Skaarup, Aage C. Warrant Officer - RCAF & Canadian Forces

Warrant Officer (Retired) Aage Christensen Skaarup, RCAF, Canadian Forces

Chris, Hal, Beatrice, Dale and Aage Skaarup, 11 Nov 2007.

My father joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1954 after a visit to the recruiting center in Saint John, New Brunswick.  He had served with the Carleton and York Regiment as a band member and therefore already had some “previous military service.”  He went on to basic training in St Jean, Quebec (this base is still in use by the CF, and I have taken courses there myself – not the first time that I followed in his footsteps in the military).

Carleton & York band, Woodstock, NB, 1953.  Aage is one of the trumpeters.

After Dad completed his basic training in St. Jean in 1955, he was posted to the RCAF station located in Camp Borden, Ontario.  My Mother and my brother Dale and I then moved with him from New Brunswick to Ontario.  We lived in Alliston before moving to PMQ’s at CFB Borden, the first of many trips to the base.

In the summer of 1957 Dad was posted from CFB Borden to CFB Trenton, also based in Ontario.  We lived in a small home about 2 km east of the airfield on the Bay of Quinte side of the highway.  I can still picture rows of yellow Canadian Car & Foundry built North American Harvard trainers and lots of the ubiquitous Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar transports on the runways at the airfield.  Dad played the trumpet in the RCAF band there for many of the base parades.

North American Harvard Mk. II being refueled.  (RCAF Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 32241050

North American Mustang Mk. IV, RCAF  Station Uplands, Ontario, 5 Aug 1952. Dad spoke of a number of incidents with Mustang landings at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584721)

Fairchild C-119F Flying Boxcar, (Serial No. 22102), 22 Sep 1952. I remember seeing a dozen of these aircraft lined up on the runway at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario from 1957 to 1959.

Two years later, during a period that is even now referred to as the “RCAF Golden Years,” we were again posted, this time to 3 Fighter Wing, Zweibrücken, Germany.  I can remember to this day, our family taking a Taxi from the Queen Elizabeth Hotel on 10 June 1959, to Montreal’s Pier 42, where we boarded the Greek Lines ship “Arkadia” along with a number of other RCAF family members.  We shared fully in my father’s travel adventures which accompanied his new job.  The ocean voyage to Europe took a week and along the way we were treated to whales broaching near to the ship.  We passed south of Ireland and docked at Le Havre, France, where we were transferred to a steam locomotive driven train for the trip to Germany.  Many years later, when it came time for my family and I to do the same rotation, it was via a Boeing 707 jet.  I’ve had several thousand flights since then, but I still remember the trip on the Arkadia.  I have heard the same from my cousins in Carl Skaarup’s family who also came over by ship on their way to Soest, Germany.  The Ivernia and Saxonia were two of the other ships chartered for the Canadian military families who sailed to Europe in the early years after the start of the 1951 deployments.

P & O Liner SS Arkadia, 1959 postcard.

Lifeboat drill on board the Arkadia, June 1959.

After four years of castle hunting and exploring much of Europe from Denmark to Spain and living through the Cuban Missile Crisis (it was the first time I saw Dad come home armed with a pistol), and the raising of the Berlin Wall (it went up in my time as a child and did not go down until I was back there with my own children a generation later), and Dad calling us to listen to the radio to hear about John Glenn’s flight into space, it was time for him to return to Canada.

Dad and the RCAF band, 3 (F) Wing, Zweibrücken, Germany, ca 1960.

An RCAF story...My father was a Leading Aircraft Man (LAC) serving at RCAF Station 3 (Fighter) Wing, Zweibrücken, Germany (1959-1963).  He had been born in Denmark and came to Canada with his family in 1927, he grew up speaking Danish and English.  One day he was out on the airfield runway driving a mule towing an ordnance trailer for the RCAF Canadair CF-104 Starfighters getting ready for an exercise. He was on the radio with the tower, when he heard the words "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday". A pilot with the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) flying a Republic F-84 Thunderjet was having an inflight emergency and was coming down hard and fast.  In fact, "right now!" would have been a better description - Dad turned to look and the fighter was definitely headed his way at a high rate of knots.  Dad put the pedal to the metal and got off the runway as the Thunderjet slid past him and skidded to a halt.  Dad hopped off the tractor, noted the Danish flag on the aircraft and when the pilot popped the hood, he looked up and asked him, "har du det godt? (Are you OK?).  The Danish pilot looked at Dad and said "Ja, hvor fanden er jeg?" (Yes, where the hell am I?)  They spoke in Danish while they waited for the crash trucks to arrive...It can be a very small world.

RDAF Republic F-84 Thunderjet (Tojo Photo)

Dad in Paris.

On the 19th of June 1963, we said goodbye to Zweibrücken, took a bus to 1 (F) Wing, Marveille, France.  The next day we boarded an RCAF Canadair Yukon transport and flew back to Canada, arriving at CFB Trenton, Ontario, where we spent the night at the Yukon Lodge (still in service today).

Canadair CC-106 Yukon, which we boarded on 20 June 1963 for the flight home.

From there, Dad was posted to Canada’s NORAD HQ in North Bay, Ontario where we went to live in the PMQs at Trout Lake.  North Bay is the counterpart to the HQ I worked in at Colorado Springs – again; I seemed to be following in his footsteps.  The summer of 1964 Dad took us to a swimming place on Lake Nippissing, often stopping to get us a hamburger at the Brazier Burger place he said was run by a famous hockey player.  Years later, I learned it was run by Tim Horton, long before he was famous for his donuts.  My brother Christopher joined us in September 1965.

Dad served three years with NORAD at RCAF Station North Bay, Ontario, and he was then posted in the summer of 1966 to RCAF Station Gypsumville, Manitoba.

CFS Gypsumville, Manitoba, sign 1968.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5033301)

Aerial view Pinetree Radar site, CFS Gypsumville, Manitoba. 25 Sept. 1963.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5039594)

CFS Gypsumville, Manitoba. Interior of the Radar Operations room, 21 May 1970.  My RCAF father was based at CFS Gypsumville from 1966 to 1968 - I attended school 32 km south at Moosehorn Collegiate, Manitoba.

On 1 Feb 1968, the RCAF along with the RCN and Canadian Army were renamed and Dad became a member of the Canadian Forces.  He worked at this radar site on the Pinetree Line until posted to CFS Gander, Newfoundland in the summer of 1968, where he served another three years.

Chatham town band, 1973.  Aage is in the middle row, third from the left.

Harold, Aage and Dale, CFB Chatham, New Brunswick, May 1973.

In the summer of 1971 he was posted to CFB Chatham, New Brunswick, where he completed his 20 years of service in 1974, retiring as a Warrant Officer in the Canadian Forces.

Aage with his Bombardier.

Aerial photo of the farm, long before the new Trans Canada Highway was built through the middle of it.

Aage with the Challenger II ultra-light aircraft he built and flew himself.

The barn, once the tallest in New Brunswick, before Dad painted the mural on it.

Barn with the mural and the Challenger II.  The train is for Dale, the Skyhawk is for Hal, the world map is for Chris, the bicycle is for Beatrice, the skier, Viking ship symbol and aircraft is for Aage.

When an ice storm collapsed the roof on the barn Aage rebuilt and relaid the roof by himself using cables attached to his bulldozer on one side and to the tractor on the other side.  He then reconstructed what was left of the mural single-handed.

View of the farm from the air, taken by Dad from his aircraft.

Dad returned to the family farm near Lakeville, Carleton County, New Brunswick, where he raised cattle and farmed for many years, while keeping up his music skills playing the fiddle and trumpet.  He skied regularly at Crabbe Mountain, often joined by many of his family members.  He restored old bulldozers and a Bombardier snowmobile for pulo harvesting.  He built and learned to fly his own aircraft, and many people will recall seeing the mural he painted on the barn, now long gone due to an ice storm.  He was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion in Centreville, and played a very large number of last posts during his retirement years.

On Sunday, 17 June 2011, Aage Christensen Skaarup (1923- 2011), passed away peacefully in the Carleton Manor in Woodstock, New Brunswick.  His obituary noted he was born in Broager, Denmark on 11 November 1923.  Aage came to Canada as a boy with his family in 1926, and settled in New Denmark before he and his father Frederik, Mother Anne, brothers Fred, Harold and Carl moved to Charleston in 1938.  He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and later served with the Canadian Forces as a Warrant Officer, retiring after 23 years service in Canada and overseas. He retired to his farm in Charleston in 1974 where he continued to work until his recent bout of bone cancer. At the age of 70, he built his own airplane and learned to fly it, but let it go at the age of 85 because it was interfering with his skiing time at Crabbe Mountain.  He was a life-long musician, playing the violin and trumpet in dance bands and military bands all over Canada and Europe.  He was a member of the Centreville Legion, where he played many “Last Posts” for fallen comrades.  He was on the Board of Directors of the Florenceville Co-op and a member the Waterville Baptist Church.  The third of four brothers, Aage is survived by his wife of 60 years, Beatrice, their sons Harold, Dale and Chris and their families which include seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.  The funeral service was held in the Waterville Church at 2 PM on Tuesday 22 June 2011.  

Per Ardua ad Astra.