Stranraer's 'dolly' take off

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As mentioned in the Sunderland thread, this is the largest flying boat take off from a 'dolly' I'm aware of: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_bbSqbT4u2xc/S4O14z2lfII/AAAAAAAAAT0/aHJlt-NsT2E/s400/StranraerTrollyTakeOffCanAv2.jpg In 1962, it 'Flew from Abbotsford Airport runway No. 18 to the Fraser River at Sea Island - took off with the hull resting on a specially constructed detachable 4-wheel 'dolly' from which it lifted off when flying speed was reached. The dolly rolled to a stop at the end of the runway.' (RAF Museum PDF Record Card.) As it was not equipped with brakes, as can be seen above, it was retarded before the attempt by a rope attached to a (presumably full) Shell fuel bowser. This '40-minute test flight, flown by Slim Knights' was probably one of the most 'testing' take-offs in the type's career, notwithstanding the many open sea rescues by Stranraers in the war. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_bbSqbT4u2xc/S4O14c3YWYI/AAAAAAAAATs/r_nQ_JARjmM/s400/StranraerTrollyTakeOffCanAv.jpg (Photo credits Canadian Aviation Museum) For a bit more gen, see th post on my blog here. Comment welcome on the blog and of course here!
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Wow, I'm gllad I mentioned trolley take offs now! That does look pretty precarious though, no brakes is one thing, but what about sudden side gusts, they must have picked the calmest day! Thanks for sharing.

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An assumption I know, but it looks like it may have had fixed axles so no steering. If it was the case, imagine the consiquences should the runway alignment not be spot on!!! - " ooer missus ".:eek:
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It definitely comes under the heading of 'what could possibly go wrong?' 'Errrr....'

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Ah ..... here's to the alcyon days of flying...........long before the Campaign Against Aviation & Health safety got their mits into things.:D James, Thanks for another quirk of aviation. Rad
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Sometimes things just look wrong... Fascinating that the surviving Stranraer flew as recently as the 1960s aswel, imagine if that had been kept on the show circuit!
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It definitely comes under the heading of 'what could possibly go wrong?'
Tethering rope not being long enough...
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Wow, thanks for sharing those James, not one I was aware of before. Risk assessing that would be . . . interesting. But clearly a lot of skill involved in getting it to work, especially with the way the starboard wing dropped in the second photo. AllanK

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Slim Knights info Thanks for posting those pics James. Herman "Slim" Knights was my father and I think this challenge was one of his favourites. Slim learned to fly in the RCAF. He piloted a Lancaster in WWII, and on his return to Canada flew with Queen Charlotte Airlines and Associated Air Taxi on the west coast before starting his own company with fellow ex pow Jack Moul called Port Alberni Airways. After that co was bought up by QCA and part of the group then rolled into PWA he was a bush pilot for awhile and did a brief stint at PWA before being fired for supporting the workers in a union dispute. He started 2 short lived companies at the old Vancouver airport- KCR and Tas, and spent each summer flying air tankers for Skyways. He ended his avaition career as one of the cofounders of Conair Aviation. Henson does have film on the Dollie takeoff as my father was the one who passed on our super 8 movie of the event. Thanks again Karen Knights
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So this thread explains how it took off from the hard runway, but how did it get into that airfield in the first place if there was no water to take off from? Interesting stuff James, and welcome to the forum and thanks for the information Karen.

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How it ended up in Abbotsford This is from documentation from Hendon: "1959: Purchased by Stranraer Aerial Enterprises Ltd of Richmond, Vancouver for possible conversion to water bomber and general freighter. In the water bomber role it was planned to fit an external underwing tank each side giving a total capacity of 670 gallons. The consortium of about a dozen investors was led by Pacific Western Airlines DC3 pilot Mr Jim Lightbrown. See his account in West Coast Aviator Magazine Volume 6 Number 1 September-October 1996 pp.10-12. The aircraft was in poor condition and the Canadian Department of Transport demanded that it be totally stripped and rebuilt. Photos at Vancouver c. mid 1960, minus outer wings; CAHS Journal Summer 2001 pp.57 and 72. The wings were stored at the side of an adjacent hangar. Nov 1961: Very early one morning, towed under police escort on its own beaching gear to Abbotsford Airport for rebuild in No.1 hangar by Aerovive Ltd over a 7-month period costing 40,000 Canadian dollars, including complete refrabricing of the wing and tail surfaces. Given new R1820-97 engines June 1962. Reportedly given DC3 door at some point to permit easier loading of bulky equipment, particularly 45 gallon fuel drums. Sat 10 Jun 62: 40-minute test flight, flown by Slim Knights. Flew from Abbotsford Airport runway No. 18 to the Fraser River at Sea Island - took off with the hull resting on a specially constructed detachable 4-wheel `dolly' from which it lifted off when flying speed was reached. The dolly rolled to a stop at the end of the runway. " For your interest, the drive from Richmond to Abbotsford at that time would take an average car about 1.5 hours. The specially built dollie wasn't much more than a simple cart with a mattress (yes, a mattress) on top of it. My father is apparently one of the brainiacs who came up with the idea. ;) They managed to have the flight insured by Lloyd's of London, but my father wasn't exactly confident it would work out as well as it did, because he decided not to tell my mother anything about it. Instead we were surprised by coverage of the event on our local tv news channel later that evening.
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Thanks Karen. I can understand why they took the risk for the quick take off rather than the slow road journey now. It seems odd that the work was done on the aircraft at a place closer to water though.

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You’re question is a good one Dave, so I turned to my brother, Brian, who is an avid aviation enthusiast and by phone we went through 3 articles he has in his collection. For those who may want to look them up they are: 1. WINGS, July 1962, vol 4 no 7 2. BC AVIATOR, Aug/Sept 1993, vol 3 no 1 3. WEST COAST AVIATOR, Sept/Oct 1996, vol 6 no 1 (an interview with Jim Lightbaum) As stated above, this Stranaer was purchased by Stranraer Aerial Enterprises (made up of Jim Lightbaum, Patrick Watson, TV news host Bob Fortune, Stu Philips and Jim Naylor) with an eye on converting it to being a “firebomber” (now called “water tanker”), aerial forest fire fighting being a growing industry on the west coast of Canada, BC’s forestry industry being one of its most important resources. Jim had discovered the Stranny behind the Queen Charlotte Airlines hangar at the old YVR in Richmond, pretty beat it. He made a deal with PWA, who had recently bought out QCA, for the plane and the spare parts they had. Abbotsford was the closest hangar large enough to contain the stranny for restoration which is why it was decided to move it. The plane was moved via its beaching gear with the tail loaded on a flat bed truck. The estimated rate of speed for the journey would be 20mph. Apparently there was a problem early with the beaching gear overheating but as Jim said, they were “all aviators, so had lots of ingenuity” – which you can make of what you wish. Despite the RAF Museum report above, a police escort was only used to move the Stranny through the Deas Island Tunnel, which passes under the Fraser River, making this Stranny, Jim would say, “the only amphibian that ever went underwater”. At the early morning hour, traffic was almost non-existent. Ultimately, the consortium could not afford to do the water tank conversion. Ward Air offered them a one year lease for the plane, but it had to be fulfilled quickly. Originally they had planned on once again loading the Stranny on its beaching gear and moving it to a river launch near Mission, however, the costs involved in the move and the time to organize it meant they’d lose money on the lease. The chose to try a dollie takeoff instead and built one from the beaching gear, with the axle made from “rusty 4” water pipes”, and a couple of home mattresses. The Dept of Transport insisted that the pilot be experienced on Stranaers, so my father was pressed into service as he had flown them for QCA. Jim Lightbaum was co-pilot and Al Frazier the flight engineer. Abbotsford Airport was nervous that they would damage the runway lighting if the takeoff went askew, and said they’d have to pay $1000 per light if they took them out. It was decided to do the takeoff from a secondary runway with no lighting, but a chance of crosswind. You can see the result in the second picture above. However, Jim said that if the locals who had come to watch expected a crash, they were disappointed and that the take off was easier than getting the plane on the dollie to start with. Hope that fills in some of the gaps. The articles I’ve listed have great pictures. If I get a chance, I’ll try to get some uploaded in the near future.
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Super info Karen, thanks to you and to Brian.
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Thanks for going to the effort of providing the extra info Karen, I hadn't realised that it was re-engined for the flight. Love to see more pics, and info on your fathers time with Stranraers in general.

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I have never posted pics here, so let's see what happens. I went to my brothers and just shot pics of the magazine photos. Yes, they are terrible quality, but you'll just have to believe me, despite the pristine condition of the magazines, they were not very good to quality to start.

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The first pic above is the QCA "Queen of Alaska" before the refit. It's not made clear where this is, but I think it could be where it was found outside the PWA hangar. The second pic is the BXO loaded on the dolly. If you enlarge it you can probably make out the mattress it is lying on. The third pic shows owner Jim Lightbaum in the center of the photo and pilot Slim Knights just to his right with back turned.

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Below we have a shot of the mechanics and others looking at the mounting job.
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Stranny on dollie.jpg 199.03 KB

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One last one of the Stranny in front of the Abbotsford hangar before takeoff.
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