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Mapping the Canadian North. (and working a little DX between weather observations) Doug Leach - VE3XK ex VE3DWG/VE8 (1957). What’s Ahead. 1957 summer job was on aerial photo mapping survey of Baffin Is Several Ottawa amateurs are survey veterans

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mapping the canadian north

Mapping the Canadian North

(and working a little DX

between weather observations)

Doug Leach - VE3XK

ex VE3DWG/VE8 (1957)

what s ahead
What’s Ahead
  • 1957 summer job was on aerial photo mapping survey of Baffin Is
  • Several Ottawa amateurs are survey veterans
  • I’m not the best to tell the survey story but story is long overdue
  • I will cover:
    • Recap of early years and aerial survey methods
    • The RCAF, photo survey firms - equipment and areas covered
    • My 1957 aerial survey and my amateur radio opportunities
    • Recent aerial photo mapping developments
  • First for those who weren’t there, what about 1957?
my aerial survey year 1957
My Aerial Survey Year - 1957
  • PM St. Laurent, President Eisenhower, Chairman Kruschev
  • Before integrated circuits, microprocessors or Sputnik
  • Before the Boeing 707 commercial jet airliners started flying
  • First electric watch, first electric typewriter
  • Only twelve years since WWII. Only four years since Korea
  • The Avro Arrow was Canada’s major technological project
  • International Geophysical Year - peak of Solar Cycle 19 - the highest to that time
  • Single Sideband Suppressed Carrier modulation was very new - only the bold pioneers were using it on amateur radio
  • Opening of Distant Early Warning Line (July)
  • First let’s look at The Early Years of aerial survey before 1957
the early years
The Early Years

Aerial camera mounted on Vickers Vedette flying boat - 1931

Public Archives Canada Photo PA-062895

  • Maps first plotted from mountaintop photos - 1885
  • Aerial photography for mapping and forest inventory - 1920’s
  • 1925 - Inter-Departmental Committee on Air Surveys (ICAS) formed - to coordinate requirements.
  • All ICAS survey contracts henceforth had these requirements: photos to be cross-referenced to index map or flight report showing flight path, altitude, film type, film number, date/time of exposure, camera and weather conditions for that run.
  • The quality of aerial survey results was assured
the early years1
The Early Years

RCAF Fairchild Super 71 Closeup shows 1936 multicamera installation Public Archives Canada - Photos PA-063184, PA-063180

  • National Air Photo Library (NAPL) also 1925 to take charge of all federal non-military air photographs.
  • RCAF primary air surveyor in 20’s and 30’s and their major centre for aerial photography was RCAF Station Rockcliffe
  • 1944 RCAF aerial survey of Ungava Peninsula and west coast of Hudson Bay showed existing Arctic maps inaccurate
  • Aerial surveying of north tasked to RCAF
the early years2
The Early Years
  • “High oblique” photo (L) - taken with a camera inclined 45º from plumb. Relief shows well, but image wedge-shaped
  • “Vertical” photos taken plumb (straight down).
  • “Tri-camera” mode (R) - comprised one “vertical” and two “high oblique” cameras, mounted transverse to flight path, producing a fan of photos and horizon-to-horizon coverage
  • Tri-camera mode sacrificed accuracy and detail for fast coverage
the early years3
The Early Years

PE Print Layout Room - 1945

Public Archives Canada

Photo PA-068026

  • RCAF “tri-camera” aircraft flew at around 24,000 ft.
  • “Tri-camera” fans laid out in strips, 16 miles wide, with overlaps at RCAF Rockcliffe #1 Photograpic Establishment to be indexed for the map plotters. Maps were then plotted at 8 mi/inch.
  • Photos allowed for stereoscopic views to be arranged to determine land contour information.
  • Higher accuracy vertical photography was on flight lines 3 miles apart, with overlap of photos. Maps were then plotted at 4 mi/in.
the early years4
The Early Years

Installation of cameras in a photo squadron Lancaster

Public Archives PA-65920

  • When possible, tri-camera coverage was obtained before vertical photography done in that area.
  • This delayed vertical aerial photo surveys by a year or more, but those coarse 8 mi/in maps filled in many areas that had never been mapped and were used to plot flight lines for the vertical surveys
  • RCAF 408 Squadron did all the tri-camera work.
  • Other squadrons and the aerial survey firms followed with vertical photography.
  • Most RCAF photography used Lancaster, Dakota, and Norseman aircraft, with Canso amphibians doing the survey supply work.
the early years5
The Early Years

RCAF SHORAN camp - 1949Joe Snyder (L) and Harry Splett (R)Public Archives CanadaPhotos PA-066513, PA-066363

  • For geodetic marker location and later for precision mapping, a navigation method was required to position camera aircraft .
  • The triangulation-based SHORAN radio navigation system was developed during WWII for precision bombing.
  • Ground stations set up at precisely-known ground locations.
  • As camera aircraft flew along prescribed lines, onboard SHORAN equipment interrogated two of the SHORAN ground stations to determine precise air distance from each
the early years6
The Early Years

Types of aerial photographic cameras used by the RCAF in 1945Public Archives Canada Photo PA- 065562

  • Known ground distance between SHORAN ground stations, and measured distances from the aircraft formed a triangle, with aircraft position in space at the apex
  • Cameras mounted in the aircraft photographed the terrain below and SHORAN distance readings were recorded with the corresponding aerial photos
  • Both air and ground had SHORAN technicians. To avoid wasted flying time, ground stations also had weather observer / radio ops
the early years7
The Early Years

Rockcliffe-based 408 Squadron aerial photographic Lancaster at a Northern base.

Public Archives Canada Photo PA-066067

  • RCAF use of SHORAN was limited to geodetic work
  • RCAF aerial photos were used in planning of the Alaska Highway, Distant Early Warning Line, and Mid-Canada Line.
  • By 1957 RCAF completed tri-camera coverage of Canada. Gaps due to cloud and other operational problems were common.
  • Survey requirements were now taken over by other departments.
  • Air survey firms, would continue to be coordinated by ICAS, with photos going to NAPL.
the major aerial photo survey firms
The Major Aerial Photo Survey Firms
  • Under Canadian law, foreign companies could not own or operate Canadian-registered ships or aircraft in Canada.
  • Only two firms were doing aerial photography for mapping:
  • Canadian Aero Service Corporation, a subsidiary of Philadelphia Aero Service Corporation partnered with Spartan Air Services, a Canadian-owned Ottawa company that owned and flew survey and support aircraft for Canadian Aero’s aerial surveys.
  • Photographic Survey Corporation (PSC), a subsidiary of Hunting Surveys Group of Britain, partnered with Kenting Aviation Ltd, a Canadian-owned Toronto company that owned and flew the survey and support aircraft for the PSC aerial surveys.
  • Both aerial survey firms were supported by SHORAN contractor Offshore Navigation, Inc of New Orleans, Louisiana
offshore navigation inc
Offshore Navigation, Inc
  • ONI was formed to provide electronic navigation services to the US oil exploration industry marine surveys in Gulf of Mexico.
  • Soon spread to Canada, Caribbean, Latin America, and world.
  • ONI provided teams of SHORAN technicians and equipment.
  • ONI teams travelled and lived with client field teams.
canadian aero spartan ottawa
Canadian Aero / Spartan - Ottawa
  • Canadian Aero / Spartan had been doing aerial photo survey work since 1940`s - covering much of Canada
  • DeHavilland Mosquitos (like CF-HMP shown) provided some high-level aerial photographic surveys (RCAF CF-100 in rear)
  • Chapter 70’s Bob Zieman - VE3ATN was camera operator aboard theMosquito and other aircraft during 1956 -1960 period.
canadian aero spartan ottawa1
Canadian Aero / Spartan - Ottawa
  • P-38 Lightning also used for high level aerial photo surveys. Photo shows Spartan P-38 CF-GCH in its earlier WWII paint scheme.
  • High-level vertical photo surveys resulted in more detailed maps, and also filled in gaps in tri-camera coverage (due to cloud, etc)
canadian aero spartan ottawa2
Canadian Aero / Spartan - Ottawa
  • Bob Zieman also flew many hours as camera operator aboard the Spartan Cessna 310 similar to the above for low level work
  • Both Spartan and Kenting had new superior compact cameras and Automatic Profile Recorder radars to better establish height above ground.
canadian aero spartan ottawa3
Canadian Aero / Spartan - Ottawa
  • Our Bob Zieman - VE3ATN was camera operator aboard Spartan DC-3/Dakota CF-ICU (L). Supercharged engines allowed flight at 20,000’ (with oxygen masks for the crew)
  • Air & ground calibration was required before a survey. Canadian Aero SHORAN calibration truck at Uplands Airport - 1955 (R).
  • Other Spartan aircraft include Avro Anson and Lockheed Ventura
canadian aero spartan ottawa4
Canadian Aero / Spartan - Ottawa

Canadian Aero / Spartan 1950’s aerial survey bases across Canada

  • Yukon - Whitehorse
  • NWT - Inuvik, Norman Wells, Yellowknife, Sawmill Bay, Pelly Lake, Cambridge Bay, Coral Harbour, Frobisher Bay (Iqaluit)
  • Ontario - Armstrong, Ottawa (St Lawrence Seaway surveyed several times to update forecasts of flooding)
  • Quebec - Val d’Or, Roberval, Mont Joli, Sept Iles
  • New Brunswick - Fredericton
  • Nova Scotia - Halifax
  • Many of the same bases were used in those years by competitor Photographic Survey Corporation / Kenting Aviation.
  • Both Spartan and Kenting lost too many aircraft and crews during that period. Aerial survey and mapping was dangerous.
photo survey kenting toronto
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto

Photo shows PSC/Kenting B-17G CF-HBP as it was at Foxe Main in 1957.

  • PSC undertook the first commercial Arctic survey in 1957
  • Two-year survey of northern Baffin Island used B-17G for high- level photos, newest ground station gear, and licensed hams as weather observer/radio ops. Based at Fox Main (now Hall Beach)
  • I was first hired of the PSC weather / radio ops, and recruited seven more at Ryerson.
  • Maximum effort to get ham and commercial phone licenses.
photo survey kenting toronto1
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • MCA DC-4 CF-MCD loaded at Malton in mid-May 1957.
  • With entire survey team and freight aboard, there were still seats
  • After re-fuel at Churchill, flew north to Fox Main.
  • Crashed York freighter, short of Fox Main runway.
  • Much activity at Fox Main - 24 hour sunlight
  • After few more days preparation, we began to deploy field sites.
photo survey kenting toronto2
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Chartered DC-3/Dakotas on skis (L) delivered ground stations
  • Landing at Clyde weather-delayed so helped install Gilliam site.
  • When 2nd Clyde attempt, stayed on DEW site. New charter.
  • Our station (R) set up in early June. Tower on a geodetic marker.
  • Both gensets and VHF groundplane antenna in foreground. Fuel drums part of two USAF avgas caches - one WWII era. The supply tent was mostly for food cartons - “K Rations”
our k rations
Our “K Rations”
  • One carton per week per person provided three meals per day
  • No bread - just hard-tack biscuits that tasted like cardboard.
  • Baked ham, Salisbury steak, pork, sausages, chicken or turkey dinners. TV dinners but the technology of 50 years ago.
  • Butter, bacon, corned beef, Spam. Jam. Peanut butter. Tea. Coffee. Corn syrup. Egg, pancake and milk powders and potato flakes (yuk). Dry cereal. Oatmeal. Chocolate. Hard candy. Canned fruit. Canned juices. Peanuts. Fruit cake. Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk. Catsup. Sugar. Salt. Pepper - all in sealed packs.
  • My ONI partner slathered his own Louisiana Hot Sauce over all he ate - breakfast, lunch and dinner - “not that damned Tabasco”
photo survey kenting toronto3
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Above photos show layout of Jamesway hut. Heating by Coleman fuel-oil stove at rear (L). Very comfortable in cold “summer”.
  • Floor canvas-covered 1/2” plywood over 2”X4” frame
  • AN/CPN2 SHORAN, TMC GPR-90 SSB Receiver/VFO and Eldico SSB-100 MIL Transmitter and VHF AM a/g radio (R)
  • Personal locker in front of the bunk (background left)
  • Food preparation table with camp stove opposite radio gear
photo survey kenting toronto4
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Icing fog frequent at Clyde River station much of summer 1957
  • Our first ice storm (L)
  • Prolonged heavy icing resulted in collapse of 50 ft aluminum SHORAN tower (R)
  • Collapse occurred five times over the “summer” due to successive ice storms
  • Tower shrank to 30’ - SHORAN antenna looked worse each time
photo survey kenting toronto5
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Photo (L) shows repaired SHORAN antenna and tower after first loss - now only 40ft high. Only ex-Marine “Big Ed” Barney could walk up that tower, even with me at full effort on guys.
  • Rock ledge (R) looked down 1500 ft to the beach on Davis Strait.
  • Occasional polar bear along beach
  • My ONI partner’s tale of Cuban rebels, Batista, & Miami mafia
photo survey kenting toronto6
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Aerial view of station atop higher peak.
  • (R) USCG Cape Christian LORAN A Station at point - 7 mi
  • Mountain is a pile of rocks - no true ground to be found
photo survey kenting toronto7
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto

Home-brew two -element quarter-wave vertical array oriented south (director in front).Third mast (foreground) is for one end of VXW-69 dipole

  • Initial 20M SSB ham radio weekly phone patches with Fred - VE3AIU in Goderich showed that I needed a bigger signal.
  • We had no test gear. 1956 ARRL Antenna Book had little on vertical arrays. But with cut and try, it worked!
  • I lacked material for a third element for my vertical yagi.
photo survey kenting toronto8
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • First supply-mail air drop in early July mixed success.
  • Photo (L) shows Kenting Canso CF-IJG overhead and first drop
  • Photo (M) shows the fuel drum drifting down wind.
  • Photo (R) shows the chute disappearing over cliff.
  • Subsequent air drops (with mail) landed ok.
photo survey kenting toronto9
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Invited to visit Cape Christian the day their supply ship was expected, by the C.O. Lt Ed Daniels K4LLA.
  • LORAN A antenna array (L), with customary distance sign.
  • Also visited USCG Icebreaker Westwind on LCVP. Rode back to camp on Bell 47 helicopter (just like in MASH)
photo survey kenting toronto10
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Clyde not typical site
  • Daily VHF QSOs with Cape Christian and DOT Clyde River
  • First visit by USCG personnel (L) included W8QNF on right
  • 19 yr old Doug Leach and ONI’s Ed Barney flank visitor C.O. Lt Ed Daniels K4LLA (M)
  • Same Inuit team (R) helped get our gear down to Clyde River ready to load onto our aircraft using fishing boats.
photo survey kenting toronto11
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Tour of the DOT Clyde River (L).
  • AT-3 and HRO-60. Launched weather balloon.
  • Cook offered meal before departure.
  • Bought two souvenir Eskimo carvings at Hudson Bay store
  • Kenting Canso CF-IJG (R) needed three passes before floating ice opened safe landing path to pick up gear and crew.
photo survey kenting toronto12
Photo Survey / Kenting - Toronto
  • Re-deployed to Basin, most southern site - for a week
  • Between two small lakes, one with remains of RCAF Canso that tried to land on shallow water.
  • One day awoke to rustling sound - surrounded by caribou.
  • When Canso electrics failed on takeoff. Pilot Bob Pettus managed to land on the deep end of the right lake! That was TOO close!
  • Ed and I flew home via Frobisher and Mont Joli. Taxi to Montreal and train to Toronto.
  • All my 35mm colour slides lost in mail. Just b&w snapshots left.
psc 1957 shoran sites and call signs
PSC 1957 Shoran Sites and Call Signs
  • Clyde (Clyde River - Baffin Island) VXW69
  • Home (Cape Dyer - Baffin Island) VXW70
  • Bernier (Bernier Lake - Baffin Island) VXW71
  • Kendall (Kendall Lake - Baffin Island) VXW72
  • Gilliam (Gilliam Lake - Baffin Island) VXW73
  • Basin (Basin Lake - Baffin Island) VXW74
  • Fox Main (Hall Beach) VXW75 (Flight Base - no SHORAN)
  • Simpson (Fort Simpson) VXW76
  • Poor weather plagued our 1957 survey. Few days had required max 10% cloud cover on aerial photos so B-17 was grounded most of the summer.
post script
Post Script

My QSL card

(f & b)

  • Weather observations taken every four hours and radioed immediately to Fox Main for flight planning of the B-17.
  • Between radio skeds, SSB radios available for ham use (fuel permitting). Older fuel cache at Clyde a windfall for me, but many water & sediment problems with genset.
  • SSB was high tech and rare - mostly above 14.300 MHz on 20M.
  • Memorable stations worked on SSB were VE3AIU, W6NAZ, W2SKE, W6VLH, K4LLA/VE8, W6SFR/VE8, KC4USD, VE3KF.
summary of aerial survey efforts
Summary of Aerial Survey Efforts
  • Shading shows extent of Aerial Survey Data Base Coverage - 2007
  • Field bases of the major aerial mapping survey firms are shown
later developments
Later Developments
  • Several years later in another survey farther north, Kenting used their other B-17E CF-ICB based at Thule, Greenland. Pushing the limits, they flew at 32,000 ft that summer at the cost of 10 engine replacements and several crew instances of “the bends”
  • 6 years later Kenting bought Spartan. Canadian Aero split off. One man, who started with Aero and stayed on, got pay cheques over his career issued by twelve company names.
  • By mid 1960’s, 35 Canadian air survey firms were in cut-throat competition, none making much profit. Eventually consolidated into three consortia.
  • Army took on mapping for defence purposes using helicopters.
  • Men who survived a risky air survey career mapping Canada had a rewarding life, but it was very hard on wives and families.
  • Canada owes those men and families a huge debt of gratitude.
  • Clyde River, Hall Beach now have daily jet service by First Air.
mapping technology today
Mapping Technology Today
  • Canada is world leader in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) since first computerized geography developed here in 1967.
  • The new term “Geomatics” encompasses gathering, analysis, management and distribution of spatially or geographically referenced data. Includes surveying, mapping, remote sensing, cartography, geodesy, photogrammetry and hydrography.
  • Computers now convert satellite images directly into geographic data sets stored in the National Topographic Data Base. These can then be used in GIS and mapping applications.
  • Continuous tracking of GPS satellites is principal method of maintaining Canada’s 100,000+ geodetic markers.
  • Military photo survey aircraft now digitize and computer-correct their photo runs ready for instant map plotting on landing.
  • Today maps are printed to order from a hard drive. See samples.
  • The 8 mi/inch scale is 1:500,000, and 4mi/in is 1:250,000 in metric.

“A History of the Rockcliffe Airport Site: Home of the National Aviation Museum” by Stephen R. Payne, Curator

“Photographic Operations of the RCAF” by Wing Cdr R. I. Thomas

and the following individuals (alphabetically, with affiliation):

Bartello, Tom - Photographic Survey Corporation (Chapter 70)

Bisson, Phillipe - National Air Photo Lab

Brinegar, John - Offshore Navigation Int’l SHORAN air technician

Campbell, Betty - Spartan Air Services

Holt, Ken - Spartan Air Services and TMC Corp’n (Chapter 70)

McLarty, Donald - Kenting Aviation

Splett, Harry - Canadian Aero Service (and successor companies)

Zieman, Bob - Spartan Air Services (Chapter 70)

thank you

Thank You

This presentation is dedicated to the families of those in and around the aerial survey industry who died before their time.