interesting information about a plane

Thank you Bob Cameron and Robert Austin for very interesting information about the history of this plane and others.

Thank you Bob Cameron and Robert Austin for very interesting information about the history of this plane and others.

Many people are aviation buffs, but these two are more than that — I believe they are experts.

Many thanks again.

Their letters follow:

Hello Jim:

Re your CFP of May 5/08 (“First CP Airplane”?), the aircraft in the photo is CF-BDD, one of several Mark IV Norsemans operated by the newly-formed Canadian Pacific Airlines in the early to mid-1940s.

I cannot positively say where the photo is taken, but during the mid-1940s the company had CF-BDD based in Whitehorse for charter work throughout the Yukon.

There is no such thing as a “first airplane” of Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPAL), as the company was formed in 1942 by the amalgamation of some 10 smaller “bush-flying” companies from across Canada, including Grant McConachie’s Yukon Southern Air Transport, which had absorbed the Whitehorse-based British Yukon Navigation (BYN) Air Service.

At the time CPA was formed, it instantly had more than 60 aircraft, a mixed bag of almost every bush plane in Canada.

The flying days of CF-BDD came to an end on the 29th of December, 1945, at Tofino, BC, when the floats were torn off during a landing on “glassy” water. (Pilot misjudged his height above the mirror-like surface of the water).


Bob Cameron

PS: There are a couple of oddities in the photo — the forward ski-check cables and bungees are slack with the aircraft sitting on the ground, a condition which would render the aircraft virtually unflyable as this rigging must be in tension when the aircraft is in a tail-down position.

And yet, the folks in the photo appear to be merely refueling (using a manual wobble pump from a gas drum) while one guy is smoking right below the wing, where any fuel overflow from the open wing tank will spill — a very dangerous scenario!

The only explanation for the slack ski rigging is that a changeover to wheels is in progress, although there are no wheels in sight. The man to the left appears to be attending to a toboggan and an open toolbox. Maybe he will hauling the wheels over with a the toboggan.

Two pilots who flew BDD when it was based in Whitehorse where Harvey Johnson and George Milne.


The plane is definitely a Norseman and it certainly is a Canadian Pacific Airlines logo on the door.

As to whether or not the plane marks the start of what was to become Canadian Pacific Airways, one has to go back much further.

Canadian Pacific finds its beginning with Grant McConachie’s United Air Transport which became Yukon Southern Air Transport in 1939.

In 1942, Canadian Pacific Railways got into the airlines business when it purchased McConachie’s Yukon Southern Air Transport and amalgamated it with the following: Arrow Airways, British Yukon Navigation Co., Dominion Skyways Ltd., Mackenzie Air Service, Prairie Airways Ltd., Quebec Airways Ltd., Starratt Airways and Transportation Ltd., Wings Ltd., and Canadian Airways.

At this point, one has to ask if any of the earlier airlines’ planes, built before 1935, continued flying under the new banner of Canadian Pacific Airlines.

If that is the case, then the plane in the picture is not the start of Canadian Pacific Airlines.

On the other hand, I have three candidates that may very well fit the bill: in November of 1935, the first Noorduyn Norseman powered by a Wright Whirlwind CF AYO was sold to Dominion Skyways; CF AZA was sold to Mackenzie Air Service; and CF AZS was sold to Starratt Airways.

The last two planes featured the Pratt and Whitney Wasp engine.

All three were companies that later were to become part of Canadian Pacific.

As you can see, it is all a matter of what-ifs and dates.

Too bad we can’t see the rest of the call sign letters of the Norseman: unfortunately they are obscured in the picture.



Robert Austin

Additional Comments:

Thanks to my father Jim Austin. He not only worked for Canadian Pacific Airways from 1951 until he retired – much of that time here at YXY – he also verified what I thought the plane was: a Noorduyn Norseman.

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