On a dark August morning 100 years ago, a daring young pilot took off in a small Curtiss JN4 “Jenny” plane from Vancouver. In his pocket was tucked a letter, a letter that would become British Columbia’s first eastbound airmail. Sixteen hours and 42 minutes later, Captain Ernest Hoy landed in Calgary as the first pilot to cross the Canadian Rockies, and the letter was delivered safely in to the hands of the city’s Mayor.
But before his final destination, 200 miles in to his flight, Hoy made a stop in Vernon, where he was greeted by a large crowd of excited citizens. While his plane was being refeuled by the Vernon Garage Company, Mayor Shatford treated Captain Hoy to breakfast downtown. About an hour later, Hoy left Vernon, making a magnificent takeoff and waving to the cheering crowd below.
A century after this pioneering flight, the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives is proud to announce their newest feature exhibit, Vernon Takes Flight, on now until the end of December. The exhibit celebrates not only Hoy’s achievement, but other men and women who have dedicated their lives to the skies: from Lowell Dunsmore, whose flying school produced a number of successful pilots, to Jim Duddle and Eldon Seymour, teenagers who built the City of Vernon plane, to the Vernon Flying Club, whose members continue to make flight accessible to Vernon’s youngest citizens. This family-friendly exhibit includes never-before seen footage, and a special Kids Zone where children can try their hand at making a variety of paper planes, or pose for a photo op in a little barrel airplane.
Two men who truly know that the sky is the limit: Duke Dawe, a retired flight lieutenant, and Rick Thornburn, a long-time Vernon citizen and member of the Vernon Flying Club, recently shared their knowledge at the exhibit’s opening reception.