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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.

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Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain (10 July to 31 October 1940) was the first battle of the Second World War fought mainly in the air. After nearly four months of anxious combat, the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Fighter Command stopped the German air force's attempt, in advance of a planned invasion, to dominate the skies over southern and eastern England. Hundreds of Canadian air and ground crew participated in the battle, most as members of the RAF.

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Max Ward

Maxwell William Ward, OC, aviator, businessman (born 22 November 1921 in Edmonton, AB; died 2 November 2020 in Edmonton). Max Ward was a bush pilot and aviation entrepreneur who founded and ran the airline Wardair.

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De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver

The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, successor to the Noorduyn Norseman, was the all-purpose bush plane of the Canadian North. (See also Bush Flying in Canada.) 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 Canada 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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Royal Flying Corps

During the First World War, more than 5,000 Canadian pilots served in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The RFC was formed on 13 April 1912 to satisfy Britain's need for a military presence in the expanding field of aviation. It joined with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in April 1918 to become the Royal Air Force. During the war, an RFC/RAF training program in Canada produced approximately 10,500 pilots, mechanics and aircraftmen.

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James Francis “Stocky” Edwards

James Francis “Stocky” Edwards, CM, fighter and fighter-bomber pilot, ace (born 5 June 1921 in Nokomis, SK; died 14 May 2022 in Comox, BC). Edwards was credited with shooting down 19 enemy aircraft and another 7 “probables” during the Second World War. He also destroyed 12 aircraft and about 200 vehicles on the ground. His actual total was likely higher, as Edwards was unconcerned with claiming victories. He fought in the North African, Italian and North-West Europe campaigns — a rare record for an Allied pilot. Until his death, Edwards was likely the top surviving fighter pilot in the Commonwealth.

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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.