Episode 37 – Celebrating Canadian Aviation in Ottawa

5:38 am Doug

After a great night’s sleep in our warm soft beds here at our hotel in downtown Ottawa, we wandered down for a hot breakfast before being picked up for our day’s activities by our gracious hosts, John Longair, Katie Longair, and Dave O’Malley. First up was a stop at the Canada Aviation Museum, where Associate Director General Stephen Quick and Communications Manager Christina Lucas gave us a special showing through this national treasure of aviation history. The museum was actually temporarily closed for renovation, but Steve and Christina made a trip in on a Sunday for a special showing to the GAAA team.

During our visit, we also learned that our landing site here on the Ottawa River played host to some famous visitors in the past. In 1931, Charles and Anne Lindbergh were commissioned by Pan Am to conduct a survey flight to the Orient in an effort to find the fastest route from New York to Tokyo. Flying a highly modified Lockheed Sirius fitted out with floats, the Lindberghs departed on July 27, 1931 from Long Island, New York, and made their first stop here in Ottawa, landing and docking in the very spot were the GAAA team arrived yesterday. Interestingly, the Lindbergh’s next stop was Baker Lake, which you may remember as the place that created a bit of excitement for the GAAA crew a couple of weeks back. The Lindbergh’s evidently had an easier time, as Anne describes it as a “gray and drab” place. Or, perhaps a little wind and a few waves in Baker Lake were of little consequence to the man who had flown solo from New York to Paris. The Lindberghs successfully completed their trip to China, but, unfortunately, the Sirius was damaged while be hoisted aboard the British carrier Hermes.

While wandering through the vast collection of aircraft at the museum, we stumbled upon what is, in at least our biased opinion, the most significant aircraft in the collection. As we descended the stairs, there was a de Havilland Beaver CF-FHB. This was the prototype — the very first Beaver — built in 1947, and incredibly, was still being flown by a northern operator when purchased by the Museum in 1980. This excerpt, borrowed in part from the museum’s website says it all:

The Beaver was designed and built in response to the demands of Canadian bush operators. Almost without variation, the pilots asked for tremendous extra power and short take-off-and-landing (STOL) performance in a design that could be easily fitted with wheels, skis, or floats. When de Havilland engineers noted that this would result in poor cruise performance, one pilot replied “You only have to be faster than a dog sled”. With its all-metal construction, high-lift wing, and flap configuration, the Beaver was a robust aircraft with excellent capability even with heavy loads.

The Beaver was such a success that more were built than any other aircraft designed and manufactured in Canada. In 1951 it won both the US Air Force and US Army competitions for a utility aircraft. Many were used in Korea, where it was known as the “general’s jeep”.

The GAAA team would like to thank our hosts Christina and Stephen for showing the GAAA team through the Canada Aviation Museum, a national tribute to the significant contributions that our good friends the Canadians have made to the world of aviation.

Next stop was Vintage Wings of Canada, an amazing collection of aircraft where our hosts John, Katie, and Dave serve as volunteers. This collection is composed of all flying aircraft, and covers the range from a de-Havilland Tiger Moth to a Supermarine Spitfire. And of course, the collection includes an outstanding de Havilland Beaver, proving that the folks at Vintage Wings really got it right.

With that, our hosts dropped us back at our warm and cozy hotel where the GAAA crew worked on arrangements for our flight into Toronto tomorrow, the birthplace of the Beaver. But that is a story for another day.

Thanks again, John, Katie, and Dave for making our time here in Ottawa a memorable one.

Doug and the GAAA Team

Still at N45 27 49 W75 38 45

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