On 9 July 1918, a young American pilot en route to Edmonton to perform at the annual fair brought a bag of mail with her. She was Katherine Stinson. This was the first air mail delivery in western Canada.
Because of the war, Edmonton could not acquire the gunpowder necessary for fireworks so she was hired to perform her amazing aerobatics show here. On this occasion, she was persuaded to carry mail from Calgary to Edmonton - the first ever air mail in western Canada. Just out of Calgary, her Curtiss Special engine failed and she landed in a farmer's field, close to where Calgary's International Airport is now situated. When the repairs were made, she flew back to Calgary then up to Edmonton.
Eighty-eight years later, on 9 July 2006, her flight was re-enacted. The carrying of the mail was the idea of the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society. Gordon Mallett, a BNAPS member, was one of the individuals instrumental in organizing this event.
This re-enactment was stimulated by a project of the Alberta Aviation Museum, which entailed the building of an exact replica of Stinson's aircraft, the Curtiss Special. A team of volunteers spent 20,000 hrs on this project. Given that the original aircraft had no construction plans, this was an amazing feat.
The flight carried commemorative covers in a sack that was actually used in the first air mail flight between Canada and the U.S.A.
Cover marking the unveiling of the Curtiss Special Replica
Cover marking the re-enactment of Katherine Stinson's flight, signed by Audrey Kahovec, the pilot
Edmonton pilot Audrey Kahovec arrived in a more modern aircraft
Audrey leaving her aircraft
Audrey retrieving the mail bag from her aircraft
Audrey in her replica costume, holding the mail bag
Climbing into the replica aircraft
In the cockpit
Approaching the ceremony
Delivering the mail to Canada Post representatives
Katherine was a strong supporter of the U.S. Red Cross; the Canadian Red Cross was a sponsor of this event
The crew that built the replica aircraft
Copyright © 2006 Robert K. Lane.
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