- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 24 Nov 1927, p. 220-232
- MacBrien, General J.H., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The aims and objectives of a new patriotic organization called The Canadian Air League. The motto of the League: "Canada and the Empire United by Air." Some worlds about flight and the history of flight. The two schools of aeronautic thought: heavier-than-air craft and lighter-than-air craft. Some key moments in the history of manned flight. Flying today. Safety issues. Requirements for safe air flight: the best material; the best trained personnel in the world; organized airways and airports; good wireless communications. The development that is going on in the different large countries of the world, and a comparison with our own developments. Organized air routes in Europe and national aerial leagues which help the respective governments to establish aviation upon a sound basis. The state of affairs in Czechoslovakia, Germany, and France, with facts and figures. Germans at the present time as world leaders in civil aviation. Imperial Airways in Great Britain. Comparing Canada and Australia in terms of air routes. The intensive development that is taking place in the United States.Some words about Lindbergh. Aviation in Canada. The lack of organized air routes. The work of the Canadian Air League to assist in the development and use of aviation as a means of transportation in Canada. The danger that unless Canadians undertake these activities, it will be done for us, chiefly by our cousins from the south. Evidence that that might happen. Another object of the League to establish an aircraft industry in Canada, with its fifty odd ancillary trades and professions. Aims and objectives of the League in some detail. How these aims can be attained. Details of specific programmes and activities. Educational work. Training programmes. The flying clubs. Aircraft and trade. The development of aviation as part of the solution to transportation problems. A request to the audience for participation and support in the League.
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- 24 Nov 1927
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THE FUTURE OF AVIATION IN CANADA
By GENERAL J. H. MacBRIEN, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., OTTAWA
24th November, 1927
GENERAL MACBRIEN was introduced by COLONEL FRASER, and was greeted with a hearty round of applause He spoke as follows: -I thank you for your reception, for your invitation which has brought me here, and for this opportunity of explaining to you the aims and objects of a new patriotic organization called The Canadian Air League, which has for its motto one which I think will appeal to the members of this club, that is " Canada and the Empire United by Air." (Applause). Those of you who have studied the mythologies and religions of the world will be aware of the fact that flight has always been one of the chief aspirations of man. In those mythologies and religions, the supreme being was given his home in the vast region above us, and he had the power to move at will through the atmosphere, through those vast regions, and therefore flight has been a tribute of godliness, and to the ancients one of the chief distinctions between a deity and a human. The religious people thought in the olden times that if a man attempted to fly he was indulging in sorcery. They took the stand that if God intended man to fly He would have endowed him with wings. Angels had wings and could fly, and the devil had wings and could fly. If a man succeeded in flying he must have been inspired by the devils and therefore ought to be proscribed. Particularly in the Middle Ages, and even earlier, man's attempts to fly were frustrated for religious reasons. Back as early as 350 B.C. it is recorded in history that a model in the form of a dove was made to fly. The ancient philosophers and scientists noticed that there were two things that had the power to move through the air. One was a bird, and from that we get our heavier-thanair craft; the other was smoke and vapor, and from that we have the development of the lighter-than-air craft. Those two schools of aeronautic thought have developed down through the ages, and as early as the time of Our Lord, immediately after, there was a man by the name of Simon, a scientist who said there was nothing marvelous in the Ascension, that he could project himself into the sky and disappear. He gave his flying exhibition in the Forum at Rome before the Emperor Nero. The Apostle Peter was there and other Christians; they prayed that he might not be successful because they thought he was indulging in sacrilege. Before this vast assembly he did project him self in a balloon with hot air in it, high enough to be killed by the subsequent fall. Beginning with that lighterthan-air craft we get the first successful balloon flight in 1783 by two brothers, the Montgolfier brothers, and they really perfected the present balloon. And from that we have now the dirigible airships: The latest models, being constructed in England, are of immense size, 700 feet long, 130 feet high, and will carry a hundred passengers with a crew of 35. Passengers will be allowed 112 pounds of baggage. There are dining saloons much larger than this room, twoberth cabins, each cabin with a porthole, dancing saloons, promenade decks, baths, and every luxury you can imagine. Those of us at the Imperial Conference last autumn saw those two in course of construction. The Dominion Government at that conference agreed to the erection of a mooring mast, and that is being undertaken now south of Montreal. This big hitching-post, as it has been called, will be 250 feet high. The first trial flight is supposed to be from England to Canada in August of next year. The speed of this airship will be about a hundred miles an hour, from 90 to 100. It will be driven by seven 600 h.p. engines, and will take two days to cross the Atlantic, coming to the westward, and less time going back with the winds.
That is the lighter-than-air craft. Heavier-than-air craft development was a slower one, until the internal combustion engine was invented., Sir George Cayley in 1809 laid down the principles of flight of the heavierthan-air craft, which were afterward put into practice successfully by the Wright brothers in the United States 24 years ago, in December 1903. Since 1903 we have seen the most intensive development in the heavier-than-air craft and instead of it being rather a haphazard business, as it was in 1903, the aeroplane now is one of the most scientific machines constructed, and is a tribute to man's perseverence, to his daring, and to his scientific knowledge. We come to the situation now when we see all countries of the world vying with each other to establish aviation in their countries, for two main reasons first, because they see in it a great instrument or machine which is going to influence their industrial and economic life; and secondly, they see in it one of the four or five very important instruments or weapons for defence. For these two reasons all progressive nations now are struggling to establish aviation upon a sound basis, for those two uses.
Flying today is safe, as safe as any other form of transportation, provided four main requirements are observed. The accidents we read about are nearly all caused because these requirements, which I shall enumerate to you, are not observed. The requirements are these: First, the very best material in the world available must be used; that is, don't fly the Atlantic with a single-engine machine, but fly it with multiple-engine craft, three engines or more. Secondly, the best trained personnel in the world must be used--the best available, not necessarily the best in the world. Thirdly, you must have organized routes, organized airways and airports. They are as necessary to safe flying as roadways to motor cars, and lastly, you must have good communications, that is, wireless communications, and also weather reports, meterological service. If you observe those four conditions, flying is safe. Without them, flying is not safe. Every new form of transportation goes through a period of suspicion. I have come across extracts from some old papers of 1845, items written regarding the use of the railway train, and an English newspaper stated that probably the greatest return from the use of the railway would be the return of the list of killed and injured; and that the idea of a railway train being able to travel safely at eight miles an hour was ridiculous. (Laughter). Now we are going through the same period of suspicion, to some extent, with the use of aircraft in this country as a means of transportation, but there is no need to be like the negro who refused to ride in an aeroplane when he was asked, saying "No thank you, sir, terra firma for me, and the more firma, the less terra." (Laughter).
Now as quickly as I can, we shall take the development that is going on in the different large countries of the world, and compare it with our own, and see if we are lagging behind or not in the use of aviation as a means of developing this country. Take Europe, which is about the size of Canada; it has today 746,000 miles of organized air routes. Each country has its aerial league helping the respective governments to establish aviation upon a sound basis.
In Czechoslovakia alone, one of the new countries formed by the Peace Treaty, there is a league of 80,000 supporting aviation. In Germany-and Germany leads the world in the development of civil aviation todaythere is a league of over 200,000 supporting the government and the municipalities. In Germany they have 15,000 miles of organized air routes, and German aircraft fly 40,000 miles a day, carrying passengers, mails, merchandise, and everything that you can mention. That system is being expanded and extended all over Europe as fast as Germany is able to do it. France is trying to keep pace with that development in Germany, and to a great extent she is succeeding, but the Germans at the present time lead the world in civil aviation. They have had to devote their whole scientific knowledge and experience in flying to civil aviation, because they are forbidden to develop their military aircraft by the Peace Treaty. That has been to their advantage in that respect. In Germany today we find two of the well-known companies for the construction of aircraft joined up with two of their shipping companies, and they are building one an aeroplane with eight engines, and the other a flying boat with multiple engines. I do not know the exact number-and they have both announced that they intend to establish a trans-Atlantic service in 1929. In France the same aviator who flew the British Channel first is organizing a company to fly to the United States by way of the Azores, with multiple-engine craft, not with single-engine machines. Here is a map that explains better than I can do in words the development that has taken place in Europe. Here is a map of the routes in 1920; underneath are those of 1926, and this big map shows 1927. You can see that you can travel to any place in Europe by those routes that are established, and you can travel safely because the routes are organized, and you can travel at little more than a first-class railway fare. I have not time to deal with Russia, but a significant fact is this, that the Russian lines are extended out towards the northwest frontier of India, and they have a flying mission in Kabul now, in Afghanistan. France leads the world in military aviation; she has planes that can manoeuvre and fight at 32,000 feet altitude, and she has the best military aircraft in the world. She has 8,000 miles of organized air routes, so you can see she is not lagging far behind on the civil side.
In Great Britain, which is much smaller, there are a thousand miles of air routes organized, operated chiefly by the Imperial Airways, which is a monopoly. There is only one company and they are carrying thousands and thousands of passengers safely without accident, because they observe those conditions which I enumerated. Take one sister Dominion, Australia, so as to get a comparison with our own country as a Dominion. They have 3,500 miles of organized air routes. They voted a million dollars a few months ago to extend that by 4,500 miles, which would give them a total of over 8,000 miles of air routes. It will give them a complete circuit of the island continent by air, and lines connecting the main centres.
Now we come to the United States where a very, very intensive development is taking place. There are 24 air lines operating in the United States. The main line is a trunk line extending from New York to San Francisco carrying mails and passengers in two days' time. This trunk line is fed by branch lines north and south, and many of the representatives of their companies have been up in Canada at the central points, trying to organize lines from Canada to feed the main trunk line across the United States. They have time tables issued now that you can look up the same as the ordinary railway time table, so that wherever you travel you can go by air. Sixty-five million of their people are served by the air mail, and you can travel to any of the main cities of the United States in that way quickly and safely. They have in the United States an Air League called the National Aeronautic Association, and they have for their object, naturally, to make their country first in the air, and their showing is that United States planes flew five million miles last year on the organized routes, without a single accident. There have been hundreds of accidents in the United States, but the cause has been what might be called indiscriminate and unsafe, not properly organized flying. Again Mr. Levine, of transAtlantic fame, is completing a seven-engine aircraft to fly between the United States and Europe. He is completing, as a matter of fact, seven of them. Great impetus was given to aviation in the United States by Lindbergh's wonderful flight. Lindbergh was a wonderful aviator, but he was extremely lucky to get over the Atlantic with a single engine. His flight enthused a Chinaman who is living in the United States, who had a son born about that time and he wanted to name the boy after Lindbergh. He did not know how to weave Lindbergh's name into the Chinese language, but after some thought he decided to call the boy One Long Hop. (Laughter). So they are happy, and I am sure Lindbergh is very happy to have a little boy named after him in that way.
Now we come to aviation in Canada. How many miles of organized air routes have we here in Canada today? None; not one. Are we, then, lagging behind in the use of aircraft as a means of transportation, which is its greatest use? We who have been closely in touch with aviation, say "Yes, we are lagging behind." The greatest work the Canadian Air League has to do and can do, is to assist in the development and use of aviation as a means of transportation in this vast country of ours. We think it can be used to carry mails, passengers, express merchandise, and help develop this huge country that we have as a most valued heritage. We think that we are at an important time in this development that should take place. We think that unless Canadians undertake it, that it will be done for us, chiefly by our cousins from the south. They are surveying possibilities of building aircraft for Canada, establishing branch companies in Canada, or running spurs up to Canada, and unless we start to do this for ourselves, then we will be in the same position for a hundred years to come that we are now in relation to the motor car industry-that our aircraft will be built, for the most part, probably in the United States, instead of in Canada here. So we have as an object of the League the establishment of the aircraft industry in Canada, with its fifty odd ancillary trades and professions. So we decided two or three months ago-a band of about fifteen of us who have had considerable experience in aviation-to start the organization of this Canadian Air League, and I have been right across Canada both ways, east and west, to all the main centres, and branches of the League are being formed in every large centre of Canada today. All the prominent men that I have approached in the various provinces have agreed to lend their assistance to the League, after they have heard what its aims and objects are, and I propose now to give you as briefly as I can, the aims and objects of the League and see if you agree with them, and if so, I will bespeak your assistance for the League.
The first is to ensure the fullest development of civil and commercial aviation in Canada. Secondly, to foster Canadian interests in aviation manufacturing and to encourage education, research, experiment and manufacture, in the science of aeronautics, by private enterprise in the schools and colleges and universities, and by the Dominion and Provincial governments. Thirdly, to secure the provision and maintenance of an Air Force adequate to meet the needs of national defence. Fourth, the policy is to be a national one and an imperial one, and to be entirely independent of all political parties.
These are the aims of the League. Now you will say, how can the League help the attainment of those aims? I will give you some of the work the League has undertaken already or will undertake when it is fully organized. The first is to create an educated public opinion on aviation matters-air-mindedness, or air-consciousness, it has been sometimes called. That is what has been done with aviation elsewhere. I am glad to say that everywhere I have gone in Canada the public men and the press have assisted in making known the information that we have been able to collect so far, as to what has been done in other countries in the development of aviation. We intend to inaugurate courses of lectures on aviation by prominent airmen. Thirdly, demonstration flights of new aircraft will be arranged by the League. Fourth, annual competitions to develop reliability and endurance of aircraft. Fifthly, facilities for education in aeronautical engineering and air engineering, and air mechanics, to be created in Canada. Sixthly, the publication of a national journal devoted to aviation. Other countries have theirs; the United States has half a dozen, England has half a dozen. This is the Air League Journal of the British Empire (showing) with which we are affiliated. We intend in Canada to have an aviation journal; we have not a single one in our country today. We want it to be of general interest to the public, and we want it to be of technical value to those who are actually engaged or are thinking of engaging in aviation. We intend to set up a bureau of information within the League, so that if anyone wishes to start an aviation transportation company, he can send to the League for the latest data concerning the costs, and the returns that may be expected. And we intend to encourage practical flying by helping in the organization of flying clubs; and about fifteen of these are already in process of organization across the Dominion of Canada, in the large centres. And in the large centres like Montreal and Toronto we will encourage the formation of flying schools of instruction. I think Montreal has had over 700 applications from young Canadians to join the flying club, alone. Over 500 of those have asked to learn to fly; they are very keen on learning to fly, and the light aeroplane club will hardly be able to deal with that number of applications, so a commercial school of flying instruction would do very well in centres such as that. There is really no fully organized place in Canada where a young boy can learn to fly. We intend to make periodical representations to the Dominion and Provincial governments and to municipalities as to the support needed by aviation for its development. We intend to co-operate with the Defence Department in the organization of a reserve of qualified pilots and in the establishment of a non-permanent air force. It is a principle of service in Canada that the defence of our country is to be done by nonpermanent troops so it would be natural if the Dominion Government formed a non-permanent air force, and the League will help in that. Remember, probably most of the flying will be done by young men, and when the main part is fully organized we intend to form a junior branch of the League, so as to give the young men of Canada an idea as to whether or not they would like to engage in aviation as an occupation; not necessarily in flying but as mechanics or engineers, of aeronautical engineering which is the designing of aircraft. Lastly, we intend to co-operate with the Air League of the British Empire in every way that presents itself.
I want to say just one word on the educational work. In no other branch of engineering or scientific work has the progress been so intensive as in aeronautical engineering. Before the war, Germany, Russia and France had established educational institutions to meet the need of providing places for their young men to get this education. Since the war quite a number of places have been established in England and in the United States, but at present there is no fully organized institution in Canada where a young Canadian can go and even get a mechanical education, or an air engineering education, or an aeronautical education. Toronto University has made a start, but with that exception there is not a single institution in Canada to which a young Canadian can go and get these very necessary qualifications. Now they will go somewhere else and get it if our educational authorities do not provide courses for them here. They will go to the United States, which we do not want them to do. Or they will go abroad. In the Royal Canadian Air Force we have had to send our technical officers to England at the present time to become qualified in this branch. We think that the League can do a good work, and a good deal has been accomplished already throughout Canada in bringing this deficiency before the educational authorities.
Now I want to dwell on the flying clubs. One has been organized in Toronto and the Government is subsidizing it. It cannot be operated on a commercial basis at all, but it will provide a means for young Canadians to learn to fly. It will be an elementary knowledge that they will gain in these flying clubs but they will be able to decide after having begun a course, a ground instructional course provided, and in flying, as to whether or not they would like to go on to commercial aviation. A great many are joining the clubs with that purpose in view. If they do not go into civil aviation, they will serve as a reserve officers' list in the country for a nonpermanent air force.
Now about aircraft and trade. Most of you will know better than I do that competition in trade now-a-days is so keen that no firm can be without a tool or a machine which saves time in the conduct of the business, or which gives greater mobility in the three elements that go to make up business, men money and materials. Now the aeroplane gives you greater mobility in those three business essentials, and no progressive country really can be without the aircraft industry and without aviation as a means of transportation. Aviation as a means of transportation is now being used by most of the large firms in the United States and we will be a backward country very soon unless we establish it in the same way, because it saves time. Time is an important factor in business. It saves time in getting in your order, it will save time in manufacturing your product, it will safe time in distributing it, it will save time in the management of your different branches, and it will save time in collecting your money; therefore you can operate your company with less capital and less stock and you get a faster turnover. Far-seeing business men of the United States have seized upon this new instrument, this new machine, as has Europe too. The Germans seized the possibilities of re-establishing their country in the foremost position as a great trading nation which they lost during the wax. They have thought by developing aviation as they are doing that they will regain it, and therefore take a leading place in the world again.
I think if you grant that the development of aviation is good for Canada, then we cannot afford to be without it, and that is the chief work that the League has undertaken. One of the great problems in the development of any country, but particularly Canada, is that of transportation. The development of aviation will help solve one form of transportation. Organization of airways will give us greater cohesion in this country of ours. The east will be brought close to Ottawa. The west will be brought close to Ottawa and Toronto. Whether it is desirable to be close to Ottawa or not, I leave to you. (Laughter). But they do say all good Canadians come to Ottawa some time or other, for something or other; so if we have an air service between Ottawa and Toronto, as I hope soon, you will be able to come down often and see your friends there. In these days of aviation, airways, and airports, a country without them will be regarded as unprogressive, and a city without a well-organized airport will not be even a flag station, because they cannot stop. The Mayor of Vancouver went down to California some time ago with a special invitation to Lindbergh to visit Vancouver. Lindbergh said "Yes, I would be delighted to come; where can I land? I use a machine with wheels on it." The Mayor said "Unfortunately we have not got an airport." Lindbergh said "Then I cannot come." The Mayor has been doing his best ever since to find suitable ground for an airport. The history of that is that as soon as a city does get an airport air traffic commences, and grows from that day on.
The Canadians did well in the war as pilots; they have a natural ability in the air. They did wonderfully well; they did their full share in making the Empire supreme in the Great War, and ten thousand of these same airmen served in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Naval Air Force. They are back here in Canada; I have met hundreds and hundreds of them in the last few months. Many of them are anxious to get back into what they call the flying game. They want to get into civil aviation; they are joining these light aeroplane clubs so as to refresh their skill. Many are doing it from patriotic motives; they wish to pass on their knowledge of areronautics to the rising generation, and if the Canadian airmen are given the opportunity by our different governments, and by our municipalities and by the Canadian business men, these Canadian pilots can earn for Canada just as enviable a position in peace as they did in war.
Now I ask you that if you think the League has a useful work to do, if you think that the development of aviation is a good thing for our country, I ask you to join and lend your support anyway to the fullest development of this League. Assist this League in every way you can, because we are going to try to get in it all those with a knowledge of aviation, all those who want to learn about it, and all those who think its development will be for the good of our country and our Empire. Its influence and the good it can do will depend naturally upon the number of people we can draw into it and the amount of money we can get to work with, and I bespeak your support for it. I think you, Mr. President and gentlemen, for your very patient hearing and for the invitation which brought me here today. (Applause).
THE PRESIDENT gave some further information as to the incorporation of the League.
GENERAL GUNN expressed to the speaker the thanks of the Club, and MR. F. B. FETHERSTONHAUGH in seconding the motion, referred to the fact that he had been president in 1912 of the first Aeronautical Society in Canada.