Timeline of Stearmans in New Brunswick and Other Provinces: 1952 to 1973 / 1951: Preliminaries

A lot of material and quotes has been taken from an unpublished and untitled 77-page Forest Protection Limited report that covered the years 1951 to 1960.



“In the United States, in the states of Oregon and Washington,  a large-scale spraying program against the spruce budworm had been initiated in 1949, and had been undertaken in every year since. Encouraging reports on this program were coming in.” In New Brunswick, “no one knew whether a technique suitable for the Douglas fir forest of the northwest would fit conditions in the continuous and highly susceptible balsam fir and spruce forest of northern New Brunswick.”

In 1951, W.H. Irvine joined the project as aviation consultant. “In Yakima, Washington, Irvine found Al Baxter, a solid, chunky man with a big cigar and plenty of confidence, who said his outfit – Central Aircraft – could do the job.”

According to a 1952 letter from The New Brunswick International Paper Company (W.H. Irvine, Aviation Consultant) to interested operators in Canada and the United States, best results are obtained by Stearman AN75N1 equipped with a Wasp engine and boom-type spray rigs. There appeared to be only one in Canada, so several were hired from Central, who hired and trained Canadian pilots at the request of the Canadian government. The operation was patterned “on operations carried out in Oregon, where forest spray operations have been carried out for years.”

Budworm City

It was November before the decision was made to build an airstrip in the bush. One day, Irvine spotted the best location from the air – a long flat between two branches of Ramsay Brook.” On Nov 24 the construction of the 760 metre Budworm City Airstrip was commenced in Northern New Brunswick by NBIP (New Brunswick International Paper Co.). The work was done by Ashley A. Colter’s Diamond Construction Company. Camps were built to house 200 people.

Background: Spruce Budworm and the Stearman

The companion site to this Stearman Archive gives the background as to why the Province of New Brunswick fought the spruce budworm and why Stearmans were chosen to apply the insecticide. See Spruce Budworm and Spray Aircraft in the New Brunswick Context: 1950’s to 1980’s.

11 thoughts on “Timeline of Stearmans in New Brunswick and Other Provinces: 1952 to 1973 / 1951: Preliminaries

  1. Re photos marked with icon – do you need special software to view these individual pictures ? I dont seem to be able to open them by clicking on the icon

    —- The camera icon – 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 – beside an entry means that there is an image of that specific Stearman for that year


    1. The icons do not connect to anything … yet. I have many images, and I haven’t figured out how to show them. I hope to tackle this in the new year (2017). If you have suggestions, please get in touch with me. Thanks for the feedback.


  2. Chris – The reason I ask is that I’m a sub-editor for a website AERIAL VISUALS – we try to illustrate the history of aircraft ,worldwide, that have former military service history , as all Stearmans have. I can’t help with the query of displaying photos on your site – but if you have a couple of photos
    that show the tail number / registration of the aircraft – if you could send them (as large a file size as possible) to terranceisalso@gmail.com – I will show how we could add them to illustrate the airframes history – if you are able to do this – please also advise the full name that should be shown for the credit of the photographer and if possible an approx date


  3. In the 1964 season, Barney Flieger’s quote, “one of only two incidents worth mentioning was a ground loop by a Stearman.” I’m wondering if the other was a 172 Cessna which overshot the runway on take-off at the southern end of the runway, cutting off the nose wheel. No injuries. I witnessed this from the radio control tower.


  4. My father died in a crash 6/20/57 about 3 miles from Budworm City. His name was Elwyn Behnke he was there with Medford Air Service flying N1054N. Any info or pictures or reports would be helpful.

    Mark Behnke


  5. My father was killed 6/20/57 just south of Budworm City His name was Elwyn Gail Behnke. He was flying for Medford Air Service N1054N.
    Any info or pictures would be helpful

    Mark Behnke


  6. My father Elwyn Gail Behnke died near Budworm City 6/20/57. Any info ,reports or pictures would help. He was flying #90. N1054N


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