GREATER VANCOUVER &We flew into Vancouver IAP and spent a little time in the area. We also crossed by ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Vancouver Island, and spent time in Victoria, Tofino and Campbell River.
VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C.
While this trip focussed mainly on visiting friends and non-aviation related interests, there was time to explore aviation locations as well. With an unexpected bonus: a flight in a DHC-2 Beaver!
The background of this webpage has a map drawing which shows most of the area we travelled; it is from a book by Jim Spilsbury about his airline Queen Charlotte Airways (QCA, see wikipedia). A 3rd book by him is a picture book featuring also many photos taken by Jim, an avid photographer, of his personal life and career. Recommended reading, also for 'understanding' the people living in this area.
After a visit to Vancouver's Museum of Anthropology (MoA), I was heading back for the motel when it occurred to me this Seaplane base was almost on the way. However, it is a little difficult to park your car in the area, and I found myself time restricted by the amount of coins I had for the parking meter.
At Vancouver Coal Harbour Seaplane Base, B.C. 04Sep10
de Havilland DHC-3T Otter C-GLCP (c/n 433) Harbour Air. Flying special red colours depicting the national flag.
In 2006 I had been here too, wielding my camera, for those pictures see HERE..
On 07Sep10 a visit was made to Langley's Canadian Museum of Flight. This was actually a revisit as I had been here in 2006. A page dedicated to this visit will follow later.
VICTORIA AP- SIDNEY, B.C.
08SEP2010. As soon as we disembarked from the ferry I made my way to the airport of Victoria. I came to Viking Air and had a look over the high fence, noticed these two turbo DHC-3 Otters. There was also a DHC-6-400, which Viking Air is manufacturing; they asked me not to take pictures of that one, C-GLVA, though they also made it clear they could not forbid it - I respected their request.
Below information was copied from Karl E. Hayes' work on the DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter; I've edited the information to make it more comprehensive. HERE you'll find how to obtain a copy of the DHC-3 Otter monograph on CD-Rom.
DHC-3 Otter c/n 59 was delivered to the RCAF on 17Dec1954 with serial 3692. It went initially to
No.6 Repair Depot, Trenton for storage as a reserve aircraft, being allocated in July 1955 to 102
Communications & Rescue Unit at Trenton. It returned to DeHavilland Canada at Downsview in March 1956 for
incorporation of All Up Weight modifications and on completion of the work in September 1956 was
During its long service with 438 Squadron two minor incidents were recorded. On 16th April 1966
3692 continued in service with 438 Squadron and in its last years of service it was a 'VIP Otter',
plushly outfitted with sofas and the like!
were to languish in the open at Decatur for some years. However, they were all eventually sold,
It joined Aeronautical Services other two Otters N98T
(181) and N357AS (357), servicing a UPS contract flying small packages around the San Juan
Islands, an archipelago to the northwest of Seattle, between mainland Washington State and
Canada's Vancouver Island.
The Otter continued its use until Nov. 2000 by
which stage the unique cargo Otter operation of Aeronautical Services was coming to an end. The
growth in cargo had exceeded even the Otter's capacity by that stage and a revised pattern of
distribution saw the cargo move around the islands by large trucks on the ferries.
The Otter was not immediately required for this purpose and was accordingly leased to Points
North Air Services Inc of La Ronge, Saskatchewan as C-GIWQ on 31May01.
As the photo shows it seems that sometime after 01Jan08 C-GIWQ has been reconfigured to a Viking Turbo Otter, but hasn't made its way to another operator yet. It is also back on wheels.
DHC-3 Otter c/n 385 was delivered to the United States Army on 22Aug1960 with serial 59-2230 (tailnumber 92230). It had been fitted with radios
suitable for an overseas deployment, was shipped to Libya where it arrived at
Wheelus Air Base, Tripoli in April 1961, where it was re-assembled. Its first
operating unit was the
Army's 572nd Engineer Platoon and flown as a survey aircraft on mapping duties initially in Libya and later in
Between August 1989 and August 1990 the Otter was operated by and
registered to Air North Bay Inc of North Bay,Ont. before reverting to Air Kipawa Inc.
first flight from Victoria as a turbine Otter was made during July 2005. It finished its flight test programme prior to Christmas 2005 and during 2006 was awaiting final official
certification of the Viking Turbo Otter conversion.
The photo shows it without titles and actually, anno Nov.2010, the Transport Canada website shows C-FDNK as a piston DHC-3 Otter, registered since 26Nov04 to Viking Air Ltd.
VICTORIA - HARBOUR (INNER HARBOR)
On 09SEP10 we drove into Victoria and on our way to a whale watching trip I allowed myself a few minutes at the Inner Harbor Seaplane base (CXH/CYHC). I would have loved to have spent more time here, but a sport injury restricted my walking abilities and I had my sights set on a 3-day visit to Tofino.
Whales are common in the area but usually they stay out of the harbour. At some point a whale got a little adventurous and ventured into the harbour, into that body of water you see in the background on the photo below. The same water these seaplanes use to land and take off from.
de Havilland DHC-3T Otter C-FRNO (c/n 21) of Harbour Air
and DHC-6-100 Twin Otter C-GQKN (c/n 94) of Westcoast Air.
NANAIMO AIRPORT, B.C.
The following day we set out for Tofino; the weather had turned to overcast with occasional rain. In these conditions we arrived at Nanaimo, fortunately during a dry spell. During my previous visit here, in 1999, there had been two Cansos languishing here, but now only C-FNJB (c/n CV-249) remained (for the time being, see 'update' below).
Canso CV-249 was by the military, RCAF, with serial 9815 and found its way to the civil registry as CF-NJB. It is still seen in the livery of its use as an airtanker by the Province of Saskatchewan-Air Transportation Services,of Saskatchewan.
Dirk Septer wrote an article about these 'Yellow Birds' in the second last issue of Aviation Canada, previously known as Aviation Quarterly before they ceased publication early in 2006: HERE in .pdf format.
Update: C-FNJB was acquired by Evergreen for their McMinnville museum (Nov.2010) and sighted late august at Evergreen's yard in McMinnville,OR. C-FNJB was reregistered N249SB for Michael King Smith Foundation, McMinnville,OR on 13Jun2011.
In 2012 I found it at its new home: Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (McMinnvile,OR)
Nanaimo Seaplane base, 10SEP10.
De Havilland DHC-3T C-GHAS
DHC-3 Otter c/n 284 was delivered to the United States Army on 05Sep1958 with serial 57-6136 (tail number 76136). It was delivered from Downsview to Fort Hood,TX, one of 4 Otters delivered around this time to the 2nd Missile Command, which subsequently moved to Fort Carson, Colorado.
The Otter served there until Sep59, then being re-assigned to the 57th Aviation Company at Fort Sill,OK.
By Jan62 it was attached to the Headquarters Company, 15th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Bragg, but spent some of its time at Fort Huachuca,AZ. In Oct63 it joined the Aviation Section at Fort Ord, CA and the following month it joined the 17th Aviation Company at Fort Ord and then in June 1964 the Otter Transition School at Fort Ord.
It continued to serve there until the School was closed and in Aug71 transferred to the US Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker,AL. The School came under the United States Army Aviation School Command (USAASC) and was based at Cairns AAF, Fort Rucker and as well as the Otter also flew the Beaver, Beech U-21A and T-42 Baron. The Otter continued in service with the School until 29th March 1972, on which date it was handed over to the US Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker.
76136 was put on display at the Museum and remained as an exhibit until 1993, when it was
decided to sell the aircraft, and replace it as the museum exhibit with Otter 76135 (c/n 283), which was
then in storage at Fort Rucker. 76136 was advertised for sale, and sold to Sound Flight Inc of Renton
Airport, Seattle,WA to whom it was registered N84SF in Jun94.
In 2001, the owners of Sound Flight Inc decided to close down the business and instead lease out
their aircraft. The Otter was transferred to Airlease Inc, Renton on 05Mar02 and then leased
to Transwest Air for the summer of 2002, being registered C-FADW to Transwest Air Ltd Partnership,
Prince Albert,SAS on 30May02.
De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver C-FJBP Westcoast Air
C-FJBP (c/n 942) was involved in an accident 19Feb08 here at Nanaimo, fog patches had been reported over the water, pilot initiated an overshoot, aircraft suffered minor damage when it struck a tree with lh outboard wing, circled & landed, no injuries.
History of C-FJBP, as well as all the other Beavers here, can be found on Neil Aird's wonderful DHC-2 website
Still heading for Tofino, on the westcoast of Vancouver island, I couldn't believe my luck when driving in the town centre of Port Alberni I noticed a speck in the dictance which could only be the unique, incomparable, extraordinary Martin Mars!
MARTIN MARS AT SPROAT LAKE, B.C.
Only two of these 'aviation dinosaurs' remain airworthy and since their task is aerial firefighting, one should consider himself very lucky to see one airborne. Unless of course you live in Port Alberni or nearby their airtanker base on Sproat Lake, but my only other visit dated from 1999...
It was obvious that the Martin Mars plane was doing some sort of training as it circled, disappearing from view
Fortunately my wife was driving and I could keep on eye on its activities. being very anxious to get closer and take some pictures, I became increasingly frustrated being held up by traffic in town, roadworks and a schoolbus dropping off schoolkids.
When we noticed this sign, which I mistook for the sign for the airtanker base, we followed the small winding road -still behind the schoolbus!- and trees obstructed the view.
Only now and then the Martin Mars reappeared in my view, it seemed to get lower and lower. After 20 minutes we returned to the main road, realizing we were not getting any closer to the air tanker base, and found the correct turn off. There may have been a view from the pub, but I wasn't looking for a pub but the tanker base so I missed that entirely.
I got to the Coulson airtanker base just in time to see the Martin Mars approaching. Handicapped by my sports injury I managed a poor jog and aimed my telephoto lens. I missed the landing entirely.
The woman on the below left photo, told me it had done water drops and been practising its fire fighting role; she promised to send me some photos she'd taken but never did, unfortunately.
Flying Tankers Inc. was formed in 1959 by a consortium of forest companies after experiencing several catastrophic fire seasons. The new company then purchased the remaining four of the world's only fleet of mighty Martin Mars aircraft from the US Navy.
Originally, the Martin Mars flying boats were produced for the US Navy and were used as troop and cargo transports among the islands of the Pacific. Firefighting certainly wasn't what the aircraft's manufacturer, Glenn L. Martin had in mind..... however, all four aircraft, the Marianas, Philippine, Hawaii and Caroline Mars were ferried to British Columbia where three were fitted with 7,200 gallon (27,276 litres) water tanks and converted to waterbombers!
In 1961 the Marianas Mars was destroyed while on firefighting operations and all four crew members were lost. The Caroline Mars was also destroyed while ashore by a hurricane in 1962. The two remaining aircraft, the Philippine and Hawaii Mars, have continued on to provide unsurpassed firefighting protection for thirty-seven accident free years! They have operated on hundreds of fires saving untold thousands of acres of valuable forestlands, delivering foam or water exactly where and when it is needed.
Flying Tankers operate on the philosophy of "gallons per hour". Simply stated, this means a direct assault on the fire by dropping the largest possible amount of water or gel in the shortest possible time. This philosophy, combined with the Mars excellent initial attack and outstanding ability for sustained operations are the keys to our success - they are scoopers and, working in tandem, they are able to deliver 14,000 US gallons (54,500 litres) of suppressant for the initial attack and continue delivering as much as 7,200 US gallons (27,276 litres) every seven minutes thereafter in sustained operations if needed.
Today, the company is owned by Coulson Aircrane Ltd who have determined that efficiencies gained over the years have "freed up" flying time and our company is now able to offer Mars services which were largely restricted to the owners in previous years. In short, the Mars are spreading their 200 foot (61 meter) wingspan to provide protection on a callout service or contract basis to any company or agency requiring the unique initial attack and sustained action qualities of the Mars. NO OTHER AIRCRAFT CAN DELIVER A MASSIVE 60,000 POUND (27,216 KILOGRAM) PAYLOAD AS QUICKLY AS THE MARS AND CONTINUE TO DELIVER IT EVERY FEW MINUTES FOR SEVERAL HOURS OR UNTIL THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED.
The Coulson Flying Tankers waterbombers are located at our main base, which is situated on Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia. In addition to the Mars aircraft, our fleet also includes a Baron 58 (which is called the 'Bird Dog' because it acts as the spotter plane).
Coulson Flying Tankers is a self-sufficient operation which employs up to 20 personnel. All maintenance tasks are carried out on base and the highly skilled technicians who maintain the aircraft are also part of the flight crews.
View the Coulson Flying Tankers web site: www.martinmars.com
Another excellent website with comprehensive information on these Martin Mars airtankers is www.oldwings.nl
Dirk Septer wrote an article in 2002 about the Martin Mars, titled 'God of Rain' and on the same subject an extensive article in Aeroplane Monthly (March 2007). Both are in Acrobat Reader .pdf format.
The webpage www.nanaimoinformation.com/forum has a thread on Martin Mars photos, or alternatively, should this have been deleted, I haved save it in a .pdf file HERE... (Thanks to Baz Stead for pointing this out).
See the news on C-FLYK further below...
Best word to describe these giant planes: HUMONGOUS!
Steve, at Sproat Lake, wrote the following eye-witness report on Yahoo's Classic-Propliner forum:
In an article dated July 2015 some of the statistics were quoted which led to the decision to cease waterbomber action for these Martin Mars planes:
In 2013, when the Wildfire Management Branch last used the Martin Mars, the season rate was $672,300 with a flying time cost of $4,000 per hour for the first 45 hours and $18,800 per hour for any additional hours. This rate does not include fuel,” they said in a statement last year."
Also: "Wayne Coulson, the owner of the two remaining Martin Mars water bombers, has a contract for one his planes to help teach Chinese pilots learn how to fly the same type of planes. He’s in negotiations to move the other one to Florida. And a similar petition effort to bring back the Mars bombers failed last year."
However, raging wildfires in B.C. brought the Martin Mars back in action, as these details of the Albernie Valley News (Monday,06Jul2015) show: "The Coulson Group has signed a contract with the province of B.C. for the use of Mars waterbomber, according to CEO Wayne Coulson. "We have notified the province of our rates and we now have a contract in place and we are waiting for government to order the Mars up," said Coulson. "The earliest we told them is most likely a Thursday start depending how many days they take to decide."
TOFINO, B.C. -12SEP10-
Our stay at Tofina was not a great success: it rained most of the time. When it started to rain during the first of three nights of our stay, it continued for over 36 hours. When there was a brief dry spell I wandered along the seaplane base and the various docks in this small town and managed to get a few half decent photos.
Cessna A185F C-GYJX - Ce.185F c/n 18503187, Atleo River Air Service Ltd [Tofino Seafari.com]
12SEP2010 at Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC.
DeHavilland DHC-2 C-GFLT Tofino Air seen arriving.
For more bushplanes seen on this trip, see also my photos at Flickr.com
13SEP2010. We passed Port Alberni Airport and since I had seen the airtanker base while driving west, I though it appropriate to have a quick look at the airport here while driving east again.
The presence of this Nanchang CJ6A C-FLFS (c/n 5232011, imported in 2006 and registered to Matthew Salkeld) was indeed a pleasant surprise.
CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C.
First time for me in Campbell River and I was in the fortunate circumtance of enjoying the hospitality of Dirk Septer, aviation researcher and writer.
Vancouver Island Air (website) had two Beech 18s shrinkwrapped (www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1144118/ for 2 registrations, linjk provided by Roger Janssens) in white plastic on the dry and Beech 18 C-FGNR & DHC-3T C-GHAG in the water at the dock.
Photos and video footage on Facebook recorded C-FGNR at Akureyri,Iceland in July 2015! See
I made a seperate page for MY VISIT TO SEALAND AVIATION
DHC-2 C-GACK (c/n 711), registered since 19Mar07 to Corilair Charters Limited (their website)
DHC-2 N5344G (c/n 1219) registered to Miles G. Ramsey Jr., Portland,OR on 10Jan08.
Here is its history, courtesy www.dhc-2.com:
c/n 1219 Delivered on 21/04/58 as 57-6139 to the US ARMY
As N5344G registered in Jan.1977 for Civil Air Patrol Inc. (headquarters at Maxwell AFB, Mongomery,AL)
At some point reg'd to Miles G. Ramsey Jr. of Palmer, AK. Current in May 1993.
Again, at some point made its way to Sealand at Campblell River, BC and was seen being worked on 02May02 and reported freshly painted 06May02, in green and white.
Reported still stored at Campbell River during April 2004 . Reg'd 10Jan08 once more to Miles G. Ramsey Jr. but as address reported: Portland,OR.
(Almost three years later it still sits here, Mr Ramsey sure isn't in a hurry to be reunited with his Beaver!)
deHavilland DHC-3T Turbine Otter C-GHAG of Vancouver Island Air.
DHC-3 Otter c/n 214, its history once more quoted from Karl E. Hayes' excellent monograph (see also above)...
...was delivered to A.Fecteau Transport Aerien Ltee, Senneterre, Quebec on 17May57 registered CF-JUH.
The company was later renamed Air Fecteau.
At one stage, with a fleet of 11 DHC-3s, Air Fecteau was the world's largest commercial operator of the Otter, and served the entire of the Quebec bush country!
CF-JUH is mentioned in the history of the RCAF's radar station at Senneterre, monitored on 27Jan61 on a flight from Great Whale to Senneterre. JUH was destined to be the longest serving of the Air Fecteau Otters, becoming C-FJUH.
It was reregistered to Propair Inc in May 1982, when Air Fecteau amalgamated into that company. It was still in service with Propair during the summer of 2001. It was advertised for sale in April 2002 with an impressive total of 22,475 hours on the airframe, after 45 years of continuous service in the Quebec bush country without an accident, a remarkable record!
It was at that stage parked at Rouyn- Noranda,Que. and remained in storage throughout 2002.
On 20Jun03, 'JUH was registered to Somiper Aviation Inc of Montreal and, having crossed the country to the Pacific Coast, on 07Aug03 it was registered to Viking Air Ltd of Victoria BC.
By 01Dec03 it had emerged from the hangar at Victoria converted to a Vazar turbine, painted in the colour scheme of Trans Maldivian Airways.
Viking Air had secured a contract to supply two turbine Otters to Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA),
JUH being one and G-GVTO (c/n 393) the other. JUH was cancelled from the Canadian register on 16Feb04 and was crated and shipped to the Maldives, a group of islands located in the Indian
'JUH, which had spent the first 45 years of its existence flying around the often frozen bush country of
Quebec, this paradise island hopping was certainly a change.
The other Otter, 393, also arrived at Male in the Maldives but was not re-registered. By that stage,
TMA had a change of mind, and had concluded that they did not want a mixed fleet, that they would
stick with the Twin Otters and so the two Single Otters 214 and 393 were put up for sale.
The two Otters were shipped from The Maldives to Sri Lanka, registered to Sri Lankan Air Taxi in
Oct. 2004, c/n 214 as 4R-ARA (and 393 as 4R-ARB) and entered service on these domestic routes
alongside the Cessna Caravan. The peaceful existence of this Indian Ocean island was shattered on
26Dec04, by the infamous tsunami (tidal wave) which wreaked death and destruction on
a massive scale throughout the region...
These two Otters continued in service for nearly three years but due to the declining security situation
within Sri Lanka (with frequent attacks by 'Tamil Tiger' insurgents), many of the
destinations served had to be abandoned, and this fact together with the declining
number of tourists visiting the country rendered the operation no longer viable.
The buyer of the 2 Otters was Harbour Air of Vancouver. The 2 DHC-3 Otters were shipped from Colombo to Vancouver, arriving in 4 large containers on 31Oct07 and over the winter of 2007/08 the Otters were repainted into Harbour Air colours and made ready for service. 4R-ARA was registered to Harbour Air as C-GHAG on03Oct07 and on the same day 4R-ARB was reg'd to Harbour Air as C-FJHA.
G-GHAG was reg'd on 06May08 to Vancouver Island Air of Campbell River.
DHC-2 C-FJPB (c/n 1319), reg'd to Corilair Charters Ltd on 08Feb06
Its history, once more courtesy DHC-2.com:
deHavilland DHC-2 Mk.III, turbine-configured, C-FASA (c/n 1640TB22) at Campbell River Airport 14SEP10.
Registered to Telus Communication Inc, Richmond,BC on 06Jan04.
Manufactured in 1966 and delivered on 21Jul66 as CF-ASA to Algoma Steel Corporation
Reg'd 12Feb91 as C-FASA to the British Columbia Telephone Company of Richmond,BC.
At an unspecified date reg'd to Fletcher Challenge Canada Ltd. (Richmond,BC)
and reg'd to Telus Communications Inc. on 06Jan04.
This DC-3 brought back some memories for me! It is depicted on my page More Gooney Birds, showing an image I took in 1997 at Hayward,CA. It had a special nose which housed a weather radar - one can still see how N877MG recently had a nose job!
For more information on R4D-6/DC-3C N877MG (c/n 14193/25638) I refer to the photo taken in 1977.
My page dedicated to my visit to Sealand Aviation shows photos of the interior and cockpit.
Delivered on 20Jan1956 as CF-IGF to B. C. Yukon Air Service Ltd. of Watson Lake,YT .
Reg'd 25Apr1988 to Fleetwood Logging Co., Ltd.
Reregistered C-FIGF for Vancouver Island Air Ltd., Campbell River, BC on 02Sep88 and again on 07Jul94. Next was North Island Air & Marine Ltd. of Port McNeill,BC (28Jan2000).
Presently registered to and operating for Wahkash (Contracting) Ltd. of Campbell River, BC since 15Jan02 and again on 09Jun09.
Source and more photos of this DHC-2 Beaver taken during it spast career: www.DHC-2.com
Ken shuttles employees and goods to the logging camps in the area; he took me to Knights Inlet, north east of Cambell River. He knows this area like the back of his hand, and you can see by that smug smile on his face he's enjoying every minute of it! And thanks for all that 'route info', Ken!
Photos taken during the flight will be added in due course to my travel page of this trip.
|After crossing by BC Ferries from Comox to Powell River, we stayed overnight at Sechelt. Following directions for a place to eat, I found myself at the Seaplane here.
The next day I stumbled upon the small Sechelt-Gibsons Airport, while looking for a salmon hatchery. 17SEP2010.
At Vancouver IAP (South) 18Sep2010Getting rarer and rarer to see these Classic Props operating: Air North' HS.748-269 (SRS 2A) C-FCSE (c/n 1679) based at Vancouver on some contract as one normally finds Air North aeroplanes at Whitehorse (Yukon).
DHC-2 C-GJZQ (c/n 207) Beaukent Developments Inc. (Richmond B.C) reg'd 22Oct03
and Cessna 180J C-GCQU (c/n 18052485).
privately owned ('839901 Alberta Inc'), reg'd 28Aug2000.
On 04Jun2010 again reg'd to Westcoast Air.
The Seair Seaplanes dock at Vancouver-South Seaplane base as seen from my seat in the Beaver Bar & Grill...
The Flying Beaver Bar & Grill and the Terminal for Harbour Air operations.
The best of all combinations: good food, a pint of Guinness and looking floatplanes come and go!
SEE ALSO MY PHOTOS TAKEN DURING MY 2006 VISIT HERE.
A quick look at the cargo ramp of Vancouver IAP, before heading out to the terminal for the flight home, brought me these images.
Noted were (left to right): Boeing 727-243 C-GWKF (c/n 21270), Convair C-131F C-FKFS (c/n 279) and CV580 C-FKFZ (c/n 151). All these are operated by Purolator, leased fom Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter Ltd.
For a history on Convair CV580 C-FKFZ, see my report on my 2006 visit here.
Revisited Langley's Canadian Museum of Flight Sep.2010
British Columbia Aviation Museum (BCAM) Sep.2010
My Visit to Sealand Aviation, Campbell River, B.C. Sep. 2010