Photos © Ruud Leeuw

My visit to Air Spray (Red Deer,ALB 2006)

On 27Jun06 I stepped into the office of Air Spray, a company located at Red Deer Industrial Airport, Alberta and specialising in Forest Fire Suppression. Location Red Deer
I had been here before, in 1999, and noticed things had changed quite a bit. This was not only due to the dramatic fire on 16Oct00, but business had increased here and real estate had expanded.
After registering I was on my merry way.!

Air Spray has been a faithful user of the Douglas A-26 Invader, a WW2 vintage Warbird, but in recent years changed to the relative younger Lockheed L.188 Electra (a.k.a. Super Electra).
In the hangar I found C-GYVI in the back and PK-RLD in front, the latter relinquishing parts for "Victor India".

Work in progress... I wanted to ask questions about the work on C-GYVI but with people working like this, I thought it best not to disturb them! C-GYVI is tanker 83 and I think they were checking or working on wing corrosion, as well as other things.
This Lockheed L.188CF has c/n 1112 and its aviation history got under wy with a first flight on 25Nov59, with tailnumber N129US.
On Dec.15th it was delivered to Northwest Airlines and moved through various owners (International Skyways - N777DP, Pignatari - PT-DZK, Omni Aircraft Sales - N8LG, Aero Associates - N8LG, Waynr J.Hilmer - N8LG, Cathedral of Tomorrow - N8LG, Rex Humbard Foundation - N8LG, Lockheed - N130US, Northwest Orient A/L - N130US, Nordair - CF-NAY asper 1972).
After 1972 it was used for Ice Reconnaissance flight.
I have gap in its history until it was registered to JBQ Aviation on 30Apr92 as N360Q.
During Apr96 it arrived at Cairns,Australia for Charrak Air, but its intended Australian registration may well have been ignored (VH-CDK). At some point it went to Channell Express in the UK, but may have been stored (1998).

Cockpit


N360Q c/n 1112 returned to the US in 2000. It featured in John Travolta's movie "Basic" and it was sighted at Herlong Field,FL on 01Apr03 and 12Oct03; during Oct03 it was ferried to Red Deer and was reported in May05 operational as Tanker 83.
Air Spray had it registered C-GYVI on 18Sep03.

Source: Lockheed L-188 & L-1011 by Lundkvist Aviation Research, 1980.
And my own records.

PK-RLD loosing its parts I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Electra's bought by Air Spray in Indonesia were found to have been plundered extensively and only two could be saved for a ferry flight to Canada; the others were scrapped for spares.
This one, PK-RLD L.188C c/n 1082, was brought over here but found suitable only for use as spare parts supply.
Kencana Wingu

Mandala The name Mandala can still be read on the fuselage, reappearing through the white paint.
Just like PK-RLD can be read, vaguely, on the photo on the right.

C/n 1082 first flew on 04Aug59 and was operated by Northwest Orient A/L (N123US), San Diego Padres, Aztec Aircraft Corp., Air California and sold to Mandala A/L in 1979.

PK-RLD

Cockpit The sad state of affairs in the cockpit; it is clear that PK-RLD is only used as spare parts supply.

Both PK-RLD (C-FVFI) as well as Tanker 83 C-GYVI were parked away in the field upon my REVISIT 24SEP07

Gutted...
Cabin, looking forward This is the cabin, looking forward; photo on the right shows the aft while through the door we see C-GYVI.
The beneficiary
Cabin, looking aft

Part of the retardant tank The retardant tank of Tanker 83 has been disassembled. Props A healthy spare supply of props...

Invaders parked... So, where did all the Invaders go? Well, they are parked out in the field, stored and for sale...
Air Spray, one of Canada's leading companies in aerial firefighting, used the Douglas Invader for many years as the backbone of its fleet. In 2004 it was decided to retire them and 2005 was their first year of storage.

Propliner magazine featured a splendid article by Bob Petite in the No.107 (Summer 2006) issue, detailing Air Spray's history and celebrating the last season of Air Spray's Invaders.

C-FTFB Tanker 4 This is Douglas B-26C Invader C-FTFB tanker 4, c/n 28723.
By the time I am writing this, early Dec.2006, it has become known that it was sold to the Classic Aircraft Museum of Hillsboro, Oregon.
History of this WW2 warbird starts with its USAAF serial 44-35444 (c/n 28723).
Vance Roberts of Seattle,WA was owner during 1963-1969 and had it registered as N7656C.
Air Spray Ltd of Edmonton,ALB had it registered in 1971 as CF-TFB (Tanker 4, after it was converted as such at Chino,CA in 1975), later reregistered as C-FTFB.
It was damaged due to an engine fire at Calgary in Aug77, but was repaired.
It was named Miss Red Deer.
Source: www.warbirdregistry.org

A photo on Flickr.com probably taken in Nov.2011 shows this A-26 being parted out for work on another A-26.

C-FCUI Tanker 12 This is C-FCUI (c/n 28803, B-26C) and I have seen it on station at Edson,ALB in 1999. 2005 was the first year the Invaders remained inactive.
It wears a WW2-style nose art and is named "Silver Fox"."Silver Fox"

Upon my RED DEER 2007 REVISIT I was shocked to see it was taken apart.
C/n 28803 was delivered to the USAAF with serial 44-35524 and its aviation history shows Donaire Inc of Phoenix,AZ as the owner during 1966-1969, tailnumber N9401Z.
Thomas W. Hammon (again of Phoenix) bought it in 1972. But that same year it was also registered as CF-CUI, but unknown for whom or what purpose.
Air Spray became owner on 22Jun79 and registered it as C-FCUI, flown as Tanker 12.
Source: www.warbirdregistry.org

C-GHLX Tanker 32 This is Invader C-GHLX, Tanker 32.
I really love the nose art on these Warbirds!
Nose art on Tanker 32
It carried the USAAF serial 44-35948 in the first years of its career. Construction number of this Douglas B-26C Invader is 29227. It was delivered to Reconstruction Finance Corp. on 26Oct45.
Its civilian career started when Stanolind Oil & Gas Co bought it in 1954, registering as N67164.
Pan American Petroleum Corp. of Tulsa,OK owned it during 1961-1964 (as N1244).
Standard Oil Company of Indiana purchased it on 31May65. Nine Ten Corp (also of Chicago,IL) owned it from 04Aug65 until 1966 (registered as N910H), when Motorola Inc (Scottsdale,AZ), bought it (as N161H), an ownership which lasted until 1970.
It was fitted with a side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) belly antenna.
Grumman Ecosystems Corp (Bethpage,NY) took ownership on 05Aug70, owned it until 1974.
Conair Aviation Ltd of Abbotsford,BC appeared on the scene during July 1975 and registered it as C-GHLX. They owned it until 1987.
The Marksman modification was removed during conversion to tanker. C-GHLX flew as Tanker 32.
Finally Air Spray registered it on 15Jul87, but for some reason it was again registered on 08Nov00. Air Spray also flew it as T32.
Source: www.warbirdregistry.org

Bill Vorbau wrote me in July 2007:
"Just saw your notes on a plane I once flew... I was the pilot of N161H when it was owned by Grumman Ecosystems. We flew an aerial survey of the Peru jungle with the Motorola side-looking radar."

This is an update I read on Facebook in Dec.2016:
"C-GHLX cancelled 27Aug2008 and registration N381EC reserved 19May09, taken up 19Jun09. Now with Champagne Aviation Museum, Urbana, Ohio."

C-FKBM Tanker 20 A-26C C-FKBM Tanker 20 has contruction number 27415. This Warbird's USAAF serial was 44-34136.
It was stored at Davis Monthan AFB,AZ from Feb58. A few years later Madden & Smith Aircraft Corp of Miami,FL bought it during 1964 and registered it as N8017E.
Donaire Inc (of Phoenix,AZ owned it from 1966 until 1969); it was flown as Tanker C32.
T.W. Hammon (again of Phoenix,AZ) became owner in 1970. Kenting Aircraft Ltd of Toronto,ONT became owners from Aug72-1973 and registered it as CF-KBM.
Then Conair Aviation Ltd (of Abbotsford,BC) bought this airtanker (ownership: Aug73-1985) and had it flown as Tanker 20.
So did Air Spray Tanker Ltd when they bought and registered it as 02May85 (as C-FKBM); its last Certification of Registration was issued on 08Nov00 (for Air Spray 1967 Ltd).

C-GTOX Tanker 14 A-26B C-GTOX Tanker 14 has c/n 27802.

The nose art has the name "Hasta Luego" added. Tanker 14 "Hasta Luego"


USAAF serial was 44-34523 and this Warbird's construction number is 27802.
On Mark Engineering Company (at Van Nuys,CA) converted it in 1963 and its civil tailnumber became N9174Z.
Garrett Corp. of Los Angeles and Phoenix,AZ became onwers during 1964-1977.
This Invader was modified for turboprop engine in the nose position.... Would have been quite a looker!
Air Spray became the owner in Jan.1982 and registered it as C-GTOX; it faithfully served as tanker 14, nicknamed "Hasta Luego".
Source: www.warbirdregistry.org

In Oct.2010 I learned that C-GTOX 'Hasta Luego' had been registered on 18Oct10 to Robin P. Murray of Strathmore,ALB.

The following list was included in Bob Petite's article Air Spray Invader Retirement in Propliner magazine no.107 (Summer 2006)

Tanker Type Reg. USAAF Serial C/n Remarks
1 B26C C-FPGF 44-35875 29154 Airworthy Se04
2 B-26C C-FPGP 44-35898 29177 Ex/ N3328G, airworthy Sep04
3 B26 C-FEZX 44-22660 18807 W/o near Grande Prairie,ALB 29Jun00
4 B-26C C-FTFB 44-35444 28723 Ex/ N7656C, "Miss Red Deer" Airworthy Sep04
5 B-26C C-FFIM 44-35217 28496 W/o near Calgary,ALB 13Jul84
6 B-26B C-FBVH 44-34724 28003 W/o near Slave Lake,ALB 24Apr80
8 B-26B C-GWLU 44-34738 28017 Ex/ N600D, "Old yeller", dbr hangarfire Red deer 16Oct00
9 B-26C C-GWJG 44-35581 28860 W/o near Watson Lake, Yukon 01Jul82
10 B-26C C-GXGY 44-35708 28987 Ex/ N5530V, airworthy Sep04
11 B-26C C-FCBK 44-35661 28940 W/o at High Level,ALB 12Aug04
12 B-26C C-FCUI 44-35524 28803 Ex/ N9401Z
13 B-26C C-FZTC 44-35857 29136 Ex/ N9300R, "Lucky Jack"
14 B-26B C-GTOX 44-34523 27802 Ex/ N9174Z, airworthy Sep04
20 B-26B/C C-FKBM 44-34136 27415 Ex/ N8017E
26 B-26C C-GPTW 44-22653 18800 Ex/ N9402Z
27 B-26C C-GPUC 44-35810 29089 Ex/ N9403Z, destroyed Ais Spray hangar fire 16Oct04
31 B-26C C-GHCC 44-35893 29179 Ex/ N4812E, destroyed Ais Spray hangar fire 16Oct04
32 B-26C C-GHLX 44-35948 29227 Ex/ N161H
36 B-26C C-FAGO 44-35456 28735 Ex/ N330WC, "Dragon Lady"; airworthy Sep04
56 B-26C C-FOVC 44-35497 28776 Ex/ N3426G, airworthy Sep04
58 B-26B C-GHZM --- 27400 Ex/ N4804E, purchased for spares use; used in movie " Always"
98 B-26B C-GWLT 44-34778 28057 Ex/ N67943, previously flown as Tanker 7

C-FPGP Tanker 2 C-FPGP has served faithfully as Tanker 2; this A-26C Invader has c/n 29177.
At the time of writing (Dec06) 'Golf Papa' has been ferried to Australia (Oct06) for a new owner: Randall MacFarlane; he intends to repaint in Korean War colours and fly it as 44-34364/BC-364 in the Australian airshow circuit.

This ferry flight to Australia was a show of strength: in spite of its age (built in 1945) it completed the 13.768 kms stretch victorious, in spite of encountering an earthquake and a tropical cyclone en route, arriving at Brisbane-Archerfield on 25Oct06. It was subsequently reregistered as VH-VNI for Aviation Investments Pty Ltd of Archerfield on 04jan08.
Early 2014 it was acquired/handed over to a new owner, CPK Nominees of Queensland. It was to undergo repairs, tests & evaluations before any proper use. VH-VNI probably hadn't flown until then.

UPDATE Aug.2016: "Reevers Warbird Roundup (www.reevers.com.au/tag/aircraft/) have decided to sell their Douglas A-26C C-FPGP, which arrived in Australia in 2006.The sale is considered necessary to free funds for the restoration of their Mitchell project." -Scramble magazine, 'Warbirds', #447 august 2016.
By this info I can only conclude that registration VH-VNI has not yet been formally taken up..?
In 2017 I learned that the sale was postponed, prior to a re-assessment of the costs to bring it back to fly again.

Tanker 2 "Holy Smoke" A closer look at the nose art of Tanker 2: 'Holy Smoke'

Life for this Douglas Invader, c/n 29177, started with the military as 44-35898.
Its civilian history started with ownership by Lear Inc. of Santa Monica,CA (1961-1964), registered as N3328G.
Lear Siegler Inc of Santa Monica,CA bought it in 1966.
Aerospace Modifications (Coatsville,PA) purchased it in 1969. It flew as race '76' !
Air Spray Ltd purchased it all the way back in July 1971 and had it registered as CF-PGP, Tanker 2.
The official registration was slightly altered in Air Spray Ltd, Red Deer in 1976 (previously located in Edmonton. The tailnumber was changed too: C-FPGP; but it remained Tanker 2.
www.warbirdregistry.org

C-FOVC Tanker 56 C-FOVC Tanker 56 is c/n 28776; this RB-26C had to relinquish its lefthand engine.
Tanker 56 "Safe Passage" The nose art is titled 'Safe Passage'.

In memory of Nancy Caldwell The noseart also states:
Forever
In Memory
Nancy Caldwell

Invader 44-35497 (c/n 28776) changed to 'civvie street' for Trade school as an Instructional Airframe, but was purchased by Johnson Flying Service of Missoula,MT and they owned/operated it for the period 1961-1970 as N3426G.
It arrived in black USAF scheme (stunning!) and was converted to fire tanker (Tanker A17).
Then Evergreen Air (Missoula) owned it form 1975 until 1977, it continued as Tanker A17.
In 1977 Lynch Air Tankers (Billings,MT) bought it and they owned/operated it until 1992; during this time it was modified/converted to Lynch STOL 26 and flown afterwards as tanker 56.
Air Spray Ltd bought it as late as 1995, registered it as C-FOVC, turning it into Tanker 56/"Safe Passage".
www.warbirdregistry.org

C-GXGY Tanker 10 C-GXGY Tanker 10 is c/n 28987 and this Invader has set a next step too in its aviation history: it has been sold to Classic Aircraft Museum of Hillsboro,Oregon.

Invader c/n 28987 was delivered to the French Airforce as 44-35708, based in Indochina.
It returned to the USAF on 10Nov55 and was put in open storage at Clark AFB on the Philippines, 1955-1958.
On Mark Engineering Co owned it during 1963-1966 and had it registered as N5530V.
Raytheon Manufacturing Co. of Bedford,MA bough it in 1969 and ownership continued until 1976.
Air Spray Ltd purchased it that year and registered it as C-GXGY, fighting fires as Tanker 10.
www.warbirdregistry.org

The following information was also learned from Bob Petite's extensive article Air Spray Invader Retirement, in Propliner magazine no.107 (Summer 2006); it paints a clear picture of what kind of aircraft the Douglas Invader is.

All the Air Spray Invaders were WW-2 vintage, built during 1943 and 1944.
Considering these Warbirds, one immediately notices the big Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines (each capable of 2.000 hp)... they seem to overpower the sleek lines of this rugged, speed demon!
Its large, electrically-operated, double-slatted wing flaps provide better lift and drag than conventional flaps: a useful attribute in the demanding airtanker role.
Typical take-off distance at gross-weight is 4.000 feet, but take-off on a hot day at higher elevation airport will take a lot more runway.
But once airborne and cleaned up, the impressive cruise speed of 225 knots will cover the distance to the fire quickly. The maximum range is 1.250 nautical miles, with an endurance of 5 hours, but operationally the aircraft is usually topped up with fuel after 3 hours or during a lull in the fire action.
Specifications show a wartime load of 4.000 pounds and the airtanker was modified to carry 760 imperial gallons of slurry fire retardant in a specially designed tank, weighing 8.700 pound. The 2 bomb doors are independent and operate by either an hydraulic or air compressor pneumatic system, with an emergency manual system as backup.
When the bombdoors are opened, air vents pop open on the top of the fuselage; this way air is forced into the tank and will help to drop the entire load of retardant in one and a half second!
Air Spray redesigned the cockpit instrument panel, moving the flight instruments and gauges along with navigation and radio packages.
All the trim controls are manual, with no flight control boost or autopilot. Consequently, the A-26’s maximum allowable speed of 310kts is seldom attained, as the flightcontrols become very heavy. However, when properly flown, at the recommended speeds and power settings, the A-26 Invader is highly manouvrable and a very effective airtanker.

C-FAGO Tanker 36 Tanker 36 is C-FAGO, Douglas B-26C Invader with c/n 28735.

Its military serial was 44-35456 and it was delivered to the USAAF as such. its military ended at Davis Monthan AFB,AZ when it was put in storage during July 1956.
As N330WC Western Contracting Corp. of Sioux City,IA owned it from 1963 to 1970.
Aero Union Corp. of Chico,CA bought it in 1972, but that same year it was sold to Conair Aviation Ltd (Abbotsford,BC) and they owned it until 1983, registering it as CF-AGO, flying it as Tanker 26.
The undercarriage collapsed on landing at Fort St.John,BC on 14Apr80.
Air Spray Ltd (the of Edmonton,ALB) bought it on 20Apr83 and registered this Invader as C-FAGO. With Airspray it became Tanker 36 "Dragon Lady".
From: www.warbirdregistry.org

Upon my visit in Sep.2007 I found it had gone... It found a new home at Minter Field Air Museum, Shafter,CA (near Bakersfield).
Sean Keating wrote me: "it was "Dragon Lady" in Korea, so it became destined for preservation and one can find an illustration in a book called "A26 in Action" by Squadron Signal Publications…"

See how I found Dragon Lady at Minter Field myself in May 2008...

Tanker 36 "Dragon Lady"

Tanker 36's nose art up close: "Dragon Lady".

John Olafson kindly forwarded additional info as was provided to him by Robert Finch:
"You said that you would like to read the log book of this aircraft. I can tell you the first entries!
It was sent directly into storage at Piote,TX, in 1945. It was pulled out of storage in 1950 and flown to Hill AFB,UT and modified into an RB-26 for use in Korea by the 162nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
It was delivered to the 162nd at K-2 Tague, Korea in early 1951, which had become the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
44-35456 flew night photo reconnaissance missions until the end of the Korean War. The 12th TRS was then transferred to Japan, and subsequently converted to RB-66 aircraft. The RB-26's were sent to Vietnam for use by the French Air Force.
Most were returned to the USAF in the late 1950's. The majority were sent to Davis-Monthan AFB,AZ where they were either sold on the civilian airplane market, or scrapped...
44-35456 and 44-35457 were sold to Airspray. Another 162nd RB-26 that was sold to Airspray was 44-35323. It is still flying as part of the Planes of Fame Museum, Grand Canyon, Arizona."

I am Janis Welsh, formerly Janis Hamilton, the daughter of Don Hamilton, the owner of Air Spray.
I am presently living in California but still keep in touch with the business of Air Spray.
Your information and presentation of the fleet is very well done. I look at the pictures and have memories coming up with the B-26’s and the pilots who flew them...
Those planes all have stories to tell !
I have fond memories of Tanker 36 AGO, as it was the tanker I got a B-26 endorsement when I was about 18 or 19...
And in tanker 98 we went for a fun training flight, only have the gear collapse on take-off ! I think my father would have killed me if he knew was riding along, except that he was so worried when he say the plane tipped over half way down the runway.
Thanks for the memories!
Janis Welsh

C-GWLT Tanker 98 Air Spray's Tanker 98 is Invader C-GWLT, it has c/n 28057.

Its USAAF serial was 44-34778 and its civilian career began with Raytheon Manufacturing Co. of Bedford,MA who owned it from 1954 to 1972, registered as N67943.
Air Spray Ltd bought it in May 1975 and registered it as C-GWLT. First it was flown as tanker 7, later it became Tanker 98.
Source: www.warbirdregistry.org

Ron Lapp sent me images in April 2008 of 'GWLT's rebirth as a Canadian warbird !!

C-FZTC Tanker 13 B-26C Invader C-FZTC Tanker 13 has c/n 29136 and this warbird too, awaits things to come.

USAAF 44-35857 turned civil in 1964 when Madden & Smith Aircraft Corp. of Miami,FL, bought it. It was registered as N9300R.
The next owner became Consolidated Air Parts Corp. (Los Angeles,CA) during 1966-1969.
It was stored unconverted, marked as NY ANG, Tucson,AZ, in 1969.
The Forest Patrol Ltd bought it in July 1971 and had it registered as CF-ZTC.
J.D. Irving purchased it in 1979 and changed the registration to C-FZTC.
Air Spray Ltd bought it soon after, in Aug79, and it became Tanker 14, later 13 "Lucky Jack".
From: www.warbirdregistry.org

C-GPTW Tanker 26 This A-26B is C-GPTW Tanker 26, c/n 18800.

Its USAAF serial was 43-22653 and this Warbird was bought in 1963 by Idaho Air Tankers Inc. of Boise,ID. It was registered N9402Z.
Reeder Flying Service (Twin Falls,ID) became the new owners in 1966, this lasted until 1972; they flew it as tanker 26.
Tanker 26 by PhotoshopAir Spray Ltd bought it in 1989 and had it registered as C-GPTW, Tanker 26.
http://www.warbirdregistry.org/a26registry/a26-4322653.html

Tanker 26 made it to Sydney (Bankstown), Australia. Tailnumber C-GPTW had been cancelled from the Canadian register and this Invader will restored to WW2 bomber with its original serial 43-22653 (code 'CP2') of the 572nd Bomb Sqdn / 391st Bomb Grp, as flown from Nordholz,Germany may 1945. [Source Scramble no.378, nov.2010]

C-FPGF Tanker 1 Numero Uno: tanker 1 is C-FPGF with c/n 29154 (A-26C).

This Invader flew as 44-35875 for the USAF/USAF.
The date of purchase by Rock Island Oil & Refining Co. of Wichita,KS is as yet unknown. It was registered to them as N4816E.
DM Air Enterprises Ltd (of Vancouver,BC) owned it during 1963-1965; the tailnumber became CF-PGF.
Air Spray Ltd bought it in 1970, changed the registration to C-FPGF and flew it as Tanker 1.
www.warbirdregistry.org

The nose art depicts a fireman putting out a fire: "If'n Ah Sez Out, Ah Means Out"
But it seems those days are over.

On my page Red Deer Revisited (24Sep07) one can see which Invaders remain as well as parts lying about...

Nose art and Photoshop

C-GBAJ Tanker 14 Next door is a hangar of Buffalo Airways and so I ambled over...
See my page dedicated to this report

Back to CANADA -2006-


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