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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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Flyers Become Entrepreneurs

Bush Pilots

Blatchford Field, Edmonton

Experimental Airmail

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Between the Wars (1919-1939)

Pilots returned from First World WarWhen the First World War was over, those who had served as pilots during the war returned and wanted to continue flying. Many opportunities were available to these men as there were surplus aircraft being sold by the government to encourage the development of a new commercial aviation industry in Canada.

Civil aviation continued to develop as new adaptations, such as skis, were introduced. The airplane was seen as the solution for transportation to remote places like the Canadian wilderness and the high north. Companies like Imperial Oil began experimenting with using aircraft to get to remote oil exploration sites in the Northwest Territories. Prospectors could more easily travel to new places to discover fresh mineral deposits, and the minerals they discovered, like gold, could be more easily transported south.

New airfields were developed, like the Blatchford municipal airfield in Edmonton, which became the first official "Air Harbour" in Canada. Other air facilities, such as beacons, were built to assist in aircraft navigation. Trans-Canada routes were developed to provide airmail services.

To continue the growth of aviation in Canada, the federal government supported the development of flying clubs to train pilots. The emergence of such clubs assisted in increasing the popularity of aviation across the nation.

Imperial Oil JunkersThe new aviation companies continued to expand the services they provided, from the popular summer fair demonstrations, to carrying passengers, mail, commercial cargo, rescue services and carrying needed medical supplies to remote communities. These early years brought forth a new aviation industry in Canada, but it remained a struggle for many of the fledgling commercial airlines to stay in business.

Walter Bennett
Wartime Airfield Construction Part 1: Building Up the Workforce - Walter Bennett
Mr. Bennett describes the airport construction projects in Edmonton during the early stages of the war.
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Alberta's Aviation Heritage

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