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  The Book Cycle - Canadair: The First 50 Years

    In the 1980s I had spoken R.D. "Dick" Richmond, Executive Vice-President of Canadair, about doing a history of Canadair. He was interested, but big companies are busy turning out airplanes, struggling with their own problems and looking to the future. There's rarely time to contemplate the past. Luckily, however, Richmond kept the thought of a book in mind. Although he retired in 1987, he continued working on Canadair projects into the 1990s. The idea of a company history continued to interest him, especially after Stuart Logie's spurious history of the Canadair Challenger. One day Richmond suggested to Bob Brown of Bombardier Aerospace that there was a lot of valuable Canadair history that should be told before it was too late. Brown asked Richmond to put this in writing, which he did, while recommending CANAV as the publisher.

    Meanwhile, long-time Canadair man Ron Pickler, who had retired in 1986, was talking to Catherine Chase, then head of PR at Canadair. Without knowing of Richmond's interest, Ron recommended that something be done about a 50th anniversary book. They brought me into the picture, and we decided to go ahead, Ron as lead author, me as publisher, Catherine as our mentor. CANAV's contract for the job was signed in November 1993, the agreement noting that Canadair would take 20,000 copies in French and English, CANAV 4000. Much would happen between then and July 1995, when the book appeared. Since then? All 24,000 copies have been disappeared.

    Yes, Canadair: The First 50 Years has joined that melancholic "out of print" category, but that's the natural destination for any book. Canadair has become one of those legendary aviation titles; and after the long grind, we can be proud of another grand success. Having the opportunity to work with Ron Pickler was a great honour, and Ron and I agree that working with Catherine was a highlight. She was pretty well the last corporate public affairs manager in Canadian aviation with both a depth of knowledge of her subject, the experience needed to get the big picture! The following item about Canadair: The First 50 Years appeared in CANAV's Spring 1996 newsletter:

    July 3, 1995 was a grand time at Marché Bonsecours in old Montreal, the very site from where balloonist Eugène Godard made the second manned flight in Canada almost 139 years earlier. Nobody went flying this time, although the theme was aviation - the launch of CANAV's latest book, Canadair: The First 50 Years. The event was perfect - great company, a little wine and a few beers in a room packed with supporters, hundreds of Canadair people, reps from industry, history buffs, bibliophiles and a host of other "keeners" turning out. By good chance, in the Marché ICAO happened to be celebrating with a multi-media history of aviation honouring its own 50th anniversary, so we all were invited to take in that show as well.

    Now for the moment of truth. The North Star had flown, the Challenger had flown. Would the book? Yes, and the "test pilots" have turned in a good report. There has been a flood of letters and reviews. The letters tell it all, for they're from the people who know Canadair best. The official reviews mirror your impressions. Here are a few quotes from your letters:

    "What a wealth of information you have gathered and woven together into a real treasure book for us old timers."

    "I will treasure the book and return to it frequently to relive my experiences with Canadair."

    "The book brought back endless memories, as I have written up all the Canadair designs, except surprises like the T-36, during my 55 years in aircraft design and writing."

    "What an absolutely superb book you have produced, in every way, including an excellent index...It brings back so many memories, including seeing F-86 19253 come down with engine failure and seeing the arrival of the B-47, coming in with parachute trailing and going around for a second attempt...Thank you for generating so many happy memories."

    "It is almost impossible to conceive that a chronology of any comparable company has been recorded as well."

    "I wish to send you not only congratulations on a magnificent job, but admiration for the sheer professionalism in the way you accomplished a task of monumental proportions."

    "I suppose some will tell you that you left out this or that, or that something happened on the 20th, not the 21st; but for me, you achieved a very difficult task splendidly.

    What Do the Reviewers Have to Say?

    "Canadair: The First 50 Years delivers more than it promises... a splendid account of a company that has a proud record of achievement in aerospace. It belongs in every Canadian aviation library." Canadian Flight

    "Spectacular... another beautiful addition to the publisher's respected line... one of the best records of an aviation company ever produced..." Airways: The Global Review of Commercial Flight

    "What a splendiferous book... a record that must satisfy even the most demanding reader... a model for others to aspire to." Jane's All the World's Aircraft

    "Every area of this company's history is dealt with in fine style in this well presented and produced book." FlyPast

    "Quand c'est signé Milberry, c'est toujours excellent... il nous en livre ice une nouvelle réalisée en équipe avec Ron Pickler... Au total, cela fait beaucoup d'avions qui vous sont tous présentés en détail dans ce livre porté par la trame d'un récit historique sans faille... la photogravure et l'impression sont d'une qualité irréprochable. En résumé: 400 pages d'adventure et de réel bonheur." Zone

    "Messrs. Pickler and Milberry are to be congratulated on producing what is the best CANAV book to date." Aerospace, Royal Aeronautical Society

    "CANAV Books has built up a fine reputation as a publisher dedicated to producing accurate material in a stylish format. Larry Milberry's and Ron Pickler's new book on Canadair continues this distinction... t is unlikely that there will be another book on Canadair to equal this remarkable tome." Air Pictorial

    Canadair Errata - p.242 lower caption: for B-47 tail number read 51-2059. Also, note the comment that the B-47 could fly using only the Iroquois engine. This was impossible. As explained in Avro Arrow (Wilkinson et al): "... one of the B-47's engines had to be kept running at full power to offset the asymmetric thrust of the Iroquois, another to keep the hydraulic electric services etc. running."