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November, 1940: after Hitler's Blitzkreig devastated Europe, Britain held out alone against the Nazis. North American factories were producing badly-needed warplanes in quantity, but how to get them over there? Nazi U-boats were decimating freighter convoys with great loss of life and cargo, including aircraft. Why not fly them across? It's hard for those of us in the 21st century to believe it, but the stormy North Atlantic had rarely been flown in winter. It was considered suicidal to even try. Yet desperate times call for desperate measures. This book honors the unique but little known group which, beginning in November 1940, delivered almost 10,000 warplanes across the uncharted oceans, suffering losses comparable to losses in combat. Why did this brave group not become famous?Well, it had several names over the war years; it was comprised of both military and civilian personnel from several countries and military organizations. Best known as the Royal Air Force Ferry Command based in Montreal, Quebec, it evolved into No. 45 Group RAF Transport Command with headquarters in England. The most important reason? This was a secret mission. So for almost forty years, the story of Ferry Command was unknown to the public. Ferry Command Pilot is told firsthand from the pilot's seat by then-twenty-six-year-old Ferry Command Captain Don McVicar. A Canadian civilian pilot, he was unusual in that he was also a crack navigator and radio operator, skills that brought him and his crews back from many dangerous missions. He received the King's Commendation and the Order of the British Empire. After a long turbulent career in Canadian aviation, Don McVicar gathered together his many logbooks, photographs, memories, and those of survivors with whom he had remained in touch, and wrote the first real book about the Royal Air Force Ferry Command. In 1981 Airlife published Ferry Command in hardcover, followed by North Atlantic Cat, A Change of Wings, Mosquito Racer and More Than A Pilot. His self-published A Railroad From the Sky, Distant Early Warning, and From Cuba to Oblivion completed his acclaimed autobiographical aviation series. In 1990, with Ferry Command sold out, no longer in print but in demand by his readers worldwide, he split it into Ferry Command Pilot and South Atlantic Safari, which he self-published, printed-on-demand: revolutionary ideas in 1990 After writing several hundred thousand well-received words, he had the confidence to make these versions a bit juicier, truer to the wide-open spirit of a bush pilot from the Canadian West. He's not afraid to tell a corny joke or to tell the truth about some of his rougher landings Although Captain McVicar passed away in 1997, he foretold the power of the internet to help authors and artists in particular to get their work out into the world. 2015 would have been his 100th birthday, and is the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Don McVicar would be pleased to see his book back out in the world This edition of Ferry Command Pilot was carefully illustrated, edited and designed by his daughter, Donna McVicar Kazo, a professional artist, editor, writer and graphic designer. It was important to Captain McVicar to identify those who flew with him, even those whose performance was less than stellar. Where else would their small - yet vital - contributions to the defeat of Hitler be recognized? This edition is a tribute to all of those good guys - and gals. May we be so brave.
About the Author
Captain Donald McVicar was a true aviation pioneer. He lived boldly in the Golden Age of Aviation. He earned his private pilot's license at 21 in 1936, flying a deHavilland Moth in his homeland of Saskatchewan, Canada. He mastered dozens of types of aircraft in his long, turbulent aviation career. While getting the hours to obtain his commercial license, he became Winnipeg's first air traffic controller with ATC Licence #9: before they had even built the tower. In 1941, he joined the Royal Air Force Ferry Command in Dorval, Quebec. As a Captain-Navigator, and already an experienced radio operator when he joined up, he was known as a "triple threat" and in 1943 was awarded the King's Commendation and the Order of the British Empire for his" valuable services in the air." Some of those services included a 1942 exploratory flight to the Arctic along with RAFFC Capt. Louis Bisson and USAAC Col. Charles Hubbard, where he landed his single-engine Noorduyn Norseman farther north than anyone had ever flown; and the first RAF delivery of a Martin B-26 Marauder "Widow Maker" to Africa. After the war, he founded his own airline, World Wide Airways, and ran it for two decades from Dorval until essentially forced out of business by political pressure from on high. Capt. McVicar had the guts to do what many fail to do: write it all down and get it published, beginning with "Ferry Command" in 1981 and ending with "Through Cuba to Oblivion" in 1994. He passed away in 1997 at his Dorval home, not far from the airport where he made aviation history.