58. The Bush Plane (1919)
Geological Survey of Canada field parties originally relied on packhorses or canoes to travel through the wilderness. Both options had limitations depending upon the conditions of the terrain. A horse could carry up to about 130 kilograms and average around 30 kilometres a day, while a 17-foot (~ 5 metres) canoe could carry about 450 kilograms and might travel about 25 kilometres a day.
In the early 1920s, Survey director W. H. Collins encouraged his geologists to use airplanes to move people and supplies to remote field locations and for air reconnaissance. This revolutionized fieldwork, making logistics easier and travel time faster. For example, in 1919, the first bush plane used in Canada was the Curtiss HS-2L flying boat. It could carry 968 kilograms, had a range of 830 kilometres, and a cruising speed of 105 kilometres/hour. It remained the predominant bush plane in Canada until the mid-1920s.
The Vickers Vedette flying boat became the plane of choice in late 1920s, and bush planes remain a staple of Survey of fieldwork. Their use made Canada’s wilderness more accessible to exploration and resulted in opening up many new areas for geological study.
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