The Reid Chronicles –Adventures Aboard Our C119 Aircraft.

This is for information and updates on the restoration of the C-119 "Flying Box Car"

The Reid Chronicles –Adventures Aboard Our C119 Aircraft.

Postby Dave Kolchuk » 12 Jun 2012 11:49

HAG member Bill Reid of London, Ontario served as a flight engineer in the Royal Canadian Air Force on C-119s. He was a member of the 435/436 Squadrons, and flew in our aircraft known as 22103. He posted some of his "adventures" in her and other C119 aircraft on our original MB. We have collected his writings and are proud to present them here.


From my logbook: 6 August 1958,
C-119 22103. Departed Trenton, Ontario at 1300 hours for Greenwood, Nova Scotia. Arrived 4 hours, 20 minutes later. Spent the night. Left the following morning 7 August at 0800 hours for Bermuda. Had to divert to Washington D.C. because of prop trouble. Landed safely. 10 August aircraft 22105 arrived with a new prop and crew to change it out. We took 22105 and went on our merry way to Bermuda and returned to Trenton 11 hours and 30 minutes later.

From my logbook: 28 July 1959,
Aircraft 22116. ROYAL TOUR. I'm not sure how many airplanes were involved in this, but there were a few. We carried a large air conditioner that had to be plugged into the Royal aircraft at all times while on the ground. The aircraft was a T.C.A. Viscount (Trans Canada Airlines at that time, now known as Air Canada). This meant that as soon as the Royal party boarded and the engines were started, we unplugged the air conditioner, loaded it, and took off for St. John N.B. in order to have it ready when they arrived and hook it back up to the aircraft. There were also 3 aircraft for the limos, 2 aircraft for the R.C.M.P. escort and their motorcycles, plus a couple of other airplanes for other misc. stuff such as luggage, news media, and folks there to make sure things went just right. The next day the Royal party drove to Fredericton in a motorcade. After lunch they drove up Moncton where they boarded their aircraft for Ottawa. We were released there and went back to Trenton.

From my logbook: 3 May 1960,
Aircraft 22116. Departed Trenton for Rivers Manitoba to pick up an engine for 22134 which was on Hughes Field, Los Angeles needing an engine change. We arrived the next day. Talk about security. I had never heard of Howard Hughes before, but soon found out who he was. We had to do the change outside in the sun and smog. The airplane was so hot we had to wear gloves. When we got the engine changed and ready to go, we were told we could have the next day off for sight seeing or whatever. Boy, we sure made the best of that. The following day we left L.A. with the old engine in the back. We were just around the Utah area when we lost an engine. We landed at Hill AFB. Now we had to have an engine flown in for us. By the time they got one to us, we had our bad one off so it didn't take long to finish the change and we took of with fingers crossed. We made it home ok. Two months later doing some local flying, we lost yet another engine on the same airplane. 3 engines in 2 months. I'm so glad I didn't have to foot that bill.

From my logbook: 27 September 1960,
Aircraft 22134. It was a nice clear day for some local flying. We were doing single engine landings and after about two hours we received a call from the tower saying they had lost contact with a CF-100. It had been doing some flying about 30 miles south of London over Lake Ontario. They were alerting Search-And-Rescue, but we were already airborne so they asked us if we could go and see if we could make contact with the aircraft. When we got to the area we spotted a large oil slick about two miles out on the Lake with no sign of life. We stayed until the chopper got there and then returned to base. It was quite a trip back. We learned later that there had been two pilots on board. It took a few days to get over that.


From my logbook: 12 October 1960,
Aircraft 22110. Departed Trenton for Greenwood, Nova Scotia. We stayed overnight and flew over to Sherwater the next day to pick up a group of Navy boys for an exercise in Bermuda. Upon arrival we had a two day layover. After we departed Bermuda, about 30 minutes into the flight, someone noticed the two bottom latches on the port engine had come undone. We declared an emergency and headed back to Bermuda. (If those latches let go completely, we could wind up missing a tail section.) The emergency drill was carried out on the airplane and everyone got into their parachutes, the back door was opened and everyone was prepared and ready to leave the airplane. Now, according to procedure, I'm supposed to be the first one out. I was to kick this 20-man dinghy out first and then I go. I'm then supposed to find that raft in the water and inflate it.. Now, I'm standing at the door looking down at the whitecaps and I'm thinking, "I just know there are sharks down there." So then I thought, "If that alarm bell goes off, I'll kick the 20 man dinghy out and step aside, everyone else could go, but I'm staying inside no matter what." Even though we were told we could bring the shark repellent back if it didn't work. Well, everything turned out alright. We landed at Bermuda, got things fixed and headed back to Trenton with no more problems.
This is just one of the things that could happen when you're training people. It was the first time night flying for this particular student. The instructor was in the right-hand seat and the student was in the left-hand seat. We took off, turned downwind and leveled off at 1,500 feet. The instructor then pulled the port engine's power back to simulate an engine failure. (The student was supposed to check power off on the "dead" engine and power up on the good one.) This student checked the port throttle at idle and then pulled the starboard engine back to idle also! Then he just put both hands on the wheel and hung on. At about 900 feet, he lined up with highway 401 where I think he was going to attempt to land the airplane. I was at the edge of my seat until the instructor took over. We finished the circuit, landed and went back to the hangar. I never saw that student again.

From my logbook: 8 January 1961,
Aircraft 22134. Departed Trenton for Winnipeg. On 9 January departed for Churchill. Spent 3 days there with a gas leak. On 12 January departed for Edmonton and refueled there then departed to Vancouver. On 13 January we departed back to Edmonton. It was a wet and cloudy day and about 30 minutes into the flight, we lost an engine. We were still in high cloud over the Rockies. Ground radar got us turned around without hitting anything, (like a mountain). When we finally broke out of the cloud, we were about 200 feet over the water lined up with the runway and when we landed, the trans techs opened the back doors. We had emergency trucks following us. The two passengers we had on board immediately swore off flying, and took the train back east. 5 days later we departed for Edmonton and spent two days later with a regulator change out. Departed Edmonton, back to Winnipeg and on to Trenton. This was a six day trip which turned into fourteen days.

From my logbook: 13 April 1961,
Aircraft 22134. Departed Trenton to Ottawa. I had no students this trip, but they gave me a young fellow to help with the fueling and other jobs. We were going to top up with gas at Ottawa so I told him how to open up the hatch and get up on the roof and I would be there in a couple of minutes and show him where the gas tanks were. When I got to the cockpit, the hatch was laying on the Navigator's table. He had pulled the emergency hatch release handle. When we finished the refueling, I reinstalled the hatch and not having any safety seals I used a thin piece of wire until we got home. Now we were off to Portage Manitoba. It was refueling time again and it was getting towards dusk, so I gave him the flashlight and away he went up on the wing. About 10 minutes later he came back down and I asked him what was wrong. He said he dropped the flashlight. I said he should have called down and I would have gotten it for him. He said "I DROPPED IT IN THE TANK!" Sure enough, there it was on the bottom of the tank, still on. Luck was with me that night. I got a coat hanger and after about two hours and a lot of work I got it out. I had visions of having to drain the tank to get it out. Needless to say, he was a passenger the rest of the trip.
(Posted 3/19/2008) Last weekend I was in Trenton and made a side trip to the museum there. I was talking to one of the tour guides and as usual the conversation got around to "war stories". He said he had taken the radio operator's course at Trenton and on his first C-119 trip to Nassau, they left Trenton and eight minutes into the flight they had a runaway prop and could not get back to Trenton. There is a small airport about 25 miles south of Trenton called Mountain View and they landed there. I had just gotten back from Nassau the day before and got called to go back there after this happened, so that means I had flown with this fellow 44 years ago. That was 12 February 1964. It's a small world.

From my logbook:1 July 1961,
Air Force Day RCAF Station Trenton. The airport is open to the public with an airshow. We were set up to do a monorail drop and everything was going great. Our turn for the flyby. Paratainer doors were open when we were over the runway when the system jammed. When the Transportation Tech finally got it freed up, we dropped across a highway and a trailer court. Luckily, no damage was done and no one was hurt, just some red faces.

(Editor's note:) Bill Reid writes - "Someone took a picture of this - what a surprise when I ran across this in Cannav books. I am in that airplane 51 years ago. (Where were you July 1st 1961)" ?

From my logbook: 11 July 1961,
Aircraft 22101. Another trip to the far north (daylight 24 hours a day). Everything was going great. We started by heading south from Alert to Thule, overnighted at Thule, then it was off to Resolute Bay. We stopped there for fuel and headed off to Churchill. I had two students with me, so I thought I would try to grab forty winks. I stretched out on the troop seat which was just behind the starboard engine. I was just starting to doze when I heard this clink like something had hit the side of the airplane right where I was laying. I got up and checked the engine through the side window and it looked okay. Just then one of the students came back and said we were getting a maximum torque roll but we carried on to Churchill. The next day we headed to Edmonton to get this checked out. When we got there we decided to change the carburetor. When we removed the carburetor, you could look down into the engine and we saw that the impeller blade was badly nicked, so this turned into an engine change. We checked the carburetor screen and could see that one of the holes was a little bigger than the rest. This led us to the conclusion that at Alert or Resolute when we used reverse, we picked up a small stone which vibrated through the carburetor screen and out the inboard exhaust. (Thus the clink I heard). Another 5 day trip that lasted for 11 days.

From my logbook: 9 August 1961.
Local night flying with two new students. They each had two hours the night before with an instructor. This would be just touch and goes and full stop landings. On the third takeoff, just as the pilot called gear up, we blew a hydraulic line inside the airplane. Of course, the students were not trained for this yet. The leak was a pin hole side under 3,000 lb. pressure which we did not know at the time. They asked me what they should do and I told them to lower the gear and do a normal circuit, contact the tower that we had a hydraulic problem and to notify the emergency people. Now, I had to crawl into the nose gear and install the safety pin into the nose gear. We also called to be towed in when we landed as we did not know how bad the leak was and we didn't want to run the pumps dry. Everything turned out ok. The next day when I got to work, I was called into the flying instructor's office and thanked for a job well done. This was a first.

From my logbook: 24 August 1961,
Aircraft 22101. Started off as a nice day when we left Trenton on a round-robin to Quebec City via Ottawa and Montreal and back on the same route. When we returned to Trenton, taxied to our parking area, shut down and were leaving the aircraft, we were met by the CFI (Our boss). I was given two hours to go home, pack my suitcase and return to the Base. We were going to Fredericton N.B. to pick up army personnel from Camp Gagetown and take them to Gander Newfoundland for fire fighting duties. Newfoundland had a lot of forest fires that summer and the Government decided to send the army in. At 1800 PM we left for Fredericton and when we got there we were the first plane to get loaded. We took on two trucks and drivers. I think they were 3/5 ton trucks. Everything seemed normal. We started up and taxied to the runway and did our pre take-off checks. We got clearance for take-off. Everything was still normal and away we went. I was busy watching the power and the temperature settings and everything looked good, but we were still on the runway when I looked out the front and we didn't have much runway left and the trees were coming up fast. Then I could feel the nose wheel lift off and the Captain called wheels up just as we cleared the trees. After a couple of minutes, the Captain asked me to go back and check with the Trans Tech about the weight. When we unfastened the tarps on the back of the trucks they were full of equipment. We were way overweight. The Trans Techs were given the weight of the empty trucks. The Captain radioed the Base and told them of our problem, and to double check the weights. (I'm glad we didn't take on fuel at Fredericton or this story wouldn't be told by me today). When we got to Gander and got unloaded, we had something to eat and took off for Greenwood N.S. to get some rest. It was about 0900. We got about four hours sleep, got up, had something to eat, fuelled up and got ready to go back to Fredericton for another load. This time everyone was checking the weight. When we got to Gander and got unloaded, the Legion in Gander had set up a motel for us to stay in and put up a meal and a few drinks for us, but we were too tired to party. We left the next afternoon for home. It was a long few days with very little sleep.

From my logbook: 5 December 1963,
Aircraft 22101. Trip to Alert. (Alert is the closest runway to the North Pole. It's about 400 miles south of the Pole). Departed Trenton for Winnipeg then on to Churchill the next day for an overnight there. (By the way, we had a load of beer for Resolute. By the time we got there, they had been out for four days). We got hangar space in Winnipeg and Churchill, but now the plane had to be locked up with the brakes off and the tow motor hooked up so that in case of an emergency it could be pushed outside. I had two students with me on this trip so we took advantage of being inside where it was warm and spent some time on the airplane. When we were ready to leave for the night and I was locking up, the duty officer showed up and gave us a hard time and said we could not lock the airplane and it would have to go outside. I made a quick call to the Officer's Club and told my boss what he had said. A few minutes later, one of the student pilots showed up. He was a Wing Commander and the problem went away. (Rank has its advantages). Next day it was off to Resolute. I think everyone at the base was there to unload us. Needless to say, a few cases got broken open while unloading. Then it was off to Thule for the night. The next day it was off to Alert with a stop for lunch. It was so cold we would shut down one engine to let the crew off and then restart the engine and wait for someone to come back so I could go to lunch. Sometimes I would just have a sandwich brought back and we would get out of there. Then it was back to Thule for the night. The following day it was back to Resolute, stop for gas and on to Churchill for the night. Next was back to Trenton the next day. Not a nice time to be flying around the arctic. Brrrrrr.


From my logbook: 8 March 1964,
Departed Trenton at 1100 hours for Winnipeg, Manitoba. Arrived 4 hours, 15 minutes later. Stayed overnight. Departed the following morning 9 March for Churchill. Landed safely. Stayed overnight. Departed Churchill 10 March for Resolute Bay. About 5 hours into the flight, the starboard engine oil pressure started to rise. We had to feather the prop, shut down the engine, and carry on with the other engine for 1 hour and 30 minutes until we did a single engine landing at Resolute Bay. Temperature there was -45 degrees on the ground. It turned out that the vent line for the oil tank was too long and located right behind the engine so the heat from the engine should have kept it warm, but with the engine cowling closed tight there was no heat being transmitted. I cut some of the line off the pipe and with the use of portable ground heaters, we managed to get things thawed out. We did a ground check on the engine and it checked out OK. We departed for Thule, Greenland and after about two hours of flying time, the problem re-occurred and again we shut the engine down, and did another single engine landing at Thule Greenland. This time we got hanger space. I then cut the pipe off up inside the nacelle and this time it really worked. On 11 March we departed for Resolute Bay and on to Churchill. Stayed overnight. Departed for Trenton on 12 March. Landed safely.

From my logbook:
Aircraft 22131. Just one of the things that can happen in the Great White North. We had been up to Alert and back to Thule where we spent the night. The next day we left for Resolute where we would stop for fuel and lunch. (Not this time). A storm came up and we could not land at Resolute, so we headed south toward Churchill. The weather at Churchill was not the best, so we decided we'd better stop at Cambridge Bay for fuel. Cambridge was a dirt runway in the summer and snow covered in the winter. This was winter, so we had to dig 45 gallon drums of fuel out of snow banks and use a hand pump to fuel up. To set up for this we used the fuel from the outboard tanks and kept the good fuel in the inboard tanks for takeoff. I was up on the wing for the refueling. The fuel had to be strained through a chamois to make sure there was no moisture. This was a long and tedious job. (Not to mention COLD!) Everything, however, went well and we got to Churchill, spent the night and flew back home the next day. (For those of you who don't know, Alert is the closest airstrip to the North Pole, about 500 miles south).
Last edited by Dave Kolchuk on 27 Oct 2014 20:20, edited 4 times in total.
Dave Kolchuk
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Re: The Reid Chronicles –Adventures Aboard Our C119 Aircraft

Postby Tom Kwiatkowski Sr. » 12 Jun 2012 15:06

Another excellent job Dave. Much better than what I sent you. Keep up the good work.
That is all,
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