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In a Moon's Course ....

Trans-Canada Airlines: the delivery of Viscount No. 604

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April 2013 was the end of the 75th anniversary year of flying for Air Canada (the airline began celebrating this milestone in 2012 at a special web site). There it looks at both its history and the future, in which the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ features as the next element of innovation.

In 1954 its predecessor Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) showed considerable innovation in being the first North American airline to buy the Vickers Viscount turboprop - the plane which, between the era of DC-3 and the DC-9, proved to be the great success story after World War II for British aviation.

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Air Canada Viscount No. 627 Canadian Space and Aviation Museum Reserve Hangar (Allan Jones)

In his book “On Canadian Wings” author Peter Piggott summarizes the TCA/Viscount story. The first ferry delivery to TCA was made in December 1954 and the flight described below began on 9 March 1955.

Brian Powell, whose DC-3 flight delivering Churchill was the subject of the May 31, 2013 Flightsim feature article Fine China, Sahara Sand, was the first Commercial Pilot Licence holder endorsed for turboprop jets – in the Viscount – and he flew these aircraft in different parts of the globe until 1970. However he was not on the crew for the following flight, the delivery of the fourth Viscount, No. 604, which I used as a basis for creating this simulation. The captain was Colin Allen. The flight was made in stages from Hurn (Bournemouth, UK) to Montreal, the main base in Eastern Canada for the airline’s operations.

On the Vickers Viscount website, truly a virtual museum of this aircraft, there is the detailed story by Robert Blackburn of the delivery of Viscount 604. It carried 2 pilots, 2 radio operators/navigators and a flight engineer. The author of the article and an electrical specialist were ‘supernumerary’ crew. The route was through Iceland, Greenland and Labrador and was navigated by dead reckoning and LORAN fixes. With the article’s references to the Bluie West One and Bluie West Eight wartime airfields and the description of the challenges en route, this ferry flight brings home that although this was the early days of civilian aviation jets, it was also not that long after these routes across the Atlantic were established during WWII.

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TCA Viscount virtual cockpit and aurora borealis

The route and times will give you a flight simulation with western sunset departures over the Hebrides, glimpses of the aurora borealis, the coasts of Greenland and Labrador, and an interesting fjord approach into Narsarsuaq. It finishes with a night flight into Montreal, travelling down the St. Lawrence River with the cities and communities of Quebec below. You will happily miss the 5 days lost in weather delays in Keflavik that the original flight encountered!

The aircraft had about 30 hours on it on arrival. With the passenger seats fitted it was ready to go – and it then served TCA/Air Canada domestically until 1958. On 10 November that year parked at Idlewild, New York it was hit by a Super Constellation that went out of control. The crew of both aircraft escaped (there were no passengers on board) but the aircrafts were destroyed.

Piggott’s book notes that the first Viscount delivery was accompanied on its final stage to Montreal by a TCA ‘Northstar’ with reporters on board. ‘Jock’ Bryce, the pilot in command, was asked to “shoot up” the Montreal airport for press purposes. He skimmed the hangars and made a vertical turn inside the airport perimeter.

The Flight

I used Jens Kristensen’s Viscount package ( for FS2004 and for FSX) available from the Flightsim library. I selected the TCA livery, but there is also an Air Canada paint of the appropriate later period of service in the package. A number of other Viscounts are available, including an FS2004 paint of the first aircraft delivered to TCA (for Rick Piper’s model) in the Flightsim library and there is a payware package (Just Flight) Viscount.

The aircraft was empty, apart from a life raft and a few seats (the TCA passenger seating was to be installed on arrival). Therefore ensure in preparation for these flights that you adjust the load way down for each segment from the default (passenger loading) weight.

For the arrival at Narsarsuaq I followed the fjord approach described in the article. To do this I planned my descent over the peninsula to arrive at NANORTALIK (NN) at 3000 ft. and then descend to the NDB turn SIMIUTIAK (SI) to enter the fjord at 1000 ft. Under real flying conditions, the travel up the fjord is challenging even when the cloud ceiling is high enough, with sudden wind gusts and areas of turbulence. As you make the turn into the head of the fjord the runway becomes visible and, turning towards the southern shoreline, you then make a right turn on to final approach.

This flight is in 5 segments and I used the GPS and waypoints below. You may want to copy their oceanic navigation a little more accurately by using dead reckoning with ‘GPS fixes’ at intervals to simulate the LORAN checks:

Bournemouth (Hurn) – Prestwick: EGHH DTY CROFT LAKEY DCS DCG19 NGY EGPK. Departure 3.30 p.m. GMT on 9 March 1955.
Prestwick – Keflavik, Iceland. Waypoints: EGPK BCL HL BIKF. Departure 6.22 p.m. GMT.
Keflavik – Narsarsuaq (Bluie West One), Greenland. BIKF NN SI NS BGBW. Departure 1 p.m. GMT.
Narsarsuaq – Goose Bay, Labrador. : BGBW SI JC CYYR. Departure 7.20 p.m. GMT.
Goose Bay – Montreal, Quebec. CYYR ZV BC BV CYUL. Departure 11.29 p.m. GMT.

Allan Jones
[email protected]
Allan Jones is the author of In a Moon’s Course, an ebook of World War II flight stories/plans of the Air Transport Auxiliary, available at Amazon, Kobo, W.H. Smith and other ebook online suppliers.

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Updated 08-26-2013 at 05:59 PM by allanj12

Aviation History & Flight Simulation