Many thanks for the following memories of how the Truro Flying Club started go to Harold Foote, founding member and life member of the club.
It appears that it is just a matter of time and a lot of memories of the trials and tribulations involved in starting of the Truro Flying Club will also pass into oblivion so I will attempt to recall some of them for those interested.
In all cases I will ask that the dates, names, amounts etc. etc will be – "If I Recall Correctly", and if any one wishes to correct anything please do so, I would appreciate it.
The idea of a Flying Club at Debert was nothing more than an idea for several years, the Airport was there, abandoned, and several people with the desire to learn to fly recreationally watched as it appeared the field would be turned into a race track for car races.
There was Art Manning, Frank Gordon, Auldin Peppered, and myself, all with a license to fly but no place to do so. Gerry Ritchey was the local Government member, Roland Thornhill the Minister of development, and being a fellow Newfoundlander by birth, it was not too hard to get to bend Thornhill’s ears and that we did.
Art Manning owned a twin which he kept in Halifax, and he acquired a Cherokee 140 CF-WZC as payment for some debt owed him by somebody somewhere, and it was just sitting in Halifax, Art agreed to base it at Debert for the club use, the Government agreed providing we parked out of eyesight of the public, consequently the first tie down on the field was out near where runways 28 and 34 intersect, and we had to jump over a fence and walk from the street where the main gate now is.
This situation went on for some time during while we applied for a club training license; we obtained it after strenuous objection by Halifax and Trenton. However we were turned down on the Commercial Class application under objections from the same sources.
So here we were, with a license which stipulated what we intended to use as aircraft so we set about finding a Cessna 172, CF-TYS, about 4 years old, purchased from a private owner in Chatam N.B. for $5,000.00.
To raise the money we had to endorse bank loans and two aircraft owners agreed to ‘Pay in advance’ for hangar space rental; so the first hangar went up housing a small twin and a Beech Bonanza. Both of these aircraft received severe damage when the hangar blew down when a mini tornado passed by one day, however, our TYS was parked on the ramp and the tiedowns held. The building was insured for it’s replacement value, which was considerably more than it cost us to construct as all labor was free on the first building, the one that blew away.
One little interesting side story of where the very first Dollar came from that we took to the Bank of Montreal on Prince St. to open an account with: Soon after being permitted to use the airport and maybe even while still waiting for the Club license, we were inspecting the runways on foot one day when somebody noticed a considerable long length of ship anchor chain on both sides of runway 28. It was obviously from a large war ship or the like and after discreet inquiries we found it was used by the military as arresting cables for Tracker training of the aircraft flying off the carrier Bonaventure. Indications were that it was abandoned by the navy, so we suggested that we would go to the expense of having it removed, and the Government representative gladly agreed to that deal as it weighed several tons and would be costly to get out.
However after a visit to several scrap and junk dealers in the province we finally found one who paid (If I Recall Correctly) around $300.00, as is, where is. Thus we had the first revenue earned by the club.
Training rates in those days were considerably below to-day’s rates, Solo for the 172 was $12.00; Dual $18.00. (I stand to be corrected but I’m close.) So it took a lot of flying to generate any revenue, although all things were relevant considering to-days costs.
For several years things went well, the club built a new hangar, the existing one minus the office area that was added later, we increased the aircraft by adding Cherokee, upgraded the 172, and around 1975 bought a new Warrior CG-TFC, I believe we paid about $30,000.00 for it and after only a few months we lost it and the Pilot, we believe to be in Bras d’Or lakes. However the wreckage was never located.
Around this time, 1974 - 1975, the club was doing exceptionally well, so much so that some hungry members, seeing a profitable organization licensed under the Non-Profit laws, wanted to taste the fruits of our spade work, and tried to start a separate company, applied for and got a license, and also a commercial charter which we had previously been turned down on.
Not to be out done we were hell-bent to survive and after a few short years we bought their hangar and, I think there are some pictures still in existence of Freddie MacDonald on a ladder removing their company name sign from the building and erecting the TFC sign.
Another application to Transport Canada produced the Commercial License and the club was on its way to where it is today.