1952 – The First Year

Summary – The Southeast Upsalquitch Project

In late 1952 or early 1953, Ken Elliott wrote a comprehensive report on the 1952 Southeast Upsalquitch Project (see References below) in which he described in great detail the project problems and organization, insecticide testing, division of the area into blocks, calibration of the spray apparatus, and spray deposit assessment. Despite all of that detail, he did not identify the Stearmans involved in the spray, much like describing the making of a film without naming the actors.

Much of the history of the spray program over the years can be found at my other site.

A lot of what appears below is from the Elliott report.

“In June 1952, an aerial spraying operation for control of the spruce budworm was carried out on the crown timber limits of the New Brunswick International Paper Company [N.B.I.P.] in the Southeast Upsalquitch River region of northern New Brunswick. During a period of 15 days, twenty-one spray aircraft carrying an average of 126 gallons at the rate of 2 1/2 trips per hour dispersed 193,873 gallons [Imperial] of DDT insecticide on 185,783 acres. Sampling of the budworm larvae population indicated a mortality of over 99%, and spray deposit sampling indicated that the spray was deposited on 98% of the spray area. These successes were the result of planning and organization which began in late October 1951. During the winter, a V-shaped airfield with two 2,500-foot runways was carved out of the bush, 200,000 gallons of insecticide were trucked into the airfield in drums, a 150-man camp was constructed, 21 spray planes and two observation planes were procured, and maps and photographs were prepared. In the spring, the system for loading gasoline and insecticide into the aircraft was assembled and the aircraft were calibrated for correct dispersal of the spray.”

The N.B.I.P. Company “organized this operation and all other agencies concerned were acting as co-operators. Mr. B.W. Flieger [Barney], Education Director for the Company, was the Project Director and was responsible for all final decisions. Working with him were W.H. [Bud] Irvine, Superintendent of Airways, Department of Transport, Moncton [New Brunswick], and the writer.”

“The construction of an airfield within the spray area was made necessary because rough topography necessitated the use of small aircraft that could manoeuvre safely over such terrain at low altitudes. The efficiency of these aircraft in using the few hours of the day during which wind and convection currents permit the spray to be deposited satisfactorily, is decreased as the ferry distance to the spray area is increased. This is particularly so because of the relatively small loads carried. Therefore an airfield within the area made it possible to use the least number of aircraft necessary to finish the work during the short period when the budworm is exposed to direct contact with the spray.”

There were “6 loading stations where insecticide and gasoline could be loaded simultaneously on both sides of the aircraft. These were in a straight line parallel to the runway. … The pilot loaded both gasoline and insecticide, assisted by a hose handler who also kept gallonage records. … The aircraft carried an average load of 126 gallons and operated at an average rate of 2 1/2 loads per hour. Average time from landing through loading to take-off was 4.15 minutes.”

Airstrips: All Stearmans flew out of Budworm City, the first of several airstrips constructed for the spruce budworm program. More on Budworm City can be found HERE.

Aircraft
2 Aeronca Sedans
1 Beaver
1 Piper Cub
20 Stearman:
– 17 Central (including 1 lost due to crash)
– 2 Skyway
– 1 Leavens Bros.

Spray Period
June 13-29, 1952

The Beaver (CF-DIN, see below) was rated to carry 240 gallons at 100 m.p.h. Because of its extra capacity, it was allotted 5 blocks for a total of 13,580 acres. The 450 h.p. Stearmans (see table below) were rated to carry 125 gallons at 90 m.p.h. The 300 h.p. Stearman (CF-GAR) lacked the power for maneuverability with a full load, so two fairly level blocks were allotted to it, for a total of 8,690 acres. “The varied acreages, distances, and topography made it impossible to group the blocks so that each aircraft could be given a fair share.”

Stearmans at Budworm City, NB, 1952. D.C. Anderson photo.
Central Stearmans at Budworm City, 1952. D.C. Anderson photo. [FPL files]
Budworm City, NB, 1952. D.C. Anderson photo.
The storage area, Budworm City, NB, 1952. D.C. Anderson photo. The two Aeronca Sedans, a Beaver and an Avro Anson (possibly CF-EJZ) are parked beside many drums of DDT.

Stearmans organized by tail/project number

This history is based on over 800 images and contact sheets from photographer Frank Bauman [Forest Protection Limited files] and Table 5, Spray Performance – Calibration, in Ken Elliot’s report on the 1952 season. Unfortunately, Table 5 lists only the tail numbers and not the registrations. The only way I have been able to identify these Stearmans is by Bauman’s images, some of which are of low resolution as they were scanned from prints and contact sheets.

The following information is included in the aircraft descriptions in the Table below.

Aircraft number and registration: There is no No. 13, #21 is a deHavilland Beaver, and #22 is the recently identified “dark Stearman”.

Colour is recorded as mostly “all pale”, as most images are black and white. The logo for Central Aircraft consisted of the word CENTRAL in large black letters on the fuselage. Canadian Stearmans are described following the table.

Tail pattern: I have attempted to categorize the tail patterns of the Stearmans used in the project period of 1952 to 1973. This may or may not have any relevance, but, in any case, is presented HERE.

Engine: All Stearmans were equipped with a Pratt & Whitney 450 hp Wasp Junior engine except #22, which had a 300 hp Lycoming engine.

Pilot: Names are taken from Elliot’s Table 5, and first names and locations are added from other sources, if available.

Comments: Includes subsequent employment in New Brunswick or not, and other relevant information. There are ten Stearmans that our records show did not spray again in New Brunswick after 1952. These are: #1, #2, #3, #4, #9, #10, #12 and #16, and also #18, which crashed and was destroyed (see below).

Stearman AN75N1

Central Aviation Stearmans in New Brunswick in 1952.
Tail # Registration Colour Tail Engine Pilot Image Comments
1 N4747H all pale vertical 450 hp Dave Hammil Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick.
2 N55258 or -56 all pale Normal-top 450 hp Herb Henderson Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick.
3 N57173 all pale Normal 450 hp Kaponen Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick.
4 N1194N all pale Normal 450 hp DuGrest Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick. Ground-looped and nosed over at the edge of the runway. No pilot injury.
5 N68441 all pale Normal 450 hp Ward Y Flew as Baxter #12 in 1957.
6 N1310N all pale Normal 450 hp Sellards Y Flew as Central #26 in 1953 and Arizona Aviation #28 in 1955.
7 N57315 all pale Normal 450 hp Osborn Y Flew again in 1953 for Central.
8 N1262N all pale Normal 450 hp Piller Y Flew again in 1953 for Central.
9 N68480 all pale Normal-top 450 hp Kenny Owen Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick.
10 NR1054N all pale Normal-top 450 hp Jerry Bulkley (see letter to FPL in 1956) Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick.
11 N56464 all pale Normal-top 450 hp McEntire Y Flew as #11 in 1955 for Central.
12 Nxxxxx all pale Normal 450 hp Steel Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick.
There was no #13.
14 N4769V all pale Normal-top 450 hp Arnold Y Flew as Farmers’ #8 in 1957. Destroyed in a fatal accident 16 June 1978.
15 N58680 all pale Normal-top 450 hp Hartley Y Flew as Farmers’ #3 in 1957, 1958.
16 N1064N all pale Vertical 450 hp Ratterath Y Did not spray again in New Brunswick.
17 N49292 all pale N-over 450 hp Butler Y Flew again in 1954? for Central.
18 Nxxxxx all pale not known 450 hp Bill Swanson, Boise, Idaho Y (of crash) Crashed and burned 4 miles south of the airfield. No pilot injury, but the aircraft was destroyed (see below).

Gallery of Available Images

Click on the first image to start the slideshow.

Skyway Air Services Ltd., Langley, British Columbia (contracted by Leavens Bros.)

See HERE for the history of these two Stearmans (scroll down).

#19 CF-FBV
Colour/logo pattern: all pale; small black Skyway logo in script on fuselage, and “Langley B.C.” under seat in small black letters.
Tail pattern: Normal-top
Pilot: Peter Deck
Comments: Eventually went to Conair Aviation. See HERE for history (scroll down).

#20 CF-FBU
Colour/logo pattern: all pale; small black Skyway logo in script on fuselage, and “Langley B.C.” under seat in small black letters.
Tail pattern: Normal-top
Pilot: John “Long John” Anderson
Comments: Flew again in 1957 as #83. This Stearman had a “rather unusual feature”: the lower wing-tips had been cut off and replaced with a vertical plate, which reduced the wing-tip vortex, and the seat and cowling had been raised. The conversion work was done by Tony Steinbock of Klamath Falls Air Service, Klamath Falls, Oregon. Substantially damaged 14 July 1963 near Ladner, British Columbia.

Leavens Bros., Essex, Ont.

#22 CF-GAR
Colour/logo pattern: All dark body with white stripe along sides, pale wings
Tail pattern: Normal, white letters and tail number
Engine: 300 hp; the only 300 hp Stearman of the 20 Stearmans
Pilot: Parker
Comments: The “dark Stearman”, #78 in 1957, 1958 Leavens; #78 in 1966, General Airspray. Destroyed in non-fatal accident 27 May 1967 near Franklin, Quebec. See HERE for history.

Stearmans parked at Budworm City, NB, in 1952
Stearmans parked at Budworm City, NB, in 1952. Close-up of CF-GAR #22, the “dark Stearman”. Frank Bauman series, Forest Protection Limited files.

DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver

Beaver construction numbers and registrations are from the Beaver Tails master index.

Aviation Services Ltd., Moose Jaw, Sask.

#21 CF-DIN, on wheels, c/n 68
Engine: 450 hp
Pilot: Shankoff

History: CF-DIN. De Havilland Aircraft, Downsview, ON. Canada. Delivered 27-Jun-1950. Aviation Services Ltd.

Beaver with spray gear
Aviation Services Ltd. Beaver CF-DIN #21 showing spray boom. Budworm City, 1952. D.C. Anderson.

Maritime Central Airways Ltd., Moncton, New Brunswick

CF-GCX, on floats, c/n 196

This is the aircraft that rescued Bill Swanson after his crash (see below). An image from 1954 also shows GCX, again on floats, sporting the logo of Maritime Central Airways on the fuselage and the Department of Lands and Mines logo on the tail.

History: CF-GCX Maritime Central Air Ltd., Moncton, NB. Certificate of registration issued 24-Apr-1952. Delivered 28-Apr-1952.

Budworm City - Stearman crash. Bauman series 1952.
Wheeler Airlines Beaver CF-GCX on a lake near Budworm City, 1952. Pilot Bill Swanson is shown entering the cabin after being rescued after the crash. Frank Bauman image.

CF-GCZ, c/n 172 (not numbered)
Pilot: Cockle

Apparently owned by Maritime Central Air, according to Elliot’s report, but operated by Wheeler Airlines. This aircraft was mentioned several times in Elliott’s report. Included here because its performance was checked at the Upsalquitch Project, Budworm City. It was used to spray an additional 8000 acres in the Causapscal area, Quebec, situated in the Gaspé region just north of New Brunswick.

Piper Cub

Piper Cub spraying 1952
This clipping from The Piper Pilot, Vol. 1 No. 4, 1953, describes the use of a Piper Super Cub for spraying budworm; it was stationed at the Budworm City airstrip with the other spray aircraft. Since no Pipers were used in 1953, this must be 1952. [FPL files]

Central Aircraft and Al Baxter

The regulations of the Air Transport Board of Canada at that time prohibited aircraft from other countries operating in Canada. This regulation was modified to permit a U.S. contractor to supply aircraft under the supervision of  a licensed Canadian spray operator when it was found that only two suitable aircraft were available in Canada. Aviation Consultant W.H. Irvine visited various aircraft operators in Canada and the United States, and settled on Central Aircraft.

Central Aircraft of Yakima, Washington,  was named as chief contractor, as approved by the Air Transport Board. They were to provide two experienced Chief Pilots, American pilots to fly the aircraft, and to conduct a course in agriculture and forest spraying for selected Canadian pilots. The spray planes landed at Budworm City on May 29, 1952. Al Baxter had provided 17 Stearman from Central Aircraft and three Canadian Stearmans from Skyway Air Services in British Columbia. The Skyway Stearmans accompanied the Central aircraft on the “3700 mile hop from the Pacific Coast.” According to the report, only two Skyway Stearmans came east, and one Stearman from Ontario, from Leavens Brothers Air Services.

the-spokesman-review_may-29-1952-pg-28
A clipping from The Spokesman-Review, May 28 1952 (pg 28) that briefly describes the journey of the Stearmans from Yakima, Washington, to New Brunswick, with a stop to pick up the three Canadian Stearmans.

Montreal Star, May 28, 1952
Stearmans arrive in Montreal from their trip across the United Stated from Yakima, Washington. From the Montreal Star, May 28, 1952. [FPL Files]
The spray area was divided into 43 blocks, which were assigned to individual pilots, who flew at about 100 feet above tree level in hilly country. So, in 1952, Stearmans flew alone, except in the tail end of the season when flying in pairs was tried as a safety measure.

According to Table 1 in Elliott’s report, 183,810 acres were sprayed in 43 blocks. The spray allotment was 192,974 gallons (Imperial). The 22 aircraft flew 1506 trips, average distance flown for all aircraft was 8.2 miles, total ferry distance was 23,708 miles (average 552 mi), and number of acres per mile averaged 10.2.

Total spray time was 174 h 45 min, ferry time was 262 h 31 min, and total time for all aircraft was 441 h 24 min.

Central Aircraft (Yakima, Washington) - #17 spraying
Central Stearman #2 N55258 or -56 spraying alone, 1952. The hilly terrain of northern New Brunswick is evident. Bert Beaver, Canada Wide Photo. [FPL Files]

Accident

There was only one crash, which occurred on June 17. Central pilot Bill Swanson’s Stearman caught fire from a broken gas line. He drove it into the biggest tree he could find, a pine, and rode the tree down, without injury. The crash site was identified by a curl of smoke, and rescuers found Swanson standing next to the crash site in good health. The records don’t say which Stearman this was, but we do know that it was #18. Swanson was from Boise, Idaho. In the early years, pilots flew without radio contact, but after this incident, planes flew in pairs, which turned out to be a plus because it resulted in a wider swath. [Seto, unpublished report to FPL]

Stearman crash, near Budworm City, 1952. Bauman series.

Stearman crash - rescue efforts. Bauman series 1952.
Officials comfort Bill Swanson (with helmet), pilot of the first Stearman to crash on the budworm project. Swanson returned to camp, ate a big meal and was soon flying again according to Bauman’s photoarticle “Battling the Budworm” in LOOK Magazine, 1952. Frank Bauman series. [FPL Files]

Some Articles from 1952

The first year of the extensive Upsalquitch Project resulted in a great deal of attention and several newspaper and magazine articles published in 1952, plus a booklet from the New Brunswick International Paper Company (in 1953).

“Battling the Budworm” in LOOK Magazine, 1952

Click on the first image to start the slideshow.

“The Battle of the Budworm,” produced by New Brunswick International Paper Company in 1953 (the pilots page is missing, but see below)

Click on the first image to start the slideshow.

Annotated pages from “The Battle of the Budworm” Identifying some of the pilots and crew (includes the missing pilots page)

Click on the first image to start the slideshow.

The Rest of the Year

Five new airstrips were constructed over the winter for the 1953 budworm project: Nictau, Boston Brook, Horne’s Gulch, Rosehill and Charlo; for info on the other airstrips, see HERE).

REFERENCES

Elliott, Ken R. 1953. Report: Organization and Spray Deposit Assessment – Upsalquitch Budworm Spraying Project 1952. Dept. of Agriculture Science Service, Div. of Forest Biology. 71 pp + Appendices. [Obtained from the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.]SaveSave

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