British Columbia, Canada
 Aircraft Companies,
 and Airplanes
ca: 1920's to 2012

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Aircraft Section Home Page

Airline Companies
Queen Charlotte Airlines
Associated Air Taxi
Conair Aviation Ltd.
BC Air Lines Ltd.

BC Airways Ltd.
Pacific Western Airlines Ltd.
Trans Provincial Airlines Ltd.

Western Straits Air
Westinghouse Airways
Air Caledonia
Canadian Pacific Airlines
Pacific Airways Ltd.

Helicopter Companies
Okanagan Helicopters Ltd.

Transwest Helicopters (1965) Ltd.
Vancouver Island Helicopters
Northern Mountain Helicopters
Quantum Helicopters Ltd.

Aircraft Repair Shops
Associated Aero Services

Aircraft Sales Company
Vancouver Aircraft Sales Ltd.

Airport-Seaplane Bases
Patricia Bay, Catalina Graveyard

Sea Island

Pilots - Owners Bios
Herman Joseph "Slim" Knights
Robert Benjamin "Bob" Gayer
Arthur John "Jack" Moul
Ashton James Ward "Jim" Spilsbury
Ronald F. "Ron" Connelly
Leslie George "Les" Kerr
Francis Russell "Russ" Baker
John Francis "Jack" McMahon
Edward Percy Hector Wells
William Frederick "Bill" Waddington

BA Concord and RAF Red Arrows
May 1985, taken from QE II

Bristol Type 170 Freighter
First Around the World Flight

Corporate Jets
BC Tel-Telus

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Okanagan Helicopters Ltd.

My old Hat Badge

Company Started in 1947
 with one, 2 seater, helicopter,
a Bell 47-B3, CF-FZX,
and 3 employees.
Carl Agar, ex RCAF flight instructor,
Alfred "Alf" Stringer,
a 25 year old airplane mechanic, ex RCAF,
and Arnold "Barney" Bent, ex RCAF flight Instructor,
started the Company.
Started as a Crop Dusting Operation in Penticton.
company name Okanagan air Services Ltd.

by Dec 1958 they had 54 helicopters.

Dec 1958 Agar was Vice-President
 of research and training.

Dec 1958, Alf Stringer was Vice-President of Operations
In 2007 he was 90 years old.

In 1979 the Western Division head office,
was located at 4391 Agar Drive,
Richmond BC

Craig Dobbin, who started Sealand Helicopters,
in 1977, in Newfoundland,
along with a group of investors,
bought Okanagan Helicopters,
and Toronto Helicopters in 1987,
and formed CHC.
He died in 2006. His son Mark Dobbin
operated the company after his death.

Canadian AStar C-GALO, at Trutch Island BC Tel Radio site
photo taken by Glen Olver, Terrace

Feb 2008 CHC was bought by a Private Equity Fund,
First Reserve Corp. for 3.7 billion!
the company had 300 machines, in 30 countries.

Alouette AStar 350 at Noble Mountain, Feb 2000

One of the founders and owners
of Okanagan Helicopters Ltd.
which was bought out,
and became the Canadian Holding Company,
now simply called CHC.

Carlyle (Carl) Clare Agar, AFC
b- November 28, 1901 Lion's Head, Bruce Co., ON
d- January 27, 1968, Victoria BC, age 66
a one time Ontario Farm boy.
He was a pioneering Canadian aviator,
who contracted his services to Alcan in 1951.
He was inducted in 1974 in Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame.
The surveying for the project took place out of helicopters,
flown by Carl and his men.
He received the Trans-Canada, aka McKee, Trophy, in 1950,
Canada's oldest and highest aviation award.
Carl was an RCAF flight Instructor

One of the pilots was Bill McLeod,
one of Okanagan's original pilots,
who was trained in 1949 by Agar,
who was an instructor for the RCAF.

When Alcan built the Kemano project, mid 50's,
The need for a large Helicopter was required,
to install the powerline from Kemano to Kitimat.
Okanagan Helicopters and Agar
 became the principal contractor.
Okanagan supplied the Maintenance and Pilots,
for the Alcan owned Helicopters.
Primarily Sikorsky S55 and Bell 47 Helicopters were used.
To build this project, helicopters were used
 for the majority of the work
transporting men and equipment.

S55 and Bell 47 Helicopters
at Kemano Hangar Pad
photo contributed by Jim Hanna from Australia

From this old newspaper article we can see Alcan
used the latest machines.
Sikorsky S55
(also known as the H-19 Chickasaw)
here it is called the Giant Egg-Beater

CF-GHV was only the 2nd Civilian Machine of this type.
It used a 600hp, R1340-57 radial engine,
built in Canada by Pratt & Whitney.
The S55 was the world's first certified transport helicopter.
Crew- 2, (Pilot, Co-Pilot)
Capacity- 12 troops
(this article says 10 men, so civilian model
had a little more room for the passengers)
Length- 62ft 7in (19.1 m)
Rotor Diam.- 53 ft (16.16 m)
Height- 13ft 4 in (4.07 m)
Empty Height- 4,795 lb
Loaded Weight- 7,200 lb
Max Takeoff Weight- 7,900 lb
Max Speed- 101 mph (163 km/h)
Range- 405 mi (652 km)
Service Ceiling- 10,500 ft (3,200 m)
Rate of Climb- 700 ft/min (213 m/min)

CF-GHV, bought by the newly formed,
Okanagan Air Service, in 1952, based in Kelowna.
per article, Helicopter came from Bridgeport Conn.
headquarters of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.
flown by Carl Agar.

Another Okanagan Helicopter pilot at the time
was Bill Brooks.
Glenbow Museum has a photo of him flying a S55
flying equipment to the powerline in 1955.
I also found an article online where he flew into a park
near the Cedar Park Motel, in Dawson Creek I think?,
to register, before heading to the airport.
I would love to find more info on this man,
and a photo would be great.
Mr. Jeff Watts who worked in Kemano in 1954-56
called Jan 26, 2012 and gave me this fellows name.

Okanagan used the smaller Bell 47 Helicopters
to retrieve the slings used by the bigger machines.
they were also used to ferry passengers.

Bell 47 helicopter
think it might be a model D

In front of Okanagan helicopters hangar in Kemano.
Grant Walker thinks the lady was their Secretary/Clerk

Fred W. Snell
Chief Pilot for Okanagan in May 1956
May 30, 1956 he was planning a trip
 from St. John's Newfoundland,
to his home base in Vancouver BC,
in a light Bell Helicopter.
He expected the trip to last a week to 10 days.
He thought it was the first time this was done,
in a helicopter.
He estimated 70 hours flying time.

Glenn W. McPherson was President in Sept 1960,
when a sale for $4,000,000.00 was cancelled,
to Bristol Aeroplane Company of Canada
by Sept. 1960, they were the largest operation
of its kind, in the world,
with 61 machines.
It had 172 employees, 118 were shareholders.
Mar 1964 McPherson was President and Managing Director.
He was a Canadian Lawyer,
Colonel in WWII, involved in reparations after the war.

Douglas Dewar, retired financier from Vancouver,
O St Pat Aitkens, an investment man,
helped raise the money for the first helicopter.
They became Directors in the company
Dewar was Chairman in 1954.
Their genealogy report and bio below

Douglas Dewar, CBE
b-  Feb 3, 1882, Burnbank, Lanarkshire, Scotland
(couple records say b- Glasgow Scotland)
(death reg says b- Feb 23, Glasgow)
d- Nov 8, 1965, in Vancouver, BC, age 82
Educated in Glasgow Scotland
son of Mr. J. Duncan Dewar, and Janet
who was the former Secretary of the Clydesdale Bank.
Served his apprenticeship as a Chartered Accountant
in Scotland, before joining the American firm of
Marwick, Mitchell, and Co..
Served in WWI, enlisting Nov 9, 1916 in London.
Next of kin his father, Duncan Dewar.
Worked in the US, in Chicago,
then was sent as Manager, to Winnipeg MB.
Worked there for several years,
becoming a partner in the company,
renamed Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co.
which became one of the largest accounting firms in North America.
He was in Winnipeg until WWII
He was made supervisor of
 the Foreign Exchange Control Board, in Vancouver.
Then he became Deputy Chairman in Ottawa,
of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board.
He became a CBE for his services.
(Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
1943 he received the King's mention
for outstanding voluntary service in war finance.

Dewar married Margaret "Amy" Adair
b- ca 1895, in Owen Sound ON
d- May 23, 1960 in Penticton, age 65
She was a concert and choir singer, who performed in New York,
returning to the Vancouver area.
They lived at 2745 Point Grey Rd in Vancouver,
had a country home, Banbury Point , on Skaha Lake.
In 1949, they had 67 acres,
and from barren land started a fruit tree orchard there.
They had a son and a daughter.

Ormonde St. Patrick "Pat" "Paddy" Aitkens
b-  Mar 17, 1892 in Picton, New Zealand
d- Sept 2, 1976 in Kelowna, age 84
married Feb 6, 1919 in Victoria BC,
 to Phyllis Catherine Gertrude Wollaston
b- 1894 in Victoria BC
d- 1990
daughter of Percy Wollaston
and Alice Mary Ramsdale.
Both buried in St. Andrews Anglican Cemetery,
Okanagan-Similkameen Region, BC.
Pat and Phyllis had at least one daughter, Elizabeth Anne,
 born in Kelowna, in 1928, d- 2010, married a Sager.
Paddy was the son of Rev. George Baber Aitken
 and Mary Harriet Butler.
father lived at Shawnigan Lake, Victoria BC in 1915
Mar 31, 1901 Paddy and his family were in
 Beddington, Surrey, England, age 9
Paddy enlisted in WWI, in Vernon BC, June 21, 1915.
Occupation= Accountant
Member of the BC Horse regiment 1912-13
rank= Lieutenant-Corporal, reg # 628648
Army, Canadian Infantry, 47th Battalion
awarded Military Cross
One of the founding members of
Royal Westminster Regiment Museum
Shown as Lt-Col on their site.
Became Shareholder in Rowland Canning Co,
in 1928, in Kelowna BC
Assoc with Laurel Co-Operative in Kelowna

My old well used Okanagan Hat.

Chronology of Important Company Events

Thursday Sept 29, 1949
A helicopter, flown by Carl Agar, landed in Vanderhoof, for gas,
instead of heading to Prince George as originally planned.
He landed in front of the CNR station,
after circling the town once.
CF-FZX was owned by the Okanagan Air Services Ltd., Kelowna.
He was doing topographical survey work north of Hazelton. 
CF-FZX was
the First Commercially Registered Bell 47 B3 Helicopter in BC
see link below for picture of this open cockpit helicopter.

Agar Helicopter Consultants Ltd. was formed

Dec 1954
First Share offering of $750,000.00
they made applications for service
between Kitimat, Prince Rupert, and Terrace.
using 7 Seater, S55 Sikorsky Helicopter.

1954 formed subsidiary United Helicopters Ltd.
at St. John's Newfoundland

bought Canadian Helicopters Ltd
and Smart Aviation Ltd. both of Toronto.

May 1956
Okanagan Group
Okanagan Helicopters Ltd., Vancouver airport
United Helicopters Ltd., Torbay airport, St John's Newfoundland
Canadian Helicopters Ltd., Toronto Island Airport, Toronto ON
Agar Helicopter Consultants Ltd., Vancouver Airport
Smart Aviation Ltd., Toronto Island Airport, Toronto ON

Dec 1958
Flew 14 S55 Sikorskys on the mid Canada radar line

S55 and a Bell worked for Canada Fisheries in Newfoundland

58 pilots, 85 air engineers,
Fred Snell, Chief Pilot,
Don Poole, Chief Instructor,
Bill Brooks, Senior Pilot on mid Canada Radar Line. (see above)
Tommy Gurr, Chief Pilot, Toronto Base,
 and Bill Finley, Chief Engineer, Toronto Base.
Fred Eilertson, who flew the S58.
S58 with a 225 gallon aluminum water tank
was used to fight forest fires in summer 1958.

Tommy Gurr actually flew up in the Terrace area
in the early 1980's, just before he retired.
I flew with him up around Kincolith,
 in a Bell 206.
We hit an air pocket, or whatever?
coming around the mountain entering Kincolith,
and dropped like a stone.
Tommy fought to gain control
which he did, but after we landed,
I noticed he was as scared as I was.
I quit the BC Tel Radio crew shortly after this.
After many hours flying, I figured my number was coming up.

Ian Kennedy became Secretary-Treasurer.
He knew Glenn McPherson

May 1959
Announced Aerial Ferry Service
between Vancouver and Victoria
using radical Fairey Rotodyne VTOL aircraft.
Used jet propelled helicopter blades to takeoff
then flew as a standard twin engine plane.

June 1962
John L. Nichol appointed Director.
Served in WWII in the Navy.

Mar 1964
Ken F. R. Mair appointed Sales Manager.
he was marketing and sales manager
for Pacific Helicopters Ltd.
which merged with Okanagan prior to this date.

Sept 1964
Air Vice-Marshall Leigh Forbes Stevenson
was Chairman of the Board,
b- May 24, 1895, in Richibucto, New Brunswick, Canada
d- Mar 2, 1989, Vancouver home.
enlisted in WWI in 1914
father- John Stevenson, a surveyor

Claude N. Effinger
 appointed Director of the Company

Nov 1965
Ian Kennedy was Secretary
Nov 23, 1965 appointed Vice-President
and General Manager, as well as Secretary.
(Oct 1970 appointed Chairman of the Board.)
He was a Chartered Accountant.
trained in England and Switzerland.
Lieutenant-Colonel in WWII, POW for many years.
b- ca 1912 in London England
d- Oct 25, 1972, while on business in Toronto, age 60.

Nov 1965
Don Poole appointed Vice-President of Operations.
He flew with the RCAF, awarded D.F.C.
Joined Okanagan in 1951 as a pilot,
became Chief Pilot, then Operations Manager.

Don Crowe, a Senior Okanagan Pilot at the time,
appointed Assistant to the President.

Oct 1968
Signed long term contract with Shell Canada ltd
to service Atlantic offshore drilling operations.
Used a twin turbine Sikorsky with 28 passenger
amphibian helicopter, S61N, that cost $1 million +.

Formed OK Heli Logging Ltd.
1977 they used a Bell 214 to log.

Dec 1972
Fred A. Moore appointed Vice-President of Marketing,
Dan Dunn Vice-President Operations,
Mr. Dunn was a Mechanical Engineer.
appointed by John Pitts, President and CEO

Bell 206
 at Bell Irving Radio Site, ca mid 1970's

Sept 1973
John W. Pitts, was Chairman and President
(appointed Oct 1970)
(He bought Agar's shares when he died)
F. Ronald Graham and Paul Gourdeau
both from Quebec, appointed Directors,

Dec 1974
Hiring pilots for major overseas contracts
using S61, Bell 212, and S58T IFR Offshore Operations.
Ken Blackwood in Quebec,
Al Eustis, and Dan Dunn in Vancouver
accepting applications
Al Eustis flew on special projects at Kemano

June 1977
contract to fly 250 workers/day
Into Luscar's Coal Mine in West Central Alberta.
39 miles from Edson.
28 seat S61 was used.

Same time they took over
Associated Helicopters of Edmonton

Feb 1978
Pilot Dan Hayes age 34 from Mica Creek
crashed an Okanagan Helicopter
on top of a mountain near Revelstoke,
during a ski tour.
Crash killed 4, injured 10 others.

Feb 1979
R. L. "Buck" Rogers, Vice-President Operations
flew with Royal Canadian Navy for 25 years.

David McLean Vice-President engineering
was with Okanagan for 23 years,
last 10 as Engineering Manager.

Employed more than 900 employees.

S58 Sikorsky hauling Diesel Transfer Fuel Tanks,
Refuelling the BC Tel Zymoetz Radio site,
Located in the Telkwa Pass.  ca 1980.
(One of my personal photos)

Oct 1982
United Helicopters Ltd, of Redhill,
a subsidiary of Bristow Helicopters Ltd of England
the Worlds 2nd largest Helicopter Operator at the time,
bought 49% or Okanagan Helicopters Ltd.
Okanagan at the time was 3rd largest operator at the time.
Okanagan had an operating fleet of 140. 
Okanagan Helicopters at that time was a Subsidiary of
 Resource Service Group Ltd. of Calgary
they bought 90% of Okanagan Feb 1982
for a share offering of $21 million.
Okanagan had a staff of 600.
Petroleum Helicopters Inc.
based in Lafayette LA, USA.
was the largest operator at the time.

Nov 1982
Pat Aldous General Manager

1982 Pitts sold his shares to
a John Leckie, who sold it in 1987
to Craig Dobbin, (see above).

John Leckie started Canada 3000
after selling his shares in Okanagan.

My Canada 3000 headphones

206 at Lava Lake BC Tel Radio Site
We were just clearing the site this day.

Canadian Alouette Astar 350
At Noble Mountain, BC Tel Microwave site,
taken by Glen Olver

In the late 70's early 80's
BC Tel signed a year or 2?, lease of a helicopter,
and all we had to do was call, and go.
It was a great way to get around.
We flew many hours, and seen many things,
we wouldn't have seen on a per hour rental.

 More Pilots Info

James Devlin "Dev" Anderson
b- Nov 29, 1941 in Quesnel BC
d- Oct 27, 2011, at a job site, near Golden BC, of a heart attack.
Father- Jim Anderson, Mother- Hazel.
Sister- Janice Anderson.
Moved to Terrace in 1967.
Lived here with his family for a few years.
Wife- Sherry, 2 children
Dev was one of the best long line pilots around.
He flew all the big machines,
Whenever the lift was heavy,
it seems Dev was the pilot in charge.
If BC Tel was doing antenna work,
it usually was Dev at the controls.
He was well respected by everyone in the industry.
When he died he was working for VIH at Golden BC,
building a Powerline.
Service held in Comox BC
I'm pretty sure he was flying the S58 in picture above.
He flew the 204, S61, etc.
If you aren't sure if he was good as I say he was,
read these comments from his peers.

He was semi retired in Comox, he loved sailing.

Dev Anderson and Vern Fredericks (BC Tel)
spent the night due to weather at Meziadin Radio site
206 on the pad under a bit of snow!

Pat Casey
Pat's wife worked with BC Tel in Terrace.
I know Pat flew in Malaysia area for a while as well as
Terrace, Kemano etc.

Les Hanberg
Les was an American, that flew in Vietnam,
He left Okanagan, worked with a fixed wing company
with one of the best bush pilots around Terrace,
Max Neubacher, and other partners, called Terrace Air Ltd.,
Les left to Alberta, and is now retired in Camrose area.
He had amazing eyesight.  he could spot a moose,
or any animal miles away.
He would point out an animal in the distance,
even point to it, we would fly for many minutes,
before I seen anything.  He amazed me every time we flew.
an excellent pilot.  One of my favourites, and my Mom's!.
My personal Les story here

David "Dave" Newman-
aka: "Zoomin" Newman, and "Mile High" Newman
a great pilot and a nice guy to boot!
Base Manager in Terrace for years.
Now retired in Terrace BC
I run into him every so often.
Came to Terrace in 1970.

Dave (left) and Birke Brookbank (BC Tel)
 at Bell Irving BC Tel site
206 in the background.

Bill Hill- Base Manager in Terrace, late 60's

Mel Johnston- Base Manager Terrace.

Gary Thomson- Terrace Pilot

John Morris= Base Pilot
Email I got from John Jan 18, 2016, edited version below:

" I was a base pilot in Terrace from the fall of  1980 to 1983.  If you don’t remember me I was 24, had been flying for 6 years, but I looked like I was 12.  If you recall flying with a twelve year old pilot then you remember me.   One of the primary reasons I was sent to Terrace was to help out with the contract flying.  At the time I was there the pilots were Mel, Pat, Zoomin, Les and myself.  Dianne Elkins was the dispatcher at VXU217 Terrace. 
During that time I met and flew a lot of the Telco crew out of Terrace, Smithers,  Prince George and Vancouver including the aviation guys.  I had a lot of memorable days driving you guys around and running back and forth between the sites like Lava, Aiyansh, Bell Irving, Brown Bear, Meziadin, Stewart etc.  Terrace was a couple of the best years of my aviation career."

Pilots that worked at Kemano, and lived there
Dave Cobley
Don Jacques
Tommy Scheer
Wilfred "Wilf" Pinner
Cory Kim
Dave "Buzz" Alder
Howard Hughes
Ed Brown

Wilf Pinner received the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1946
RAFVR, Flight Sergeant, #1623000
Thanks to Stan Fockner for correcting this man's name

Alcan owned their own machines
and contracted to Okanagan for pilots and maintenance.
They would contract the bigger machines.

Sikorsky S61L C-FOKB, c/n 61-266
lifting a large diesel fuel tank across the Copper River
near the location of BC Tel Zymoetz Microwave site
photos courtesy Brian Wolfe, Ladysmith BC



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and you want them removed from this site,
please contact me ASAP.
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