The Canadian National Exhibition and the Canadian International Air Show



Beaver #1000 which rolled off the line at Downsview in late 1956. Still flying today as a seaplane in B.C. carrying passengers every day – A tough bird!

The Vampire

The development of radar in the 1930s led the RAF to revise its defences against bombers. Traditional reliance on standing patrols along the coast had emphasized endurance. Radar, however, facilitated fighter scrambles emphasizing speed and rate of climb. Performance soared to new heights in Britain with development of the jet engine under Fl-Lt. Frank Whittle. In 1935 Whittle found sponsors who helped to facilitate Power Jets, the company formed to develop Whittle’s engines with air ministry research money. It produced the W.1, which made its first successful run in June, 1939. However, the engine produced only 1,000 pounds when 3,000 was needed. Almost immediately a spec was issued to produce the second version, the W.2, with 3,000 lbs thrust. Gloster was to produce the aircraft, while Rover built the engine.  [ More info … ]

The Comet

The aircraft, named the Comet after the D.H.88 Comet racer of the 1930s, was first flown officially by chief pilot John Cunningham on July 27, 1949. Just two weeks later, another promising groundbreaker, the Avro Canada C.102 Jetliner, made its first flight from Malton on August 10. Development of the Comet included long-distance and endurance flights, and tropical trials. Cabin pressurization at 40,000 feet was tested. A global trendsetter in speed, the Comet broke new ground but it also faced unprecedented engineering challenges. As newsreels recorded with great excitement, “the eyes of many nations were focused upon it.” Orders from airlines around the world were eagerly anticipated. One such airline was Canadian Pacific
Airlines.  [ More info … ]

De Havilland in Canada - Fred W. Hotson

The story moves to the Second World War with the Tiger Moth, Anson and Mosquito – the magnificent “Wooden Wonder” and the fastest bomber of it’s time. Next come the postwar blues, with workers laid off; but the parent company backed DHC’s concept for a Tiger Moth replacement, the Chipmunk. From this venture a skilled DHC design team emerged. Manager Phil Garratt followed with his dream of a small bush plane, the amazing Beaver. Details follow of subsequent projects – the Otter, Caribou, Buffalo, Twin Otter, Dash 7 and Dash 8.  [ More info … ]

deHavilland Canada’s STOL Aircraft

A paper by George Georgas

STOL has had a flexible definition over the years. The DHC-2 Beaver was conceived as a rugged, easily maintained bush plane that could land and take-off in confined areas, particularly lakes, both in summer and winter (Fig. 1). As with all of the subsequent DHC aircraft types, it was designed to meet and operate under one or another set of established national civil air worthiness regulations. When the prototype DHC-2 Beaver, CF-FHB-X first flew, on the 16th of August 1947, the term STOL hadn’t yet been invented! In the case of the Beaver, the regulations were the British Civil Airworthiness Regulations, Section K, Normal Category. Initially, its gross weight was 4,500 lbs. but this was eventually increased by 13 percent to 5,100 lbs. [ More info … ]

Robert Howden Fowler

On August 26, 1944, Bob had a harrowing experience. His aircraft was hit by flak over Caen. Eighty holes were later found in the bomber. The left engine was hit and the prop became ungovernable, so he reduced power. Fuel was leaking into the navigator’s compartment. The landing gear was unlocked and drooped down. Bob, losing altitude, offered the crew the option to bail out. They refused. Bob followed two other crippled Mitchells into an airfield on the U.S. side. The first aircraft landed safely, but the second flew past the end of the runway and burst into flames. Bob was landing towards a burning airplane, without flaps and hydraulics. The navigator hand-pumped the gear down, but the left tire was shot out. It was a very rough landing, ending in a ground loop. Luckily, the crew quickly evacuated safely, with fuel still coming out of the wing. Bob wrote in the Journal that it was sometimes a relief to not fly in formation, often in high concentration. Crews often flew very close to the ground. After the war, he realized he had flown over numerous hazards that he wasn’t aware of.  [ More info … ]

Canada's Airlines

Air Canada – The History – Peter Pigott

Begun as a social experiment in 1937, Air Canada has evolved into one of the world’s greatest airlines.

Air Canada: The History explores a modern miracle that has made commercial air travel in our country an everyday occurrence. The airline was born in 1937 as “Trans Canada Airlines,” a ward of the Canadian National Railway. Renamed “Air Canada” in 1964 to reflect its status as a jet-age airline, it survived devastating air crashes, financial deficits, self-serving politicians, strikes, privatization, and the Airbus scandal.

It was reviled in the nineties by the likes of Peter Newman, who joked, “If God had meant Man to fly, he wouldn’t have invented Air Canada.” Today it is a much loved national icon. Fortunate at times to be run by great CEOs like Gordon McGregor and Claude Taylor, Air Canada has fought off a hostile takeover, merged with its arch-rival Canadian Airlines, and touched countless lives during its 75-year history.

This is its story.  [ More info … ]

Wing Walkers – The Rise and Fall of Canada’s Other Airline – Peter Pigott

With unique insight and straightforward prose, Wingwalkers tells the saga of Canada’s other airline, a scrappy western mongrel that, through eight decades and numerous name changes–Canadian Airways, Queen Charlotte Airlines, CP Air, PWA, Wardair and Canadian Airlines International–transformed itself from a bush flying and mining operation into an international carrier. This revised edition brings the airline’s story up to date with a new final chapter chronicling the corporate dogfight in Canada’s skies that led to CAI’s takeover by Air Canada.

Wingwalkers begins in the early 1920s when millions of dollars were made by the brave and resourceful people who took advantage of exciting new technologies in transportation and communication.

It shows how the growth of aviation in a rugged and sprawling nation depended on such larger-than-life characters as Punch Dickins, “the greatest bush pilot of them all,” first commercial pilot to cross the Arctic Circle and a later company vice president; Wop May, a bush pilot who achieved fame for flying antitoxin in bitter cold to Little Red River, Alberta during a diphtheria outbreak; the charismatic Grant McConachie, an original pilot for Canadian Pacific Airlines who later led the airline through its heyday as company president; and Max Ward, a former pilot and owner of Wardair, a struggling company purchased by CAI under a storm of controversy. Accompanied by over 150 revealing photographs, the book also shows how the western-based independents found themselves in perpetual conflict with Ottawa after the creation of government-owned Trans Canada Airlines, which became Air Canada.  [ More info … ]

Flying the Heavies

There was always the potential for trouble, as when Howard was bringing in a DC-8 from Winnipeg to Toronto. One of its engines had been damaged while a new pilot was being checked out. Howard became suspicious when he could not find any logbook proof that the No. 1 engine had been ground-run. He asked his first officer to keep a close eye on the engine.

On takeoff, the oil pressure began to waver and reduce. Howard soon decided to shut down No. 1 and they returned to Toronto at Mach .8 on three engines. Transport Canada was notified of the reduced engine capability. They brought out the full emergency landing crew to the surprise of the crew and a big audience was on hand. The landing went well. Afterward, a senior mechanic came aboard. In aggressive fashion, he asked Howard if he waited until the yellow light came on before he shut down the engine. Howard said he didn’t. “You call that judgment,” he told the mechanic, who replied, “Well, it’s in your manual.” Howard said he ignored the manual. The mechanic then told Howard he had saved the airline $4 million. It turned out that there had been no oil whatsoever in the engine. Two days later, Howard flew the same a/c to Vancouver. This time, the same mechanic reassured Howard that he had personally ground-run the engine. They became good friends. [ More info … ]


Sport and Recreational Flying

While relatively few people are interested in flying competition aerobatics, Hella encourages general aviation pilots to take an aerobatic course. It’s really worthwhile to improve skills with training to recover from unusual flight attitudes. Second World War pilots, for example, had to complete a four-turn spin coming out on an actual heading, complete a loop, a roll and a Half Cuban Eight in order to solo. “We have nothing like that anymore, which I think is a real loss,” Hella said. Every time she flies, she does one, two or three spins of various kinds. She works at the very slow end of the flight envelope. In fact, she could be flying a vertical manoeuvre where the airspeed is well below the stall speed and she is just hanging on with full power to keep the aircraft flying. “I’d like to think I can get some confidence from feeling what it is like when the airplane is at the edge of control,” she said. We hear about accidents where pilots on base-to-final overfly the turn because of wind or whatever. They try to get lined up again. But flying very slowly, they increase their angle of bank, the top wing stalls and they are into a spin situation at low level. Hella suggested the number of such accidents could be reduced with training at unusual attitudes.  [ More info … ]

Light Sport Aircraft

In 1931, the Taylor company went bankrupt and William Piper bought all of the assets at Bradford. Piper took full control of the company in 1934. Taylor left with his share of the money and moved to Ohio, where he formed the Taylorcraft Aviation Company, which became a successful operation. Several hundred E-2 Cubs were built between 1930 and 1936. Most were sold with the 37 hp engine. However, the aircraft was still more expensive than its builders liked. Vibration and reliability issues arose with the engine. The E-2 evolved into the improved J-2 with an enclosed cockpit, new engine, and different tail. In 1937, the Bradford plant burned down. Piper moved the entire operation, including 200 employees and what was left of the manufacturing equipment, to Lock Haven, Penn. He found a bargain in an abandoned old silk mill. Piper, an astute businessman often called the “Henry Ford of Aviation,” built no fewer than 687 airplanes in his first year, and the workforce doubled. In 1938, Piper hit a jackpot with engines as three manufacturers — Continental, Lycoming and Franklin — all introduced modern, reliable powerplants.  [ More info … ]


The X-Planes

How did we gain an aviation industry in Western New York and part of Canada? It was due to Glenn Curtiss of Hammondsport, NY where he was running a bicycle shop and developing engines for motorcycles. In 1907 Curtiss set a world speed record of 136 mph on Ormond Beach, Florida, while riding the world’s first V-8 powered motorcycle that he built in his shop. For this feat, Curtiss become known, ”as the fastest man on earth”. People tried to get Curtiss interested in building engines for the emerging new field of aviation. Curtiss was at first reluctant, but when the airplane became more prominent, he quickly formed the Curtiss Aeroplane Company. Curtiss caught the attention of Alexander Graham Bell, the famous inventor, who had just formed the Aerial Experiment Association which was financed by Bell’s wife Mabel.  [ More info … ]

The X-15

Running from 1958 to 1968, the X-15 project was considered to be the second phase of American high-speed flight research intended to take aviation speeds from Mach 3 to Mach 6, and from altitudes of 125,000 feet to the edge of space and possibly beyond. The earlier X-plane presentation, on planes designed and built by Bell Aircraft in Niagara Falls, NY, covered the pioneering aircraft that took aerospace from high subsonic speeds to approximately Mach 3 from 1946 to 1956. During that period, two programs were involved: the better-known one was run by the USAF in association with the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), later NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). It utilized the Bell X-1, then the Bell X-2, to investigate high-speed and high-altitude flight. A parallel program, by the US Navy, used the Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak and the D-558-2 Skyrocket. In 1954, various NACA research centres studied designs for the next generation of high-speed research. A proposal from the Langley centre entailed  [ More info … ]

F-35 Fighter Jet

Design of stealth fighters is challenging in several ways. They tend to be large in size, partly as a result of space required to store weapons internally. That means a larger airframe and invariably, bigger engines. The stealth advantage can be lost when the armament bay doors are opened. Another worry is that the Russians are way ahead of the West in infrared sensing technology. Stealth fighters require a large amount of maintenance and are very expensive. High costs led to the retirement of the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk in 2007 and to massive cuts in the F-22 Raptor program. Growing problems with the weight and cost of the F-22 were evident after its inception in 1991 when, as the YF-22, it won the Advanced Tactical Fighter stealth competition over the Northrop YF-23. Production ended in 2011 after 195 F-22s were built.  [ More info … ]

Air Power In The Congo

The United Nations Operation in the Congo (Opération des Nations Unies au Congo, or ONUC), which took place in the Republic of the Congo from July 1960 until June 1964, marked a milestone in the history of United Nations peacekeeping in terms of the responsibilities it had to assume, the size of its area of operation and the manpower involved. It included, in addition to a peacekeeping force which comprised at its peak strength nearly 20,000 officers and men, an important Civilian Operations component. Originally mandated to provide the Congolese Government with the military and technical assistance it required following the collapse of many essential services and the military intervention by Belgian troops, ONUC became embroiled by the force of circumstances in a chaotic internal situation of extreme complexity and had to assume certain responsibilities which went beyond normal peacekeeping duties. [ More info … ]


The United Nations Emergency Force 1 in the Middle East came into being after the Suez crisis of 1956. The role of UNEF1 – established 24 November 1956 – was to separate the opposing Forces and to supervise the cease fire between Israel and Egypt. After the Israelis withdrew from the joint French, British, Israeli invasion of the Suez Canal the new UNEF peacekeeping contingent moved from the Canal Zone to their “new homes to be “at Gaza, Rafah and for the Canadian air element, El Arish airport.

The First United Nations Emergency Force was made up of Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Colombia, Finland, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Yugoslavia. By 1962 UNEF 1 was down to a seven a contingent force: Columbia, Indonesia to withdraw their contingents.[ More info … ]

CF-100 Adventures

In January 1957 Dave and Scott took their first flight together in a CF-100 Mk.3D dual stick trainer. Ten other crews were flying that day, 40 seconds apart, in trail formation from the base to Meadow Lake, Sask. The instructor had warned the pilots that he didn’t see want to see them above the hills of a valley. In the middle of the valley was a huge lake, frozen solid. On the way down they descended to 10 to 15 feet above the ice, at 500 miles an hour. At one point Dave said, “Watch the stick.” Scott watched in horror as he pushed it forward. Scott thought they would crash for certain, but the speed and smooth ice made the aircraft like an air cushion vehicle. If they had lowered the landing gear they would have been taxiing! Scott’s first flight in a jet fighter was terrifying and he almost concluded that enough was enough. [ More info … ]

Legacy of Captain Les Evans

Canada’s war effort a century ago was remarkable for a nation of eight million people. With a regular army of just 3,100 and a fledgling navy, Canada was ill-equipped to enter a world conflict. Yet by war’s end, more than 650,000 women and men from Canada and Newfoundland served. More than 66,000 gave their lives and more than 172,000 were wounded. The immense sacrifice led to Canada’s separate signature on the Treaty of Versailles, signed on November 11, 2018. Few of many tough struggles fought by Canadians during the war were as brutal as Passchendaele, profiled in this year’s Veterans’ Week poster. During the Second World War, more than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the military, from Hong Kong to Dieppe, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Italian campaign, D-Day, the Battle of Normandy and much more. It was an incredible contribution for a country with only 11 million people at the time. More than 45,000 Canadians gave their lives and another 55,000 were wounded between 1939 and 1945. Thanks to their sacrifice, Canada had become a significant military power with the world’s third largest navy, the fourth largest air force and an army of six divisions.
[ More info … ]

AVRO Aircraft & Cold War Aviation - Randall Whitcomb

This book is definitely not another rehash of old Avro Arrow material! It covers the entire history of Avro Canada, includes much about Avro in Britain and about advanced aviation progress in the United States. Its sub-plots involve the aerospace race of the 20th century set in global political aspects. The reader will discover the exciting advances in aviation over the last century and be able to assess the impact of the Avro story as a result. Statistical comparisons of Avro’s products to the benchmark products of the American competition provide the most shocking evidence of how advanced the Avro actually was.  [  More info …  ]

Aviation Museums and Aviation History / Heritage Groups

Contemporary Photography & Video

Gusair Photography

Gus Corujo has long held a passion for aviation, his interest began very early in his life. In 2006 he decided to explore aviation through photography and started attending air shows with his cameras. Today Gus and his wife Clara, better known as GUSAIR, are very active photographers in southern Ontario. They have had many requests for their photos and managed to publish a large number of articles and photos in magazines, calendars and books. The interest in their work has led to many requests to cover aviation events which has further fuelled their passion.

[  More info …  ]

Canadian Military Aircraft

Toronto Military Aviation

VC920 Squadron

The program was created to ensure a supply of sufficient reserve pilots available for naval air operations. By May of 1953, VC920 Squadron of Toronto was formed as a tender to HMCS York. In September 1953, another Ontario squadron was formed as VC921 Kingston, again as a tender to HMCS Cataraqui. Three additional squadrons were formed as follows-VC922 / HMCS Malahat, VC923 / HMCS Montcalm and VC924 / HMCS Tecumseh. The lifespan of the Naval Reserve Air Squadrons Program was 1953-1964.

400 Squadron

In the summer of 1934, Toronto City Council adopted No. 10 Squadron and granted it permission to use the title City of Toronto. In April 1935, with approval of the Chief of the General Staff, the squadron was officially designated as 10 City of Toronto Army Co-Operation Squadron. It became the first RCAF squadron honored with a city affiliation. Along with operational, training and technical duties came the inevitable ceremonial parades, such as the Toronto Garrison Church Parade, the King’s Jubilee Celebration at the Ontario Legislature and Warrior’s Day at the CNE. [ More info … ]

411 Squadron

The squadron was formed on 16 June 1941 at RAF Digby in Lincolnshire, England as an Article XV squadron under the control of the British Royal Air Force. The squadron was equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire and after a period of training the squadron began operations in August 1941 with the Spitfire VB variant.[2] Part of the Hornchurch Wing it operated over continental Europe on Rhubarb sorties and as bomber escorts. After some rest periods the squadron joined the Kenley Wing for more operations over Europe.