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In a Moon's Course ....

Wiley Post … and a Caterpillar 15 tractor

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Edmonton City Airport (CYXD), once known as Blatchford Field, was the first licensed airport in Canada. It ceased operations in November last year. Years ago I travelled on a Canadian Regional flight in and of the airport and later I found myself there travelling on client corporate Citation V jets. It was superseded by the Edmonton International airport a little south of the city. CYXD was an airport a stone’s throw from the city centre.

Wiley Post was to make a re-fuelling stop there before the final leg of his 1933 ‘Round the World’ flight in a Lockheed Vega, the ‘Winnie Mae’. It was a remarkable solo flight to beat his own RTW record secured two years earlier in the same aircraft, with Harold Gatty as his navigator. The stop in Edmonton was meant to be as short as possible; refuel the aircraft, refresh the pilot then out on the final leg to New York. That was the plan. Rain and a grass airfield that had turned into mud were now threatening to make the reality somewhat different.

However, airport officials had provided for just such an emergency – a Caterpillar 15 from the Union Tractor and Harvester Company had been brought in the night before. After landing in the muddy field, the refueling took place while Wiley had a brief sleep. They towed the aircraft gently on to Portage Avenue, a main thoroughfare, to use it as a temporary runway. No mean feat – the aircraft was very fragile to such lateral forces. Other Edmonton folks had worked for hours, taking down power lines and clearing the area to make the road a single-use runway.

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An an hour and fifteen minutes from the time the aircraft touched down it was back in the air again, en route non-stop to Roosevelt Field, to secure a new world record.

The story can be found at the website in a 1981 article, from the 1933 story by H.H. Orser, who drove the tractor that day.

Allan Jones
[email protected]

Allan Jones is the author of In a Moon’s Course, an ebook of World War II flight stories/plans of the Air Transport Auxiliary, available at ebook online suppliers.

The Flight (well, it’s hardly a flight unless you want to spend another 9 hours flying the Vega to New York).

If you want to take off along Portage Avenue and see the Edmonton City Airport on one side, here is how I did it. Portage Avenue in Edmonton is called Kingsway now. It runs from NW to SE along the southern edge of the Edmonton City Airport site (see Spot View Map). I first added Rick Lackey’s Edmonton City Airport to FSX ( and also David Grindele’s Lockheed Vega update for FSX in the Winnie Mae livery (, but you can use any aircraft that will fit on the road, really. I then placed the aircraft on the runway, chose Spot View and, in lieu of a virtual Caterpillar 15, used the ‘Y’ slew function to pull it on to the highway. A little alignment when in cockpit view, start her up and … voilà.

As you take off have a peek at the airport. The Blatchford Field re-development as a mixed-use community for 30,000 Edmontonians will, over time, make the airport as distant a memory as the Caterpillar 15.

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Updated 05-01-2014 at 08:39 PM by allanj12

Aviation History & Flight Simulation


  1. Gimala's Avatar
    Cool! Like the aircraft.
  2. allanj12's Avatar
    Glad you both like the aircraft - it's David Grindele who added it to the library. Life is a little busy at present but I hope to do more on the blog later in the year ...