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Tracking An Outlaw

30 August 1919

Wilfrid Reid "Wop" May by his aircraft At 2:45 in the morning, Constable Hugh Nixon of the Edmonton City Police approaches a man standing at the Canadian Pacific Rail Depot in front of the Twin City Transfer. Constable Nixon asks the man what he was doing. The man pulls out a gun and shoots Nixon.

Before he dies, Nixon is able to give officers a description of the fugitive.

1 September 1919

Police receive a message that there has been an attempted murder west of Edmonton. The description matches the one Nixon provided before he died. The police conclude that the fugitive is John Larsen, who already has a warrant issued for his arrest on robbery charges.

The police approach May Airplanes for assistance searching for the fugitive by air, and Wop May accepts.

2 September 1919

May takes Detective James Campbell up in the The City of Edmonton Jenny to search the forested areas west of the city. May is unable to find a good place to land until they reach Edson, where he brings the craft down between two telegraph wires close to the train station. Wilfrid Reid "Wop" May by his aircraft

May rushes to turn the aircraft around, and clips Edson’s town pump with his wing before he takes off again from Main Street. He then lands at Wabamun to refuel before returning to Edmonton. James Campbell works with Constable McElroy of the Alberta Provincial Police to arrest Larsen at a site close to Cadomin Mine.

The police officers commandeer a railway speeder to take Larson to Edson, but during the ride, Larsen struggled off the speeder and rushed into the nearby bush. He was recaptured and later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

This is the first airplane chase on record in Canada.

 

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