This would protect us in the event the gear collapsed.
Ron landed the aircraft so smoothly we could hardly feel the touchdown.
He was unable to brake the aircraft due to the rearward retracting mode of
the landing gear. If the gear was not locked and he braked the gear could
We coasted to a gentle stop and Ernie and I gingerly got out of the
aircraft with the Jury struts which we placed in position in the landing
gear to lock it in place. We were then able to taxi back to the hangar.
. Doug Maclaren sent us this note -
I note that you keep putting excerpts from the "Ocean Bridge" in your
newsletter. My brother Bill Maclaren, who worked for Imperial Airways
/BOAC/British Airways, for 41 years, was the Paymaster for the pilots,
when he worked at Dorval, during the war. He had been given a copy by the
son of a pilot named Geo. Mullet who had been a friend from that era.
" ' "
. That's it for this time, please we need your input, send
comments and email addresses of any others who may be
interested to Vesta with a copy to Terry.
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