Special to The NEWS
On Wednesday, Oct. 29, Jim Hannibal, of the Parksville Qualicum Aero Club, took Howard Bouey, a 94-year-old resident of Qualicum Beach’s The Gardens and a former Second World War bomber pilot, for a ride in Parksville Qualicum Aero Club’s Cessna 172. The club’s 172 is available to the club’s flying members as well as non-flying members via its KIWI program.
Howard showed us that he still has “The Right Stuff” when he took over the airplane’s controls enroute to Duncan.
Bouey left university early and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in the fall of 1941. After training in Edmonton and Calgary, and marrying Grace on October 10, 1942. Howard went overseas to England and Scotland, where he did more training on bombers, including the Wellington. The Wellington Bomber had a 14 million candle power light on a retractable assembly in its belly that was operated by a second pilot located in a clear plastic nose of the plane. After a few hours training and flying the Wellington and operating the light and other onboard equipment they were approved for flight operations.
Operations were conducted mostly at night. The job was to fly the chosen area scanning for contacts on the water. Snow or rain or shine, they flew at 1,100 feet above the water. If a contact was spotted they honed in on it while losing altitude to 100-110 feet above the sea. When appropriate, they would use the light to expose the contact, which could be a sailing or fishing vessel or maybe a submarine caught by its snorkel (a breathing tube getting the air needed by its crew). Then they would drop their depth charges and hopefully damage the sub or render it disabled.
Howard and his crew did this for approximately 400 hours. Trips were 10-12 hours covering the English Channel, The Irish Sea and the Bay of Biscay. Later they were posted to Wick on Scotland’s most northern coast. On December 26, 1944, Howard and his crew attacked a snorkel in the English Channel. Assessed as “damaged,” their squadron leader came out the next night and killed the sub. Howard and crew continued operations in the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. That’s where he was on the night the war in Europe was declared over. They had completed 402.2 hours and their tour was over.
Howard Bouey, Flight Lieutenant RCAF, returned to Canada, completed his university education at the University of Manitoba and became an architect who worked for many years in Edmonton, Alberta. He and his bride Grace retired to Qualicum Beach approximately thirty years ago. Sadly, Grace has passed away. However as you can see by Howard’s grin after the landing back at Qualicum Beach Airport in PQAC’s Cessna 172 he is keeping sharp and enjoying our beautiful part of the world.
If you’d like to learn more about the Parksville Qualicum Aero Club and its involvement in COPA for kids, the PQAC High School Scholarship, the KIWI flying program or other activities be sure to visit www.PQAC.ca.