United States Navy. TBM-3. Construction #: 3413.
A brief history of #53551 by aircraft historian Milo Peltzer
Eastern built TBM-3, Bu. No. 53-351, was converted to an anti-submarine bomber (TBM-32S) in 1945. It was placed in storage in 1955 in Arizona. Looking at my 1956 NAF Litchfield Park inventory list, I see 53-351 listed. At that time the airframe had 1024 hours and the engine had 229 hours.
I do know this TBM was considered as one of 10 TBM’s (in the USDA Forest Service inventory) for conversion into an airtanker in 1957, but it was not chosen because they came up with another aircraft with lower time. It later was sold in a 1957 surplus sale (see attached photo). I have no record of it being used as an air tanker in the US. In the 1961 FAA records … N7411C #53-351 is listed for “Agricultural and Pest Control” use. It looks like is was a sprayer here is the USA prior to making its way to Canada.
Harold Parkhurst, Managua, Nicaragua, 1963-1969. Registered as N7411C.
James R. Seel, Douglastown, New Brunswick, 1969-1970. Registered as CF–ZTA.
Miramichi Air Service Ltd., Douglastown, NB
#716 CF-ZTA 1971-1974
Miramichi Air Service was operated by Andrew Retfalvy. In 1970, he purchased a property known as the Douglastown Airfield (now closed) near the city of Miramichi, from James R. Seel, who operated a licensed air service with this TBM, CF-ZTA.
Aerial spray program – NB
1971, 1972 – Pilot Retfalvy. 1973 – Pilot McBride.
1974 – Crashed 21 July 1974, Sevogle NB, after hitting the slipstream of the preceding aircraft on a turn. Pilot Merrill McBride was killed. According to the Department of Transport accident card, “the aircraft dived to the ground at a steep angle during the turn at the end of a spray run.”