Norman Etheridge

By | November 15, 2020

Norman Etheridge
Milton, ON

Norman Etheridge was born in England in 1927. He was raised and schooled within walking distance of the Croydon Airfield south of London. During World War II, he was witness to the Battle of Britain, and in 1943 he began his aviation career as an aircraft artificer in the Royal Navy, serving until 1957 when he and family immigrated to Canada. Settling in Southern Ontario, he obtained employment with Field Aviation in Oshawa, where he acquired his AME licence on January 21, 1958.

Since Field and Kenting Aviation had collaborative endeavours, he spent many years maintaining Kenting’s B‐17’s in both North and South America. In 1971 Norm transferred to Kenting’s Toronto home base. Here, he coordinated maintenance on the company’s fleet of DC‐4’s that were modified for ice patrol, their PBY Canso and A‐26 water bombers, as well as their Jet Commanders and a Merlin 2A.

When Kenting closed their Toronto base, he joined Commander Aviation to maintain two Jet Commanders for Inco Limited. Soon, Inco created its own flight department, adding a Gulfstream II in 1974, uniquely registered C-GTWO. Norm became Chief Engineer, and his responsibilities for modifications, repairs, and routine maintenance over the next 7 years ensured an impeccable Inco fleet. This included  the complete rebuild of a de Havilland DHC‐6 that was destined for Inco’s new mine in Indonesia.

This history prepared Norm to take on two challenging projects. First was the restoration to flying condition of an Avro Lancaster Bomber for the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. He joined that project in 1983. Assisted by volunteers, AME apprentices, donations of time, money and services from supporters, it culminated in the flight of C-GVRA in September of 1988.

While that project was underway he was requested to assist on another; the refurbishment of Air Canada’s original 1937 Lockheed 10A, CF‐TCC. What had been viewed to be a relatively easy task, turned into a major project. But, Norm stepped in and led Air Canada’s maintenance crew until they finally had an airworthy aircraft. It flew across Canada on the airline’s 50th anniversary tour in 1986. It is still airworthy.

The skills acquired by the people he mentored on projects are Norm’s aviation legacy. This is best illustrated on the Bomber Command Museum of Canada’s website, where his Lancaster project is chronicled by his former apprentice Tim Moles, who states that “Norm taught us the skills to fix aeroplanes, but more importantly, the patience and self‐confidence to know that with the right attitude, any problem can be conquered.”