In the summer of 1924, the fledgling Ontario Provincial Air Service worked out a means of direct air-to-ground communication.

Aware of the serious lack of aerial communications two men, Robert Robinson of the Forestry Department and Monty Baker, an aircraft observer, developed a plan.

Curtiss HS-2L on aerial patrol

They built a transmitting and receiving outlet in a shack on the property of the Sudbury Forestry Station and one day tested their idea. Bush pilot Tommy Thompson flew an H-Boat over the forest near Sudbury, while Baker nestled in the observer’s seat with a telegraph key strapped to his knee. His dot-dit-dot could be clearly heard at the shack, twenty, thirty, forty miles away. And he also received signals clear as crystal.

During this first experiment, Baker noticed a distant plume of smoke in Scotia Township. Thompson flew to it, circled the fire, noted the nearest lake for a landing, checked on possible lumber trails in the area, and wirelessed back the message. This was the first time [in Ontario] that air to ground radio transmission was used to report forest fire. It was a milestone.

McClement, Fred. The Flaming Forests. Toronto/Montreal: McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 1969.
Photo Credit:
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre [Curtiss HS-2L on aerial patrol]
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