from a Peep into the Past by Gordon and Belle Hall Vol. 1 pg 48
The earliest I can remember planes around Cochrane was in the middle 1920s. Race week in the summer, planes would bring race-fans to the races. They would land and take off from the polo field which was east of the race track and had no cars or other traffic near it. There would be monoplanes, biplanes, an assortment of makes and models. People used to say that most of them came up from the States.
Then Freddie McCall used to land at Cochrane and take people up for a flight. I had my first flight in 1937 at the old Calgary airport. My brother-law, Pete Tindal, went up at the same time, daring one another, of course. It cost us $5 each for 15 minutes and we went up in a beat-up Tiger Moth biplane, outside cockpits, with lots of noise and oil, dripped on me from the engine, as you sat almost under it.
Airplanes were more numerous during the second world war as Calgary was a training base at Currie Field. The pilots would fly low and buzz everything they could find. They found Andy Sharpes’ fox pens about five miles west of Cochrane on the Bow River. Sharpe got quite riled about this as the foxes were so scared, they would eat their young. There was a cable strung across the river close to Sharpe’s with a bosun’s chair attached. This cable was to let people pull themselves across the river. Seems an Anson bomber was right down on the water of the river, flying west, when it hit this cable. The impact spilled the plane into the north bank, killing the two men aboard. Today you can see the stone cairn west of Cochrane on the south side of the road. The two crewmen were Reginball and Chase. Chase was an American and his folks had the cairn erected.
There was another bad accident near Weedon when the tail fell off a Harvard trainer. The plane came straight down about a thousand feet, killing both occupants.
In the late forties and early fifties, Cochrane had a little flying club. The hanger sat where the Bethany Care Centre is now. The club had an Aeronca Cub airplane and some of the members were Eustace Bowhay, W Andison Jr. and Robbie and Barbara Webb. Many a Cochrane and district resident had a ride in the little Aeronca. One winter day I was going to fly with Robbie Webb. We had skis on the plane but couldn’t get it off the ground as there was too much snow, so we went and had a look at the riverbank. There were no obstructions, so we headed the plane for the bank and took off over the river. it was fun.
Aeronca C-2 at Canadian Aviation and Space Museum
- Bomber Command Museum of Canada
- Aeronca C-2 Aeronca Aircraft Wikipedia
- Tiger Moth biplane on Wikipedia