As the First World War came to a close, and highly trained
pilots returned, there was great optimism about what airplanes
could do. Not only were there well-trained pilots and aircraft
mechanics available after the war, but there were also many
affordable surplus aircraft for those who wanted to establish
their own companies.
Those individuals who created new aviation companies were
inventing an industry as they worked. They carried mail,
merchandise, and passengers between communities and into the
north. Others flew into the wilderness, quickly moving to areas
where it would take weeks or months to arrive by ground. Still
others performed stunts at summer fairs and hauled fish.
Pilots stretched the new technology of flight to its limits
to see what could be achieved. The Rocky Mountains were flown
through by some, while others looked northward, flying rescue
missions and delivering mail to communities at the Arctic
Circle. Other pilots and their engineers flew into unknown and
forbidding territory in the high north to survey it. Women
became pilots, attaining their own licenses and sharing in the
thrill of flight.
These early efforts of brave individuals laid the foundations
for a new industry of aviation in Alberta, and provided yet
another stirring chapter in the ongoing history of human flight.
Joe Coombs and Canso River Landings Ė Harold Heacock
Harold remembers a pilot named Joe Coombs, who flew a Canso flying boat for the Hudsonís Bay Company.
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