HISTORY IN THE AIR - the Lockheed 10A Electra
By John Pineau, MCP
As we flew around the Winnipeg skyline on a bright fall day, I thought about how cool it would be for someone walking on the streets below, this silver 1937 dual-prop aircraft bouncing the sun’s rays off its metal hull some thirteen hundred feet above the ground. Harvey Reid, one of the Air Canada pilots taking us for this tour in the air had to practically scream above the sound of its engines as I leaned into the cockpit to have a look.
We were lucky though, not only to experience what it was like to fly in this well-oiled machine, but because the majority of us were insulated form the roar of the engines by a wall between the cockpit and cabin. According to Harvey, “It’s not the engines that make the noise,” he screamed, his over-sized headphones making him look like a 70’s style music producer next to his mixing board. “The pilots in their days ended up with hearing problems. They put the props right next to the pilots.
Sitting to the left of Harvey was retired Air Canada Captain Al Macleod, who on that day assured our safe journey above and around this prairie city. Al is the more experienced Lockheed pilot of the two, and in fact holds the distinction of being the longest standing Lockheed pilot at eighteen years. Other Air Canada pilots volunteering their time are Captain Gerry Norberg and Captain Ken Patry, both at 12 years and counting.
The wall between the cockpit and cabin really didn’t seem like much – at least not the kind of wall that prevented sound from moving into cabin the way it did. But it occurred to me that everything was made differently back in 1937, the year Trans Canada Airlines was formed by Act of Parliament – as a subsidiary of Canadian National Railways – to provide air service to all regions of Canada. TCA eventually became Air Canada (1965), but the craftsmanship of this old vessel remains solid to this day. Maybe it was the large red maple leaf imprinted on the dividing wall, or the orangey red TCA logo (also a Maple Leaf) that absorbed sound in some way, or maybe my theory was ridiculous and I should just shut up and sit in my seat.
So I did.
As we flew across the prairie toward James Richardson Airport and began to make our descent, the pilots moved the propeller-controls forward causing the engine noise to shift into “high pitch”. But even then sitting in the cabin was enjoyable; I felt safe knowing that such an experienced pair of pilots was taking us down to the runway, and that the most recent overhaul done to the engines getting us there was done by Aero Recip, an experienced group compared to no other. I also thought about how great it was that three of the Captains, including Gerry Norberg who was on the ground waiting to fly again, got to take a tour of Aero Recip’s Winnipeg facility earlier that day.