Aviation History

 The History of Flight in British Columbia 

Because of the mountainous terrain, BC’s aviation pioneers faced a challenge their counterparts east of the Rockies were spared. Aircraft in the first two decades did not have the power to fly over the mountains, nor the instruments to fly through clouds, consequently there were no scheduled services before the 1930s, except for the overwater flights between Seattle and Victoria.

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. 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.

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Extracts from ‘The Magnificent Distances, Early Aviation in British Columbia’ Sound Heritage Series, Provincial Archives of British Columbia.