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Celebration of Life held for Dennis Bradley, CWHM Founding Father

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A large gathering assembled at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum on September 9 for a Celebration of Life tribute to Dennis J. Bradley, the prime founder of the Museum and a Life Member of the CAHS.

Dennis died on July 14 after a brief illness, with his wife Joanne at his side. He was in his 81st year. Dennis was President of the museum from 1972 to 1999, as the collection grew to more than 40 aircraft. With his death, all four of the original museum founders are gone. His son, James, noted his father’s love of flying never waned. Like his father, James has an encyclopedic recollection of the museum’s history and keen interest in its ongoing activities and achievements.

A few examples of the many photos at the Celebration illustrating Dennis multi faceted love of aviation

A few examples of the many photos at the Celebration illustrating Dennis' multi-faceted love of aviation.

During the Celebration, museum CEO Dave Rohrer said the CWH would not be into its 46th year of operation today were it not for the “tenacity, knowledge and wisdom” of Dennis. “He was a leader in every respect. He was a person who was not easily dissuaded or defeated.”

Christopher Freeman, Chairman of the Board, described Dennis as “a quiet, guiding voice” who overcame serious challenges to the museum including a devastating fire in 1993. “All of these museum aircraft and the people here today are part of his legacy.”

Emcee Bill McBride, a longtime CWH stalwart, noted that Dennis had a wonderful sense of humour among his many qualities. Dennis stood tall in both his physique and personality. He touched everyone who came into contact with him in a positive way.

Dennis played football for the University of Western Ontario Mustangs. A six-foot-six defensive tackle, he was drafted by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Rather than football, he went to work for his father in the family meat processing business. Although Dennis wanted to fly for the RCAF, he was not allowed because of a military six-foot height restriction. He went on to earn his pilot’s licence at the age of 24 and owned and flew a myriad of aircraft during his lifetime.

Dennis’ love of aviation led to the acquisition of a Fairey Firefly, CF-BDH, along with friends Alan Ness, Peter Matthews and John Weir. The restoration of that aircraft generated much more interest than they anticipated. The group moved the Firefly into a hangar at Hamilton’s airport and the CWH was born.

An extensive collection of photos, displayed at the Celebration of Life, featured Dennis as he flew various museum aircraft such as the Corsair that was dedicated to Lt. Robert Hampton Gray VC, and the P-51D Mustang in the post-war colours of 424 Tiger (City of Hamilton) Auxiliary Squadron.

Dennis enjoyed a successful career as President of the F.G. Bradley Meat Company, retiring from the business at age 48 to focus on the CWH. He was also a well-accomplished powerboat racer, winning an American Power Boat Association World Championship in 1993. Two gentlemen from Dennis’ boating days came from Florida to pay tribute at the Celebration and others came from Vancouver.

The cottage was the happiest spot for Dennis; the place where he would fly around the lake in his Cessna 180 like most people would tool around in a motorboat. The last time occurred at the cottage in Thanksgiving of 2017, when he piloted his Cessna solo to Orillia for winter storage and savoured the freedom of flight once more.

--- Gord McNulty


CAHS Ottawa Videos

filmThe CAHS Ottawa chapter has partnered with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum to stream multimedia presentations made by all CAHS Ottawa speakers who wish to have their presentation made available to the general public from the museum's web site. CAHS Ottawa member Glen Mathews has been using his videography and editing talents to record the Ottawa speakers in High Definition video with audio, edit and title these videos and integrate the speaker's PowerPoint slides into each video production. There are currently six videos available from the September 2017 to June 2018 season available for viewing with two more in the process of being added.

A special thank you to Glen Mathews and CASM museum staff members Sonia Mendes, Senior Staff Writer and Cédric St. Amour, Volunteer Co-Ordinator for making this possible.


Current topics include:


Topic Speaker Background
Canadians in
the RAF
Mathias Jost Major with DND
Dept. of History
& Herritage
Auroa Second Dawn Col. Ernie Cable CD Ret’d. CO 405 Squadron,
Deputy Commander
Maritime Air Group
New Light on Atlantic Command in the
Cuban Missile Crisis
Michael Whitby Senior Naval Historian,
Directorate of History
and Heritage (DHH),

1) Transatlantic Crossings, from Constellation to Concorde.

2) Narrow Bodies
Across the Atlantic

Herb Saravana Mutto Aeronautical Engineer,
worked on the Concord design and is a Prof.
with the Aeronautical Engineering Faculty at Carleton University
“S/L Fowler Gobeil –
The Untold Story”
Jay Hunt First Canadian to
compete in the

World Aerobatic Championships
in 1976 at Kiev, USSR

To be added in the near future:


State of the UAV
Industry in Canada:
Past, Present and Future
Marc Arjua Chairman of: Unmanned
Aerial Systems Canada,
the UAV industry association.
75 Years of
Air Defence
Marc-André Valiquette Book signing and presentation by this
aviation author.


These videos may be found at the following link:

Don MacNeil
Speaker Program Convenor
CAHS Ottawa Chapter


Nanton’s Bouncing Bomb

By John Chalmers
CAHS Membership Secretary

“We have the only Lancaster in the world equipped with a bouncing bomb!” says Dan Fox, vice-president of the Nanton Lancaster Society, which operates the Bomber Command Museum of Canada, at Nanton, Alberta.

01 Dan and bomb

Dan is referring to the museum’s replica bouncing bomb, or “Upkeep” as it was called, the type carried by Lancaster bombers of RAF 617 Squadron in the famous Dambusters raids of May 1943. The special bombs were spun backwards prior to dropping at very low level to bounce across the water when attacking dams in Germany’s Ruhr Valley during the Second World War. (Chalmers photo)

02 Ben and bomb

Designed by museum volunteer and board member, Ben Schwartz, the bomb was built by Tecumseh Industries Ltd. in the nearby town of High River, Alberta. Ben is seen here putting the final touches to the bomb’s assembly. Weighing 960 pounds, the bomb was built for the museum’s commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid. Cost of the bomb was supported by Shere Fraser and her mother, Doris Fraser, the widow of bomb aimer F/S John Fraser. He flew with 617 Squadron in the Dambusters raid. His aircraft was shot down, but John was able to bail out and he was captured as a prisoner of war. (Chalmers photo)

On August 24-25 at the Bomber Command Museum, special events were held to honour the Canadians who flew with the RAF on the famous bombing raid. Of 133 air crew members who served in the Dambusters raid, 30 were Canadians. Of 53 airmen killed in action in the raid, 14 were Canadians in the RCAF.

03 Bomb mounted

With its bomb doors removed, the Lancaster carries the bomb in special mounts designed to swing out to drop the bomb. Electric motor used to spin the bomb with its pulley on one end is seen above the bomb. (Dave Birrell photo)

04 AJ M and re enactor

The museum’s Lancaster, FM159, known as the Bazalgette Lancaster, honours S/L Ian Bazalgette of Calgary, Alberta’s only recipient of the Victoria Cross in the Second World War. He received the award posthumously, as he was killed in action as a pilot of a Lancaster. During 2018, the museum’s Lancaster bears the markings of AJ-M, a Lancaster of 617 Squadron on which Canadians flew in “Operation Chastise” to attack the river dams. (Chalmers photo)

05 Museum audience

It was standing room only for hundreds in attendance to hear author Ted Barris speak about the Dambusters. In the weekend program, Ted launched his new book, Dam Busters: Canadian Airmen and the Secret Raid Against Nazi Germany. (Richard de Boer photo)

06 Lancaster visitors

Museum chief engineer, Greg Morrison, directs visitors into the Lancaster for a tour during the Dambuster weekend. With bomb doors removed from the Lancaster, the “Upkeep” bouncing bomb is in position. (Richard de Boer photo)

07 Daves new bookIn attendance over the weekend were 40 members of 15 families of RCAF air crew members who flew with 617 Squadron. Among them were members of the late Air Commodore Johnny Fauquier, who as a group captain served as commanding officer of 617 Squadron after the Dambusters raid. Fauquier flew at least 93 combat missions, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, received the Distinguished Service Order three times, and in 1974 became an original Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame. He is the subject of Johnny: Canada’s Greatest Bomber Pilot, the latest book by museum librarian, Dave Birrell, published by the museum as part of its recognition of the Dambusters.

“We had 14 members of Johnny Fauquier’s family in attendance. They came from Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto,” says Dave Birrell. “With our publication of the book, they were anxious to attend. We had more special guests and more attendees at our recognition of the Dambusters than at any of our previous events,” says Birrell.

08 Lancaster at night

A highlight of special events at the museum is always a daytime and night run-up of the Lancaster’s four Merlin V-12 engines. This year, just as was done 75 years ago, the mighty Lancaster had a unique bouncing bomb spinning beneath its belly. With the “Upkeep” bouncing bomb in place, the Lancaster of the Bomber Command Museum of Canada is readied for a night engine run, always a dramatic sight, bringing to mind the night bombing runs of Canadians during the Second World War. (Richard de Boer photo)


Brantford Air Show flew high again

Report and photos by Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

The Mynarski Memorial Lancaster in honorary 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters AJ B markings at CWHM Aug 28 2018

The Mynarski Memorial Lancaster in honorary 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters AJ-B markings at CWHM Aug. 28, 2018.

The 2018 Community Charity Airshow at Brantford Airport on August 29 proved to be another exciting and successful event. This year’s spectacle, co-sponsored by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum and the Rotary Club of Brantford, was held under mainly sunny skies and attracted the traditional large audience.

CF 18 Demo Hornet honouring the 60th Anniversary of NORAD at the CWHM Aug 28 2018

CF-18 Demo Hornet honouring the 60th Anniversary of NORAD at the CWHM Aug. 28, 2018.

A heritage flypast with the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster and the 2018 Demo Hornet at the Brantford air show Aug 29 2018

A heritage flypast with the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster and the 2018 Demo Hornet at the Brantford air show Aug. 29, 2018.

The show was highlighted by rare combined flypast of the CF-18 Demo Hornet in NORAD 60th Anniversary colours with the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster. As part of the museum’s tribute to the 75th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid, the bomber flew in the AJ-B markings of a Lancaster crewed by two Hamiltonians, Frank Garbas and Albert Garshowitz. Their aircraft did not survive the raid and the entire crew was killed. In another impressive heritage flypast, the Commemorative Air Force B-29 “Fifi” teamed up with the Lanc.

The CWH DC-3 in ‘Canucks Unlimited’ colours took jumpers from the Hamilton Sport Parachute Club aloft to open the flying, although conditions proved too windy for a safe drop. Danny Richer in his BAC Strikemaster and Trevor Rafferty in his Rafferty Javelin were among the featured performers.

B 29 Superfortress Fifi of the Commemorative Air Force fires up at the CWHM Aug 28 2018

B-29 Superfortress 'Fifi' of the Commemorative Air Force fires up at the CWHM, Aug. 28, 2018.

A flypast by the B 29 Fifi at Brantford on Aug 29

A flypast by the B-29 'Fifi' at Brantford on Aug. 29.

A fiery display was provided by the Bone Shaker Jet Truck, powered by a 12,000-pound thrust J-79 engine. The crowd also appreciated a diverse array of static aircraft, and souvenir and display booths. Canada’s famous Snowbirds provided the traditional finale.

Cloud nine RCAF Snowbirds in the Big Diamond formation at Brantford Aug 29 2018

Cloud nine – RCAF Snowbirds in the Big Diamond formation at Brantford Aug. 29, 2018.

Check out excellent coverage by Eric Dumigan and Gus Corujo at www.airic/ca and and the Brantford Expositor website.


The CWHM Lancaster took its first flight at 1:35 p.m. on Sept. 11, 1988. To celebrate the 30th anniversary, the Lancaster took a commemorative flight on Sept. 11 at 1:35 p.m. Several local dignitaries representing Hamilton City Council and Hamilton International Airport were on board. The CWHM reports: “All passengers were very happy and pleased to have flown on the Lancaster. It was the first flight for the majority of them. Speeches, cake and presentations followed the flight.”

Congratulations to the CWHM as it celebrates a remarkable 30 years.


Commemorative Plaque Unveiled at Crash Site of the Flagship Erie

By Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

A permanent plaque dedicated to 17 passengers and three crew who perished on October 30, 1941, in the crash of an American Airlines DC-3 was unveiled on September 9 at the site of the tragedy at Lawrence Station, southwest of St. Thomas, ON.

It was fitting that a large gathering of more than 100 people attended the ceremonies. Speakers and guests included 26 relatives of the people who were directly impacted by the disaster; Cindy Schweyer --- wife of Rob Schweyer who authored the book, Final Descent: The loss of the Flagship Erie, son Matthew and daughter Sarah; representatives of the Southwold Township History Committee; and other dignitaries.

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David Cooper, Jr., Ken Howe, who was a 5 year old boy asleep in the farmhouse only a few hundred yards from the crash, Peter Cooper.

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Cooper brothers with RCMP Sergeant Rebecca Herrington.

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The DC-3, serial NC 25663, was on a routine flight from Buffalo to Detroit, the third leg of its New York to Chicago run. The airliner was seen flying erratically before it plunged into a farm field at a steep angle. It was the worst aviation disaster in Canada at the time and American Airlines’ first fatal accident involving the seemingly invincible DC-3.

Cover of Final Descent by Rob SchweyerThe grim story was, as historian Hugh Halliday, a CAHS stalwart, noted in his foreword to Final Descent, both “a tragedy and a mystery.” Exhaustive investigations failed to determine the cause of the crash. Virtually all physical evidence of what might have happened aboard the doomed aircraft was destroyed by the impact and fire.

Rob Schweyer completed the manuscript of the book before his untimely death from Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2010. His family self-published Final Descent in 2014 and it is highly recommended. Rob concluded he was “personally convinced that something either jammed or failed aboard the aircraft suddenly and without warning.”

The plaque stands as a tribute to the lives lost, the many area residents who were first responders and those for whom the memories of the crash were forever seared into their memories. As the program for the ceremony stated, the event was “a day of varied emotions: grief and pain over the loss of loved ones, sadness at what might have been, difficult memories brought once again to mind and yet we offer thanksgiving for what is being dedicated here.”

As Hugh Halliday noted, the people aboard the Flagship Erie were a cast of individuals whose stories confirm the adage, “Every life is biography.” For example, in addition to being a top-notch pilot, Captain David Cooper was a writer. He could also sketch so well that he was affectionately known as the cartooning captain of American Airlines. His two sons --- David Jr., who was 2½ and Peter, who was only three months old when their father died --- attended with their wives.

Tragic scene the wreckage of the Flagship Erie Photo by Chester W Phillips Moorhead Minn

Tragic scene – the wreckage of the Flagship Erie (Photo by Chester W. Phillips, Moorhead, Minn.)

Ross Burgar, of the Southwold Township History Committee, noted the crash left 34 children without fathers. At least three of those children were present at the ceremony. Also in attendance was Janet George, whose father, James George of Buffalo, was among the passengers killed.

Ken Howe, who was five years old at the time, retained painful memories of the crash. The DC-3 narrowly missed the roof of the farm Ken’s parents. Ken’s father rushed to the scene but couldn’t help as a massive fire erupted. Ken remembers visiting the tragic site the next day and believes “it took years off my dad’s life.”

The Howe family home instantly became ground zero as a throng of firefighters, police, media, investigators and airline officials arrived on the scene. Ken’s parents provided hospitality and help that was later praised by American Airlines among others. The Howes always believed there should be a commemorative marker.

Ken formed a bond of friendship with David Cooper Jr. through the tragedy. They first met 30 years ago, when David came to Ken’s house in nearby Shedden.

David, 79, of Plandome, NY, expressed enormous gratitude for the residents who rushed to assist during the disaster. “They didn’t run away from tragedy and horror. They rushed toward tragedy and horror to see if anyone could be saved.”

David suggested the generosity of spirit shown by the residents reflects the affection that Americans “have for the people of Canada at a time when others are trying to drive a wedge between our peoples.” He described the plaque as one more indication of the strength of the Canadian-American friendship.

“My father would be very proud to know that his last efforts are being memorialized in such an honoured way.”

David said his mother never talked about his father after he died, but he remains connected to the man who gave him life. “Our father exists for us mainly in the written word.”

Raymond Lunn, 76, of Shedden, is elated that the memorial came to fruition after an impressive community fundraising effort. He drew a connection between the assistance provided by township residents 77 years ago and the help provided by Newfoundlanders who opened their homes to airline passengers stranded in Gander by the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We’re Canadians and that’s the Canadian way,” Raymond said.

The CAHS congratulates everyone who made the commemorative plaque possible. They should be proud of their significant contribution in raising awareness about a poignant story that remained largely unknown until the publication of Final Descent inspired a remarkable fundraising effort.

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Left to right: Pilot's son Peter Cooper, victim James George's daughter Janet George Kuebler, pilot's son David Cooper, Jr.

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Our thanks to Ross Burgar for providing links to the extensive media coverage that are well worth checking out:


The Canadian Aviation Moments were submitted by Dennis Casper from the Roland Groome (Regina) Chapter of the CAHS. Spoiler alert - if you read any further than each question, you will find the answer to the questions directly below. Good luck and have fun!

The Canadian Aviation Moments questions and answers for September are:

Question: Which of the two-engine aircraft predominated in twin engine advanced training in the BCATP and why?

Answer: “CESSNA CRANE – The Wichita aircraft was an adaptation of the T-50 five-seater light transport (three on a bench seat behind the pilots). Originally expected to play second fiddle to Canadian-produced Ansons in the BCATP, the Crane eventually predominated for twin-engine advanced training. This was partly due to availability but also because of its more modern design (e.g. constant speed propellers on it’s Jacobs engines and electric undercarriage and flap operation compared with the early Anson’s laborious hand-operated systems).” “However, as a trainer it was too easily mastered, and viceless.”

Source: CAHS Journal – Winter 2009 – Page 142

Question: What was the Pinetree Line? Of the three distinct lines of early warning to be built by Norad, was it the first, second or third to be built and was it the first, second or last line of warning of any intruder aircraft from the Soviet Union?

Answer: “Although it was the first of the three distinct lines of early warning to be built, due to its geographical location it was also the last line of warning in Canada. Construction of the line took place along the U.S. and Canadian borders where it could help protect the industrial heartland. Some 33 radar stations were completed by 1954. Of this number, 22 were financed by the U.S. and the remaining 11 by Canada. Additionally, the U.S. Air force would man 17 of the American financed stations.” “A number of Pinetree Stations were closed in the 1960s, the first being at Edgar, Ont. Solid state computers and new search radar technology were integrated into Pinetree radars in the early 1970s. All these new changes were responsible in part for the eventual demise of the line. The remnants of the Pinetree Line disappeared between 1987 and 1988.”

Source: Air Force Revue - 2008 Spring – Page 33

Question: What was the unique feature of the Red Knight aerobatic shows? Which aircraft(s) were flown by the Red Knight?

Answer: “The Red Knight was commonly sent to venues considered too small for the aerobatics teams of the day. The trade-mark of the Red Knight was his brilliant red aircraft; first the T-33 Silver star and then, for the last two seasons, the CL-41 Tutor. The unique feature of the Red Knight displays was that all the maneuvers were performed within the boundaries of the airfield – keeping the action in view of the spectators through the entire show.”

Source: Airforce Revue – Vol 32/No.3 – Page 13