Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 2
by Deana J. Driver and Contributors
Published by DriverWorks Ink
Review by Keith Foster
$19.95 ISBN 978-1-927570-50-0
When a Concorde carrying French President Francois Mitterrand landed in Regina for an official visit in June 1987, citizens turned out in droves. Not to see the French president, but to admire the Concorde. Such was the attraction of this supersonic jet, one of the most sophisticated airplanes in the world.
The visit of the Concorde is only one of the thirty-seven chapters of Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 2. This sequel carries on from where Volume 1 left off, with more exciting stories and more thrilling exploits, written by Deana J. Driver and twelve contributors.
Among the authors are Saskatchewan aviation historian Will Chabun, hot air balloonist Malcolm McLeod, and internationally acclaimed humorist and storyteller Vincent Murphy-Dodds.
Driver played a triple role in bringing this anthology together. As publisher of DriverWorks Ink, she oversaw the production of Flight, edited the contributed stories, and wrote a good dozen of them herself.
As in Volume 1, Volume 2 of Flight introduces readers to a variety of aircraft. Will Chabun describes the pros and cons of a number of them. The Lockheed Super Constellation, for instance, was fast and had sleek good looks but had squeaky brakes and leaked oil.
In the 192 pages of Flight, readers will meet a flying farmer, a flying priest, a parachute-packing hijacker, a World War II bomber pilot whose Lancaster was shot down, and barnstormer “Lucky Bob” St. Henry performing aerial acrobatics.
“Lucky Bob” billed himself in 1911 as “the most daring and foolhardy aviator of them all,” executing aerial stunts at country fairs in the Canadian Prairies and northern United States. A reporter for the Regina Morning Leader described St. Henry’s aerial demonstrations as “a series of very spectacular dips which brought gasps of astonishment from the many thousand spectators.”
Pilots displayed amazing ingenuity and resourcefulness. After one landing, Keith Olson noticed that the entire fabric on both sides of the belly of his Norseman bush plane had been sheared off. He’d learned about fabric work while taking an engineering course, so he used a bedsheet from the Hudson’s Bay Company to patch up his aircraft.
Olson’s flights sometimes involved humanitarian work. One of the most touching stories involved his rescue of an Inuit family. The caribou had changed their migration pattern and the family of three was starving. So were their dogs. Olson packed the family, and their dogs, into his Norseman. The Inuit man seemed happier to save his dogs than himself. It was an incident Olson never forgot.
Supplemented with an index and sixty-two black and white photos, Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 2 is full of thrills and spills, a tribute to the pilots and aircrew who made and continue to make aviation history in Canada.
THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM