Tourism Industry

Topics: Aircraft / Pages: 19 (3321 words) / Published: Aug 31st, 2014
History of Aviation in the
BC Forest Service

A pictorial account for the BCFS Centennial
August 2011

Part 1 : Transport, Supply, Reconnaissance


This is a brief pictorial account of the history of fixed wing flying in the roles of transport, supply, reconnaissance, patrol and inventory with the British Columbia Forest Service.
The Early Years
By now, many of us have heard about or seen the results of the BC Forest Branch’s first foray into the world of aircraft. A contract was initiated by the
Department of Lands with the Hoffar Motor Boat
Company for the construction of a single engine two seat flying boat, to be used primarily for patrolling. The H-2 biplane was constructed during the summer of 1918 and test flights conducted toward the end of August and early September. On
September 4th, on one of the early tests over
Vancouver, the aircraft experienced engine problems and the pilot elected to head for the waters of Coal Harbour. It never made it. The aircraft stalled (quit flying) and spiralled onto the roof of a
Figure 1: Hoffar H-2 crash Vancouver Sept. 1918 house in West Vancouver. The H-2 was destroyed but the young pilot luckily sustained only minor injuries. This ended the thought of Forest Service aircraft ownership for almost 80 years.

In September of 1919, the first aerial discovery of a forest fire in B.C. took place over
Duncan. The pilot of a Curtiss JN-4 (possibly during an air mail flight) spotted the fire and landed at Duncan to report it to the Forest
Branch, who then took suppression action.
The end of WW1 saw a surplus of aircraft and support equipment in both Europe and North
America. After the war, governments and agencies recognized the value of aircraft in roles such as patrols and transport of men and
Figure 2: Curtiss JN-4 first forest fire discovery 1919 supplies. The Canadian government formed the
Dominion Air Board to oversee the growing civil aviation in Canada. Half a dozen air

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