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Visiting the Water Bomber Parking Lot

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Visiting the Water Bomber Parking Lot

Old 4th Oct 2021, 06:56
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: CEH2 (Black Diamond, Alberta)
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Visiting the Water Bomber Parking Lot

I thought about posting on the Private Flying Photos page, but there is a lot of nice history and nostalgia in the images, so I concluded this was a better location.

On Friday, I was involved in two stage operation to ferry the Alberta Soaring Council's Scout towplane from Red Deer to Cowley via my home airfield at Black Diamond - a 154 nm trip. I drove Larry, one of our towpilots, to Red Deer to pick up the Scout and fly it to Black Diamond. I then drove back to Black Diamond, where Larry had refueled the Scout and nipped into town to buy me lunch. I then flew the towplane down to Cowley and Larry followed me in his Scout, to fly me home again.

The expedition was interesting and I got an hour's flying, but for me the highlight of the day was visiting Red Deer. The entrance to the airfield is marked by a Harvard on a pole:

Red Deer used to be RCAF Penhold, which was a major CATP airfield during WWII.

However, the real nostalgia is to be found airside. Red Deer is the maintenance base for Airspray and also Buffalo Airways, so the ramp area is littered with old freighters and water bombers.

Here Larry is pre-flighting the Scout, with three retired (?) A-26 water bombers and two Aero Commanders in the background:


A seriously crowded parking lot. Three CL-125s belonging to Buffalo Airways, a DC-3, two Convairs and the nose of an Electra (see below):


The Electra (C-FIZU) belongs to Airspray, but is still in Atlantic Airlines colours (ex-G-FIZU - an easy re-paint when Airspray bought it! ):

It was originally KLM PH-LLG.

It's obviously no longer fire season:



A bevy of Electra water bombers, a couple of Aero Commander "bird dogs", a Navajo and something I didn't see as I took the photo, the nose of a T-33!


Another Electra, the tail of an Aero Commander and in the distance, a Convair, which had been doing engine runs:


Another Buffalo CL-215, swallowed by the hangar:


An hour and a half later, I'm back at Black Diamond, getting ready to switch from Ground to Air mode:


Fifty minutes later, Cowley* dead on the nose, four miles ahead. The Oldman River on the left and then the Porcupine Hills. The prominent peak at the very left end of the mountain range in the distance is Chief Mountain, which is across the border in Montana:

* Cowley is a grass field and is coded CYYM. All other YY airfields in Canada are large, paved fields with airline traffic. Cowley's anomalous code is due to it having been built in the 1930s as an emergency landing ground for TCA's Lockheed (piston) Electras, if they couldn't continue west across the Rockies, due to weather.


Snug in the hangar at Cowley, waiting to start earning its keep - towing during the ten-day Thanksgiving Wave Camp:


As I write this, after three days of the camp, there have been several over 20,000' wave flights and one over 30,000'.

Last edited by India Four Two; 4th Oct 2021 at 08:55.
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Old 4th Oct 2021, 08:14
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Brilliant! Interesting that there are still some Invaders at Red Deer, I assumed they'd all have gone to warbird operators by now. I wonder if the airframes are still potentially airworthy.

When I was a kid, my mate and I used to make these little model aeroplanes out of cardboard and we used an old model railway baseboard to mark out our airfield in his parent's attic. It was supposed to be Canadian and we were mostly building fire bombers, warbirds and bush planes! Sadly we became teenagers and sorta grew up...
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Old 4th Oct 2021, 08:18
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Join Date: Apr 2015
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Immaculate, but even more very interesting photo's!
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Old 4th Oct 2021, 08:40
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Lovely photographs. Thank You !
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Old 4th Oct 2021, 15:21
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Join Date: Jun 2002
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Interesting that there are still some Invaders at Red Deer …
I was surprised. They were in the same place the last time I visited Red Deer, three years ago.
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