As float flying season approaches in the boreal forests of Canada, Norseman CF-BSB is now for sale priced at $175,000 Canadian dollars. This Mk V model, serial N29-15 was featured in a post from March 2016. For details go to barnstormers.com and call Tom Phinney at 204-801-5740.
In the ‘Norseman Capital of the World’ a part of the community’s identity and heritage has sat peacefully on a pedestal for nearly 26 years. CF-DRD, a Mk VI Norseman was officially reincarnated on July 25, 1992 at the inaugural festival as a permanent display dedicated by Robert H. Noorduyn, son of the Norseman designer.
Last July a seemingly strange timing of almost exactly 25 years later saw a violent hailstorm hit serial 831 that punctured all over the fabric skin of the airframe leaving internal structures exposed to damaging moisture. Records show the last time DRD actually flew was in 1981, but even as a static monument the integrity of the bush plane must be re-established for safety and longevity.
The Municipality of Red Lake insurance amount is significantly less than initial repair cost estimates and the Save Our DRD Norseman Campaign has started fundraising to cover the balance. The goal is to restore the aircraft properly so it can remain a proud community icon for the next 25 years and by then it will be on approach for its 100th birthday!
See Save Our DRD on this website for more fundraising details and for more history of DRD, click below or paste the following link into your web browser:
If any aviation museum in the world can claim a theme related to the Norseman the title goes to the British Columbia Aviation Museum at the southeast part of Victoria International Airport – CYYJ.
For starters the museum restored and flew their own Norseman after completion in August of 2003. Flight insurance costs now keep the aircraft on static display although it could fly again one day. Delivered to the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in June 1944, serial 538 designated as a UC-64A used major components in the restoration process from another Mk VI, serial 131 and thus has its current Canadian civil registration CF-DRE.
DRE is also featured in the museum’s logo and a huge example adorns the building as visitors access the site via Norseman Rd! It is painted in Royal Canadian Air Force colours of 2480/AG-R, a Mk IV that was stationed at Patricia Bay (now CYYJ) during the later part of World War II.
The official newsletter of the museum is called The Norseman News and a significant collection of aviation art can be viewed in the Norseman Room. If you are travelling through CYYJ and have a few hours, take a stroll along the paved airport perimeter pathway and check out this museum that made the Norseman a centrepiece!
The apparent re-emergence of a Norseman presence in the Province of Quebec continues.
CF-JEC, a Mk VI, serial 469 has been purchased by Olivier Lemieux for his company Services GFE Inc. The aircraft will be based at La Motte in the Abitibi area to support mining exploration. As the Norseman bush plane serial 1 (CF-AYO) was designed, built and first flown on floats at Montreal, Quebec it is symbolic to have one flying again based in the province after some 25 years of absence. Additionally, this role is a return to roots considering Norseman for hire today are almost exclusively used for fishing and hunting resort tourism, a use almost unheard of in the 1930’s.
Northland Aircraft Service at Ignace, Ontario is getting JEC ready for service again and around next August the floatplane should be splashing down at its new home base!
For serious aircraft collectors here are four for sale Norseman in fabulous condition. Get your bids in!
Mk V, Serial N29-17, CF-BSC at $399,000 USD or best offer and;
Mk VI, Serial 797, CF-GJN at $199,000 USD or best offer. Got to eBay.com for details.
Mk VI, Serial 224, N164UC can now be found at platinumfighters.com listed for $425,000 USD.
You could put them back to work, but the 400K price range is showroom condition for a Norseman. Keep them Flying!
For the 2018 Norseman Festival we could see a couple shiny, restored Norseman – one in the air and the other “flying” low on its perch.
CF-ZMX, Serial 669 is in Park Rapids, Minnesota this winter undergoing a complete recovering of fabric and the plan is to keep the green and yellow colours. This aircraft led the pack at last years bush plane flyby and hopefully it will be ready to do the same come next July.
As for Red Lake’s CF-DRD work continues on plans that will likely require a removal from the pedestal in Norseman Heritage Park and more permanent repairs that will enable this important piece of history to survive for many additional years. Again, hopefully this will be accomplished for the 2018 celebrations.
Chimo Air’s two Norseman, CF-JIN and CF-KAO are still facing uncertain headwinds. The company itself appears to be undergoing a transition and sadly the Norseman may not be a part of the future. Thus, if Howey bay loses these two classic bush planes there is the distinct possibility that the number of Norseman in the flyby could decrease again. For perspective, if we could time travel to 1968 and tell bush pilots of the day these airplanes will be in service 50 years from now, do you think any of them would have agreed with you?! Remember, this was the space age and the race to put a human on the moon was on!
Last September I spent a day in Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada with Wings Over Kississing at their Channing floatplane base. Owner, Curt Enns is a huge Norseman fan and his company is presently associated with five Norseman, although only two are used on floats during the northern summers. C-FENB, serial 324 is used primarily on contract with Big Sand Lake Lodge approximately 350 kilometres northeast of Flin Flon/Channing. Curt’s dad, Ike flies C-GRZI at his Grass River Lodge for day fishing flyouts. This is where the Norseman still shines economically, on shorter trips and payloads that keep hard wear to a minimum.
Finally, under cover in Steinbach, Manitoba is Mk VI CF-BHU, serial 506. Formerly used at Grass River Lodge by Ike, it went for refurbishment, was stored instead and could be made operational again if needed. This Norseman is not to be confused with Mk V, serial N29-8 which was also registered as CF-BHU until destroyed in a crash at Sachigo Lake, Ontario in June of 1974.
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.
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.
NOVEMBER 8th UPDATE – As work starts on the restoration process, Mike Alain from the museum has passed on information that a data plate under the pilots floor has serial number 435 and that they have also found 435 stamped on the airframe! Records show serial 435 crashed in France, May 1945 so it seems serial 427 and 435 have a crossed history and highlights how some Norseman are actually combinations taking parts from two or maybe more airframes.
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!
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