Edmonton

Alberta Aviation Museum celebrates 100th anniversary of airmail delivery in western Canada

The first airmail flight in western Canada was celebrated at the Alberta Aviation museum on Saturday. It was 100 years ago on July 9 when American pilot Katherine Stinson flew her Curtiss Special biplane from Calgary to Edmonton.

'It revolutionized how communication started to develop'

On July 9, 1918, American pilot Katherine Stinson flew her Curtiss Special biplane from Calgary to Edmonton. Her trip was the first time mail was delivered by plane in western Canada. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The first airmail flight in western Canada was celebrated at the Alberta Aviation Museum on Saturday.

It was 100 years ago on July 9 when American pilot Katherine Stinson flew her Curtiss Special biplane from Calgary to Edmonton.

In the plane was a sack of 259 letters.

"It had a big impact. Up until that point, mail was delivered by train or by horse. Mail took a very long time to get anywhere. It revolutionized how communication started to develop," said Zena Conlin, marketing coordinator with the museum.

On that day in 1918, Stinson was at the Calgary Exhibition grounds performing aerobatic maneuvers in her plane.

Organizers of the aerial shows in both Edmonton and Calgary came up with the idea to give Stinson a bag of mail to deliver by plane, said Conlin.

To many people today it may seem like a small accomplishment, but at the time, it was a big deal, said Conlin.

"This opened the whole ground for commercial aviation in Alberta. We're so used to being able to communicate so rapidly now. You send a text message and it's instant," said the museum official.

Katherine Stinson was the fourth woman to receive her pilot licence in North America. (Alberta Aviation Museum)

The flight was also the second time mail had been delivered by plane. 

Stinson is known to many as a trailblazer in the aviation industry.

She was the fourth woman to receive her pilot licence in North America and went on to set many flying records, according to Conlin.

"She was a superstar," said Conlin.

As part of Saturday's celebrations, people were asked to create their own postcards which will then be sent to the Hangar Flight Museum in Calgary.

Postcards made in Calgary will be sent to Edmonton as well.

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