Saturday, March 31, 2007


"AMELIA": The Mystery "Thickens".........

It's the coldest of cold cases, and yet it keeps warming to life. Seventy years after Amelia Earhart disappeared, clues are still turning up. Long-dismissed notes taken of a shortwave distress call beginning, "This is Amelia Earhart...," are getting another look.

The previously unknown diary of an Associated Press reporter reveals a new perspective.

A team that has already found aircraft parts and pieces of a woman's shoe on a remote South Pacific atoll hopes to return there this year to search for more evidence, maybe even DNA.

If what's known now had been conveyed to searchers then, might Earhart and her navigator have been found alive? It's one of a thousand questions that keep the case from being declared dead, as Earhart herself was a year and a half after she vanished.


For nearly 18 hours, Earhart's twin-engine Lockheed Electra drummed steadily eastward over the Pacific, and as sunrise etched a molten strip of light along the horizon, navigator Fred J. Noonan marked the time and calculated the remaining distance to Howland Island.

The date was July 2, 1937, and the pair were near the end of a 2,550-mile trek from Lae, New Guinea, the longest and most perilous leg of a much-publicized "World Flight" begun 44 days earlier in Oakland, Calif.

At the journey's end there a few days hence, Earhart, already the most famous aviator of the decade, was to become the first female pilot to circumnavigate the globe.

Noonan, a former Pan American Airways navigator, estimated when the plane would reach an imaginary "line of position" running northwest-southeast through Howland, where they were to land, rest and refuel for the onward flight to Hawaii.

Earhart pushed the talk button on her radio mike and said, "200 miles out."

Her voice — described as a "whispery drawl," evoking her Kansas roots — was heard by the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, rocking gently in calm seas off Howland. The U.S. government had built an airstrip on the treeless, 500-acre coral spit, and at the request of Earhart's husband and manager, publisher George Putnam, dispatched the cutter from Hawaii to help her find her way.

During the night, Itasca's radio operators had become increasingly exasperated. Earhart's voice had come through in only a few, brief, static-marred transmissions — "sky overcast" was one — and hadn't acknowledged any of Itasca's messages or its steady stream of Morse code A's sent as a homing signal: dot-dash, dot-dash... They decided the glamorous 39-year-old "Lady Lindy" was either arrogant or incompetent.

What nobody knew — not Earhart, and not Itasca — was that her plane's radio-reception antenna had been ripped away during the takeoff from Lae's bumpy dirt runway. The Itasca could hear Earhart, but she was unable to hear anything, voice or code.

Also listening in the Itasca's radio room was James W. Carey, one of two reporters aboard. The 23-year-old University of Hawaii student had been hired by The Associated Press to cover Earhart's Howland stopover. His job was to send brief radiograms to the AP in Honolulu and San Francisco.

But during the eight days since arriving at Howland, Carey also had been keeping a diary.

In small notebooks, he jotted down comments about the island's "gooney birds," beachcombing and poker games in Itasca's wardroom. He also noted how Earhart's delayed departure from Lae was affecting crewmembers' morale, writing on June 30: "They are getting tired of waiting for a `gooney' dame who doesn't seem to be aware of the annoyance the delays have made."

Carey's diary was unknown to Earhart scholars until last September, when a typewritten copy turned up on eBay and was bought by a member of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR. The non-profit organization believes Earhart and Noonan were not lost at sea, but landed on an uninhabited atoll called Gardner Island, and lived for an unknown period as castaways.

"Even though the diary doesn't answer the big question, it's an incredible discovery," said TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie, who has led eight expeditions to the island since 1989, and plans another this July if his group can raise enough money.

"We have long had the transcripts of the radio traffic, but this is the first document that puts a real person aboard Itasca and tells us something from a firsthand witness about what went on during those desperate hours and days."


On July 1, word came from New Guinea that the Electra was finally airborne.

Early on Friday, July 2, Carey wrote in his diary: "Up all last night following radio reports — scanty ... heard voice for first time 2:48 a.m. — `sky overcast.' All I heard. At 6:15 am reported `200 miles out.'"

By the time Earhart, her voice stronger, reported she was "100 miles out," a welcoming committee had gone ashore and was "waiting restlessly," Carey wrote.

If Noonan's dead-reckoning did not bring the plane directly over Howland at the "line of position," Earhart would fly up and down the 337-157 degree line until she found the island.

"To the north, the first landfall is Siberia," says Gillespie, "so if they didn't find it soon, they'd have turned back south, knowing that even if they missed Howland, there were other islands beyond it — Baker, McKean and Gardner — on that same line."

But nothing was that simple. By now, Earhart would be burning into her five-hour fuel reserve, and even in daylight, islands could be obscured by billowy clouds and their shadows on the water.

At 7:42 a.m. local time, Earhart's voice suddenly came loud and clear: "KHAQQ to Itasca. We must be on you but cannot see you. But gas is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet."

At 7:58 a.m., there was a nervous edge to Earhart's normal calm. A log entry had her saying, "we are drifting but cannot hear you." An operator changed this to "we are circling." Gillespie believes she actually said, "we are listening."

As birds wheeled over the Howland shoreline, human ears strained for the sound of engines, and binoculars scanned for any sign of the silver Electra. Itasca continued sending Morse code A's.

About 8:30 a.m., believing Earhart must be out of gas, Itasca's captain, Cmdr. Warner K. Thompson, ordered the welcoming committee back to the ship. "Flash news from ship Itasca: `Amelia down,'" Carey wrote in his diary.

Suddenly, at 8:55 a.m., Earhart was back on: "We are on the line 157 337... we are running on line north and south." The radiomen agreed she sounded distraught; one thought she was near hysteria.

Then the radio went silent.

Having won a coin-toss with his United Press rival, Howard Hanzlick, to decide whose news bulletin would go first, Carey had prepared two versions: "Earhart landed __ Howland time," and "Flash Earhart crackup landing __ Howland time."

He had not anticipated a third alternative, that she might not land at all.

Now, with all frequencies reserved for possible distress calls, neither reporter could send anything. While AP broke the "Earhart missing" story from Honolulu, quoting Coast Guard officials there, it would be 18 hours before Carey's first report reached San Francisco.

In the meantime, he kept busy with the diary: "Itasca set off `full speed ahead' to search the northwest quadrant off Howland," the most likely area for the plane to be afloat on empty gas tanks.

Nothing was sighted, and by evening the ship's mood, Carey wrote, had "taken a turn to the more serious side."


Seventy years later, the mystery lingers. Millions have been spent on expeditions and deep-sea probes, and although legally declared dead by a California court in early 1939, Earhart has been the subject of more than 50 nonfiction books.

"In 1937 she was a celebrity — today she's an icon," says Gillespie, of Wilmington, Del., whose own book, "Finding Amelia: The True Story of the Earhart Disappearance," was published last year.

Theories have ranged from the official version — that the Electra ran out of gas and crashed at sea — to the absurd, including abduction by aliens, or Earhart living in New Jersey under an alias.

A 1943 Hollywood movie, "Flight for Freedom," echoed groundless claims that the pair were on a secret government spying mission against the Japanese and were captured and executed. A 1999 book asserted, without proof, that "the solution to the Earhart mystery lies on the ocean floor under 17,000 feet of water."

Gillespie's book, along with "Amelia Earhart's Shoes," a 2001 book written by four other TIGHAR volunteers, offers a bold, reasoned thesis that Earhart and Noonan crash-landed on a flat reef on Gardner, in the Phoenix Islands, 350 miles south of Howland, and survived, perhaps for months, on scant food and rainwater.

Searches of the remote atoll, now called Nikumaroro, have produced a tantalizing, if inconclusive, body of evidence.

In 1940, Gerard Gallagher, a British overseer on Gardner, recovered a partial human skeleton, a woman's shoe and an empty sextant box at what appeared to be a former campsite, littered with turtle, clamshell and bird remains.

Earhart being his first thought, Gallagher sent the items to Fiji, where a British doctor, examining the human bones secretly to avoid "unfounded rumors," decided they belonged to a stocky European or mixed-blood male, ruling out any Earhart-Noonan connection.

The bones later vanished, but in 1998, TIGHAR investigators located the doctor's notes in London.

Dr. Karen Ramey Burns, a forensic osteologist at the University of Georgia, found the Fiji doctor's bone measurements were more "consistent with" a female of northern European descent, about Earhart's age and height. Burns' report was independently seconded by Dr. Richard Jantz, a University of Tennessee forensic anthropologist.

On their own visits to Gardner, TIGHAR teams recovered an aluminum panel that could be from an Electra, another piece of woman's shoe and "Cat's Paw" heel dating from the 1930s; another shoe heel, possibly a man's, and an oddly cut piece of clear Plexiglas.

The sextant box might have been Noonan's. The woman's shoe and heel resemble a blucher-style oxford seen in a pre-takeoff photo of Earhart. The plastic shard is the exact thickness and curvature of an Electra's side window.

The evidence is promising but, as Gillespie is careful to note, remains circumstantial. "We don't have serial numbers," he says.


As the news that the aviators were missing flashed around the world, confusion, official bungling and missed opportunities had only begun.

Itasca searched along the "line of position" northwest of Howland, wrongly assuming the plane's empty fuel tanks would keep it afloat.

The Navy ordered six warships into the hunt, including the battleship USS Colorado from Pearl Harbor and the aircraft carrier USS Lexington from San Diego, 4,000 miles away.

On July 3, a day after Earhart vanished, her technical adviser, Paul Mantz, suggested to reporters that she had crash-landed in the Phoenix Islands. Even if the plane's undercarriage was damaged, Mantz said, "the fliers could have walked away ... uninjured."

Meanwhile, several shortwave radio listeners as far away as the U.S. mainland were picking up the faint voices of a woman and a man, sending apparent distress calls. And both the Itasca and a New Zealand cruiser, HMS Achilles, reported what seemed to be Morse code "dashes."

When Pan Am's Pacific stations triangulated the signals to the Phoenix Islands, the Achilles, less than 48 hours away at its top speed of 32 knots, was ignored. Instead, the Colorado was sent south, but by the time it reached the area a week later, the radio calls had ceased.

After a float-plane search of eight atolls, senior pilot Lt. John O. Lambrecht reported that "signs of recent habitation were clearly visible" at Gardner Island, but "repeated circling and zooming failed to elicit any answering wave from possible inhabitants, and it was finally taken for granted that none were there."

Had Lambrecht known that the island had been uninhabited for more than 40 years, he might have looked more closely. In an interview years later, he described the signs only as "markers," without elaboration. Inexplicably, the final report by Colorado's captain said no sign of habitation had been found.

Among reports of voice messages, two from teenagers using shortwave antennas rigged by their fathers were most disturbingly credible.

In Rock Springs, Wyo., Dana Randolph, 16, heard a voice say, "This is Amelia Earhart. Ship is on a reef south of the equator." Radio experts, aware that "harmonic" frequencies in mid-ocean often could be heard far inland, viewed the report as genuine.

Turning the shortwave dial in St. Petersburg, Fla., 15-year-old Betty Klenck was startled to hear a woman say, "This is Amelia Earhart Putnam," followed by pleas for help and agitated conversation with a man who, the girl thought, sounded irrational.

Having heard Earhart's voice in movie newsreels, she had no doubt that it was her.

"In my mind, a picture of her and what she was saying lasted for years. I remembered it every night of my life," Betty Klenck Brown, now 84 and widowed, said in a recent telephone interview from her home in California.

The man, she recalls, "seemed coherent at times, then would go out of his head. He said his head hurt ... She was trying mainly to keep him from getting out of the plane, telling him to come back to his seat, because she couldn't leave the radio.

"She was trying to get somebody to hear her, and as the hours went by she became more frantic."

Betty listened for nearly two hours, taking notes in a school composition notebook as the signals faded in and out. They ended when the fliers "were leaving the plane, because the water was knee-deep on her side," she said.

She believes she may be the last living person to have heard Earhart's distress calls.

Her father, Kenneth, who also heard the voices, contacted the Coast Guard at St. Petersburg, but was brushed off with assurances that the service was fully engaged in searching for the fliers, she said. "He got mad and chucked the whole thing because of the way he was treated."

Both teenagers' accounts would support TIGHAR's premise that Earhart crash-landed on Gardner's flat reef at low tide, was able to run its right engine to power the radio, and escaped the aircraft before tides eventually carried it off the reef into deep water.

On July 18, 16 days after Earhart and Noonan disappeared, the Navy and Coast Guard ended what the AP called "the greatest search ever undertaken in behalf of a lost flier." To justify the official finding that the Electra was lost at sea, the government dismissed the radio distress calls as hoaxes or misunderstandings.

Betty Klenck Brown's response today: "I know I am right."


Last September, Arthur Rypinski, a TIGHAR volunteer who regularly scans the Internet for Earhart-related material, found a woman in West Virginia offering an "Amelia Earhart Original Flight Plan" for sale on eBay.

"I was deeply intrigued," says Rypinski, of Rockville, Md., and he bought the document for $26.

The "flight plan" proved instead to be a copy of Carey's diary, along with news clippings and other items. Stamps showed it was once owned by the U.S. Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pa. The seller, Dolores Brown, told Rypinski she probably had found it at a Goodwill store.

According to Carey's son, Tim Carey of Woodbridge, Va., his father served as a naval officer in the Pacific in World War II and had a career in public relations before his death in 1988.

His role as an AP reporter on the Earhart story became part of family history, his son says. And he adds: "The diary was completely in character for him. He was a real note-keeper."

Now raising funds for a ninth TIGHAR expedition to Nikumaroro in July, Gillespie says the Carey diary serves as a reminder to always "expect the unexpected" in the Earhart case.

"Pacific islanders don't wear shoes, so we know there was one foreign castaway, and maybe two, a man and a woman, on Gardner ... We hope this summer to recover human remains for DNA testing and find aircraft pieces that could be conclusively identified as from Amelia's plane.

"This is the expedition that could at last solve the mystery. I think we are right on the edge of knowing for a certainty what happened."

- By RICHARD PYLE, Associated Press Writer

"WOW! The "mystery" continues to this day. Did you know that Amelia Earhart and her fellow "she-aviators" founded "The Ninety-Nines", the "International Organization Of Women Pilots"? Well, "now you do"!

WEBSITE - The Ninety-Nines!


WEBSITE - The Earhart Project - The 70th Anniversary Expedition


Steve's Video Of The Day: Meet..."Frank Mahovolich"!

Good old "Canadiana", I love it! I am going to fill my "pickle jar" with ice, water, and "liquid intellect", and sit back, and enjoy! Poor "Reggie"!


Meet..."Frank Mahovolich"!


Lambair: "Historical Images"!

Lambair was, and still is, a great Canadian aviation story, and I have "Posted" info previous regarding the company. The company operated during a "peak" aviation era in Canada, and it is too bad those days are gone. It was a company where one had potential for advancement, and the ability to acquire great skills due to the diverse types of aircraft the company operated. Bristol Freighters, Curtiss Commandos, DC-3s, helicopters, Norsemans, Otters, Beavers, among others. The ability to fly floats, wheels, and skis made it a "Yes, We Can" company. Anyways, I have some more images from the "Lambair Historical Archives", showing some company "hardware" from the "Arctic" to the "East Coast"!

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

A Lambair de Havilland Canada DHC-6 "Twin Otter" on Sable Island, 1971. Sable Island is 190 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the Atlantic Ocean.

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

Loading a Bristol "Freighter".....

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

Colour turned on, as the "Freighter" swallows her payload!

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

A "Freighter" on Jens Munk Island, Nunavut. Jens Munk Island is a small island just south of the northwestern end of Baffin Island.

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

A Lambair "Freighter" comes to grief!

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

The Lambair mechanics could always "resurrect" their equipment.

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

Greg Lamb, foreground, and a Lambair Curtiss C-46 "Commando" in the rear!

Yes, great images! I am sure all the people involved with Lambair and similar aviation companies from the past have a "treasure trove" of memories stored "cranially", and it sure is a delight when the "old-timers" see fit to share them! Today, the last word of my "Post" goes to a Lambair machine and employees, as they try to rescue her from the "bane" of all ski pilots........

-photo provided by Jack Lamb



READ JACK LAMB'S BOOK - My Life in the North


Friday, March 30, 2007


Steve's Video Of The Day: 'Here Comes'....'There Goes'....."The Goon"!

Nothing like a good "Fly-In"! Sitting and "critiquing" the skill of the pilots, and enjoying the "diverse" shapes of the aircraft is always enjoyable. Of course the highlight is when a "fire-breathing dragon", snorting "oil, exhaust, and flame", shakes the ground, loosens your fillings, and blows your ear-drums as "she" departs!

VIDEO - 'Here Comes'....'There Goes'....."The Goon"!

Thursday, March 29, 2007


"We Owe".....The "VETERAN".....

It is the "VETERAN", not the "preacher", who has given us "Freedom of Religion".

It is the "VETERAN", not the "reporter", who has given us "Freedom of the Press".

It is the "VETERAN", not the "dissenter", who has given us "Freedom of Speech".

It is the "VETERAN", not the "protest organizer", who has given us "Freedom to Assemble".

It is the "VETERAN", not the "lawyer", who has given us the "Right to a Fair Trial".

It is the "VETERAN", not the "politician", who has given us the "Right to Vote".

It is the "VETERAN", who salutes "The Flag",

It is the "Veteran", who serves under "The Flag".


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

WEBSITE - The Royal Canadian Legion


From little towns, in a far land, we came,

To save our honour and a world aflame;

By little towns, in a far land, we sleep,

And trust those things we won

To you to keep.

-Rudyard Kipling (1925)


Steve's Video Of The Day: "Idiot", at the "Wheel"!

There seems to be far too many "boneheads" posing as pilots. The first error, landing downwind, unless it was due to an immediate emergency, was bad enough. Watch what our "intrepid aviator" does next. Maybe he always wanted to takeoff on "floats"!

VIDEO - "Idiot", at the "Wheel"!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"Primal Stirrings".......

Yesterday I made a quick trip to Winnipeg to see "Orthodontist" Dr. Mark Rykiss, as he was going to "de-bond" my 3rd oldest daughter's braces. 3rd daughter, 3rd set of "braces". Hard on the "finances", with no insurance. Anyhow, "off they came"! On the way home, we decided to take a "cruise" past the Red River at Selkirk, to see the "breakup" progress. As we neared Selkirk, I could swear I could hear faint "creaking, dripping, whistling, and moaning". I figured all the "beasts" were awakening after a long, cold winter, and what we could marginally hear was their "primal stirrings". We headed for Selkirk Air's hangar and property.


The Red River!


3rd daughter Kaitlan!


This "beast" slowly awakens.


de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver C-GPVC!


Plummer's Arctic Lodges "Goon", CF-OHY, also awakens!


Look at the "snout" on that Otter!


This is C-FKOA, Plummer's Lodges Otter, with the "Texas Turbine" conversion.

Fine lines of the "Garrett" engine.


Kaitlan and a "prehistoric" specimen.


Noorduyn "Norseman", CF-BSB! The Pratt and Whitney R1340 engine on BSB will soon be "Thunderchicken-ing" through the sky!


Another Norseman, CF-LZO!




"Damn", I didn't have my cheque-book!


Norseman "C-FSAP"!



Look at the "rivet-lines", folks, C-FSAP is a "metal-skinned" Norseman!


Beech 18 C-FSRE!



Kaitlan poses with the "Bug-smasher"!


Green Airways' "Polish" Otter C-FLEA!


1000 "screamin' horses"!


Funny thing, I realized there wasn't a "Standard" Otter on site at Selkirk. The 1340's in the Otter are all being "removed" and "replaced". Something the DOT should have "mandated" with a time schedule years ago. "Oh", by the way. Does Dr. Mark Rykiss do "fine work"? I will let Kaitlan and her "million dollar smile" have the "last word".



Monday, March 26, 2007


Steve's Video Of The Day: "Bird On A Wire"!

It's not unusual to see lines of birds perched on power lines. But did you ever wonder why birds aren't electrocuted by the currents that flow through these high-voltage wires? You might think it's because the wires are insulated, but they're actually not insulated at all -- that's why downed power lines are so dangerous. No, the only reason why birds on power lines usually aren't electrocuted is because the wire is the only thing they're touching!

Like all energy, electricity seeks equilibrium, or balance. That means electricity will flow from high-energy areas to areas of less energy, always using the path of least resistance. So if the bird has one foot on our original wire, and the other foot on, for example, the ground or on a different wire with less voltage, the bird would be electrocuted, because the electricity would pass through the bird on its way from the high-voltage line to the lower-voltage line or the ground.

But as long as both of the bird's feet are on the same wire (or wires of the same voltage), the bird is safe. The current doesn't have anywhere else to go, so the electricity won't pass through the bird--it stays on the path of least resistance, the wire.

This would work for humans, too--if you were to hang suspended from one of these wires, you wouldn't be electrocuted, as long as you didn't get too close to anything else, like a ladder or a telephone pole or the ground. But don't try this experiment at home! If you want proof, just look up at the birds on the wires!

- from the Indiana University Library "A Moment of Science"

Yes, I have always wondered at the "exact" science regarding this "moment of science". Check out a "bird on a wire" whose "science" must be exact!


"Bird On A Wire"!

INFO - Faraday Cage

"Thanks, Mark"!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Steve's "Otter Of The Week"! Karl E. Hayes

This week's Otter "epitomizes" the Otter's service to Canada. Operating her "whole life" in "Canada's wilds", many famous names from the "Bush Pilot Hall Of Fame" caressed her "yoke", and she was employed by many "Legendary Air Services". She flew on wheels, skis, and floats, and gave "yeoman" service. She met an untimely end, but due to the "time-honed skill" of her pilot, there was no "loss of life". Good thing. Read all about this "fine Canadian girl". All information is from Karl Hayes' "masterful" CD entitled:

De Havilland Canada

Also, at the very end of my "Post", find Karl Hayes' "Contact and CD Info"......

Otter 222

Otter 222 was delivered to D.D.Thompson Aviation Ltd, a leasing company based in Montreal, on 5th June 1957, registered CF-MEL. It went on lease to Northern Wings Ltd (Les Ailes du Nord), serving the towns and settlements along the North Shore of the Gulf of St.Lawrence, Quebec. In October 1961 the Otter was sold to Thomas Lamb Airways Ltd (later Lambair) and flown to the company's base at The Pas, Manitoba where it was painted in their colours. It then went to the company's base at Churchill, where it joined Otter CF-JON (203) on charter work in the District of Keewatin.

MEL was to remain based at Churchill for many years, serving the Arctic. It is mentioned in RCAF records on 27th January 1964. That day, RCAF Albatross 9310 passed through Churchill northbound to Grise Fjord on a medevac mission. It arrived back at Churchill, headed south to Winnipeg, carrying an infant and an Eskimo woman. It delayed its departure from Churchill until Otter MEL arrived from Rankin Inlet, carrying an injured Eskimo child. The child was transferred to the Albatross, which then departed for Winnipeg.

Lambair was very much a family business, as the following excerpt from Jack Lamb makes clear: “Mother would listen to the HF radio in her kitchen at the Moose Lake, Manitoba cattle ranch and hear the boys communicating with each other between the Yukon, Baffin Island and James Bay. I recall one occasion I was sitting on the water at Pond Inlet on the top end of Baffin Island, drifting back with the tide setting the Otter's anchor. While waiting for the hook to catch on the bottom, I gave The Pas a call on the HF radio. 'The Pas…MEL, do you read?'. 'MEL, this is The Pas, go ahead Jackie'. 'OK, Connie, check me on the water at Pond Inlet for the night'. This was a distance of fifteen hundred miles. My Ottawa passengers were duly impressed. It gave them a feeling of comfort knowing they were not out of touch with the rest of the world as they sat floating on the Arctic Ocean waiting for the anchor to hook the seabed a hundred feet below them”.

“On another occasion on 28th July 1965, my brother Donnie arrived in one of the Otters with my dad, Werner Frenz and Lyle Brown all the way from The Pas to my Mary River camp on Baffin Island. Werner and Lyle were filming a documentary for the CBC titled 'The Flying Lambs'. They had an engine failure with their Otter while en route. A rocker arm shaft on one of the engine's nine cylinders broke, forcing them to land in a remote muskeg lake between Thompson and Churchill. As Donald was making his dead-stick forced landing, he called the Lambair base at Churchill on the HF radio giving his location and a brief explanation of his problem. Once on the water he tied up the Otter to a spruce tree and waited for the Churchill Otter to arrive with a spare cylinder. Soon the rescue Otter landed and taxied up as close as he could. It was just a matter of a few hours before Donald and the pilot of the other Otter had the broken cylinder changed and both Otters were back in the air heading for Churchill, a graphic example for CBC to witness the resourcefulness and capabilities of a bush pilot. The next day they continued their journey, a further twelve hundred miles north to my camp on Baffin Island, stopping to refuel at Rankin Inlet, Repulse Bay and Hall Beach on this long, twelve hour flight. The documentary crew spent a few days with us at the Mary River camp, filming our operation. Donald in the meantime had picked up some work with his Otter and was busy flying a government survey party around the mid Baffin Island area”.

In June 1966, Lambair Beech 18 CF-TLA was damaged while landing in Arctic Bay. Lambair shipped two new propellers to Churchill, where they were loaded on board Otter MEL and headed north on the long, twelve hour flight to Arctic Bay. The propellers were fitted to the Beech 18, but sadly on its attempted take off it ran out of runway, nosed over and ended on its back. Otter MEL flew the 1,200 miles back to Churchill. Two weeks later, all the required parts for the repair of the Beech 18 had been assembled, including two new propellers, two rudders, two vertical fins, a horizontal stabilizer, metal, rivets, bolts, angle iron, generator, two salvage engineers from Field Aviation in Calgary. Once again, the Otter was headed two thousand miles back up to Arctic Bay. This was a 20 hour flight in the hundred miles per hour Otter. After much effort, they got the Beech 18 repaired and both aircraft headed for home, fuel stopping at the McCar Inlet DEW Line site and at Rankin Inlet en route to Churchill. These flights illustrate the great distances covered by the bush Otter. A typical tasking for Otter MEL during summer 1969 was July 25th, routing Churchill-Rankin-Chesterfield Inlet; July 26th Chesterfield-Coral Harbour-Repulse-Coral Harbour-Chesterfield; July 27th Chesterfield-Churchfield, sixteen hours in the air.

On 1st December 1971, CF-MEL crashed at Whale Cove, Northwest Territories, on wheel-skis. As the accident report records: “Take-off run; airframe icing; failed to abort take-off; substantial damage”. It was repaired and returned to service, registered C-FMEL. It occasionally helped out with the company's scheduled services out of Thompson, Manitoba, but was mostly based out of Churchill. It was one of two Otters (the other being C-FGTL) still serving with Lambair on that sad day of 18th February 1981 when the company went bankrupt. Both Otters were sold in June of that year, MEL to Ontario Central Airlines, based at Red Lake, Ontario. This company changed its name to Nunasi Central Airlines Ltd in June 1984. The Otter was involved in a crash at the Red Lake base on 15th January 1985.

After the Otter, on wheel-skis, was loaded and three passengers boarded, the pilot took off from the Red Lake ice strip. Shortly after lift off, when the power was reduced to climb, the aircraft pitched up uncommanded. The pilot pushed the control column forward and started to trim nose-down, but nothing happened. He retracted the flaps to the climb position, and as the aircraft approached the stall speed, he pulled the power off. He was able to keep the wings level as the aircraft fell and just before it hit the runway, he applied full power. The aircraft struck the runway in a nose-down, wings level attitude. Two of the three propeller blades sheared off and the main landing gear spread outwards as the gear struts were driven into the fuselage. The Otter then slid 300 feet before coming to a stop. The pilot had experienced a similar pitch-up on the previous day, but he had been able to control the aircraft with elevator and trim input. When he had landed at his destination, the pilot discovered some 600 pounds of canned goods in the rear section of the aircraft, which he had not been aware of. On the return flight, the aircraft had performed normally.

In view of the un-commanded pitch-up after lift off, the accident investigation concentrated on the possible failure of a primary flight control component. Prior to disassembly at the accident site, the aircraft was examined for any component failure, and two more examinations were conducted following disassembly. No evidence of control failure or jamming was found. The investigation did reveal that the Centre of Gravity was about four inches past the aft limit, creating an unstable situation which the pilot could not control. Weight and balance calculations had not been completed prior to the flight. The Otter was repaired and the following year, in February 1986, entered service with Green Airways, based at Red Lake. It flew with Green Airways for eight years, until sold in September 1994 to Cargair Ltee, St.Michel-des-Saints, Quebec, passing on in August 1995 to Wildcountry Airways, also based at Red Lake, Ontario. It flew for Wildcountry Airways until it met a fiery end on Sunday, 16th June 1996.

The Otter took off from Cochenour seaplane base at 2pm that day, on a charter flight carrying six American fishermen to the Sandy Beach Lodge on Trout Lake, south of Red Lake, Ontario. Five minutes after departure, the pilot radioed that he would be returning because of an on-board fire. According to a passenger, the engine started to make odd noises and smoke appeared on the outside of the aircraft. It then appeared inside the cabin and became so thick it was impossible to see or breathe. The pilot said he could see flames coming from the floor as he helped the passenger in the right front seat out of the seat and back into the cabin. The smoke became so intense that the pilot could only see out the side window to land the aircraft.

The pilot landed the Otter at McNeely Bay, three miles east of Cochenour. The pilot got his passengers onto the floats, where they were picked up almost immediately by fishermen on the lake who had spotted the burning aircraft and headed over to help. The Otter was destroyed by the fire. Only the floats escaped the flames after a Ministry of Natural Resources helicopter dropped a load of water on the burning aircraft. The pilot, a veteran of 24 years flying, suffered second-degree burns to his right arm, ear and face. He was commended for his skilful and speedy action in saving his passengers.

- by Karl E. Hayes

The "legendary" pilot's name is "Norm Wright", folks, and he still is flying Otters today for Green Airways of Red Lake, Ontario. I love it when a TSB Report "commends" the pilot instead of "burying" him. Check out C-FMEL's final chapter......

TSB REPORT - In-Flight Fire - DHC-3 Otter C-FMEL

C-FMEL at Red Lake, Ontario, in 1982, after Lambair sold "her" to Barney Lamm of Ontario Central Airlines.

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

Back on her "feet", ....."errr"... "floats"!

-photo provided by Jack Lamb

MEL in OCA colours, "honking" across a lake........

MEL the day she "expired". Stood "upright" facing her fate, right to the end.........."What a girl"!

CONTACT and CD INFO - De Havilland DHC-3 OTTER - A HISTORY by Karl E. Hayes

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Steve's Video Of The Day: Aerial "Motorhome"!

How would you like to "cruise" around in this "baby"? What a way to "investigate" the countryside! Take a quick tour before the "ship sails"!


Aerial "Motorhome"!

Friday, March 23, 2007


Discover "Discovery"!

Everyone watches "in awe" as the "Shuttle" stands "poised to take to the skies". The "Countdown" ends, the engines "fire", she "lumbers" off the launch pad, and slowly starts to accelerate "sky-ward". She continues on, "rolls" on her back, and "breaks the bonds" tethering her to earth. Yes, quite the "spectacle". What happens before this "climactic event", though? Let's find out!

DISCOVER - "Discovery"!

WEBSITE - Shuttle Operations

INFO - Shuttle "Discovery"


Pretty "damn fine" figure for an "Old Gal" that has already made 32 trips to "Space"! Unreal! "Thanks, Mark"!


Steve's Video Of The Day: "Daisy, Sam, and Dan"

Sounds like a 60's "Motown Trio". Not quite, though. If these three decided to sing together, the "whole town" would wonder at the "ungodly noise"!

VIDEO - "Daisy, Sam, and Dan"

Thursday, March 22, 2007


"I Hear That Train a'Comin', It's Rollin' Around The Bend......"

Johnny Cash's brilliant composition "Folsom Prison Blues" has an inmate "wistfully" wishing to be aboard a train as it takes him far from Folsom Prison. Well, I hope that the train waits until all "the elk clear the track"! Only in "good old Alberta"!


I bet these "Wapiti" have a train schedule!

JOHNNY CASH - Folsom Prison Blues


Steve's Video Of The Day: "Rodeo", South America-Style!

I love a "good rodeo"! "Cowboys", "snortin' stock", "corn on the cob", "clowns", and "belt buckles"! Some people's idea of a rodeo differs from mine, though. Watch these "Rubberheads" perform the equivalent to a "bull-ride"!


"Rodeo", South America-Style!



Wednesday, March 21, 2007



A condition of visibility which exists when an overcast sky prevents shadows, and snow covered terrain reflects light at about the same intensity as the sky causing the horizon to be undistinguishable and the recognition of irregularities in terrain very difficult. Only dark objects can be seen. Fog, ice fog, and blizzard conditions will sometimes create a similar situation.

Yes, when flying in the winter, "whiteout" can definitely "trigger" the "pucker factor"! I personally have had some "memorable" experiences with "whiteout".

"Whiteout" is also a film presently in production, starring Kate Beckinsale as a U.S. Marshal tracking a killer in Antarctica. Tom Skerritt also stars, along with DHC-3 Otters C-FIOF and C-GBTU! BTU is normally employed by Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd. of Pine Falls, Manitoba, and IOF is normally employed by Huron Air and Outfitters Inc. of Armstrong, Ontario.

"Shooting" had recently taken place on Lake Manitoba, simulating Antarctic conditions, and I received some photos taken by Mark Dann, who had been "on-set". IOF and BTU had been painted, but still retained the "de Havilland good looks"! Lets head for "Antarctica, Manitoba-style"!

"On the ice"!
-photo by Mark Dann

IOF "fires up"!
-photo by Mark Dann

In the hangar constructed on location, sporting the new "temporary" paint job.
-photo by Mark Dann

BTU "sunning" herself.
-photo by Mark Dann

Out of the hangar.....
-photo by Mark Dann

Ready to "run".....
-photo by Mark Dann

"Antarctica, Manitoba"!
-photo by Mark Dann

A First Air "Herc" also makes a "cameo" appearance.
-photo by Mark Dann

BTU and IOF "take to the skies"......
-photo by Mark Dann

IOF's usual "winter appearance".....
-photo by Steve Taylor

BTU's usual "winter appearance".......
-photo by Ed Gaffray

"Whiteout", due to be released this year, starring two fine "Canadian girls"! Check it out!

INFO - "Whiteout"

WEBSITE - Blue Water Aviation Services Ltd.

WEBSITE - Huron Air & Outfitters Inc.