Hudson Bay Air Transport Limited, a subsidiary of Hudson Bay Exploration and Development Company Limited, was chartered in 1930 to supply air transportation for prospecting operations. Two Noorduyn Norseman Mark IV monoplanes, "CF-BFT" and "CF- BFU", were purchased, one in 1939 and one in 1941. A hangar was erected at the Company air base at Channing in 1947 to house a newly acquired Grumman Mallard Amphibian. The following year, a Cessna Crane was added to the fleet.
The scope of the operation expanded and diversified over the years to include passengers and freight to Island Falls, Whitesand, Snow Lake, and bush camps; aerial photography flights; search and rescue missions; air ambulance trips; forest fire fighting and hauling and erecting power poles.
In 1953, H.B.A.T. purchased a Sikorsky S-55 helicopter for prospecting parties, drill crews and camps in the Yukon area, and later for airborne electromagnetic surveys. This helicopter was replaced in the 1970's by a Fairchild Hiller 1100 "CF-HBH".
The original Norseman were deemed unfit after 20 years of service and were replaced by a DeHavilland Beaver and Otter aircraft. The Company hangar, plus three aircraft, were completely destroyed by a fire on April 4, 1963, but all were replaced within the year.
Alex More, first superintendent of Hudson Bay Air Transport Limited, retired in May 1967, and W. H. (Bill) Beveridge, Chief Pilot, took over the operations which included three Otters, a Beechcraft Super 18 and the Fairchild helicopter.
First two aircraft owned by HBAT, Noorduyn Norsemen CF-BFT and CF-BFU.
CF-BFU taken at Channing.
Norseman Mk IV, CF-BFT, on skis on the Sandy Bay side of the Island. This area was sometimes used after freeze-up until the ice on the forebay was thick enough for a landing strip. Airplanes moved 57,243 pounds of goods and 321 passengers in and out of Island Falls from break-up, 1941, to freeze-up, 1941. Charges to C.R.P. Co. for air transport during that season were $5,767.84. This included five trips which were charged to C.R.P., of which two were for guest passengers, and three inspection trips by executives. A round trip from Channing to Island Falls took an average of one hour and ten minutes air time, using 30 gallons of fuel per round trip.
Before the founding of HBAT, many other companies flew for the Company. Here a Fairchild and Norseman are docked on the Forebay. CF-DAW was an Arrow Airways aircraft.
Fairchild 71C, CF-ATR, a Wings Ltd. aircraft on the forebay.
The HBM&S Sikorsky 55, CF-HAB.
Company pilot Bill Beveridge with the Sikorsky S-55 helicopter, CF-HAB, at the airstrip. Bill became Chief Pilot when Alex More retired in 1967.
1930 Fleet Mk 2 biplane, CF-ANO. (This airplane had a 165 hp Kinner 5-cylinder radial engine). Left to right: Rees Davis, Chlo Davis (seated) Janice Huffaker (seated). Right: Marvin Huffaker (standing). The other three are unidentified. Jack Hone, Arrow Airways, operated this aircraft out of Flin Flon from 1932 to 1937.
CF-ANO on the forebay.
CF-ATR at Channing.
The Island Falls men's basketball team arrives by air in Flin Flon in CF-AOU, a Fairchild 71.
CF-AXI, a Wings Ltd. Fairchild 82 was destroyed by fire at Channing, winter of 1939.
Person on float is Alex More, an employee of Wings Ltd. In 1939, CF-BAV was taken over by the RCAF and HBAT acquired its first Norseman, CF-BFT. Alex left Wings to become the Superintendent of HBAT.
CF-BFU served with HBAT from 1941 to 1958. It was later destroyed by fire at Selkirk, MB.
CF-CAFU on the forebay.
Neil Rutherford in his Piper J3 Cub, CF-BUR, 1949.
Cece Cameron and Neil Rutherford having a close look at a DH82 Tiger Moth in 1949.
De Havilland DHC-3 Otter, CF-GBX at the airstrip. It displays the updated (final) blue and yellow livery of HBAT. The "airstrip", on the northeast side of the Island, was a dirt runway used when the river ice was unavailable during freeze-up and break-up in the fall and spring.
CF-GBX taxis for take-off on the forebay. This plane was built and delivered to HBAT in 1952. While flying for Central Air Transport, GBX crashed without fatalities at Carling Lake, Ontario in May, 1980.
Jack McMurdo in Piper Cub, CF-IXN, in front of the community boat house. A wide bay was built into the boat house to accommodate a small airplane.
Storekeeper Jim Ripley and CF-EGF at Sandy Bay.
A Norseman engine being serviced at the HBAT terminal at Channing, near Flin Flon.
CF-AYS, a Waco YKC-S, taxiing to the dock on the forebay. This aircraft was owned by Arrow Airways with bases in Flin Flon and The Pas. Arrow did a considerable amount of flying for the Company in the early days. AYS is now being restored at the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg.
CF-BFT arrives on a stormy afternoon.
Alex More, superintendent of HBAT from 1938 to 1967.
The cockpit of a military Norseman. The large radio was not used in civil aircraft.
Canadian Airways' Junkers JU-52 "Flying Boxcar" CF-ARM on the forebay. The crane was used to lift power plant generator components through the cargo hatch on the top of the fuselage. Between June 15th and June 21, 1937 the Junkers made twelve round trips from Channing to Island Falls, bringing in a total of 54,447 lbs and taking out 6,589 lbs. as back haul. See details in Pat Donaghy's first-hand report of a take-off from Schist Lake (Channing). A replica of ARM is on display at the WCAM in Winnipeg.
Fokker Universal, G-CAFU refueling at the dock. CAFU was operated by Western Canada Airways which later became Canadian Airways which operated CF-ARM. In the early days (1930's) airplane rides were available only on special occasions. Ada Ver Wilghen had to go to FF by canoe when she was going to have Yvonne.
The HBM&S Sikorsky 55, CF-HAB.
The Grumman Goose was the predecessor to the larger Mallard. This aircraft was owned by Mr. C.H. Whitney of New York (note the American registration, NC2385, on the tail), a major HBM&S shareholder. He used this aircraft to come north from time to time.
Fairchild 71C, CF-AWW, and Fairchild 82, CF-AXI, probably at Channing, MB. Note engine change in CF-AXI in progress.
CF-BFT is on display at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
The HBAT De Havilland Beaver, CF-GYU.
Vickers Vedette CF-SAB. This aircraft was owned by the Saskatchewan government. Note the S (Sask.) on the nose with smaller N&R (Natural Resources).
A military Vickers Vedette, possibly G-CYYD, near the sand pit on Sandy Bay.
HBM&S Cessna T-50 Crane CF-FQP at the airstrip. This airplane, which could carry three passengers, was used during river freeze-up and break up.
Pelle Hagberg on the forebay dock with a Central Northern Airways SeaBee.
Company pilot Bob Ross. Because of the augmenter tubes in its exhaust, the Otter had a choppy sound, recognizable from far away.
Pilot Ron Simpson and superintendent Rees Davis.