This same helo fell on hard times one afternoon after making a regular type landing on the flight deck. One of the droop stops failed to engage and the rotor blade was not properly seated for disengagement. Not having another means of attack, one handy Master Seaman climbed atop the rescue sponson and armed with a broom stick handle attempted to engage the droop stop. When he made his move the handle was picked up by the rotation of the head and came right around and smacked him on the side of the head. He lay unconcious atop the sponson while the then out of control Pedro drooped her blade to the deck which, cut off her own tail and came to rest just above the master seamans head. This practise had been carried out on ocassion at HMCS Shearwater but didn't work at all on a pitching rolling flight deck. Fourtunately the master seamans pride was the only thing badly injured. Four air bosn's from fly-3 were underneath the aircraft at the time and escaped unharmed but shaken.
Who can forget "Maple Spring 1969" on one of our last exercises, when a catapult stop broke, or rather unraveled during take off. The Tracker in tow could not get air borne and settled in the sea directly in "Bonnie's" path. I can still remember sitting in the cable deck writing a letter home and feeling the shudder as the screws reversed direction. John Gemmell and I watched as parts of a Tracker could be seen along side our vantage point. Some how the crew got clear of the wreckage but one of the pilots actually passed through the screw. He came up further back of the ship than the rest on the stbd side. He had lost his leg below the knee. One year later fitted with an artificial leg, he was back flying trackers again out of 880 Squadron HMCS Shearwater.
It used to be fun sitting on the round down of the flight deck and watching the Trackers firing rockets from their wing pods. There was one time I remember that a pilot radioed that he had a rocket hung up and he was doing some bumps and shakes in the air to try and knock it lose. Eventually he landed and when his wheels touched down, a whoosh could be heard as the rocket came out and bounced twice on the flight deck and out into the sea with a trail of white smoke , followed by an explosion. We just never knew what was going to happen next.
This was 1968 off Germany. We had been shadowed by a Russian Bear Bomber for a few days and Captain Falls decided that a visit from the 104's from Lhar would put an end to the shadow. We had just finished securing a chopper midships and I was walking forward when a 104 did a fly by at deck level.Thats 40 feet off the water. Scared the crap right out of me and everyone else on deck. What a power house of an aircraft that was. They were refused a second fly by.
Pedro the squadron work horse was always a welcome site transporting mail between ships and carrying out rescue ops during long voyages at sea.
Lined up, taking off, flying, landing, or moving about the deck, the cs2f Grumman Tracker was a site to behold.
The ASW experts hard at work. Tracker and Seaking.
CF 104's what a power house of an aircraft.
We will never see its likes again, the Royal Canadian Navy carrier group.
Silver Tower Shop Window
LEST WE FORGET
ROBERT HAMPTON (HAMMY) GREY V.C.
The long and proud history of Royal Canadian Naval Aviation came to a close with this final Tracker launched from HMCS Bonaventure, Piloted by Rod Lyons on the 12th of December 1969. Unification had reared its ugly head and Canadas last Aircraft Carrier would be paid off shortly there after .
Going Going Gone
A flight deck officer's worst nightmare
"On 9 August 1945 at Onagawa Wan, Japan, Lieutenant Gray led an attack on a Japanese Destroyer. In the face of fire from some five warships, he pressed home his attack, flying very low in order to achieve success.
Although he was wounded and his aircraft in flames he obtained at least one direct hit, sinking the destroyer. His aircraft crashed into the bay".
Allen Whalley sent this photo of the deck hook off an 880 Squadron Tracker that made the 11,000 th landing on HMCS Bonaventure, Oct 15, 1962.
Lt Ted Gibbon
Lt Larry Washbrook
DND Archive Photo's
DND Archive Photo's
Dave Shirlaw, editor of SEA WAVES magazine sent this cool shot.
HS50 Fly Past
From Eric Edgar
"Tracker Launch Control"
Here we have taken Allen Whalley's 8mm video clips and produced a real time launch and recovery sequence.
To my knowledge Canada's Navy is the only Navy to ever recover a ditched Sea King using an Aircraft carrier as the recovery platform. In 1968 I witnessed this event first hand from the Bonaventure flight deck.
Pedro hard at work during a RAS with HMCS Provider
HMCS PRINCE HENRY
HMCS Bonaventure leaving Halifax Harbor/ SW69-128
First flown in March 1937, the Fairey Fulmar was a large two-seat naval fighter used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. Perhaps outclassed by contemporary land-based fighters, the Fulmar was never-the-less an advance over the naval types it replaced. It had the eight-gun armament of the Hurricane and Spitfire but carried twice the ammunition. It possessed an endurance of 5 hours and reasonable overall performance. It could out-climb navalized variants of the Hurricane and featured folding wings, which the Hurricanes didn't possess.
Consequently. the design saw wide and varied service (including night fighter, intruder, reconnaissance and patrol duties) in the FAA and lasted until the cessation of hostilities. Canadian naval aircrew saw action in Fulmars while attached to the Royal Navy.
Manufacturer: Fairey Aircraft
Crew/Passengers: crew of two
Power Plant: one 1,080 hp (768 kW) Rolls Royce Merlin VIII engine