Article: Wings Over the North

  • LtColMacAlpine
    August, 1942, Canadian Aviation
    by Pete de Wet

    The year 1928 witnessed a tremendous widening of public interest in flying. During spring, 180 workers had been flown to Churchill by Western Canada Airways from Hudson, Norway House and Split Lake to work there for the department of Railways and Canals; two aircraft only were used. The Department of National Defence was given authority to assist in the establishment of civilian flying clubs across the Dominion.

    In the field of mineral exploration, Northern Aerial Minerals Exploration Ltd. was formed by J. H. Hammell and associates and Dominion Explorers Ltd. was formed by the Lindsly interests. Aircraft droned through western Ontario skies, ranged across northern Manitoba, over northern Saskatchewan and into the Northwest Territories, even as far as the Arctic coast and the Coppermine River.

    The two exploration companies provided much in the way of news interest and experience and while the high hopes that were pinned on the wings of their machine were not realized, much knowledge of the country’s distant parts was gained and at least one good mine, Pickle Crow Gold Mines Ltd., resulted to Mr. Hammell’s company.

    N.A.M.E. aircraft during 1928 ranged from the Labrador coast on the east to the Alaska boundary on the west and from the transcontinental railway lines north to the Arctic Circle. Prospectors, carried on trips of hundreds and occasionally thousands of miles, travelled over large sections of country never before explored. Five claims were staked on Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay. In all N.A.M.E. planes traversed 100,500 miles in 1928. In 1929, nine aircraft were flown by 11 pilots; 2,385 flights were made, totalling 201,988 miles in 2,552 flying hours; 1,912 employees and 409,401 lbs. of supplies and equipment were carried.

    One extended journey by Charles Sutton of Dominion Explorers Ltd. in 1929 can be cited as an example of the use of aircraft in the administration of prospecting parties over far-flung territories. On March 25, Sutton set out from Ottawa with Col. C. D. H. MacAlpine, Dominion Explorers president, on a journey that would record over 10,000 miles in the air log.

    Their route, from Toronto, followed Lake Superior to Lac du Bonnet and from there to Norway House, Cold Lake and Churchill, Manitoba and on to Dubawnt Lakes in the N.W. Territories, Lake Athabaska in north west Saskatchewan, Cold Lake again, The Pas and Winnipeg. Therefore, Sutton flew to New York for a major overhaul for his aircraft, a Fairchild. Col. MacAlpine left him en route and returned to Toronto, arriving there near the close of April.

    During their trip contact was made with prospecting crews and with other Company aircraft, while some 100 prospectors were placed at various points in readiness for their spring work. During 1929, Dominion Explorers employed eight aircraft and seven pilots; they made 1,740 flights totalling 161,060 miles in 1,780 flying hours; the territory examined from the air totalled 82,420 square miles.

    This article originally appeared in the August, 1942 edition of Canadian Aviation. The photo is of Col C.D.H. MacAlpine.

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