RCAF 1924 – 2024 Anniversary

RCAF-100yr Anniversary

Pathway to the Stars is the first of several books that will celebrate the RCAF’s 2024 Centennial is now available from CANAV. Pathway to the Stars is a 264-page, large-format, hard-cover rich in text and photos produced by the RCAF Foundation. If your interest is RCAF history, you’ll definitely want this major production, especially if you already have the 1984 Sixty Years and Canada’s Air Force at War and Peace series. Order from CANAV Books at [email protected].  Get in on the ground floor! USA and overseas orders CAD $72.00 all-in, surface mail.
Meanwhile, here at CANAV we’re still beavering away at our own RCAF Centennial book which is due off the press for the RCAF Centennial in April 2024.  If you have our Sixty Years from 40 years ago (and about 20,000 do), you’ll know what to expect with this spectacular production.  What you’ll get is the very best – no other book will come close with the wide sweep of topics and depth of treatment.  CANAV’s will be authoritative and beautifully produced – our two chief hallmarks.  That said, real fans will want all the forthcoming RCAF 1924 – 2024 titles on your bookshelf.  Each will shed new  light on this huge story, which no single book can cover 100%.

RCAF Gallery 1924 – 1940 – Photo Essay

Bill Wheeler’s Vintage Bushplanes – Photo Essay

Toronto Centennial Celebrations 1934 Air Show

Aero Tribute - Bill Wheeler

Bill’s lifelong interest in aviation began as a boy watching the very active floatplane arrivals and departures at Port Arthur Harbour. This time period was still within the “Romance of Aviation” and really contributed to Bill’s passion for “Bush Flying”. WWII presented a further inspiration to Bill as he bicycled out to the Fort William Airport to watch the “Yellow Birds” of the BCATP going through their paces.

After graduation from College, Bill worked as a freelance Illustrator during the early 1960s with assignments from de Havilland, Toronto Star Weekly and various others, doing mostly aircraft and ship illustrations. In 1958 he had his first contract with a book publisher, MacMillan of Canada. This assignment was for the illustrations of WWI Canadian aviators in the book titled: “Knights of the Air: Canadian Aces of World War I”. This would not be his last connection with book publishing. Bill’s attention then turned to the academic field when he joined the Scarborough Board of Education (Now Toronto) as an Art teacher. He would teach for 28 years, serving as head of the Art Department of West Hill Collegiate, retiring from teaching in 1994. [ More info … ]

TransAtlantic Crossings

The Lindbergh of Canada – The Errol Boyd Story

Legendary flyer Errol Boyd took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, on October 9th, 1930, and flew into Canadian, and aviation, history. Toasted by royalty and political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, he was the first Canadian to fly across the North Atlantic, and the first pilot of any nationality to make the flight outside of the summer season.

Author Ross Smyth has gone back in time to trace the life of this Canadian hero, from his childhood in Toronto, to his imprisonment in Holland during the First World War, through to his many record-setting flights, and beyond, to his final days as an aging pioneer aviator. Smyth’s book resurrects Boyd’s heroics, and revisits the fame of one of the most important aviators of the Golden Age of Flight. Errol Boys was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame on June 15, 2017. [ More info … ]

Harbour Grace Airfield

The flight of WWI Aviator Erroll Boyd of Toronto from Harbour Grace Airfield in Newfoundland to the UK made him the “Lindberg of Canada”. Erroll was the first Canadian to fly a single engine airplane across the Atlantic in October. Quite a feat in the 1930s. Harbour Grace has an important place in aviation history and is still operating as an airfield. [ More info … ]

R100 Visit to Toronto in 1930

On August 11th, 1930, Torontonians stared up at the skies and saw a new model of airship hovering over the city. Airline designers hoped that this new airship ~ the British built R 100 ~ would herald a new age in commercial flight across the Atlantic.

Design of the HM Airship R100 began in rural Yorkshire in 1925. The project was plagued by difficulties. Construction took place on a remote, rundown airfield. Because construction took place in a rural area, skilled labour was hard to find. The construction shed had a leaking roof, and was unheated, so ice formed on the metal in the winter, and even in warmer seasons, condensation and dampness made for corrosion of the airship’s metal frame. Get the full story here

Images of Aviation – Pan Am

Pan American World Airways could be considered a corporate Cinderella – a rags-to-riches-and-back-again phenomenon. From its founding in 1927 and its relatively obscure inauguration as a mail carrier on a 90-rnile mail run from Florida’s Key West to Cuba, Pan Am’s route system grew to span the globe. The company that would eventually become famous for its blue-and-white-world logo grew into a conglomerate of hotels, airlines, business jets., real estate, a helicopter service, and even a guided missiles range division. But financial problems plagued Pan Am in its last two decades, and in 1991, Pan American World Airways ceased flying after 64 years of service. [ More info … ]

Aviation in Canada: Fighter Pilots and Observers 1915-1939

If we start aviation with the American Wright Brothers in 1903, it was a mere 11 years until the beginning of the war. Canada’s first acquired aircraft was flown in 1909 and looked like the Wright Flyer.i It’s amazing that there were so many advances in aviation as the war continued. But just as the advances came online, the war ended, and Canadian aviation took a back seat. The Canadians, like many others, stifled the development of their air forces, both air force and naval aviation. The period between the wars was highly regarded as retrenchment rather than progress in the advancement of airpower for the Nation. Only the civilian counterpart implementation of aircraft into the aviation commerce assisted the Canadian Air Force modernization.   [ Read More … ]

The Golden Age of Seaplane Racing

The greatest legacy of the Schneider Trophy races was their influence on aircraft design and engines, especially on subsequent military aircraft. The Rolls-Royce R engine was ultimately developed into the mighty Griffon. One engineer felt 10 years of development was compressed into two with the R engine. Those innovations were incorporated into a new V-12 engine, ultimately known as the Merlin, of which almost 150,000 were produced for a huge range of military and civil aircraft. The Schneider Trophy experience gained by R.J. Mitchell and Supermarine engineers gave the company what it needed to develop fighters best exemplified by the Spitfire. Perhaps the finest expression of the historical impact of the Schneider Trophy races is the Rolls-Royce Battle of Britain Memorial Window, now located at the company’s visitor centre in Derby. Get the full story here

The Dornier Wal Seaplane

German designer Claude Dornier (1884­1969) was the father of the Wal. He studied engineering and dreamed about constructing all-metal aircraft and giant metal flying boats. Dornier became personal scientific advisor to Count von Zeppelin in 1913 and achieved great success in designing and constructing the first floating hangar for airships on Lake Constance. In 1914, Dornier was ordered to produce something new in aeronautics, a giant metal flying boat.

He developed a little family of flying boats, starting with the Rs I, in 1916. With the armistice in 1918, production at the Zeppelin works ceased. Strict requirements were enforced upon Germany concerning disarmament and dismantling of the German arms industry, supervised by weapons inspectors from the Inter-allied Control Commission for Germany. Political circumstances forced aircraft builders, like Dornier and Anthony Fokker, to look for industrial possibilities outside Germany. Fokker, a Dutchman, moved to Amsterdam with a train full of half-made planes and tools and restarted there in 1919. More info …

The Early Airfields of Toronto

The first exhibition in North America and the Toronto Flying Club on Wilson Avenue 1930’s -first flight in Toronto took place at Scarboro Beach Park in September 1909. Charles Willard, a pilot trained by Glenn Curtiss, flew the Curtiss designed “Golden Flyer.” The space provided was so narrow that he had to put runners down to guide him out over the lake. He took off over the beach but crashed on his first attempt. He took off over the beach and crashed again on day two. Willard was finally successful on his third attempt, circling over the lake for about five minutes. The crowd was so excited – they crowded the beach, leaving him with no place to land, forcing him to crash into the water once again. He came back a year later. Willard was asked why he came back. He said, ‘I really love the newspaper reporting in Canada. They’re so honest.’ An account in the Toronto Globe of Willard’s first flight read, “Willard went up, Willard went down, Willard got wet, Willard went home.” [ More info … ]

Earl Hand – Toronto’s Forgotten Aviation Pioneer

It was clear that Earl Hand was the major force in creating and running this airline. He, in turn, was Canada’s forgotten airline pioneer. Born on March 10, 1897, Earl Hand joined the 227th Battalion in March, 1916. He was five foot ten, healthy, and served in France for six months. He was promoted to sergeant, then applied to the Royal Flying Corps to train as a pilot. Sent to Camp Borden, he was in the first training course of pilots and soloed after only 2½ hours of instruction. Hand went to the western front near Ypres with 45 Squadron and flew Sopwith Camels. He achieved his first victory on Nov. 15, downing an Albatros D.V. Get the full story here

Roy Maxwell - Pilot of Canada’s North

Maxwell flew mercy missions, search and rescue, and treaty/VIP flights beyond forestry service. His true scope was found in his annual reports he filed to the cabinet minister. Ten years of activity were summarized in the 1933 report, which proved to be his last. Totals for the decade included 75,000 flying hours in 10 years over a distance of 4¾ million miles. OPAS carried 30,000 passengers. Only one passenger fatality occurred in the 10 years, remarkable in those relatively early days of bush flying. Five pilots were lost. Some 41,000 forestry workers were carried for fire suppression and other duties.
However, despite his magnificent achievements, Maxwell incurred the personal displeasure of temperamental incoming Premier Hepburn. In office, Hepburn went on an ostentatious display of cost-cutting and firing civil servants. Get the full story here

Forgotten Cub Aircraft – A Brief History

As a native Hamiltonian, I was surprised to learn that Hamilton, Ontario once had an aircraft manufacturing plant and a flying school affiliated with Piper Aircraft Corporation.

My first airplane flight was in a Piper PA-11 float plane. While researching this aircraft, I was able to contact the pilot’s widow.

She informed me that her husband and his brother went to Hamilton in 1947 to learn to fly and buy a J-3C Cub.

I tried to research information on the Cub Aircraft operation and found that precious little existed and what I did find was both sporadic and inaccurate. I decided to embark on a research project that would “write the wrong”.

In this article, I will provide a brief history of Hamilton’s Cub Aircraft that is based on my research to date. The information is gathered from newspaper articles published in the Hamilton Spectator, aviation publications, first person recollections and from a 1969 Ontario Royal Commission. My continuing research will include a comprehensive document on all 150 Cub Aircraft, that were manufactured from October 1945 until its demise in February 1949. [ Read More … ]

Hamilton Municipal Airport 1929 - 1951 - Photo Essay


1930s Airlines - Airliners