In just a little over five months from now, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) will celebrate its centennial of one hundred years of service to Canada on 1 April 2024. Across the country, plans are afoot to mark that special occasion with activities and events planned by the RCAF, ranging from entertainment with air shows to personal participation in various endeavours that include the RCAF Run, the Centennial Ball, a Tulip Festival and other events that extend the celebrations through the summer. Details can be seen when you click here.
We are now starting to see evidence of recognition for the RCAF Centennial. Just published by the University of Toronto Press is a splendid new book, Pathway to the Stars: 100 Years of the Royal Canadian Air Force, written by retired LGen Michael Hood, former Commander of the RCAF and Tom Jenkins, who has decades of affiliation with the air force in a variety of capacities.
Available in hard cover, e-book, and pdf format, the book can be ordered online or through book stores. For more information or to order, click here. The book will be officially launched on October 30 and can be attended either in person or online. Details here.
Over 250 pages, the book is lavishly illustrated with photographs and covers the story of the RCAF from its origins to its future. Topics include RCAF participation in the Second World War, in the Cold War, and in humanitarian operations. Stories include accounts of twenty well-known individuals who have been inducted as members of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, whose contributions to aviation range from the Silver Dart to the International Space Station. Aircraft flown by the RCAF and adventures including The Great Escape of wartime, and the post-war RCAF Flyers winning Olympic hockey gold in 1948, all have a place in the book.
Jets captain Adam Lowry (Publicity photo via internet)
With the NHL hockey season now upon us, alas, my Edmonton Oilers who pre-season were being touted as Stanley Cup winners, blew their season opener to the Vancouver Canucks in a forgettable 8-1 loss! But the Winnipeg Jets have undertaken a memorable honour to the RCAF Flyers with retro jerseys like those worn in 1948, which the Jets will wear in three games, giving recognition of the RCAF and its amazing hockey team to huge live and television audiences.
To celebrate the RCAF centennial, the Canadian Aviation Historical Society will be producing in a special publication. In addition to our regular CAHS Journal, Canada’s leading aviation history magazine since 1963, we will be publishing a special edition to recognize 100 years of the Royal Canadian Air Force. CAHS members can look forward to receiving that edition as part of their membership benefits.
Also, in 2024 the CAHS will again publish a fine calendar with illustrations generously contributed by top Canadian aviation artists. The 2024 edition will feature five months carrying images of RCAF aircraft in training, wartime, and peacetime operations. Be sure to order a calendar for yourself and anyone who would appreciate it as a beautiful gift!
Detail of a painting by Wes Lowe that appears in the new calendar, depicting F/O William Lidstone “Willie” McKnight, DFC & Bar, of the RCAF flying his Hurricane in combat.
Across Canada, our members in ten chapters from coast to coast have opportunity to mark the RCAF centennial in their programs and activities. We welcome any details to include in this, our monthly newsletter. Do keep us informed to share your news with fellow aviation enthusiasts! To send your contributions to the newsletter, click here.
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From the Desk of the Journal Editor
Cover design for our RCAF Centennial 1924 - 2024 Special Edition.
While we wait for Journal 58-2 to arrive in mailboxes and 58-3 to go through final checks before being released to the proofreading team, I'd like to offer a little peek at a Special Edition, which has been in the works here for a while now.
The front cover design (above) celebrates a random sampling of aircraft types that have seen service in our national Air Force from year one onwards.
Inside, expert writers and researchers explore the themes of:
the value of organizational history (LCol. Paul Johnston (Ph.D.));
youth and the RCAF (Mr. Matthias Joost (Major, ret'd));
how museums and their artifacts contribute to the larger narrative (Dr. Mike Bechtold);
the role of individuals shaping the RCAF and senior leader leadership, (Dr. Richard Goette) and;
the evolution of the emblems that came to represent the force since its inception (Dr. Brittany Dunn).
With RCAF History and Heritage Director and Chief Historian Dr. Richard Mayne as guest editor, the package is set to bring us material that is not likely to be explored to this depth in any of the other RCAF Centennial publications presently in the works. This Special Edition will also be available to non-members via our website's e-shop once the membership distribution is completed.
Terry Higgins, Creative Director, Website Administrator,
CAHS Journal Managing Editor and Graphics Director,
Canadian Aviation Historical Society
From the Desk of the Treasurer
Have you realized that Christmas is just two months away? We have a couple of new book offers already in order to give you the opportunity to start gift shopping early. In addition to Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail's Alis the Aviator now being available in paperback, she also has a new book for youth about aviator Freddie Carmichael, the first Indigenous commercial pilot in the Arctic. Chris Weicht continues to offer ten separate titles in our store, but he is also adding a special offer leading up to Christmas where you can buy the combination of The Defenders and Red Star over Canada for a discounted price and combined shipping. And don't forget to reserve your copy of the beautiful 2024 Aviation Artists' calendar (these will be ready to ship in early December).
I would like to highlight the ability to get combined shipping, especially for larger books that cannot be shipped at the letter rate (need to be less than 500g). For Canadian destinations, Canada Post provides Flat Rate boxes for a maximum weight of 11lb/5kg; there are two sizes useful to shipping books and calendars, which cost between $20 and $25 (plus tax). We encourage you to consider buying more than one book from the same author; we can then offer you combined shipping using a flat rate box and refund you any additional shipping that our website might have charged. Please contact Rachel to discuss combined shipping options. We hope that you find some good gift ideas for the aviation buff on your list!
Cordially, Dr. Rachel Lea Heide,
Canadian Aviation Historical Society
Christopher Weicht Flat Rate Box Set:
The Defenders & Red Star Over Canada
Author Chris Weicht is offering a special where buyers can get one copy of The Defenders and one copy of Red Star Over Canada in a Canada Post FLAT RATE BOX for $85.00 ($65 for the books and $20 for shipping).
See the description for The Defenders in the next book offering below.
Get yours for just $65.00 (GST included) plus $20.00 shipping per copy in Canada.
Author Chris Weicht brings to life a mystery in Canada's North. Why did an uninhabited island along the mid-coast of British Columbia play a mysterious part in a long range 1937 flight by Russian aviators?
Was it a non-stop flight, or did they land and secretly refuel on Goose Island? What happened to the famous Russian flyer, Levanesky, once touted as the Russian Lindbergh? Why did the American and Canadian governments seem to go along with the deceit?
The Defenders by Christopher Weicht
On 2 June 1942, Japan launched an attack on the US Navy facilities at Dutch Harbour, Alaska. The United States officially appealed for Canada’s help in the defence of the besieged Alaska and its Aleutian Islands, that were under attack and partially occupied by Japanese Air and Naval Forces.
Canada immediately sent 15 Squadrons of battle hardened RCAF Fighter and Bomber Reconnaissance aircraft, which fought valiantly with the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero and Rufe and Aichi Jake Seaplane fighters, as well as with the atrocious Aleutian weather which together cost many lives.
Get yours for just $45.00 (GST included) plus $20.00 shipping per copy in Canada.
The book is 9" x11" requiring a flat rate box at $20 shipping.
Aviation historian, and former President of the CAHS, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, has published agorgeous picture book that pays homage to aviator Freddie Carmichael — the first Indigenous commercial pilot in the Arctic —with each month of the year highlighting moments from his life, the beauty of the North and the power of dreams.
The CAHS discount rate is $19 (plus $6 shipping in Canada).
Danielle also has a number of upcoming events to promote and discuss her books, including Freddie The Flyer. For information on where you can see her or how to schedule an event with her, please visit her website.
Come along on an aviation journey with Alis! This spunky female guide will take you through an ABC of planes featuring gorgeous cut-paper art.
An A to Z of planes past and present, this book has stunning cut-paper art and a cute-as-a-button guide named Alis. Named for Dr. Alis Kennedy, likely one of the first Indigenous women to obtain a commercial pilot licence in Canada, Alis will take you on an aviation tour from the Avro Arrow to the Zeppelin and everything in between.
Meticulously researched and uniquely crafted, this is a one-of-a-kind book that will delight aviation fans big and little.
Get your PAPERBACK copy for just $10.00 (GST included) plus $6.00 shipping per copy in Canada.
The CAHS is pleased to feature this new book about the amazing life story of Lilian Bland, the first woman ever to design, build, and fly her own airplane, beautifully illustrated to inspire young readers. This delightful picture book celebrates the life of Lilian Bland, remembered both in England and in her adopted home of Quatsino Sound, on Vancouver Island, for her many achievements - especially her ground-breaking achievements in aviation.
Retailing for $19.95 + tax, the CAHS is selling the book as a fund-raiser at a discount rate of $15 (plus $6 shipping in Canada).
Pre-order now for $15 a copy (plus $5 shipping in Canada).
We are taking pre-orders for our annual, 13-month, full colour, and bilingual aviation art calendar, which is expected to be available for shipping the first week of December. Check out the shop link to see the full list of artists and snapshots of the art in this year's stunning calendar.
Adversity in the Winter Night Skies: The Story of Canada`s Prairie Air Mail 1930-1932
On September 19, 1928, a de Havilland Giant Moth took off on an air mail flight between Winnipeg, Manitoba and Calgary, Alberta. High winds meant the aircraft took two days to reach its destination (today it can be flown in two hours), but it was the start of air mail service in the prairies. Clark Seaborn describes the early prairie air mail flights, as well as the aircraft used and the challenges faced by those early pioneers.
Here are the questions and answers to this month's Canadian Aviation Moments:
Question 1: What was the similarity in the experiences of First World War Canadian pilots Billy Bishop, William Barker and German Pilot Baron Von Richthofen?
Canada’s Fighting Airmen,
pg. 109 (Drew)
Question 2:Who was unquestionably the RCAF’s most successful recruiter during the Second World War?
Wings For Victory,
pg. 50 (Dunmore)
Question 3:What kind of technical, technological and tactical innovation was demonstrated by RAF Bomber Command during the Battle of Berlin from late August 1943 until the end of March 1944?
No Prouder Place,
pg. 309 (Bashow)
Spoiler alert - the answers to this month's questions follow. Skip the rest of this section and come back later if you wish to guess/research the answers first. Good luck and have fun!
ANSWER 1: “Thus mud had much to do with the making of another great airman. Bishop had transferred from a mounted unit some months before and was also an observer although not yet at the front. Richthofen had left his Uhlans the previous June to become an observer and was at the time in Germany putting the finishing touches on his training as a pilot. There was a marked similarity in the experiences of the three men. Each served with mounted units, each transferred from a reaction to the mud and fighting conditions which deprived them of their horses, each flew first as an observer, and afterward as a pilot with a fighting squadron, and each won practically every award for valour in the gift of their respective countries. But whereas Bishop and Richthofen had started as officers, Barker began as a private and he also saw more actual service in the air than either of the others.”
Canada’s Fighting Airmen,
pg. 109 (Drew)
ANSWER 2: “The redoubtable ace of the Great War, Billy Bishop, was unquestionably the air force’s most successful recruiter. He was a stocky, bemedaled figure, with a jolly smile and rows of medal ribbons, including the Victoria Cross. He kept popping up in newsreels and in magazines, still a national hero, a name to be reckoned with. It was a time when brave men and women were admired wholeheartedly, unreservedly. Their acts of courage inspired an entire generation. Countless young Canadians volunteered for the air force, nursing secret longings to be the Billy Bishop of this war, shooting down enemy aircraft by the score, to be lionized by society and decorated by the king.”
Wings For Victory,
pg. 50 (Dunmore)
ANSWER 3: “A great amount of technical, technological and tactical innovation was demonstrated by both sides during this campaign. Deliberate diversions and distractions by Bomber Command abounded, and increasingly indirect routes were employed. Concentration of force over the target was developed to an art form, until a force of 800 aircraft could be placed on the target within just a twenty-minute window. Collaterally, the length of the bomber stream, considered to be exceptionally vulnerable when it grew to 300 miles in length, was tightened up to a mere 70 miles, less than a quarter of its 1942 length. A specialist support organization in the form of 100 group had been added, and their contributions were highly significant. Older equipment, such as the Stirling and the Halifax II/V series., were retired from the Main Force, while new equipment in the form of the early series Halifax III was introduced. However, the initial results with this new aircraft did fall somewhat short of expectations, and these crews had a harder time of it, since. 'When the fighters struck and bomber pilots made for altitude, whatever their orders, the Halifax IIIs were now left at the lower altitudes (than the Lancasters) and the Germans found them first.' The later variants with greater wingspans and improved service ceilings fared much better.”
No Prouder Place,
pg. 309 (Bashow)
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The Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS)
P.O. Box 2700 • Station D • Ottawa • Ontario • K1P 5W7