I received the following letter in Mar 99 from F/L (Ret’d) Wilf Graystone, former CFI LAS and long-time BHTU Instructor during the timeframe 1960-66. The letter was in reply to one I had recently sent to Wilf at the outset of my (continuing to this day) research “project” into certain aspects of Canadian Army Aviation. Immediately before arriving in Rivers, Wilf had just completed a tour of duty at PFS Centralia during which he had occasion to be an Instructor on the very first Canadian Army Pilot Course to receive ab initio flight training at Centralia. Prior to this point in time, students received ab initio flying training at the Brandon MB Flying Club under contract to DND. That was PFS Course No. 59/1. Successful students on that Course were: Pete Baldaro, Frank Bayne, Andy Desjardins, Terry Jones, Keith Lavender, Wally Murray and Peter Stevens. All seven students ultimately graduated from LAPC 28 at LAS CJATC and received the coveted Canadian Army Flying Badge.
Wilf’s letter gives an excellent “snapshot” in time of some of the activities that he was involved in/with at both LAS and BHTU. The main purpose of submitting this letter for inclusion in the Canadian Army Aviation Website is to fill-in some of the blanks that heretofore may have existed in people’s minds when looking at/remembering some of the activities at CJATC during the stated timeframe. The marginal notes on Wilf’s letter are mine.
I have also attached a self-explanatory photo of and short narrative about the helicopter helmet with the painting of a moose head on it to which Wilf refers in para 3 of his letter. Also see photo of BHTU Course No. 56 in May 1963 following the self-explanatory photo for another picture of the helmets in question. Dicker and his helmet are in the rear row second from the left.
Not included are the names and addresses of those with whom Wilf had kept contact, as referred to by him in the second last para of his letter.
I hope the contents of Wilf’s letter will bring back many memories, mostly enjoyable for the most part I trust, of those halcyon days at CJATC Rivers for all those who had the privilege of training and serving on staff at the Canadian Joint Air Training Center, Rivers MB during the time frame covered in Wilf’s letter.
John Dicker LCol (Ret’d) RCCS
Co-ordinator, Editorial Board.
Canadian Army Aviation Website
F/L (RETD) WILF GRAYSTONE AND LCOL (RETD) JOHN DICKER Photograph taken in Jun 04 at the residence of Wilf Graystone and his Wife Regina in London Ontario. It was the first time that I had seen the Graystones since I left Rivers in Apr 66. Note that both Wilf and I are holding the exact same helmets that we were holding in the Course photograph on the previous page (taken 41 years earlier than the photo below). How these two helmets came to be still in the possession of the two honourable, retired officers in this picture is another story! Because of his slight stature, Wilf was aptly nicknamed "Moose" and that is why he had a Moose painted on the front of his helmet. Wilf was such a light-weight that when he flew solo in the Hiller CH-112, he had to carry a sandbag up front with him, otherwise the helicopter would start to move backward when he pulled it into a hover.
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