Friday, February 07, 2014

A-26 Tankers in Canada: Operators -- Conair (part 3 of 13)

Conair, based in Abbotsford, British Columbia flew A-26 tankers for 16 years from 1970 to 1985 (History of Aviation in the  BC Forest Service Part 2: Air Tanker Operations, 2011, pp. 12, 18).

Around the time that the British Columbia Forest Service (BCFS)  celebrated their 100th anniversary, Gord Bell wrote a wonderful three part paper on the History of Aviation in the  BC Forest Service: A pictorial account for the BCFS Centennial. According the author's information (in the appendix of all three parts), Bell worked for the BCFS for 35 years and spent 25 years working with aviation programs for the BCFS. Part 2 is devoted to airtanker operations and provides some history of Conair, some great pictures and a discussion of Conair's A-26 tanker operations. 

When I first read Linc Alexander's Firebombers into Hell in the fall of 2010 I had been writing about aerial wildland firefighting for about 20 months. Before reading Linc's book, I knew little about the Canadian companies that flew tankers. That changed when I read Linc's book, and Linc's book provided me with my first introduction to Conair. Linc's first season for Conair was in 1974, flying the A-26 tanker. He was to continue flying A-26 tankers for Conair for a total of four years (Alexander, 2010, 248-55). 

I read more about Conair when I read Allan MacNutt's book, Altimeter Rising. Allan was chief pilot at Conair for two years from 1975 through 1977 (Mac Nutt, 2000, 202-5, 245). By the time I read Allan's book I was somewhat more familiar with Conair having done more reading about Conair after they first loaned the US Forest Service some of their tankers after the US Forest Service terminated its contract with Aero Union (go here for more information).

I want to share some information about a Douglas A-26 Invader that saw service with Conair: tankers 22. Tanker 22 is preserved in her Conair colors by the BCAM. I have grown to love the A-26 and I think it is great that tanker 22 is preserved in her Conair colors in homage to all the good work that she and her kin did first in military service and later in service as a tanker. One of these days perhaps I'll get to British Columbia and I'll go to the BCAM and see her up close and personal in all her splendor. 

Finally, some of you may recall that I referenced the napoleon130 A-26 Invader tanker website in my acknowledgements when I first wrote about A-26 Tanker last summer.  The napoleon130 A-26 Invader tanker website has a page devoted to Conair, including but not limited to information on tankers 22 and 28.

I'd like to thank a few pilots who used to fly A-26 tankers for Conair for taking the time to correspond with me about your experience with this incredible airplane. Your help was invaluable.

Note: More information on Linc Alexander's Firebombers into Hell and Allan MacNutt's Altimeter Rising may be found in this acknowledgements post from an earlier series on the A-26.

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