Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Survivor's Story

As we related earlier last fall, Alena Zimova returned to Gander after 47 years since her survival of the fatal crash of OK523, in order to visit the crash site and meet some of the people that were responsible for her survival. Downhome magazine reporter, Ms Ashley Colombe, was in Gander to record her visit . Her interview with Alena was published in the November issue of the Downhome magazine. They have kindly permitted us to link to their website where their article on Alena’s visit is located. Reading the article certainly will show how important this visit was to Ms. Zimova. We hope to have this article posted on our website in the near future.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Voices In The Wind

Jean (Edwards) Stacey,  a former resident of Gander, is about to launch her new book Voices In The Wind: A History of Gander, Newfoundland.  On Friday, Dec 12 she will be giving a reading at the Gander Public Library from 3:00 PM until 5:00 PM. Another reading will be given on Saturday, Dec 13  at the Bookworm, in the Gander Mall, from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM. The book will be available for sale at $22.95. We here at GAHS had some minor involvement with this book by contributing several of the photos used in relating this history. We are sure this will be an interesting read as well as making an excellent gift, not only for Christmas but for any occasion.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas at the Newfoundland Airport 1939

Jim Strong has sent along some old Christmas cards that his father had kept over the period of time. We have posted them on our website for nostalgic viewing . Christmas cards from a new airport in a strange location must have been received with some curiosity with a world war in its infancy. The cards were not as colourful with the greetings or elaborate artwork we are now accustomed with. Maybe the war was a factor or the Christmas card had yet to evolve as we know it today. Another record of history in the making.

Friday, November 14, 2014

North Atlantic Squadron

It is our policy not to publish web links on our website because we have no control over content but sometimes we have to make an exception. Lisa Daly is in the final stages of publishing her thesis for her PHD in Aviation Archeology and gives us a preview of the subject matter she will be covering. She does this by permitting us to link to her collection of photos, called The North Atlantic Squadron , that she is basing her work on. She will be presenting her thesis in Gander this coming winter/spring if all goes as planned. Copies will be given to the Gander Library and the North Atlantic Aviation Museum. She intends to take chapters from her thesis, adapt them to be separate and a more detailed look at each of the crashes, to be posted on our website. This should be a most interesting addition to the airport’s history.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Bug

Recently we received a letter from Peter Hanlon in Winnipeg asking for information about a train bus used during the war called ’The Bug’ . He had a bought a post card showing a picture of this vehicle. We did some digging and found a column that Frank Tibbo had written a few years back along with some photos. This gem of Gander Airports history is now available for viewing especially for all you train buffs. Definitely a worth while read.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

OK523 Crash: Accident or Terrorism

Life Downhome (a.k.a DownHomer) magazine November’s issue features a story about Alena Zimova’s ordeal on the fatal flight of OK523 at Gander in 1967 . As we have related before, in her interview she insists that there was an explosion aboard the aircraft shortly after lift off  creating a fire storm in the cabin which led to the eventful crash. As for the crew not informing the tower about the explosion could be because it occurred back in the cabin and they were not aware of the fire. Whether  the explosion was from a mechanical malfunction or an act of terrorism we may never know. It would be very interesting if Transport Canada would revisit the cause of the crash  even though it happened some 47 years ago. With the change in government in the previous country of Czechoslovakia some historical data may now be available for release to the public. One must remember in 1967 Czechoslovakia was in political turmoil leading to the invasion by the USSR in 1968.  So an act of terrorism would not be out of the question.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gander's History Donation

Frank Tibbo has put together approx. 200 stories (Beacon columns) in chronological order of the early history of Gander. He is making this history package available in digital form for the sum of a $10 donation in the form of a cheque made out to the Central Northeast Health Foundation . For those wishing to receive a copy please send or bring their cheque to the Beacon office. He will e-mail this history file as soon as the cheque is received. This is a very worth while cause that brings to the donor a very worth while treasure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Contribute To Our Website

We just posted some interesting artifacts from Jim Strong recently. Jim came across some old school books and some memorabilia from his father’s collection from back in the 30s and WWII eras. We appreciate Jim’s contribution to our website. This sort of information at times is forgotten as being important in recording some of our history. Sometimes people think that a photo or a receipt of some sort may seem unimportant. We feel every item you may discover is vital for us to relate to the airport’s history. That photo of someone standing in front of a building, car or airplane may not seem important but the building or event in the background is. Send it along and let us decide. We need as much information as you can give.

Friday, October 3, 2014

GAHS Special Honour’s List

The Gander Airport Historical Society has recently established a honour’s list to recognize those whose assistance has further led to preserving the history of Gander International Airport. We recognize;

  • Dr Peter Blackie
  • Ethel Fogwill,
  • Maurice Geange 
  • Frank Tibbo

Their contribution is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

OK 523 Memorial Planned

At the annual Board of Directors meeting recently it was decided that the GAHS would arrange to have a memorial for OK 523 erected at the scene of the 1967 crash site in the early summer of 2015. A simple stone monument with a plaque attached is planned. Work is under way to obtain the appropriate permissions, and to inform all interested parties. More information on the expected dates of commemoration will be made during the spring.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Shell Oil Finally Leaves Gander

Shell Oil, probably one of the oldest corporate companies associated with Gander airport, recently had it’s last oil tanks removed from the airport property. Rod Hayden, the first Shell manager came to Botwood first and then on to Gander when the airport first opened. He was the only civilian American before and during the early war days. He lived three houses down the road from Charlie Blackie’s residence on Chestnut St. and was the unofficial US Consul for Gander.  Americans of note were invited to his house when ever they visited Gander. Peter Blackie remembers Gene Autry, who was a copilot on a Liberator tanker, once visited  there. Shell Oil, as many older Gander residents can remember, was a major employer during the airports heyday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beacon Story of Alena's Visit

The Gander Beacon this week published a front page story about the visit of Ms. Alena Zimova’s sentimental visit to Gander. We take it upon ourselves to make this story available to those who do not have the opportunity to read this article. The reporter, Brandon Anstey, was very accurate in relating the events that unfolded. He did a job well done.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Czech Crash Survivor Visits Gander Airport

The long awaited arrival of Ms. Alena Zimova finally arrived this past weekend. Alena survived the 1967 crash that occurred on Sept 5 of that year. She, along with her son and son in-law, arrived on Sept 12 and left today Sept 16. The GAHS were very happy and proud to be a part of organizing her visit. In particular we thank the cooperation and help of The Gander International Airport Authority, Dr. Peter Blackie, Ethel Fogwill and Maurice Geange. Ethel was the nurse in the Emergency room and Maurice was a part of the Airport Rescue team that eventful night. The crash site visit was carried out by the airport authority as well as a sponsored reception in the International Lounge that  evening. There she met and spoke with those who assisted in her rescue 47 years earlier. It was very moving to see Alena’s reaction and showing her appreciation to the welcome she received. We intend to make more comments on this event in the near future.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Canadian Lancaster Update

A special thanks go out to Mike Mcanany for sending along this special link from the air demonstration of the only two Lancaster’s capable of flying, in the world, over England during the last few days. This scene of the British and Canadian Lancasters flying in formation later accompanied with a Spitfire and Hurricane fighter is something to see. This is a flash back to the past.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stuart McLean Revisited

I am sure many of our reader have listened to Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe on CBC Radio. Likewise many of our readers are new to the Coffee Shop, not reading some of our past publications. We thought with all the airport’s terminal controversy going on it would be worth while to revisit the Vinyl Cafe’s past live performance in Gander and listen once more to his views on the history of Gander Airport. Just goes to show why we here at GAHS feel it is so important to not forget what Gander’s role was to world aviation. Sort of stimulates the pride we once had and should keep it alive.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy Gander Day 2014

Gander Day will be be celebrated  on Aug 1-4 and we are expecting it be the normal success as we have become accustomed. In preparation we here at GAHS will be adding a new section on our website in the War era to commemorate the event. Thanks to the Gander Beacon and Frank Tibbo, the new added section will be dedicated to the Sir Frederick Banting aircraft accident in 1941 . This long forgotten item in Canada's history has been neglected for too long. It is our intent to readdress this event of it's importance to the history of Gander Airport.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Airport in the News Again

This week’s Beacon announced that the GIA International Lounge is on Canada’s Top Ten list of endangered places by Heritage Canada’s National Trust. The GIAA is not replacing the present terminal because it wants a new terminal so let’s address the elephant in the living room. The present place is too expensive to maintain, realizing present income. The solution is simple. In order to keep the present terminal they need more money. So you either increase the taxes (not a good idea), or somehow give them more money to offset the high maintenance costs. The problem is now in the hands of the Municipal, Provincial and Federal governments. The choices are, an airport that is financially viable without change or an airport financially viable by destroying a heritage treasure.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Website Alteration

For those of you who are frequent visitors to our mothership http://www.ganderairporthistoricalsociety.org , you may have noticed we have discontinued the 'Guest Book' from the home page. It was felt there are adequate avenues to communicate via this blog or through our web-mail. If this brings about problems that might arise, we will put it back up again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Introducing Lisa Daly, Aviation Archaeologist

We are pleased to announce that Lisa Daly, a PhD student at MUN dealing with World War II in Gander, specializing in Aviation Archeology, will be contributing her research papers for our purposes here at GAHS as well as having an input on our website. Lisa is a welcomed addition in assisting us in bringing more of the Airport’s history to light. She has been researching plane crashes in Nfld. and Labrador, especially at Gander Airport since 2011. Her papers and photos are made available for viewing on her MUN website . She also keeps a blog called ‘Plane Crash Girl’ which is worth the read. Lisa's presence will certainly add to the GAHS's credibility as an historical society.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Gander Lake Dive For Plane Wrecks

It looks like Tony Merkle’s Gander Lake Dive project for crashed WWII aircraft is starting to fall into place. An article published by the Gander Beacon this week, and carried by the Evening Telegram , gives more in-depth information on exactly what Tony is looking for. All permits have been issued so exploratory work will soon commence. From reading the article one must agree that Tony’s team of divers might just find something. Whether the condition of the wrecks will be salvageable is something we will have to wait and see. It is interesting to know there are still three missing airmen that were aboard one of the crashed airplanes being sought . The Military’s involvement in retrieving the remains of the airmen will certainly be a priority for them. We plan on relating up to date reports as they are made available to us.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our Newest Board Member

The GAHS would like to welcome Dean Cull as our newest Director to our Board. Dean is retired and living Gander. He will be passing along his experience in aviation as a licensed commercial pilot, airline dispatcher, Manager of Hemeter Aviation and Manager of Irving Aviation. With his life time work at Gander Airport, Dean has a keen interest in the airport’s activities and keeping it’s history preserved for the future. He will be an asset to our group and we look forward to working with him.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

OK523 Crash Survivor Visit Plan in Progress

In making plans for the Czechoslovakian survivor visit on September 12, Alena will be arriving in St. John’s and driving to Gander with a planned side trip to the Bonavista area for a sight seeing tour. We had contacted the Hotel St. Jude's in Clarenville to book rooms for this side trip. On learning the reason for Alena’s visit to Gander, the St. Jude's management has offered complimentary accommodations while in the Clarenville area. Alena’s visit is already  starting to create a stir in our hospitable spirit. We thank Hotel St. Jude's for this fine gesture of hospitality . 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

GAHS Director Nomination

The GAHS Board of Directors is requesting a position for an additional director from Gander. The need for an extra director is necessary because we feel the town of Gander is not represented sufficiently to meet the Board's needs. Those who are interested please forward your intentions to serve as a Director to gahs.webster@gmail.com for our consideration no later than June 30.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

GIAA Has A New President & CEO

Our congratulations go out to Mr. Reg Wright who has been appointed as the new President and CEO for the Gander International Airport Authority
replacing the retiring Gary Vey. In the past we have had a great relationship with Reg while being Manager of Marketing and I am sure this will continue in his new position. We wish him all the best in his endeavours and that goes also to the GIAA. From where we sit their plate looks pretty full.

Monday, May 26, 2014

1967 Czech Crash Revisited

We have just posted a new page about the 1967 Czech Crash on our website. The information it contains is from an aviation column published in the Gander Beacon in December of 2013 written by Frank Tibbo. This a great column where it describes almost every detail of the flight itself, the rescue of the survivors and a very interesting hypothesis by Frank as to why this accident happened. Some very good research went into this column and worth while reading.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Back to Bomber Command

There are only 2 Lancaster bombers that are airworthy in the world. One in Canada and one in Great Britain. Canada’s Lancaster will be flying again across the North Atlantic to join her sister in an airshow this summer. The Lanc will be touching down in Newfoundland and Labrador for refuelling but unfortunately it will not be in Gander but Goose Bay. The flight route will take her over Greenland and Iceland enroute to Great Britain for a Bomber Command visit at the Royal Air Force station in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Gander Airport Terminal Information

Gander airport’s most used topic recently has been about the proposed replacement of the present terminal. In particular, the artistic design of the building. CBC News has recently presented a very fine video showing these items with commentary from Alan Elder, a curator for the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, about the historical and artistic significance of the Gander Airport terminal. One thing to take note during the video is that this building, constructed in the mid 1950's, was the first of it’s kind in Canada and was used as a model for other terminals across the country.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Online Petition To Preserve Gander Terminal

Since our last post with reference to the Gander Terminal, it has come to our attention that an online petition has been put in place to ask for provincial and federal support in preserving this building for it’s historical value. The petition is poorly written in that it stipulates the airport itself is up for grabs and not specifically the terminal. Other than this minor detail, we agree whole heartily in seeking this support. We also agree that the GIAA has the right to manage it’s finances prudently and do what is best for the survival of the airport itself. We are confident that the GIAA has every intention in preserving the artifacts from the present building. The problem we face now is whether or not there is enough support out there to come up with a solution that will satisfy everyone.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gander Airport To Get Their Fourth Terminal

The Gander International Airport Authority is considering building a smaller airport terminal building to replace the present one for financial reasons. A news item has been released by the CBC news explaining the situation. The question is not should be it be replaced but what to do with the present terminal? Hopefully this will be answered with open minds and common sense. We are confident this will be resolved with some good discussion.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Down Homer article

We recently have learned that the monthly magazine publication of Down Homer has contacted us for more information on Ms. Alena Zimova’s planned visit to Gander to tour the original crash scene of Czechoslovakian flight 523. The Down Homer will be doing a feature article about this accident featuring Ms. Zimova who was one of the survivors on that fateful flight.This visit is certainly generating a lot of interest about the aircraft accident that occurred some 47 years ago. So much, in fact, we decided that our website should document some of the history behind this tragedy. We have since added a new section in the Transition era for your viewing. We will be providing more documented information to this section in the near future.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Old Canadian Side

We have just received a request for information whether they could visit an area in Gander where their grandfather once lived. He was a doctor in the RCAF and served in Gander at the military hospital during 1944-45. Letters he had written to his wife during this period depicts a very interesting way of life during this period. After viewing these old letters the grand children now would like to visit this area and walk the same streets as their grandfather. We have informed them that the streets are still intact for walking but unless they were familiar with the area it may be difficult in locating particular areas that would interest them. This is unfortunate because there are no guided tours available. A few years ago this area was refurbished somewhat with street and building signs posted that would make a visit of more value but now is in a state of disrepair. This makes our project to construct a table model of the old airport town all that more important.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

St. John's Philatelic Society

The St. John’s Philatelic Society has visited our website and discovered several articles we have posted concerning postage stamps and envelopes from Gander during WWII and post war eras. They asked for and received R. Pelley’s permission to publish these articles in their news letter. The first was published this month with plans to publish others. This gives us great pleasure in knowing the research carried out documenting the airports history has a value appreciated by others.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A School History Project

It has been suggested by others in our group that it would be an interesting project for our schools to encourage students to study & research the history of Gander and it’s pioneers. Such a project would be a benefit in their education and to provide valuable research by seeking out old photos, interviews with those that lived in the old town and maybe discover lost journalistic articles. The GAHS would be more than happy to assist in setting up such a project.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Czech Flt 523 Crash, 1967 (revisited)

We have been in receipt of of some very dramatic photos of the Czech crash at Gander in 1967. In one photo in particular, from viewing the debris field, it is amazing there were any survivors. The unsung heroes that never receiver any public acknowledgement were the Airport Rescue Team that were responsible for the success in the rescue of the 34 survivors. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Beatles at Gander Airport

We just received a phone call from a Mr. Eric McDow, a retired director of the American Federation of Musicians Lcl 571, with a question on Gander Airport’s history. He went on to say that this coming Sunday (Feb 9) is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. During a discussion with one of his comrades he made a comment that it was 50 years ago that the Beatles first touched down in North American at JFK. His comrade corrected him by saying the Beatles first touched down at Gander Airport when their PAA B707 landed for refuelling due to unfavourable winds on their way to JFK. This was the purpose of the phone call. Did the Beatles land at Gander on their way to New York? We were asked to confirm. The answer is ‘YES’. Not many people are aware of this event but they did indeed land at Gander Airport. He was then directed to listen to Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe in Gander for confirmation. The GAHS is quickly becoming a source of unusual tidbits of historical information.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Resettling of Gander Airport

Here is a topic for some thought/discussion. Was Gander the first community to be government resettled in Newfoundland? The airport town was occupied by civilians theoretically at the pleasure of Canada’s  Dept of Transport. They (DOT) more of less inherited the town as part of the airport transferal when Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. The town was a thorn in DOTs ability to manage the airport unrestricted. A new town where the citizens could be moved became their priority. With joint provincial and federal government agreement they assisted financially and technically in building a new residential area just a few kilometres away from the airport property. Schools, churches, a hospital, a shopping area along and federal  government’s  CMHC assisted housing, were erected in the new town we see today. After the population were relocated, the old town was dismantled and destroyed. The novelty of a new shopping area, new schools, and new homes was readily accepted by the population with some regrets. Even though it was just a short distance away, being uprooted and moved to a new location took a lot of adjustment. Especially when the place you were familiar with, no longer existed.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ferry Command Pilot

Captain Don McVicar OBE was a part of the civilian Ferry Command group that flew out of Gander to Britain during the war. After the war he formed World Wide Aviation Consulting, ferrying aircraft through out the world. When he retired he wrote 12 books, many of them telling of his exciting career as a pilot. One book in particular was entitled Ferry Command Pilot. His daughter Donna McVicar-Kazo has dedicated a photo gallery page on her website from her father’s photo and sketch collection for your viewing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Corporate Sponsor

We would like to introduce our new corporate sponsor, Alistair Ingram Medicine Professional Corp. Dr. Ingram is a Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Nephrology, McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. Dr. Ingram was very generous in making an unsolicited donation to the Gander Airport Historical Society. Dr. Ingram has indicated to us he has pleasant memories of Gander Airport.We are pleased to add his name as one of our corporate sponsors.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

OK523 Crash Survivor to Visit Gander

On Sept 5, 1967, OK523 (Czechoslovakian Airlines) crashed while on departure. Of the 69 passengers onboard, 34 survived. We here at GAHS have received a request from a family whose mother was a survivor on OK523. The mother is about to celebrate her 80th birthday and wishes to visit the crash site and tour the airport this year. They asked if we could assist her in organizing these tours. Indeed we can and it will be our honour to do so. We are now in the stages of planning a first class welcome for this lady. Plans will also include meeting with hospital staff and airport rescue personnel who assisted in her survival. We are expecting a lot of support from everyone in Gander on her visit in early September. Gander’s hospitable reputation will be in good hands. We will keep everyone informed of our plans for her visit as they develop.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ferry Command history revisited

In the past month we were contacted by Ted Beaudoin of Wellon, Ontario expressing his interest in our website along with his compliments. He is in the pre-publishing editorial stages of a book he has written on the civilians who participated with Ferry Command during the war. His book, titled ‘Earth Angels Rising’, pays tribute to the people and the legacy they have passed along to the commercial aviation system of today. This book promises to be very interesting and informative as it will deal extensively with Gander Airport’s participation. Further information can be learned from his Face Book page which deals with the subject. Also the Gander Beacon recently reported on the Mr. Beaudoin writings which is definitely worth the read.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Newfoundland Quarterly

Just prior to the holiday season we were informed the Newfoundland Quarterly is considering publishing an article about the Gander Airport Historical Society this coming year. The Newfoundland Quarterly is a cultural journal of Newfoundland and Labrador and is published by Memorial University. This is quite an honour to be introduced to the historical interests of Newfoundland and Labrador. An introduction such as this should give the GAHS credibility as a bona fide historical society and open many doors for us in the future. More details to be provided when a date has been set for publication. Our thanks go out to Rev. Marion Pardy, a GAHS Board Director, for making these arrangements.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year

We here at GAHS would like to wish all our visitors at the Airport Coffee Shop and the GAHS, a Happy New Year.  As we celebrate our first anniversary we thank everyone for their patronage in making 2013 a major success. We look forward to the year ahead of us. The holiday season has brought several developments to our attention that we will be bringing  to the forefront in the next few months. We expect a very exciting and informative 2014. Thank you all.