|On my way back from Alberta to Manitoba, I decided to drive via Saskatoon for 2 reasons: to have a look and possibly photograph 2 Canadair CL-66s at the airport and to meet Cory Rousell, with whom I had corresponded about his personal initiative to preserve a Classic Aeroplane.
But first: the stored CL-66's.
This page shows photos taken on 25Sep07.
'Final' update, sent Jan.2013 by Al Furneaux, can be found at bottom page.
Waiting for better times...
|These CL-66B's have been stored here at Saskatoon Airport for a good many years now. Both served with the Canadian Air Force under designation CC-109.
The Canadair CL-66 was a turboprop version of the civilian Convairliner. The CC-109 Cosmopolitan or 'Cosmo' in RCAF service became the standard VIP aircraft, as well as replacing the Douglas DC-3 Dakota and the North American B-25 Mitchell in light transport duties.
It would have been logical to have seen these aircraft move to 'civvie street'. There is a story to that.
Saskatoon Airport over the years (pdf format)
This CC-109 was registered with the RCAF initially as 11152 and later as 109152.
It was bought by one Terry Holowach (some sources quote the name 'Terry Hollowich'; more on/by him below) and tailnumber C-FNCL was reserved for 'North Canada Corporation'. But this never came to fruition. There is no sign of a C- number on its airframe.
When it was advertised for sale in Dec.2002 by Globalair, it showed 18.860 airframe hours.
A few words on its history: Canadair CL-66B-2 was delivered to RCAF in April 1960 with tailnumber 11152 assigned; it was converted to CV580 standard (which included replacement of the unsatisfactory Napier Eland engines by Allison T-56's) in 1966 and redelivered, to 412 Sqdn; registration 109152 was assigned on 26May72; it came to serve with 1 ATU in May 92 and it was decommissioned in 1994; it became registered to North Canada Corporation on 15Oct96, but this was cancelled that same month.
[Source: the ConvairLiners Story by J.M Gradidge / Air-Britain 1997]
A visual reference for a Canadair CL-66B 'Cosmo' is the HF antenna 'bump' on the fuselage; not a common feature on a regular ConvairLiner CV580.
|Graham Robson has fond memories of the CL-66:
"Looking at these CC-109, so sad to see them like this. Nice to catch up with 109152 though! I flew on her twice in June 1992...
It all started when a Cosmo flew to RAF Waddington (my local air base..) to support a detatchment of F-18s, in place of a C-130. Got me thinking this must be the last military propliner still in Europe! The USN C-131s had gone, French Flamants and Noratlases had gone, etc. etc. So, a letter to the Canadian Embassy and some telephone calls and it was all arranged.
Lahr to Sollingen it was, positioning flight for some crew training, then following day from Lahr to RAF Northolt (London), on one of her regular 'feeder' services the type carried out around Europe .... ah, so sadly missed!
The Cosmo was a wonderful aeroplane and '152 was absolutely immaculate inside, akin to a corporate jet, only with a MUCH better sound !
Some of Graham's air-to-air photography can be found on this website.
Let's have a look inside, shall we...
For a large image of above, click here (size 1240 x 800)
For a large image, click here (size 1240 x 895)
|With the close of production of the Convair CV440 in San Diego, Canadair acquired the rights to the design along with the jigs, tooling and even three unsold 440s. With the availability of a Napier Eland turbo-prop conversion, the re-engined CV-440s became the CV-540, an all-cargo variant.
In 1958, the RCAF wanted to replace their aging C-47 Dakotas with a turbo powered aircraft. Their choice was the Vickers Viscount, but the Canadian government decided against this aircraft. Instead, Canadair offered a series of CV-540 variants powered by Napier Eland turbo-props. The project was given the number CL-66 and three versions were considered. The CL-66A was to be a 48/64 passenger aircraft. The CL-66B designed to be a cargo/passenger configuration with a payload of 14200 lb. The CL-66C instead of being built by Canadair used the Convair-built 440s, having only their new engines fitted at Canadair.
The first CL-66 to fly was a 'C'-version with its first flight in February 1959; the CL-66B had its first flight in January 1960. No 'A'-versions were built.
One can see how this design fits the VIP-configuration.
I was amazed of how devoid of dust or 'green growth' the interior was, after so many years of storage. The outside shows no special signs of sealing and the surrounding countryside is flat, no obstacles for wind to batter this aircraft...
' Roomservice' forgot to place a new roll but everything else is spotless..
|Canadair was not able to get contracts from any major airline for the CL-66. It was too expensive and other similar types had better performance. The two aircraft, both of them CL-66Cs, that had been used for extensive sales demonstrations, were sold to the local carrier Quebecair. The RCAF took ten aircraft, mainly Bs. The Eland not only proved to be unreliable, but also did not deliver the expected power, consequently, the RCAF instituted an engine upgrade in 1966-1967, installing Allison T-56 engines. After eight airframes had been re-engined, the company phased out further development work on the type, 'orphaning' the remaining final two Eland examples, which were subsequently scrapped.
No. 412 Squadron at CFB Ottawa flew the Cosmopolitan from 1960 to 1994, as VIP transport. The CC-109's were also deployed to Europe for Canadian NATO contingent support, as well as to the US in support of Canadian NORAD operations.
A STRANGE TALE...It seems these Canadair propliners were part of unsavory dealings!
At some point in time a Crook convinced a Business Man that the decommissioned CC-109 Cosmopolitans, stored at Saskatoon, were worthy of investment. How could they not be: low-time Turbo Props, pampered VIP-aircraft, capable of operations in both passenger as well cargo configuration and meanwhile their 'cousins' the ConvairLiners were proofing their continued use all over the world..!
So the Business Man wrote out a cheque and bought these fine aircraft.
Unfortunately, the Canadair CL-66B's were only certified for military use: an undeniable handicap.
But the Crook had a plan: to sell these aircraft to countries where there was less Governmental oversight and where operators considered 'a good aeroplane = a good aeroplane' and did not become distracted by mere paperwork. Countries in Africa and Latin America come to mind.
The Crook did not share this plan with the Business Man.
So these aircraft were ferried across the border. The Business Man sat in his office and did not notice.
Until Authorities noticed... and apprehended the Crook in Calgary, where CL-66B (c/n 1) C-FNCI still sits, languishing in storage (meanwhile, reregistered N4AX).
The Business Man died. His remaining Cosmo's remained unsold.
The Widow entertains as yet no plans for use of these forgotten VIP-transports.
True or False..? I don't know.., I merely bring to the surface what was related to me. Comments will be welcomed.
While CL-66B-1 is accounted for, in Calgary, we have have c/n 2 (C-FNCL) and c/n 10 (C-GNCM) here at Saskatoon.
Updates & Reactions Welcomed !
|One reaction named some names: "the guy to whom you refer as the 'crook' is probably Albert Ethier, who was the owner of Norcanair, never regarded well for his honesty and hated by all his employees...
Terry Holowach was the name I was given to get info on the Convairs, he was selling them on behalf of the owner whom I now assume is the widow you mention? Terry is a CL215 pilot, so was away when I made my visit"
[In 1983 Saskatoon businessman Albert Ethier purchased Norcanair and in 1987 Norcanair became part of Time Air, which was later absorbed by Canadian Regional Airlines. -webmaster]
The name Albert Ethier in connection with CL-66B's also comes up in a -Spanish- article, which also includes a link to some video footage of a CL-66B whilst landing somewhere (if you can stand the 'soundtrack').
The name Alaskin Air Service was also mentioned in connection to Mr Ethier, but have been unable to trace any details.
I received following in defense of Mr Ethier: I am, or more correctly , was familiar with these aircraft. I wil give you my best recollection.
First: "Albert Eithier(sp) was involved with NorCanAir many years ago. I won't go into the history there except to say it was sold to Time Air and Albert signed a non-compete clause. When that expired, NorCanAir was resurrected (this is not the legal name) and ran into some difficulty with Transport. Was shut down.
Albert subsequently bought the aircraft pictured, I believe in about 1989-1990. He had a partner, one of the Remai brothers, in Saskatoon. I can not remember which one, but I think it was Frank or John.
Plan A was to get them certified. Did not happen.
Plan B was to sell them to a foreign government or a foreign carrier who did not require , or maybe care, about the C of A.
I left about that time and lost track of what happened. They were great old birds.
My personal opinion is that Albert Eithier is a fine man. He gave me some great breaks during my career, for no other reason than I was a pilot trying to get ahead. I think maybe the whole businessman and crook thing is a little out of whack."
FACTS to the STRANGE TALE...
"It was a pleasure reading about the Cosmos on your website, but it does contain a few errors, which I can shed some light on. I will attempt to give you the short version.
Chris Trott has the following on the above:
This is the last built Canadair Cosmopolitan, CL-66B-10, and it was to become C-GNCM.
It started with the RCAF as 11160, later registered 109160 ('160' still adorns the aircraft) and this CC-109 was converted to CV580 standard too, in 1967.
It flew with 412 Sqdn and its tailnumber was revised to 109160 on 26May70. Its military career ended in 1994, proclaimed 'wfu': without further use.
As C-GNCM it was registered C-GNCM on 15Oct96, but this was cancelled again that same month.
So it sits here: without further use. Pity that no.1 engine did find some use, elsewhere. But read on..
[Source: the ConvairLiners Story by J.M Gradidge / Air-Britain 1997]
|Sean Keating wrote a clear and comprehensive account on why such aircraft as these Canadair CL-66B's cannot be used in civilian, commercial transport-
"Military designs do not automatically get a civil standard type certificate...
Some examples are C-47 to DC-3 and C-121 to L-1049 where the airframe built for a military customer will need a service bulletins performed to convert from military to standard civil. This SB will need to come from the original manufacturer or can be an STC which will need approval from the airworthiness authority of the country of original manufacture and subsequent acceptance by the country of registration. A half measure is 'limited' or 'restricted' but they are special purpose aircraft: waterbombers are one example as were also the C-119's in AK for government work.
The military maintenance program is different from any civil program and the times between overhaul may be different... to perform 'catch- up' maintenance and modifications (or de-mods) to register as civil may not be financially viable.
The Cosmo modification to Allison engines did NOT make it a CV580, as that can only apply to a Convair built airframe per the STC. I would assume the details of work and part replacement was the same, however the DND (Dept. of National Defense) would have signed off the modifications under their own depot maintenance program and QA.
I seem to remember that the Allison engines may have a military part number; if so, they cannot be legally transplanted onto a CV580, probably the reason these planes still have engines attached?
The same issue applied to my Pembroke, it cannot be converted to a President as no SB exists and the OEM will not agree to some other company assuming design authorisation.
Some military aircraft will forever remain as such, there is no desire by the manufacturer to assist is converting to civil, either they won't meet certain performance criteria or they could impinge on future sales of newer equipment...
I seem to remember that a C-121 being converted to a 'standard'-certificate had to have the wingtip tank mount bolts changed, nothing wrong with them but the part number stamped on the bolt head was different between the military and civil aircraft... Same bolt though!"
Jeff Rankin-Lowe wrote about this subject the following-
RCAF 109160 left Saskatoon, to find a new home with Kelowna Flightcraft / KF Aerospace in British Columbia. Further details below. By 2019 only 1 survived.
|To show how these Cosmopolitans have puzzled the aviation community, I reproduce an email sent to me in Dec. 2003:
"I too suspect that at least one of the CC-109s that were in Africa have crossed over to Panama. I myself have had no luck with Aeroperlas in Panama -- they don't respond to my e-mails.
What I do know is that they have ex-109157, now registered HP-1445 and in full Aeroperlas livery. Also, HP-1468 was photographed in Aeroperlas titles but with a modified ex-Canadian Forces livery (red lightning bolt trim). I suspect this aircraft might well be 3D-ZOE, ex-109156, ex-5Y-BNV, ex-9XR-NC.
I also suspect that Aeroperlas has a third in service. A year ago I photographed one of the ex-Canadian Forces CC-109s at Saskatoon (CYXE, where all surviving seven were stored after purchase by Norcanair from the Canadian government), with the Panama registration HP-1473 (modified ex-Canadian forces livery, blue lightning bolt trim). I could not get any details on this airframe but it was obvious it was being prepared for a ferry flight. It was one of three airframes remaining at YXE.
The three airframes are 109152, 159 and 160. None of the airframes had any distinguishing markings so it is impossible to know which of the three HP-1473 might be. Another of the three I observed in 2002 had the same blue trim but it remains at YXE, along with a second still in basic CF colours but without engines. HP-1473 has gone, probably to join HP-1445 and HP-1468. In any event, nobody at YXE knows anything about the identities of the remaining airframes, or is willing to tell!
I have corresponded with a spotter in Panama, who says the Cosmopolitans were bought because of their large freight door (not to mention their glass cockpits). He said HP-1445 was joined by second, which he thought was HP-1455. I haven't seen any evidence of this airframe but it does open up the possibility that four CC-109s are now in Panama. Perhaps it is 9XR-NB, ex-109154, which was last noted withdrawn from use at Lanseria, South Africa. That would add up to seven, since two remain at Saskatoon and a third is at Calgary (ex-109151, N4AX). Any ideas?"
(p.s. "..by nov.2009 both Cosmopolitans have not moved since your 2007 visit." - see update 2014 bottom page))
109154 was delivered April 28, 1960 with s/n 11154, official handover to RCAF took place May 25. In 1960 re-engined by PackAero at Burbank, California, USA, with 3,750 eshp Allison 501-D13D turboprop engines (civil version of the military T56). Renumbered 109154 when taken over by CAF on May 26, 1970, refurbished with VIP-interior November 16, 1973, withdrawn from use in June 1994 and stored at Air Maintenance Development Unit, CFB Trenton, Ontario.
In 1995 on Canadian Registry as C-FNCT, to Albert Ethier, North Canada Air Limited (Norcanair), Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, stored July 1998. In February 2001 sold to Sankair International, Kongo as 9Q-CLU, on June 13, 2001 reregistered in Rwanda as 9XR-NB to Central African Cargo, Lanseria, South Africa, but not taken up, instead to Aeroperlas, Panama as HP-1468, subsequently as HP-1468A and HP-1468APP, while in storage at Panama City for longer period.
Next it was registered to the lease-company Parwood Financial Corp, Caracas, Venezuela as YV-191T, from April 24, 2006, it was leased to TAM (Transporte Aereo Militar, Military Air Transport) ), civilian wing of the Fuerza Aerea Boliviana (Bolivian Air Force) at La Paz, with the serial FAB-74, reportedly at a rate of US$ 12,000 a month.
Jeff Rankin-Lowe (who has written the book: 'The Aircraft of the Canadian Armed Forces' and has published many articles on aviation subjects) contributed the following (continued from above):
This is taken from the CAF's Engineering Logistics Directive (ELD) for the CC-109 Cosmopolitan. ELDs are used to develop and support an Estimated Life Expectancy (ELE) for an aircraft type and also in support of the Canadian Military Airworthiness Type Certificate (CMATC). When they determine an ELE, it is based on what is known about all factors including current and planned flying annual hours, availaibility of spares (in-stock and for purchase), logistics and training requirements, fatigue life, known issues, and many other factors. The CC-109 ELD is dated 20 December 1989.
Under 'Manufacturer', it says, "The airframe was built by Canadair Limited of Montreal on jigs and fixtures transferred to Canadair from the Convair plant at San Diego. The aircraft were manufactured to Specifications AIR-19-12. The Service Model Designation is CC-109 and the Canadian Forces name is Cosmopolitan. The Civil Designation is Convair 580."
Under 'Power Plant', it says, "The aircraft is powered with two Allison 501-D36A prop-jet turbine engines. The engines are axial flow, internal combustion gas turbines delivering their power via a reduction gear to the propellor."
Under 'Propellors', it says, "A Hamilton Standard 54H-60-91 four-bladed, full-feathering, reversible-pitch, electro-hydromatic propellor is installed on each engine. A control system is provided for maintaining constant speed, reversing, synchronizing, synchrophasing, and manual, automatic, and emergency feathering."
Under 'Re-engining of CC-109 Aircraft', it says, "Due to the many and varied problems experienced in operating the Napier Eland engines, NDHQ authorized the re-engining of seven Cosmopolitan CC-109 aircraft with Allison 501-D36A engines (commercial version of Allison T56 type engine) turning Hamilton Standard 54H-60-91 propellors."
As if time stood still: ready for duty...
Chris Trott cleared this up for me: "that 'thing' (see correction by Al Furneaux) projecting from under the fuselage is the Air Cycle Machine inlet. Basically, this is the inlet for air to pressurize the cabin and the ACM also can cool and heat the air using bleed air off the engine."
Al Furneaux wrote (Jan.2013): "The cabin is pressurized by an Engine Driven Compressor (EDC) on the # 2 engine, not bleed air. The inlet under the fuselage supplies cooling air over the 'Secondary Heat Exchanger'. It has nothing to do with the ACM. The Air Cycle Machine does help cool the pressurized air."
Cory wrote me an exciting update in Oct.2011:
I did some further research on the Saskatoon CL-66s (with the help of Bobbie Rawlings and Terry Judge), and found the following.
The first one flown out of Saskatoon was the former 109152 c/n CL-66B-2 (issued the special mark C-FNCL in 1996). On 29 Aug 2011 it was issued the special mark C-GLWF, and with that it was flown from Saskatoon to Kelowna on 01 Sep 2011.
The second one was the former 109160 c/n CL-66B-10 (issued special mark C-GNCM in 1996 but never used). As Brian already found out via FlightAware, it was now issued special mark C-GNDK, on 06 Oct 2011 to Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd. to be exact. As FlightAware shows it was then flown from Saskatoon to Kelowna on 12 Oct 2011.
All in all a nice development, I wonder what Kelowna intends to do with them. Spares use, or conversion to airtanker? If airtanker conversion, then hopefully they will also acquire the one in storage at Calgary since 1996 (N4AX), and possibly even the one stored in Bolivia (FAB-74) and the duo stored in Panama (HP-1445/1473)."
Jef Rankin-Lowe quoted the following from a recently distributed KF Newsletter:
Nov.2011: Kelowna Flightcraft confirmed to me (RL, webmaster) that KF "..indeed purchased the Saskatoon, Calgary, and Panama Cosmo aircraft (5 total) and will be bringing them all 'home' to Kelowna, BC. Two are here now.
THE FINAL (?) CHAPTER, by Al Furneaux -Chief Pilot Convair for Kelowna Flightcraft- (Jan.2013):
"I had the honor and pleasure to ferry all 5 Cosmos to Kelowna.
A 02Jun2016 image shows 159 and 160 stored at Kelowna, @Flickr.com
Aad van der Voet provided a round up how the CL-66s now (Sep.2014) ended in Kelowna, B.C.:
"Former RCAF 109152 was one of five retired RCAF CC-109 aircraft parked on the Kelowna Flightcraft ramp in September 2014. Each aircraft had about 15,000 hrs and, while the engines had been removed, they all appeared to be in good condition.
Due to the difficulty in getting them certified for civilian use and a limited market for CV580/CV5800 freighters, by August 2017, only C-GLWF/109152 survived."
Thisis a caption to a 16Sep2014 photo by Ralph M. Pettersen on AirHistory.net with the sole survivor (C-GLWF).
The other reason for me to visit Saskatoon:
Cory Rousell took the unusual initiative to preserve an aircraft in his own backyard... Obviously, he has the space to do so!
He lives with his family a considerable distance out of town and when I got there I had to move quickly to shoot my photos with fast diminishing daylight.
More on this, go to Cory Rousell's restoration project