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The Great Air “Migration” of 1946

Excerpt­ed from Intercept—But Don’t Shoot by Rena­to Vesco.

Among the frag­men­tary news sto­ries that report­ed the trans-fer by the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment of the Tur­bo-Research Ltd. plants to the Hawk­er Sid­de­ley Group there were sev­er­al that referred to the immi­nence of oth­er rad­i­cal changes in the local air­craft indus­try, which because of war pro­duc­tion needs had grown quite large, espe­cial­ly in the east­ern part of the coun­try, over the pre­ced­ing five years.

Plans were laid for a sort of gigan­tic “migra­tion” to the west­ern area of the Domin­ion, with the for­ma­tion of research, test­ing and pro­duc­tion centers—centering on the urban area of Vancouver—for new types of planes and engines that would be “Cana­di­an designed and Cana­di­an built” and for the local pro­duc­tion of “spe­cial fuels.” The whole thing was to be ac-com­plished in record time.

The great­est impulse toward this devel­op­ment, which was rapid­ly brought to a con­clu­sion, came in the spring of 1946, when Pro­fes­sor B. S, Shenstone—described by the tech­ni­cal jour­nals as a “Cana­di­an sci­en­tist with a bril­liant sci­en­tif­ic back­ground” and an expert in, among oth­er things, prob­lems deal­ing with the con­trol of the bound­ary layer—was named gen­er­al man­ag­er and tech­ni­cal assis­tant to vice-pres­i­dent W. N. Deish­er of Avro-Cana­da. Pre­vi­ous­ly he had been an assis­tant direc­tor in the Min­istry of Air­craft Pro­duc­tion’s office in charge of the devel­op­ment of projects relat­ing to post­war air trans-port.7

But we had an author­i­ta­tive indi­ca­tion of what was devel­op-ing in Cana­da in the fall of 1945, when a bril­liant aero­nau­ti­cal future was open­ly being pre­dict­ed in Eng­land for its over­seas domin­ion. For exam­ple, The Aero­plane wrote: “The recent pur­chase [July 1] of the Vic­to­ry Aircraft,Ltd., plant at Mal­ton, Ontario, which is at present engaged in the pro­duc­tion of the Lin­coln bomber, by the Hawk­er-Sid­de­ley Co., might mean that Cana­da will become the British Empire’s air­craft pro­duc­tion cen­tre with­in the next ten years.“8

At the begin­ning of 1946 the British group also took over the plants of Tur­bo-Research of Leav­side and put them under the admin­is­tra­tion of its Gas Tur­bine Divi­sion in Mal­ton. Tur­bo-Research was a gov­ern­ment body cre­at­ed in 1944 on the mod­el of the British Pow­er Jets for the study of local prob­lems of jet propul­sion. It had an exper­i­men­tal sta­tion in Win­nipeg.

For­eign aero­nau­ti­cal cir­cles were con­sid­er­ably sur­prised by all this activ­i­ty. True, the aero­nau­ti­cal indus­try was in a state of eco­nom­ic cri­sis. But the cri­sis cer­tain­ly could not be over­come by sell­ing a fac­to­ry that promised to be high­ly pro­duc­tive and an exper­i­men­tal cen­ter that still had some­thing new to con­tribute to jet propul­sion, which, it should not be for­got­ten, was then tak­ing its first steps.

It was thought that if the Cana­di­an gov­ern­ment had decid­ed that it was a good idea to get rid of the fac­to­ry and exper­i­men­tal cen­ter, per­haps that meant that Cana­da intend­ed to con­cen­trate its mon­ey and ener­gies in some oth­er direc­tion.
When the UFOs appeared over Cana­da, the coun­try’s first cri­sis in the avi­a­tion indus­try had been labo­ri­ous­ly over­come.


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