Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Canada had it all and gave it away....

by Manfred Rieder

In 1950 Avro Canada's Jetliner created a sensation by flying from Toronto to New York in half the time usual for even the most advanced piston engined planes of the time. It was the second (by two weeks) pure jet in the world, being narrowly preceded by Britain's Comet. That same year it flew from Chicago to New York in one hour and 40 minutes at 459 miles per hour. At this time, United States pure jet technology was only in the early drawing stages. In light of the many problems the Comet experienced, the C-102 Jetliner should have and probably would have been the rightful successor of the venerable DC-3.
The Jetliner flew flawlessly for two years without one single problem in its operation. However, the project was abandoned even while TWA and the United States air force were placing orders of 30 and 20 units respectively. Canada's "brilliant" Cabinet minister C.D. Howe argued that any aircraft which needs sandbags for stability was not viable. Every aircraft of that time used sandbags to test weight distribution and stability. The designer, James Floyd, was awarded the Wright medal for his brilliant design, the first non North American ever to win this Nobel prize of aviation.
In a further grievous act of stupidity, the original CF-EJ-X was scrapped even after having received another firm order from National Airlines and great enthusiasm from the U.S.A.A.F. The Canadian government did not even allow a museum to have it and even an invitation to keep it at the Smithsonian Institution was denied. Today, all that is left of this magnificent Canadian machine is the nose which can be seen at the National Aviation Museum.
I am certain that the good people at Douglas, Boeing and Lockheed must have been laughing their heads off at the time.
And then - well nine years later, precisely on February 20, 1959, they did it again and scrapped the Avro Arrow.

As the Toronto Daily Star reported on this "day of Infamy in Canadian Aviation": Prime Minister Diefenbaker Decides "Scrap the Arrow"
The text reads: 
Ottawa, Feb,20 - The federal government has scrapped the Avro Arrow and its Iroqouis engine, Prime minister Diefenbaker announced in the House of Commons today. At the same time, the prime minister made it clear that the government has no alternative air defense system planned to take the place of the supersonic jet interceptor.
By the end of the day the 14,000 employees of A.V. Roe and the Orenda engine companies were out of work.
What could have been the greatest moment in the history of Canadian technology became the greatest aviation tragicomedy of all time. Almost 80 percent of the laid-off pool of aviation talent were snapped up by U.S.companies, a loss Canada was never able to recoup.
And what of the Arrow? It flew faster and higher than any other interceptor then built. For the first time, Canada was poised to take a position of leadership in the global aviation field. To add insult to injury, the government also decided to shred all documents pertaining to plane and engine and to destroy the fleet altogether. There is not one single Arrow to show the world today.
Considering the fact that subsequent governments have had to purchase all their planes such as the CF-18 Hornet from the U.S., and that Canada is now poised to spend billions on a new strike fighter program, I say it serves them right....

How One Person Can Make a Difference - the Green Mountain Farm-to-School Project

By Manfred Rieder

Katherine Sims is the wife of my friend Jeff Fellinger. She is also the founder and executive director the the Green Mountain Farm-to-School project. At the last Vermont election she ran for a seat at the state house but narrowly lost. Will she run again" "Yes I shall", she told us yesterday, May 20. "But not for a while because I have to focus all of my energy on the Farm-to-School program and right now this is where I can make a difference and do some good". this might not be a direct quote but it encompasses the gist of our conversation and it embraces all that this young woman is all about.
She is only 32 years old, a Yale graduate and she started the Farm-to-School project six years ago at an age when a lot of people would worry more about spring break than the common good that can be accomplished by a single determined person.
When she started they had one school and one garden, now there are 28. Acting as brokers for farms throughout the Northeast Kingdom, the project now delivers food to more than 90 customers which encompass schools, hospitals, the State prison systems and senior meal sites.Sims and her elves contact participating farms every week to find out what produce, meats or vegetables are available. The project partners with a local warehousing and distribution company, DNS distributing, to gather and deliver the food. Four trucks are in constant use.
12,500 tons of food have been delivered - a staggering number considering that this grass-roots organization is working on limited funding albeit there are state and federal grants allocated but a lot of work is done by local volunteers.
I asked Katherine is there is anything she would like to see in this little story and she told me to give the phone number: 334-2044 so any person of any age who would like to volunteer for the program may contact them. Right now what they need is people who can help with weeding, harvesting and assistance with educational programs that are evolving as the organization grows. "Right now we have about ten percent of the schools in our program and we would like to grow that number" asserts Mrs Sims.
A recently published brochure summarizes the mission of the Farm-to-School project; "By delivering local foods to schools and institutions, we can make healthy food accessible and affordable for all while simultaneously supporting the local economy."
In the 2012 to 2013 school year the group sponsored and conducted 29 field trips for students to local farms, planted 25 new school gardens, produced 3,938 pounds of food for school cafeterias and involved 5,316 students in the planting of the gardens. They also held 519 in-class workshops and instituted 324 after-school programs.
Now, the newest development is the "Lunchbox", a mobile farmer's market and commercial kitchen that brings locally grown food and food-based education to communities in Northern Vermont. Here we quote from their pamphlet: "The market's mission is to improve fresh food access, provide a reliable outlet for new and small-scale growers and value-added producers, and to create a gathering place for community activities and meals." The market also offers free meals to all children under the age of 18. The three main centers for the "Lunchbox", a large Freightliner truck, staffed by a chef, an intern and an educator, are Newport, Barton and Island Pond.
There will be a big Block Party in Newport's Gardner Park in June to launch this year's "Lunchbox" program in June. For more information about Green Mountain Farm-to-School you may go to their site at:

The Art of Making a Small Picnic Table:

By Manfred Rieder

Benjamin J. Farney (30) of Newport is a certified professional tree climber. Last week he came to our home and politely asked me to remove my 30 year old Chrysler from the back of our home because my neighbors had engaged him to take down two huge maple trees which had become a nuisance. I should know because at the last storm one branch dented the aforementioned old car and the trees were simply becoming too dangerous to keep alive.
Now, we had trees taken down before, especially when we lived in Sutton, Quebec. Normally our experience was one older gentleman with suspenders and a rusty pickup truck would show up, crank up one ancient two stroke chain saw and let it rip...Not so this time. Mr. Farney is a consummate professional and watching him work for a full day was enlightening. The $ 250.-/day rented man-lift was the "operating theater" and when he first ascended to some 70 feet up and began to carefully trim the branches, every single time shouting "clear" to his assistant Wyatt Wilson, it became a ballet of sorts, a well crafted exercise without fanfare or drama. There was the simple joy to watch two men do a job and do it well.
Gradually the first tree was reduced to about 30 feet of majestic trunk and section by section it came down until there was nothing left than a large elegant stump protruding a few inches above the ground.
When the job started on the second tree we asked the men if it were possible to leave about three feet of trunk for us to use as a picnic table because my lovely neighbors had granted us permission to have a small rock garden in the corner of their grounds which abut our property. There I have to mention that my flower and herb beds were directly under the about to be eliminated maple tree # 2 and amazingly, not one single flower or stalk of chives has damaged by the operation. Those people were amazing.
Benjamin started his professional career as a logger and eventually got his certification as a licensed tree climber after which he started his own company two years ago. But he does not just chop down trees - his main profession as an arborist is actually tree maintenance. He works with ornamentals, trims fruit trees and will soon give a seminar at the Northwoods stewardship center for other people who would like to know more about forest preservation. Eventually he wants to establish a school for tree climbers and arborists.

In our home we have a large wall mural of trees and even some ornamental branches to give the wall dimension. When Benjamin agreed to visit with us last Saturday, he used this wall as a teaching tool to explain about the intricacies of the rope work required to "rig down" branches. Benjamin uses the double rope technique and will not use the traditional spikes because, in his own words: "I will not intentionally hurt a tree". This of course is when a tree is to be pruned or preserved but even when he cuts down a tree like the two maples, he gives the tree, a living thing older than himself, a great degree if dignity. There is use to be made of the wood, either as timber, which some of the larger logs will be milled for, or a fire wood. Thus, just cutting a tree down and leaving a mess is not in the repertoire of this man. Everything was stacked neatly and by size, branches where whisked away by truck and by the end of the day the landscape looked clean and neat.
"Climbing is addictive" tells Ben. "But every move has to be calm and calculated otherwise you get in trouble really quick". Thus far he has never got injured but this is in part the result of his studied technique and the superb tools of his trade. He will only use the very best in ropes, carabiners and harness gear and has a large amount of money invested in the best saws money can buy.
When asked about which trees he prefers to work with , the answer was hard woods. A maple or an oak is predictable, most evergreens are not, they have mostly shallow roots while hardwoods have stronger structural root systems. Ben also does not like to work around life wires and while he will gladly accept a job that involves a tree next to the electric grid, he will insist that power be cut before he will attempt the job. However he stated that often jobs of this nature will be taken care of by the power companies possibly at no cost to the home owner.
And at the end of the day we had made a new friend and gained a picnic table!