A Fleeting Moment in Time.......

With the day fast approaching, when the restored Trans-Canada Air Lines Super G Constellation CF-TGE would be dismantled and transported to Seattle, I knew there was one more thing that had to be accomplished.  A Reunion.  A Reunion of Old-Timers who had worked on this airplane, perhaps flown this very airplane, way back in time while she was still in service.  People who lived in Eastern Canada - close enough to Rome, NY - but who would be unlikely to make the trip West to Seattle.

I floated the trial balloon, which then moved on to the Air Canada Retiree newsline and Retired Airline Pilot groups.  After a lot of arranging, coordinating, and communicating - the day was set - Thursday 23 July 2009.  People were driving in from Ontario and Quebec and one from as far away as B.C.
  I, of course, came from Seattle.  I had no real idea how many would show up - I was hoping for 6 or 8 -- in the end we had about 20.

As I tracked down many potential visitors, it became clear that many were already gone.  Of those still alive, many wanted desperately to come, but were too old or too infirmed to travel.  This indeed was a Fleeting Moment in Time.....and one which will not come again.  And, none to soon.

A Fleeting Moment in Time

We met in the EAC parking lot starting about 2 hours before the 1:00 start time, in what became a joyous, tearful, and emotional tail gate party.  Friendships were renewed, logbooks were brought out, stories were swapped.  It became clear quickly that what was missing was a TV documentary film crew that could record this event - similar to vets returning to the beaches of Normandy.

  It was that good.

An Old-Timers Super G Tailgate Party

Many of these people were on the "other side" in the dispute with the Canadian authorities, and fought to keep this grand old airplane in Canada.  I think after this day, they all felt she had gone to a very good home.

 Photo:Ken Swartz

L-R  Jay Fancott, Bob Bogash, David Robinson, Clint Ward

The three gentlemen with me here were all retired TCA pilots that had flown this very aircraft.

        Photos: Larry Milberry

David Robinson thoughtfully presented me with his TCA Super G Flight Operations Manual, and a model of a TCA Super Connie that had sat on his desk in Montreal for the past 50 years!  It was very emotional....

Paddy Szrajer and Bob Bogash  
Photo: Larry Milberry

More tears - they flowed like rain - as I embrace one of my best friends - retired Nordair pilot Paddy Szrajer.
Paddy is 89 - a much decorated RAF pilot in WW II - he drove down from Barry's Bay, Ontario.
Paddy, like all of the pilots there, were great Connie lovers.
The last time we had seen each other was at the MCA 50th Reunion in Charlottetown, PEI, in 1991.
Paddy and I have spent hundreds - if not thousands - of hours flying together in the cockpits of DC-4, Connie, and 737 airplanes.

We both knew this might be the last time, on this side of the Great Divide.

Homer Campbell

Homer Campbell was the man in charge of Avionics at Nordair in Montreal.  He hadn't changed a bit since 1968 - 1972 !
The last time I saw him was also at the MCA Reunion in 1991.  (My wife Dot is an MCA (Maritime Central Airways) alumna.)


Clint Ward   

Clint Ward brought his Logbooks.  Here, he's showing Larry Milberry the flights he made in TGE.

Not to be outdone, Dave Robinson shows Kevin Lacey the flights he made in TGE in his Logbook


CF-TGE is Ship 405 in the above Logs.  

Locations flown to by Robinson in TGE on these pages include Montreal, Toronto, Bermuda, Barbados, Trinidad, Dusseldorf, Paris, Shannon, and Zurich


David Robinson's Super Connie Operating Manual and his TCA Super Connie Model

These will ultimately become part of the Super Connie display and historical package.

Larry Milberry, from Toronto, is an aviation book publisher.  He brought copies of one of his books covering Propliners -
Guess what airplane graces the cover???

CF-TGE landing at Prestwick, Scotland - Sept 1954 - Wilf White photo

A lot of autograph signings took place in that parking lot.

Photo: Larry Milberry                                                                        Photo: Ken Swartz

Air Canada sent senior tech man Jack Deonaraine along as its historical rep.  And Ron Rhodes attended - he had helped Phillip Yull in the Regal Constellation Hotel restoration.

After the tailgate party was over, and everyone had apparently arrived, we were then led by Kevin Lacey, our  EAC guide (who took the day off from work to do this), into the hangar to see the Star of the Show.  (Thank you Kev - for everything!)

We walk through the long halls, and the shops, into a big hangar bay.....And, suddenly, .... there she is!
Sitting quietly by herself in the large hangar - like days gone by.....
Soon to depart for Trinidad, Barbados, or maybe Gander and Paris

Larry Milberry

Doggone if she doesn't look like a big plastic model - and not a real live Super G.

Paddy Szrajer    Paddy Szrajer

Paddy...... alone in his thoughts and memories

Don Cameron  
Larry Milberry

Don Cameron - one of the last pilots to fly TGE with World Wide (then registered as CF-RNR)

Jim Dawes of Nordair Maintenance points out something on the Flight Engineer's Panel
Jim's wife Lorna also attended - she was a career TCA / Air Canada Flight Attendant.

Clint Ward   

Retired TCA pilot Clint Ward also checks out the F/E panel, before getting down to business - studying the front panels and bringing back memories of days gone by.

Jay Fancott

Retired TCA Capt. Jay Fancott has that glint in his eye like he just finished a trip 15 minutes ago.


Here Dave Robinson and Jay get down to some real recollecting of that F/E panel - those were the days when Flight Engineers were REAL Flight Engineers, and not side-saddle pilots waiting for the Co-pilot to get out of the way.

Dave studies those steam gages he spent so many hours staring at --  half a century ago.

Dave Robinson

Retired TCA / Air Canada Capt. David Robinson - a very spry 75.

Dave and Jay are good buddies who have been friends since attending RCAF flight training a long time ago.
They both have similar careers - starting on TCA Canadair North Stars, moving on to Constellations, Viscounts, Vanguards, DC-8s, DC-9s, 727s, 767s, and ending up on the Boeing 747-400.

You won't be able to meet people like that much longer - "Old Timers" of the future will be able to tell you stories about starting out in the "good old days" on Boeing 737s, and retiring 45 years later, flying, er Boeing 737s......

Ken Swartz

The two main mischief makers on this project - Bob Bogash, the Museum's Volunteer Project Manager, and Kevin Lacey, EAC's designated Crew Chief for the Connie - standing, very proudly, in front of their handiwork.

I think I speak for many, when I say that every time I see this airplane, I am struck dumb all over again, by her immense size and great beauty.  We're all used to big airplanes these days, and "sleek" jet airplanes.  The Lockheed Constellation's wonderful lines first appeared on the drafting table paper of that great aviation design artist - Kelly Johnson - in 1939.  That's 70 years ago!  It's no exaggeration or over-statement to say that she's held her beauty despite seven decades of younger competitors trying to elbow her off the stage.  And, as Don Cameron illustrates, she's no slouch when it comes to size either.

Thursday, 23 July, 2009, was a day when the human element emerged from the shadows, like the old ball players coming out of the cornfield, and reunited with the hardware - bringing to life the stories and the memories.  Soon, these Old Timers, who flew and maintained and lived with these magnificent airplanes will be with us no more.  We will all be the poorer for their passing, but at least we, and they, could rekindle the old spark, one more time.  

A Fleeting Moment in Time......that will not come again.

And, --  or should I say but -- we will have left this incredibly beautiful flying machine to future generations, to admire her beauty, and ponder those unknown aviators, who have gone before.  God Bless Them All.

Copyright 2009 Robert Bogash.  All Rights Reserved.
Photos are copyright their respective photographers.

Continue on to Transport to Seattle


Larry Milberry's Propliner Book can be purchased by visiting canavbooks.com

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Revised 9 Aug 2009