Aviation- My Early Years In Edmonton

Aviation- My Early Years In Edmonton

Original Post 05/02/2012 

My love of airplanes started in the 50’s and 60’s growing up close to the Edmonton Industrial Airport (CYXD). Fleet Canucks on training flights flew directly over our house as they made the first initial right turn off runway 16 westbound for the practice area. Looking up from my backyard I learned to know every aircraft by registration, color, type and unique engine sound. The airport, being only 8 blocks away, was freedom for a young guy to smell the sweet odor of aviation fuel and dripping oil. To walk freely about the entire airport to look at and touch every airplane in site with no restrictions or fencing to withhold the imagination felt so natural. Type and size did not matter. The grass area was packed with every type imaginable. Mooney’s, Beavers(on Wheel and Floats), Stinsons, single engine Cessna 120’s/140’s/150’s/172’s/180’s/ 185’s/190’s/195’s/205’s/206’s/210’s, Navions, single and multi-engine Piper’s from J-3 Cubs and PA-12’s to Apaches, Aztecs and Navajo’s, DC-3’s, P-51 Mustang’s, Dornier’s, the list go’s on and on. At the age of 13, in 1967, I happened to walk into Mike Hackman Aircraft Sales small office facing the ramp at what was at the time hanger 9. I asked Mike if I could hang around! He said that was fine but since I was there anyway I might as well pick up a broom and clean his floor if I wanted to spend time there often. I jumped at the chance, said yes! The next thing I knew I was going there every day to hang out, clean his offices, and wash airplanes he had for sale that needed loving care. The first Monday morning he came in to a dirty office he was mad as hell because the offices were dirty. He then realized he had not given me a door key. After school that Monday I received an official key. That was the point I knew I hit the big time! I was in!!! I worked for Mike until the summer of ’70 when I started my Private Pilot’s License, officially receiving it in October 1971. Through Mike I met many people in the aviation industry in those days. From eccentric, off the wall types, pioneers, heros to CEO’s. Some of these amazing people from the mid 60’s to the middle 70’s that I met directly or indirectly through Mike and subsequent relationships flowing out from being around the airport are as follows; (I will add names to the list as they come back to memory)

  • Bill Granley- He was a pilot (captain) with Hudson Bay Oil and Gas on DC-3(CF-HBX) and Dornier. Bill subsequently went on to Echo Bay Mines operating a DC-3, Convair 640, and Boeing 727-100. I have his obituary news clip in my Gallery pages.

    Don Hamilton- He was a pilot (captain) with Hudson Bay Oil and Gas on DC-3(CF-HBX) and owner of Arctic Outpost Camps

  • Gerry Loughleen- He was a DC-3 co-pilot with Hudson Bay Oil and Gas who went to Air Canada

  • Harold Rainforth- He was a DC-3 co-pilot with Hudson Bay Oil and Gas who went on to Petro- Canada

  • Kenn Borek- Owner of Kenn Borek Air

  • John Eccles- Parachute Pilot, flew a 1965 260hp 185 with no door for a period of time. I flew with him numerous times with a reserve jump suit on behind his seat hanging on only to the seat brace. Also was in the plane with jumpers exiting. Scared the living s—- out of me! Can’t do that type of thing today! John let me manage the parachute clubs money for the weekend jumps at Horsehill Parachute Jump Centre, northeast of Edmonton. La gotta Love it...

  • Wendell Wehlander- Oil Industry, Owner Mission Mud

  • Charles Fix- Pilot for Al Oemings Game Farm (Owned CF-UQE, C-180)

  • Art and son Rick Spooner- Cooking Lake Airstrip and float base

  • Richard Scott- Owner Thunderbird Shell, Aviation Fuel