By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102, Langley, British Columbia
Helping a good friend do an annual on a 1938 J-3 Cub gave me the opportunity to look at all but the very first logbook on this antique and everything that I touch about this airplane leads me down another path, probably due to my short attention span.
Ed Batchelor’s name led me to wonder why so little has been written about him. Much has been written about Art Seller and Skyways Air Services Ltd but not about a key person in his business. Post war, Batchelor was working as a business licence inspector in Langley when he met Seller.
Ed learned to fly and had his pilot’s license before ever getting a driver’s license. While Seller’s focus turned to spraying and fire suppression, Ed worked for Art for 35 years, finally retiring when the company was sold in 1989. Ed looked after the flying school as both chief flying instructor and chief engineer, instructing during the day and maintaining the large variety of aircraft at end of the flying day. Over some 50 years of flying, Ed accumulated more than 25,000 hours, many of those during the Second World War as a squadron leader and captain of an RAF Sunderland, which was a huge flying boat with four Pratt & Whitney R-1830 1,200 hp radial engines. Ed was a pilot, flight instructor, and engineer on the aircraft.
All of that power did not translate into speed, however. While the maximum speed was 213 mph, it would drag 12 machine guns, 7-10 crew members, and 5,000 pounds of bombs around the Atlantic with a gross weight of up to 65,000 pounds for up to 13 hours at the mind-blowing speed of 139 mph. The main task was anti-submarine patrol and during the war these flew more than a million hours on some 640,000 operational flights. A large portion of Ed’s total hours were accumulated in this manner.
Some of that flying experience was the reason that he survived a potentially dangerous in-flight failure in a Tiger Moth. It seems that on short final into Langley the canopy slid all the way back and off taking the vertical stabilizer with it. The landing, while mandatory, was uneventful.
On a personal note, Ed gave me my flight test for my private license on the last day of December in 1981.