Article: Busy Empress of Canadian Pacific Airlines

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    December, 1961, Western Wings

    The airborne Odyssey of a Canadian Pacific Airline’s DC-8 jetliner which recently flew a distance equivalent to over six and one-half circuits around the globe during a month’s regular service, dramatically illustrates the mechanical efficiency of today’s jet transport. The Empress of Winnipeg, a series 43 DC-8, spent a total of over 359 hours in the air while logging a month-long flight schedule of 161,180 statute miles on CPA’s domestic and international routes.

    Although she spent well over two days in the company’s Vancouver hangar undergoing regular maintenance checks, this aircraft more than earned her keep during the month by averaging 11.32 flying hours, or 5,199 miles per day. Her longest trip during this period was a 6,390-mile flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong. The 2,455-mile flight across Canada from Vancouver to Montreal was her shortest scheduled outing.

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    Here’s the rest of the story of the Empress of Winnipeg’s impressive work schedule:

    During the first week, she completed seven round-trip flights on the airline’s Transcontinental Service linking Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. Each of these round trips covered a distance of 4,910 miles. Before returning to CPA’s Vancouver headquarters for her first maintenance check and some “P.T.”–pilot training flights–she spanned the mid-Atlantic from Montreal to Rome, coming home via Amsterdam and the airline’s polar route.

    Following her first scheduled maintenance inspection, the Empress went back on the Transcontinental Service for another week of daily flights. Then, in preparation for an ocean-hopping trip to the Orient, the 157-ton airliner spent two days in the company’s Vancouver maintenance headquarters before crossing the North Pacific on a flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong, via Tokyo and Anchorage. On her return to Vancouver, the Empress made the flight, non-stop, then, hardly pausing for breath, she took off on a 4,860-mile flight to Amsterdam on the same day.

    During the final 10 days of the month, this busy jetliner did a Vancouver-Montreal return trip, three Vancouver-Hong Kong round trips, one to Amsterdam, and two to Honolulu. All told, the Empress of Winnipeg flew a grand total of 163,580 miles during the month, including 2,400 miles spent on pilot training.

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    This article originally appeared in the December, 1961 edition of Western Wings magazine. The photo above is of Grant McConachie, who was appointed President of Canadian Pacific Airlines in 1947. McConachie was instrumental in lobbying the Canadian government for the sole right to develop a trans-Pacific airline service from Canada during those early days of passenger flight.

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