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Routes to Canada

Ernie Buehl helped to open the routes into Canada as far as Fort Norman.

In 1920, Theo Link located oil on Bear Island, near Fort Norman. Receiving this report, Charlie Taylor, Edmonton-based manager of Imperial Oil Company's interests, anticipated a rush of people who would attempt to stake claims on oil in the area. In response, he ordered two JL-6 aircraft so that Imperial Oil could make the claims before anybody else could reach these new fields. (Air Mail Study Group Newsletter, Dec. 2001, page 33).

Delivery of the aircraft was taken in January 1921. According to the Saskatoon Daily Star (Jan. 25, 1921), Ernie accompanied a team that also included Canadians W.R. "Wop" May, George Gorman, and Pete Derbyshire, as they flew the new JL-6s from New York to Edmonton. May reached Edmonton on January 5, 1921, but Gorman was delayed in Brandon, Manitoba, for several weeks because his aircraft was damaged in a storm.

From Edmonton, the planes were taken to Peace River Crossing, where they were hangered. An advance fuel cache was established at Hay River, necessary because of the distance from Peace River to Fort Norman. 

In 1920, Eddie Rickenbacker explained the advantage of the JL-6 for transcontinental flight, saying that “these are the only practicable planes for transcontinental flight thus far designed.” The main advantage was that they were very economical in terms of the fuel they consumed. With their BMWIIIa engines, even traveling at an average speed of 100 miles per hour, they would consume an average of eight gallons of benzol an hour.” Other similarly rated planes would consume twice that amount of fuel.

Rickenbacker also endorsed the plane for its safety. He is quoted in the Salt Lake City Tribune as saying, “This monoplane is about what the people have been waiting for. The dangers attendant on riding on a plane of any kind have kept people away from it. They are waiting for something safe. This machine is fireproof and seems to be proof against most everything.”

Image on this page

  • photographic reproduction of map -- EBC