Thursday, January 27, 2011

Of Planes and Trains ...

Trans Canada commemorative flight, 2007
Courtesy Rick Schlamp


Port Townsend, today
. I have a couple of scrapbooks, started when I was a youngster, so many years ago. Whilst rummaging through them, I found my very first report card. From kindergarten. Reported that I worked well on my own. Also found a note about the name change of Trans-Canada Airlines to Air Canada. That was back in 1965.

Now before you remind me this is supposed to be a railroad blog, there is a rail connection to Air Canada.

Air Canada began its colorful history as Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA.) TCA was a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway. However, unlike the Seaboard Air Line (SAL) railroad in the southeastern United States, who never owned an aeroplane, Trans-Canada Airlines did.

[I have written about the Seaboard Air Line, and explained how the name "air line" was connected to a railroad that never "got off the ground!"]

The first aircraft was a Lockheed "Electra" L-10A, often referred to as the "Amelia Earhart" aircraft. TCA owned five Electra's. The L-10A had seating for ten passengers, plus a crew of two.

Ironically, Trans-Canada Air Lines "inaugural" flight did not cross Canada. On September 1, 1937, the TCA flight took off from Vancouver (BC) Sea Island facility with 2 passengers and some bags of mail, landing fifty-minutes later at Seattle's Boeing Field, 141 miles to the south. The fare round trip was about $14.00, ($213.00 in 2010 dollars), pricy for the times.

From those humble beginnings, Trans-Canada became a first rate carrier. Their success prompted the Canadian Pacific Railways to initiate their own airline in 1942.

With the reorganization of the Canadian National in the 1970, TCA split with the railroad, and went on to become Air Canada in 1965, becoming completely privatized in 1989.

Back in 2007, Air Canada flew the original route, with the original aeroplane, between Vancouver BC and Seattle. The Seattle PI covered the event, as well as Rick Schlamp, who granted us permission to feature his photo in today's Blog.

When you open the Seattle PI story, which includes a photo of the passenger section, you can understand why the recommended height of prospective flight attendants was 5'2" to 5'5"!

Rick has a great selection of photos up on Flicker that you may enjoy. Some of each - planes, trains, and boats! In his aircraft library, there is a very interesting shot of a "finished" aircraft landing at Boeing field, with a train load of body's heading south to Renton. Neat juxtaposition, as we call it.

Today, this aircraft is on display at the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Be sure to click on "virtual tours" for a virtual tour of a very cramped cockpit!

My Sister and I spent many summer vacations with our grandparents in Victoria, B.C. They had a summer cottage out at Patricia Bay, on the Saanish Peninsula. Normally, Mom would drop my sister and I off at the Bell Street Terminal in Seattle.

We would take the four-hour trip to Victoria on the Canadian Pacific Steamship, wherein I was instructed by Mom that my younger sister should still be on-board when we arrived in Victoria.

One year, Mom got the inspiration to send us by aeroplane, rather than the CPR water route. Her reasoning was sound; Boeing Field was nigh unto our home, the trip would be over in a few hours, and the aeroplane landed at Patricia Bay (Victoria's airport) only a mile or two from the grandparent's summer cottage.

About all I can remember about the flight, it was on board a DC-3, it was pure terror; a lot of turbulence and trepidation.

The following summer, it was back to the benign CPR water route.

4 Comments - Click here:

Train Geek said...

Nice post, and a good connection to railways! I've seen CF-TCA a few times when I've visited the excellent air museum here in Winnipeg.

l.hofley@yahoo.com said...

I remember those trips to Victoria via boat and safely was united with my grandparents, despite numerous attempts by my brother to ditch me. The only thing I remember about the airplane trip was flying thru a storm, screaming my head off and hearing my brother asking anyone 'can't you shut her up' ylsif

coasterboy said...

As always another very interesting post.Even from half a world away.Thaks
Stu.

Wayward Son said...

Trains, planes and ships...it doesn't get any better than this! Keep up the good work!

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