The (dis)Information Age

We appear to live in a time when the volume of superfluous information has degraded quality or accuracy and this often leads to skimming as an instant answer is sought without attention to details. Technology addiction and information manipulation, one may argue, are becoming serious issues in society and we need to look deeper into the longer term ramifications.

Those big thoughts aside, how does this relate to the old Norseman bushplane you ask? There are a few examples I will touch on and hopefully clarify the subjects.

Time and again, I see on social media people posting pictures and writing about Norseman CF-BHS on the pylon in Thompson, Manitoba not realizing it is a replica. Occasionally someone will interject with factual information yet it seldom seems to be absorbed. The actual BHS, a Mark V, serial N29-7 was on the Canadian register from 1945 to 1990. In October 1989 this aircraft was destroyed by fire on Cree Lake in Saskatchewan. The “BHS” in Thompson was put together from a few Norseman wrecks and the wings were fabricated to match the original.

Next we have CF-BHU. The confusing part here is that two different Norseman have carried that registration in Canada. Sometimes details will get crossed up and the wrong serial number and/or model is attributed to the other. The first BHU was a Mark V, serial N29-8 and rolled off the production line right after CF-BHS! It came to its demise on June 19, 1974 in a crash at Sachigo Lake, Ontario. The second BHU, a Mark VI, serial 506 came to Canada from the USA in 1999 and is presently flown commercially by Wings Over Kississing in northern Manitoba.

Another potential mix up involves the very first Norseman, serial 1, CF-AYO. The twisted remains of AYO can be viewed at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Currently at the Montreal Aviation Museum work on the restoration for static display of Norseman serial 427, C-FGYY continues with tentative plans to depict this airframe as CF-AYO considering the Norseman was developed at Montreal, Canada in the mid 1930’s. Again, if there is no clear communication about it being a replica of AYO then we can probably count on some keyboard surfers getting it wrong from lack of oversight.

*NOTE* – With regard to correct information, the Red Lake Norseman Festival will take place on August 6, 7, and 8, 2021 instead of the usual July weekend. This summers event will be small as planning is more complex during what we hope will be the tail end of the pandemic.

Down The Rabbit Hole

Identifying old airframes can be a lot of fun when a mystery is solved to one’s satisfaction and it can be a dive deeper into confusion at the same time! This was the case when visiting a museum storage facility at the end of April.

The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada is waiting to move into a brand new, purpose built location at the Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At present, the aircraft collection is stored at various indoor and outdoor sites. Immediately west of St Andrews airport are a couple buildings and storage yard where three Norseman airframes are located and the goal was to positively identify the two weathered frames out in the yard.

Initially the airframe we thought was CF-CRT turned out to be CF-GTM! The mystery airframe right beside it was actually CF-CRT.

CF-GTM, Serial 828 is a Mark VI and the next picture shows what remains of its fuselage airframe.

Now it gets more interesting because CF-GTM was believed to belong to Joe McBryan and stored at his Red Deer, Alberta maintenance base. See Keep them Flying? from February 2019. So now another project starts! Although trying to be accurate and confident in identifications, there’s always the possibility records will be crossed up and some parts will just need to languish in the mystery category.

Last airborne over 72 years ago, CF-CRT is a Mark IV model, Serial 15 and was also with the RCAF as 696 and prior to then registered as CF-BFR.

Inside the storage building is CF-BTC, Serial 29 and longer term plans are to have this Norseman fully restored for static display to complement the museums extensive focus on the early days of Canadian commercial aviation.

CF-BTC fuselage. The wings appear to be in great shape and are on an upper storage shelf.

Noorduyn Serial 365

Steady progress is being made on the restoration of Norseman Mk VI, serial 365 last registered in Canada as CF-GLI until 2014. For some background on the project see; www.norsemanfestival.on.ca/norseman-pickers/

These recent photos were sent by Arno van der Holst of the Nederlands Transport Museum and show the top quality work that will send this Mk VI back into the sky after a mishap in northern Manitoba, Canada during 2010.

When completed this Norseman will have the number 35374 across the rudder and fin as it was USAAF serial number 43-5374 upon completion at the Noorduyn factory in Montreal. This reflects a growing trend in the Norseman community where airframes are being restored to their original appearance and identity from military service. Of all the 903 Norseman ever built it is estimated close to 90% left the production facility directly to the two largest military customers, the United States Army Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) from 1938 to 1945.

For a look at the ongoing restoration of a RCAF Norseman that will hopefully fly before the end of 2021 see; www.huronvintageaircraft.ca

Kississing update, Part two

C-FOBR, on the left, and C-FSAP appear to be parts sources for now.

Here is a brief update on the status of the other Norseman with Wings Over Kississing after a visit to Flin Flon, Manitoba on October 28, 2020. For some background information on the fleet, see Flin Flon Visit from November 2017 and CF-BHU was featured in last months post. The following is in order of production;

C-GRZI, Mk VI Serial number 175. Airworthy. Stored for the winter at Flin Flon airport, Bakers Narrows, Manitoba.

C-FSAP, Mk VI Serial number 231. Not airworthy. Stored at Channing airstrip, Flin Flon.

C-FENB, Mk VI Serial number 324. Written off in a landing accident at Big Sand Lake, Manitoba on June 18, 2019. The pilot was the only occupant and thankfully escaped with minor injuries.

CF-BHU, Mk VI Serial number 506. Airworthy. Stored for the winter at Flin Flon airport.

C-FOBR, Mk V Serial number N29-35. Not airworthy. Stored at Channing airstrip, Flin Flon.

Also featured in a recent post, the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 that powers these wooden winged aircraft passed its 95th birthday and the following two pictures are close ups of the engine in OBR.

Kississing update, Part one

The latest Norseman to return to commercial service is CF-BHU after extensive refurbishing started in 2019 into 2020. Operated by Wings Over Kississing in northern Manitoba, Canada, the floatplane was utilized for about two months in the later half of the season before freeze up. To avoid any confusion, this is the second Norseman to be registered in Canada as CF-BHU. The first was a Mark V model, serial N29-8 operated by Ontario Central Airlines that crashed at Sachigo Lake, Ontario in June of 1974 and was damaged beyond repair and reportedly completely scrapped. Link here.

BHU of today is a Mark VI, Noorduyn serial 506 that in common with most Norseman started out with the United States Army Air Force during WW II. Subsequently the aircraft was on the U.S. civil register as N13340 and highlights include service with the U.S. Forest Service from 1949 to 1955, Parachutes Incorporated from 1960 to 1984, and the Lone Star Flight Museum in Texas before coming to Canada in 1999. From April 2001 to July 2006 “BHU number 2” was registered to Grass River Lodge in Manitoba then entered a long period of dormancy until airborne again last year. The owner of the lodge had previously flown the original BHU so he asked Transport Canada if the mark was available!

USAAF data plate shows TYPE as UC64A – ND and SERIAL NO. 43-35432. The military took delivery in June 1944.

Beside the above data plate is the Noorduyn one showing SERIAL NO. 506. All the numbers, type designations and marks for one airplane can get a little confusing!

CF-BHU in winter hibernation at Flin Flon airport, Bakers Narrows, Manitoba on October 28, 2020.