SINCE 1924, The Imperial Airways of England have performed 20,000,000 miles of flying with but one fatal crash. On the Continent, airplane service is as regular and as popular as train travel. In Germany, it is almost as cheap.
In the United States, three trans-continental air routes form the backbone of a nation-wide passenger service. One companyalone has flown 2,000,000 miles without a serious accident. This year, additional branches will form a national network serving no cities.
Canada, while slower to take off, is not altogether groundminded. Today, fifty-five commercial aviation companies are operating throughout the Dominion, twice the number in business one year ago. They, together with sixteen civil flying clubs and a score of private owners, on January 1 were flying 333 planes— three times the number licensed on January 1, 1928. Last year in Canada, one commercial company alone carried nearly 10,000 passengers and 1,192,000 pounds of freight.
Before the Canadian boy of today has put away his toy airplane to fly in a real one, Vancouver will be as close to Toronto as Toronto was to Kingston one hundred years ago. Before that boy has a son of his own, what is now a spot on a hazy map of the North may be the busy junction of international air lines between New York, Chicago and London; between Pekin and Paris. The shortest distance between continents is over the top of the globe. That is no idle dream. Already capital is being interested in the beginnings of such a project.
For Canada to ignore the possibilities of future air traffic would be to emulate the people who died with laughing at Stephenson’s Rocket. The Federal Government and most of the provincial administrations are not lacking in vision, but in order to give effect to vision they need public support, and that support often is lacking. For instance, most Canadians find it difficult to see any sense in their cities spending money on adequate landing fields and airports until flocks of airplanes menace their own back lawns.
What has come to be known as “air consciousness” can only come with a conviction of safety. Safety can only be guaranteed by an adequate system of landing fields. With few exceptions, the only mechanical failure that will force a plane down today is engine trouble. Failure of an engine is not a serious matter at all, providing the pilot knows that a good landing place is within a reasonable distance.
From a topographical standpoint, no country is more favorable for commercial and passenger air traffic than is Canada. Nor does any country derive more benefit from the conquest of distance. With a chain of airports established from coast to coast, Canada would be more than merely providing for a development that, while inevitable, is a thing of the future. It would be giving impetus to a transportation business that is actually established, and which, particularly in the North, has already demonstrated its value.
Provision of an airport is a matter that should be considered by every key city in Canada—now. Automobile traffic worries Toronto and Montreal today because the men who laid out their streets never dreamed of the future. Today, the city that has courage to dream may be the metropolis of tomorrow.—
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.