Air Spray Ltd., Wetaskiwin, Alberta
Air Spray supplied only one TBM for the spray program, which crashed in 1960, its only year in NB. There is no record of its sister aircraft, FKPJ, which went to Sis-Q as N68663 then Evergreen as C-GLEG, ever coming to NB. Perhaps it did? Furthermore, the article below mentions that the company had “a trio” of Avengers.
Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame is also located in Wetaskiwin, which is just south of Edmonton, Alberta.
An article on the history of Air Spray can be found here (Position Report: Vintage planes dousing flames. A position report on Air Spray. Wings.). An excerpt follows:
In February 1954, 27-year-old David Harrington created Airspray Ltd. in Wetaskiwin, Alta. The company provided crop dusting services with light aircraft …. In July 1961, Airspray was awarded its first fire suppression contract from the Province of Alberta. Its expanded fleet now included a trio of Grumman TBM Avengers and a pair of Boeing Stearman biplanes [one of which sprayed in New Brunswick for a year or two -CA]. In 1967 Harrington renamed the company Mercury Flights Ltd., but later that year it became Air Spray (1967) Ltd.
Hicks and Lawrence, Hillcrest, Maritime and Miramichi Avengers
The ownership of this group of twelve Avengers jumped around among one U.S. and three Canadian companies for a period of eight years. All were of U.S. origin. Nine crashed and were written off, and only two survived to 1985 when they were sold by Hicks and Lawrence. The twelfth is at a museum in Alberta.
They can be roughly divided into four groups:
1) Hillcrest Aircraft and Miramichi AS, later Hicks and Lawrence Ltd. (FBEF and FBEG)
2) Hillcrest Aircraft and Miramichi AS only (FXOM, FXON, FXOO)
3) Maritime AS and Hicks and Lawrence Ltd. (FZTA, FZTR and FZTS)
4) Hicks and Lawrence Ltd. only (FBQS, FBQT, FZYB and FZYC)
|Cdn. Reg’n.||BuNo||Tail No.||Origin||U.S. Reg’n.|
|FBEF||53078||#110 / A25||I. Gustin||N68683|
|FBEG||85983||#01 / 1||Simsbury||N4039A|
|FXOM||69325||#900 / 18||Aero Insect Control||N1044|
|FXON||85829||#911 / 17||Simsbury||N6584D|
|FZTR||53775a||#A18 / A18||US Navy||N4173A|
A jumble of Hillcrest (Hill – bold), Maritime (Mar) and Miramichi (Mir) avengers in the mid-spray period, 1969 to 1976, followed by Hicks and Lawrence (H&L) avengers, 1972 to 1984. There is a two-year gap (1971-72) in FXOM where the ownership details are lacking.
JD Irving Ltd., Saint John, New Brunswick
JD Irving Ltd., under its Forest Patrol Ltd. name, conducts aerial herbicide application and forest protection work for its parent company in Canada. One of its aircraft was associated with the FPL spray program during the late sixties, and possibly earlier.
Maritime Air Service, Moncton, New Brunswick
Maritime operated three TBMs out of McEwen’s Field, near Moncton, NB, in 1969 and 1970 (see tables above). FXOM and FXON were sold to Hicks and Lawrence and FXOO crashed in Newfoundland in 1969.
Miramichi Air Service, Douglastown, New Brunswick
Miramichi Air Service was operated by Andrew Retfalvy. In 1970, he purchased a property known as the Douglastown Airfield from James R. Seel, who operated a licensed air service with one TBM (CF-ZTA). According to a letter to FPL dated 7 December 1971, General Manager Paul Daigle asked FPL if it was possible to temporarily import #A25 under Miramichi Air Service Ltd., in order to work the coming season with FPL. This aircraft and one other (N4049A, later FBEG) were still registered in the United States, and he did not think that it would pass the inspection date of 15 February set by the Canadian Transport Commission. Only N68683 worked in NB that year.
See tables above for details of the aircraft.
Hicks & Lawrence Limited, Saint Thomas and Tillsonburg, Ontario
Hicks & Lawrence supplied seven TBMs to the spray program from 1971 to 1984 (see table sabove). This company had its TBMs painted in several colour schemes. Hicks and Lawrence has operated since 1947 and now operates out of northern Ontario (Dryden) as a wholly owned subsidiary of Discovery Air Fire Services.
A Brief History of Hicks Aviation
Edited from the company’s website, now private:
Mervin A. L. Hicks (1915-2001) became a pilot in 1941, after constructing airports pre-WWII. … He retired from the R.C.A.F. as a flight lieutenant, and started a flight school near his hometown of Tillsonburg at an abandoned military base. The Government Asset Corporation offered the base to the town for $1. Merv leased the land from the town, and what became known as the “Hicks & Lawrence Airport” was born.
Tom Lawrence was in Merv’s first class of students, and they went on to form Hicks & Lawrence in 1947. Tom was to be in charge of the agricultural end of the business, which started by growing corn on the airport grounds, and grew to include what was the foundation of a 65 year old company – crop dusting. The company was first marketed agriculturally in the large local tobacco market. They operated J2 and J3 Cubs, and on to Stearman aircraft in the 1950’s. They purchased war surplus aircraft, including many Harvard’s and B25.
Mervin’s son Duane Sr. expanded to St. Thomas and operated the airport there, while expanding into the North including fire bombing and birddog operations in Dryden. They also operated Grumman TBM Avenger aircraft equipped with a hopper and spray nozzles, spraying in New Brunswick every year from 1969 to 1985. Other spray contracts led to the acquisition of more modern aircraft, such as the PZL-Mielec M-18 Dromader.
Duane Sr. took over the company in 1987, and a year later obtained a large fire detection contract with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. At this point Hicks & Lawrence was operating up to 38 aircraft between spray, detection and birddog operations. Duane Jr. … took over aerial (spray) applications in 1989, and sold the spray business less than 8 years later to focus on aerial fire. He purchased the rest of the company in 2001.
Duane Jr. revolutionized the company by closing St. Thomas operations (moving headquarters to Dryden) and by implementing many operational changes. … Hicks & Lawrence was the first of many acquisitions by Discovery Air, which now operates over 160 aircraft. …
… Duane and his son Michael started consulting. Hicks Aviation in its current state was born. …
NORFOLK AIR SERVICES (1970-72) / Norfolk Aerial Spraying Ltd. (1973-85)
Simcoe, Ontario, and Fredericton, New Brunswick
Norfolk obtained three TBMs from Air Tankers Inc., Newcastle, Wyoming, in 1973. Also from Sonora Aviation Inc., Tuscon, Arizona and Carson City, Nevada, and D&D Aero Spraying, Rantoul, Kansas. Norfolk supplied seven TBMs to the spray program from 1970 to 1983, and, in later years, also M18 Dromaders. In 1985, Norfolk relocated it’s Fredericton facilities to the Evergreen hangar at the Forest Protection Limited facilities. In 1986, listings for Canadian Companies says that NAS Ltd. Is “Inactive – discontinued on 1986-10-27”. All the Norfolk aircraft with the possible exception of CF-AXS sported a Canadian flag on the tail or on the nose.
Avengers owned by Norfolk Aerial Spraying from 1970 to 1983, with FPL tail numbers.
|Reg’n.||BuNo||Origin||US Reg’n.||Tail #||Colour|
|C-FAXS||53209||Sonora||N7960C||002 / 2 / B17||Grey, white trim and top|
|C-FAYG||53829||Sonora||N9591C||005 / 5 / B20||Orange-red and grey, white trim —> All grey, white trim and top —> Deep yellow with black trim|
|C-FAYL||86091||D&D||N9307Z||001 / —||Grey with distinctive red-white-red nose|
|C-GLDX||53768||Air Tankers||N10361||B18||Pale yellow – later deep yellow – with black trim|
|C-GOBJ||85632||Air Tankers||N7002C||B15||Pale yellow – later deep yellow – with black trim|
|C-GOBK||69531||Air Tankers||N17930||B19||Pale yellow – later deep yellow – with black trim|
|C-GOEG||69361||Air Tankers||N9596C||B16||Pale yellow – later deep yellow – with black trim|
Avengers owned by Norfolk Aerial Services from 1970 to 1983. AT is Air Tankers Inc. of Wyoming.
|Cdn. Reg’n.||Tail No.||Crashed||1970||1971||1972||1973||1974||1975||1976||1977||1978||1979||1980||1981||1982||1983|
|CF-AXS||2 / B17||15-Jun-79||—||—||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||x||x||x||x|
|CF-AYG||5 / B20||—||—||—||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓|
|CF-AYL||001 / —||17-Jun-73||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||✓✓||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Number that flew on spray program||1||1||3||3||4||5||6||6||6||5||4||4||4||4|
Richel Air, St-Jean, Quebec
According to Barrie MacLeod’s research in the Civil Aviation Register for 1961, the two Richel Air Avengers were former USN then RCN aircraft: CF-JJB and CF-JJC. The latter is BuNo 53078, which became CF-BEF under Miramichi Air Services. These were apparently the only two “high top” Avengers built. FJJB flew in NB in 1960, but FJJC only flew in NB under Hillcrest Aircraft and later Miramichi Air Services ownership.