North

Yukon pilot aims for authenticity in bush plane restoration

Bob Cameron, who has been flying in Yukon for 54 years, has been working for about a decade restoring two aircraft and still has years to go before he's done.

Bob Cameron restoring a 1937 WACO biplane and a 1928 Fairchild

Bob Cameron, who has been flying in the Yukon for 54 years, has already spent 10 years restoring two aircraft. (Philippe Morin)

A Yukon pilot is painstakingly working his way through the restoration of two classic bush planes that will eventually find a home at the Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse.

Bob Cameron, who has been flying planes in Yukon for 54 years, has been working on a WACO biplane and a 1928 Fairchild for about a decade and still has years to go before he's finished.

Cameron says he wants the planes to be correct in every detail.

"There's friction tape," he says, pointing to the inner cables of the 1937 WACO CF-BDZ. "There's hockey tape holding these fairleads, it's authentic." 

Cameron found the rusted pieces of the Custom WACO in the bush near Carcross, Yukon. 

"It had ended up there after a disastrous fire in 1949. It caught fire on the dock during startup and then the wooden wings burnt and reduced it to just the steel frame. The owner, heartbroken, just threw a cat line around it, and dragged it into the bush and left it there," he says.

Above: Cameron in 1977 with the rusted frame of his Custom WACO. Below: This 1928 Fairchild was recovered 'in a manure pile' on a BC farm and continues to be restored. (Philippe Morin)
When Cameron loaded the steel frame into his pickup truck in 1977 the plane was little more than a a rusted and charred lattice of metal.  He found some of the plans and schematics to restore the plane at the Smithsonian Institution museum in Washington. 

The other plane, the 1928 Fairchild, was found abandoned  "in a manure pile" in Surrey, B.C., Cameron says.

"It was rusted in half."

Both planes have been sanded and repainted, they have landing gear and Cameron is replacing the controls as well as wood and fabric.

"I've had the help of friends," Cameron says about the project.  

He says the aircraft will never fly again. They'll become exhibits at the Transportation Museum where Cameron, who's a published author on aviation history, answers questions from the public and talks about the history of the bush planes that opened Canada's North.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.