YK Past Blast: Early Aviation (UPDATED)

For the latest installment in our Leonard Willing historical photo series, Leonard’s nephew Glen Willing recently gave EDGE several photos offering a glimpse into Yellowknife’s early aviation history. The photo above shows Leonard himself, an assayer at Con and Negus Mines between 1938 and 1951, standing next to a Junkers W 34. These all-metal German made planes, which carried one pilot and five passengers, were popular in Northern Canada in the 1930s and ’40s, particularly as air ambulances. In the mid-1930s, a Junkers W 43 made what was then the longest ambulance flight in history, transporting a patient from Repulse Bay to Winnipeg. In a neat turn of history, Leonard’s great-nephew, Darren Willing, (Glen’s son) now works as a medevac pilot in Yellowknife for Air Tindi.

The Yukon King was one of three Barkley-Grow T8P-1’s that flew between Edmonton, Yellowknife and Whitehorse around 1940. The aircraft, referred to by some as the “Cadillac of northern transportation,” carried two pilots and six crew along with luggage. This first photo was taken in Edmonton, and shows Leonard’s nephew Frederic (Glen’s father) on the left, along with two friends.

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This photo shows the same aircraft, fitted with skis, on the ice along what appears to be the Yellowknife Bay shoreline of Old Town.  

Here we have an RCAF floatplane docked (it appears) somewhere along the shore of Back Bay, perhaps Latham Island. We couldn’t figure out what model the plane was; it even stumped classic plane guru Mikey McBryan. If you have any idea what model it is, and know what an airforce plane of this type was doing in Yellowknife in the late 1930s or early ‘40s, let us know at editorial@edgenorth.ca.

UPDATE: A couple of sharp-eyed readers have contacted us to let us know that the plane is a Northrop Delta. Our thanks to both ex-mayor Gordon Van Tighem and Chris Holloway.

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