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Alberta's Aviation Heritage
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Captain Earnest Hoy

Wop May

Arthur Massey Berry

Punch Dickins

Grant McConachie

Gladys Walker

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Between the Wars

Wilfrid Reid "Wop" MayAs 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.


Harold Heacock

Joe Coombs and Canso River Landings – Harold Heacock
Harold remembers a pilot named Joe Coombs, who flew a Canso flying boat for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
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Alberta's Aviation Heritage

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