1958 – Stearmans and TBMs

LATEST VERSION: 30 April 2020

New Brunswick


Boston Brook, Budworm City, Charlo (operation headquarters), Juniper, Taxes, Grog Brook, Nictau, Renous, Sevogle (these and others are shown in the map below). The Fredericton Municipal Airport was used in the operation for the first time; early in the year, ten 11,000 U.S. gallon tanks were constructed to hold insecticide. A new airstrip, Kesnac, was built after the spray season.


12 TBM-3E
17 Cessna
76 Stearman: 52 USA: 17 Canada
1 Sikorsky S-55 helicopter supplied by United Helicopters Ltd. of St. John’s Nfld., a part of The Okanagan Helicopter Group with a base on Toronto Island, Toronto, Ontario, to be made available for a month starting on May 26, 1958.

The season

Much of the following is taken from Webb, F.E., D.R. Macdonald and D.G. Cameron. 1959. Aerial spraying against spruce budworm in New Brunswick – 1958. Bi-monthly Progress Report Vol. 15(1): Jan.-Feb.. Science Service – Forest Biology Div., Canada Dept. of Agriculture, p. 1-2.

Grumman Avenger aircraft carrier-based torpedo bombers were used in British Columbia in 1957 and for the first time in New Brunswick in 1958. See our companion site HERE for extensive coverage. The customary flying and inspection procedures were applied to the Stearmans again this year.

Operations in 1958 involved spraying 2.6 million acres at 1/2 lb DDT in 1/2 U.S. gal. of oil solvent per acre, as in past years. Six million acres of susceptible forest in northern and central New Brunswick has been covered one or more times since 1952. In 1958, about 1.75 million acres was resprayed in the north-central and northwestern parts of the Province, and 850,000 acres of new high hazard forest were treated for the first time to the south and west. Once again, operations were carried out by Forest Protection Limited (FPL) under the management of B.W. Flieger and Operations Manager George Lovett.

Wheeler Airlines of St. Jovite, Quebec, again supervised the obtaining of aircraft and planned to supply the following: Chief Engineer Eddy Austin, three licensed Air Engineers and twenty mechanics procured on a temporary basis from the military (RCN and RCAF).

The insecticide was again formulated at the plant in Dalhousie during the winter season; most of it was transferred to storage at the airstrips by tank trucks before the spring thaws restricted travel.

The timing of the operations from the 14 airstrips was for the second year based on a map of phenological (plant and animal cycles as influenced by weather and season) development for northern and central New Brunswick, divided into six categories. There was a difference of two weeks between the southern area (category 1 in the map below) and category 6 in the central highlands. Starting dates in the later categories could be estimated by assuming a seasonal difference of two to three days per category.

The phenological map for 1958 shows only minor variations from that of 1957, except that Fredericton Airport, located south of Taxes, was the first to commence spraying. Airstrips used were Boston Brook, Budworm City, Charlo, Juniper, Taxes, Grog Brook, Nictau, Renous and Sevogle.

After two seasons of severe budworm decline, the scientists estimated that the outbreak has now reached a stage at which complete collapse is likely, possibly by 1959.

The Fredericton base covered an area on the north side of the St. John River and parts of the Nashwaaksis and Keswick watersheds, starting on June 1 using the twelve Avengers and completed by June 17. The operation gradually moved north after Fredericton, first to Taxes then eventually to the northern county, Restigouche. By June 17, most of the northern bases, except Nictau, were well underway, and the New Brunswick project was completed on June 25.


Again, two Wheeler Stearmans applied DDT to the marshes in the Moncton area in late May, based out of McEwan’s Airfield on the Irishtown Road.

Mock pest attack demo

On May 27, FPL organized a demonstration of how the spray planes deposited the chemicals from the air. This time, however, water was used instead. This was performed by several Grumman Avengers and two Stearman at the Fredericton airport. The aircraft swooped low over the field until they were within spraying distance of their imaginary target, then released the water.

The Stearman and the Avenger

To celebrate the arrival of the new Grumman Avengers , one was posed beside an American Stearman at the Fredericton Municipal Airport, probably on May 28, 1958. The Avenger was Skyway CF-IMX #507 and the Stearman was Farm-Air N1065N #121. The Stearman pilot, Ken Owens, was posed beside Bud Irving, FPL project director based at the Campbellton headquarters. These were taken by local photographer Joe Stone and were acquired from the Provincial Archives in Fredericton.

Partial list of Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1958

The source for the aircraft present in 1958 is a two-page typed list from Wheeler Airlines titled Operation Budworm – 1958, Aircraft and Pilots, divided into two groups, Stearman and TBM’s (called the main list). The TBM section is annotated in pen but the Stearman section is not, but has two major gaps. Such working lists are often a moving target, so there is no surprise that there is some confusion. A post-spray list of 17 companies that supplied Stearmans (called the final list), dated July 30, 1958, confirms the number of aircraft from each one but is annotated by pen to reduce the Skyway Stearmans from two to one. This list also lists total dollars for rate and amount; it is initialed by Barney Flieger dated “4.8.58”.

The corrected number of aircraft are placed in brackets in the table below. An asterix (*) indicates pilots with previous budworm experience. The years that some of the aircraft that worked Operation Budworm in both 1957 and 1958 are in green, and in 1958 only in red; the others had worked in New Brunswick for at least one year and sometimes several during the 1952-56 period.

Farmers Air Service, Klamath Falls, Oregon (2)
#3 N58680 – *R. Nelson
#4 N53483 – *L. Anderson – 1957-58
Piller Air Service (1)
#15 N1152N – N. Loomis
Ueding Flying Service, Vincennes, Indiana (5; 4 in main list; was the extra aircraft #23?)
#20 N54945 – W. Houser
#21 N55898 – *W. Marrs
#22 N9955H – pilot not listed
#24 N61603 – *P.J. Arthion
Quaadman Dusters, Corcoran, California (4)
#31 N1318N – G. Gunther
#33 N56843 – *F. Maglio
#34 N68461 – *G. Mower
#35 N68455 – *G. Quaadman – 1957-58
[Twinn Pest Control, Toronto?, Ontario (Roy Twinn) (1) – no details listed – 1958 only. Not listed in the final Wheeler Airlines company list. There is a #50 CF-SEK , but the owner is unknown.]
Northcana Ltd., Toronto, Ontario (1)
#54 CF-KQJ – no details listed – 1958 only
Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., Ostrander, Ontario (3; 2 in final list)
#58 CF-ULY – no details listed – 1958 only
#59 CF-KQB – no details listed – 1958 only
#60 CF-JOU – no details listed – 1957-58
Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, Quebec (7; 6 in final list)
#61 CF-EQS – S. Kolanko
#62 CF-EQT – *A. Becker (After budworm spraying, crashed July 30 1958 in a field near Napierville while agricultural spraying. Damage was substantial but pilot Becker was not injured.)
#63 CF-EQU – *P. Holtendorp. See ABPIC for an image of #63 in Germany, 1958.
#64 CF-EQV – D. Dwyer – Crashed at Wheeler base, St. Jovite, Que., 17 May 1958, substantial damage, no injuries, pilot J.E.M. Beluse. Still included on the main list with pilot Dwyer.
#65 CF-EQW – D. O’Rorke
#66 CF-EQX – H. Hawes
#67 CF-EQY – W. Wolff
Airspray Ltd., Wetaskiwin, Alberta (2)
#68 CF-IAD – no details listed – 1957-58
#69 CF-LOB? – no details listed – 1957-58, was Medford #88 in 1957
Bradley Air Services, Carp, Ontario (5; 4 in final list)
#70 CF-xxx – no details listed; occurrence doubtful; Bradley #70 was formerly CF-HKZ.
#71 CF-FBD – no details listed
#72 CF-DZC – no details listed
#73 CF-DQP – no details listed
#74 CF-IBA – no details listed
Leavens Brothers Air Services Ltd., Essex, Ontario (4)
#75 CF-FRY – no details listed
#76 CF-FRW – no details listed
#77 CF-FRZ – no details listed
#78 CF-GAR – no details listed
Skyway Air Services Ltd., Langley, British Columbia (2; 1 in final list)
#80 CF-HKZ – *R. Elmore
#82 CF-DQL – no pilot listed (Moffatt?), crashed 13 June 1958, Grand Cascapedia, Que., pilot W.J.B. Moffatt
Simsbury Flying Services, Simsbury, Conn. (4; 5 in final list, possibly #98 N53899?)
#95 N58067 – *V.Y. Leach – 1957-58
#96 N58065 – *G.P. Bailey
#97 N60255 – *R.C. Descomb – 1957-58
#99 N9386H – H. Lindsay
Farm-Air Company, West Sacramento, California (6)
#121 N1065N – *K. Owens
#122 N69248 – *F. Smith – 1958 only
#123 N53084 – D.W. Billings
#124 N69176 – *J.C. Bello – 1958 only
#125 N56938 – *W. McMahan
#126 N52740 – *J. Moberg – 1957-58
Flying M Company (5; 6 in final list)
On list, but no project numbers assigned and no aircraft registrations listed.
Marsh Aviation Co. Inc., Mesa, Arizona (14)
#201 N53025 – *C. Diefendorf
#202 N53033 – *F. Fowler – 1957-58
#203 N56383 – *W. Goswick
#204 N56805 – *J.L. Kelley
#205 N59950 – *D. Malvern – 1957-58
#206 N64385 – *N.S. Taylor – 1957-58
#207 N68162 – *A. Richardson
#208 N75623 – G. Christopher – 1957-58
#209 N64386 – *G. Bishop – 1957-58
#210 N75861 – *J. Lowers – 1958 only
#211 N75360 – *F. Bailes – 1957-58 (#268 in 1957)
#212 N54653 – *T. Waumble – 1957-58 (#252 in 1957)
#213 N65684 – *F. Sanders – 1958 only
#222 N54899 – R. Payne – 1957-58. Crash images from N.B. 1958? Was Bill Robinette’s aircraft in 1957.
Hammer Crop Dusters Inc., Sacramento, California (6)
#353 N59998 – W.F. Kendall – 1958 only
#354 N62834 – *R.D. Ekman
#355 N62955 – R.B. Maxwell
#356 N53178 – J.C. Nielsen
#357 N53132 – *J.W. King – 1958 only
#358 N4787V – T.F. McCart
Mid Continent Aerial Sprayers Inc., Hayti, Missouri (5)
#431 N61322 – *M. Williams – 1958 only
#432 N61604 – E. Hughes – 1958 only
#433 N63266 – *H. Holyfield – 1958 only
#434 N9487H – W.E. Willford – 1958 only
#435 N48769 – *R. Kern – 1957-58 (#263 in 1957)

The following shows the two Airspray Stearmans, CF-IAD #68 and CF-LOB #69, at Charlo in 1958, together with three others. The other image shows four of the five Mid-Continent Stearmans, location not known, scanned from a photocopy in an unpublished FPL history report. They are, left to right, N9487H #434, N61322 #431, and N48769 #435; the last is unidentified.


Only six Stearmans were involved in accidents in Canada in 1958, all Canadian, according to the Department of Transport accident cards, and only one was involved in the New Brunswick spray program. (The other was in Quebec, see below.)

Wheeler CF-EQV #64 crashed one mile from the Wheeler base in St. Jovite, Que., 17 May 1958, suffering substantial damage but no injuries to pilot J.E.M. Beluse. It was probably on a test run. The engine had failed immediately after takeoff and was forced to land in a ploughed field.


DDT and 760,000 acres, 47 Stearmans and 7 TBMs. [Webb et al. 1961; Blais et al. in Prebble 1975] Airstrips used were Farm Lake and Pabos (Webb et al. 1961). We have details only of four of the 47 aircraft that worked in Quebec in 1958, based on one image from Farm Lake.

Farm-Air Company, West Sacramento, California (neither of these worked in New Brunswick in 1958.)
#43 N1323N
#44 N1074N
Skyway Air Services Ltd., Langley, British Columbia
#80 CF-HKZ, Skyway

Farm Lake airstrip, Quebec, 1958. N1323N became CF-VOB. [Posted by Larry Johnson to AgAircraft group, 11 Feb 2011. Image: Paul Hodgins]

CF-KQA, no #, crashed at Pabos airstrip, Quebec, 24 June 1958, piloted by Michael Gordy. The DOT card lists Wheeler as the owner, but this is not a Wheeler aircraft, and probably is a sub-contractor, possibly Hicks and Lawrence; it did not fly in N.B. for the budworm operation. Damage was extensive but pilot Gordy was not injured. The aircraft had lost “directional control” after a takeoff run.

In the Fall biologists announced that the budworm population had collapsed, and that no more spraying was needed. The five-year Quebec program was over.

British Columbia

“Skyway Air Services Ltd. of Langley B.C. operated a number of Boeing Stearman for fighting forest fires. A group of them worked from the Bear Creek airstrip on Harrison Lake in 1958. Due to the success of the operations in 1958, by the spring of 1959 operators had equipped up to 18 aircraft with firebombing tanking systems including 5 Beavers, 5 Avengers, 5 Stearman, 2 Junkers and 1 Husky.” [Gord Bell, 2011]


Maine launched its second budworm spray program in 1958, with 302,000 acres in northeastern Aroostook County sprayed. This area borders the New Brunswick area sprayed from the Boston Brook airstrip (see map above). The project was carried out by Simsbury Flying Service of Simsbury, Connecticut, with a fleet of eight TBMs for large areas and two Stearmans for use around irregular boundaries. FPL did not supply the aircraft for the Maine job but instead supplied DDT.