Seasonal Preparations

Mark V Norseman CF-GSR undergoing annual airworthiness inspection prior to another busy flying season with the Canadian Warplane Heritage based at Hamilton airport, Ontario. Being serial N29-47 and originally delivered to Canadian Forest Products in June 1950, CF-GSR is the youngest flying Norseman in the world. Thank you to Ryan Berryman for the photo.

Norseman News Bytes USA

An airplane familiar to Red Lakers from 1993 to 2010, CF-FQI has been stored in Minnesota for a number of years after a complete rebuild. Present owner, Jeff Voigt is in the process of transferring serial 364 to the FAA registry and getting it flying again. Great news for this Norseman that will incorporate the serial number into the new planned registration of N364FQ, thus preserving some of the past Canadian connection too!

 

Another Norseman physically going stateside in the near future is Mark VI CF-GJN. The plan is to move the aircraft by surface transport to southern Minnesota where restoration will begin to take serial 797 back to its USAAF identity as 44-70532. Northland Aircraft at Ignace, Ontario has stored GJN since the last flight some six years ago. Minnesota is becoming the home state for a few Norseman and the trend toward more warbirds continues.

 

Last but not least, a very interesting development is seeing N78691 on wheels in Alaska being used for mail runs! Based in Bethel, the Mark VI shuttles to outlying area communities and is the only commercially operated Norseman outside of Canada. Late next summer when hunting season gets busy this working Norseman with change back to floats.

In 2019 serial 637 still haulin’ the goods at 75 years of age!

 

 

 

Retro DRD

35mm slides collector Dan Wilch recently came across this rare picture of CF-DRD in 1954 when operated by Ontario Central Airlines. The setting appears to be Howey Bay where OCA had a secondary base in Red Lake while the main focus for flight ops was at Kenora, Ontario. OCA used DRD from 1953 to 1958, then from the late 1960’s until 1973. The DRD colours on display in the Norseman Heritage Park since 1992 and going forward are from the second period with OCA when flown from Red Lake. Next time you see DRD, all that is missing are the big OCA letters on the tail. In fact, many Norseman have had this classic yellow and red cheat-line scheme and this is attributed to the major Norseman operator and former airline. For more detail about DRD’s history see http://norsemanfestival.on.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Rebuilding-DRD.pdf

Many photos of DRD and even model aircraft decals exist for the classic colours below. Thank you Dan for doing research on DRD’s older incarnation and taking the time to share this visual history with Norseman enthusiasts. The people of Red Lake wait with anticipation to see their community symbol return to its perch for the next generation to remember its role in contributing to the area.

Example of the OCA scheme on this Norseman Mk VI used by Grass River Lodge in Manitoba as seen in September 2017.

Look more, Find more

Continuing the theme from the previous post about many inactive Norseman for every flying one, for example here is the present status in the Province of Manitoba, Canada according to my research. Many of these Norseman have already appeared in the blog so this will be a short overview with links provided to said blogs. In no particular order, here we go;

At the Brandon airport, the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum has two Norseman; the fuselage of UC-64A (Mk VI) serial 810 and non-flying Mk V, serial N29-43 registered CF-ECG.

Beside St. Andrews airport the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada has a storage building and adjoining compound; in the building resides Mk IV, serial 29 CF-BTC awaiting restoration for static display. In the compound are two unidentified Norseman in very poor condition.

Not far to the northeast at the Selkirk airport there are four Norseman; airworthy machines CF-BSB, CF-IGX and CF-ZMX. For more details see blogs Born Again BSB, Hibernation, and Showstopper. On April 27, 1970 a Mk VI, serial 478 CF-OBD burnt after an accident (no injuries) and its remains are still behind the hangars to my knowledge.

Moving farther northeast we arrive at the Silver Falls airport; located here in a building is Mk IV, serial 44 that originally went to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 as #2471.

In northern Manitoba there are five Norseman associated with air charter operator Wings Over Kississing; C-FENB, C-GRZI, C-FSAP, C-FOBR and CF-BHU. See Flin Flon Visit.

Over in Thompson, Manitoba’s “Hub of The North” we find a replica of Norseman CF-BHS. See There’s Three to See for more info.

So this overview counting airframes, a replica to prized flying examples comes to a total of 16 and one or two could still be unacknowledged in the bush or hiding in a farmyard barn. Only five are airworthy; ENB, RZI, BSB, IGX and ZMX. If anyone has more information for this post please email me at c46commando@hotmail.com Thanks!

Serial 44, a Mk IV is a restoration project on hold. Will it grace the sky again? Unlike the models after it, the Mk IV is without a separate motor mount resulting in the longer nose tubing.

 

‘Til Rust Do Us Part

For every active airworthy Norseman in the world there are probably five in various states of non flying status from immaculate museum restorations to fuselage airframes one trip away from the scrapheap.

On March 21, 1995 C-FKAS literally landed in the water after a spreader bar float failure near Chemainus, British Columbia. Unfortunately for serial 367 the salty seawater later caused corrosion in the airframe tubing that made future repairs uneconomical for continued commercial use.

This Mk VI started as a UC-64A with the USAAF (43-5376) and is reported to even have carried U.S. President John F. Kennedy in South America. Other more recent unique features are the oval shaped panoramic windows and having its fuselage skinned with metal at some point allowed for murals to be painted on both sides like seen on semi-trailer trucks!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS and NEW YEAR 2019 to ALL!!

Arno van der Holst from the Dutch Transport Museum stands by KAS on November 13, 2018. The frame is near Dryden, Ontario and at the aft bottom of the fuselage can be seen a sliver of a mural. The last commercial operator was West Caribou Air, Savant Lake, Ontario.

CF-BSH / N45TG

From 1947 to 1966 CF-BSH was operated by Algoma Steel Corp. Limited of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Below the right triangular window is a metal plate with that name and registration.

In northern Minnesota at the Baudette airport sits Norseman serial N29-23, N45TG. Having remained on the ground for well over a decade out in the open this Mark V is definitely starting to show deterioration from the elements.

Unlike many Norseman, this postwar model spent its life with only a handful of operators and mostly flying in Ontario, Canada including Red Lake based Green Airways, then Pikangikum Air before going stateside in 1990 with Tom Griffen. A couple points of interest in the picture below are the added ventral fin at the bottom of the empennage (not a common feature) and the TG in the FAA registration representing the current owner. Rather obvious is the missing air rudder and the fabric on the fin looks particularly rotten.

Will this Norseman return to the sky one day? The prognosis looks unlikely, but never say never when considering those seemingly timeless machines still existent.

Photos taken on November 11, 2018.

 

Showstopper

CF-ZMX is the first Norseman to be repaired since the violent hailstorm that hit Red Lake in July of 2017 only one week after the festival.  Recently seen in storage at its Selkirk, Manitoba wintertime home, ZMX (serial #669) is looking factory fresh. In fact, Park Rapids Aviation of Minnesota did such a precise, beautiful finish it pains me to think of bug impacts when this classic flies over to Red Lake again next float season.

A complete exterior fabric recovering was done and observers will note the same colours and paint scheme were applied. The only difference upon a second review appears to be a slightly changed font for CF-ZMX.

The Green family was without their heirloom aircraft for a year, but we now look forward to seeing this star attraction at the 2019 Norseman festival.

The other damaged Norseman are CF-DRD, CF-JIN, and CF-KAO. In due course, it is planned to have these three fully repaired as well.

JEC Update

Work is progressing slow and steady at Northland Aircraft in Ignace, Ontario on the restoration of Norseman CF-JEC. Not having flown for many years and being outside in the weather has deteriorated the fabric and now some woodwork of the wings needs to be replaced. Originally plans were to have the airplane flying to its new home in Quebec this fall but that has been pushed ahead until the next float season. JEC, serial 469 is a Mk VI, military model designation UC-64AS and in 1976 the fuselage fabric was replaced with aluminum. Thus, when it is back in the air, JEC will be one of two metal fuselage Norseman flying (N164UC in the United States is the other).

At this time, there are numerous projects ongoing and within the next couple years more Norseman should be returning to the sky. Not bad for a design from 83 years ago! In Europe alone there might be three Norseman warbirds flying at museums and airshows.

Back on topic, thanks to the new owner of JEC, Olivier Lemieux for sending a couple pictures that give us a good look at the internal wing structure of wood ribs and spar in the Norseman. We wish him well with this restoration and many more years of service as JEC starts another chapter in the larger story of the Norseman saga.

BSB Northern Tour

Recently CF-BSB made a tour “north of sixty” and next float season of 2019 might see this Mk V model return to the Yellowknife area. Owner, Tom Phinney normally has the aircraft overwinter at Riverside Aircraft Maintenance in Selkirk, Manitoba.

The only other Norseman flying in that area of Canada is Joe McBryan’s CF-SAN and it has been many decades since two active Norseman have flown there!

Beautiful picture of BSB at Sawmill Bay on Great Bear Lake.

Hanging out in Cowtown

In a somewhat unusual setting and geographic local, a Mk V Norseman can be seen in downtown corporate Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

CF-MAM, serial N29-26 started out with the Manitoba Government Air Service in September 1946. A civil, post WW II model it spent most of its working life with various operators in the Province of Manitoba after nearly ten years of duties with the government. During the mid to later 1970’s it became a common sight with Ignace Airways in northwestern Ontario.

The Certificate of Airworthiness expired 37 years ago and the aircraft was purchased by the Aero Space Museum of Calgary in 1982, then refurbished for display. For many years now, it can be found hanging in the atrium lobby of the Suncor Energy Centre “flying” over the lush vegetation on straight skis!! To me, this seems a mismatch and seeing this type of bush plane in the concrete jungle far from the lakes and boreal country of northern Canada is at odds with the cowboy cultural roots of the area. Then again, the Norseman is Canadiana wherever it is and the business people probably just glance at it as a piece of public art, not totally realizing it as a real aircraft intertwined with the history of the nation and their livelihood.

Here’s the irony, the Norseman and other aircraft types were paramount in developing Canada’s vast north and natural resources that the corporate headquarters in the south represent. To a large degree, our big southern cities, our wealth and standards of living depend on resources and aircraft to this day. Do you agree? e-mail me at c46commando@hotmail.com about anything Norseman related. Thanks!