Upcoming events and/ or past event reports
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The Wong Brothers
While converting the content for this edition into HTML format, I was concerned about the use of the phrase "The Chinese Airforce" in the submission we received from Roger Slauenwhite about the Central Airways Flying School.
We are very careful to avoid any offensive terminology as many phrases in common use in the past are just not acceptable today. Cartoons for the 'Smileys' section are frequently a problem.
I considered omitting the phrase because it did not seem to be critical to the story but I decided to look into it further; it led me to a wonderful story.
Alan Rust used to say "we don't know what we don't know" in reference to the constant learning curve of life. I was surprised that I had never heard of the story of the Wong brothers and their place in Canadian aviation but I am always excited to increase my knowledge.
In June 2015, the Toronto Star published an article by Angus Skene entitled "When the Wong brothers soared over Toronto" about Chinese Canadian aviation pioneer Robert Shun Wong.
Born in Nanaimo, British Columbia in 1917, Robert Wong was unfairly denied Canadian citizenship due to the Chinese Exclusion Act and not allowed to join the RCAF during wartime. However, he rose above the discrimination and more than did his duty (as a civilian) by training many of the pilots who did serve.
After the war, Robert and his younger brother, Thomas Shun Wong, opened the Central Airways Flying School at the Toronto Island Airport and continued to train pilots for many years.
Treat yourself to an uplifting read by clinking the link below.
I contacted Mr. Slauenwhite to ask for his personal experiences with the Wong brothers; he graciously replied with the following:
"I know quite a bit about their flying school. I learned to fly there and went on to be a part time Flying Instructor and Charter Pilot for Bob and Tommy Wong. I worked for Air Canada during the week in Sales and Central Airways on weekends.
At Central Airways I was known as Roger White because Tommy found my name too difficult to spell, and he was the one who did the pay envelopes. My pay was $1.25 an hour when I flew, and after what seemed to be an eternity, my pay increased to $1.75. If you did not fly on a given day your pay was zero!
The best flight I had, (which seems like yesterday) was a charter with Bob Wong in our Aztec to Idlewild Airport in New York (IDL) now John F. Kennedy Airport. It was a night flight. The passengers were the comedians, the Smothers Brothers, and two ladies, who had done a ton of shopping in Toronto.
We lifted off runway 06 at Pearson Airport at the stroke of midnight, gut loaded and I do mean loaded. There were four passengers, two pilots, the baggage holds were full as well as the full tanks.
We left in such a hurry we had to file our flight plan when we were airborne. I’m sure we were well over upper New York State before it was activated.
This event all started at 21:30 at the Air Canada Reservation Office on Bloor Street where I was working that night.
We received a call requesting an Air Canada Viscount charter to New York that night from the Smothers Brothers. A simple request but not likely to happen. I called Bob Wong at home and things really started to happen fast especially when we verified their credit card was good for the trip.
It was a long day for me having worked a full shift at Air Canada and then doing a return trip Toronto to New York at night.
I did the landing the next morning at Toronto Pearson at 06:30. These were pleasant memories and I would do it all over again if that was possible.
To answer your query without drifting off too much, I could write a book on my time at Central Airways.
For me, Bob Wong was a gentleman who really knew airplanes. He was a graduate from an Aeronautical school in the US and a pleasure to work for. His brother Tommy was a different cut, but both were excellent pilots and had the respect of all their staff.
In my view, the best pilot trained at Central Airways was Peter Gutowski (now deceased) who finished his career as an Air Canada Check Captain on the 747-400. We had several flights together when at Central Airways and he was the very best.
The photo below is of myself from the early 1970’s. I flew this Twin Piper Apache to Pearson Airport (YYZ) from the Island Airport (YTZ) for the photo.
A good airplane for charter work, but not as fast as the aircraft along the side of it!"
Best of the season to all of you,
From Charlie Burtch -
Thought this photo might be of interest to folks.
This image originally appeared in CP Air News Volume 11 No. 7 in July 1980 with the caption below:
Projected Traffic patterns and development of CP Air's winter 1980-81 and summer 1981 schedules for Western Canada Services were the main topics of discussion at the airline's semi-annual regional managers' meeting held June 18-19 in Whitehorse.
From left, on the wing of a restored CPA DC-3 at Whitehorse Airport, are Dan Burton, Grande Prairie manager; Wolf Wiedemann, Vancouver, assistant vice-president, sales and service; Norm Dawkin, Fort Nelson manager; Vic Cheropita, Watson Lake manager; Ralph Sharp, Prince George manager; and Norm Dartnell, Fort St. John manager.
From left on ground, Hammy Smillie, Vancouver, senior reservations controller; Chris Ketchum, Vancouver, route planning and development manager for domestic routes; Warwick Beadle, Whitehorse manager; Paul Kirkpatrick, Vancouver, route analyst; Al Vance, Vancouver, sales planning manager for Western Canada Services; Tom Laurie, Terrace/Kitimat manager; George McBurnle, Vancouver, public relations representative; and Bill Shilvock, Vancouver, director of Western Canada Services.
Additional note from Ken Pickford -
The retired DC-3 in the photo is the one that was later mounted on a pedestal and rotates with the wind like a weathervane. It's at the Yukon Transportation Museum adjacent to Whitehorse airport.
Related item on the DC-3, with YouTube video (from 2012, posted by author of the article).
Halina Scharich posted this photo on CP Air Employees Facebook page of the YVR Flight Attendants class of 1968, with the question: "Does anyone recognize the new flight attendants?"
Dorinka Williams responded with this information -
Let's see if my memory serves me well. ln the front left to right: Peter Herbold, Halina Scharich, Reia Kayamori, Margo Stockwell, Judy Tenant, Jane Pedlar, Dorinka Williams, Dorinka Belos, and then, Kay Horigani, Kit Nicholson (Hallaran), Eve Hagi, Van Aarp.
Back row: Ron Chisholm, Johnny Cheung, Jerry Guinard, Gerry Rotherham, Linda Favell, Linda Davies, Fred Hoffer, Ron Cook, Robert Mullineau and Dave Sheppard.
Edda Wagner posted this photo on Facebook on November 9, 2020.
When Roger Shergold saw the post, it jogged his memory and he responded with -
She was originally the Empress of Edmonton, apologies to aircraft 710. Built to take part in Klondike Days in Edmonton, and she was the brainchild of George Foster.
A local truck owner helped us out by hauling her to the river for the raft race. We parked her on a grassy slope with all the other rafts and many of us spent the night on her. Many barbeques and beer. Next day the crowd helped us get her into the river and away we went. We won first prize!
The next year we got her to Kamloops thanks to the same trucker and CN Rail who let us use a gondola car to get her there. We came second, and hauled her back to Edmonton by rail and truck. Later that year we entered Klondike Days again. After the race, we tied her up by the river bank, and since the weather was getting wet and windy, we left her there.
Next day the weather was still nasty, so we didn’t go back until the following day. She was gone. Slipped her mooring either on her own or with help, we didn’t know. She was never seen again. I like to believe she made it all the way to Hudson Bay and then into the Atlantic, and then stuck in the ice. She'll be found hundreds of years from now and be the subject of songs, like the Edmond Fitzgerald. Or History students will study her and get degrees!
Anyway God bless her and all who sailed on her.