October 21, 2020

Anniversary of 1st Trans-Canada Flight Marked


October 17 marked one hundred years to the day that the first trans-Canada flight took place. In a letter to the Victoria Times-Colonist, Colonel John L. Orr (Ret’d) points out that a British-built Airco DH.9A biplane took off from Shearwater, Nova Scotia (Newfoundland was not yet part of Canada) and touched down in Richmond, British Columbia’s Minoru Park at 11:25 on October 17, 1920, completing the epic coast-to-coast flight. The flight continued to Esquimalt, a suburb of Victoria, arriving on Oct. 21.

According to Orr, the flight was organized by the Canadian Air Board, a federal government department that lasted from 1919 to 1922. It was formed to develop and promote both civil and military aviation in the post-First World War era.

“As for the Air Board’s objective of stimulating interest in aviation in Canada, the flight proved to be successful,” wrote Orr. “While the path was neither straight nor smooth, the trans-Canada flight firmly established aviation, both civil and military, in the Canadian psyche.”

The Airco DH.9A was a single-engine light bomber that saw service in Britain’s Royal Air Force toward the end of the First World War. The first aircraft out of the factory, the DH-9 were powered by the in-line Siddeley Puma six-cylinder engine, which proved to be unreliable and not powerful enough. The 12-cylinder Liberty engine, of American origin, powered the DH-9A.

Photo source: Wikipedia