1983 Yukon Nuggets
On the morning of October 25, 1927, residents of Whitehorse heard a sound which would set the stage for a revolution in northern travel. High over-head, a single-engine monoplane, carrying five aviation pioneers, headed for a clearing in Cyr's wood lot above the clay bluffs overlooking the town. The Queen of the Yukon had arrived.
Clyde Wann was a visionary, a Yukoner whose many business endeavours were geared to the future - none more-so than in 1927, when he established the Yukon Airways and Exploration company. He and pilot Andy Cruikshank had travelled to San Diego that year to take delivery of Ryan Brougham 1, a 5-seater aircraft. While in San Diego waiting for their plane to come off the busy assembly line, they met Charles Lindbergh who was there to buy the sister ship he called the Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh would fly his Spirit to Paris. Clyde and Andy would fly their 'Queen to Vancouver, dismantle the wings, ship it to Skagway - then fly it to Whitehorse.
When they took off from the beaches at Skagway, the weather was overcast. They had to circle upward through the cloud banks while trying to avoid the mountains all around them. They finally reached clear skies at 12,000 feet. The flight to Whitehorse took one hour and ten minutes. The next day, Wednesday October 26, Clyde and Andy left for Mayo and Keno, a trip which took two hours, and became the first commercial aircraft flight in the Yukon. The Queen of the Yukon operated for two years, carrying mail and passengers from Whitehorse to Mayo and Dawson, and to Carcross.
In 1929, the plane crash-landed at the Whitehorse airport and was damaged beyond repair. The Queen of the Yukon No. 2, a Ryan Brougham 5 monoplane was ordered to replace the first Queen. However, it had a more deadly fate, crashing in Mayo in 1932 with the death of the pilot and the end of the Yukon Airways. But, Clyde Wann had proven that air passenger and freight service would be an integral part of the Yukon's transportation system.
Click for larger view.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.