Argus history comes to life

 

By Sara Keddy,

Managing editor

Bert Campbell and Cary Baker are a generation apart and from different military backgrounds, but they have one thing in common: an appreciation of the old CP- 107 Argus. The men teamed up over three years ago to write the first book on the plane’s storied history with the Canadian Air Force, visiting Greenwood September 10 to launch “The Canadair Argus: The Untold Story of Canada’s Cold War Hunter.” The book’s official launch was in August, as  Prince Edward Island opened its Air Force Heritage Park in Summerside. Baker, living in New Brunswick, is a retired Army Major. His dad, though, was an Argus pilot in Summerside at the same time as Campbell, an Argus navigator. In fact, they lived two doors down. Years later, Baker was building an Argus model from scratch, and he found Campbell’s extensive Argus webpage. “We hooked up, I shared some dimensions and specs and he asked, ‘Would you like to work on an Argus book?’ I said, ‘When do you want to start?’” Campbell, now retired in Greenwood, says. There was no definitive Argus history book in Canada, and neither man knew why. “It was a good plane,” says Campbell, who fl ew on them for 12 years. “It had long legs and endurance to carry a large weapon load. When it first came out, it was the most sophisticated maritime patrol plane in the world – and Canada had it.”

Cary Baker, right, and Bert Campbell at their Greenwood Military Aviation Museum book signing September 10.
Image
I. Patrick

 

 

14 Wing Base Commander, Colonel Jim Irvine studying the new book, “Canadair Argus: the Untold Story of Canada’s Maritime Hunter.” Image E.Wedler

 

 

 

“The Argus will always have a special place in the hearts of those who maintained and flew her. Stubborn and cantankerous, she was also faithful and formidable. For the better part of 23 years, we operated 32 Argus, amassing some 450,000 fl ying hours. Much of this time was low-level over the North Atlantic under adverse weather conditions.... The Argus will be missed by all who became accustomed to her deep- throated roar; she served us well” - former CFB Greenwood Base Commander Colonel Al McLellan, 1981 (Courtesy www.CP107Argus.com)

 

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Greenwood had the fi rst one, in service in 1958. The last plane ended service in Greenwood in 1981. Through Campbell’s online network, the men put out a call for photos, stories and history related to the Argus. “People were keen to help – a lot of resources came in,” Campbell says. The men knew they wanted “more pictures than text” in their book, and that’s what they have. Eighty per cent of the photos are from the Department of NationalDefense, with the remainder coming from museum and private collections. Campbell admits he learned a few things through the research even he didn’t know, including the fact the Argus was tested to carry missiles and rockets, but never actually did.

“The Argus is a nostalgia airplane,” he says. “Each airplane had its own distinct personality. I was caught between a rock and a hard place when she was replaced: it was sad to see her go, but we were looking forward to the new planes.” Now that the men have book in hand and are visiting various communities to share it, they are meeting even more people who appreciate the old plane: “Old guys and young guys come out: there are a lot of people around who had been on them. They’re all swapping stories – some of them not fi t for print!”

The book is available here in Greenwood at The Inside Story, the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum or from the author at navigator1@eastlink.ca