One of the last times I recall flying in a private plane – I believe it was called a “Beaver” – was in 1964 with David Garrett (whose father was head of De Havilland aircraft company) and “Buck” Buchanan who was the pilot. After lunch at the Garretts’ place in Forest Hill we spent a glorious Sunday afternoon winging across the expansive agricultural territory immediately north of Toronto, jettisoning out the sliding windows parachutes made from handkerchiefs to which we had attached cryptic notes for unsuspecting candidates on the ground.
“Throughout an impressive 75-year history of producing various models of aircraft in Canada and for the world, De Havilland has always proudly been known for its adaptability and dependability. Being responsible for creating some 3,500 aircraft—including the most advanced turboprop in the air today—our experience and expertise constructing the highest performing planes in the industry is second-to-none. Our aircraft are all manufactured in Canada at our state-of-the-art facility in Ontario and are a proud symbol of Canadian innovation and achievement.
On March 5, 1928, the De Havilland Aircraft Company of England incorporated a subsidiary business in Canada. Over the coming years, this small upstart would become one of the most accomplished aircraft designers and manufacturers in Canadian history. The DHC-1 Chipmunk—an all-metal trainer developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force—was the first all-Canadian design to come out of De Havilland Canada and helped establish the young company as a leader in the North American aviation industry.“
Today – an ideal early summer Sunday afternoon – I drove my 2020 Lincoln Aviator in a circular route from here to the St. Lawrence Seaway and back. The uneventful and exceptionally leisurely jaunt consumed approximately 3 hours. I wager with considerable confidence that the ride in the Aviator today was less thrilling – but decidedly more comfortable – than the stint in the Beaver more than 56 years ago. It is safe to say air traffic has improved over the years!
In spite of its lack of dynamism I confess that the automobile ride was for me a thoroughly rewarding outing. Like my late father – who, like his own father, was an automobile aficionado – I comically positioned myself in a patently enthralled state before the steering wheel and hummed in my mind in sync with the smooth and powerful engine. It was a shameless gratification! I dilute the indignity of the indulgence by advancing that my absorption was designed to be a critical assessment of the machine which I’ve only had for weeks. Although the automobile insurer classifies the vehicle as a “truck/van” the extent of the vehicle’s utility as either was never in question. I characterize this 7-passenger machine as a luxury drive, not a cargo vehicle. The sole objective was to ensure the ride was smooth, aligned and quiet in keeping with my preference for the “boulevard” ride. And that all the bells and whistles work – which they did. It was serendipitous that when I later dipped into Sobey’s to buy some groceries, the owner of a large black truck stopped next to me and said that he liked the look of my “car“! I didn’t think the moment was appropriate to correct his idiom.
Though it was not fortuitous, I did for some peculiar reason notice at least five cemeteries on my route from Almonte through Smiths Falls, Elizabeth Kitley Township and the Rideau Lakes area to Mallorytown Landing. Cemeteries are a source of artistic, landscape and historic delight.
What may have been propitious was that the music on heard on Sirius XM radio was Smetana’s “Moldau“. By chance I first heard the composition in about 1964.