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Col FT (Fred) Harris MiD, CD RCCS

Col Harris passed-away in Ottawa on 24 Mar 2016. His Obituary and accompanying obituary picture are shown in the Last Flight section of this website.

Fred was a student on LAPC 2, graduating at CJATC Rivers MB in Aug 1951. He was the second RCCS pilot out of a total of ten RCCS pilots to qualify for the Army Flying Badge; Maj Rudy Ulrich being the first on LAPC 1 in 1949. Fred’s Course photo can be seen in the TRAINING section of the website.

Although Fred’s personal story about his flying training and subsequent aviation-related “experiences” have been temporarily miss-filed in a certain Museum’s Archives, three items associated with that submission have been recently located by me and are shown below.

The first item is a short story written by Fred himself on the subject of a rather exciting forced landing that took place while he was undergoing Continuation Flying at the Kingston Flying Club, while stationed at the Royal Canadian School of Signals (RCS of S) in Kingston.

The second item shows Fred as the OC 4 Sqn RCS of S (the Sqn responsible for all officer and senior NCO training in the Signal Corps) proudly displaying his Army Flying Badge on his Battledress Blouse/Tunic.

The third item is a copy of a signed photograph that Fred received while serving as our National Military Representative in SHAPE Belgium in 1978. The photo was autographed and signed by General Alexander Haig, then SACEUR. The almost illegible caption reads: “To Fred Harris with gratitude, admiration and respect for his great service at SHAPE” signed A.M. Haig Jr

The fourth item below is the personal story written by Fred referred to in the third paragraph above. A copy of his personal story was found in a location other than “a certain Museum’s Archives” referred to above.

Forced Landing

Continuation training had its moments of excitement. In Nov. 1959, on returning from a solo flight Ottawa to Kingston, the Fleet Canuck from the Kingston Flying Club started to accumulate ice. The flight path was over lakes and dense woods. The buildup of ice on the leading edge of the wings and windscreen caused the aircraft to lose height despite full power. I altered course to pick up Highway 15 and lined up to make a forced landing on the highway. Unfortunately there was a truck coming towards me so I had to pull the aircraft through 360° and realign with the highway. There was no forward visibility so the landing was carried out by looking at the line of telephone poles on the left. The aircraft touched down just forward of a car going in the same direction on the highway. The driver of the car was quite alarmed to see an airplane land in front of him.

I taxied down the highway-200 yards to a filling station at Crosby and the gas attendant thought I needed gas until he saw the heavy icing.

Shortly a group of locals gathered around and someone called the Provincial Police. A constable arrived, surveyed the situation and said that no aircraft is allowed to take off on a highway. He explained that I had to phone the Kingston Flying Club, have a mechanic come out and remove the wings and have the aircraft towed back to Kingston.

We had a chat over coffee and I mentioned that I was in the Army on continuation flying training and expressed my concern about the cost of recovery, for which I would be liable. He then looked at his watch and said he had to report back to the station and would return in half an hour. When he left I got two of the spectators to go 200 yards north and another to go 200 yards south to stop traffic in both directions. By this time the ice had melted and I quickly taxied out and took off without any pre-flight checks. I returned to Kingston Flying Club and nothing more was heard of the matter.

Royal Canadian School of Signals

N-27 Senior NCO'S Qualifiying Course
Vimy Barracks - 21 Sep - 20 Nov 59

Fourth Row L to R

aUsgt Ingarfield; aUsgt Dignum L; aUsgt Smtyh FW; aUsgt Halversen GKL; aUsgt Hillyard MH, CD.

Third Row L to R

aUsgt Gardner; aUsgt Jenkins RD; Lsgt Burke DD; Lsgt Price GJ; aUsgt Walshe B; aUsgt Couvrette JAR.

Second Row L to R

aUsgt Dickson CC; aUsgt Whitehead OE; aUsgt Hale GJ; aUsgt Stewart CJ; aUsgt Hreczka N, CD; aUsgt Chiasson R.

Front Row L to R

aUsgt Cunningham WJ, CD; Ssgt McMillan GO, CD; Capt PH Sutton; Maj FT Harris, CD; Sgt McLauchlan W, CD; aUsgt Warman HJT.

The signed photograph that Fred received while serving as our National Military Representative in SHAPE Belgium in 1978.

Personal story written by Col FT Harris MiD CD RCCS

In post World War II, the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals examined the use of light fixed wing aircraft for the line laying, air radio relay, message and package dispatch and staff officer commander liaison. These functions were pioneered and in use by British and American Signal Corps.

In March 1949, Lt Fred Harris was selected to take initial flying training at the Brandon, Manitoba Flying Club with four officers from infantry and artillery. Along with classroom work, 75 hours were spent on the DeHaviland Tiger Moth and on completion of this phase, candidates qualified for their private pilots licence.

Phase II, the operational flying course was taken at the Light Aircraft School in Rivers, Manitoba. Emphasis was placed on aerobatics, tree top level flying, forced landings cross country, night flying including short landings with six kerosene lanterns to indicate the landing path, flying into farmers fields with rapid deployment of the aircraft under trees for camouflage and gunfire spotting and correction (a primary function of Air OP, Artillery).

Lt Harris earned his pilots wings and was classified as PL (Liaison Pilot). In order to keep up his flying skills he did continuation training at various private flying clubs and on Air Force bases. Requirements for each training period of 3 months were "Circuits and Bumps", instrument flying, cross country and night flying. In March 1966, he was removed from the continuation Flying List - too old!

In 1963, as a Staff Officer, Maj Harris was appointed Executive Assistant to the Chief of Operational Readiness (M. Gen J.V. Allard). Often the General had to attend meetings on short notice and directed Harris to fly him, usually to Montreal, Quebec and Petawawa. Liaison flights were also made with M. Gen Waters and Brig Turcot.

Aircraft flown: Tiger Moth Auster, LI9 (U.S. Bird Dog) Chipmunk, Aeronca, Cessna, Fleet Canuck, Ercoupe

New Items

  • Hello Niner Six Newsletter Archive. The Newsletter of the Air Observation Post Association of Canada.
    Includes all volumes from January 1990 to February 2012: View Content.

  • LAPC Graduate Images CJATC Rivers, Manitoba: View Content.

    Images and names researched and compiled by LCol John Dicker with the assistance
    of BGen Joe Oakley.
  • 1 Air OP Flight Group photos.
    Assistance would be welcome in identifying personnel in these photographs: View Content.

    Compiled by BGen R.G. Heitshu.