Douglas A/B-26 Invader

Dirk Jory - Air tanker pilot

HOME | SUB INDEX | Preface | Features | Site Navigation | Reg'n cross ref. | S/No's & Prod'n codes | MILITARY VARIANTS - History, Data & Photos | CIVIL VARIANTS - History, Data & Photos | About the author/Contact | Info Req'd | LATEST



I contacted Dirk Jory a while back and asked him if it was possible to send me a bio and some shots of his time as an Air tanker pilot

I wrote:

Dirk, I would imagine you have some amazing stories to tell as an air tanker pilot and I know the people who visit my site would love to read about it.

If you could send a general bio through plus some of the stories you have to share, I would really appreciate it.

To have the chance to hear from an actual air tanker pilot would be wonderful.

Dirk replied:

Hello Martin, yes I have had some more than exciting moments in a B26. Bad engine fire in flight, many engine failures on takeoff with continued flight, landing on flat tire, flipped inverted inside a fire several times before I got out, overloaded with fire retardent that filled the tail section(unknown to me untill takeoff from ft McMurry) the airplane wanted to over rotate.

Had an electrical fire near my feet on takeoff from ft McMurry, I also flew every B26 that was later found to have a crack in the spar.

I understood military diving speed was 425mph so on some flights I would dive to low pass at 400mph then a 4 g pull to vertical flight. I am very very lucky to be alive . I will take the time to compose some history for you.



Dirk Jory Bio
My name is Dirk jory and I had the opportunity to check out on the Douglas Invader in 1979 at Slave Lake Alberta.
I was 24 years old, Gordon Sherman the chief pilot gave me my checkout and ppc. and the aircraft was used for fire bombing.
My early introduction to aviation was in Europe when I was 3 years old and placed in the cockpit of a F86 sabre jet my father was flying for the Canadian airforce.
I know I was inspired by this, as I trained for and got a commercial licence with multi engine and IFR when I turned 18 years old in Victoria BC.
I then proceded to the right seat of a DC3 for superior airways in Thunder Bay ONT.
I got to fly the Beaver, Single Otter, Beech 18 on floats and skis and wheels.
I flew for Bradley Air in Resolute Bay on DC3 and Twin Otter and then flew for Walker Flying Services as a cropduster pilot on the 600 Thrush and Cessna Agtruck.
I then flew my fathers Snow Commander with a 985 radial engine in Northern Alberta, crop dusting. We would see the Invaders in Peace River on fire dispatch and talk with the pilots.
The next thing I knew My father was flying for Air Spray on the Douglas A-26 Invader.
I was blessed to be able to fly on the same crew with him and as luck would have it if I was in tanker 3, then when he was in tanker 4.
We worked a call back in the fall of 1981 and I flew No 26 and he was there on No 27.
I can honestly say I would have flown this aircraft for free, it was a thrill on every flight and sometimes more, much more.
I had engine fires, failures on takeoff with continued flight and shut down at 110kts with not enough runway in front of me.
I got to walk away from every one with no further damage.
I really did put my aircraft that was assigned to me for the summer through its paces.
I have gone 425mph max military diving speed.
The controls are very stiff and you do not want to pull very hard.
At one point, we operated out of Steen River tankerbase in Northern Alberta and it is grass runway.
The invader performed quit well on this type of runway.
Dawson city and Mayo in the Yukon are also unpaved runways.
I had the priviledge of a mountain checkout with Gordon Sherman in Grande Cache Alberta. It was a thrill to read the mountain terrain with winds of warm and cold air, then go up a valley on one engine.
One of the coolest things I learned from Gordon was never give up.
The handling book for the invader says VMC 122kts.
My checkout ppc involved slow flight,110kts and full flaps and gear down and climb power 35inch and 2300rpm. He would pull the mixture control off on the critical engine. It controls, power and drag.
You are fighting to keep the aircraft level and not loose altitude.
You can be fast on the cleanup but you look and your down to 109kts and nose up so as not to loose altitude.
Believe it or not, this is when you do not give up. Just pull back the power on the good engine and you can have control back and the aircraft will accelerate to 122kts and more.
His words where "do not let the book kill you"
Although always regulated to some degree on hours flown in a day, by Transport Canada, with a waiver I did put 13.4 hours in the log book for tanker 3 in one day flying fires in the 1983 out of peace river alberta.
My lowest flying time summer was 26.8 hours and my highest flying time summer was 265 hours.
Summer being 3 months with a possible 2 or 3 week extension.
I flew the Invader in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
I can see why it was used as a military platform for so many countries.
Its a wonderfull aircraft to fly and its tough.
I had 21 summers of adrenalin filled fire fighting in the Douglas Invader.
Thank you Martin for providing a place and time to relive those years.  
Dirk  Jory




Dirk at Grande Prairie


Dirk writes: The two gentlemen in the above photo with me, in front of the Cessna 310 Birdog 5, are High Baker on my right, who fought forest fires on horseback in the 1930s and 1940s, his great grandad brought the first horses into Alberta from Texas. He was a ranger in Alberta and peace officer.
Harry Chukaluck on my left received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Medal of Valour for his actions flying a Halifax bomber on the second wave at Dunkirk during the war.
It was a privilege and an  honour to be on their crew for nearly ten years. I can not believe how lucky I was.
Thanks for your contribution Dirk

Some of Dirks videos

Dirk Jory's photographic library


Mr Lears A-26 at Chico Cal


Whitehorse tanker base


Dawson City tanker base


Dirks dad in tanker 4


Mayo tanker base


Tanker 3 cockpit in cruise







Bird dog five at Steen River


Loon River tanker base


Dirks Dad in tanker 4 at Grande Prairie


Putting a load across the "Head"


Lost Invader in Ft McMurry


Tanker 3 reload Ft McMurry


Dirk in front of tanker 2






Ft Smith


Pincher Creek


Spring at Edson tanker base


Dawson City tanker base


Dawson City girls


Dirks dad on tanker 4