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Curtiss H-16 Model Unveiling

Photo: Hedley Auld at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada

A scale model of an early 1920s airplane, with historic significance for the Royal Canadian Air Force, was unveiled at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada.

The plastic model of a Curtiss H-16, built by Winnipeg model enthusiast and museum volunteer Stan Michalak, will be displayed in the museum’s Hero’s Collection.

The Curtiss Model H was a family of early long-range flying boats, the first two of which were developed directly on commission in the United States in response to the £10,000 prize challenge issued in 1913 by the London newspaper, the Daily Mail, for the first non-stop aerial crossing of the Atlantic.

As the first aircraft having transatlantic range and cargo-carrying capacity, it became the grandfather development leading to early international commercial air travel, and by extension, to the modern world of commercial aviation. The last widely produced class, the Model H-12, was retrospectively designated Model 6 by Curtiss' company in the 1930s, and various classes have variants with suffixed letters indicating differences.

The significance (of the Curtiss H-16) is that in 1923, the Air Force had an operational air base at Victoria Beach and they were running short of aircraft,”

“There had been attrition the previous years, and then they had lost another airplane at the beginning of the season. Basil Hobbs needed another aircraft and they withdrew this aircraft from storage, where it had been in since 1919.”

The Curtis H-16 was one of 100 aircraft that the British Government had donated to Canada in the Imperial Gift (the donation of aircraft from surplus stocks in Britain after World War 1).

“They pulled it out of storage, assembled it, tested it and then Basil Hobbs, himself, flew it back to Victoria Beach.”

“It’s exciting to be able to honour Basil Hobbs by adding to the Museum’s collection a model of this aircraft, one flown by him almost a century ago, the first year he served as the first commander of the Air Force in Manitoba, during its first year of operations in Manitoba.”

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