Category Archives: aviation

Today In Aviation History – April 16, 1980 – Contract Signing CF-188 Hornet

Ken Mist

On this day in 1980 the Canadian Forces awards a contract for 138 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet fighters.  The first one was delivered in 1982 and was officially introduced into military service on January 7, 1983.

More commonly known as the CF-18, the Hornets have participated in combat during the Gulf War in 1991, the Kosovo War in the late 1990s, and as part of the Canadian contribution to the international Libyan no-fly zone in 2011.

The need to upgrade the CF-18 was demonstrated during the Gulf War I deployment and during the 1998 Kosovo conflict as advances in technology had rendered some of the avionics on board the CF-18 obsolescent and incompatible with NATO allies. In 2000, CF-18 upgrades became possible when the government increased the defence budget.

In 2001, the Incremental Modernization Project (IMP) was initiated. The project was broken into two phases over a period of eight years and was designed to improve air-to-air and air-to-ground combat capabilities, upgrade sensors and the defensive suite, and replace the datalinks and communications systems on board the CF-18 from the old F/A-18A and F/A-18B standard to the current F/A-18C and D standard. Boeing (merged with McDonnell Douglas) the primary contractor and L-3 Communications the primary subcontractor, was issued a contract for the modernization project starting in 2002. A total of 80 CF-18s, consisting of 62 single-seat and 18 dual-seat models were selected from the fleet for the upgrade program. The project is supposed to extend the life of the CF-18 until around 2017 to 2020.

A specially painted Hornet flies annually in air shows as the CF-18 Demonstration Team.  This is the 2013 demo Hornet at the Waterloo Air Show.

Ken Mist

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Today In Aviation History – April 16, 1914 – The Canadian Aviation Corps Is Founded

April 16, 1914.  Colonel Sam Hughes forms the Canadian Aviation Corps.


Col. Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence in World War I, authorizes $5000 be spent on the purchase of a  Burgess-Dunne two-seater tailless swept-wing pusher floatplane built by Blair-Atholl Syndicate Limited of England.  The aircraft is purchased in the US, moved to Canada and then sent to England along with commander Capt. Ernest Lloyd Janney, pilot Lt. W.F.N Sharpe and mechanic Staff Sgt. Harry A. Farr.  The aircraft was never used in battle and was abandoned on Salisbury Plain in England after an accident.


The unit was dissolved in May 1915.

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Today In Aviation History – April 15, 1952- First Flight Boeing B-52 Stratofortress


from Wikipedia

April 15, 1952.  First flight of the B-52.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force (USAF) since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons.

Beginning with the successful contract bid in June 1946, the B-52 design evolved from a straight-wing aircraft powered by six turboprop engines to the final prototype YB-52 with eight turbojet engines and swept wings. The B-52 took its maiden flight in April 1952. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. A veteran of several wars, the B-52 has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B-52′s official name Stratofortress is rarely used in informal circumstances, and it has become common to refer to the aircraft as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat F**ker).

The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. As of 2012, 85 were in active service with nine in reserve. The bombers flew under the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until it was inactivated in 1992 and its aircraft absorbed into the Air Combat Command (ACC); in 2010 all B-52 Stratofortresses were transferred from the ACC to the new Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Superior performance at high subsonic speeds and relatively low operating costs have kept the B-52 in service despite the advent of later aircraft, including the canceled Mach 3 B-70 Valkyrie, the variable-geometry B-1 Lancer, and the stealthB-2 Spirit. The B-52 completed fifty years of continuous service with its original operator in 2005; after being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, it is expected to serve into the 2040s. A B52-H at Thunder of Niagara 2011.

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Today In Aviation History – April 14, 1929 – Introduction of the Link Trainer

Link TrainerOn April 14, 1929 the Link Trainer was introduced.

The term Link Trainer, also known as the “Blue box” and “Pilot Trainer”  is commonly used to refer to a series of flight simulators produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s by the Link Aviation Devices, Inc, founded and headed by Ed Link, based on technology he pioneered in 1929 at his family’s business in Binghamton, New York. These simulators became famous during World War II, when they were used as a key pilot training aid by almost every combatant nation.

The original Link Trainer was created in 1929 out of the need for a safe way to teach new pilots how to fly by instruments. A former organ and nickelodeon builder, Link used his knowledge of pumps, valves andbellows to create a flight simulator that responded to the pilot’s controls and gave an accurate reading on the included instruments. More than 500,000 US pilots were trained on Link simulators, as were pilots of nations as diverse as Australia, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, Pakistan and the USSR.

The Link Flight Trainer has been designated as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The Link Company, now the Link Simulation & Training division ofL-3 Communications, continues to make aerospace simulators.

(Author’s picture  of a Link at the  Canadian Air and Space Museum.  Info from Wikipedia.)

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Bill and Ken’s Excellent Adventure Continues – A Mass of Mustangs – Motogliding over Michigan – There’s FOD on the runway

When your good friend Bill Shepard contacts you and asks if you want to go down to Jack Roush’s maintenance hanger in Michigan to see the Red Tail Squadron Mustang, you jump at the chance.

3 generations of P-51 Mustangs in one small hangar.

mustangs2P-51-B “Old Crow”, P-51-D “Gentleman Jim” and P-51-C “Tuskegee Airmen”.  The B and D models are owned by Jack Roush while the C comes from the CAF Red Tail Squadron.  Bill invited me come along while he flew the Red Tail after its recent engine restoration.  The guys at Roush Aviation did a great job with only a few minor tweaks left to be done.

A nice surprise was the arrival of 2 Schweizer SGM 2-37 motogliders from the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum in Detroit .

DSC_0925Steve Tupper, Nicholas Tupper, John Harte and Mike Nutt dropped in to see Shep.  This was the first time I’d seen  one of these old training motogliders actually in operation.

DSC_0930Any disappointment I felt for not being able to get a ride in the P-51-C melted away when I was offered a ride in the glider.  ”Busta” was my pilot and we somehow wedged my bulk into the seat and got the 5 point harness locked and off we went!

From Willow Run Airport (YIP) to Detroit City Airport (DET) overflying  Detroit Metro (DTW), I was treated to the bumpiest ride of my life.  A motoglider on a direct route is subject to the whim of every air current and a warm spring day provided for lots of rapid elevation changes.  Disconcerting at first but a whole lot of fun.  Mike and Steve flew as close as they could given the air in a very impressive display of airmanship.

DSC_0981DSC_0985A view of downtown Detroit and then we landed at DET.

DSC_1007We taxied in past the now sadly named Executive Terminal to the team’s hangar.

DSC_1014Spent the rest of the afternoon having a great time talking to the good folks of Detroit and looking at some of the vintage aircraft in the hangars.

What about the FOD?  That’s young Nicholas Tupper’s callsign.  A fine young man well on his way to becoming an excellent pilot at the age of 12.

DSC_0950Thanks to everyone who made yesterday so special.  Of course, the biggest thank you of all goes to Bill Shepard.  Call me anytime you need a posse Shep.

DSC_0906Just work on the music mix on your iPod.

more photos available 

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The Heritage Flight

 One of the most stirring sights at an air show in the US is the Heritage Flight.  Under very strict conditions, the US Air Force allows modern day operational fighters to fly with selected aircraft of earlier eras in close formation.  The photo above shows the Heritage Flight at Sun ‘n Fun 2014 featuring the F-22 Raptor flown by Capt. John “Taboo” Cummings along with the P-51 Mustang  “Crazy Horse” piloted by Lee Lauderback and the P-38 Lightning “Glacier Girl” with Steve Hinton at the controls.

Only 9 civilian pilots are currently authorized to fly heritage flights and each has gone through extensive training to earn that right and honor.

Severely impacted by Sequestration in 2013, it was indeed exciting to see a Heritage Flight in the skies over Lakeland.

Although there is no strictly comparable program in Canada, we are sometimes lucky enough to see something similar such as this pass by a CF-18 Demonstration Team Hornet and the F-86 Sabre “Hawk One” from Vintage Wings of Canada back in 2012.

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Today In Aviation History – April 10, 1937 – Birth of Trans-Canada Airlines

 April 10, 1937.  Act of Parliament creates Trans-Canada Airlines, now Air Canada, to coordinate air transport across Canada, with HQ in Montreal. Founded by Minister of Transport C.D. Howe, TCA is a wholly owned affiliate of Canadian National Railway (CNR).

Shown above is Lockheed Electra 10A “CF-TCC” one of the original aircraft purchased by TCA for the service between Seattle Washington and Vancouver British Columbia.

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