Sound Heritage: The Magnificent Distances (PDF)

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Early Aviation in British Columbia 1910-1940

NO. 28

Please note: This is a digital file.

The first heavier-than-air flight in British Columbia took place on March 25, 1910, when a tiny Curtiss pusher biplane sputtered into the air over Lulu Island, near Vancouver. The stands of Minoru Park race track were filled with 3,500 curious Vancouverites who had come to see Charles K. Hamilton and his flying machine. The famous American stunt pilot had done a considerable amount of exhibition flying for airplane designer and builder Glenn Curtiss. Now on his own, and working his way around the larger cities of the northwestern United States, he recognized that a market for his talents existed in British Columbia.

The Daily Province published an enthusiastic account of the event. Headed by a photograph of the flier soaring above a crowd, the article related how, even though the Curtiss had been damaged,

“. . . the aviator justified his reputation for courage of the kind seen only in men who play with clouds. Making such repairs as he could within the period of his spectators’ patience and with his machine still incomplete, the engine was again started, the propeller again buzzed, sending the coats of his assistants flying with the swift revolutions as they held the machine to the earth. Vaulting to his seat Hamilton gave the front planes the slant which could catch the air, and then like a giant sea gull the machine rose to the accompaniment of deafening cheers.”

—Daily Province, March 26, 1910

On the following day, Hamilton topped earlier efforts by flying to New Westminster and back, a total distance of 20 miles. The flight took only 30 minutes. Two days later Hamilton pitted his machine against the race horse Prince Brutus for a one-mile race. The over-confident Hamilton gave the horse too great a head start and lost—undoubtedly pleasing many in the audience.

(—from the introduction)

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