Toronto Star Clipping (1986)



Toronto Star Clipping (1986)


Famous bomber: Gerry Bell, the first black Canadian to earn a pilot's licence, holds a model of the famed Lancaster bomber, the workhorse of World War II and one of Bell's favorite planes. Bell is helping with the restoration of a Lancaster and expects it to be airworthy by this summer.

Restoring plane
Bell, who wears the official shirt of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Foundation, is helping with the restoration of a Lancaster at the Hamilton airport and expects it will be airworthy by this summer.
While Bell is pleased with today’s military aircraft, which are bigger and faster than those he flew, he’s not so happy with other aspects of modern military life.
“There are too many promotions too quick and not enough discipline in the ranks,” he says. Bell is concerned, too, about the sophisticated equipment of some of the modern flying machines.
“I looked inside one of those new F-18 fighter planes and the pilot was hard pressed to show me a flying gauge - they’re all video displays now.” With all that equipment, “over your head and under your seat . . . there is hardly room to move.”
After Bell left the military in 1961, he began a second career as a quality control inspector for the military, first at de Havilland Aircraft in Downsview and later at Spar Aerospace. He retired for the second time in 1974 at age 65.
His active life has been slightly curtailed recently “by a bum leg.”
The last time he was at the controls of an aircraft was three years ago - on a Royal Canadian Mounted Police plane flying out of Ottawa.
“I was in the co-pilot’s seat and it was a lot of fun,” he recalls.
The son of a foreman for National Steel Car Co. in Hamilton, Bell’s earliest ambition was to be a doctor. But he got hooked on flying when “this old biplane came whooshing over (the family home) and landed in a nearby field.”
Times were tough in those days but Bell scrapped up $10 for two flights with Len Tripp, another legendary figure in Canadian aviation history.





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