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

A lot of material and quotes has been taken from an unpublished and untitled 77-page Forest Protection Limited report that covered the years 1951 to 1960.

The camera icon – 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 – beside an entry means that there is an image of that specific Stearman for that year. The icons are not active.

1951

Preliminaries

“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 19 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.

1952

New Brunswick

Airstrips: All aircraft flew from Budworm City.

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).

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

Spray Period
June 13-29

1953

New Brunswick

Airstrips: Nictau, Boston Brook, Horne’s Gulch, Rosehill, Charlo, Budworm City

  • Nictau: Chief Pilot was Abe Sellards, 20 aircraft
  • Budworm City: Chief Pilot was Herb Henderson

Two new airstrips were constructed over the winter: Renous and Sevogle.

Aircraft
9 Stinson 108s – 1 owned by FPL, the rest leased, for observation
77 Stearmans
– 57 Central Aviation, Yakima, Washington
– 2 Ueding Air Service, Vincennes, Indiana
– 7 Wheeler Airlines Ltd., St. Jovite, Quebec
– 11 Other Canada from Leavans Bros. Air Services (Toronto), Bradley Air Services (Carp, near Ottawa, Ontario) and Skyway Air Services, Langley, British Columbia

1954

New Brunswick

Airstrips: Boston Brook, Budworm City, Renous, Rose Hill, Sevogle. No new airstrips were built.

Aircraft
8 Cessna 170s
42 Stearman, no details

Partial list of Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1954

Central Aircraft Inc., Yakima, WA
#17 N49292 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
Leavens Brothers Air Services Ltd., Essex, Ontario
#75 CF-FRY 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
Marsh Aviation Co. Inc., Mesa, Arizona
#87 N56383 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
Wheeler Airlines, St. Jovite, Quebec
#64 CF-EQV 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 Patapedia, Quebec
Baxter Aircraft Inc, Washington
#54 Nxxxxx 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#55 N56774 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#55 N62955 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 Farm Lake, Quebec
#56 N60666 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7

Accident: There was only one accident in 1954. “A pilot braked his plane too suddenly to avoid collision with another aircraft, and it flipped over on its back. Wing parts were brought in from Toronto, repairs were made on the spot, and the damaged plane was back in action in five days. The pilot escaped without a scratch.”

Quebec

In 1953 it was determined that major areas of neighbouring Quebec should also be sprayed. A five-year program of spraying in Quebec was launched, calling for the construction of an airstrip located on the Patapedia River. DDT on 318,000 acres via 14 Stearman [Webb et al. 1961; Blais et al. in Prebble 1975].

In subsequent years, “extensive airstrip construction in Quebec was necessary, with six more fileds — Laverendrye, Nouvelle, Farm Lake, Cap Chat, Pabos and Lesseps — being carved out of the bush. Along with existing airfields at Rimouski, Gaspé, Matane and Murdochville, they came to form an extensive grid of bases, some 30 to 50 miles apart, which covered the entire region.”

Airstrips: Patapedia (Quebec), Horne’s Gulch (New Brunswick)

Maine

Also in 1954, the budworm spray program extended south of the border to the forests of Maine. Although the area was small — 20,000 acres — it was considered a threat. The Maine spraying was handled by six Stearman from the Canadian fleet. They arrived at Caribou Airport on June 14, 1954, and finished the job in less than four days. This marked the only spraying in Maine until 1958.

1955

New Brunswick

Active Airstrips: Boston Brook, Budworm City, Charlo, Horne’s Gulch, Nictau, Renous. Dunphy, Taxis, Juniper, Tabu were built after the spray season.

Aircraft
6 Cessna 170s
40 Stearman, although the FPL report mentions 80 aircraft sprayed in both New Brunswick and Quebec. No details.

It took twenty days, from June 6 to 26, to complete the New Brunswick portion of he project. “Because the season started earlier there, it was possible to deploy almost he entire fleet from the six operational airstrips before shifting part of it to Quebec.”

Central Stearmans at Green River NB, 1955
Unidentified Central Stearmans at Green River Research Area, NB, 1955. [FPL Files]
Accidents: One Stearman crashed into the bush out of Budworm City, with no injury to the pilot. “Less fortunate was pilot Sam LeFever of Lancaster, Ohio, who ended up in hospital with a fractured shoulder when his plane crash-landed in a heavily wooded area near Horne’s Gulch airstrip.”

Quebec

DDT on 1,040,000 acres via 40 Stearman [Webb et al. 1961; Blais et al. in Prebble 1975] Airstrips used were Cap Chat, Laverendrye, Nouvelle and Farm Lake (Webb et al. 1961). Spraying wound up for the year on June 29.

Images of three crashes

The FPL files reveals images of three Stearman crashes in addition to the ones in 1952 and 1953. Details of owner, registration, pilot, injuries, location and year are sketchy, so these are presented together here.

Stearman wreckage
Wreckage of Stearman #52. [FPL Files]
Stearman #53, N9718H, wreckage
Wreckage of Stearman #53, N9718H. [FPL Files]
Stearman #59 N56940 wreckage
Wreckage of Stearman #59, N56940. [FPL Files]

1956

New Brunswick

Airstrips: Boston Brook, Budworm City, Charlo, Dunphy, Juniper, Tabu, Taxis, Horne’s Gulch, Nictau, Rose Hill, Sevogle. Grog Brook and MacFarlane were built after the spray period.

Aircraft
13 Cessna
90 Stearman, no details

The 1956 operation was the biggest to date. “Robert Rychlicki, general manager of Wheeler Airlines, scoured Canada and the United States rounding up ninety Stearman sprayers.” Four new airstrips were constructed. This was the first year that Forest Protection Limited formulated and mixed its own insecticide. In previous years it had been purchased ready-made in the U.S. The mixing plant was built beside a siding in Chatham. Spraying was completed June 27.

Quebec

DDT on 400,000 acres via 32 Stearman [Webb et al. 1961; Blais et al. in Prebble 1975] Airstrips used were Patapedia, Cap Chat and Farm Lake (Webb et al. 1961). Spraying was completed July 1.

British Columbia

Experimental spray for Black-headed Budworm in northern Vancouver Island sprayed by one Stearman from Skyway Air Services in June. [Lejeune in Prebble 1975]

1957 – THE BIG YEAR

New Brunswick

Airstrips: Boston Brook, Budworm City, Charlo, Dunphy, Juniper, Tabu, Taxis, Grog Brook, Horne’s Gulch, MacFarlane, Nictau, Renous, Rose Hill, Sevogle. No new airstrips were built.

Aircraft
22 Cessna
190 Stearman, based on a 4-page list with parts unreadable or missing

This was the biggest operation of all 15 years, thirty times larger than the first in 1952, and included 24 contractors from the US and Canada. A total of 5,195,000 acres were sprayed in New Brunswick, about 30% of the province. Twenty-two airfields in New Brunswick and Quebec accommodated about 200 Stearman sprayers and twenty-five Cessna observation planes. The FPL mixing plant was moved to Dalhousie on the Chaleur Bay to take advantage of its winter port facilities.

The Charlo airstrip was established as the operational headquarters. A full-time dispatcher, “Rusty” Mulcahy, was assigned to keep up-to-date records on the disposition of each spray plane.

On our way to NB, stopover at LethbridgeAL_23May1957-Tom Wilson
Five Skyway Air Services Stearmans on their way to NB, stopover at Lethbridge, Alberta, 23 May 1957. This was provided by Tom Wilson.

Stearmans parked at Charlo NB
Stearmans parked at Charlo Airstrip, 1957. One can just make out the waters of the Bay of Chaleur and beyond that, the hills of the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. The airstrip is now a community park. [FPL Files]
Stearmans at air show, Charlo NB, 1957
The airshow at Charlo Airstrip, 1957. [FPL Files]
Dunphy airstrip, located on the southern edge of the New Brunswick spray area,  was the first to go into action, on June 4, followed by a gradual move northwards as the biologists gave the go-ahead. The entire operation came to an end in New Brunswick on July 4, when twenty aircraft operating out of Renous sprayed their last acre.

Accidents: On June 20, the first fatality of the budworm project occurred. Pilot Elwyn G. Behnke, from Eagle Point, Oregon, and of Medford Air Services crashed into thick forest three miles south-southwest of Budworm City.

“After operations had ended, 5 planes from a squadron of 12 were forced down near Penniac” (just north of Fredericton) “on July 5 … as they were returning to the U.S. All the pilots escaped serious injury as heavy fog and lack of fuel were the main cause of the accident.” [Seto, unpublished report to FPL]

Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1957

Farmers Air Service, Klamath Falls, Oregon
Flew out of Boston Brook (BB on list)
#1 N62775
#2 N53399
#3 N58680
#4 N53483
#5 N56773
#6 N4712V?
#7 N4758?V
#8 N4769V
Baxter Aircraft Inc, Washington
Flew out of Boston Brook (BB on list)
#9 N1734B?
#10 Nxx29B
#11 4232V?
#12 N68?441
#13 N173?18
#14 N1307N?
Piller Air Service
Flew from Renous (RN on list)
#15 N71?52N
Bemie? Aircraft Service
Flew from Nictau (N on list)
#16 N6x40x
#17 N56x56
#18 Nxx523
#19 Nx028V
Ueding Flying Service, Vincennes, Indiana
Flew from MacFarlane (Mac on list)
#20 Nxxx45?
#22 Nxx896?
#22 Nxxxxx
#23 Nxxx94?
#24 Nxxx97?
#25 Nxx85V?
#26 8?5?19H
#27 Nxx35N
Arizona Aviation, Arizona
Flew from Nictau (N on list)
#28 N56?736
#29 N6?310N
Quaadman Dusters, Corcoran, California
Flew from Budworm City (BW on list)
#30 N59?443
#31 Nxx184
#32 N68456?
#33 Nxxx13
#34 N63461
#35 Nxx455
#36 N6x458
#37 N62630
West Coast Air Service
Flew from Renous (RN on list)
#38 N1659N
#38 N5852B
Aero Agricultural Service
Flew from Tabu (Tabu on list)
#40 N5214N
#41 N66301
#42 N75669
#43 N57935
#44 missing from list
Russell Dusting Company
Flew from Nictau (N on list)
#45 N4747N
#46 N6x358
#47 N59727
#48 N5216N
#49 missing from list
Tri-Valley Dusters
Flew from Nictau (N on list)
#50 N46818
#51 N57449
#52 N4881N
#53 N67517
Aerial Crop Service
Flew from MacFarlane (Mac on list)
#55 N69881
#56 N50087
#57-#59 missing from list
Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., Ostrander, Ontario
Flew from Renous (RN on list)
#60 CF-JOV (typo, should be JOU)
Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, Quebec
Flew from Rosehill (RH on list)
#61 CF-EQS
#62 CF-EQT
#63 CF-EQU
#64 CF-EQV
#65 CF-EQW
#66 CF-EQX
#67 CF-EQY
Airspray Ltd., Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Flew from Rosehill (RH on list)
#68 CF-IAD 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#69 missing from list
Bradley Air Services Ltd. Carp, Ontario
Flew from Juniper (Ju on list)
#70 CH-HKZ
#71 CF-FBD
#72 CF-DZC
#73 CF-DQP
#74 CF-IBA
Leavens Brothers Air Services Ltd., Essex, Ontario
Flew from Juniper (Ju on list)
#75 CF-FRY
#76 CF-FRW
#77 CF-FRZ
#78 CF-GAR
Skyway Air Services Ltd., Langley, British Columbia
Flew from Juniper (Ju on list)
#79 CF-xxx
#80 missing from list
#81 CF-DFC
#82 CF-DQL
#83 VF-FBU
#84 CF-JLS 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#85-#87 missing from list
Medford Air Services, Medford OR
Flew from Taxis (T on list)
#88 N57415
#89 N70036
#90 N1054N
#91 N5158N
Simsbury Flying Services, Simsbury, Connecticut
Flew from Tabu (Tabu on list)
#92 N1241V
#93 N2535R
#94 N60723
#95 N58067
#96 N58065 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#97 N60255 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#98 N53?899
#99 N9386H
#100 missing from list
#101 N58065 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 1957? Medford? Simsbury?
Farm-Air Company
Distributed between Budworm City (BW on list) and Dunphy (D on list)
#101 N56237 BW
#102 N49366 BW
#103 N1323N BW
#104 N1074N BW
#105 N56803 BW 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#106 N64736 BW
#107 N50329 D
#108 N9129H D
#109 N68138 BW
#110 N53236 Location crossed out on 1957 list, entered in pen “June 30 @ Pabos”, an airstrip in Quebec
#111 N56416 D
#112 N56184 D
#113 N5057V D
#114 N53179 D
#115 N61522 BW
#116 N68468 D
#117 N59258 D
#118 N54929 BW
#119 N75590 D
#120 N56621 BW
#121 N1065N BW
#122 N52068 D
#123 N53084 BW
#124 N56806 D
#125 N49411 BW
#126 N52740 BW
Numbers end at #126 and restart under Marsh at #201.
Marsh Aviation Co. Inc., Mesa, Arizona
Distributed among the following airstrips: T – Taxis, RH = Rosehill, SV = Sevogle, RN = Renous, D = Dunphy
#201 N53025 T
#202 N53033 T
#203 N56383 T
#204 N56305 T
#205 N59x5x T
#206 N64385 T
#207 N68162 T
#208 N75623 T
#209 N64386 T
#210-#220 missing from list
#221 N61433 RH
#222 N54899 RH
#223 N64758 RH
#224-#230 missing from list
#231 N53090 RH
#232 N67884 RH
#233-#237 missing from list
#238 N51965 SV
#239 N1345M SV
#240 missing from list
#241 N4685N T
#242 N5190N T
#243 N5274N T
#244 N5192N T 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#245 N5195N T 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#246 N53091 T
#245-#250 missing from list
#251 N66005 SV
#252 N54653 SV
#253 N52117 SV
#254-#260 missing from list
#261 N1558M SV
#262 N1521M SV
#263 N48769 RN
#264 N1715M RN
#265 N73444 SV
#266 N75517 SV
#267 N58477 RN
#268 N75360 SV
#269 N75361 SV
#270 missing from list
#271 N53429 RH
#272 N66283 T
#273-#277 missing from list
#278 N4762N ?
#279 N4812V RH
#280 missing from list
#281 N1148N RN
#282 N56907 RN
#283 N4786V RN
#284 N4740N RH
#285 blank
#286 N1142N SV
#287 N1145N SV
#298 N58978 SV
#289 N58715 SV
#290 missing from list
#291 N4789V RH
#292 N49377 RH
#293 N4774V SV
Earlmart Dusters
#294 N63543 SV 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#295-#300 missing from list
Farmers’ Crop Dusters / Vince Dusters
Location possibly Charlo Airstrip.
Here the lower left quarter of the folded sheet is missing. Ditto marks under Marsh Aviation continue for 24 more entries, but #301 is on a crease that obscures the company name. If there are no missing numbers, then they would be #302-325. Some of the registrations are gleaned from the colour images from the FPL files. Some are or may be Vince Dusters and some are Farmers’ Crop Dusters.
#301 N5015V D (brown body) Vince Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#302 N5013V (brown body) Vince Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#303
#304
#305
#306
#307
#308
#309
#310 N53154 Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#311 N48792 Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#312 N66961 Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#313 Nxxxxx Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#314 N63585 Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#315 N67203 Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#316 N53040 Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#317 N56910 Vince Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#318
#319 N56435 (dark body) Vince Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#320
#378 N66658 (dark body) Vince Dusters or Farmers’ Crop Dusters 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7

The black-and-white CBC Newsmagazine film about spraying from Budworm City in 1957, called “Canada’s Forests: Budworm Infestation and DDT” (8:51) can be found in the CBC Digital Archives. The reporter was Kingsley Brown and the broadcast date was July 7, 1957. Mentioned are:

  • Chief Pilots Bob Yates and Charlie Alcock
  • Earl Fitzgerald, Area Project Supervisor and unofficial “Mayor” of Budworm City
  • Mike Gordy of Simcoe, Ontario, pilot of Wheeler CF-EQS
  • Pat Korpatniki of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, pilot of Airspray CF-IAD
  • View of Marsh #243 N5274N in air (not spraying)
  • View of parked Airspray Stearman #69 CF-IAD and possibly Wheeler #61 CF-EQS
  • Views of 4 Wheeler Stearmans flying together spraying and ferrying

Quebec

DDT on 1,255,000 acres, Stearman. “In the peak year of operations (1957) 80 spray aircraft and 12 inspection aircraft operated from 9 airstrips constructed for this purpose.” [Blais et al. in Prebble 1975] Webb et al. (1961) state in Table 2 that 107 Stearman sprayed in Quebec. Airstrips used were Patapedia, Cap Chat, Laverendrye, Nouvelle, Lesseps and Pabos. The latter two airstrips were constructed for the 1957 project. Spraying ended on July 5.

1958

New Brunswick

Airstrips: Boston Brook, Budworm City, Charlo, Juniper, Taxis, Grog Brook, Nictau, Renous, Sevogle. Kesnac was built after the spray season for 1960 project.

Aircraft
12 TBM-3E
17 Cessna
76 Stearman
– 52 USA
– 17 Canada

Because of the success of the 1957 operation, the program in 1958 was cut back to 2,588,000 acres. This was the first year that the TBM Avenger was used in the spray program.

Wheeler is principal contractor from now on.

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

UNITED STATES
Farmers Air Service, Klamath Falls, Oregon (2)
#3 N58680
#4 N53483
Piller Air Service (1)
#15 N1152N
Ueding Flying Service, Vincennes, IN (4)
#20 N54945
#21 N55898
#22 N9955H
#24 N61603
Quaadman Dusters, Corcoran, CA (4)
#31 N1318N
#33 N56843
#34 N68461
#35 N68455
Farm-Air Company? (6)
#43 N1323N 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#44 N1074N 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#121 N1085N
#122 N69248
#123 N53084
#124 N69176
#125 N56938
#126 N52740
Simsbury Flying Services, Simsbury CN (4)
#95 N58067
#96 N58065
#97 N60255
#99 N9386H
Marsh Aviation Co. Inc., Mesa, AZ (14)
#201 N53025
#202 N53033
#203 N56383
#204 N56805
#205 N59950
#206 N64385
#207 N68162
#208 N75623
#209 N64386
#210 N75861
#211 N75360
#212 N54653
#213 N65684
#222 N54899
Hammer Crop Dusters Inc., Sacramento, CA (6)
#353 N59998
#354 N62834
#355 N62955 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#356 N53178
#357 N53132
#358 N4787V
Mid Continent Aerial Sprayers Inc., Hayti, MO (5)
#431 N61322
#432 N61604
#433 N63266
#434 N9487H
#435 N48769
Flying M Company (5)
On list, but no project numbers assigned and no aircraft registrations listed.
CANADA
Twinn Pest Control – Canadian? (1)
xxx 50
Northcana Ltd., Toronto, ON (1)
#54 CF-KQJ
Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., Ostrander, ON (3)
#58 CF-
#59 CF-KQB?
#60 CF-JOU
Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU (7)
#61 CF-EQS
#62 CF-EQT
#63 CF-EQU
#64 CF-EQV
#65 CF-EQW
#66 CF-EQX
#67 CF-EQY
Airspray Ltd., Wetaskiwin, AL (2)
#68 CF-IAD
#69 CF-LOB?
Bradley Air Services, Carp, Ontario (5)
#70
#71 CF-FBD?
#72
#73 CF-DQP?
#74
Leavens Brothers Air Services Ltd., Essex, ON (4)
#75 CF-FRY
#76 CF-FRW
#77 CF-FRZ
#78 CF-GAR
Skyway Air Services Ltd., Langley, BC (2)
#80 CF-HKZ 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#82 CF-DQL

Accident. Apparently a Stearman owned by Joe Hammer suffered damage during an accident, date, location and registration not known. According to a letter from Art Seller of Skyway Air Services to Barney Flieger of FPL (February 4, 1959), Skyway “paid Joe Hammer to pick up the wrecked machine and take it to California at a cost to us of $600 plus the additional cost of sending a truck and a man down to Sacramento to bring it back to Langley.” Skyway thought that they should have been paid “return trip ferry time for the aircraft.” Seller also complained that letters to Wheeler Airlines had gone unanswered, and that payment for the project had not yet been received.

Flieger wrote back on February 9 that he believed that Sellers would not get any payment for the wrecked machine from Wheeler, the reason being that Wheeler could not recover it from the spraying authorities. Flieger stated that FPL cannot become financially involved with crashed aircraft as such aircraft are covered by insurance. By prior agreement FPL had decided to pay ferry costs only on aircraft that flew back home.

Quebec

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).

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

Maine launched its second budworm spray program in 1958, with 302,000 acres in northeastern Aroostook County sprayed. 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

1959

New Brunswick

No operations.

1960

New Brunswick

Active Airstrips: Dunphy, Juniper, Kesnac, Taxis

Aircraft
17 Cessna
20 TBM-3E
42 Stearman – no details

A letter (October 31, 1960) from Richard Reade, president of Mid-Continent Aerial Sprayers, Inc. of Hayti, Missouri, gave Barney Flieger his “sincere appreciation at having been able to join with Wheeler Airlines in Budworm, 1960.” Reade himself did not take part in the operation in New Brunswick but did express an interest at working on Budworm 1961.

An experimental spray using the bacterial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis against spruce budworm (60 ac) was applied by a Stearman aircraft on May 30, 1961 [Morris et al. in Prebble 1975].

Quebec

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

British Columbia

“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, a Stearman 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_AbbotsfordBC_17May61
“(Departing Abbotsford [BC] for Frederiction May17/1961. L to R – Tom Wilson – Pete Deck – John Cline – Alexander Linkewich – Art Seller light jacket owner, Skyway Air Service). Flight Time 17hrs.5min’s.” Posted by Tom Wilson to Forest Protection Limited Alumni, August 24, 2012. [I wonder if this is not 1960, as the 1961 Stearmans all appeared to be Wheeler’s? – C. Adam]

1961

New Brunswick

Active Airstrips: Dunphy, Juniper

Aircraft
21 Cessna
24 TBM-3e
6 Stearman, all Wheeler, but no details. Used only for smaller blocks of irregular size [D.R. MacDonald, Dept. of Forestry report, Vol. 20 #1]

Forest Protection Limited conducted the first water bombing experiments for the Province using Stearman aircraft.

Wheeler Airlines, under Manager George Lovett, is now officially called Wheeler Airlines (1960) Limited.

Quebec

DDT on 77,000 acres, Stearman [Blais et al. in Prebble 1975]

1962

New Brunswick

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

Aircraft
10 Cessna
14 TBM-3e – TBMs did 90% of the spraying [D.R. MacDonald, Dept. of Forestry report, Vol. 20 #1]
6 Stearmans – Wheeler Airlines

Quebec

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

1963

New Brunswick

Active Airstrip: Dunphy

Aircraft
6 Cessna
6 TBM-3e
1 Stearman – no details

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) 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, Juniper, Kesnac

Aircraft
20 Cessna
28 TBM-3e
8 Stearman
Wheeler provided 8 Stearmans, including:
– 5 Wheeler
– 2 Hicks & Lawrence
– 1 Worgan

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.

1965

New Brunswick

Airstrip Constructed:

Active Airstrips: Chipman, Dunphy, Juniper (TBMs), Kesnac, Taxis (Stearmans). Trout Brook was built after the spray season.

Aircraft
20 Cessna
19 TBM-3e
38 Stearman
– 5 Wheeler, 33 other

Stearman identified by image:

#50, #65 CF-SEK 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 Wheeler?

The low volume concentrate (LVC) experiments. Five Wheeler Stearmans were modified for low volume concentrate (LVC) experiments out of Chipman Airstrip, located on the south side of the spruce budworm infestation. The spray apparatus for all five Stearmans was modified according to instructions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; 36 Mini-spin nozzles were added.

Personnel included five Stearman pilots, one mechanic, and a project coordinator. A method of flying five Stearmans in formation was worked out. “Partly in parody of the now defunct R.C.A.F. Golden Hawks and partly because of the nature of the work and the equipment, these 5 Stearman pilots were dubbed “The Brass Cocks”. [Report: Aerial Forest Spraying Operations, 1965. Forest Protection Limited. 1965, B.W. Flieger]

5 Stearmans spraying, 1967
The five Wheeler Stearmans spraying in formation, 1967. [FPL Files]

Quebec

In August, FPL used seven Stearmans to spray 35,000 lbs. of Phosphamidon to combat the Jack Pine Sawfly on 140,000 acres of the St. Maurice River watershed. The Stearmans flew in the four-plane formation and were flagged by Cessna pointers. The job was conducted from two “hastily built minimum runway strips” well inside the project general area. [Report: Aerial Forest Spraying Operations, 1965. Forest Protection Limited. 1965, B.W. Flieger]

1966

New Brunswick

Active Airstrips: Chipman, Dunphy, Fredericton Airport, Juniper, Taxis (25 Stearmans), Trout Brook (30 Stearmans).

Stearmans moved to Juniper to spray some of the hilly terrain and a small amount of Stearman spraying took place from Dunphy late in the project. Stearman flying for all experimental use was also based from Dunphy. [FPL Report]

“Formations of five Stearmans using the same aerial flagging as the T.B.Ms and flying straight line swaths replaced the 14-year-old system of spraying natural boundary blocks in pairs while under partial surveillance.”

The “Stearman spraying group consisted of a leader radio equipped, and four others in either V or echelon formation in which the individual aircraft would be laterally separated approximately 6 wing spans or 200 ft.” Pilots were reluctant to fly in the V formation, which was the formation the Company preferred. “Without breaking formation it was possible to fly Stearmans in this way in terrain too hilly for close contact T.B.M. spraying.” [FPL Report]

Calibration of all aircraft was “started on May 19, 1966, at Dunphy Airstrip and continued until June 4, 1966. The scene of the operation had to be moved to Juniper Airstrip when Stearman pilots complained about landing on asphalt.” [See reference under list below]

Aircraft
28 Cessna
22 TBM-3e
2 Snow Commander
2 AgCat
55 Stearman
– 43 USA
– 12 Canada

Accident. 1 Stearman was lost to a non-fatal accident (no details). Apparently this might be #441 N9719H, Ueding Flying Service, Vincennes, Indiana.

Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1966

[From: Forest Protection Limited 1966 Project: Report on Aircraft Calibration. R.E. Hanusiak, August 25, 1966. FPL Files]

The calibration report did not identify the Stearmans by company, so some information was gleaned from photographs from the FPL files and from other sources.

#1 N53458
#2 N61980
#3 N5809V
#11 N1323N Farm-Air, Simsbury?
#12 N49366
#13 N54335
#14 N56471
#26 N57761
#29 N3935B
#30 N64812
#31 N9727H 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 [Don McKnight image]
#41 CF-UCB Glenair Aerial Spraying, Bright, ON
#42 CF-UCC 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 Glenair Aerial Spraying, Bright, ON
#50 CF-SEK  Wheeler? Has a stripe along the side
#59 CF-KQB Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., Ostrander, ON
#60 CF-ULY Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., Ostrander, ON
#61 CF-EQS Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU
#62 CF-EQT Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU
#63 CF-EQU Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU
#64 CF-EQV  Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU
#65 CF-SEK Wheeler? Has a stripe along the side
#67 CF-EQY Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU
#71 CF-FBD  Bradley Air Services Ltd. Carp, ON / General Airspray Ltd., St Thomas, ON
#77 CF-FRZ  Leavens Brothers Air Services Ltd., Essex, ON / General Airspray Ltd., St Thomas, ON
#78 CF-GAR Leavens Brothers Air Services Ltd., Essex ON
#80 N52135
#81 N63910
#82 N1363V
#83 N1074N Farm-Air Company?
#84 N61860
#85 N69623
#86 N52968
#87 N1528M
#88 N64926 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 Roane Flying Service, Jeanerette, Louisiana [Don McKnight image]
#89 N75661
#90 N52014
#92 N3535R
#93 N60723 Medford Air Services, Medford OR
#94 N60723 Medford Air Services, Medford OR
#96 N58065
#98 N55099 Medford Air Services, Medford OR
#99 N60330
#101 N61419
#102 N65013 Simsbury Flying Services, Simsbury CN?
#401 N1614M 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7 [Don McKnight image]
#408 N55898
#410 N57958
#411 N61322 Mid Continent Aerial Sprayers Inc., Hayti, MO
#412 N64590
#420 N60601
#421 N3995B
#424 N60255
#425 N9386H
#440 N61117
#441 N9719H crash 1 / Ueding Flying Service, Vincennes, IN
#442 N62465
#444 N50093
#450 N75361  Marsh Aviation Co. Inc., Mesa, AZ

1967

New Brunswick

Active Airstrips: Dunphy, Juniper (all Stearmans, June 1-8), Kesnac

Aircraft
14 Cessna
13 TBM-3e
2 Snow Commander
2 AgCat
15 Stearman – all Canadian from now on

Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1967

[From: Forest Protection Limited 1967 Project: Report on Aircraft Calibration. R.E. Hanusiak. 1967. FPL Files]

There is some confusion here as to the ownership of some of the aircraft.

Hicks & Lawrence? / General Airspray Ltd., St Thomas, ON
#12 CF-UWK 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#13 CF-UWL 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#14 CF-UWM 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#59 CF-KQB 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#60 CF-ULY 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
Glenair Aerial Spraying, RR4, Bright, ON
#41 CF-UCB
#42 CF-UCC unknown / was N5812N
Wheeler Air Lines (1960) Ltd., St. Jovite, QU
#61 CF-EQS 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#62 CF-EQT
#63 CF-EQU
#64 CF-EQV
#65 CF-SEK Wheeler? Has a stripe along the side
#67 CF-EQY 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
General Airspray Ltd., St Thomas, ON
#71 CF-FBD
#76 CF-VOB 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7
#77 CF-FRZ 1427829442_camera_ios7_ios_7

1968

New Brunswick

Aircraft
7 TBM-3E
2 Agcat
14 Cessna
0 Stearman – the first year in which Stearmans were not used in New Brunswick

Ontario

Aircraft
18 Stearmans – almost all that were available in Canada
5 Cessna 172

Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1968

18 Stearman sprayed fenitrothion on 275,000 acres June 5-20 1968 in the Burchell Lake area in northwestern Ontario [Howse and Sippell in Prebble 1975]. The 18 Stearmans were contracted from Forest Protection Limited, which were “approximately the total available in Canada.” A dirt airstrip was contructed in the Swallow Lake region by Great Lakes Paper Company in May 1968 for immediate use. “Aircraft flew in echelon formation of 4 or 5 aircraft each depending the number of planes available at the time.” [FPL report, 1968]

The Stearmans were calibrated at three locations: St. Jerome, Quebec, and in Ontario at St. Thomas and the Swallow Lake operational airstrip west of the Lakehead.

[From: Forest Protection Limited 1968 Project: Report on Aircraft Calibration. R.E. Hanusiak. 1968. FPL Files]

Evergreen Air Services, Box 51, Roxboro, QU
#2 CF-OMH
#3 CF-SIQ
Skyway Air Services Ltd., Langley, BC
#14 CF-DFC
Glenair Aerial Spraying, Bright, ON
#41 CF-UCB
#42 CF-UCC unknown / was N5812N
Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., Ostrander, ON
#13 CF-UWL
#59 CF-KQB
#60 CF-ULY
#74 CF-UWK
#75 CF-UWM
Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU
#61 CF-EQS
#62 CF-EQT
#63 CF-EQU
#65 CF-SEK
#67 CF-EQY
General Airspray Ltd., St Thomas, ON
#71 CF-FBD
#76 CF-VOB
#77 CF-FRZ

Others?

#64 CF-EQV            64            Wheeler Air Lines Ltd., St. Jovite, QU

#68 CF-IAD            68            Airspray Ltd., Wetaskiwin, AL
#69 CF-LOB            69            Airspray Ltd., Wetaskiwin, AL

1969

New Brunswick

Aircraft
26 TBM-3E
2 AgCat
18 Cessna
0 Stearmans

Ontario

3 Stearman sprayed fenitrothion on 21,000 acres June 6-18 1969 in the Burchell Lake area and 1 Stearman sprayed 5000 acres in the French Lake area of northwestern Ontario. All aircraft were contracted from General Airspray of St. Thomas, Ontario [Table 4, Howse and Sippell in Prebble 1975]

These were probably:
#71 CF-FBD
#76 CF-VOB
#77 CF-FRZ

1970

A letter from Crown Assets Disposal Corporation, Ottawa (November 28, 1969) stated that 20 Stearmans were left in Canada, “all very old”.

New Brunswick

Aircraft
1 Stearman

FPL provided one Stearman sprayer to the C.C.R.I. (Chemical Control Research Institute, Environment Canada) testing program located at the Scoudouc Airport. These trials continued in 1971.

Ontario

Aircraft
3 Stearmans

Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1970

Bradley Air Services Ltd., Carp (Ottawa), Ontario [Why 4 listed?]

#71 CF-FBD
#72 CF-DZC
#73 CF-DQP
#74 CF-IBA?

Two Stearman sprayed fenitrothion on 11,000 acres June 13-26 1970 in three small areas in northwestern Ontario. Also two Stearman on floats June 13-15 in northeastern Ontario and one on floats in southeastern Ontario May 29 and June 7. All Stearman were provided by General Airspray of St. Thomas, Ontario, and used boom and nozzle. [Howse and Sippell in Prebble 1975]

These were probably:
#71 CF-FBD
#76 CF-VOB
#77 CF-FRZ

Quebec

FPL employed three Stearman guided by a leading Cessna to spray fenitrothion in Quebec north of Ottawa-Hull, in the Gatineau Park and the lower Gatineau areas as far north as Low. They were deployed from Carp Airport, which is located near Ottawa-Hull. This was the last use of Stearman in Quebec. “Afterward the sprayers moved to Mont Laurier and from a local field sprayed some 2,500 acres of jackpine infested with Jackpine budworm.” [Forest Spraying Operations – 1970. Forest Protection Limited. B.W. Flieger, October 26, 1970; Blais et al. in Prebble 1975].

1971

New Brunswick

Aircraft
1 Stearman

FPL again provided one Stearman sprayer to the C.C.R.I. (Chemical Control Research Institute, Environment Canada) testing program. These trials were undertaken in a mixed spruce-fir-hardwood stand in Westmorland County near Scoudouc, New Brunswick. Application of the sprays was made by using a Stearman aircraft (CF-EQS) [Wheeler-Northland Airlines] equipped with four AU-3000 Mlcronair units. [Randall et al. 1971].

Ontario

Aircraft
3 Stearmans

Small areas in northwestern Ontario were sprayed May 21 to June 19 by General Airspray  of St. Thomas, Ontario, using three Stearmans equipped with boom and nozzle. Also one Stearman June 13-19 in northeastern Ontario [Howse and Sippell in Prebble 1975]. This Stearman aircraft was on floats and arrived in Chapleau on June 13/71 and spraying started that evening. [Howse et al. 1971]

These were probably:
#71 CF-FBD
#76 CF-VOB
#77 CF-FRZ

1972

New Brunswick

Aircraft
2 Stearmans
2 Agcats

FPL conducted an experimental spray program against adult spruce budworm moths on the Tobique River drainage. Spraying was conducted out of Dunphy Airstrip using a formation of four Stearmans eqipped with Micronair spinning cage nozzles. However, two of these, CF-UOF #51 and CF-UOG #52, were actually AgCats. The total of four Stearmans probably comes from the listing of all four aircraft without distinguishing them. This also occurred in 1973.

Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1972

Wheeler Northland, St. Jean, QU
#61 CF-EQS
#63 CF-EQU

Ontario

Aircraft:
3 Stearman

Small areas in southeastern Ontario were sprayed May 26 to June 5 by General Airspray of St. Thomas, Ontario, using a Stearman equipped with Micronairs. [Howse and Sippell 1975 in Prebble]

These were probably:
#71 CF-FBD
#76 CF-VOB
#77 CF-FRZ

1973

New Brunswick

Aircraft:
2 Stearmans
2 AgCats

FPL again conducted an experimental spray program against adult spruce budworm moths on the Tobique River drainage. Spraying was conducted out of Dunphy Airstrip using a formation of “four” Stearmans. However, as stated in 1972, two of these, CF-UOF #51 and CF-UOG #52, were actually AgCats. The total of four Stearmans comes from the listing of all four aircraft without distinguishing them on a handwritten list in the FPL files.

Stearmans organized by tail/project number – 1973

Wheeler Northland, St. Jean, QU
#61 CF-EQS
#63 CF-EQU

Ontario

Aircraft:
3 Stearmans

Small areas in northeastern Ontario were sprayed June 9-21 by a Stearman and an AgCat from by General Airspray  of St. Thomas, Ontario, and one Stearman in southeastern Ontario May 24 to June 4 by Midair Canada using one Stearman and a Cessna AgWagon equipped with Micronairs. [Howse and Sippell in Prebble 1975]

References

Aerial Control of Forest Insects in Canada. 1975. M.L. Prebble (ed.). Dept. of the Environment, Ottawa, Canada. 330 pages. Out of print. [A review of control projects employing chemical and biological insecticides in Canada.] Includes:

  • Aerial Control Operations against the Spruce Budworm in Ontario. G.M. Howse and W.L. Sippell. 1975. (pages 85-93)
  • Aerial Control Operations against the Spruce Budworm in New Brunswick, 1952-1973. Miller, C.A. and Kettela, E.G. (pages 94-97)
  • Aerial Control Operations against the Spruce Budworm in Quebec. J.R. Blais, P. Benoit and R. Martineau. 1975. (p. 113-125)
  • Field Trials of Bacillus thuringiensis Against the Spruce Budworm, 1960-1973. 1975. O.N. Morris, T.A. Angus and W.A. Smirnoff. (p. 129-133)

Aerial Spraying Against the Spruce Budworm in New Brunswick, 1960-1963. D.R. MacDonald, Bi-Monthly Progress Report, Dept. of Forestry, Vol. 20 #1, p. 1-2. 1964.

A Cartographic History of Spruce Budworm Outbreaks and Aerial Forest Spraying in the Atlantic Region of North America, 1949-1959. F.E. Webb, J.R. Blais and R.W. Nash. The Canadian Entomologist, Vol 93 (May 1961), p. 360-375.

History of Aviation in the BC Forest Service. A pictorial account for the BCFS Centennial November 2011. Part 2 : Air Tanker Operations. Bell, Gord. 2011. British Columbia Forest Service. (p. 1-31)

REPORT OF MEETING OF THE INTERDEPARTMENTAL COMMITTEE ON FOREST SPRAYING OPERATIONS, Ottawa, Ontario, Nov. 22, 1971.

  • SPRUCE BUDWORM AERIAL SPRAYING OPERATIONS, ONTARIO, 1971. G. M. Howse, W. L. Sippell and K.B. Turner
  • Studies on the Control of the Spruce Budworm Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.) by Aerial Application of the Chemicals.” A.P. Randall, W.W. Hopewell, W. Haliburton & B. Zylstra.

8 thoughts on “Timeline of Stearmans in New Brunswick and Other Provinces: 1952 to 1973

  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

    Like

    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.

      Like

  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

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  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.

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  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.

    Thanks
    Mark Behnke

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  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

    Like

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