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De Havilland Beaver

De Havilland Beaver, DHC-2, successor to the Noorduyn Norseman, was the all-purpose bush plane of the Canadian North. The Beaver was sturdy, reliable and able to take off and land on short lengths of land, water and snow. It has been called the best bush plane ever built. While de Havilland produced it for only 20 years — from 1947 to 1967 — many Beaver planes still fly today. The Beaver helped connect communities in remote areas of Canada, in addition to serving across the globe.

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Bush Flying in Canada

In Canada, bush flying refers to aviation in sparsely populated northern areas. Flight in the Arctic and the “bush” of the Canadian Shield developed between the world wars. Early bush pilots faced the challenges of cold weather and vast distances between communities. Given the rarity of airstrips, their planes were often equipped with skis or floats so that they could take off and land on water or snow. This type of aviation was key to developing services and industries in the North. While the romantic image of the bush pilot is associated with the past, bush flying continues to serve remote communities in Canada.

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Canadian Aviation Disasters

There have been many tragic events in Canada’s aviation history. Some of these have involved Canadian aircraft, commercial as well as non-commercial. In other cases, many Canadians have died in the crash of a non-Canadian aircraft. Crashes that occurred over Canadian soil, or search and rescue efforts in which Canadians have played a large part, are also part of this history.

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Wop May

Wilfrid Reid (Wop) May, OBE, DFC, aviator, First World War flying ace (born 20 March 1896, in Carberry, Manitoba; died 21 June 1952 near Provo, UT). Wop May was an aviator who served as a fighter pilot in the First World War. May finished the war as a flying ace, credited with 13 victories, and was part of the dogfight in which the infamous Red Baron was gunned down. After the war, May became a renowned barnstormer (or stunt pilot) and bush pilot, flying small aircraft into remote areas in Northern Canada, often on daring missions. May flew in several historic flights, carrying medicine and aide to northern locations and assisting law enforcement in manhunts, including the hunt for Albert Johnson, the “Mad Trapper of Rat River” in 1932.