Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bush Pilots Moss Burbidge and Grant McConachie

Canada's Bush Pilots played a significant role in the development of the country's aviation history. Like Canadian bush pilot Wilfrid "Wop" May, Yorkshire born Maurice Burbidge went by the nickname of "Moss." This outstanding aviator was a bomber pilot and flying instructor for the Royal Flying Corps in World War I. Between the wars, he flew commercial aircraft out of Edmonton. During WWII, he trained pilots for an RCAF flying school in Edmonton.

Grant McConachie began his life as a bush pilot in 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression. Undeterred by recent cancellations of airmail contracts, he started business with a single Fokker, transporting fish from Cold Lake, Alberta. A decade later, he was heading Yukon Southern Air Transport. Twelve planes served Fort McMurray and the Yukon. 

In 1941, the CPR bought his company, along with nine other bush flying firms, and this became the nucleus of the future Canadian Pacific Airlines. A proponent of expanding air service beyond Canada's borders, McConachie became president of CPA and successfully lobbied the government to allow it to expand service to include Pacific routes. 

The expressway leading to YVR in Vancouver is named Grant McConachie Way, after this intrepid pioneering flyer.

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