Canadian Warplanes 4: WACO Gliders

WACO CG-4A Hadrian Mk. II Glider

(IWM Photo E(MOS)1235)

WACO CG-4A Hadrian Mk. I Glider, RAF (Serial No. FR557), under tow at the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Yorkshire, England.

WACO CG-4A Hadrian Mk. II Glider (32), (Serial Nos. 9501, 9503, 9505-9530, KH944-KH947).

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM640-S1-: CVA 260-1521)

WACO CG-4A Hadrian Mk. I Glider, Vancouver, British Columbia, ca 1945.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo,  MIKAN No. 4233994)

WACO CG-4A Glider, ca 1960s.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4233997)

WACO Hadrian CG-4A Glider.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3607731)

WACO CG-4A Hadrian Glider "Voo Doo", being prepared for a transatlantic flight from Canada to the UK, c Dec 1942. Wing Commander Richard Dickey Seys was commissioned from the RAF to pilot the glider on its maiden voyage. Alongside him would be his Canadian co-pilot: Wing Commander Fowler Gobeil. At first, the pair flew the glider from Montreal to North Bay, Ontario. Then, they flew from Montreal to Maine and back. Following this trip was a venture out to Goose Bay, Labrador. After this, they took the glider from Montreal to the Bahamas, crossing a distance of 1,187 miles. At this point, they had already broken the world record for distance covered in a glider in a single sitting.

In June of 1943, the mission was put into motion. Before takeoff, the lead plane was overloaded with fuel. At the same time, the glider was overloaded with 3,360 lbs of equipment, blood plasma for the Soviet, and the two men. Additionally, a third aircraft in the form of a Catalina Flying Boat joined the other planes as a precaution. Once every craft was fueled, filled, and manned, they set off. The first leg of the journey was from Montreal to Goose Bay. Throughout the first stages of the trip, the group experienced massive amounts of turbulence and three major winter storms. The conditions were strenuous at best for the nylon rope that connected the aircraft to one another. Despite this, the glider was able to make a good landing at the end of the stint.

On 27 June, after repairing the rope, they started their second spell. This time it would be to Bluie West 1 US Airbase in Greenland. Thankfully, this stretch only lasted 5 hours and was quite uneventful. The 3rd leg would run between Greenland and Reykjavik. Unlike the last stint, this part of the journey was filled with turbulence, rain, snow, fog, and ice storms. It got so cold inside of the glider's cabin that snow began to form on the inside. Worst of all, they had to do this with the knowledge that they were now entering an active war zone. Despite the constant anxiety associated with potentially getting shot down by a German fighter pilot, everyone finished safely.

The final session was from Iceland to Prestwick, Scotland, an area that was regularly frequented by the German Luftwaffe. The group was supposed to be escorted by fighter planes. However, no one showed. Despite the danger, the aerial convoy continued to fly across the remainder of the Atlantic. As they entered Scottish airspace, they came across hazards in the form of barrage balloons. Wielding strong steel cable designed to slice wings off of planes, these balloons were extremely difficult for the glider to avoid. In one instance, the glider had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid catastrophe. Admiringly, through sheer will and determination, everyone was able to make their final landing safely.

Upon completion of the journey, the duo became the first individuals to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a glider. The trip covered a total distance of 3,500 miles and took 28 hours to complete. Everyone involved was awarded an Air Force Cross for their efforts. Regardless of their endeavor, the idea for gliders crossing the Atlantic never materialized. The impracticability alone was plenty enough reason to scrap the idea entirely. This point was made clear when Voo-Doo was flown at a later date. Upon landing, it crashed and was damaged too much to be repaired. Sadly, its next destination was supposed to be a museum. (Austin Cassell)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3607724)

WACO CG-4A Hadrian Glider "Voo Doo", being prepared for a flight over the Atlantic, ca Dec 1942.

(IWM Photo TR 1159)

WACO CG-4A Hadrian Glider "Voo Doo", first glider to be towed across the Atlantic being unloaded at Prestwick in England, 31 Dec 1942.

WACO CG-15A Glider (1), (Serial No. 9504).

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583927)

WACO CG-15A Glider, USAAC (Serial No. 55594), Rockcliffe, Ontario, 9 Feb 1946.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583925)

WACO CG-15A Glider, USAAC, Griswal nose, spoilers, wing covers and pitol cover glider with skis, USAAF markings, Rockcliffe, Ontario, 6 Feb 1946.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583926)

WACO CG-15A Glider, interior view, 9 Feb 1946.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583928)

WACO CG-15 Glider pickup, Rockcliffe, Ontario, 19 Feb 1946.

WACO PG-2A Powered Glider (1), (Serial No. 9502).  PG-2A with two 200 hp (150 kW) L-440-7 engines.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583917)

WACO PG-2A Powered Glider, USAAF (Serial No. 514037), Rockcliffe, Ontario, 9 Jan 1946.

(Gordon Franklin Snider via the BCAM)

WACO PG-2A Powered Glider, USAAF (Serial No. 514037), Rockcliffe, Ontario, ca Jan 1946.  From a photo album given to the British Columbia Air Museum, that belonged to Gordon Franklin Snider, who was posted at Patricia Bay, BC.  He also was posted to the Experimental Proving Establishment at Rockcliffe, Ontario, in 1947, where he took this photo.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583915)

WACO PG-2A Powered Glider, USAAF (Serial No. 514037), interior, 9 Jan 1946.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583916)

WACO PG-2A Powered Glider, USAAF (Serial No. 514037), 9 Jan 1946.

(RCAF Photo)

WACO PG-2A Powered Glider, RCAF (Serial No. 9502).