Red Lake Hailstorm

A little over a week after the 2017 Norseman festival the Red Lake townsite and Howey bay was hit by a strong hailstorm that left significant damage in its wake.  Flypast Norseman CF-ZMX and CF-KAO along with Chimo Air’s other Norseman CF-JIN were punctured at the docks as the hailstones pummelled them.  The storm was localized and arrived suddenly, leaving everyone surprised.  DRD, on its pedestal nearby, also was damaged and repairs will likely necessitate it being removed from the pedestal at considerable time, expense and labour.

Initial reports indicate ZMX, having received the least damage, is now being fixed.  The futures for KAO and JIN are less certain and there is a possibility that one or both may have reached the end of their flying days.  From a purely business standpoint, the cost of repairs versus future useful income needs to be analyzed and make economic sense.  As more information becomes available the blog will be updated as to their status.

Numerous holes and tears in the fabric of CF-KAO's left wing.

Numerous holes and tears in the fabric of CF-KAO’s left wing.

 

 

MAM Norseman Project

 

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In an exciting development the Montreal Aviation Museum (MAM) acquired Norseman C-FGYY last summer from Kuby’s Aircraft of Kenora, Ontario.  Kuby’s salvage yard was cleaned out for future land use and a trailer load of wings, skis, the fuselage and plenty of parts went east to the museum located on the Macdonald Campus of McGill University in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue (Montreal), Quebec.

Even more interesting are the plans by MAM to restore this Mark VI, serial 427 to static display depicted as CF-AYO, the first Norseman from 1935.  The remains of CF-AYO are at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario (see 80 YEARS! from February 2016).  To showcase a reproduction of AYO is a natural idea considering its birthplace and that of almost every Norseman was only about 20 kilometres northeast in Cartierville at the Noorduyn production plant.

Serial 427 was delivered to the USAAF as 43-35353 in April of 1944 and spent the majority of its airborne years with various Canadian commercial operators.  On June 25, 1985 during a take off in high winds the floats buckled on Bishop Lake, Ontario and the airplane overturned.  Years of open storage has deteriorated the fuselage and parts significantly and the project will be a major effort of sweat equity, passion and dedication.  Using GYY for a reincarnation of CF-AYO will be a momentous occasion and welcome addition to the aviation history of Quebec and Canada.

GYY arriving at the MAM

GYY arriving at the MAM

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Festival Flypast 2017

This years flypast was a local affair with Red Lake’s Chimo Air providing five aircraft, Viking Outposts and Green’s Trout Lake Lodge each providing one for a total of seven bush planes flying over Howey bay.

Here was the line-up;

Green’s Norseman CF-ZMX leading the way,

followed by Chimo Air Norseman CF-KAO

Chimo Air Cessna 180 CF-SMS

Viking Outposts’ De Havilland DHC-2 piston Beaver C-GGMB

Then a trio of Chimo Air De Havilland DHC-3 Otters;

R-1340 powered C-GYYS and turbine Otters, C-GRRJ and C-FODQ

The 25th anniversary Norseman festival was a great success in many ways, although the committee worked hard to attract more Norseman to the flypast, there is a slow realization that even the most Canadian of Canadian bush planes (DHC-2 lovers relax!) is fading from the scene. Most of the last generation that were expert at woodwork, fabric and radial engines are now gone and new pilots today often skip the bush and are more attuned to iPads, flight management systems and standard operating procedures.

As noted in the last blog, commercial Norseman flying is almost rare now, but the type will continue to fly with private enthusiasts, museums and associations.  For the foreseeable future it should still be possible to hear, feel and ride in a Norseman, you just may have to travel farther to do so!

FQX Back in Canada

“Buffalo Joe” McBryan recently purchased Norseman serial number 625, a Mark VI and moved it to his maintenance/storage facility in Red Deer, Alberta.  This aircraft last flew from Pickle Lake, Ontario about 17 years ago and was in Minnesota for many years as a potential restoration project.

Joe’s plan for FQX is unclear, but over the years he has collected many Norseman airframes and has a ready source of spares to keep his personal Norseman, CF-SAN flying.  Certain parts, like teleflex flap cables, propeller blades and hubs are getting hard to find and expensive.  Also, the future of avgas in the present form is questionable with lead free alternatives likely to be mandated.  As more turbines come online burning jet fuel, it’s evident the commercial radial piston era is flying into the sunset.

N164UC, Serial 224 For Sale

Referencing a July 2016 post titled Metal Makeover, the present owner of N164UC (formerly CF-UUD) has been located and he wants to find a good, new home for this unique Norseman.  It has an oversized cargo door, metal skinned fuselage and wheel skis.  Lovingly maintained, it just had $18,000 US invested in the interior overhaul plus about $24,000 in other work.

A Mark VI model (UC-64A) delivered to the USAAF in 1943, look for this showpiece at Oshkosh 2017.  If you or someone you know are interested in this airplane located in Minnesota contact Tony Phillippi at his business phone number,       651-406-4900.  More information at www.tpaero.com/

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Only Norseman with extra large door.

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NORDUYN now

No that is not a typo, Norduyn the company still exists today in Montreal, Quebec near where the Norseman was assembled at Cartierville airport.  Check out their website to see what aerospace products they make and be sure to click on company, then history.  www.norduyn.com

Here is a brief chronological overview of companies involved with the Norseman;

1933 – Robert B. C. Noorduyn founded Noorduyn Aircraft Limited.

1938 – Name change to Noorduyn Aviation Limited.

1946 – Canadian Car & Foundry Co. Limited acquires rights for manufacturing and sales of Norseman aircraft.

1953 – Norseman goes full circle back to designer Bob Noorduyn and a new company name, Noorduyn Norseman Aircraft Limited.  Today this company is known as NORDUYN and has no connection to the airplane other than in a historical sense.

1982 – Norseman rights sold to Norco Associates.  By this time the company had moved on from the Norseman and was more involved with the areas of business they continue with in 2017. Unfortunately, Norco only lasted a couple of years then folded.

Nobody in the Norseman community seems to know exactly who owns the type certificate or production rights today. Perhaps it is simply in the public domain and the chances of a new build Mark V Norseman are slim to none anyway. Being of sound basis, it could be the skeleton for a much modified 21st century version, but could you still call it a Norseman?  Is a Basler BT-67 still a Douglas DC-3 to a purist?

 

The Noorduyn Norseman Warbird

With the Norseman being primarily designed as a civilian aircraft in 1935 we may not recall that at the time forces of global conflict were intensifying.  World War II started in September 1939 and it had a profound effect on Norseman production and longevity.

The war ensued for six years until September 1945 and almost every Norseman coming off the production line during this time was delivered directly to the military.  Records indicate the United States Army Air Force was the largest customer taking approximately 82% of the total 902 Norseman built.  The Royal Canadian Air Force accounted for about 8%, thus only 1 in 10 Norseman went brand new to civilian users.  Put another way, 9 out of 10 Norseman ever produced first took to the sky in the time of WW II.

If this surge had not occurred you likely would not be reading this blog for the Norseman would have faded into the past by now.  After the war, with so many now surplus airframes around, new Norseman were competing with cheaper military used versions and production dropped to a trickle in the flooded market.

So while most of us only see this legendary airplane as a floatplane bobbing on a northern lake others see a utility warbird that filled a niche three quarters of a century ago.  In the past few years a definite interest by the world warbird community has emerged and more warbird Norseman could be going back to their future.

 

Serial 139 (Ex. CF-IJG) fuselage airframe.  Yanks Air Museum in California is starting restoration of this Norseman, originally built as USAAF 43-5148 to airworthy status.

Serial 139 (Ex. CF-IJG) fuselage airframe. Yanks Air Museum in California is starting restoration of this Norseman, originally built as USAAF 43-5148 to airworthy status.  Photo – January 2017.

150 and 25 Years!

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CF-DRD coming in for “landing” over Norseman Heritage Park in Red Lake, Ontario.

This July of 2017 is a doubly big month to celebrate Canada and its achievements.  On the first of the month Canada turns 150 since Confederation in 1867.  Then the Norseman festival will commemorate 25 years since inauguration of this summertime family friendly event.

In 1990 some old time pilots, mechanics and Norseman aficionados got together in Red Lake resulting in the seed being planted for the Norseman Heritage Park.  It all came together with the official opening on July 25, 1992 along with the dedication of CF-DRD (serial 831) and the start of the Norseman festival.

A highlight this year at the festival will be a demonstration by the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team.  As the name implies, this four plane group flies the Harvard advanced trainer that was used to train thousands of pilots during World War II. When looking skyward and feeling that ear splitting roar consider the Harvard uses the same direct drive, 600 HP Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine as the Norseman!  Even more intriguing is C-FNDB with the number 039 on the fuselage.  This Harvard was built by Noorduyn Aviation in Montreal in 1941 !!  Yes, Noorduyn manufactured Harvard’s (a licence built version of the North American T-6 Texan) and the Norseman at the same time during WW II in Montreal area plants so this group is a natural fit for the festival.

 

Airworthy Norseman List

For a detailed breakdown of who and where Noorduyn Norseman are presently flying in the world, copy this link or click on About the Norseman and scroll to the bottom of the page.

http://www.norsemanfestival.on.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/AIRWORTHY-NORSEMAN-in-CANADA-as-of-1-July-2016.pdf

Accordingly, with the airworthy population located in the northern hemisphere and it being the middle of winter, it would be a rare sight to see a Norseman flying now.  In warmer months they reappear like the bumble bees they sound like when take-off power is applied with that ungeared prop buzzing!

Watch for this list to be updated just prior to the 2017 festival in July.

Hibernation

Each winter three Norseman routinely spend the wintery off season with Riverside Aircraft Maintenance at Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada.  Privately owned Mark VI’s CF-IGX and CF-ZMX are protected from the elements inside while Mark V CF-BSB is outside.  Here are a few pictures from December 2016.

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In Alaska N78691 is back at Lake Hood.  Photo credit - Lambert de Guarve.

In Alaska N78691 is back at Lake Hood.  Now with rear door ladders.  Photo credit – Lambert de Gavere.