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Clarence Alvin (Duke) Schiller

Duke Schiller fitted the image of the typical indestructible bush pilot, who drank too much, lived too hard but always got the job done.

In 1914 he enlisted in Canadian Army but was honourably discharged when it was discovered that he was only 14 years old.   He later enlisted in Royal Flying Corps (Canada) in 1917 and became a flight instructor.   After World War I he flew for Ericson Aircraft Ltd., Locktite Tire Patch Co., Aero Ltd., Aeromarine Airways Ltd.  In 1919 he competed in the New York to Toronto Air Race. An original 1924 member of the Ontario Provincial Air Service, Duke left the Service in 1927 to pursue flying in other parts of Canada.  Not one to sit still, in 1927 he attempted a west to east flight across the Atlantic and he participated in, but was forced out of, the NY-Spokane Air Race.

In 1928 he gained fame by flying to Greenly Island, Labrador to successfully rescue the crew of Junkers W33 "Bremen" which was forced down in bad weather after making the first east to west transatlantic flight. 

His license was suspended in 1928 for a stunt near Montreal's Lachine Rapids while flying for Canadian Transcontinental Airways.  He had his suspension lifted to join a relief flight for a mining expedition party and had a jail sentence delayed so he could fight forest fires in Ontario.

After 1928 he flew for Northern Aerial Minerals Exploration Ltd., Gar Wood, Great Lakes Airways,  McIntyre Mines and Dominion Skyways Ltd.

He served in the Royal Air Force Ferry Command as an instructor and pilot during World War II.   He died attempting to make a night landing in a Canso on glassy water at Bermuda in 1943.

photos courtesy of B. Tindall, from Duke Schiller Collection
click on a thumbnail to view larger photo
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