Project Description

By the late 1920s, daring bush pilots like Wop May had proved the value of aviation to the North, but their frail open-cockpit aircraft were barely up to the task.

The American company Fairchild, which made cameras for aerial photography, responded to the call. In 1929, they opened a factory in Montreal and began producing the 71-C. With its enclosed cabin, large payload and ability to operate on wheels, skis or floats, it became the first successful all-season bush plane. It was used by both the RCAF and the RCMP.

This Fairchild, CF-ATZ, was the 17th produced at Montreal and began service with Canadian Airways Ltd. in 1933. It was flown by Edmonton Bush Pilot Punch Dickins on an epic 13,500 kilometre survey trip around the Northwest Territories and Alaska in 1935. In 1941, CF-ATZ featured in the first American feature film shot in Canada, "Captains of the Clouds," starring James Cagney.

In 1949, CF-ATZ, now owned by Matt Berry’s Territories Air Services, crashed on takeoff from Taltheilei Narrows, NWT. In 1981, an Edmonton group, assisted by Buffalo Airways and Air Command 435 Squadron, moved the wreckage to Blatchford. Restoration work led by Gordon Cannam and Chuck McLaren started in 1984, and when the Alberta Aviation Museum opened in 1991, CF-ATZ was its first major exhibit.



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