WestJet to commemorate Western Canada’s inaugural air mail flight

On Monday, WestJet in collaboration with the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society and The Calgary Airport Authority will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Western Canada’s inaugural air mail flight.

The flight was made by aviatrice Katherine Stinson (above and below) on July 9, 1918, from Calgary to Edmonton, containing a mailbag with a reported 259 letters. In honor of Stinson, flight 3143 will be flown by WestJet Encore Captain’s Athenia Jansen and Janna Breker Kettner.

Photos: U.S. Library of Congress.

WestJet on July 9, 2018 made this announcement:

WestJet on July 9 in collaboration with the Canadian Aerophilatelic Society and The Calgary Airport Authority celebrated the 100th anniversary of Western Canada’s inaugural air mail flight. The flight was made by aviatrice Katherine Stinson on July 9, 1918, from Calgary to Edmonton, containing a mailbag with a reported 259 letters.

Aviatrice Katherine Stinson poses by her aircraft in 1918 (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

Known by the press as “the birdgirl,” Katherine Stinson piloted the first flight using a compass and a map of Alberta. It was the first time in the West and the second time in all of Canada that mail had been transported by air. The plane Stinson flew was custom-built using parts from a number of First World War era aircraft. Her trip also resulted in the first-ever landing on terrain in the immediate vicinity of the present-day YYC Calgary International Airport.

WestJet Encore flight 3143 from Calgary to Edmonton will be used to commemorate this unique occasion. The flight will also transport 259 letters destined for Edmonton from Calgary including a letter from Calgary Mayor, Naheed Nenshi to the Mayor of Edmonton, Don Iveson. The original mail bag contained a letter from the acting Calgary Mayor Freeze to then Mayor Evans of Edmonton.

In honour of Stinson, flight 3143 will be flown by WestJet Encore Captain’s Athenia Jansen and Janna Breker Kettner.

Additional Quotes:

Athenia Jansen, WestJet Encore Captain
“As a female pilot it’s an honor to fly WestJet Encore flight 3143 in recognition of Katherine Stinson’s first air mail flight in Western Canada. Stinson was one of the world’s leading female aviators and Janna and myself are thrilled to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her flight.”

Mark Ruel, Director, Air Service Development for The Calgary Airport Authority
“Today’s acknowledgement of the first air mail flight demonstrates that YYC is a leading cargo gateway in Western Canada, evolving from just one inter-city flight transporting air mail, to offering access to global markets in support of Alberta’s strategy to grow international trade. Over 75 per cent of Alberta’s air freight is handled at YYC.”

Gord Mallett, Canadian Aerophilatelic Society
“Several months ago an invitation was extended to WestJet to partner in planning activities linked to the Centenary of Katherine Stinson’s July 9 1918 air mail flight between Calgary and Edmonton. The company’s response was immediate and very positive. Today’s Centennial Flight, conveying 259 commemorative covers between the two Alberta cities, is being realized thanks to the ongoing participation and assistance of WestJet, The Calgary Airport Authority and Canada Post.”

 

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