Canadian Centennial of Flight

Canadian Centennial of FlightOne hundred years ago the first heavier-than-air, powered aircraft took flight over Bras d’Or Lakes in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. The Silver Dart flew for only 800 metres that day, but it changed the face of Canada forever. An industry was born and a new way of life was formed.

The Power of Flight: 100 Years of Connecting Canadians and the World

We weren't the first country to take to the skies, but our contribution to aviation has been significant. Transport Canada honours the pioneers who opened the skies as a way to connect people and move goods safely and quickly – within our large nation and around the world. We also celebrate the aircraft engineers and operators, airport planners and traffic controllers, lawmakers and safety and security experts who  share the credit for Canada’s aviation strength and success at home and abroad.

The following are some of Canada’s achievements in aviation.

  • 1909 – On February 23, the Silver Dart flies nearly 800 m in Baddeck, NS, marking Canada’s first powered, heavier-than-air flight.
  • 1915 – The first series production of aircraft in Canada commenced when the Curtiss JN-3 was put into production in Toronto.
  • 1919 – Bush pilots–able to spot bush fires and responsible for mapping and transporting fire fighters and their equipment–were vital to the discovery and early development of Canada’s natural resources. In June, La Vigilance, a Curtiss HS-2Ls, performed the world's first commercial bush flight in the St. Maurice Valley north of Trois-Rivières, Québec.
  • Baddeck 11919 – The first direct trans-Atlantic flight was made from St. John’s Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown in a twin-engined Vickers Vimy bomber.
  • 1920 – The Canadian Air Force is formed.
  • 1930s – Canada moves more freight by air than the rest of the world combined. Air traffic control, flight plans, fixed routes, designated levels and radio contact, soundproof cabins and flight attendants are introduced.
  • 1934 – Jessica Jarvis becomes the first woman in Canada to earn her commercial pilot’s licence. 
  • 1937 – The government creates Trans-Canada Airlines (which became Air Canada in 1964) to meet Canada’s need for a transcontinental service. 
  • Curtiss JN-31938 – The first coast-to-coast passenger service begins on March 6.
  • 1948 – All first class mail in Canada is carried by air at no extra cost.
  • 1958 – on March 18, the Avro CF-105 Arrow makes its first high-speed flight .
  • 1964 – Most major Canadian airports accommodate long-range jet aircraft. Instrument landing systems at airports help ensure the safety of rapidly growing numbers of air travellers.
  • 1984 – Canada's first astronaut, Marc Garneau, flies aboard the Challenger’s STS-41G mission on October 5.
  • 1995 – Astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm in orbit. He later became the first Canadian to walk in space.
  • McCurdy Biplane1999 – Canada leads the world by being the first country to implement safety management systems (SMS) as anew way to eliminate safety risks in civil aviation.
  • 2008 – Canada’s Bombardier, Inc, the world's third-largest civil aircraft maker, unveils its ‘green’ CSeries family of fuel-efficient jets.

Canadian Centennial of Flight Project

Transport Canada is a proud member of the board of directors of the Canadian Centennial of Flight Project, which was created to provide support to Canadians who want to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first flight in Canada as well as Canadian accomplishments in civilian and military aviation at home and abroad. Its role is to act as a clearinghouse for all activities and events that will take place throughout Canada in 2009, and to assist with their coordination, planning, promotion and staging.  

100 Years

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