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1988: Nine-year-old flying ace soars into history

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Under a sunny blue sky, Emma Houlston lands her family's single-engine plane in St. John's, N.L. Despite a shaky landing, the touchdown means the nine-year-old makes history as the youngest person to pilot a plane across Canada. Her flight took off two weeks prior, from Victoria, B.C. Emma is accompanied by her father, a licensed pilot, who is on board to lend moral support.

A video camera inside the plane verifies that Emma is in fact doing all the flying -- solo.
For the nine-year-old who got her first taste of flight at age six, it's all part of a great summer vacation. At the end of the historic flight, Emma talks about her reluctance to fly back home to Medicine Hat, Alta. She will be a passenger on that leg of the journey, and it turns out Emma gets motion sickness when she's not piloting the plane.

• Emma, accompanied by her father, made the record-breaking flight in a single-engine Grumman aircraft. To prepare for the flight, Emma and her father trained for eight months leading up to the coast-to-coast air odyssey. She flew an average of three hours a day on her two-week trip.

• The distance from Victoria, B.C., to St. John's, N.L., is 5,097 kilometres, or 2,752 nautical miles.

• The publishers of the Guinness Book of Records eliminated the "youngest pilot" category from the book because they did not want to encourage unsafe flights.

• Emma's family suffered backlash from those who believed her to be too young to attempt such a feat.

Also on July 24:
1958: The national CCF convention in Winnipeg accepts a Canadian Labour Congress proposal to found a "people's political movement." The New Democratic Party comes into being in 1961.
1984: Federal party leaders John Turner, Brian Mulroney and Ed Broadbent meet in the first televised election debate conducted in French.
Medium: Television
Program: Sunday Report
Broadcast Date: July 24, 1988
Guest(s): Emma Houlston
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Brian Dubreuil
Duration: 1:58

Last updated: November 4, 2014

Page consulted on November 4, 2014

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