A routine fire detection patrol in Northern Manitoba ended in near disaster for an RCAF pilot, on an August day in 1929.

RCAF de Havilland Moth on floats

Sgt. J. M. Ready, a pilot with the Lac du Bonnet base, took off in deHavilland D.H. 60 Moth G-CYXH on the morning of August 26, 1929. He was to conduct a fire patrol and land at Gordon Lake. In the haze he could not find his destination so he returned to Lac du Bonnet. He began to descend through dense smoke. Without a horizon for reference he let the nose drop and the speed began to build. Ready heaved back on the stick, but the floats and his airspeed had so stabilized the aircraft that it failed to respond.

At 500 feet, with the Moth doing 125 mph, he bailed out, leaving the aircraft to plunge into Lac du Bonnet. Ready landed in the lake itself. His life preserver did not inflate and he had to swim to shore. After walking five miles he reached a lodge where he borrowed a motor boat to return to base.

Watch: RCAF Preparing for Fire Detection Patrol, 1927
[Forest Fire Fighters of the Skies, 1927. National Film Board]

Milberry, Larry ed. Sixty Years: The RCAF and CF Air Command 1924-1984. Toronto. CANAV Books, 1984.
Photo Credit:
Canada Department of National Defense [RCAF de Havilland Moth on floats]
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