Fokker Standard Universal, G-CAJD

  • Status: Not on display
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    The Ghost of Charron Lake

    G-CAJD was one of the major workhorses of the early years of northern flying. The pilot sat in a open cockpit – often frozen – while four passengers or cargo could fit inside the enclosed cabin.

    G-CAJD’s Story: Its Final Flight

    Canadian Airways Fokker Standard Universal, G-CAJD, was flying north from Winnipeg carrying a cargo of supplies for a party of gold prospectors at Island Lake, when it ran into snow squalls and decreasing visibility. Finding the conditions too threatening, pilot Stuart McRorie decided to land on the ice at Charron Lake and wait out the storm. Coming to a stop, the plane went through the ice without warning. McRorie climbed out dry from the open cockpit, but air engineer ‘Slim’ Forrest who was in the cargo section ‘got a soaking’. The two camped by the plane the first night and then walked to shore where they set up camp to await rescue.

    The search for them by company pilots in Super Universals was hampered by the weather and miscommunication as to the route taken, which led them further east along the Ontario border.

    The stranded airmen spent many days waiting for a rescue which never happened. Their proactive attempts to be noticed – keeping fires burning on two islands and placing a large ring of spruce saplings out on the ice – went for naught. However, their fires were seen by a native trapper, Tom Boulanger who was returning to his southern camp from trapping on the north end of the lake. By the time Boulanger came upon them, McRorie and Forrest were trapping rabbits to keep alive; their meager supplies rescued from the aircraft had been exhausted.

    Boulanger took them to his camp, and after negotiating in broken English for a payment of $50 to guide them to the nearest Hudson’s Bay Post, the trio managed to cobble together two dog teams and another native for the 60-mile trip.

    The men walked out and were spotted by Westergaard in his Fokker Super Universal just as they ventured out on to the ice near Little Grand Rapids. Within minutes, the company plane skied in and later that day, the airmen arrived safely in Winnipeg.

    McRorie filed his report of the incident and documented the loss. The insurance company made good on the loss.

    Icy Home Melts Away, G-CAJD Sinks to Bottom of Lake

    Likely in May, 1932, G-CAJD, with its tail in the air and nose underwater, slowly, silently slipped below the surface of Charron Lake during spring break-up. It likely leveled off and ‘flew’ its last flight, coming to rest on the bottom where the 2005 search team found her. How far she flew has not been calculated, but it could have been a kilometer or more.

    The 30-year search for a rare bush plane – lost in a snow storm on December 10, 1931 at Charron Lake in northeast Manitoba, Canada – ended on July 4, 2005. A Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada search team, using sophisticated side-scan sonar technology, finally located the aircraft literally ‘parked’ on the lake bottom.

    In the summer of 2007, the ‘Ghost’ was successfully recovered from the lake bottom, airlifted by helicopter to Lac du Bonnet and brought by flatbed trailer to the museum in Winnipeg.

    Specifications

    • Wingspan: 47′ 9″
    • Wing area 341 sq. ft.
    • Length: 33′ 3″
    • Height: 8′ 9″ on wheels
    • Weight: 996 kg (2,192 lbs) empty; 1,1818 kg (4,000 lbs) gross
    • Engines: J-4 (weight ~ 232 kg (510 lbs)
    • Skis: 84″ – 108″ long and 18″ – 24″ wide
    • Cargo Capacity: 427 kg (940 lbs) estimated
    • Maximum Air Speed: 118 mph (189 kph); 98 mph (157 kph) cruise; glide rate is on the order of 500 ft/minute
    • Fuel capacity: 280 liters (213 kg); 78 US gal (468 lbs); two gas tanks were mounted in the wings near the forward edge

    Image of Fokker Standard Universal, G-CAJD

    More about the Fokker Standard Universal

    In Search of a Northern Seaport


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