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The Queen of the Yukon:
first commercial aircraft in the Yukon Territory, 1927

Arctic & Northern Aviation

    On October 25, 1927, perhaps the most significant aircraft in Yukon history arrived in Whitehorse. The Queen of the Yukon was a Ryan B-1 Brougham purchased by Clyde Wann and Andy Cruikshank. They took delivery at the Ryan factory and she became the first aircraft of the Yukon Airways and Exploration Company, and the first commercial aircraft in the territory.

The first reports about the Queen of the Yukon following her arrival appeared in The Whitehorse Star 3 days later, on Friday, October 28, 1927. Rather strangely, these comments were on the last page of this issue, Page 4.

Air Service For Yukon - The Whitehorse Star, October 28, 1927

    Commercial flying is another mark of progress in Yukon. At 9.35 Tuesday morning the Queen of the Yukon, the first machine put into service by the Yukon Airways and Exploration Company Limited, made a pretty landing on the aviation field at Whitehorse.

    Notwithstanding the early hour a large number of citizens were on the field to extend a welcome. From Skagway the trip was made in 1 hour and 10 minutes. Near the summit an altitude of 12,000 feet had to be attained in order to get above the fog, and this caused some delay.

    To Mrs. A. D. Cruikshank, formerly Miss Esmee Buckley of Vancouver, belongs the distinction of being the first woman to fly into Whitehorse. Lieut. A. D. Cruikshank was the pilot. Clyde G. Wann, vice-president of the company, J. E. Smith, mechanician, and Frank Zimmer of Carmacks, completed the party, making five in all.

    Promptly at 1 p.m. on Wednesday the Queen of the Yukon hopped off on its first flight for Mayo and Keno. Lieut. and Mrs. Cruikshank and Mr. Wann were on board. The plane passed over Mayo at 3.10, covering the distance in 2 hours and 10 minutes. A very few minutes more and it would be landed on the field at Keno.

    Before leaving Whitehorse two exhibition flights were made. The passengers on the first flight were Mrs. J. R. Gaudin, Mrs. T. C. Richards, Mrs. J. R. Redpath and Mrs. Connie LeVake. On the second trip were Messrs T. C. Richards, J. J. Elliott, Herb Wheeler and J. D. Skinner. All are very much delighted with their first experience in flying.

    Before leaving the south the Queen of the Yukon had made 500 flights, covering in all 21,000 miles, and carrying 18,000 passengers, and without the slightest mishap or injury to anyone.

    Lieut. Cruikshank is not only a licensed Canadian commercial pilot, but he also holds an air engineer's certificate.

    As soon as landing fields are available at Dawson, Carcross and Atlin it is the intention of the company to inaugurate a schedule between Atin and Dawson, carrying mail, passengers and express. Whitehorse, Mayo and Keno had landing fields in readiness.

    We don't have any information about this 8x10 print in our collection.

The Queen of the Yukon, a Ryan B-1 Brougham

    The entire front page of The Whitehorse Star was about the Queen of the Yukon on April 13, 1928. Click on the image to open a much larger version in a new window.

The entire front page of The Whitehorse Star was about the Queen of the Yukon on April 13, 1928.

The Whitehorse Star, Friday, April 13, 1928

The Whitehorse Star, April 13, 1928.

    On May 11, 1928, The Whitehorse Star reported that the Queen of the Yukon had been badly damaged in a crash at Whitehorse on May 5th. She was, in fact, totalled.

Queen of the Yukon Badly Damaged - The Whitehorse Star, May 11, 1928

    Shortly after two o'clock on Saturday afternoon last the purring of her engine announced that the Queen had returned from a trip to Mayo, Keno and Dawson. While north she made two successful side flights, and considerable business was awaiting her return here. The future was full of promise. Even her most sanguine supporters were surprised at the volume of business in prospect. But in the twinkling of an eye the promising outlook was completely changed.

    A strong wind was prevailing from the west, and the dimensions of the aviation field permitted only of a north and south landing. In the first attempt Capt. Stephens saw that he would have difficulty in making a landing and he took the air again. In the second attempt to land the wind caught him again but the engine did not respond quickly enough for him to rise the second time and the plane was completely under the control of the wind.

    It was all over in a few moments, very tense for Pilot Stephens, Mrs. Stephens and Mrs. L. H. Titus, who were in the plane. A collision with W. A. Puckett's Ford truck brought the Queen to a stop, and the occupants stepped out of the wrecked ship, Mrs. Titus with only a slight bruise on the head, Mrs. Stephens with a sprained thumb, and Capt. Stephens without even a scratch.

    The Yukon Airways has made no announcement as to its plans for the future. Aviation brought new life and it gave promise of substantial aid in the development of the Territory, and notwithstanding the unfortunate accident the opinion is very general that this modern mode of transportation is particularly adapted to the needs of the Territory and is here to stay.

    The Yukon pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver, with a replica of the Queen of the Yukon hanging with a background by Ted Harrison[;. It was built by Edward Turner of North Pender Island, BC, who won the $42,500 contract. It has no interior and no controls.

The Yukon pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver

    The replica of the Queen of the Yukon that hung outside the Yukon pavilion at Expo 86 now hangs in the Yukon Transportation Museum.

The replica of the Queen of the Yukon that hung outside the Yukon pavilion at Expo 86 now hangs in the Yukon Transportation Museum.

    The Queen of the Yukon in the stained glass mural in the Yukon Government building in Whitehorse.