1961-1964 – Fewer than 10 Stearmans Per Year

First Draft 22 May 2021

1961

New Brunswick

Active Airstrips: Dunphy, Juniper, Fredericton

FPL’s base of operations was Taxis airstrip, located near Boiestown, but not used for spraying.

Aircraft
21 Cessna
24 TBM-3e
6 Stearman, all Wheeler, and probably, #61 CF-EQS, #62 CF-EQT, #63 CF-EQU, #64 CF-EQV, #67 CF-EQY plus one other. Used only for smaller blocks of irregular size [D.R. MacDonald, Dept. of Forestry report, Vol. 20 #1]. Wheeler Airlines, under Manager George Lovett, is now officially called Wheeler Airlines (1960) Limited. Al Boyce of St. Jovite is Project Manager of the operation.

Timeline

There was an almost complete lack of FPL records for the actual spray, so these newspaper articles will have to suffice.

Spray planes, including Stearmans, are scheduled to assemble at Wheeler Airlines HQ, St. Jovite, Quebec, by May 25. [“Planes Move”, Moncton Daily Times, May 22, 1961] After assembling at the Fredericton Airport, they are sent to their various airstrips. [“Spray Aircraft Arrive in Capital”, Telegraph-Journal, May 24, 1961] The operation began June 6 and is expected to continue for a week to ten days. [“Spray Planes Return to Job; Attack Budworm”, The Daily Gleaner, June 15, 1961]

Accidents

Three Department of Transportation accident cards exist for Stearman in Canada in 1961, but only the one in Maine is related possibly to the budworm operation. In order of date, they are:

  • CF-KQJ, Northcana Limited, a Boeing A75N1, crashed in Little Rapids, Ontario, on on 25 April 1961, while conducting crop control. Pilot Douglas M. Boughner, age 32, Commercial Pilot licence YZC-8133, was not injured but the damage was rated as “destroyed or substantial.” The back of the card reads: “Fuel system. A failure of the fuel sight gauge obscured the pilot’s vision. During the attempt to return to the field, the pilot was unsure of his altitude. During the turn, the aircraft stalled and following recovery, struck the ground coming in contact with a fallen tree and flipping over.”
  • CF-EQV, Wheeler Airlines (1960) Ltd., a Boeing A75N1, crashed at the Municipal Airport in Caribou, Maine, on 22 May 1961, while on a ferry flight presumably from New Brunswick. Pilot Marcel Beluse, age 36, Airline Transport Pilot Licence ULA-920, was not injured, but damage was substantial. The back of the card reads: “Aircraft ground looped on landing.” (CF-EQV was destroyed in Quebec on 3 July 1962.)
  • CF-DQP, Northcana Limited, a Boeing A75N1, crashed 3 miles west of Mt. Brydges, Ontario, on 9 August 1961, while conducting crop control. Pilot Thomas Harvey Martindale, age 22, Commercial Pilot Licence YZC-8315, was not injured. The handwritten back of the card reads: “Fuel system – fuel exhaustion due to leakage in system. Aircraft touched the ground with its main wheels in a tobacco field on the edge of a slight up-grade. The soil was light, sandy and loosely packed. Damage was substantial.”
Bradley Stearman #71 CF-FBD on floats. FPL used it for experimental fire fighting. Flown by Al Breze of Evergreen. [Forest Protection Limited files]

Stearman Water Bombing Experiment

Forest Protection Limited conducted the first water bombing experiments for the Province using Stearman aircraft. A progress report by Barney Flieger dated November 10, 1961, provides some information. [Progress Report: Aerial Water Dropping Experiment] The experiment tested aircraft as detection-suppression tools in forest fire fighting and compared a land plane and a sea plane Stearman. Both were operated by Wheeler Airlines.

Sea plane Stearman CF-FBD was charted from Bradley Air Services of Carp, Ontario. The wheeled Stearman was not identified. The report concluded that:

  • wheeled Stearman are better suited to N.B. conditions than is the sea plane Stearman
  • small aircraft, when properly used, are an effective fire-fighting tool in the case of small fires in difficult locations, but not very effective as a detection aid their because of their limited range and cost of operating
  • the results are based on limited knowledge

Quebec

In 1961, again at the request of the Quebec Forest Industries Association (QFIA), FPL in late June sprayed two areas on either side of the 1960 area using the same strength and dosage. Both projects were carried out by Stearman aircraft under contract to FPL, from Horne’s Gulch airstrip. [Report: “Quebec Spraying 1960-61”, B.W. Flieger, November 13, 1961; FPL files]

1962

New Brunswick

Active Airstrips: Dunphy (HQ this year), Scoudouc (not an FPL airstrip; used for this year only), Tabu

Wheeler Airlines is once again the prime contractor to FPL, in fact, it has been since 1953.

Aircraft
10 Cessna
14 TBM-3e – TBMs did 96% of the spraying [D.R. MacDonald, Dept. of Forestry report, Vol. 20 #1]
6 Stearmans – Wheeler Airlines, probably #61 CF-EQS, #62 CF-EQT, #63 CF-EQU, #64 CF-EQV, #67 CF-EQY plus one other.

No other information is available.

CF-EQV, a Stearman A75N1, was the only Stearman subject to an accident card in all of Canada in 1962. It crashed 20 miles north of Baie Comeau, Quebec on 3 July 1962 probably while undertaking a spraying operation. The back of the DOT card reads: “While operating at near maximum weight, the pilot misjudged the performance of the aircraft and permitted it to stall, which resulted in impact with the trees and ground. Damage: Destroyed – burnt.” Pilot Gordon Trevor Burroughs was seriously injured. Burroughs was 27, and operated under Commercial Pilot Licence YZS-608. This removes CF-EQV from the the Wheeler roster for good.

Department of Transport accident card for CF-EQV.

Quebec

DDT on 69,000 acres, Stearman [Blais et al. in Prebble 1975]

1963

New Brunswick

Active Airstrip: Dunphy, Kesnac

Aircraft
6 Cessna
6 TBM-3e
1 Stearman – no details, apparently flew out of FPL airstrip Kesnac

The 1963 budworm spray program commenced June 1 from Dunphy Airstrip, Upper Blackville, N.B. with TBMs. No details on the one Stearman. [“Anti-Budworm Program Begins”, Moncton Transcript, June 3, 1961]

DOT cards give details of two Stearmans that crashed while spraying: 1) CF-LOB, Airspray Limited, on 23 April 1963 at Edmonton, Alberta, which was destroyed with serious injury to pilot Leonard Gresl, and 2) CF-FBU, Skyway Air Services, which crashed near Ladner, British Columbia, on 14 July 1963. Damage was substantial but pilot Ronald McGarrigle escaped injury.

Maine

Aircraft
10 TBMs
2 Stearman

All aircraft flew out of Presque Isle, Maine, June 4-19, 1963. A photo of the Presque Isle Budworm Crew (via Norm Ralston, pers. comm.) has an extensive caption that identifies Stearman and TBM pilots along with mechanics, pointers and other assistants. Two Stearman pilots from Simsbury Flying Service of Simsbury, Connecticut, are Bob Schumann and Bert Clements. Bill Merrill of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was identified as the Stearman pilot guide.

1964

New Brunswick

Airstrip Constructed: Chipman

Active Airstrips: Dunphy, Fredericton and Juniper (TBMs), Kesnac (Stearmans), Taxis (HQ)

Aircraft
20 Cessna
28 TBM-3e
8 Stearman
Prime contractor Wheeler provided 8 Stearmans, including:
– 5 Wheeler, probably, CF-EQS, CF-EQT, CF-EQU, CF-EQY, and ?
– 2 Hicks & Lawrence, no id but possibly CF-ULY and CF-KQB
– 1 Worgan, Doug Worgan, no id

According “Interim Report — 1964 Forest Spraying Program” [Forest Protection Limited unpublished report by Barney Flieger, July 22, 1964], one of only two incidents worth mentioning was a ground loop by a Stearman. The 8 Stearmans operated from Kesnac, and their operations were confined to the forest near the settlements along the main St. John River between Hartland and Prince William. Bad weather set the program behind schedule. By June 17, less than half of the area was completed.

One DOT accident card was obtained, that of a American Stearman:

N9302H, a Stearman E-75, crashed on 12 July 1964 at Sherbrooke Airport, Quebec. The operator is identified as John Fred Feller, who has no commercial operator number, but the pilot was Lindsey N. Parsons, Commercial Pilot Licence 1279869 (USA). Parsons suffered minor injuries but the damage was rated as substantial. Not sure if this aircraft was part of the New Brunswick or Quebec spray program, so not including the extensive detailed description on the back of the card.