November, 1949, Canadian Aviation
As in the other western provinces, the most useful role of the airplane in Manitoba is that of fast transport between the major centres of population and the vast northern reaches where surface transportation is either nonexistent or too slow to serve the needs. But Winnipeg, hub of the province’s flying industry, is much more than a jump-off point for the bush.
During its 17-year history, the Manitoba Government Air Service has developed from an original collection of second-hand Vedette flying boats into a well-organised fleet patrolling the vast forests of the province and providing efficient air transportation for the Government’s business. MGAS has nine aircraft, eight staff pilots, total personnel of 32 and operates its own maintenance facilities at Lac du Bonnet, the main base.
Duties of the air service feature forestry patrol and firefighting but also include inspection tours with game and fisheries officers; transplanting fish to isolated lakes; testing lakes for commercial fishing activities; supervising registered trap lines and air ambulance flying. In the past year, for example, the service has flown 51 stretcher cases to hospitals at The Pas, Norway House and Pine Falls. In 15 other cases, the doctor was flown to the patient.
In some two million miles of flying, the government air service has not had a single accident, injury to personnel or even an engine failure. A radio network has been established throughout the remote regions of the province for communication with the air service bases and with the aircraft in flight. There are some 20 stations in the northern areas, while 39 transmitter-receiver units are in use.
The service began with five, Vickers Vedette, single-engine flying boats. By 1938, all of these had been disposed of and replaced. Today, the fleet consists of one Fairchild 82, two Fairchild Huskies, three Norseman and three DH Beavers. Between 1947 and August 1949, the MGAS has flown a total of 8,186 hours carrying 13,260 passengers and 1,806,370 articles of express and freight.
J. C. Uhlman is director of the Air Service, with H. P. Smith, operations superintendent; R. A. Parkin, base superintendent; M. W. Torrance, maintenance superintendent; and G. Donaldson, communications superintendent.
This article originally appeared in the November, 1949 edition of Canadian Aviation. The colour photo is of a Fairchild 82 outside the Manitoba Government Air Services hangar