C-GFPR N3357G / Hemet Valley/Hillcrest/FPL #72 #4 / Bu# 53858

Warbird Registry
Aerial Visuals

Early History

United States Navy. TBM-3E Avenger. Construction #: 3920. Delivered as BuNo 53858, 1960.

Hemet Valley Flying Service, Hemet, CA
#E72 N3357G 1963-1976

HVFS had two tankers numbered 72. The first was N9830C, which crashed 5 July 1959 near Redlands, CA. N3357G was renumbered to 72 in 1960.

HVFS Tanker #72 forced landing_San JacintoCA_Late 60s
HVFS Tanker #72, forced landing on Soboba Indian Reservation, San Jacinto CA, Late 60s.

Aerial Spray Program – NB
1971 – Flew as #72. Pilot Norman.

Hemet Valley Flying Service TBM #72, N3357G, location and date unknown. [The National Archive of Transport Travel and Trade]
#72 at Hemet, CA, February 1972 [Jay Sherlock, Scalefirebombers].

Hillcrest Aircraft, Lewiston ID
#72 N3357G 1976

1976 – Hillcrest Aircraft sold N3357G to FPL in 1976.

Forest Protection Limited, Fredericton, NB
#72 / #4 C-GFPR 1976-2000

Aerial Spray Program – NB
1976 – FPL purchased GFPR in March 1976 for $35,520 from Hillcrest Aircraft, Lewiston, Idaho, then dry leased it from Evergreen Air Services of Montreal. Pilot Gossett. 1977 – Did not fly in NB. 1978 – Repainted and renumbered (#72 to #4) to fleet standard prior to 1978 spray season. Pilot Gomany. 1979 – Pilot Laird. 1980, 1981, 1982 – Pilot Haden. 1983 – Pilot White. 1984 – Pilot Haden. 1985, 1986 – Pilot Garon. 1987, 1988 – Pilot Archer. 1989 – Pilot Ragany. 1990 – Pilot Wilkie. 1991, 1992 – Pilot Popert.

Inactive/Sold – NB
1993-2000 – Inactive, in storage. 2000 – Sold to individual in France but stored at FPL until 2009.

FPL 52 72_ferrying-c
FPL’s GFPR #72 and GFPP #52 ferrying in New Brunswick.
TBM #72 at FPL, stripped for repainting and reconditioning, 1977.
TBM #72, rear view, at FPL, with the orange Hemet Valley colour still visible, 1977.
FPL #4 undergoing mantenance, 1985. TBM #12 FMUD is in the background.
TBMs GFPR #4 and GLEF #8, taken by Don McKnight from GFPT 10#, likely 1978.
FPL #4 for sale, 2000.

Post-spray History

Sold to Didier Chable/AMPAA, Melun-Villaroche, in France and registered as F-WQON. Stored at FPL in Fredericton, 2000-2008, as the new owner was unable to retrieve the aircraft.

Sold to Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum (CWHM), Hamilton, Ontario, 2009. Transported by ground from Fredericton to Hamilton, arriving October 21, 2009. See two images here.

During the restoration of the former C-GFPR, a U.S. Navy insignia of a cat holding a torpedo was discovered on the fuselage. An image was kindly provided by Jim VanDyk, Chief Engineer of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. It is the Torpcat from VT-5 / VA-6A / VA-55 squadrons, which flew TBMs from about 1943 to 1949.

Now on permanent display as C-GCWG at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. It is still “under restoration to flying condition”. See Aerial Visuals for several images of the restoration. A new video of the Avenger’s wing unfolding can be seen on the Museum’s Facebook page.

U.S. Navy torpcat insignia on WQON.
F-WQON at FPL in 19 August 2004.
F-WQON at FPL in September 2005. The French registration is now painted on the side.
F-WQON in storage at FPL, 12 June 2007.
TBM#4 F-WQON mark_12Jun2007-002_crop
Closeup of the F-WQON mark, 12 June 2007. [C. Adam]

3 thoughts on “C-GFPR N3357G / Hemet Valley/Hillcrest/FPL #72 #4 / Bu# 53858

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