1981 Yukon Nuggets
DC3 Weather Vane
My first airplane flight came in 1954 when I flew from Whitehorse to Dawson City where I would spend the summer holidays with my brother who was the Canadian Pacific airlines agent in the gold rush city.
Was the aircraft used on that flight the DC3 which now serves as the most unique weather vane in the world? Maybe. I’ll bet Bob Cameron knows!
Locals may be so used to the Canadian Pacific aircraft which sits on a pedestal at the airport that they barely notice it anymore. But next time you drive by, have a closer look at history.
On December 17th 1935, the first DC 3 took its maiden flight and marked the first time that airline operators could make money simply by carrying passengers. Between 1935 and 1947 the Douglas Aircraft Company built over ten thousand DC3. Today there are still almost a 1,000 in flying condition.
The Douglas aircraft at the Whitehorse airport was built in 1942 and spent the rest of World War two in the camouflage colours of the US air force flying in India as part of the India-China Wing of Air Transport Command.
Back then it was called a C47, but when the war ended, the plane was sold to Grant McConachie’s newly established Canadian Pacific Airlines. The plane was converted to a civilian DC 3 and issued the Canadian registration number CF-CPY.
The plane flew southern routes in Canada until CPA upgraded their mainliners to bigger aircraft in the mid ‘50s. Then it came to the Yukon for service on the Dawson-Mayo-Whitehorse route. In 1960 the plane was sold to Connelly Dawson Airways and for the next six years she hauled supplies into the northern Yukon including oil exploration camps in Eagle Plains.
In 1966, the plane was purchased by Great Northern Airways based in Whitehorse and did a lot of bush flying until her last flight in November 1970. Finally, it was donated to the Yukon Flying club which in 1977 came up with an eye-catching idea.
The plane would be restored to its original Canadian Pacific Airline colours for permanent display at the Whitehorse Airport. The unveiling took place in 1981 after four years of meticulous work by volunteers.
Pivoting on its base, the aircraft always points into the wind. And it is so precise that it will rotate with only a minor breeze.
In 1998, after nearly eighteen years on the stand, the plane was removed for a second restoration. It took three years and almost fifteen hundred hours of volunteer labour before CF-CPY was ready to be reinstalled on the original pedestal on September 16, 2001.
It is likely to be flying on the pedestal for the next twenty years or so with her brilliant white, black and red colour scheme of Canadian Pacific Airlines - 1950s vintage.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.