Exactly 77 years ago Cyril Devaux climbed aboard a Fairchild Cornell aircraft at RCAF station No. 5 EFTS High River in Alberta, Canada. His journey to this point began 7 months earlier when he departed Trinidad in June 1943 with 8 West Indian colleagues all hoping to become pilots. Long since separated, Devaux was the only one selected for pilot training. Presumably he spent the intervening period learning flight theory, navigation, Morse code and the like.
I never asked him about that day, or any of his other flight experiences. Typically, dad never spoke about them. I imagine he was anticipating this day with much excitement and perhaps some degree of nerves. His log book entry of 17 January 1944 lists “Cockpit Layout, Preparation for Flight” and “Air Experience” as the day’s flight lessons. Evidently the 40 minute inaugural flight was a success since within 2 days, instructor Flight Officer Paris, commenced instructing Devaux on “Stalling”.
The concept of stalling is one I suppose all pilots need to know how to handle. I prefer my plane rides to comprise one continuous engine drone thank you very much. The 2 seater 132mph top speed aircraft would be the first of 9 different types Devaux would successfully pilot over his 3 year military service. During that time his logbook captured important details of every flight: a constant companion until post war life relegated it to a milestone of history.
Fast forward to 2016 when Shigeaki Mori signed dad’s logbook giving life to the Log Book project. As I write this the logbook is back in Japan where it will be presented to Mr Mori this coming week. His initial signature is simply his name in English. I always hoped he would sign in Japanese. He has graciously agreed to do so and volunteered to add a note.
I did not realize the coincidental timing with dad’s inaugural flight anniversary until I began to write this post. Ross Stewart and I figured out long ago that TLBP’s schedule is steered by celestial forces. This is just another example. Like my father on his first flight, I am definitely anticipating Mr. Mori’s second signing with much excitement.
This brings me to the main point of this post – the occasion of another significant milestone for the project, the formal launch of its website on a date carefully chosen by The Log Book Project webmaster Mr Lars McKie.
McKie emailed 5 short months ago saying: “I live in Sweden and would like to query if there is anything one can assist with in ensuring the ‘safety’ of the LB as well as its continuation to collect signatures.” The conversation soon turned to websites and I quickly discovered Swedish efficiency is every bit as legendary as German.
McKie’s impact on the project can best be described as “whirlwind”. Within 2 weeks he had a working model. His dedication and energy have been unrelenting and I often tell him I am the one delaying progress. He has transformed my plodding pedestrian posts into the robust engaging online platform that now hosts the amazing veteran stories.
Additionally, McKie delves into the data, adding compelling details to each profile, fleshing out contextual surroundings and respective campaigns. I have a deeper appreciation for each story and my father’s own journey and the very real risks he faced thanks to McKie’s tireless input. To say I am grateful is a gross understatement. I always sensed I was in denial about finding time to create a blog (much less a website) for the project. McKie’s incredible voluntary opus leaves no doubt about the extent of my cluelessness.
2020 managed to deliver a few gems amidst its upheaving tumultuous challenges. Lars McKie, defining the term “yeoman support”, has been an absolute diamond for the project.
I must mention a few other sterling contributions from persons like Gary Toyn, Gerri LeBeau and Marguerite Woodstock-Riley who patiently responded to my many requests in getting related party signatures. Then there were individuals like Donald Campbell, Mike Mair, Fumihito Hiro, Yukako Ibuki and Tod DePastino who now support on a level approaching McKie. Their contributions will come to light in future posts.
Finally I must mention the long haulers, those of you who joined this crazy beautiful journey from day 1 or soon thereafter, Richard Howard and Youko Nakano, Esther and Jim Hogan, Margaret McEvoy, Ross Stewart, Nikolai and Meghan Mongroo, Barry Frechette, and my sister Simonne and her husband Raul Quiros. This project succeeds because of the gargantuan help you all provide. To anyone I may have missed, please excuse me and know your input is deeply appreciated.
Now that you are here let us know what you think and please continue to visit as we proceed to new milestones and anniversaries: the journey continues!