Bush Pilots
Bush pilots or “Artic Eagles” are people who face incredible odds to open the nation’s remote regions. They fly over hostile environment beyond clearings and settlements. Bush flying started as aerial reconnaissance for spotting forest fires but then evolved into carrying passengers, delivering air mail, water bombing and used for quick aid to victims in remote places for medical attention.
Curtiss HS-2L Flying Boat - www.warmuseum.ca
Curtiss HS-2L Flying Boat - www.warmuseum.ca

1 Facts and Details
2 Significance
3 Bush Pilots
4 Bush Planes of the 1920s
4.1 Junkers W34
_4.2 Vickers Vedette
_4.3 Bellanca CH-300 Peacemaker
5 Refrences

Facts and Details

Noorduyn Norseman - First Canadian designed bush plane - www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
Noorduyn Norseman - First Canadian designed bush plane - www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com
The bush planes were biplanes made from a range of wood and fabric held together with piano wires and struts. They were generally small because of the shortage of landing space and you could outfit your plane with floats or skis to let them ride on water or snow covered land. Bush flying was dangerous in the 1920s-1930s because the pilots flew war surplus planes that were cobbled together with whatever they can find. There were few instruments in the cockpit and some of them was not reliable. The magnetic compass was useless when flying close to the north pole and without a radar, radio, weather forecasts, or closed cabins, the pilots had the worst flying conditions.


AW149 Multirole Helicoptor - www.airforce-technology.com
AW149 Multirole Helicoptor - www.airforce-technology.com

The Bush planes opened and transformed the north by being able to charter an aircraft and fly almost anywhere. It helped the government extend its sovereignty over millions of square kilometres, let Canadians establish settlements in places that was rarely visited by humans, and extracted natural resources in the north adding to the nation’s wealth. Because of the bush planes, helicopters, better radio and navigation facilities, and up-to-date weather information services were introduced.

Bush Pilots

Wop May is a legendary bush pilot because of his mercy flight on New years Day 1929. A diphtheria epidemic hit the people of Fort Vermillion, and with little time, May flew through treacherous conditions arriving in time to save dozens of lives, but at the cost of frostbites and cuts from the wind.

H.J. Winny is one of Vedette’s bush pilots. He was on a 12000 km journey to the Artic Ocean from Ottawa at July 6, 1930. Winny passed by the Great Bear Lake, Great Slave Lake, Repulse Bay, Hudson Bay, and up the Mackenzie River to the Top of the World. He took 3100 aerial photographs and until this day, some topographical maps were drawn using photos taken by Vedette pilots.

J. Errol Boyd used the Bellanca nicknamed “The Maple Leaf of Cornwall” to make a 2,200 mile trip. On October 9, 1930 he left Newfoundland and arrived in England after a 23 hour, 44 minutes flight. He was the first Canadian to fly the Atlantic.

Bush Planes of the 1920s

Junkers W34 - 1926
Wingspan: 17.8 metres
Junkers W34 - www.airforce.forces.gc.ca
Junkers W34 - www.airforce.forces.gc.ca

Length: 10.3 metres
Speed: 264 kilometres per hour
Ceiling: 6900 metres
This bush plane was nicknamed the “flying boxcar” for it’s boxy appearance. This transport plane is one of the finest bush planes in the pioneer era being a cantilevered, low-winged mono plane with an enclosed cockpit. It was made of Tin instead of wood and fabric and was very durable. The Junkers was the first plane to fly across the Atlantic from Europe to North America.

Vickers Vedette - 1927
Wingspan: 12.8 metres
Vickers Vedette - www.airforce.forces.gc.ca
Vickers Vedette - www.airforce.forces.gc.ca

Length: 10 metres
Speed: 145 Kilometres per hour
Ceiling: 4000 metres

Created in 1927 by W.T Reid from Montreal-based Canadian Vickers limited, this biplane was a flying boat with a wooden hull and fabric covered wings. This plane was build by and designed by Canadians. Only 60 of them were built which makes them rare to see. Since it has good manoeuvrability, it is used in photographing uncharted regions.

Bellanca CH-300 Peacemaker - 1925
Wingspan: 14 metres
Bellanca CH-300 Peacemaker - www.flightglobal.com
Bellanca CH-300 Peacemaker - www.flightglobal.com

Length: 8.5 metres
Speed: 225 kilometres per hour
Ceiling: 5486 metres

The introduction of this plane showed Canada that the pioneer era of bush flying was coming to an end. It was designed by Giuseppe Bellonca, and not only did it win an award for it’s easy handling, but also set a number of long distance records beating the Lindbergh’s distance record. This plane had wooden wings, a steel-tube fuselage covered in fabric, and tail surfaces made of wood and steel. This was the first plane to have an auto pilot installed.


McCaffery, Dan. Bush Planes and Bush Pilots. Toronto, Ontario: James Lorimer & Company LTD., 2002.