Ralph Hamilton Annis 1932-

Ralph Annis in the cockpit of a TBM-3E

Ralph Hamilton Annis was born January 14, 1932 at McAdam, New Brunswick, Canada, the son of Harry Robert Annis {1910-1982} and Esther Annie Moore {d. 1937}. Ralph's mother died when he was 5 years old and his father remarried in 1946 to Ruby M. Moffitt.

Ralph joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as an Airman 2nd Class and through hardwork, an adventuresome spirit and intelligence, worked his way through the ranks to retire as a Colonel and Wing Commander. Even though he is retired from his beloved R.C.A.F., Ralph continues to be an active, ardent, and viable force for the support of Canadian national defense.

In 1959 the Golden Hawks flight team was formed to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the RCAF as well as the 50th anniversary of powered flight in Canada. The Golden Hawks flew the Canadair Sabre from 1959 until the team was disbanded at the end of 1963. Ralph's love of flying, and no doubt his expertise, offered him an opportunity to be a member of the R.C.A. F. acrobatic flight team, the Golden Hawks.

In a description of the first officers to be selected for the Golden Hawks:

"The inaugural team was carefully chosen from the ranks of the most seasoned RCAF Sabre "jockeys" and included Squadron Leader Fern Villeneuve as leader and Flight Lieutenants McCombe, Rozdeba, Kerr, and Annis and Flying Officers Price, Stewart and Holt. Villeneuve is a "pilots' pilot" who is still flying actively today and has accumulated over 8,000 flying hours in jet fighter aircraft alone. He studied the craft of team aerobatic flying while serving on squadrons in Europe and Canada, and was a natural choice to organize the new team. In a short time, the Hawks became famous across North America for their innovative repertoire and dazzling showmanship. The team flew a total of 317 shows in its all too brief five-year lifespan and was forced into retirement because of "budgetary restrictions". The tradition of superb Canadian aerobatic teams continues today with the Snowbirds; but those who remember the Golden Hawks can never forget their special panache and elan."

"In the Golden Age"
by Don Connolly
R.C.A.F. Golden Hawks

Ralph is mentioned for a rather daring and exciting event at the
Museum of Flight website and in case you are unable to access the site or page I have copied it here.

Canada: Coast-to-Coast

In 1956, Canadian Sabre pilots set out to break the cross-Canada speed record held by a Royal Canadian Navy T-33. R.J. "Chick" Childerhose and Ralph Annis refueled halfway, in Gimli, Manitoba. The 1,400-mile (2,240-km) second leg from Gimli to Halifax stretched the Sabre's range to the limit. While test-flying that leg, Annis landed in Halifax with eight gallons of fuel. Childerhose had five. Yet the official cross-Canada dash went off without a hitch. The Sabres, flying on fumes, arrived in Halifax five hours after takeoff from Vancouver, shattering the old record by an hour and twenty minutes.

Ralph and Margaret Annis with AFA Board Member Cal Annis

Cal and Ralph are 4th cousins

Ralph and his wife, the former Margaret Crosman, are presently residing at McAdam, New Brunswick. Ralph's lineage is:

Harry Robert Annis (1910-1982), Robert William Annis (1875-1947), William Dean Annis (c.1830-?), William Annis (1797-1887), James Annis (1762-1940), Thomas Annis (1724-c.1770), Charles Annis (c.1693-?)

The following was written by Ralph Annis in support of the Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century

The original document can be found at the link below

Canada's Air Force-- A Return to International Credibility

Col. (Retd) Ralph Annis
(August 6, 2003)


Canada’s Airforce has fallen dangerously close to being unable to fight and win for Canada. Through years of neglect and under funding, the Airforce has been forced “to do more with less”, to accomplish too many taskings with too few resources. The point has arrived where Canada’s Airforce cannot carry out many of these assigned tasks due to inadequate equipment and insufficient funding while at the same time trying respond to antiquated Defence and Foreign Affairs policies. It is imperative that this situation be investigated and rectified. The intent here is to point out that Air Power is crucial to Canada’s national welfare, and at present Canada’s Airforce cannot provide for the national need, under old policies or for new. For the reader, Air Power is defined, a brief history of Air Power is provided, with the consequences to nations who failed to maintain credible Air Power, and the benefits to those nations that did. Outlined are Canada’s current Airforce resources and capabilities, recommendations are made to return the Airforce to a credible international posture.

Some background: Recently an old warrior friend reminded me that Air Power means control of the air and to control the air, a nation’s Airforce must be founded on the following principles.

An Airforce must be able to control, or at least significantly contribute to the control of its air space. It must also be able to control the air so that its Army and Navy are able to conduct such domestic and international operations as they may be assigned from time to time.
An Airforce must be able to deny others entry, or prominence in its air space. It must also be able to support these and other taskings such as surveillance, search and rescue, aid to the civil power and so on.

An Airforce must be of a composition and size so that it can be trained to conduct these missions, at the behest of its Government—without hindrance or impediment.

An Airforce that fails to adhere to these principles fails their nation. Today, Canada’s Airforce cannot exert control of the air because our government is attempting to be all things to all people without adequate funds to accomplish any chores effectively.

Control of the air is crucial to the fate of the nation. To illustrate, it was the RAFs capability to dominate the air over England during the Battle of Britain, and the Luftwaffes inability to do so over Germany that set the stage for the Allies winning—and Germany losing WW II. During this war, Canada adhered to the principles of air power and developed the fourth largest Airforce in the world and the RCAF successfully conducted air warfare along side its allies. In the vanguard of this Airforce was its fighter fleet that fought to control the air, without which the allied bomber force could not have pursued the course of action that it did, which in turn set the stage for the Normandy invasion on 6 June 1944. It was the Allies, including the RCAF that controlled the air with its fighter fleet, not the Luftwaffe. In his book “The First and the Last”, General Adolf Galland, Commander of all fighter forces in the Luftwaffe during WW II stated that Hitler had coined the idea of the European Fortress. General Galland went on to quote President Roosevelt in an address to congress on Sept 17, 1943 that “Hitler forgot to put a roof over this fortress”.

At the conclusion of WW II, our Airforce was reduced in size from the fourth largest in the world to a pale shadow of its former being. But at the out break of the Korean War and the arrival of the “Cold War” the RCAF was obliged to rapidly expand in size and composition and did this with the prime aim of being able to control the air, all other taskings being secondary. In Europe and Canada, control of the air was paramount. In Korea, it was the USAFs capability to control the air that prevented the loss of the Korean peninsula to the North Koreans. It was the USAF fighter fleet that controlled the air over the battle area that gave the opportunity for the land forces to conduct successful operations.

Also at this time, Canada decided to supply forces to NATO to help halt the Soviet Union expansion further westward in Europe. Part of these forces were supplied by the RCAF in the form of an Air Division of top quality F86 fighter aircraft whose sole aim was to control the air. In addition, Canada deployed a substantial force of all-weather fighters for the defence of North America operating alongside the USAF.

Throughout these years, Canada also developed operational Maritime surveillance, anti-submarine and air transport capabilities to support the three Armed Services. All these responsibilities were carried out with great expertise and with first class equipment. The high level of respect accorded to these forces and to Canada was well known.

Clearly, it was the threat posed by well equipped and operationally ready and willing enemies—first Germany, then Korea and the Cold War with the Soviet Union that caused Canada to generate the Airforce that it did. When the Soviet Union no longer posed a threat to Canada or Europe, the prevailing attitude was that it was no longer necessary for Canada to maintain an air force that could control the air. So in the absence of an apparent threat, Canada has opted for an air force that purports to be of a size and composition to support every tasking with a little bit here and a little bit there. But when walking the hanger line, the air power is not there to complete these tasks, especially the task of control of the air.

Ancient History? Then let us look at the most recent war in Iraq. The Iraqi Air Force, in essence, did not exist which gave the allied air power immediate air supremacy and after neutralization of the Iraqi air defence system, complete mastery of the air. This situation allowed the allied air forces (including the powerful naval squadrons) to radically reduce the fighting ability of the Iraqi ground forces and allow the allied ground forces much freer movement to achieve their objectives. The high performance fighter and bomber aircraft were greatly assisted by the ground support A10 aircraft, called the “Warthog” in taking out pockets of resistance needed to be removed by the land forces. How did all this happen? Simply put, it was through the integration of many elements of military air power. There was, of course, preplanned targeting for a great many enemy sites but when these fixed targets were eliminated, the real magic began. Using a great variety of sensors from personnel on the ground through to satellite imaging, targets were identified, information assessed by ground facilities and an Airborne Warning and Control system aircraft (AWACS), correlated and confirmed and then tasking was sent to a weapons carrying aircraft and the target was hit sometimes within 20 minutes of the request being made. Ground support aircraft, the A10, when called in by a forward air controller were often on target within 5 minutes! Control of the air has never been as efficiently used as in this war and any future use of air power will be more efficient still.

Current threats.

If there is no longer a “Soviet Union” bearing down on Canada and at the risk of sounding paranoid, does this mean that some old hardliners may not resurface. We must not forget history and remember that there was only 20 years between WW1 and WW11—and we are about 15 years or so from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Or China? Do we abrogate our potential responsibilities because the threat does not seem plausible? And what about the home of the real paranoid people, North Korea? That country is flaunting its military power, including probable nuclear weapons, before the world and raging that they are willing and able to cause enormous destruction. There are several other countries that some refer to as “Rogue States” that must be considered a real threat to world peace.

Of at least equal importance is the threat posed by the belief of other nations that Canada is a “paper tiger” because we do not have credible armed forces “in being” that are of any consequence. Credible forces in being are now the coin of the realm and without such coin others will think it easy to take advantage of us economically or worse still, ignore our voice on the world stage. As Professor Jack Granatstein stated recently “Canada is the laughing stock of NATO” and with this reputation goes the prestige of our country. And in this regard our current Airforce leadership may have become culpable and have failed Canada, in that they have failed to point out to the nation that their Airforce can no longer credibly control the air. The Airforce leadership is, in part, accountable for this situation. As the then Minister of National Defence, the Honourable G. Lamontagne stated to the national defence community at the Canadian Defence Association’s annual meeting in 1981 “I realize that in the final analysis we will be judged on military grounds; that is, the extent to which we have effectively contributed to the security of Canada, to the deterrence of war and to the support of our allies”. In examining the current situation it becomes clear that Canada’s Airforce is now so deficient that it cannot credibly deliver for these responsibilities.

What do we have in the bank?

Weapons Platforms: Our most important asset is our fighter fleet of 121 CF18 Hornet aircraft. However only 80 of these aircraft are to be upgraded over the next 10 years to be comparable with other NATO aircraft and only 60 of these will be in squadron service. These upgrades will give the fighter fleet a reasonable capability until perhaps the year 2020. The only other aircraft in our inventory capable of delivering a weapon is the long range reconnaissance Aurora which presently can deliver only one type of weapon—the Mk46 torpedo. There are unfunded plans to upgrade the Aurora to be equivalent to the US Navy Orion, an identical airframe, but this program is expected to take at least 10 years.

Air Transport: If Canada is requested by NATO, the UN or some other alliance to project our air power to some global hot spot (Iraq in 1991 or more recently Kosovo) then the next most important asset is our transport fleet. We presently have 32 C130 Hercules of various vintages up to 40 years old and the older ones are of questionable reliability. The entire fleet has an extremely low serviceability rate. The only other heavy lift aircraft in the inventory is the Polaris (Airbus A320) and we own five of them. Our Airforce also has several light utility Transport aircraft consisting of six Buffalo, eight Challenger, four Dash-8 and four Twin Otter aircraft to “do this and that”.

Air Training: The Airforce does not own any primary, basic or advanced pilot trainers. These are supplied and maintained by Bombardier on a contract basis. The primary trainer is flown by pilots hired by Bombardier but the basic and advanced trainers ore flown by Airforce flying instructors. There are still 24 fifty year old T-33 aircraft on inventory to “do this and that” while awaiting phase-out and 24 Tutor aircraft, 12 flown by the Snowbirds with the remainder in storage as spares.

Helicopter Assets: The Airforce has taken delivery of 15 Cormorant helicopters to fill the Search and Rescue role to replace the 12 Labradors now in service. There are 29 Sea King helicopters extending the reconnaissance capability of the navy ships upon which they are deployed. In the 1960’s the Airforce backed into the tactical helicopter business with the mistaken attitude that if it flies, it belongs. The Airforce now owns 99 civilian pattern Griffin helicopters. Except for small units stationed at our two fighter bases at Cold Lake Alberta and Bagotville PQ and the NATO training base at Goose Bay these aircraft are employed in 7 squadrons attached to and controlled by army units.

The current fighting capabilities of these assets can be quantifed by the following comparison; our entire fighter force (Air Power) of 60 CF-18 aircraft is considerably less than the fighter force aboard a single US Navy Carrier. Further, the carrier force is better equipped having a variety of fighters (F 14, F 18, A 6) plus a variety of weapons, fuel, rescue helicopters, AWACS and in-flight refueling capability. Easily concluded from this comparison is that Canada’s current air power resource is incapable of even modest independent action, and as a result cannot project Canada’s wish internationally.

What does Canada’s Air Force need?

We must be able to control our own airspace and the air space over an area where our air power may be projected to achieve peace in some part of the globe. In this sense, it must be assumed that Canada will not act unilaterally in any wartime activities but will be a partner with other nations in any such activity. In this context, Canada needs:

Front line fighter aircraft armed with the latest weapons for both air to air and air to ground operations. There must be available AWACS with the latest secure command, control and communications systems.

Highly trained, well motivated and highly skilled pilots and maintenance personnel.

Ground based air and space defence is certainly required,for defence of the “Heartland” (North America) which means a Missile Defence Force of some nature.

The capability to deploy anywhere quickly including an in-flight refuelling capability.

What does she not need?

Canada does NOT need AWACS aircraft to control our fighters since any deployment outside the country will be with an alliance who have these aircraft on call. It should be noted that Canadian aircrews are presently flying the AWACS in Germany with N ATO and in the U.S. with NORAD. The Air Force does not need tactical helicopters to do army and navy jobs.

What must we do?

The government must upgrade all 121 of our CF-18 aircraft and put 100 of these in squadron service. Further, the government must act now to replace these aircraft before the year 2020 when they will surely have run out of time and capability. A study group of highly qualified fighter pilots and engineers must be formed to evaluate new fighter aircraft without the political interference which resulted in the purchase of the CF 5 “Freedom Fighter”. That machine didn’t make the original short list of aircraft to be considered by the air force and only squeezed onto the bottom of their second list after the politicians downgraded the operational requirements. The government then purchased the machine.

The government must also continue the dialogue with the United States on a continental missile defence force.

The government must take as many as 20 of our old C-130 aircraft out of service and replace them with the latest version off the production line. The C-130 has proven itself to be an outstanding machine and the Air Force needs this superb capability for local, tactical and some strategic airlift.

The Air Force desperately needs a heavy airlift capability. A group of Air Transport experts should be formed immediately to study our requirements. Several heavy transports could deliver our troops and equipment to a major airport near any global unpleasantness and then be transported onward by the indominatable C-130.

Canada must expedite the upgrading of our long range reconnaissance aircraft before they become of so little use that their role may no longer be doable.

Our air force must train to a common wings standard and train to meet operational requirements.

The number of Aurora aircraft in our inventory is probably sufficient to meet Canada’s requirements. The problem is the lack of funding to properly equip and train our air and ground crews. The Air Force does not have money for fuel or expenses let alone contract for the very necessary updates required. While our Aurora aircraft are deployed to the Middle East, the crews must do their patrols at low level because they are limited to using only radar, Forward Looking Infra Red and the old Mk1 eyeball. The US Navy, flying the Orion, an identical airframe, fly at medium to high levels using multiple sensors. Further, the Orion can carry and deliver up to 30 different types of weapons.

The Sea King helicopter is not a machine that helps gain control of the air or project that control. However, it has done a very creditable job for the navy despite the bad press over the years. But the Sea King is getting long in the tooth and must be replaced. Once again there are indications that political interference may force the Air Force and the Navy to accept a second rate aircraft and such a situation is totally unacceptable. Further, this is a Navy responsibility and should be taken over by the Navy.

Search and Rescue: While not leading directly to the role of control of the air, search and rescue operations are an air force responsibility and a service in which Canadians can be justifiably proud. Over the past decades our search and rescue units have flown many missions in every part of Canada and over our three oceans and they have performed heroically. It is notable that our search and rescue units are the only Air Force units getting new equipment—the Cormorant helicopter replacing the venerable Labrador.

Tactical Helicopters are doing an army job and they are controlled by the army units to which they are attached. To a tactical helicopter pilot air power means moving the army forward. And while this is important to the army, it has nothing to do with control of the air. When helicopters were first coming into service, it was positively stated by their advocates that there was no threat from fighter aircraft because they could hide so easily. A trial was arranged, circa 1969, at CFB Rivers, Manitoba pitting helicopters against fixed wing fighter aircraft (T33 aircraft with gun cameras), It became immediately obvious that the helicopters were sitting ducks no matter what tactics were used. This finding was supported by stacks of gun camera film and written reports. The final report seems to have been lost and it is doubtful if any realistic threat assessment has been done since. One thing we must not be drawn into is the misplaced idea of the “Attack” helicopter. The attack helicopter came about due to the long running competition between the USAF and the US Army, which was resolved by dividing the flying machines, fixed wing going to the air force and rotary wing to the army. In 1970, a group of high ranking “experts” from NDHQ flew down to Hunter-Stewart air base to watch a demonstration by the Huey Cobra, the first attack helicopter. The author was the only fighter pilot in the group and likened the attack capability to the old air armament Harvard trainer in delivery speeds and weapon carrying capability. Canada rightfully determined not to go the attack helicopter route and this determination must continue.

During the war in Kosovo the US Army sent in 20 Apache helicopters with great fanfare. They didn’t turn a rotor. The reason given was that they needed a special inspection of some kind. Some people believe that some logical thinking senior officer realized that the environment was far too dangerous to risk the loss of these machines. During the recent war in Iraq, the Apache was again deployed. While they were successfully employed against lightly held targets, they were badly mauled when 20 of them were sent against a more heavily defended Iraqi Guard unit. One aircraft was shot down and 15 of the others suffered major damage. Having said this, there is no doubt that the Air Force must provide close air support for our ground forces. In Iraq this was supplied by the A10 Warthog. These heavily armoured aircraft can carry a very large weapons payload including a tank-busting 30mm cannon and they have up to five hours of loiter time while waiting “on Station” for a call for support. The air force must give the army its dedicated close support by immediately purchasing 60 A10 Warthog aircraft from the USAF and deploying five squadrons across the country to work with the various army area commanders. They must be able to deploy with them to hot spots when required. The present deployment to Afghanistan would be a perfect job for these specialized machines.

The Army now has total operational control over tactical helicopter operations. It is time to give the army command of these squadrons along with all the duties and responsibilities that go with such ownership. The Air Force doesn’t need them.

Pilot Training: For years the pilot fraternity argued against “streaming” the training of pilots. Streaming is the breaking off from the normal training syllabus prior to the trainees attaining Wings standards and streaming them into helicopter or transport training for the last half of a changed syllabus before gaining their wings. Pilots destined to be fighter or instructor pilots continued the normal training to wings standard before moving to operational or instructor training. Unfortunately, streaming was finally adopted against the advice of pilots but a financial squeeze could not be fought. The streamed pilots are given 95 hours or about half of the full syllabus and further training in a field which, in the case of helicopter pilots, limits their future employment. The chickens are now coming home to roost; because helicopter pilots being cycled into the basic flying instructors positions require a great deal of costly retraining. Fixed wing (transport) pilots have an easier time becoming flying instructors. The air force should immediately return to producing a well rounded pilot, from a proven flying training syllabus, who can be transferred between different aircraft types to ensure that Canada maintains a highly qualified and competent air force.

Flying hours available for primary, basic and operational training has not been limited. However, flying hours for continuation training has been severely curtailed. Our CF-18 pilots now must train in either air-to-air combat or air to ground operations, not both. There is grave concern that the recent fatal CF-18 accident may have been caused in part by insufficient training hours. Ditto the recent Sea King accident aboard HMCS Iroquois where both the air crew and ships crew seemed to have had insufficient training. Our long range patrol aircraft have had to discontinue patrols of our Arctic due to insufficient funding for fuel and accommodations. The fact that our air force continues to provide outstanding service is due to the extremely high quality of our air and ground crews but the quality is bound to diminish unless funding can be found for proper operational continuation training. It is time for some senior Air Force commander to say “We will train to meet our flying standards and to meet our operational requirements. When the money runs out, we will close the hanger doors.” It is at best false economy to cut back on training and at worst, criminal, to put our dedicated airmen and airwomen at grave risk because of it.

There used to be an expression during the Cold War “Sleep tight tonight, your Air Force is awake.” It is apparent to the author that the ability of the Canadian Air Force to project Air Power or even adequately do our assigned tasks has been severely degraded from what was once the fourth largest Airforce in the world. We can now only be described as a hodge podge collection of under strength, poorly equipped and under funded Squadrons due to budget constraints and a lack of clear guidance and direction from the politicians in both Defence and Foreign Affairs. We must now seek “peacetime utility” for our war fighting machines. Immediate action must be taken to stop the bleeding of our Airforce and increase the resources and funding to a level that will allow Canada to project her Air Power whenever and whereever required to meet the Nations needs. It has been said that every country will have an Air Force, our own or someone else’s.

I vote for our own Canadian Airforce.

Related Links

A History of the R.C.A.F. Snowbirds - "The year 1973 brought a new Base Commander to Moose Jaw and a new leader for the Snowbirds. They were Colonel Ralph Annis and Major George Miller, both ex-Golden Hawks

A Tribute to 4 Wing and the Royal Canadian Air Force by Wing Commander Ralph Hamilton Annis, 18 March 1967

Veterans Services and Legion Seniors Committees Ralph H. Annis is the Vice-President and Chairman

Colourful Characters - A tribute to the daring airmen who flew the TBM-3E, including Ralph Annis

Optical Power Output of an Unidentified High Altitude Light Source (Note: The paper was published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 13, #2, pg. 199, 1999. It was originally presented at a symposium of the Society for Scientific Exploration in 1984.)

CSS-21 -Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century

Annis Links

The Annis Family in the US and Canada