I was always ready to go up on air tests. Any time after a plane had been a major overhaul or an engine change, it had to be air tested. And I was always anxious to go up. As a [aero-engine] mechanic, usually you sat in the co-pilot’s seat to take down readings, temperatures and pressures, after takeoff and after level flight. There were some mechanics that wouldn’t fly at all and I was always anxious to fly.
One morning I went over to the hangar and they said that they were looking for men to go along to sit in the back of Dakota [aircraft] as lookouts because a plane had been lost from the Lower Mainland [the region surrounding Vancouver, British Columbia]. And the last radio contact they’d had was in our area so they were sending planes out on search party. The plane I was on was to fly up through the Strait of Georgia, low around through the islands, right on up around Cape Scott, the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Time we got way up there, we got fogged in and turned around and started back. I went up and stood behind the pilot and co-pilot, just staring into the foggy space and the pilot asked me to send a navigator up. So I asked the navigator to go up. He went up, come back to his station, went up again in a little while and told the pilot we would be over Comox in about an hour. I looked at my watch and when we got down through the clouds in just about an hour, there was Comox Airport.
Well, I remember one sad Friday. It was Friday the 13th, a nice sunny day and there was a plane in from [RCAF] Patricia Bay [locally known as “Pat Bay”], a [Consolidated B-24] Liberator. There was always somebody looking for a ride out. And there was a girl out of the dental office, Sergeant Bennett, and a girl out of the post office, Corporal Johnson, they got on this plane. They thought they would go down to Victoria, going to Pat Bay just out of Victoria. But that plane left our station and flew across to Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. And when it left Tofino it hit a 3,000-foot mountain peak flying at about 2,800 feet. All was killed and they were buried up on the mountainside. I knew the two girls very well.