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Barnstormers Logo ISSUE 374 - April 2015
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Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre PART II

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Watford, Ontario, Canada

There's something for everyone at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre,
things for both large and small "children."

Last week we spent some time having a look at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, checking out a few of the aircraft and exhibits. We'll also have a look at their Bushplane Days event held every September so, read on and enjoy!

Two relatively common older civilian aircraft that flew as bushplanes
in the north were the Aeronca Chief, left, and the Aeronca Champ, right.

Two of the smaller aircraft in the collection are the Aeronca Champ, CF-IHU and the Aeronca Chief, C-FNGV. The latter of the two aircraft was owned & flown by Monty Dawson of Sault Ste. Marie who was lost when the aircraft, with he and a passenger, broke through the ice on the St. Mary's River and sunk in March of 1996. The Chief was donated to the Centre by Dawson's widow.

The Centre's Fairchild KR-34 is thought to be the oldest one in flying condition.

One of the more rare of the aircraft in the collection is the Fairchild KR-34 which was manufactured by the Fairchild Company in Montreal, Quebec in 1930. It was purchased in 1931 by the Ontario Provincial Air Service and was flown by Fank MacDougall as a partrol aircraft in Algonquin Park in Ontario. MacDougall flew the aircraft in a number of different roles including checking wildlife movements, keeping track of campers, poachers and work projects within the park. Eventually, it was sold to Air-Dale Ltd in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario but suffered an engine failure and crashed along the shores of Wildcat Lake and was written off. The aircraft was eventually salvaged and restored to flying condition over a period of almost 20 years. It was eventually test flown at the Sault Ste. Marie Airport, its first flight in more than 36 years. It is thought to be the only KR-34 in flying condition.

Only 12 of the F-11 Husky were built and the Centre's example
was the last one ever produced.

Another Fairchild in the collection is the F-11 Husky and was the last of its example built. The Husky flew with Nickel Belt Airways in Sudbury, by the Saskatchewan government, Sherrit Gorden Mines, Northland Airways, Island Lake Flying Service and finally, Watson Lake Flying with whom it finished its flying career when it crashed not far from Copper Bluff in B.C. in 1976. The aircraft was obtained in 1994 from the Western Canada Aviation Museum and is still undergoing restoration. It was noted by one CBHC member that the aircraft has a similar resemblance to the DHC Otter, another aircraft in the Centre's collection.

The iconic de Havilland of Canada Beaver was specifically designed as a bushplane in Canada with the help of bush pilots who were asked for their opinion on what was needed in a good bush aircraft.

One of the most iconic bushplanes ever built is the de Havilland of Canada Beaver. The Beaver was purpose designed and built as a bushplane. The company hired renowned bush pilot, Punch Dickins, who set about asking bush pilots of the time what they wanted in a new bushplane. Among the most common answers were a combination of extra power with STOL performance, larger doors for cargo and on both sides of the aircraft. The first flight of the Beaver was performed by DHC test pilot, Russ Bannock, in August of 1947. In total, some 1657 Beavers were built, with many still flying as working aircraft today, almost 70 years after the first flight. The museum's DHC Beaver, CF-OBS, was the first production Beaver, originally purchased and flown by the Ontario Provincial Air Service in 1948 and is the oldest production Beaver still in flying condition.

The venerable de Havilland of Canada Otter was bigger than the Beaver with a larger payload, could carry more passengers and was designed for the same purpose.. bush flying!

The Beaver's older brother is the DHC Otter, a larger purposely designed bushplane with a larger engine and more room for passengers and cargo and was originally called the "King Beaver." It could carry twice the payload of the Beaver and could operate on wheels, oversized rough terrain tyres, skis and floats. The Otter first flew in 1951 with 466 aircraft having been built by the end of production in 1967. It had large, double freight loading doors on one side that could allow for the transport of awkward and over-sized loads and had cabin seats that could be folded back against the walls of the cabin allowing more cargo loading, though the aircraft could carry up to 14 passengers. The Centre's Otter was first purchased by the Ontario Air Service in 1960 but was badly damaged in a forced-landing in Mossonee, Ontario in 1984. The CBHC acquired the aircraft and spent 10 years restoring it to its present, fabulous condition.

Designed in the early 1930s, the Norseman was a true bushplane and,
until the DHC Beaver made its debut, was one of the top bush aircraft around.


The Grumman Tracker, left, could carry a massive load of fire retardent but the Canadair CL-215, right, has been the mainstay, along with its younger sister the CL-415, of Canadian bushplane firefighting for many years.

Other aircraft in the collection include a Grumman CS2F Tracker, Taylorcraft 20, Saunders ST27, Republic RC-3 Seabee, Bell 47D helicopter, Beech C-45H and the purpose built and very effective firefighting aircraft, the Canadair CL-215. You can get up close and personal with all these aircraft, look inside, walk around and enjoy the beauty and history of each one.

Some of the equipment that was utilized to fight forest fighters in the north include various back-pack water packs, left, and different size and types of water pumps, right, that have been used throughout the years.

Along with the aircraft, the Centre houses many assorted artifacts and offer different experiences and opportunities including interactive displays and videos as well as a children's area. There is also a fire watchers tower, firefighting equipment designed for the bush, artifacts and engines. Find out how firefighting from the air first came about, the different designs and methods of dropping water and fire retardants from the air, and how the operation is managed.

While at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, after browsing the museum enjoying the history, stop by their de Havilland of Canada Ltd snack bar for a drink or a bite to eat, left. If you're a pilot and have the means you can fly into the CBHC, landing on the St. Mary's River and tie up at their docks like the owner of this lovely Bush Hawk did, right.

The Centre also houses a small cafe and a store where things like shirts, hats, mugs, posters and so much more can be purchased with all proceeds going to helping restore aircraft and artifacts as well as for the day-to-day operations of the CBHC. You can fly or drive into Sault Ste. Marie, and you can get to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre by car, boat or floatplane/Seaplane.

The crew of the MNR's Eurocopter, with water bucket slung underneath, show off some of the helicopters performance capabilities, left. The MNR's de Havilland Canada Twin Otter dumps a load of water in front of the CBHC, right.

In September, visit the Centre for their "Bushplane Days," when the museum hosts the Ministry of Natural Resources firefighting aircraft as well as a few assorted vendors. There are activities for the kids, and adults, making it a great family fun and friendly day. From the time you enter the museum to the time you leave through the store it's easy to keep yours and the kids attention throughout the visit including time spent out on the water side of the Centre watching the MNR aircraft doing what they do best.

The MNR's firefighting workhorse, the CL-415. These aircraft, along with its predecessor the CL-215, fight forest fires across Canada and around the world.

The Bushplane Days for 2015 will be held on September 19 & 20. There will be many volunteers on hand, extra displays, local fire fighters bring out their trucks and equipment and, as mentioned above, the Ministry of Natural Resources put on a fine display of their various aircraft at the back of the Centre over the St. Mary's River. It's a wonderful day to spend at the Centre and a great opportunity to learn about and appreciate some of the great aviation history of the Canadian people.

The nose of the Centre's Canadair CL-215, left. At one time, much of the forested areas of Ontario, and other forested regions of Canada, were dotted with these watch towers, right, where spotters would scan the horizon throughout the season for forest fires and then notify authorities.


Some of a typical load that a Norseman, and other bush aircraft, might carry to remote communities, mines, or when flying hunters and fishermen into the bush.


Some of the assorted aircraft skis that the Centre has, from early wooden skis, left,
to early metal skis, right.


The Bell 47 helicopter, left, was used by the Department of Lands & Forests in the 1950s and was donated to the CBHC by Canadore College. Another view of the Aeronca Chief, right, hanging from the celing.


Small rail carts were used in various capacities including
assisting with fighting forest fires.


Two more views of the MNR's Canadair CL-415 which performed several water drops
and water taxiing during the Bushplane Days event.


Come north and visit Sault Ste. Marie. There's lots to see and do including the Algoma Train Trip, which is spectacular in fall, visit the OLG Casino, take a drive to see the Agawa Pictographs along the shores of Lake Superior but make sure you visit the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, which should be your first reason for heading to The Soo!


By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

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