CAHS Annual Convention, June 17-21

Photos and story by John Chalmers,
CAHS Membership Secretary

The 52nd annual general meeting and convention of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society was held in Hamilton, Ontario. Starting with a Meet & Greet session on the evening of June 17 held at the RCAF Association 447 Wing facility, attendees from coast to coast had a chance to raise a glass and renew friendships.

On June 18 the formal program at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel began with the theme of “Celebrating Canada’s Aviation Industry.” Presentations covered aviation in Canada from the first flight through bush flying, wartime production, aircraft restoration and present-day developments.

The program organized by Richard Goette, Jim Bell and Gordon McNulty was based around sessions with two half-hour presentations plus time for questions. It allowed for 21 well-prepared and well-illustrated sessions plus three lunch presentations.

Two optional evening events were offered for June 19. Shown at the hotel was the classic 1942 film, Captains of the Clouds. Held at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum was a Night Fighter Run, a chance to see warbirds running their engines under special lighting. Following the last of presentations on June 20, an optional day on the 21st to attend the Skyfest event at the Museum was enjoyed by many who stayed over.

The 2016 convention and annual general meeting will be held in Winnipeg, date to be announced.

001 Richard Goette 575

Convention co-chair Richard Goette welcomed attendees at the convention.

002 CHAA 570

At the Meet & Greet social event held at RCAF Association 447 Wing, the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association was the subject of a video presentation by Roger Cross.
(CHAA photo)

003 Dean Black 570

Retired helicopter pilot and squadron commander, RCAF LCol Dean Black was the first speaker in the program starting on June 18, on the topic of “John Boyd and the Procurement of the F-35.” Dean serves as publisher and editor of Airforce magazine and as National Executive Director of the RCAF Association.

004 Maya Hirschman 570

Maya Hirschman, of the Secrets of Radar Museum in London ON, spoke about “Canada’s Second World War RCAF Radar History.”

005 Gerald Haddon 570

Gerald Haddon spoke about his famous grandfather, J.A.D. McCurdy, the first man to fly in Canada, and McCurdy’s affiliation with the Aerial Experiment Association and the development and building of the Silver Dart, which first flew at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, in February 1909.

006 Peter Roe 570

Peter Roe, author of six books of aviation pioneers in his Pigs Might Fly series, spoke of early aviation inventor and entrepreneur, William Wallace Gibson.

007 Anna Marie Willey

At the June 18 lunch, Anna Marie Willey of Regina presented her video, “The Willow Tree,” a story put to original music telling the story of her father’s RCAF wartime service in England. The seven original songs that she wrote were based on the contents of her late father’s kit bag, which had remained unopened for 70 years after the Second World War.

008 Robert Galway 570

Robert Galway from Toronto presented his session on “Capt. William Roy Maxwell, the Forgotten Pilot of Canada’s North,” which outlined Maxwell’s accomplishments in aviation.

009 Diana Trafford 570

Diana Trafford of the Montréal chapter spoke of “Howard Watt: From Bush Pilot to Independent Operator, 1928-1941.”

010 John Coit 570

Don Coit and Wayne Ready (not shown) presented sessions on the fascinating and time consuming projects to restore and rebuild an Avenger and a Bolingbroke at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

011 Mark Peapell 570

Mark Peapell of the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum in Halifax spoke about the production of Canadian-built Lancasters at the Victory Aircraft factory in Malton, Ontario, during the Second World War. He illustrated his talk with photos selected from over 800 recently-discovered and previously unpublished pictures of building the Lancasters.

012 Jerry Vernon 570

Jerry Vernon from Burnaby BC spoke about “The Hapless Hampden,” a lesser-known and fateful twin-engine bomber of the Second World War.

013 Bernie Runstedler 570

Bernie Runstedler from Nepean ON presented a session on the story of the Sabre Mark III and the mighty Orenda jet engine.

014 Bill Zuk

Bill Zuk of the CAHS Manitoba chapter in Winnipeg, spoke on the intriguing topic of “Avro Canada’s Secret Projects,” including attempts to develop a flying saucer. Bill has written a book on the subject of the strange aviation projects undertaken post-war by Avro, entitled Canada’s Flying Saucer: The Story of Avro Canada’s Secret Projects, published in 2001.

015 Allan Snowie 570

July 19 lunch speaker Allan Snowie of Bellingham, Washington, a former Royal Canadian Navy pilot and Air Canada pilot, described the plans for “A Nation Soars” to build replica First World War biplanes to fly over the Vimy Ridge monument on the 100th anniversary of the famous battle there. Allan flies his own Nieuport biplane reproduction, one of the aircraft to participate in the flypast. Following the Vimy Ridge flight, the group plans a cross-Canada tour.

016 Mindy Gill Johnson 570

Mindy Gill-Johnson of the Bishop House Museum in Owen Sound, Ontario, spoke about the career of Billy Bishop VC, during and after the First World War. Bishop was an original Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1974.

017 Nadine and Will Chabun 570

Will Chabun of the Regina CAHS chapter presented an historical account of “Aviation Genealogy in Saskatchewan. At a lucky draw on first day the full program, he won a Snowbirds cap, poster and pin, which he gave to 11-year old Nadine Carter of Stouffville, Ontario, our youngest CAHS member. Nadine was a guest for the day, and had received a one-year complimentary membership for her successful work in seeking recognition for Roy Brown at Stouffville, his last home. He is largely credited with bringing down the “Red Baron”, Manfred von Richthofen, in the First World War. Brown later founded General Airways Limited, which operated from 1928-1940.

018 Isabel Campbell 570

Isabel Campbell from the Department of National Defence’s Directorate of History and Heritage delivered her paper on a post-war story, “Sitting Ducks: The Air Division 1959-1967.”

019 John Bertram 570

John Bertram from Toronto explored the depiction of aviation in postage stamps from Canada and other countries in his presentation on “Aerophilately: Where Business, Art and History Fly Together.”

020 Jonathan Scotland 570

Western Ontario University doctoral student Jonathan Scotland from Etobicoke, Ontario, gave his paper on “George Drew and Canada’s Fighting Airmen,” based on the title of Drew’s 1930 book that dealt with 12 distinguished pilots of the First World War.

021 John Weatherseed 570

John Weatherseed from Cheltenham, Ontario, spoke of the painstaking work involved in research to restore and replicate vintage aircraft. He is building a 1917 Fokker D.VII to flying condition.

022 Marilyn Dickson 570

A retired professor who still teaches flying, Marilyn Dickson of Durham, Ontario, spoke about Vi Milstead Warren, a Canadian pilot of the Second World War who served with the Air Transport Auxiliary, flying 47 types of aircraft. Vi was inducted as a Member of Canada’s Aviation
Hall of Fame in 2010.

023 Gary Williams 570

CAHS National President, Gary Williams of Regina, in addition to his official duties, described the rescue of his father, Flight Sergeant George E. Williams, an RCAF Lancaster pilot in the Second World War. He was saved by a 19-year old Swedish girl, Aina Kristiansson, and her father, Oskar. They put their own lives at risk to rescue George. He was the only survivor of the crew when their bomber of No. 61 Squadron, RAF, was ditched off the coast of Sweden. Last August, Gary travelled to Sweden to meet Aina, then a lively 92 years old.

024 Crystal Sissons 570

CCrystal Sissons, author of Queen of the Hurricanes: The Fearless Elsie MacGill, spoke of MacGill’s success as an aeronautical engineer in a field dominated by men. MacGill was inducted as a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983.

025 Erin Rice Gregory 570

Erin Gregory Rice from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa spoke about the work of Canadian Aeroplanes Limited in building Curtiss JN-4 Canuck aircraft during the First World War.

026 Rachel Heide

CAHS National Treasurer, Rachel Lea Heide, presented the financial report of the Society.

027 AGM

Left to right at the annual meeting are CAHS treasurer Rachel Lea Heide, president Gary Williams, secretary and convention co-chair Jim Bell, and vice-president and convention co-chair Richard Goette.

028 Questions

George Fuller, centre, of the CAHS Montréal chapter, poses a question to the National Executive at the Annual General Meeting.

029 Awards

Rachel Lea Heide, left, and Jim Bell, centre, were recipients of the William J. Wheeler Volunteer Service Award for their years of service to CAHS. Gary Williams, right, made the presentations.

030 Larry Milberry 570

Inducted as a Member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 2004, writer Larry Milberry, owner and publisher of CANAV Books in Toronto, spoke of the development of CAE, the subject of a book he plans to publish.

031 Handoff 570

At the convention banquet, convention co-chairs
Richard Goette and Jim Bell presented “Avi,” the
CAHS mascot to Bill Zuk, right, of the Manitoba chapter.
Winnipeg will host the 2016 annual convention of the
Canadian Aviation Historical Society.

032 Nadine and John 570

Budding historian Nadine Carter, left, and CAHS membership secretary, John Chalmers.