Episode 40: The Best of the Best

8:13 pm Doug

Last night we attended a dinner in our honor hosted and sponsored by Wayne Barrett, Chairman of the Toronto Aerospace Museum. We said a few words about the trip and Jim Clark showed some video and stills. It’s fair to say that we were overwhelmed by the event. In attendance were our new friends; Russ Bannock, an RCAF war hero, former President of DeHavilland of Canada, and the first man to fly the Beaver, George Neal, long time DeHavilland test pilot who did most of the certification flights on the Beaver and the first man to fly the Otter, Fred Hotson, a former DeHavilland test pilot, aviation historian and author, Bob Fowler, long time test pilot and the first man to fly the Twin Otter, Buffalo, Turbo Beaver, Dash 7 and Dash 8, Tom Appleton, a former DeHavilland test pilot and executive, Ross Lennox, a heroic RCAF C-47 pilot in Europe and Pratt & Whitney test pilot that helped with the development of the original PT-6, Larry Milberry, a widely published aviation historian and author, Lance Kessler, 30 year Bombardier employee and Toronto Aerospace Museum Board Member, Paul Cabot, Manager and Curator of the museum, Lyle Abbot, a fund raiser for the museum, and of course, our gracious hosts, included Board members Ken Swartz, and Robert Cohen the Marketing Chair.

Well if a couple of Beaver pilots from Kenmore can’t find something to talk about with this crowd, they’re just not trying. It was like a dream come true for me, to be surrounded by all these accomplished men, all these aviation pioneers, all these heroes, all this history. But the evening was made extraordinary not just by the presence of these men, but by the fact that to a man, they are all really great guys! All were articulate, engaging, genuinely interested in our trip, asking questions about our Beavers, and willing to share stories and information about their careers. All seemed aware of their place in history, but only in a most humble way. The hours sped by as all members of the GAAA Team tried to properly absorb this once-in-lifetime event, our only regret being that we didn’t have time to talk at length with everyone. How can we ever properly thank Ken Swartz, the Board of Directors, Russ Bannock and the rest of these special men for such an amazing evening?

The Toronto Aerospace Museum is located in one of the original DeHavilland hangers (where the first Beaver was built) at the Downsview Airport . The location is rich in Canadian aviation history, but the Board faces some tough challenges to retain the site. We implore anyone interested in preserving the rich legacy of the Beaver and the DeHavilland Aircraft Company to contact Manager and Curator Paul Cabot at 416.638.6078 or paulcabot.tam@bellnet.ca and ask how you can help. For more information, see www.torontoaerospacemuseum.com .

Yesterday we said goodbye to Dr. Dan Noble who has been with us since Resolute on August 23rd, which seems so long ago. Thank you, Dan, for all of your cheerfulness and steadiness in some of the toughest times. On the next trip you will be sitting in the left seat!

In the morning we said goodbye to the two blondes, Robbie and Norma. Thank you both for all of your contributions, and for bringing us more good weather. At every meal we think of Robbie’s tireless efforts to procure all of our food and coordinate our food drops. You’ve both added so much and we will miss you.

This morning, Ken, Russ and Sheldon Benner came out to see us off at Toronto City Centre Seaplane Base, Russ with last minute routing advice and Sheldon and Ken for a few more photos. After lift off, we banked north bound for Sault Ste. Marie in fair skies and light bumps. We enjoyed lazily following the jagged cliffs of the Niagra Escarpment on the east coast of the Bruce Peninsula . Don at Air Dale in Sault Ste. Marie made fueling easy. A comfortable camp was found and we gently splashed down and started dinner, initiating our new team of Brian, Rick, Doug N. and Jim to camp life. A gorgeous sunset ensued, followed by a half moon rise. It is great to be back on the trail again.

From the shores of Lake Anjigami ,

N47d.49.2m, W84d.37.4m.

The GAAA Team

2 Responses
  1. Tom Humes :

    Date: September 10, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. Steve, Nova Scotia, Canada :

    Date: September 11, 2008 @ 6:35 pm

    To “The Team”,

    I keep flying your exact route, in real-time, right down to the minute, but I can’t seem to catch up, I even stopped at the US/Canada border crossing (Lacolle, QC / Champlain, NY) to no avail. I pushed on while reviewing your very detailed and sensational navigational notes (blog/novel) and finally set her down on Lake Anjigami, as I dealt with a bit of unpleasant weather. No Beavers (with wings) in sight, perhaps you have already left for Hutchison Lake. Missed you again!

    The more you fly (6,500 nautical miles ?) the better it gets, after reading your 27,754 word journal, I’m not quite sure what will be the “highlight” of your Great Arctic Air Adventure, perhaps it will be about the journey, the people, not the destinations. Can’t wait to read more . . .

    As always, a safe journey,


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