Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by AP

(Top left) The Queen of the Yukon. Whitehorse Star collection. (Top right) Wreck of the first Queen of the Yukon, Whitehorse airfield May 5, 1928 Smith coll./Yukon Archives (Bottom) Wreck of the Queen of the Yukon II. Pilot John Melvyn Patterson killed Nov. 2, 1929 when plane crashed on Stewart River ice, in front of Mayo. Sam Wood Coll./Yukon Archives.

There was a pair of queens

The QUEEN OF THE YUKON landed in the north "with her fuselage safely lashed to the upper deck...and the wings and engine stowed nearby."

By Whitehorse Star on June 24, 1927

1927 - Whitehorse Star

There was a pair of queens

The QUEEN OF THE YUKON landed in the north "with her fuselage safely lashed to the upper deck...and the wings and engine stowed nearby."

She was on the steamer PRINCESS ALICE in Skagway harbour and pilot A.D. Cruikshank; his new bride Esmee; mechanic J.E. Smith; and Clyde G. Wann, vice–president of The Yukon Airways and Exploration Company Limited, were anxious to get her assembled and flown to Whitehorse.

The "Queen" was, according to the Whitehorse STAR, a Ryan Brougham B-1 monoplane, a passenger cabin ship built by Ryan Air Lines Inc., of San Diego, California.

She was said to be a exact replica of the machine Charles Lindbergh used on his 1927 non–stop flight from New York to Paris. The engine was a Wright Whirlwind 200 horse power and air-cooled.

The cabin was enclosed and the machine could carry the pilot and three passengers (actually four), or pilot and a 1200 pound pay load. She had a high speed of 135 mph, a cruising speed of 105 mph, and a landing speed of 40. Because of the extreme weather conditions in the north her landing gear was later modified to accept skis.

The STAR hastened to add that this type of aircraft had been tested and passed by the United States Air Board, and approved by the Canadian Air Board as air worthy.

On October 25, 1927 she landed at the Whitehorse landing field and commercial flying had come to the Yukon.

Business was brisk for the Yukon Airways and Exploration company until May 5, 1928 when the Queen was totaled while landing. The May 11 Whitehorse Star carried the story:


Shortly after two o'clock on Saturday afternoon last the purring of her engine announced that the Queen had returned from a trip to Mayo, Keno and Dawson.

While north she made two successful side flights, and considerable business was awaiting her return here. The future was full of promise. Even her most sanguine supporters were surprised at the volume of business in prospect. But in the twinkling of an eye the promising outlook was completely changed.

A strong wind was prevailing from the west, and the dimensions of the aviation field permitted only of a north and south landing. In the first attempt Capt. Stephens saw that he would have difficulty in making a landing and he took the air again.

In the second attempt to land the wind caught him again but the engine did not respond quickly enough for him to rise the second time and the plane was completely under the control of the wind.

It was all over in a few moments, very tense for Pilot Stephens, Mrs. Stephens and Mrs. L.H. Titus, who were in the plane. A collision with W.A. Puckett's Ford truck brought the Queen to a stop, and the occupants stepped out of the wrecked ship, Mrs. Titus with only a slight bruise on the head, Mrs. Stephens with a sprained thumb, and Capt. Stephens without even a scratch.

The Yukon Airways has made no announcement as to its plans for the future.

Aviation brought new life and it gave promise of substantial aid in the development of the Territory, and notwithstanding the unfortunate accident the opinion is very general that this modern mode of transportation is particularly adapted to the needs of the Territory and is here to stay.

The Yukon Airways Company continued in the commercial flying business using the NORTHERN LIGHT, an open cockpit Alexander Eaglerock biplane, which was then joined by THE QUEEN OF THE YUKON II.

Like the original QUEEN, the QUEEN II was a Ryan Brougham monoplane but a B-5 model coming equipped with interchangeable landing gear; wheels, pontoons or skies. Going into operation on "Discovery Day" August 17, 1929, her career, and that of her pilot John Melville Patterson, was cut short six weeks later when the aircraft suffered an engine failure while taking off and crashed on the frozen Stewart River in front of Mayo. John Patterson was killed and the aircraft was completely written off.

Comments (2)

Up 0 Down 0

Steve johnson on Oct 19, 2018 at 6:50 am

I collect and exhibit Yukon Airways airmails. I do not know the people in the photo, but I would guess they witnessed the crash. I saw the RCMP report on this crash.

Up 2 Down 0

Hugh Delaney on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

I worked for Clyde as a taxi driver in 1948 and am interested in the photo in the Whitehorse Star of April 13 1928. Clyde is in the picture I would like to identify the other 3 people.
Regards. Hugh Delaney

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