First Love

By Captain Dennis Baxendale

This story is about an airplane owned by Canadian Pacific Airlines in 1958—an amphibious aircraft built in the 1940s in Vancouver, Canada for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The aircraft was called a PBY by American fliers, a Canso by Canadians in the air force and a Catalina by the British. After the war, several Canadian-built Cansos were sold to civilian airlines and four were purchased by Canadian Pacific. Reconditioned and outfitted for up to 20 passengers, the new configuration was actually called the “Landseair” in tribute to its amphibious capabilities, but no one called them that. Of the four ex-RCAF Cansos purchased (CF-CRP, CF-CRQ, CF-CRR and CF-CRV), CF-CRR (RCAF serial 9767) had the most outstanding combat record—with 162 Squadron, RCAF. On 17 April 1944, under the command of Flying Officer T. Cooke, the Canso attacked and sunk the German U-boat
U-342 which was on weather reporting duties south of Iceland. All 51 German sailors were lost. It was their first patrol.


An actual photo of RCAF 9767 under the command of F/O Tom Cooke attacking U-342.

My name is Dennis Baxendale and, starting in 1958, I flew Consolidated Canso CF-CRR for two years for Canadian Pacific Airlines. It was my first Captain’s job. I was 26, with a 1,000 hrs Pilot-in-Command time on small aircraft. Canadian Pacific operated a passenger service out of the harbour in Prince Rupert (CYPR), British Columbia on the West coast of Canada to the community of Sandspit (CYZP) on the Queen Charlotte Islands. The land planes (Convair 240 or DC-6B) met us at Sandspit where we transferred the passengers for their trip down to Vancouver. It was 94 miles across to Sandspit and we generally never flew over 4,000 feet. Canadian Pacific Airlines was a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which had helped Canada become a nation building a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

After landing at Sandspit, passengers from the PBY were transferred to either a DC-6 or a Convair 240 for the flight down to Vancouver. Photo via the author

Canadian Pacific Railway was incorporated on 16 February 1881. Less than five years later a ribbon of steel united Canada when the line to the Pacific coast was completed with the driving of the “Last Spike” at Craigellachie, British Columbia, on 7 November 1885. The railroad was very entrepreneurial and ran steam ships and hotels. It was so farsighted that in 1919 it received government permission to operate aircraft on a commercial basis in Canada. In the early 1940s, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company formed Canadian Pacific Air Lines. Under president Grant McConachie, Canadian Pacific owned 4 PBY5A’s, one of which was CF-CRR.

I was a First Officer based in Lima, Peru flying a Douglas DC-6B to Buenos Aires, Argentina for Canadian Pacific when a 2-year bid opened up flying the Canso out of Prince Rupert. The problem was it operated 6 days a week so you could never get out of the wet, windy city except for your annual two week holiday. Prince Rupert is on the winter storm track for the North Pacific so wind and rain were the norm. Canadian Pacific had crashed a Canso (CF-CRV) in May of 1953, on landing in the Prince Rupert harbour, killing a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman and a stewardess. As a result, the company required a new Captain to fly with the present Captain for six months to become properly qualified for flying off the water. The theory was good, but as in all theories, it was still a theory.

Aboard the fishing vessel Nanceda following another fishing vessel out to rescue the survivors of the crash of CF-CRV, engineer Bob Tara photographs the aircraft in the distance, still floating somewhat horizontally, but minus everything forward of the wing. Photo by Bob Tara

In an image and scenario vaguely reminiscent of a more recent ditching on the Hudson, surviving passengers stand on the still floating wing, while a small vessel begins taking them off. Photo by Bob Tara

Shortly after Canso CF-CRV nosed over at speed and crashed, stunned survivors stand on her huge wing while she floats off Prince Rupert in 1953. The photograph was taken by Bob Tara, the engineer aboard the Nanceda, one of the fishing vessels that rushed to save the survivors. The accident report indicated that “It would appear that through misuse of the controls in the air after the aircraft touched down on the water, it bounced several times, the final bounce being so severe that the nose section was torn off.” Photo via David Bartle,

Nothing speaks to the dangers of operating an amphibious aircraft in waters known for logging and bad weather than the sight of CF-CRV’s tail rising poignantly from the waters off Seal Cove in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Though the two pilots were ejected and eventually returned to productive aviation careers, the stewardess and a passenger were killed – here survivors await rescue on the wing of the Canso. Photo by Bob Tara, via David Bartle,

A salvage barge comes alongside, while an RCMP constable stands on the wing. Photo by Bob Tara

The Nanceda’s own winching machinery is employed to hold the tail of the downed Canso to stop her from taking on more water. Photo by Nanceda’s engineer Bob Tara

The wreckage of Canadian Pacific Airlines Canso CF-CRV hauled out to the dock at Prince Rupert. The stewardess and a passenger were killed while the two pilots, Wally Jennings and F/O Ev Abbey, were thrown free. Photo via the author

An aerial view of Prince Rupert showing the area where the author would land and take his PBY off from the water. Photo via the author

The southeast wind came burbling over the hill behind Prince Rupert. The hangar and ramp were on the spit of land in the left-hand side of the above photo. This is the takeoff and landing area in the harbour. The Royal Canadian Legion pub where we enjoyed a pint after the flight was on the shoreline, so the locals would watch us as we tried to land and take off.

I was qualified on the PBY on the 19th of April 1959 and started my six month apprenticeship. I didn’t realize it at the time but Prince Rupert was having its nicest summer in years. This meant that, with no rain or wind, I wasn’t learning as much as I should have been. The training Captain “Kenny Kirk” had, unfortunately for me, school-aged children which he wished to enroll in school in Vancouver, BC in the fall. So he waved goodbye on 31 August 1958 in Sandspit. Now I was in charge?? As I returned to Prince Rupert, the wind had picked up and was blowing across the harbour. Being a smart young Captain, I elected to land into the wind, in the strait by Digby Island, away from the crash boat which always stood by for our return. We had never landed out there and I was about to learn why. Not being familiar with the ocean beyond the confines of the harbour, I didn’t know too much about ocean swells as I was from Alberta. As I lowered the Canso onto the surface, the water slowly disappeared on me only to rise up further along in front of me. I managed to my relief to get it on the water safely but now was miles from A. the crash boat and B. the ramp. Well, being a smart young Captain, I just got it on the ‘step’ and hurried home. First of all with that 15–20 knot tailwind, it was a “challenge” to turn around. Finally I managed it, whew. Off we went. Oh! Oh! with the strong tailwind I’d lost aileron control and was having trouble keeping the floats out of the water, increase taxi speed was the only answer. Now we were really rolling along nearly back to takeoff speed. Hitting the tops of the swells. Finally turned the corner and was able to slow down. Never did that again.

Prince Rupert was a small base with an engineer, by the name of George Sporne (English and very capable), two assistants, a dispatcher, agent and his assistant plus, of course, a first officer and stewardess. The tricky thing with the stewardesses was that Prince Rupert was considered one of the most undesirable places to be, so they were generally the most junior and were assigned, like it or not. Their sentence was for three months. We once had someone who enjoyed the attention from the large male population and actually requested a further three months.

Back in 1958, Flight Attendants were called Stewardesses. Why this ever became a word with negative connotations, one will never know. At Prince Rupert, the youngest and most junior of “stews” did a tough apprenticeship with grace, good humour and professionalism as can be seen on the face of Stewardess Beverly Rose, seen walking to CF-CRR at Prince Rupert in an 8mm film made by the author. For a video by Baxendale about his days with CP and the Canso, click here.

My initial First Officer (F/O) was Robert Allison and the stewardess Pat Cooper. The F/Os also were the lowest on the seniority list. I had three while I was there. As I mentioned, Prince Rupert is on the storm track for the North Pacific and has the reputation for rain and wind. The difficulty was that the harbour was oriented such that the wind came over the hills behind Prince Rupert and at right angles to the landing area. The radio beacon was located on Digby Island where the new land airport is today. The procedure was to let down over the beacon and if the visibility and wind were within limits, then continue on.

It was a judgement call at the beacon and there was no pull-up procedure once you had committed. I did do one turnaround from far down the harbour and, being afraid of a stall turn, lowered the nose to descend in the turn. The poor F/O, not being aware of why we were descending at 1,000 feet/min., voiced his objections but we managed the turn, skimming the water on the pull-up and completed the turn back to the beacon. On another occasion, the oil pressure decreased to 15 lbs on the pull-up but the engine continued to run, leaking oil, till we returned to Sandspit. A plug had almost blown out, attached by the last few threads.

The wind came in gusts and the water landing technique was to time the touchdown between the gusts and as you touched the water, to rudder the aircraft downwind, wings level. Done correctly it was smooth as silk; otherwise the nose tended to dig in and attempt to bury itself. You knew you were on the water as there would be a “click” in the earphones when the hull made contact with the water.

Canso/PBY/Catalina/Landseair CF-CRR sits beautifully on the ramp at the Canadian Pacific facility at Seal Cove, Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Photo via the author

A side view of CF-CRR at Prince Rupert, showing the wingtip pontoon floats lowered as well as her rear boarding stairs. The Canadian-built Canso was retrofitted to take up to 20 passengers. Photo via the author

A young passenger gets ready for the short but exciting trip to Sandspit on Vancouver Island. Passengers enjoyed the excitement of a roll down the ramp to a long taxi by water to the takeoff position and then the joys of a high speed water launch. Finally, at Sandspit she got to experience a runway landing as well. Not many of the 20 passengers aboard would have such an excellent view of the Queen Charlotte Islands and the coast of British Columbia as did this woman. With 20 passengers aboard, the lavatory was used as a baggage compartment. Luckily it was a short flight. Photo from 8mm film shot by author

The other problem that arose was poor windshield wipers. There were two solutions. One was to open the side window and judge how high off the water you were (I never became proficient at that one), and the other was to get maintenance to apply five coats of rain repellant, which, when done properly, was excellent. Unfortunately this application wouldn’t last too long and when the forecast was wrong, you wound up opening the side window because you hadn’t prevailed on maintenance for the rain repellant application.

I regret not keeping a more detailed logbook, as my memory isn’t doing the job anymore. That September was fairly routine but also included a two week holiday/maintenance period. October brought the storms and a trip to Annette Island, in Alaska, our alternate for weather. Annette (ANN) was 120 miles from Sandspit and 60 from Prince Rupert, with two runways that allowed for wind changes.

On 24 October we went to ANN overnight, then back to Prince Rupert (PR) on the 25th and then on to ZP where we stayed overnight on the 25th. On to PR on the 26th. We missed landing at Sandspit on the 27th and 29th and stayed overnight in there on the 30th, coming back to PR on the 31st. Then tried and missed Sandspit later on the 31st.

November we cancelled on the 1st, a long flight on the 7th. Cancelled the Saturday, 8th and flew Sunday the 9th instead. Routine till the 29th/cancelled and so ended November. On the 1st of December a new First Officer appeared. A large Australian, married to a small feisty lady. I picked him up every morning and had to endure a lecture from his wife as to the weather conditions and whether it was safe to fly. A new stewardess also appeared named Madeline Youngman whose family came from Prince Rupert. The month was routine till the 16th then we did two trips and then, either for weather or maintenance, didn’t operate till the 22nd. Missed the 30th. Reviewing the station wind records for Sandspit in those years shows a maximum speed of 160km/hr in gusts with hourly speeds of over 100km on occasion. So ended 1958.

On a personal level, I was learning to play badminton and tennis and to cook. I shared an apartment with the Royal Bank’s Assistant Manager, Gordon Elder.

The first three weeks of January, we operated on schedule. Overnight in Sandspit on the 21st. Check ride on the 26th. Then on the 30th we had a problem with the right float.

February flights operated with no Sandspit overnights. Along came March. We had a flight to Sandspit at the beginning of the month just after a strong storm had passed. When this happened, the wind would shift from the southeast (the direction of Runway 11–29) to a clearing wind, westerly from 200 degrees at 20–30 knots, right across the runway. Sandspit wasn’t called Sandspit for nothing. At both ends of the runway was the ocean. I lined up for a landing on Runway 29, made an approach and didn’t feel we were in the proper slot for landing. We only had two passengers on board. One was the manager in charge of building the new airport at Prince Rupert and the other was a pregnant lady who was going down to Vancouver to have her baby.

A Google Maps view of Sandspit today shows us where it got its name from. Landing at Sandspit, there are few options other than the water if an aircraft runs off the end of the runway. Photo from Google Maps with additions

I tried another approach and though nearly in the slot, pulled up and decided that we would try one more time and, if unable to land, would go to our alternate at Annette Island AK. As we did our overshoots, we could see the water with white caps and three foot waves, right off the end of the runway. On this approach, we were in the slot, so I continued down. I planted her on the end of the runway and started braking. Things seemed to be in control.

Now, the engineer in Prince Rupert had told me not to put too much pressure on the nose wheel as it would ruin the bearings. So to keep peace on the base, I relaxed the pressure on the nose wheel so as not to ruin the bearings. Big mistake. An extra strong gust of wind hit the tail and turned the airplane because there was no pressure on the nose wheel.

To keep it straight, I put the left wing down and right rudder on, but now the right gear had lifted off the ground and the right brake wasn’t doing anything. Unfortunately, the PBY didn’t have the luxury of lift destroying spoilers as the modern jets did. I put the right wing down to get some braking, but now found myself off the runway to the right. Now we were halfway down the runway with the airspeed way down, but the end of the runway coming up and no way of stopping before the end.

Choice number one was to try to pull up. The difficulty was that, if the airplane couldn’t get enough flying speed, we would settle into those waves off the end of the runway. That was a fair choice because, even if we went down in the water, we should have been able to survive as it was a seaplane. The problem was that pregnant woman. Either she or her baby would probably be harmed escaping from the airplane. I loved my job and had a promising career ahead of me with Canadian Pacific.

Choice number two. The airplane had that huge wing. If I could ground loop it (turn it sideways) and dig the wing in, we should be able to stop before going off the end into the water. By this time, we are off the runway to the right. Goodbye career.

I put full left brake on and opened the right engine wide open. The left wheel dug into the deep sand, the right engine swung the airplane around. The next thing I knew, we were at right angles to the runway at the very end, just off it to the
right with the tail by the airport perimeter fence. The engines were ticking over and my heart was pounding but we are stopped.

The stewardess came up to see if we were alright, pretty cool on her part. We shut the engines down and got out of the airplane. The left wheel was up to the hub in sand. I don’t recall the details with the pregnant lady, but I believe the stewardess took care of her. So we dug CRR out and taxied to the ramp. The Vancouver-bound aircraft carried a flight engineer and he came over to assess the damage. After looking the airplane over he couldn’t find any!!! So we went back to Prince Rupert.

I’d always thought I had a lucky star and sure enough she had kept shining. There is a sequel to this story. In the 1990s, I belonged to a tennis club in Vancouver. In chatting to one of my locker mates it turned out that it was “HIS WIFE” that was on the airplane. The baby was suspected of having a rare blood condition, so his mother was going to specialists in Vancouver. That little baby is now a doctor on the Îles de la Madeleine off the East coast of Canada.

Flights went along routinely and on the 4th of April the airplane had a major overhaul and check which gave us 12 days off. Coming back on the 16th, a new first officer joined us by the name of Denny Denman. He was small compared to the Aussie. The good news was I didn’t have to deal with his wife. On the 23rd of April, due to a storm, we overnighted in Sandspit. Coming back on the 24th, the storm had gone through and it was clear weather in Prince Rupert.

Now, the PBY was a super speedboat on the water and having a new stewardess on board, I invited her to poke her head up into the cockpit to experience going along at 60 mph on the water. We landed going out to the west and started a turn back to the hangar area where the crash boat was standing by (it met us for every flight). All of sudden, the nose started to dig in. In these situations, the first rule was to keep the wings level, which I managed to do. This was due to the PBY’s floats at the ends of the wing. However, now a spout of water started coming out of an inspection hole between the F/O and myself. I thought, “My God, we’ve hit a log and torn a strip off the bottom. The damn crash boat is two miles down the harbor. I’ve got to see if I can get it closer to the boat to rescue the passengers. Pull back on the control wheel and open the engines wide open! Holy smoke, we’re flying.”

CF-CRR up on the step while taking off from Prince Rupert. Photo via the author

As we flew over the crash boat, talking to them on the radio, they let us know we had lost one of the nose wheel doors.
Now what? We couldn’t land on the water as Sandspit has no maintenance facilities, so off to Terrace 72 miles away in the interior of British Columbia. Fortunately the weather was excellent. Well of course, we were getting all sorts of advice from the Vancouver Operations Center over the air.

Arriving at Terrace we put the gear out with the emergency system but the nose wheel didn’t go down, so we landed on the mains and slowed down with the nose off as long as we could, then let it down to grind to a halt.

Next day we ferried the damaged PBY to Vancouver where it went through a big inspection and repair of the nose doors.

CF-CRR at Terrace after landing without a nose wheel as a result of losing a gear door when attempting a landing at Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Photo via the author

A hearing was held to see if we were at fault. Everyone wanted to get in on that, and the room was packed. It turned out that there was corrosion in the torque tubes that closed the door and the torque tube on the right failed in the turn. I went through a test flight in Vancouver harbour to check out my water technique. No problem.

Two connected events happened while it was in Vancouver. First, during the big inspection they found it necessary to change the main gear. The other was that, after the hearing, the Chief of Maintenance, Rex Terpening, a veteran of the bush pilot days, quietly sided up to me and asked whether I had tried to put the gear down normally. I said no, it was an emergency situation and he quietly said the nose wheel would have gone down normally if I had. What a gentleman. My lucky star was still shining and he didn’t bring it up at the hearing.

On the 6th of May, we went back to Sandspit and Prince Rupert and our trips were routine till the end of July. I don’t recall the exact date, but returning to Prince Rupert one day, the gear wouldn’t extend properly so we tied up at the floatplane dock next to our ramp and left it in the hands of the engineers to fix the problem. At midnight they called us to taxi it back from the dock and up the ramp and to the hangar. The difficulty with the float plane dock was the narrow entrance to the area—just big enough for the PBY to get in or out.

Amphibious CF-CRR powers up the ramp at Prince Rupert’s Seal Cove Canadian Pacific seaplane base. Photo via the author

CF-CRR skimming low over the water at Prince Rupert just before landing. Photo via the author

When I arrived, they had a tug boat (complete with powerful searchlight) which was to tow us out to where we could manœuvre on our own. I repeatedly asked the dispatcher, who was going to release the rope from the front of CRR, whether the knot would undo when the strain from the towing tug was on it. He was adamant that it would. I was very unhappy with what was going on but had no reason to not do it. So the fiasco started.

I started the engines, as they were the only directional control we would have once the tug released us. The tug started to tow us out and shone his search light on the PBY’s nose, totally blinding us. We started to gain on him so he sped up, which tightened the rope. The damn dispatcher couldn’t release the rope. How we ever got out of there without hitting something I’ll never know. Finally we were out in the harbour and released from the tug. Next, we had to get up the ramp to the hangar in the dead of night. At least someone was thinking and had two cars drive down the ramp with their lights on to give us something to aim at. Fine. Just as we get close, the damn cars backed up away from the ramp, thinking we might run into them, leaving us in the blind again. The landing lights of the PBY while on the water are useless, as they point up in the sky. Finally, somehow we got up the ramp and into the hangar. My star kept shining.

The Canadian Pacific Airline’s PBYs had served Prince Rupert for 12½ years with only one major accident. Because they were building a new airport on Digby Island, the decision was made to close the operation down. The airplane needed work and the winter weather was fast approaching. So, on 12 November 1959, we ferried CRR over to Terrace, BC to await its fate.

A nice group shot with CF-CRR at Prince Rupert in 1958. The author, Captain Dennis Baxendale stands at left. Next to him are agent Lou Burtsch and two of the CPAL mechanics. In the front kneel First Officer Denny Denman and dispatcher Lou Burchell. Photo via the author

Terrace is in a valley surrounded by mountains. Imagine, we got to fly it over 4,000 feet ASL! In December of 1959, Canadian Pacific asked me to move CF-CRR from Terrace over to Edmonton, Alberta for storage. It would be nice and dry over there for the winter.

F/O Denman and I flew up from Vancouver and prepared to fly out the next day. Terrace was inland from Prince Rupert, in a valley surrounded by mountains. The airport was very difficult to approach and had high approach minimums as the pull-up procedure required a circular departure. There was a radio beacon at nearby Kitimat, and a radio range beacon at Terrace. The distance between the two beacons was 22 miles, with the Terrace beacon 6 miles from the airport. Overnight the weather had deteriorated to snow with a low ceiling.

A Google Maps view of the proximity of Kitimat and Terrace and their relation to Prince Rupert in upper left. Photo from Google Maps

I had never flown the airplane over 4,000 feet (YPR -YZP) so I was not familiar with its performance at altitude nor in icing conditions. As the weather was above takeoff minimums, there was no excuse for not leaving. Off we went, climbing out from the airport to the Terrace radio range. With that thick wing and a low climb speed we weren’t going either over the ground nor up through the air at a very great rate.

Finally we reached the Terrace radio beacon and started for the beacon at Kitimat. By this time we were in cloud and snow with ice starting to form on the wings. We were flying into new territory for me—being above 4,000 feet. I noticed that the cylinder head temperature was increasing on the right engine, so I placed the right fuel lever in emergency rich (which was used for manœuvring on the water to cool the engines). The extra fuel in emergency rich would cool the cylinder temperature.

By this time ice had started to form on the wings. We had rubber de-icing boots, but I was reluctant to turn them on too soon for fear they wouldn’t break the ice off properly. We started the alcohol to the propellers to de-ice them. Again, the difficulties were that there was no rate of flow meter, so you didn’t know how much you were using and you didn’t want to run out by using too high a rate. At full open there was only a very limited time.

A glance at the rate of climb showed us that we weren’t going up very fast, so we increased the power setting to METO (Maximum Except Take Off) power. By this time, another problem entered the scene. The rudder pedals were separating. I had to push on the left pedal to keep the airplane on the proper heading. For manœuvring on the water the rudder pedals could be moved 12” to 18” so you had a lot of pedal movement available. I had never heard of ice on the rudder, what the hell was going on? What was causing the rudder pedal difference, which by now was six inches? A glance at the cylinder head temperature showed it had dropped, so I told the F/O to put the fuel lever back to auto rich. Holy Christ!! The engine started to run away (overspeed). The RPM shot up to 2,800 +, so I shouted to put it back. He tried it again and the same thing happened, so then I tried it, but I too got the same overspeed results.

No climb rate, ice on the wings, runaway engine and rudder pedals out of line. That was enough for me! We needed to go back to Terrace, so I called them, only to find out that the weather there was deteriorating, with a lower ceiling and higher winds.

I didn’t think we could clear the coastal mountains to get to Sandspit, so turned CRR around and dove for the Terrace radio beacon. We went whistling by the beacon and broke out with just enough visibility to land. Off to the beer parlor!

The difficulty with the flight had been the compounding of the aircraft’s problems combined with the lack of time to think about them as they stacked up. Running off the runway at Sandspit and losing the nose door in Prince Rupert were events that were over in seconds, but this experience had seemed to last an eternity.

The next day, the weather cleared up and things looked pretty good. Not liking the mountains and CRR’s poor icing capabilities, I flight planned 15,000 feet for our trip over to Edmonton. Off we went again, and as we were cruising along at 15,000’ on oxygen, with First Officer Denman doing the flying. Slowly, the airplane began drifting off course by about 30–40 degrees. I looked at him and motioned to return to course. He turned back slowly and then I realized we had lost all our oxygen, and he was suffering from anoxia, or lack of oxygen.

We were past the highest mountains, so I elected to descend and we went on to Edmonton. We tied CRR up in Edmonton and that was the last I saw of her until 2011 in France, 52 years later.


Post Script

Did you solve the problem of the runaway engine and rudder pedals?

Years later, I managed to come up with what happened. At METO power the engine RPM was up to 2,650 which is just below the max takeoff power of 2,800 where the propeller regulator would take over and prevent the propeller from running away. When I put the fuel levers into emergency rich, it over-fuelled the engines, decreasing the actual power of the engine, but the prop governor allowed the propeller rpm to stay at 2,650 by changing the blade angle.

As we gained altitude, the right engine wasn’t putting out the power due to the over rich fuel condition. This resulted in the necessity to put more left rudder on to keep the airplane going straight. When the F/O took the fuel lever out of Emergency Rich the engine was now developing best power and the sudden increase in power caused the propeller RPM to runaway to 2,800+.

Because we didn’t know what was happening we immediately put it back to Emergency Rich. Had we left it out of Emergency Rich the prop governor would have taken over and brought the RPM back to 2,650. But having an over speeding propeller, and not knowing whether it would tear itself off the engine, didn’t seem like the right thing at the time so we put it back in emergency rich.




Canso CF-CRR Photo Album
with apologies to any photographers we could not identify and reach

A photograph of CF-CRR at Port Radium in the Northwest Territories. The Canadian Pacific Airlines name has been removed from the side, but she appears to still have her beautiful red and blue markings and cheat lines. Most likely, this was after the author brought her to Edmonton to take her out of scheduled service, and before the following photo was taken. Photo: The Ron Dupas Collection at

A shot of CF-CRR sometime between when Captain Baxendale and his crew brought her to Edmonton and when she was sold to Midwest Airlines of Winnipeg. She is seen stripped of her beautiful blue and red paint and with her waist blisters removed and faired over, but still wearing minimal Canadian Pacific Airlines Markings. Photo: Eddie Coates

CF-CRR was purchased in 1960 by Northland Airlines of Winnipeg, Manitoba and operated by them until 1968 when she was purchased by Midwest Airlines also of Winnipeg. By 1973, she was in the hands of Ilford Riverton Airways also of Winnipeg. Photo: Tim Martin

From 1977 until 1979, she was operated as a fire fighting tanker for Avalon Aviation at Red Deer, Alberta. Here we see her in Avalon’s bright orange colours as Tanker 791. In ’79, she moved with Avalon to Parry Sound, Ontario and was owned and operated by them until 1989.

CF-CRR sits forlornly in a grassy field at Parry Sound where she was put out to pasture in 1988, remaining there until 1992 or longer. In 1995, she became the property of Powell Corporation of Parry Sound who sold her to Franklin Devaux of France’s Flying Legends. Photo: Eric Dumigan

In October 1995, after a long maintenance program in France, it departed for Africa equipped as a flying TV studio for use in a French TV natural history series called “Opération Okavango”. Its initial destination was Djibouti, followed by the Comoro Islands, then Kenya and Ethiopia. After a period at Harare in Zimbabwe, CF-CRR returned to France.

In October 1995, this “French” PBY departed for Africa equipped as a flying TV studio for use in a French TV natural history series called “Opération Okavango”. Its initial destination was Djibouti, followed by the Comoro Islands, then Kenya and Ethiopia. The operations in Ethiopia were not without incident whilst being filmed taxiing out of the water after a lake-landing, the bow became stuck fast in mud and the Catalina had to be ignominiously lifted out of its predicament by the Mi-8 support helicopter that was accompanying it on the trip. Even this was not straightforward, as the downdraught damaged the Cat’s port aileron in the process!

A spectacular shot taken from a camera mounted beneath the starboard wing of the Opération Okavango Canso CF-CRR banking over aquamarine waters in Africa. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

Another stunning shot of the Opération Okavango version of CF-CRR low over some of the most beautiful water anywhere. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

CF-CRR at Dijon Longvic in September of 1997 with her Opération Okavango markings removed. Photo: A. Roy

It was later repainted in an Air France colour scheme with the name Princesse des étoiles and flown to Le Bourget, Paris, on 23 August 1998, where it was dismantled by the British firm Edwards Brothers Aviation, previously involved in the African filming, and trucked to the Place de la Concorde on the Champs Élysées. There, it was placed on public display during September, along with a great number of other vintage aircraft, to celebrate 100 years of Aéro-Club de France. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

With its Parisian appearance over, it was taken back to Le Bourget and flown south again, ready for its next adventure, a transatlantic flight to Chile and Brazil via West Africa. The main reason for this epic flight was to commemorate the Aéropostale mail flights flown by Jean Mermoz between France and Dakar, Senegal, instigated in 1930. The Catalina left Toulouse on 14 October, and by 28 November 1998, CF-CRR had arrived in Santiago of Chile, a follow-on flight to Brazil being made on the 3rd of that month.

For these flights, many sponsorship logos adorned the Catalina’s hull and tail, including that of the Brazilian airline TAM, which was taking delivery of new Airbus aircraft, the PBY being involved in the handover ceremony. At the completion of the ceremonies, CF-CRR flew north and spent some time at Oshawa, Ontario, where maintenance was carried out before leaving on 8 June 1999, crossing the Northern Atlantic via Reykjavik and Shannon, before arriving at Dinard in Brittany. A few weeks later, it was being kept busy as an aerial camera platform for the 11 August total eclipse of the sun. From forum. Photo: Eric Dumigan

CF-CRR parked at Orly in December of 1999 with Air France markings as
Princesse des étoiles. Photo: A. Roy

Another shot, but this time of CF-CRR flying as
Princesse des étoiles, in Air France livery, low over sand dunes in Africa, quite possibly near Dakar. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA) 

Princesse des étoiles sits at Oshawa undergoing maintenance at Enterprise Air still sporting her Air France and TAM blended livery. Photo: Eric Dumigan

As Princesse des étoiles, CF-CRR flies low over coastline somewhere on her many storied journeys. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

Cruising the African coast en route to Brazil. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

Taxiing on a river in Africa. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

CF-CRR made quite a spectacle for citizens of every community that she visited both as Okavango and as Princesse des étoiles. Here she taxies on a river in Africa. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

A spectacular view from the port waist blister looking forward into the setting sun on her journey to Brazil. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

CF-CRR, Princesse des étoiles, drops down into the harbour of Rio de Janeiro with spectacular Sugar Loaf Mountain in the background. Photo via The European Federation Historic Aviation (EFHA)

The Princesse des étoiles undergoing major overhaul and repair in a hangar in Orly. Photo via Swiss Aviation Photography Forum

CF-CRR as N9767 getting her most recent overhaul at Orly prior to December 2010. Photo via Swiss Aviation Photography Forum

On 22 December 2010, CF-CRR, now N9767, was photographed taking to the skies again after an extended period of overhaul. She was overhauled at Orly and was then heading to Melun where she would be based. Photo: Jacques Guillem via Swiss Aviation Photography Forum

Photographed in September of 2011 at the Fermanagh Seaplane Festival at the former RAF Killadeas, Canso N9767 came from its base at Melun–Villaroche near Paris. N9767 now sports a mixed livery—selling Bertaud Belieu wines from France and Irish Tourism. Photo: Fergal Goodman, Irish251 at

Now touting for Ireland Tourism and French wines, CF-CRR/N9767 still wears her Princesse des étoiles name at the tip of her nose. Photo: Fergal Goodman, Irish251 at

RCAF 9767 flying as the Bertaud Belieu Catalina at an air show in Lausanne, Switzerland commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Lausanne-Blécherette Airport in 2011. Photo: Stéphane Mutzenberger

A beautiful shot of N9767 at the Centennial air show at Lausanne in September of 2011 showing off that beautiful wing and her military bearing. Photo: Jean-Charles Sautaux


The complete Warbird U Calendar for 2012
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