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Road trip part 2 - Santa Monica to Calgary

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Road trip part 2 - Santa Monica to Calgary

Old 28th Oct 2015, 00:40
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Day 9 - Victoria

I went to the Victoria Flying Club restaurant with an old friend of mine, who retired to Vancouver Island some years ago. He and I have a very similar flying history - UAS and then many years gliding and towing in Calgary. However, because he is 12 years older than me, when he was in a UAS, he flew Harvards in his last year!

We had breakfast with David, a pilot who I had exchanged emails with but never met. There was a very nice view out of the window of the restaurant - a turbine Widgeon:

While we were eating and exchanging flying stories, David asked me if I was doing anything after breakfast. I said no, so he asked if I would like to go flying. I felt a bit guilty in abandoning my UAS friend, but only a little bit, because David took me flying in this - a CJ-6A Nanchang :

Rear panel - the gear lever had been removed and the mag switch disconnected to avoid any unfortunate incidents due to non-pilot passengers:

We took off and flew south over the city, talking to Victoria Harbour Radio, who manage the float plane traffic in the harbour and then negotiated an airspace block, with Victoria Approach, over the Strait of Juan De Fuca. David demonstrated some rolls and loops and I had a couple of ham-fisted attempts, one of which resulted in an inadvertent cockpit-floor FOD check! I requested to knock it off after about 15 minutes, because my G-tolerance is not what it was. We then flew back up the coast and joined right-downwind for a run-in and break. Most exhilarating.

I’ve got a few hours in a Yak 52, so it was interesting to compare it with the Nanchang. The Nanchang is much nicer to look at than the Yak, particularly when the gear is retracted, but it doesn’t have the brute-force power of the Yak - 260 HP versus 360 HP. However, it is a much nicer aircraft to fly. The control-run torque tubes are supported by needle roller-bearings, which results in beautifully harmonized, light controls, dare I say it, better than the Chipmunk's, although to be fair, it is many years since I’ve flown a Chippie. There was no free-play in the controls and no break-out force - it was a joy to fly.

After our flight and having re-fuelled:

and put the Nanchang away, we went over to have a look at a Catalina, which is being restored to airworthiness:

TAPs will immediately notice that these are DC-3 props and not the proper "toothpick" props.

Thanks David, for an unexpected adventure.

Last edited by India Four Two; 9th Nov 2015 at 06:59.
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Old 28th Oct 2015, 12:52
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Originally Posted by India Four Two
I'm confused. When I looked up H-NACT, I saw pictures of her in a museum - Lelystad, I think.
Originally Posted by Planemike
Replica......methinks !!!
Not really a replica. This is an original Fokker F.VIIa which was part of the Balair fleet and later saw service in Scandinavia for many years. It was still airworthy in 1955, most likely the last airworthy pre-war Fokker civil airliner, and was flown to Amsterdam for the then-Aviodome museum. The aircraft has since been restored to the markings of KLM's first Fokker F.VIIa, H-NACT. It is currently painted up as H-NADP, still not its own markings (this airframe never flew for KLM) but another notable KLM F.VIIa.
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Old 9th Nov 2015, 04:54
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Day 10 - Victoria again


Thanks for the clarification about H-NACT.

Well, it's been a while. I've been back in Calgary for two weeks and after nearly three months away, there was a lot of boring stuff to do that kept me away from posting. However, as my alter-ego is still on Vancouver Island, 1000 miles away, I had better get cracking!

My UAS friend (also called David) and I drove back to Victoria Airport to visit the British Columbia Aviation Museum at 1910 Norseman Road

A very nice museum, with most of their collection under cover. We were shown around by a very knowledgeable volunteer. I've already posted the Bolingbroke and Eastman Sea Rover on What Cockpit. Other aircraft that appealed to me included:

Fleet Model 2:

When this aircraft was retired in 1971, it was the oldest airworthy aircraft in Canada. Interestingly, the engine looks like a Scarab, which would technically make this a Fleet Model 1.

Prototype Trigull:

One of the three prototypes built. Two were flown before the company ran out of money. Originally powered by the ill-fated Tiara engine.

TCA Viscount:

Nice to see it under cover. The first time I've ever been in a Viscount. I see why everybody liked the cabin windows.


Westwind IV (tri-gear Beech 18 with PT-6 engines):

Ironically, the aircraft that I had wanted to see - an R4D-8 (Super DC-3) - had been scrapped and all they had left was the cockpit!

Last edited by India Four Two; 9th Nov 2015 at 06:59.
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Old 9th Nov 2015, 06:18
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Day 8 - Tofino to Victoria - Addendum

This is a bit of thread drift but it is nostalgic for me and there is an aeronautical connection. After leaving Tofino and driving south through the Pacific Rim National Park, I turned off the highway and made a detour to Ucluelet (You-CLUE-let), which like Tofino, I hadn't visited for many years.

I drove through the town right to the end of the road at Amphitrite Point (named after HMS Amphitrite by Captain G H Richards, who subsequently became Hydrographer of the Navy) and walked down to the lighthouse:

Back in the early days of my career, I had been supervising a marine seismic survey in these waters and we used SHORAN for navigation:

SHORAN was originally designed as an airborne navigation system, but was modified into a blind-bombing system. An excellent description of SHORAN and its operational use in Korea:

Two SHORAN base stations were set up on shore, usually near lighthouses, because of the ease of access and the availability of reliable geodetic benchmarks and one of these base stations had been at Amphitrite Point. Two operators would camp at the base station to keep the transponder running and point the high-gain Yagi array at the seismic vessel.

We used one station to measure along-track distance and the other for cross-track deviations, a bit like Oboe. The intersection angles were usually far from ideal and sometimes we were a long way offshore, so the absolute accuracy was 200-300 m, but that was good enough for the reconnaissance work that we were doing. A far cry from today's GPS precision.

The current lighthouse, which is now automated, was built to replace an original wooden one, which was swept away in a storm in 1914. I found the choice of location rather odd, since there is high ground inland from the point, where a conventional lighthouse tower could have been built, that would have been immune to storm damage.

Last edited by India Four Two; 9th Nov 2015 at 16:43. Reason: Added another SHORAN link
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 04:46
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Day 11 - Victoria to Bellingham

Finally, I've got back to this journal. Some more interesting things to come, I hope!

I left Victoria and drove to Swartz Bay to catch the car ferry to Tsawassen, south of Vancouver, near the US border. Rather than take the Trans-Canada Highway back to Calgary, I had decided to drive back into the US and then drive east through Washington and Idaho to Whitefish, Montana, where I was planning to stay for a few days, with a colleague that I had worked with in Vietnam.

Since I would be passing through Bellingham again, I decided to call the Maritime Museum again and see if I could see their PACV (SR.N5) hovercraft. I was surprised that the female voice on the answering machine was English!

I left a message and while I was waiting to catch the ferry, I had a call back from Belinda. I explained what I wanted to see and she apologized and said that it had been sold and I would have to go to Chino to see it. I explained that I had already seen it and had been wondering how there could be two PACVs still extant.

After further conversation, I discovered that her father and her husband, Mike, had both been hovercraft pilots with Hoverwork and that she had known my father, when he worked there!

We arranged to meet in Bellingham for dinner.

The ferry route to the mainland goes through a Z-shaped pass called Active Pass - relatively narrow and with strong tidal currents:

Because of the schedule timings, the ferries often pass each other during the transit of Active Pass. I once motored a sailboat through there. Small craft only do it at slack-tide as there are some nasty whirlpools and overfalls during the ebb and flow. If the skippers are sensible, small craft also keep to the sides of the channel to avoid the ferries.

These days, the BC Ferries are the only large vessels allowed through the pass. This rule is due to a fatal collision in 1970:

After crossing the border at Blaine, I drove down to Bellingham and met Belinda, Mike and their grandson for dinner at a very nice seafood restaurant on a wharf, overlooking Puget Sound and spent a long time exchanging stories.

Belinda had met my father under very tragic circumstances. Her father had been piloting a hovercraft, being used for a shallow-water seismic survey, in Abu Dhabi. The survey was using dynamite as an energy source, and due to a mistake by the "shooter" on the back deck, the wrong charge was connected and the hovercraft was blown up and several people on the craft, including Belinda's father, were killed.

My father had told me about this accident but I didn't know any details. He was working in the Ryde HQ and Belinda was extremely complimentary about the way my father took charge of all the logistics and arranged for her and her mother to go out to Abu Dhabi and then organized her father's repatriation. Of course, my father wouldn't have dreamed of telling me or anyone else about his involvement. Typical ex-army stiff upper-lip!

Concerning the museum, they told me that because of the economic down-turn, they had had to temporarily close it and sell the PACV to the Yanks Air Museum in Chino. However, they still had an SR.N6, stored in a field, so I arranged to meet them next morning to see it. It turns out that this particular craft has a very interesting history.

Last edited by India Four Two; 5th Feb 2016 at 14:40.
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 06:52
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More please.
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 16:40
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Day 12 - Bellingham to Wenatchee

Thanks for the encouragement, D9.

Before I continue with my trip to see the N6, here's a great video of Mike explaining the history of the PACV and the amusing story of how he acquired it. I once imported a glider from the US to Canada and I know from personal experience, that showing up at Customs without the right paperwork is not to be recommended!

"We're US Customs. Everything's got a value!"

I met Belinda and Mike at the appointed location on the outskirts of Bellingham and they took me to a field with this rather forlorn, dismantled SR.N6 sitting in it:

A very nostalgic moment for me, because I had traveled on this craft when it was operating on the Southsea-Ryde service. However, this craft has a unique claim to fame. It was the one that was taken to South America for a National Geographic expedition that went up the Amazon, through the Casiquiare Canal and down the Orinoco (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casiquiare_canal).

There is a description of the journey in the obituary of Graham Clarke, who was the captain for that trip: Graham Clarke - Telegraph

I could only find two pictures. This one:

and then of all things, a Typhoo Tea card (I had completely forgotten about those):

I have been unable to find the documentary of that trip online. If anyone knows where it might be, please PM me.*

I have just found this video, where Mike is describing the N6:

Mike is trying to raise funds and logistical support to move his N6 from Washington to the Hovercraft Museum in the UK. A very worthwhile project for such a historic hovercraft. If anyone can help or can contribute, please PM me and I will put them in touch with Mike.

I then left Bellingham, to meet Belinda's daughter, who just happened to manage an aircraft museum! Then a trip to Whidbey Island to pass the time and see a Catalina, before an early-evening appointment to see a Tiger Moth and a Queen Bee! A busy and very eclectic AH&N day. Pictures to follow.

* I've just found some spectacular footage -see 42:50 in this video:

Last edited by India Four Two; 6th Feb 2016 at 01:25.
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Old 7th Feb 2016, 06:37
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Day 12 - Bellingham to Wenatchee - continued 1

Driving south out of Bellingham on I-5, I headed for Skagit Regional Airport in Burlington, the new home of the Heritage Flight Museum.

The museum was founded by Bill Anders, who was in the Apollo 8 crew, which was the first manned spacecraft to go into lunar orbit, in December 1968.

The museum was not yet open to the public, but I met Belinda and Mike's daughter, Kate who manages the museum and she showed me around.

PT-19 Cornell:

F-89 Scorpion (the second one I saw on this trip):

A very nicely restored O-1/L-19 Bird Dog:

A MASH H-13 (waiting for a tail-rotor) and behind, an O-2 Skymaster:

Not part of the collection, but the first Carbon Cub I had seen:

After chatting to two people working on the Cub, I spotted this engine:

One of the guys working on the Cub shouted "What's that?" and in my best TAP voice, I said "It looks like an early Gnome Monosoupape."

He laughed and said "Look more closely!":

One of only two Indian (as in motorcycle) Rotaries, built by the Hendee Manufacturing Company:

I left the museum about lunchtime and since my next appointment was east of Everett at 6pm, I decided to drive over the bridge to Whidbey Island to go to the PBY-Naval Air Museum in Oak Harbor.

On the way into Oak Harbor, I passed a couple of impressive gate-guardians at the entrance to NAS Whidbey Island:

The museum was closed but I was able to have a look at the PBY. It looks a bit odd without its wingtips and floats:

I then drove the length of Whidbey Island and took the ferry across to Everett, drove past Paine Field and the Boeing factory:

Last edited by India Four Two; 7th Feb 2016 at 07:12.
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Old 7th Feb 2016, 06:39
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o Day 12 - Bellingham to Wenatchee - continued 2

... and headed east into the Cascade foothills to meet Ian, a British engineer who works in Everett, and in his spare time has at least four restoration projects under way! I first got in contact with him after finding his website: N-5490 - Index Page He very kindly showed me what he had stashed in his garage.

Pieces of N5490 - his Tiger Moth:

Two pre-war Austins. A 1930 Morris Minor fabric saloon (with 4,000 miles on the clock from new):

and a 1933 McEvoy Special Minor Sports:

The unexpected highlight for me was a DH-82b Queen Bee drone, that Ian rescued from being sent to the dump by a technical college in Port Townsend:

What you can't see clearly in the pictures, is the flat metal braid that was inlaid into the wooden skin, in order to bond every metal piece of the aircraft, to prevent interference with the radio control receiver.

And here is the marvelous pneumatic autopilot:

Ian has certainly got his work cut out and if that's not enough, he's got a DH-60 Moth in boxes!

By the time we had finished chatting about these treasures, it was dark and so I had a three hour drive through the Cascades, without seeing the scenery, to Wenatchee, east of the mountains, in the Columbia valley, where I spent the night.

Last edited by India Four Two; 7th Feb 2016 at 20:10.
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Old 7th Feb 2016, 07:46
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once again you have turned me green! Thanks for the great pics they have brightened up a wet windy day.
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Old 7th Feb 2016, 11:20
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By Hovercraft up the Amazon

it was a BBC TV "World about Us " programme. I know the Director Jenny Cropper, and the Cameraman John Beck. I have left messages. Regards Alan
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Old 7th Feb 2016, 12:33
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As a DH Hornet Moth owner I think it should be mentioned that Ian runs the "DH Flying Club" in this part of the world and is busy re-building it to its former membership numbers which declined for all the usual reasons when the original leaders passed on, any one wishing to join should simply Google it. {Not to be confused with the UK based "Moth Club" of which most of us owners are also members } Also worth mentioning is that his father was one of the team which created the Mosquito!
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Old 7th Feb 2016, 18:23
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Yup, the de Havilland Flying Club can be found at The dHFC - Index Page.

This is the old US Moth Club founded in the early sixties and pre-dates the UK Moth Club, being the oldest DH club in the world.

As clunkdriver says, we're trying hard to build up membership among Moth, Chipmunk and other classic and vintage DH owners and enthusiasts in the US, Canada and beyond.

Unlike in the UK, Moth owners across the New World are a far flung and spread out community, so we're working hard to provide a means of contact in order to share technical information and other topics of DH interest through the website, forum and monthly newsletters.
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Old 7th Feb 2016, 20:13
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I'm glad you liked the pictures. Not much more aviation content in the rest of the trip, but I hope there will be some things of interest.


Thanks for that. Keep us posted if you find the documentary.

Yes, I knew about Ian's involvement in the DH Flying Club, but I forgot to mention it. I wish I had known about his father's connection with the Mosquito.
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Old 8th Feb 2016, 21:40
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Here's the link to my father's (and my mother's) DH story:


And this is a sub page of my Tiger Moth's website at N-5490 - Index Page
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