«A gleaming silver 1937 airplane took off in drizzling rain yesterday from the Pratt and Whitney airstrip,» we reported on April 11, 1986.
“A gleaming silver 1937 airplane took off in drizzling rain yesterday from the Pratt and Whitney airstrip in St-Hubert, kicking off Air Canada’s 50th anniversary celebrations,” we reported on April 11, 1986.
The airplane in question was a Lockheed 10A Electra, registered as CF‐TCC, that had once flown for Air Canada’s forerunner, Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA). The plane had been repurchased by Air Canada after a former employee had spotted it at an airshow in Texas, and then lovingly restored, mostly by volunteers.
In this photo by John Mahoney, mechanic Dave Brooks gives the all-clear sign to pilot Ray Lank. Both the plane and Brooks’s coveralls sport TCA’s logo.
As our story explained, the 10-passenger aircraft was about to embark on a 50-stop, 31-day flight from St. John’s to Vancouver, for Expo 86. Among the 12 veteran crew members participating, in shifts, was TCA’s first stewardess, Lucile Grant, by then “over 70.” She had joined the airline in 1938. She was a trained nurse, a requirement for the airline’s flight attendants at that time. No food was served on early flights.
TCA was originally created as part of Canadian National Railways, a Crown corporation. Its purpose was to provide air service to all regions of Canada. Its first commercial passenger flight, from Vancouver to Seattle, took place on Sept. 1, 1937.
In 1965, the airline’s name was changed to Air Canada in English; that name had already been in use in French. Air Canada was privatized in 1988-89.
In 2017, the same Lockheed 10A Electra took to the skies to celebrate the airline’s 80th anniversary.