Alaska Washington Airlways of British Columbia aircraft at the "improved" B&K wharf

Alaska Washington Airlways of British Columbia aircraft at the “improved” B&K wharf

With the Dominion and City governments unable to come to a decision on float planes landing in the harbour and the BCA inquiry’s recommendation that there be no wheeled air service between the island and the mainland there was now no scheduled air service between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

On August 13, 1929 a Lockheed Vega seaplane NC-657E named “Ketchikan” landed in the harbour carrying senior officers of Alaska-Washington Airways. They arrived to discuss the creation of Alaska-Washington Airways of British Columbia (AWABC) to provide a regular seaplane service between Victoria’s Harbour and the mainland. Robert Pym Butchart was among the Canadian investors in the enterprise.

AWABC’s inaugural flight took place on August 29 when their Fairchild 72, US registration NC-115H, takes off for Seattle. The fare is $13 one-way, and $25 return. With no resolution of a harbour terminal in the city, the 1919 B&K wharf was, once again pressed into service. The airway began regular service on October 16, 1929 13 days before the stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

For the next 18 months both the service’s Victoria – Vancouver and Victoria – Seattle services ran smoothly despite the lack of hanger and maintenance facilities in Victoria, the air service’s headquarters. AWABC was forced to arrange for major repairs to be handled at the new Boeing Canada aircraft factory near Stanley Park. In 1930 the service obtained a hanger and office facilities on Sea Island. Because the local air harbour on Erie Street was never built, the Victoria-based company could not keep its aircraft in Victoria overnight leading to major scheduling problems. AWABC ceased operations after 3,000 scheduled flights.

Wings Across the Water