Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mary's Mink


The Fly-In breakfast held by the Nanton Lancaster Society was on my agenda this morning and being a airplane enthusiast, I did not plan on missing it. I had attended last year and had enjoyed myself immensely.
I arrived just in time to catch the Harvard in the above photo just lifting off of the air-strip.The HARVARD ( or AT-6, Yale, Texan, SNJ, Wirraway etc....these are all variants of the same airframe), is probably the best known training aircraft of all time. Several generations have thrilled to it's unforgettable roar. (Caused by the tips of its 9 foot propeller going supersonic.) It was used as an advanced trainer by 137,000 aircrew who came from all over the world to learn to fly in Canada during the second World War.
This Harvard reminded me of another Harvard that went by the name "Mary's Mink" I was seventeen years old and taking flying lessons at the time. One of my flying instructors (Doug) wanted to own a P51 Mustang very badly, however the going price of a P51 at the time was $40,000.00 dollars (today the price of a nice P51 Mustang is over a million) and not being able to afford one, Doug settled for a Harvard that were going for about $4500.00 dollars at the time. The other problem Doug had was the fact that his wife Mary was going to kill him when she found out he had bought the Harvard. They were not flush with cash and if they would have been, Mary's dream was owning a mink coat. At the time while learning how to fly, I was living with the owners of the flying school located in a old World War II hanger. After the Harvard arrived and Doug was not around, the guy's from the shop painted the name "Mary's Mink" in red on the engine cowl of Doug's Harvard. To make a long story short, Doug loved it and Mary for some reason had trouble seeing the humor in it. I have fond memories of flying in the backseat of a Harvard that went by the name of "Mary's Mink".

As I shot photos of the various aircraft on this day, I spotted this discarded fuselage lying in the weeds beside this barn and enjoyed shooting photos inside and out of the fuselage. The plane in my photos is a Avro Anson MK 5, a variation of the Mark II which was to be the standard twin-engined trainer for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Anson II's were used primarily to train pilots to fly multi-engined aircraft such as the Lancaster. However wireless operators, navigators, and bomb-aimers used the Anson as well. As a training aircraft the Anson was docile, forgiving, and easy to fly. By May, 1940 British production could not keep up with the demand for aircraft in Canada and Federal Aircraft Ltd. was established in Montreal to produce the Mk II version. In August, 1941 the first Canadian built Anson flew. It featured the considerable use of plywood to save stocks of steel and aluminum for other purposes. A total of 2,882 Mk II Ansons were built during the war by Canadian Federal Aircraft Ltd. The aircraft played a vital role in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Anson's were a familiar sight in the skies of southern Alberta during the war. All were declared surplus at war's end and many were immediately destroyed. Some were sold to farmers who used their electrical, mechanical, and other parts for various purposes on the farm. They became fantastic play areas for children and occasionally were kept as cherished relics.
I shot a lot of photos of a lot of fine looking aircraft and will be posting photos on my galleries soon. The fly-in was well attended with beautiful weather and of course the location is stunning with the Porcupine Hills visible to the southwest and the Rockies acting has a backdrop first for the aircraft arriving and then later flying out. A fun time I must say. Later
Remember- all photos expand

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