vintage aircraft was christened northern light


Thanks a lot to Casey McLaughlin, executive director/curator of the Yukon Transportation Museum, for her reply to my December 7, 2009 column. It’s always good to hear from people who are really interesting in the history of the area, especially airplane (vintage) history.

Here’s her letter that follows:

Hi Jim, my co-worker Cathy Ritchie and I were very excited to see this photo in your scrapbook.

The first commercial airplane to operate in the Yukon was a Ryan B-1 Brougham, named Queen of the Yukon. Purchased new at the factory in San Diego by Yukon Airways and Exploration Company Ltd. in 1927, she was intended to haul passengers and mail throughout the Yukon. Sadly, eight months after her inaugural flight in the Yukon, the Queen crashed and was damaged beyond repair

After the loss of the Queen of the Yukon, Yukon Airways and Exploration Company scrambled to find a replacement aircraft. Since a new Ryan could not be purchased on such short notice, the company bought this open-cockpit, three-place Alexander Eaglerock (G-CAUZ), christened Northern Light. This aircraft lasted 13 months with the company before it was wrecked in a crash at Coalmine Lake near Carmacks in November 1929.

The Yukon Transportation Museum has an almost identical photograph to this in our collection. The short man closest to the propeller is pilot John M. Patterson, who joined Yukon Airways in 1928 when he ferried the Northern Light from Colorado to Mayo and stayed to fly the aircraft until delivery could be taken of the second Ryan.

Cathy and I believe that the man standing in the middle is either Percy Nelson or Clyde Wann. Nelson was a pilot with Yukon Airways and Wann was one of the original founders of Yukon Airways.

If you wish to learn more about this amazing story – one that helped shape, define and reflect the classic Yukon characteristics of ingenuity and self-sufficiency- see our exhibit on Yukon Airways and Exploration Company showing at Arts Underground until late January.

Casey McLaughlin

Executive director/curator

Yukon Transportation Museum

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,