Saskatchewan Aviation Chronology 1960-69

1960, March 15 -- an American U-2 spyplane with engine trouble made a forced landing on a lake in northern Saskatchewan. Sources: file in the Diefenbaker Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. Reference Series, Volume 73, File Defence 610.2, page 42835. Also, Up Here magazine, the northern lifestyles magazine published in Yellowknife, ran an article that claimed (incorrectly) that the U-2 had crashed in northern Saskatchewan in 1962, killing the pilot.

 

1960 -- A new Regina airport terminal building is opened.

 

1961-- Coincident with the selection of the Canadair CL-41 as the RCAF’s new basic trainer, it was announced that basic and advanced military flying training would be consolidated in three RCAF flying schools — at Moose Jaw, Penhold and Portage la Prairie. Thus, Moose Jaw’s Harvards would be retired, replaced by T-33s and CT-114 Tutors. See Best In The West, pages 121-122.

 1962 -- La Ronge Aviation Services Ltd. was founded by P.D. "Pat" Campling, operator of Red's Camps, an outfitting camp in the La Ronge area. This camp had operated a single Cessna 180 aircraft to move passengers, guides, and equipment between La Ronge and out-camps. Very soon afterwards, the need for more aircraft and the reality of the requirement for charter services was realized and resulted in the formation of La Ronge Aviation Services Ltd.

 It grew to operate turbo-props and floatplanes from La Ronge Saskatchewan; Lynn Lake, Manitoba; Yellowknife, N.W.T. and Edmonton, Alberta. Source: company website at www.avcanwest.com/airsask/index.html

 1962, May -- North Central Airlines, based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, began a daily DC-3 round trip between Regina and Williston, N.D., with connections to the Twin Cities. This service was ended in December 1962, "because of lack of demand". (Source: letter to the author, dated Nov. 25, 1980, from Walter L. Hellman, manager, media relations, for Republic Airlines, successor to North Central.

1962 -- Oversight of RCAF Station Saskatoon was transferred from Training Command to Air Transport Command.

 Also, beginning in the summer of 1962, the RCAF Flying Instructors School at Moose Jaw formed an impromptu Harvard aerobatic team called "The Goldilocks," a play on the name of the RCAF's jet air demonstration team, the Golden Hawks.

"Several staff members of the FIS put together a routine that included a ‘crazy formation’ with all seven aircraft flying at different angles with various ancillaries hanging down, while maintaining perfect station," said the station's history book Best In The West (pages 122-123).

 "Allegedly inspired by the flying of student pilots, this display was to become a crowd favourite and the trademark of the team, which had chosen its name as a joke due to its similarity with ‘Golden Hawks’".

 It added: "Following their spectacular debut, the Goldilocks went onto thrill crowds at air shows across Canada until the retirement of the Harvard in 1964."

 1962, Oct. 1 -- Saskatoon’s 1 AFS moved to RCAF Station Rivers, Man. See Best In The West historical addendum

 

1964 -- Introduction of the Tutor and T-33 began at RCAF Station Moose Jaw. The final Harvard course, No. 6309, had begun in June 1963. The final month of Harvard operations was August. The remaining Harvards were in October sent to RCAF Station Penhold or to Saskatoon for disposal. See Best In The West, page 126.

 March, 1965 -- Saskatchewan Government Airways, purchased by a consortium of Prince Albert businessman, became known as "North Canada Air" or Norcanair.

 The CCF/NDP opposition in the provincial legislature roundly criticized this privatization. However, while in government, the Liberals cited a study by the Unica Research Corp., a Toronto consulting firm, that concluded SaskAir had reached the limit of its growth and would continue to record losses. The CCF/NDP replied that this study had been deliberately timed to coincide with a temporary downturn in the mineral exploration that was SaskAir’s revenue bread and butter.

In the Saskatchewan legislature, Liberal Alex Cameron, minister in charge of the corporation, indicated SaskAir was sold for $947,000, 40 per cent in cash and the balance at 5 3/4 per cent interest over 10 years. Under provisions of the sale, the company was bound to maintain all existing services provided by Saskair: the base and maintenance shop at Prince Albert, scheduled service from Prince Albert to Uranium City, permanent bases at La Ronge, Uranium City and Buffalo Narrows, summer bases at Jan Lake, Otter Rapids, Amisk Lake and Stoney Rapids, plus fire-suppression aircraft. In return, the government undertook to contract the services of the company with a minimum of $275,000 to a maximum of $400,000 as the need arises, Cameron said. See Prince Albert Daily Herald, August 28, 1966, Pages A-26/28

 CCF MLA Eiling Kramer, rarely at a loss for words, told the legislature this sale amounted to "a woman bent on infanticide buying a book on baby care".

 The privatized airline spent several years refining its northern routes, shedding Beech 18s and its overhaul facility in Prince Albert (1966), adding DC-3s and a Bristol Freighter (1969) and moving some maintenance facilities into a hangar at the Saskatoon airport.

 Picking up on SaskAir's plans (from the late 1950s and early '60s) for a north-south service, it sought from 1968 to take over the Prince Albert-Saskatoon-Regina route that Winnipeg-based Transair had been operating at a loss with Viscount, DC-3, HS-748 and YS-11 aircraft for several years.

 1969 -- The third major overhaul of the RCAF's pilot training programs in less than a decade took place. Fleets were rationalized, with each school returning to its roots; Moose Jaw’s 2 FTS to basic flying training with Tutors. Its T-33s were sent to 1 FTS at Gimli. The last T-33 training flight was made on Dec. 18, 1969. See Best In The West, page 135.

 

1969 -- The Canadian Forces’ "Red Knight" one-aircraft display team wound up operations after a tragic accident at CFB Moose Jaw, the Knight’s base for that season. On July 13, Lt. Brian Alston, the Red Knight for 1969, was killed when his Tutor’s engine failed during the low-level portion of a show for a group of visitors from the Italian Air University. See Best In The West, page 135.


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