Thank you very much to both Bob and Casey for their interesting and detailed information about the above vintage aircraft. I really appreciate their help.
Their letters follow:
The plane to the right is actually a Keystone-Loening Commuter, nicknamed The Duck.
In the 1930s, White Pass & Yukon Route founded an airline called White Pass Airways.
The scheduled division operated between Skagway, Whitehorse, Mayo and Dawson. Additionally, White Pass Airways had a division that flew prospectors, doctors and businessmen to the far outposts of the Yukon.
In the early ‘40s the airline was sold to a company formed by Grant McConachie which, in later years, became part of Canadian Pacific Airlines.
The plane to the left, a Fairchild 82, was part of the British Yukon Navigational Company’s fleet.
Sadly, on November 9, 1939 CF-AXK crashed into Lake Laberge with pilot Jesse Rice and two passengers on board. It has never been found.
To find out more exciting tidbits about early aviation in the Yukon, stop by the Yukon Transportation Museum.
The Yukon Transportation Museum
Your Colourful Five Per Cent photo in the June 1 issue of the Yukon News shows two White Pass aircraft moored on the riverbank in front of Dawson City. The one on the left (CF-AXK) is a Fairchild 82A, which was operated by the Canadian subsidiary company, British Yukon Navigation (BYN) Company, from early 1937 through to late 1939.
For those years, AXK and her sister ship AXJ were familiar sights to Yukoners, as the two workhorses plied the skies connecting Whitehorse with all the northern communities, and many remote bush camps. An interesting sideline—CF-AXK was actually constructed in a shop in the White Pass shipyards in Whitehorse, from parts of a previous one they had lost in an accident, plus new parts from the factory in Montreal.
On November 9, 1939, while en route to Dawson City, CF-AXK crashed into the icy waters of Lake Laberge, taking with it the pilot, Jess Rice, and two passengers, Mike McCallion and D.H. Anderson.
Evidence pointed to a misjudged letdown through cloud over the lake, a fatal error! Miscellaneous fragments of the airplane and nine sacks of mail were found floating on the lake, but the main wreckage and the three bodies were never found.
The second aircraft, in the background of the photo, is the White Pass Loening Keystone Commuter, an amphibious craft they had nicknamed The Duck. It was based in Skagway and flown by pilot Vern Bookwalter. It was the first airplane acquired by the company, having been purchased in 1934, and brought north to keep the budding new Northern Airways, and Clyde Wann’s Skagway Airlines in check. (With the advent of air travel encroaching on the White Pass railway and riverboat market, the transportation giant did not want to lose traffic to these two new upstarts.)
The Duck was operated into the late 1930s, when it was sold and replaced with a larger machine to cope with the increasing air traffic between Skagway, Whitehorse and Dawson.
Anyone with information about this subject, please write Jim Robb: The Colourful Five Per Cent Scrapbook—Can You Identify? c/o the Yukon News, 211 Wood Street, Whitehorse, Yukon, Y1A 2E4, or e-mail through the News website, www.yukon-news.com.