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ISSUE 140 - October 2010
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Tiger Boys - The Quintessential Barnstormers!

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Roslin, Ontario, Canada

This beautifully restored DHC Tiger Moth has won numerous Oshkosh awards, including 1980 Reserve Grand Champion, 1981 Contemporary Age Champion, and 1991 Warbird Champion.

Well, boys may not be the right word to describe most of the pilots that fly with the "Tiger Boys." Experienced. Venerable. Weathered. Welcoming. Maybe these are, well, more appropriate.

DHC Tiger Moth "Miss Gloria No 1" takes to the air, left.
DHC Tiger Moth flies past on final, right.

The "Tiger Boys" are a group of pilots who have a love for two-winged aviation and, maybe more apropos, a love of the de Havilland Tiger Moth. An historic aircraft designed by Geoffrey de Havilland and built in the 1930s, the Tiger Moth has become a highly sought after aircraft. There are groups around the world that seek out these beautiful old biplanes, lovingly restoring and flying them, hopefully, for years to come.

Unusually painted Tiger Moth sitting quietly on the grass before the next flight, left. Shining brightly in the mid-day sun, a passenger enjoys a ride in one of a few flying DHC Tiger Moths during the Tiger Boys Fly-in, right.

De Havilland of Canada built the Canadian version of the Tiger Moth at their factory in Toronto, Ontario and though it was the same basic Tiger Moth design from the original model at de Havilland UK, there were some noticeable differences. The DHC Tiger Moth has an enclosed canopy, tail-wheel (instead of a skid), wheel brakes, and a stronger set of landing gear that was placed slightly forward of the UK built Tiger Moth gear. With a normal cruise of roughly 90mph, it isn't the most high performance aircraft but it was an effective and well liked training aircraft.

"Training aircraft" for future Tiger Boys, left, these beautiful little pedal powered
machines were a big hit with some of the younger crowd, right.

The Tiger Moth flew with the RAF, RCAF, RAAF, RNAF to name but a few and served as a trainer for almost 30 years in some cases. After being struck off strength, they found their way into the hands of flight training schools, farmers, crop dusters and others. Today, most are in the hands of those who wish to preserve the history of the aircraft either as static pieces in museums, or as flying tributes to the machine and the men, and women, who flew them so many years ago.

Another famous training aircraft the Fleet Finch taking to the air, left, and on final, right.

The Tiger Boys are not a museum, they are simply a group of pilots, and people, who love aviation and airplanes. They don't restrict their love of flight to just the Tiger Moth, their pilots and members also own and fly several other aircraft including another RCAF training airplane, the Fleet Finch. The Finch was designed and built by Fleet Aviation out of Fort Erie, Ontario and was used as one of several training aircraft during World War II at BCATP training bases across Canada, training pilots and aircrews from across the British Commonwealth.

Fleet Finch climbing out after takeoff, left. Fleet Cornell on final, right.

There were several variants that mostly differed by the type of engine that was installed on them. Cruise speed is roughly 85mph with a top speed, depending on engine, of 104mph to 115mph. The airplane flew with the RCAF into the mid and late 1940's and was replaced by the Fleet Cornell, another airplane you may see flying with the Tiger Boys.

The beautiful and rare Thruxton Jackaroo taxies past, left, and then takes to the air, right.

One of the rarest aircraft in the skies over Guelph and at events across Southern Ontario with the Tiger Boys is the Thruxton Jackaroo. This airplane started life with pre-World War II RAF and was in France when the war started. The airplane was flown back to England before it could be captured and destroyed by German forces and saw life throughout the war as a training and liaison aircraft. Post-war, the airplane was put in storage until the late 1950's when it was purchased by a group at the Thruxton Aerodrome, where it was converted from the 2-seat Tiger Moth to a 4-seat aircraft called the "Thruxton Jackaroo."

The Jackaroo on final, left and in a flypast, right.

Though originally converted to be used as a crop duster, the airplane was brought to Canada by then owner Brian Witty who, in turn, sold it to Glenn Norman and Michelle Goodeve. The airplane was flown from Ontario to British Columbia to be used in an aviation venture but a year or so later was sold to an American collector. Norman & Goodeve understood the airplane was going to a good home however, that was not the case and they discovered it was to be sold for parts. By means of a phone call, the airplane was saved from the scrap heap by their friends Frank Evans & Tom Dietrich who spent several years restoring the airplane to the way you see it now. It is thought to be the only Jackaroo still flying in the world today.

The Taylor E-2 Cub takes to the air, left.
The 5/8 scale Sindlinger Hawker Hurricane flies overhead, right.

The Tiger Boys also fly several other airplanes including a Corbin Baby Ace (Canada's oldest flying homebuilt aircraft), a Taylor E-2 Cub, and a homebuilt Sindlinger Hawker Hurricane, 5/8 scale. All their airplanes are beautifully restored, very well cared for and lovingly flown.

Canadian Warplane Heritage B-25 came by for a short visit, gear down and looking like she was going to land, only to power up and head off to parts unknown, left. On final and passing almost overhead, one of several Tiger Moth's flying during the day, right.

The Tiger Boys home is the Guelph Airpark (CNC4) in Guelph, Ontario. The airport hosts two paved runways with a super grass runway area often used by these beautiful old airplanes. There is a flying club on the field and a wonderful little restaurant should you find yourself hungry and needing a place to fly to for breakfast or lunch. It is in the heart of Central Ontario, only minutes from the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and less than an hour from Toronto or London.

The Thruxton Jackaroo followed by one of the DHC Tiger Moth's, left.
Tiger Moth finishing a turn to final, right.

The Tiger Boys are truly aviation enthusiasts and once a year, in September, they have a weekend fly-in. It's a great opportunity for you to fly-in to Guelph Airpark, or drive to the airport for the day. They have a BBQ with hamburgers, hotdogs and sausages along with chili pop, hot coffee and more and everyone is welcome.

The Jackaroo throttles up down the runway on takeoff, left.
The Fleet Finch on final, low over the corn fields on approach, right.

At Guelph within several hangars, this small group of folks restore and rebuild aircraft for the love of the airplane. They care for and learn about the history of the airplane. They fly airplanes for the pure joy and love of flying. They are the quintessential modern day barnstormers.

Guelph based Kitfox on floats flying past on final, left.
Visiting DH Gipsy Moth taxies out for departure near the end of the day, right.

For more information on the Tiger Boys visit:

Fleet Finch on final, left and in an overshoot, right.


Two Tiger Moth's taxiing past other aircraft in front of hangars where many other pilots and visitors spent time chatting, left. Tiger Moth on final, flying past some higher ground just offset from the final approach, right.


The cockpit of the Thruxton Jackaroo, left.
Wheel hubs with the "D H" for de Havilland on the Tiger Moth's main gear, right.


One of the Fleet Finch pilot's was decked out in all leather flying gear looking as pilots
may have looked during the 1940's in their training days in this sepia and aged photo.

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

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