Journal Report – June 2015

The 2014 Publication Year in Retrospect

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By the time this newsletter is issued, the two final numbers of CAHS Journal volume 52 – the fall and winter editions of the 2014 publication year – should be well on their way to members’ mailboxes if not already there (or in your email in-box, in the case of online-only members).

Given the fact that this was centenary ‘year one’ of that dark and tragic episode of broad-scale human conflict, it seemed only fitting that each 2014 number of our Journal should carry at least one article of First World War related content. Not all were on the war itself, but rather its turbulent wake. In Vol 52 No 1 and “Air Staff Memorandum No.50…” Dr. Robin Higham guided us through decades of fluid projection and conception, much of it based on roots firmly planted in Great War experience, as the Royal Air Force (RAF) grappled with the prospect of fighting yet another ‘war to end all wars’. This made for interesting rereading back to back with our own Dr. Rachel Heide’s closer to home account, in Vol 52 No 4, of the multifaceted struggle to grow an independent Canadian national air force out of the First World War experience. Between these two decidedly academic works, each Journal number featured a great mix of other material on the men and machines that first large-scale war in the air.

All told, this has made it a year of edification for me, given that my particular personal niche aviation history interests did not wander too far into the Great War era. But now both my understanding of, and interest in, the aviation aspects of the First World War have shifted beyond the general. Perhaps many of you may feel the same?

Meanwhile, the balance of our 2014 publication activity was occupied by the usual interesting and eclectic range of aviation history; some of it equally as sharply edifying, some of it well within the comfort zone of an expansion upon the familiar. Bill Upton’s excellent series on the CL-41 programme, “Canadair’s Tutor Emeritus”, was in some of its parts a model example of both ends of that spectrum. Having been an ‘aviation nut’ since boyhood, the Snowbirds demonstration team and its enduring mount would be something I could call familiar with some justification. The airplanes, their configuration, their raison d'être within the jet age Canadian Forces / RCAF, and even the careers of some of its aerobatic display pilots, were all familiar things. My first exposure to Bill Upton’s writing and extensive photo collection gave me the pleasant feeling that there was so much more to learn about the aircraft’s bigger picture: it was an unassuming little trainer (in my mind’s eye, looking out on the world stage of military aircraft programmes) that carried with it a rich history of inception, conception, production, and a long life of continuous operation. So much more beyond ‘that trainer the Snowbirds fly’!

Canadian aviation is just that rich. There’s always a deeper story for those interested in looking, writing, or reading. After 50+ years, it continues to amaze me that contributors to our journal still find ample material to mine, refine, and present within our pages. Thank you one and all.

Forward into 2015

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Preparation of Journal 53-1, our first in the 2015 publication year, is well advanced and should go to proofreading sometime before the CAHS National Convention later this month. I’ll leave the cover design to tell its own story for now. It is pretty much fixed as is but some content may move around again before we go to press, so a more detailed table of contents will be reserved for the next newsletter.

I hope to see you at the convention!

With thanks!