Sunday, June 24, 2018

Article Sample: "Yukon Crews" - Part Two

On the 8th of February of last year I posted samples of an article I researched and wrote on the Canadair CC-106 "Yukon" transport aircraft. Here are more samples; a part two of two:

Ten years ago I wrote an article about the Canadair CC-106 "Yukon" transport aircraft -- a machine I flew on as a child -- and its service with the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force). My target publication was Air Force Magazine. The book's editor was very helpful, providing parameters and reviewing my initial submission.

After receiving vital assistance from the Public Relations Officer at DND (Department of National Defence) Headquarters in obtaining initial contacts, I interviewed many people who flew the Yukon, or were aircrew. In pursuit of the story I travelled to CFB Trenton and held a group interview at the RCAF Museum.

It has to be noted that 437 Squadron, main operator of the Yukon, was completely uncooperative. One of my helpful inside contacts eventually had to admit to me, "Simon, forget it". Wonderful.

Unfortunately my piece was "killed" before possible publication by Air Force Magazine after David Adamson, Squadron Commander of 437 Squadron during the majority of the Yukon's tenure, and someone I interviewed via telephone, decided to write an article on the machine himself. I, understandably, was grounded. (Adamson, like everybody I interviewed, without exception, was very pleasant and more than willing in contributing to my research.)

I have no plans to upload my entire "Yukon Crews" piece, but I thought I would post a few paragraphs. Here is Part Two. Enjoy!

Operational flying accumulates many hours for the air crews concerned, and most of these hours would be quite uneventful. Naturally, with all these trips over the years there are bound to be stories, funny ones and otherwise. To start, and due to the intrinsic nature of the Yukon which would typically be loaded with heavy cargoes, there are a few stories of the Yukon's nose going up, and not due to any takeoff procedure. Larry Byrne remembers one such story, “East Pakistan had a typhoon go through so we flew some girders for electrical towers and a bunch of blankets and stuff and that was our load. We picked them up from Trenton. My mom and dad lived in Lachine [Quebec] and I went over to their place for lunch while they were loading the airplane. My dad drove me back to the airport at Dorval; I couldn't see the tail of the airplane over the AMU [Aviation Maintenance Unit] and I said to my dad, 'oh my God, they've left without me!' So we drove around the corner of the thing and there was the Yukon sitting on its tail. They had loaded the stuff in through the side loader and they intended to push it forward.  And they put this one set of girders on there and down she went. The thing that saved the airplane was they had a big wooden tie-down box in the back of the airplane and when the girders slid back they hit the box instead of hitting the pressure hull of the airplane and so they put a bridle on the front of the airplane and then slowly offloaded then lowered the thing and reloaded it properly. The only thing that was damaged was the seal on the door; and so we flew it back to Trenton and they changed the seal and the next day we were on our way to East Pakistan, and that was my check-ride. The captain on that was Bill Cars. “

Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau was a frequent flier on 412 Squadron Yukons. He is also credited, by some, with helping dismantle the Canadian Armed Forces; the fallout, of course, is felt to this day. Burke opines, “(but) ironically he was probably one of the easiest persons to fly anywhere as a passenger, he really was. He just did not have any use for a military”. (Author’s note: Pardon me while I go and paint some machine guns onto my lawnmower.) Bill Cars remembers flying Trudeau out one night, “he stood up in the cockpit for the takeoff but it was night and there were lights all around….soon as the Yukon went out and because there was this weird climb he just went to the back”.

One thing that was obvious to me was the fact that the individuals I interviewed all had fond memories about flying on the Yukon – and a lot of fun was apparent in the rapport displayed during the group interview I did as part of my research in CFB Trenton. This really showed when I thought I would ask a seemingly innocent question –  one brought on after hearing of some of the trips to a few 'hot-spots'. My question came out as: “Were you guys ever armed?” This elicited an immediate reaction from [Navigator] Bob Burke: “We had security people. My god, I wouldn't give these guys guns!” [Flight Engineer] Bernie Hazleton chimed in with, “It's bad enough giving them a screwdriver”.

[Pilot] Doug Scott remembers the final days, “the Yukon retired on the second of April, ’71, and I retired on the ninth of April. They threw me out at the same time as the Yukon”. [Pilot] Paul Aubin transferred to the new Boeing machines when they came into service, “going to the 707 was an ego trip but the Yukon was a great airplane, to think back….it was a wonderful experience”.

[Pilot and 437 Squadron Commander] David Adamson negotiated the purchase of the Boeing 707 which came into service with the air force in 1970 and completely replaced the Yukon the following year. Adamson found the Yukon to be “a bit of a challenge to fly” -- he admitted to me that he was always happy to get back on the ground but is very proud of the aircraft's safety record. No Yukon was ever involved in any serious accident.

[Pilot] James Lynch sums up his feelings on the Yukon, “the aircraft was definitely a well designed aircraft.  It was a very, very nice aircraft to fly. It really was a beautiful aircraft".

The Yukon and its implementation was a memorable chapter in Canadian aviation, certainly Canadian military aviation. It was an aircraft developed and flown to fulfill a requirement laid out by our armed forces and it performed admirably – as several people have noted in this article. Unfortunately, because so few units were produced, coupled with the fact that Canadians seem to have a hard time 'caring' about most of what we do, especially regarding our military and the many successful and historically relevant exploits therein, this aircraft is destined to be all but forgotten by all but the most die-hard enthusiasts. 

For those of us who had the pleasure or honour of flying on her as either flight crew or passenger, it was a memorable chapter. To me, the Yukon was a beautiful aircraft.


As I stated at the beginning of the piece, I interviewed many people involved with the CC-106 "Yukon". They are:

Jack O. Maitland, Pilot and 437 Squadron Commander (Telephone)
David R. Adamson, Pilot and 437 Squadron Commander (Telephone)
Bill Cars, Pilot, Major Ret'd (In person, and Telephone)
James Lynch, Pilot (In Person)
Doug Scott, Pilot, Captain Ret'd (In Person)
Paul Aubin, Pilot, Major Ret'd (In Person)
Larry Byrne, Pilot (Telephone)
Bernie “Shorty” Hazelton, Flight Engineer, Chief WO Ret'd (In Person)
Geoff Brogden, Flight Engineer, Ret'd (In Person)
Bob Burke, Navigator, Captain Ret'd (In Person, and Telephone)
Don Bengert, Navigator, Major Ret'd (In Person)
Phyliss Sproul Gravelle, Flight Attendant, Master Corporal Ret'd (In Person)
Georgina “Andy” Andreanopolis, Flight Attendant, WO Ret'd (In Person)

1 comment:

Dominic M said...

Looks like you put a lot of effort into this article. Maybe there's other avenues for publication?