MARITIME AVIATION/SHEARWATER & OTHER NAVAL OR AVIATION NEWS
The future of Shearwater is still undetermined, though it seems more and more
likely that most of the site will be sold to developers. The main runway has
been closed, with large letter X’s painted on it to show that it is closed.
[The marks have been removed temporarily for the air show, and the runway will
be opened temporarily for the show.] The remaining runway, 10-28, is still in
use for helicopters and the flying club; however, the frequent crosswinds cause
some problems for student pilots or inexperienced ones. Many upset naval
aviators have written articles or letters to the editors of the Halifax papers,
and even to our national papers. Many have also contacted their local MPs and
other legislators. Everything that can be done by the local naval aviation
community there is being done. Nevertheless, closure seems to be a fait
accompli. Perhaps next year the situation will be resolved. Perhaps not.
In an article in the CF newspaper Maple Leaf, ‘Onward and Upward; the
modernization of Canada’s Air force, Part One’, Colonel DAVE BURT, Director
of Air Requirements in NDHQ, commented that the CF had lived with ‘less than
the latest’ equipment for many years, but that equipment had always been safe
to use. Eventually some of the equipment, including the CH 113 Labrador and CH
124 Sea King will be completely replaced, whereas other aircraft, notably the CF
18 Hornet and CC-130 Hercules, can still be modernized and give many years of
service, possibly as late as 2017 or even 2020. He said that the CP 140 Aurora
will adopt the role of Strategic Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance,
with new equipment and in particular new radar. A separate article discussed the
modernization of Command and Control, surveillance, ground-based radar, and air
traffic control, all of which are due for upgrades.
The former HMCS NIPIGON was deliberately sunk off Rimouski, Quebec, where it
will be an artificial reef. Another former RCN ship, HMCS CAPE BRETON, has seen
the same fate near Nanaimo, BC. HMCS GATINEAU may follow them soon. TERRA NOVA,
PROVIDER, and four submarines are also awaiting sale. Off San Diego, California,
the former HMCS FRASER was being righted by USN divers. The private company that
installed her as an artificial reef lost control of her as she sank unexpectedly
and finished on her side. Righting her will give better access to the divers.
The new submarines bought from the Royal Navy have experienced many problems,
so both navies are working together to solve them. Some of the problems are due
to the installation of new Canadian gear. Others are due to leaks in some
valves. One boat had a significant dent in her hull. The problems are neither
serious nor unexpected, ‘experts’ claim. The submarines had served just
three years with the RN.
The venerable and much-maligned Sea King has received kudos for its
performance in the Persian Gulf. HMCS HALIFAX’s aircraft flew over 550 hours
during her deployment, which was declared to be a record.
The pilot of a Sea King was due to be released from the CF last year after he
suffered eye damage, allegedly caused by a laser beam from a Russian vessel in
the Straits of Juan de Fuca. A USN officer in the same plane suffered a similar
injury. Since the incident, both officers have attempted to get compensation for
what they term disabilities: Captain Pat Barnes from DND, and LCdr Jack Daly USN
by suing the owners of the vessel.
The Royal Canadian Legion is supporting an initiative to build statues
representing Canada’s military past on the Plaza Bridge, which spans the
Rideau Canal in Ottawa. One of the statues is expected to be of Robert Hampton
Grey. [From the FAA Aircrew of Canada’s newsletter.]
Many of the radio communications functions of CF Stations Mill Cove and
Newport Corners are now being provided from a facility in HMCS STADACONA. The
new centre is more secure, with more modern equipment.
The last T-33 ‘T-Bird’ in the CF was retired from service from CFB
Greenwood in March 2002.. Some of the aircraft may end up in aviation museums
across Canada, possibly including the SAM.: The aircraft now in the museum is
The ‘Salty Dips’ project of the NOAC Ottawa Branch, which published eight
books in a series containing anecdotes about the navy, has been placed in
abeyance until more volunteers can be found to continue the project. The
material they have on hand will be held in safekeeping for the foreseeable
Research for volume 3 of the official naval history series is underway, with
‘The RCN and Unification’ the likely title. The Chief of the Naval History
Team in NDHQ is Michael Whitby, who solicits, ‘what you remember about the
Navy and unification at the time. Later views are not so important as what can
be remembered from the period 1963 to 1968.’
Anyone who wishes to assist can contact Bob Caldwell in Ottawa at
613.730.2144 , or by e-mail at email@example.com.
He will provide you with a questionnaire that will serve as a start toward
refining comments on the subject, and may contact you later for an interview.
The CF Fire Academy [CFFA] at CFB Borden now teaches both military and
civilian courses, including crash rescue for regional airports that find it
difficult to train their own firefighters.
The CFFA has a mock-up that includes three aircraft, a five-car train, and
many other vehicles. The courses are certified by the International Fire
Services Accreditation Congress. [Source - Maple Leaf.]
A CF nurse, Captain Helen Bouchard, won the Canadian Women’s Masters
title in the National Bodybuilding Championships. She is the Health Promotion
Officer in CFB Edmonton, counselling soldier who want to lose weight.[Source -
Scott Taylor, author of several books and articles on the current armed
forces, writes a weekly column in both of Halifax’s major newspapers, and
several other Canadian papers. Although his content may not be liked by every
one, he occasionally raises some interesting points that have upset more than
one reader. Several readers have written rebuttals that were sharp, angry, and
often telling. Notwithstanding our personal feelings about Taylor, freedom of
the press is, after all, entrenched in Canadian society. Remember Joseph Howe
and William Lyon MacKenzie. As for any written word [including mine] his
articles should be should be judged on their facts and their logic.
CNAG REUNION 2001 - EDMONTON
The reunion in Edmonton went well, despite the fact that it was held soon
after the attack on World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September. About
400 people came to the various events, indicating that they still had confidence
in air travel. The guest speaker at the Saturday night dinner dance was George
Arndt, who teaches at Vimy Ridge Academy, a Charter School in Edmonton. The
former high school building that they share had become too large for an area
that is now populated by many ‘empty nesters.’ They now share the building
with another school for girls aged 7 to 12 years that specializes in ballet
dancing. The combined school facility has been given the nickname ‘tutus to
tanks’. Both faculties seemed to be flourishing. Sid Snelling emceed the
proceedings. Al Moore was elected as CNAGer of the year for his
dedication to CNAG’s objectives, and in recognition of his work with SAM’s
‘Wall of Honour’ project, which has raided over $90,000 for SAM. Great Work,
Despite all the travel problems caused by the WTC incident, the reunion was a
great success. The organizers should be congratulated.
SHEARWATER AVIATION MUSEUM AND FOUNDATION
Given the uncertain future of Shearwater, the museum truly needs your
support. It is now a popular tourist attraction, and is not threatened by the
possible base closure; but it does have a significant debt to pay from the
recent construction. The Foundation, which pursues fund raising and additions to
the museums collections, has about 900 members. But another 900 former naval
airmen [and women] are not members. Since the target population is shrinking
every year, it is important to make every former Shearwater-ite aware of the
needs of the museum. It would be great, too, if many who served there in the
RCAF or CF would join the Foundation.
The museum has a new web site at:
TORONTO AEROSPACE MUSEUM /DOWNSVIEW
The museum is just starting to flourish, and even getting into movies, with a
sci-fi film being shot there in April and May 2002. Recently the Toronto Sun
toured the museum and gave it a good report. The Sun also asked that anyone with
information on the Avenger that crashed into Lake Erie in 1957 send that
information to the Museum. Fred Rolis among a group looking to salvage
and document the crash. Base Downsview is now Parc Downsview Park, an Urban
National Park that will host the World Youth Rally in July 2002. There could be
as many as two MILLION people in the park for a Mass to be celebrated by the
Pope -- if his health allows him to come. Some of the PMQs are still in use, but
there is a plan to place a new civilian hospital in the MQ area. The need for
such a facility is being disputed by local residents.
NATO FLYING TRAINING IN CANADA [NFTC] PROGRAMME.
Hungary has joined Great Britain, Denmark, Singapore, Italy and Canada in the
new NATO Flying Training Programme [NFTC]. CFB Moose Jaw conducts basic flight
training, and CFB Cold Lake conducts tactical fighter lead-in training;
helicopter training is done in Southport, Manitoba, the former CFB Portage la
Prairie. The fixed wing aircraft used for training are the CT 156 Harvard II
turboprops, and the CT-155 Hawk jets [BAE Systems Hawk 115.] Some of the
participating air forces will be providing instructors for the training. The
Bombardier Company is involved in the NFTC programme.
SEA KING REPLACEMENT. The federal government considers that the
replacement programme is progressing normally, though not all former naval
officers agree. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald and Mail-Star report that DND has
told would-be suppliers of the new helicopters that no aircraft will be needed
for the Tribal Class destroyers or the naval supply ships. Only the 12
Halifax-class frigates will carry them.
FLEET AIR ARM.. The Fleet Air Arm Aircrew Association of
Canada has two meetings a year in Toronto, one in the spring, one in the autumn.
At the spring 2001 meeting, held 26 May, about one third of those in attendance
had served in the RCN or the CF, including Deborah and myself, Robbie Hughes,
Ted Davis, Doug Buchanan, Terry Goddard, and Joe McBrien. At least two
widows, Joan Schroeder and Marion Cogden, also attended. No newsletter
for last November’s meeting was issued, due to editor Ken West’s health
problems. Ken has had to resign his position because of ill health.
.The UK Fleet Air Arm Officers’ Association’s newsletter now appears on
their web site at:
Their News Sheet is at:
819 squadron, where some of us trained while the squadron was in Northern
Ireland, decommissioned last November.
CONGRATULATIONS - to Bud and Millie Maclean on their Golden
Terminology Corner - Aviation terms are from ‘Words on the Wing’ by
Tom Langeste. Naval terms are from ‘Origins of Sea Terms’ by John G. Rogers.
‘Fid’ - an elongated conical hardwood tool for rope working. [I also
remember it as a nickname for a young, ingenuous sailor.]
‘Fiddler’s Green’ - is the old name for the seaman’s heaven, where
the grass is green, fiddlers play, wine flows, and ‘mates not permitted.’
‘Flyco’ - was the codeword and nickname for the Flying Control Officer
aboard commonwealth aircraft carriers. The USN equivalent is ‘air boss.’
[Many of us think of Flyco as the place where the flying control officer was
‘Fish head’ - originally an FAA term when Naval Airmen of the RN [and
later the RCN] used the name to refer to members of the seamen’s branch. Later
it was picked up by air forces and used as a pejorative term toward any one in
FUBAR - the third and highest degree of a screw up, ie. ‘... Beyond All
Recovery’. The other two, starting at the lowest degree, are SNAFU
[Situation normal ...] and TARFU, [Things are really ....].
Questions for 2002.
What well-known naval aviator residing in Nova Scotia flew an aircraft
with the exotic name, ‘Stits Flutterbug Playmate?’
What former naval aviator, better known as a member of the Air Force, was
a writer of adventure novels set mainly in Canada?
What former naval aviator commanded a CF radar station? Which station?
What naval aviator won a large prize [over $50,.000] from the Irish
What Canadian in the Royal Naval Air Service had ‘at least 34 confirmed
Trek Question. In which of the Star Trek series was a famous building in
downtown Toronto shown?
Special thanks to Kay Collacutt, for giving me lots of help with
current information from SAM, SAMF, the air show, and other local organizations;
and for her boundless support of naval aviation.
Thanks to the Venture Association and the Fleet Air Arm Associations of
Canada and the UK for providing me with a significant amount of material.
Thanks also to Tom Copeland, Deborah Davis, and Bill Johnson for their
help with the newsletter.
To all of you I send my best wishes and thanks for your support. May the next
year be a happy, healthy, and prosperous one. Live long and prosper.