My last post…

I wrote my last post on Our Ancestors last December 12. I have been sort of distracted by My Forgotten Hobby, which is just another of my numerous blogs, and a few others more for that matter…, and a minor eye operation.

This is not my last post on Our Ancestors because someone just wrote me on Thursday, and sent me this picture…


 I just could not resist writing about it.


18 thoughts on “My last post…

  1. More information about the type of plane

    Vickers Vedette MkII
    FTLComm – Tisdale – Friday, June 17, 2011
    In their various forms the Montreal based Vickers Aircraft company turned out about sixty machines similar to this one. Designed in 1924-25 and into the air in 1926 almost every one of the machines were one of a kind. Vickers made use of a wide range of engines and with the last version built the little water bird with an enclosed cabin and a metal hull. The most common variant was this the Mark II with its wood hull. Though it looks sort of like a modern ultra-light this was a really sturdy and durable aircraft that served the purpose of the peace time evolving Royal Canadian Airforce of the day.

    The Vedette went into service in 1926 and was a part of the military until the mid 1930s. Then most of the very serviceable aircraft were sold to various provincial governments were they were used for forest fire patrol.

    The mission of the RCAF in the late twenties was to document the country. map and photograph Canada stream, by lake, by hill. The work done at the time is the basis for what we know of Canada today. When the war came these aircraft and their two man crews had the topography fixed and Canada new what it had to defend and those maps and pictures would lead the way in providing the tools for resource exploration and make the north of this vast land part of the country.

    A little lake just off the Hanson Lake Road some seventy kilometres north of Smeaton in the Narrow Hills Provincial park Zeden Lake is named after a Vickers Vedette MkII that was lost on the lake. Details are not readily confirmable as to the nature of the problem. The Vedette was not the sort of aircraft that went around crashing, they were outstanding aircraft but they did have a rather annoying habit of sinking. The wood hull was sometimes a bit leaky and the RCAF suffered a few loses to a Vedette inconveniently taking on water.

    I regret that I am unable to give credit for the remarkable picture shown on this page. Like so many things on the Internet the source just isn’t available.

    However I have included some interesting reference I found that tell the story of the Vickers Vedette and they are listed on the left hand menu of this page.

  2. From the link above

    The first recorded use of Lac du Bonnet as a base of operations for an aircraft is July of 1922 when the Canadian Air Force (pre RCAF 1924) was doing survey work in the area.

    Western Canada Airways followed in 1926 and the RCAF in 1927. In 1924 Canadian Vickers of Montreal designed and built the Vedette flying boat for the RCAF and they operated a number of these aircraft out of Lac du Bonnet until 1933. Amoung many of its achievements it was the first designed and built aircraft in Canada. Due to the “depression of 1929”, cutbacks in RCAF personnel resulted in layoffs and a reductions in Civil Operations.

    In 1932 negotiations between the Dominion Government and the Province of Manitoba resulted in the RCAF turning over six Mk.ll Vedette flying boats for the sum of $ 1.00 each with the provision that the Manitoba Government would also employ five ex RCAF pilots who had been released from active service. Later two newer Mk.V Vedettes were added to the fleet.

    Manitoba Government Air Service C-FMAU …photo by John W. OlafsonThis was the start of the Manitoba Government Air Service and the construction of its main base of Operation and Maintenance in Lac du Bonnet.

    The last Vedette aircraft, CF-MAG, was withdrawn from service in 1937. (The salvaged remains are on view at the Western Canada Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, MB.) The service history of the Vedette and the pilots and engineers who flew in them is well recorded in the annals of Canadian accomplishments. Residents of Lac du Bonnet worked for and with the air and ground crews and remember this part of their history.

    Throughout the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s many other companies, such as Western Canada Airways (Canadian Airways), Starratt Airways, Wings Limited, Canadian Pacific Airlines, Central Northern Airways, Trans Air Limited, Wendigo Wings, Air Park and Whiteshell Air Service, operated out of Lac du Bonnet.

    Today Provincial Helicopters and Adventure Air are the only two companies currently serving the community. As well many private operators made Lac du Bonnet their base of operations.

    From our past history one can see that Aviation played a significant roll in the cultural, economic and social life of our community. The Vickers Vedette is a significantly unique aircraft to remind us of our past and will further enhance the cairn already in place that commemorates the existence of RCAF Station Lac du Bonnet.


    Jim Uhlman – Pilot
    Making Aviation History
    First Arctic Coast flight made by Lac du Bonnet man
    Provided By Marc Zienkiewicz (Spring 2009 – Experience Lac du Bonnet)
    Lac du Bonnet certainly has a colourful history when it comes to aviation, being the site of the first airmail delivery flight in Canada, not to mention many other things. But not many know that one of Lac du Bonnet’s very own residents helmed the first Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) flight to the Arctic coast.

    According to air force documents provided by area historian Gord Emberley, the late Jim Uhlman of Lac du Bonnet made the flight in 1930 at the request of Canada’s Civil Government Air Operations (CGAO), a civil service division of the RCAF. “This has never before been printed,” Emberley said. “It really is a fascinating piece of Lac du Bonnet history, in light of 2009 being the 100th anniversary of aviation.” Indeed, this year does represent a century of Canadian aviation.

    On Feb. 23, 1909, J.A.D. McCurdy made history when he flew the now-famous Silver Dart airplane at Nova Scotia’s Bras d’Or Lake. He flew only a half mile, but it was the first heavier-than-air machine to fly in Canada. A replica of the Silver Dart is now on display at the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

    Two decades later, aviation had made its mark on the Lac du Bonnet community. The first mention of Lac du Bonnet as a base of operations is found in the July 1922 issue of the old Lac du Bonnet Times. In those days, aviation was considered a novelty, but by the time Manitoba’s first airmail flight took off from the Lac du Bonnet town dock in 1927, aviation was quickly becoming an indispensable part of the country’s economy.

    Uhlman became an original member of the Manitoba Government Air Service in 1932, but had started his aviation career several years earlier and became a part of Civil Government Air Operations. “They performed all kinds of important tasks for the country. They did aerial surveys, photography, flew government personnel, you name it,” Emberley said. “They played a major role.” In 1930, Uhlman was asked to command the air service’s first flight to the Mackenzie River, which originates in Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, and flows north into the Arctic Ocean. It is the longest river in Canada. The mission enabled the director of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, and two officials from the Indian Affairs and Agriculture Departments, to carry out inspection visits along the Mackenzie. “The party set out from McMurray on July 2 and flew down the river, making stops at Fitzgerald, Hay River, Fort Simpson, Fort Wrigley, Fort Norman, Arctic Red River and Aklavik,” the documents state. The flight represents a crucial moment in RCAF history. Uhlman’s daughter Shan Hornby, who lives in Headingley and is now 72, said her father was quiet about his history in aviation, and the family didn’t uncover most of his history with the Air Force until after his death in the 1980s. “He never talked a lot about himself,” Hornby said. “He never got a lot of recognition for his achievements, but then again he never asked for any.” Uhlman had quite a detailed history with the Canadian Forces. He was wounded in Vimy Ridge and would go on to serve in the RCAF in Halifax, after learning to fly in England. “He was a real inventive kind of guy,” Hornby said. Uhlman moved to Victoria after his retirement, but lived in Lac du Bonnet for many years. “He always enjoyed his life there,” Hornby added. “He never got a lot of recognition for his achievements, but then again he never asked for any.” —Shan Hornby

  4. During the 1920s, many Canadian airmen who served in the Great War found work back home in Canada with the Civil Operations branch of the Air Force, which conducted forestry patrols and aerial survey. One such pilot was Flight Lieutenant Jim Uhlman, a Nova Scotian who, in 1929, was put in command of an experimental detachment based out of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Uhlman’s No. 1 General Purpose Detachment operated two Fairchild FC-2 Razorbacks and was responsible for patrol and transport over a vast northern swath of the country ranging from Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec to Aklavik, Northwest Territories. They adopted the motto ‘Specialists in Everything’ because, as Jim Uhlman put it, “That is exactly what we were doing.”

    Civil Air Operations continued as a branch of the Air Force until 1932 when the strain of economic depression caused the government to disband all non-permanent Air Force personnel. Seventy-two Officers, including Uhlman and dozens of enlisted men, were suddenly out of work. After 15 years as a pilot, Uhlman could not imagine living his life grounded. He recognized the importance the Civil Air Operations had provided to the local people and he decided to drum up interest for a permanent air service by lobbying private industry and the RCMP. “The RCMP told me that they would be happy to have me as a constable, but that they had no thought of starting an air service at that time,” Uhlman recalled many years later.

    Air Vice-Marshal Leigh Stevenson heard about Uhlman’s inquiries and he arranged for five Vickers Vedette flying boats to be sold to the Province of Manitoba for $1, provided the province employ Uhlman and a team of Air Force personnel. Uhlman was named Director of the five-man team and they set up shop at Lac du Bonnet under the title of Manitoba Government Air Service (MGAS). The Federal Government had recently turned over natural resource management to the provinces and the original mandate was for forestry protection. However, as Uhlman explains, “… it was soon found that there were many other uses for the aircraft and I was anxious to get working year round.”

    The Vedettes’ were seasonal aircraft that could only be landed on lakes and rivers during the summer months. Uhlman arranged with the Province of Manitoba to buy a Fairchild Razorback with skis and floats early in 1933. Soon MGAS was providing transport for practically every government agency, conducting search and rescue missions, and establishing radio stations across the northern parts of the province. These necessary services proved to be indispensable for northern communities and industry and by the time of Jim Uhlman’s retirement thirty years later, MGAS employed 40 people and operated nearly 20 airplanes – mostly de Havilland Beavers’ and Otters’.

    Today, the iconic MGAS yellow water bombers are a common sight at the Winnipeg airport. They conduct firefighting missions in Manitoba and across North America. A replica Vickers Vedette – painted in the original MGAS colours – can be seen at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. It remains the only complete example of a Vickers Vedette anywhere in the world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s