Canso scheduled for takeoff to Oregon museum

The bright yellow former RCAF Canso A (PBY flying boat) is being rescued from 10 years of neglect to become a display at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore.

A familiar sight at Nanaimo Airport is about to take off for greener pastures.

The bright yellow former RCAF Canso A (PBY flying boat) is being rescued from 10 years of neglect to become a display at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore.

Known as C-FNJB, the Canso was one of two flying boats at Nanaimo Airport. It’s sister plane (C-FNJF) was purchased by a group in England and flies regularly throughout Europe.

C-FNJB was bought by the Captain Michael King Smith Foundation in Oregon for the museum last July for $100,000, and restoration work by Victoria Air Maintenance is ongoing to prepare it for one more flight.

Stewart Bailey, curator of the Evergreen, said the plane, with borrowed engines from Victoria Air Maintenance, will make a one-time ferry flight to Oregon and then will be fully restored to go on display.

“While we found it to be in really good shape structurally, internally there are a lot of things that are OK for a one-time ferry flight, but not to keep it flying regularly,” said Bailey. “The plan is to have it displayed in the museum, not become a flying aircraft.”

Built by Canadian Vickers in 1943 in St. Hubert, Que., for the Royal Canadian Air Force, C-FNJB served between mid-1943 and 1961. It was converted to a military transport aircraft in 1945.

In 1961, it was bought by Kenting Aviation in Toronto for use as a water bomber and for a good portion of the 1960s, was used for firefighting in France.

In 1969, it was sold to Norcanair of Prince Albert, Sask., which was handling firefighting operations for the province. The Saskatchewan government bought it in 1980.

Ray Williams of Nanaimo was hired by a group of Malaysian investors – the plane’s last owners – to find a PBY for tourism flights in Africa and he found both planes in St. Thomas, Ont. and flew them to Nanaimo in the late 1990s.

“The money fell out and the Malaysians would come out every once in awhile, but they didn’t want to spend any more money on it,” said Williams.

The Canso has also gone through a number of paint schemes in its life, from original white and silver and orange, to light blue and its current yellow.

And it will change once more as the museum plans paint the plane in a Second World War U.S. Navy scheme.

“We will be painting it up as one of the navy PBYs that spotted the Japanese fleet at the Battle of Midway,” said Bailey. “Aircraft 44P-4 was touted as the one that first made contact with the Japanese.”

“It was also a PBY5-A and the airplane in Nanaimo is a 5-A. It fits, so we’re not playing loose with history painting it that way.”

David Legg, a Catalina/Canso enthusiast, writer and researcher in England said organizations like Evergreen and the current owners of the former C-FNJF are entitled to paint their aircraft how they want given the huge amount of financial and human resource involved in restoring them and keeping them in good condition.

When it arrived in Europe, C-FNJF was painted, not as an RCAF Canso A, but as a UK-based USAAF OA-10A Catalina from 1945.

“There is already one airworthy former RCAF Canso A flying in Canada with the Canadian Warplane Heritage in RCAF markings and another about to do so in France,” said Legg in an e-mail.  “The point is that the very significant part played by the RCAF Cansos in World War Two and beyond has not been ignored by Catalina and Canso owners.”

But Williams said he hates the idea of the PBY heading to the U.S. and won’t be at the Nanaimo Airport to watch it take off for Oregon.

“That is an original PBY5-A that played a huge part in the West Coast’s aviation history,” he said. “They’re beautiful aircraft and we sell this one for peanuts to the U.S.”

Bailey said it’s the story that is important to the museum.

“Being the Battle of Midway was a turning point for the Allies in the war in the Pacific, it has an important story to tell,” he said. “These things are just wood, fabric, metal and plastic without the stories of the people that built them, maintained them and flew them.”

Mike Ingram, president and director of maintenance of Victoria Air Maintenance, said getting the plane’s generators working is the last step and permits to fly from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Transport Canada are expected in early August.

 

 

Just Posted

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Nanaimo residents on edge of city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Nanaimo artist Dave Stevens is displaying paintings inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library from now until the end of fall. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo writer and artist’s work goes up at Harbourfront library

Dave Stevens presents work inspired by arbutus trees and the Millstone River

The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo man, already in jail, found guilty of sexual abuse of sons

Man previously sentenced for sexual interference involving girl in Nanaimo

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Stuffed toys, many with donations pinned to them, are piled in the Lions Pavilion at Maffeo Sutton Park at a vigil May 31 honouring the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were discovered outside a residential school in Kamloops. (News Bulletin file photo)
Thousands donated to child and family service agency following Nanaimo vigil

Toys and money donated to Kw’umut Lelum child and family services

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More than 75% of B.C. adults have 1st dose of COVID vaccine

The federal government has confirmed a boost in the Moderna vaccine will be coming later this month

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The rainbow flag flies beside the Canadian flag outside the University of the Fraser Valley’s Chilliwack campus on June 26, 2020. Monday, June 14, 2021 is Flag Day, and also June is Pride Month. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 13 to 19

Flag Day, Garbage Man Day, International Panic Day all coming up this week

Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
Vancouver Island man walks away unscathed after lightning strike

VIDEO: ‘We like to think that his dad was watching over him’

British Columbia-Yukon Community News Association’s 2021 Ma Murray Awards were handed out during a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 10. (Screen grab)
Black Press Media winners take gold at B.C. and Yukon journalism awards

Publications received nods in dozens of categories

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Frank Phillips receives a visit from his wife Rena at Nanaimo Seniors Village on their 61st wedding anniversary, March 31, 2020. Social visits have been allowed since COVID-19 vaccination has been offered in all care homes. (Nanaimo News Bulletin)
B.C. prepares mandatory vaccination for senior care homes

180 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Friday, one more death

Most Read