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.

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.

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.

N78691 Update

As noted last spring, Norseman N78691 was sold and ferried to Alaska for a new career with Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures out of Bethel in the western part of that state.  Well, serial 637 has finally been converted to floats and flew from Lake Hood, Anchorage to Bethel at the end of August to become the only commercially operated Norseman outside of Canada. Certainly an interesting paint scheme on the airplane with gold coloured metal parts and burgundy fabric.  If you like it, that’s one good looking, panoramic windowed, moose haul’in Norseman!

img_2406Note absence of rear ladders to aft doors.  This likely will be changed when time permits.  Photo credits – Lambert de Gavere.

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Metal Makeover

In simple terms, the Norseman airframe is mostly made of steel tubing with a wood wing structure and fabric covering. Over half a century ago there were a couple projects that changed this to metal being primary like the aircraft designs that followed the Norseman.  Today only light sport/utility airplanes use the “rag and tube” and wood is a foreign material for critical components, so the Norseman is truly from a different era.

Perhaps even the focused Norseman enthusiast is not aware that a prototype Mk VII was flown in the early 1950’s. It had metal wings and empennage, was stretched 3 feet and retained the same Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine. However, this derivative never achieved certification so never went into production and the sole example was destroyed in a hangar fire at Fort William, Ontario in November 1957.

The other project was more straight forward and involved metallizing the fuselage skin of serial number 224 and using a metal wing instead of wood and fabric.  This was developed by C. R. Ursall of San Antonio, Texas, but once again only a single example was produced.  In 1967, this metal Mk VI came to Canada and was registered as CF-UUD.  Another interesting feature unique to UUD is the oversized cargo door on the left side and the removal of the corresponding right door, thought to be for keeping structural integrity.  Forward to the 1980’s and UUD’s metal wing was transferred to the metalized fuselage of C-FOBE, serial 480 and thus it became the only metal Norseman in the world until a crash at Birch lake on July 3, 2004.

A few other Norseman have had their fuselage skin changed to metal, but they are currently not active, so the “all metal” Norseman is no longer flying and CF-UUD is thought to be the only metal fuselage Norseman flying today.  All this to say that UUD (serial 224) was recently sold at auction, deleted from the Canadian register,  and has returned to the United States to be reborn as N164UC.

IMG_0544Above photo taken on April 19, 2016 at Red Deer airport, Alberta.  Now N164UC, note removal of aft cabin windows and wheel/skis.

 

Airworthy Norseman

At the bottom of the page titled About the Noorduyn Norseman, the airworthy list has been recently updated and shows 16 active airworthy Norseman in the world today. While this number is down, there are many restorations ongoing and the warbird community of Norseman appears to be growing. The largest single customer for the Norseman was the United States Army Air Force during World War II accounting for approximately 83% of total production!

As a private owner/operator the type is rather expensive to fly and commercially a handful continue to shuttle between northern lakes.  Keep ’em flying!

Born Again BSB

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Above; CF-BSB wintering at Selkirk airport, Manitoba.  December 21, 2015.

Throughout the decades most Norseman have moved around numerous operators, some with longer periods of inactive ground bonding hibernation. Also, nowadays all commercial Norseman are on floats in the colder parts of Canada so they only fly seasonally when the freshwater lakes are free of ice.

The latest example to re-enter service for hire is CF-BSB of Interlake Aviation based in Gimli, Manitoba. Being a post WWII Mark V model, serial N29-15 is a relatively young 70 years of age.

Owned by aircraft mechanic Tom Phinney and leased to Interlake the plans are to fly out of Riverton and Pine Dock in the southwestern quadrant of Lake Winnipeg. Used for general charters and servicing a fishing lodge approximately 240 statute miles north-northeast from the city of Winnipeg, another Norseman is starting a new chapter!

80 YEARS!

Quietly, the Noorduyn Norseman recently passed a milestone in longevity.  January 1936 saw serial number 1, CF-AYO enter service with Dominion Skyways of Montreal and Rouyn, Quebec only 65 days after its first flight!  I believe no other airplane type in the world history of aviation can claim 80 years of commercial flying.  The piston powered Douglas DC-3 comes close, taking to the air on December 17, 1935 versus CF-AYO on November 14.

If you have “Norsemania” and would like to see the skeletal remains of AYO make your way to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.  They also have serial 17, CF-BFT on static display to look at and climb in.

Do you find it interesting that the Norseman can be viewed as a museum artifact or a working bushplane in 2016?  Such is the enduring lure of this Canadian classic.

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Above and left; Mk IV CF-BFT on display in Sault Ste. Marie.  Above right; CF-AYO with Dominion Skyways in 1936.

Welcome

KEEP THEM FLYING!

The NORSEMAN Community NEWS

Welcome to this new festival blog feature that we hope you will find interesting, informative and together we will maintain the spirit of the Noorduyn Norseman for a younger generation.

This Canadian built bush plane helped open the vast north, was used by the hundreds during WWII and even to this day can be found as a commercial asset some 80 years into the saga!  That said, its airworthy numbers are declining and the purpose of this blog is to profile the present owners, operators, Norseman and memorabilia for sale with the intent to…keep them flying!  Enjoy.

CF-BSC For Sale

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CF-BSC   Serial N29-17   Mark V

Airframe Time: 15,010.3

Price: Contact Seller

Seller: Ryan Berryman

Phone: 587-433-2972

e-mail: rberryman11@hotmail.com