As the Dominion and Civic governments were not able to come to a decision on the establishment of a formal sea/floatplane base in the harbour, Victoria’s air services migrated north to Lansdowne Field, servicing wheeled aircraft east of Shelbourne and south of Lansdowne. Among the craft flown from Lansdowne Field was British Columbia Airways’ (BCA) Ford Tri-Motor 4-AT-B monoplane G-CATX on regular service to Seattle. At the time the Ford Tri-Motor was the largest, most modern commercial aircraft in the world.
On August 25, 1928 BCA’s Tri-Motor departed Lansdowne Field on its regular service to Seattle with seven passengers aboard. Flying into fog on the American side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the plane went down with all aboard off the mouth of Discovery Bay west of Port Townsend on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. At the time it was reported as “by far the worst catastrophe in the history of American commercial aviation”. BCA was completely exonerated for the crash though the commission recommended the use of seaplanes or amphibians rather than wheeled aircraft when flying over water from Victoria. It would be 15 years before another land-based aircraft linked Vancouver Island to the mainland.
Wings Across the Water
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