1960 – The Reduced year

NEW BRUNSWICK

Aircraft

Cessna, chartered for conducted tours / inspection aircraft: 17 Cessna, including 9 180s (to guide the TBMs) and 7 170s (for Stearmans) (Laurentide Aviation Ltd., Cartierville, Quebec)
20 TBM-3E
42 Stearman

Sikorsky S-55 rescue helicopter (Canadian Helicopters Ltd., Ottawa, Ontario), possibly the same one with pilot that was satisfactorily used in 1958, was stationed at Taxes for one month.

Airfields

Five active fields: Kesnac (near Millville) and Taxes (near Boiestown; Stearmans only), Dunphy and Juniper (TBM Avengers only), Fredericton (both aircraft). Taxes was designated as the headquarters of the spray operation, and it and Kesnac are both within the spray area while the other three are on the edge.

The 1960 Spray Operation

A Progress Report dated March 4, 1960, and authored by FPL Manager B.W. Flieger, states that FPL has contracted with “Wheeler Airlines Ltd., of St. Jovite, Quebec, to supply a minimum of forty-four (44) Stearman and eighteen (18) TBM (Avenger) aircraft and pilots to carry out spraying operations in June.” Because of the gap year (1959) and because of the cost to the Company assessed for 1960, the efforts would be half of that for 1958. Two-thirds of the TBMs and one-half of the Stearmans would be Canadian with the remainder from the United States. Wheeler Airlines (1960), which it is now calling itself, is under the direction of George Lovett.

A second FPL Progress Report, dated July 20, 1960, also authored by B.W. Flieger, arrived just after the 1960 spray season was finished. After the seeming collapse of the budworm populations in northern N.B. in 1958 and 1959, a resurgence in the southern N.B. forest areas in 1960 resulted in a large spraying program, another “budworm year”. A less toxic formulation of DDT was tried out this year with a view of causing less environmental damage.

Unusual weather (hot in May followed by a week of bad weather that grounded all aircraft) caused some delays in aircraft calibration and spraying time. Calibration took place between May 16 and 28 and was conducted by K.R. Elliot of the Federal government’s Forest Biology Division. The warm weather permitted an early start, May 26, equaling the early start record of 1953.

A Stearman biplane fitted with boom and nozzles conducted an experimental spray trial using Thuricide, a new insecticide, on May 30, 1960. (Mott et al., 1961. Vol. 17, No. 3 (May-June), Bi-Monthly Progress Report, Dept. of Forestry). It flew out of Horne’s Gulch in northwestern N.B. late in the season, June 14 to 17.

Table IV from the second progress report identifies Canadian contractors and subcontractors for both Stearman and TBM. Unfortunately it does not identify any individual aircraft as Elliot did in his earlier reports. Revised figures for the number of aircraft were Stearman (42) and TBM (18).
Tables IV and V from Flieger report #2.

An Attempt To Identify Stearman Aircraft in 1960

There is not much to go on, as there are only a few Stearmans identified. I have attempted to extrapolate from earlier years, but I don’t want to introduce any errors. Years present before and after 1960 are recorded in brackets.

Canadian Stearmans – Total 20

Airspray Ltd., Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

  • [NOTE: Listed erroneously in table above as Wetaskawn, Saskatchewan], 3 Stearmans, two of which are likely CF-IAD (57, 58) and CF-LOB (58) that sprayed in N.B in the late 50s.

Bradley Air Services, Carp, Ontario.

  • 4 Stearmans, probably CF-DQP, CF-DZC, CF-FBD, and CF-IBA.

Hicks and Lawrence, Tilsonburg, Ontario.

  • 2 Stearmans, possibly CF-KQB (58, 66-69) and CF-JOU (57, 58).

Northcana, Ltd., St. Thomas, Ontario.

  • 5 Stearman, including CF-KQJ, which flew in N.B. in 1958.

Wheeler Airlines (1960) Ltd., St. Jovite, Quebec. Prime Contractor for Stearmans and TBMs.

  • 6 Stearman out of these 7, likely CF-EQS (was N49669), CF-EQT, CF-EQU, CF-EQV (was N58455), CF-EQW (was N9087H), CF-EQX (was N9081H), and CF-EQY (was N60327).
Wheeler Airlines (1960) Stearman CF-EQW crashed 5 miles east of Enniskillen, N.B., on 26 August 1960. EQY was damaged but pilot Peter Camche (ULC-7471) was not injured. The back of the card says: “Failure of fuel gauge sight glass. During a spray flight, the pilot cut the power and switches and made an intentional emergency landing over unsuitable terrain because of a serious fuel leak which suddenly developed, creating a possible fire hazard.”
Somewhere I managed to obtain the Department of Transport Accident Report for CF-EQW.
Wheeler Airlines (1960) Stearman CF-EQX crashed St. Honore Airport in Quebec, on 28 July 1960, while returning from the budworm spray operation. Pilot Carl D. Jackson (WGC-7237), age 43, was killed in the accident. The aircraft was destroyed. On the back of the card: “Failure to maintain flying speed. The low level aerobatics were the direct cause of the loss of airspeed.”

American Stearmans – Total 22

Aerial Crop Service, Bluffton, Indiana.

  • 2 Stearmans, company new to spraying in N.B., and nothing known about it.

Baxter Aircraft, Yakima, Wash.

  • 2 Stearmans, none identified out of 7 Baxter Stearmans, but all sprayed in N.B. in 1957; two sprayed in 1954 but not 1957.
  • A DOT accident card lists N59998 as having crashed at Taxes 7 July 1960, but the operator is given as Wheeler Airlines (1960), so it is included here under Baxter. It “ground looped twice doing extensive damage each time, and all before it did any spraying.” [Flieger report #2]
Stearman N59998 overshot the runway at Taxes, N.B., on 7 June 1960 while conducting a budworm spray operation. “The aircraft landed too fast and collided with storage tanks” (back of card). Pilot W.E. Kellogg, age 31, was not injured but the aircraft was damaged.

Farm-Air Company, Aumsville, Oregon.

  • 2 Stearmans, new to spraying in N.B., and nothing known about the company.

Farmers’ Air Service, Klamath Falls, Oregon.

  • 2 Stearmans. Image of pilots below shows Lloyd Anderson of Hillsboro, Ohio, standing near N53483 (57, 58, 60), which had landed at Fredericton. Other Stearmans could be one of several: N56773 (55-57), N58680 (54-58), and N62775) (55-57).

Flying M Company, Tulare, Calif.

  • 2 Stearmans, new to spraying in N.B., and nothing known about the company except that operator was Frances Mary.
A note no Mr. K.B. Brown, Deputy Minister, Lands and Forests, explaining that Frances Mary did not spray an orchard.

Hammer Crop Dusters, Sacramento, Calif.

  • 3 Stearmans, possibly N50069 and N53083.
  • “A Stearman owned by Hammer Crop Dusters was so seriously damaged that no attempt was to repair it and it went home trailing behind a truck.” [Flieger report #2]

Mid-Continent Sprayers, Hayti, Missouri, Inc.

  • 3 Stearmans, 5 flew in N.B. in 1958 and 2 flew also in 1966: N48769, N61322, N61604, N63266, and N9487H.
  • Richard Reade, President.
A letter from Richard Reade of Mid-Continent to Barney Flieger.

Simsbury Flying Service, Simsbury, Conn.

  • 3 Stearmans out of a possible 6 listed that flew in the years 1954 to, 1958, 1960, and 1966: N2535R (57, 60), N58065 (55-58, 60, 66), N58067 (57, 58, 60), N60256 (57, 57, 60, 66), N60723 (57, 60, 66), and N9386H (56-58).

Ueding Flying Service, Vincennes, Indiana.

  • 3 Stearmans [NOTE: Listed erroneously in Table above as Veding]. Ueding Stearmans have been operating in N.B. since 1953. Likely candidates are N54945 (53, 54, 58), N55898 (55-58, 66), N61603 (58), and N9955H (53-58).

Timeline of Spray Operations

Newspaper archives (under the Telegraph-Journal complex of newspapers) have been a slim source to identify some of the dates for the arrival and distribution of TBMs and Stearmans, first at Fredericton Airport and then to the other airstrips.

May 19, 1960, The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – Budworm spray planes start to arrive at the Fredericton Airport.

May 24, 1960, The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – The image below identifies one Stearman: N53483, and two pilots: G.E. Musgrove of Missoula, Montana, and Lloyd Anderson of Hillsboro, Ohio.

May 24, 1960, The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) - The image identifies one Stearman: N53483, and two pilots: G.E. Musgrove of Missoula, Montana, and Lloyd Anderson of Hillsboro, Ohio.
May 24, 1960, The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – The image identifies one Stearman: N53483, and two pilots: G.E. Musgrove of Missoula, Montana, and Lloyd Anderson of Hillsboro, Ohio.

May 27, 1960 – The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – A short article on the Kesnac Airfield where the program is expected to start late May or early June. Buildings are being built to house pilots and ground crews under the supervision of Clifford Hovey. About twelve men are employed on the project and about 20 aircraft will be based there.

June 2, 1960 – The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – This article reports that by this date the spraying project is about two-thirds done, with sixty planes working the five airfields.

September 10, 1960 – Moncton Daily Transcript – Aerial spraying operations were successful this year, but it may be necessary to carry out the program in 1961.

Quebec

DDT on 33,000 acres, Stearman [Blais et al. in Prebble 1975]

A small spray program close to the northern boundary of New Brunswick was undertaken by FPL for the Quebec Forest Industries Association (QFIA).

British Columbia

Fire Season

“The 1960 fire season showed up in force in the Southern Districts in mid July following a severe lightning storm on July 13th. By the 18th the Kamloops District had 4 TBMs, 4 Stearman, 1 Beaver, 1 Husky and a B17. These aircraft were operating from Kamloops, Blue River, Sicamous and Kelowna, and were hired from B.C., Alberta and the U.S.” [Gord Bell 2011]

“Air tankers accounted for over 2100 flight hours in 1960, primarily in the Kamloops District. The program this season, however, did not escape mishap. Several landing accidents occurred at the Kamloops airport including an Avenger, Stearman and the B17, resulting in damage to aircraft only. On July 22, while actioning a fire near Kelowna, Stearman CF-LOA operated by Airspray Limited of Westaskiwin struck trees and crashed into a ravine killing the young pilot from Alberta. This was the first fatal firebombing accident in Canada.” [Gord Bell 2011]

Skyway Air Services Stearman CF-DQL crashed at the race track in Chilliwack, B.C., 8 July 1960. Pilot Alfred James Roberts, age 26, (VRC-7649) was not injured but the aircraft was damaged. The summary on the back of the card reads: “Inadequate preflight inspection. Failure to check for water contamination. Insufficient fuel. Recently disked field was unsuitable for landing. The aircraft nosed over during the engine roll.”

MAINE

In 1960 an operation took place out of Caribou, Maine, at the request of the Quebec Forest Industries Association (QFIA) to spray about 50 square miles of the headwaters of the Kedgwick River in Rimouski County, Quebec. This operation was repeated in 1961.