Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mercy Flight Re-enactment - January 2009

by Beth Wilkins

The Mercy Flight to Fort Vermilion (with a stop in McLennan and Peace River) by Wilfrid “Wop’ May and Vic Horner, Jan. 2, 1929 is to be re-enacted. The purpose of the original flight was to deliver diphtheria antitoxin to Dr. H. A. Hamman in Fort Vermilion to inoculate residents of nearby Little Red River against the disease and thus to avert an epidemic.

By the time the flyers arrived in Fort Vermilion in their open cockpit biplane, an Avro Avian, one of the six or so people affected had died, but the antitoxin arrived and was administered in time to prevent the feared epidemic.

The 80th anniversary re-enactment of the flight itself, part of a Spirit of Edmonton Project, a joint venture of the Alberta Aviation Museum and the Edmonton Aviation Heritage Society, is to raise awareness of the 100 years of flight in Alberta and Canada. It also emphasizes the importance of medical flights into and out of the North to medical centres, such as Edmonton and the importance of Edmonton’s Municipal Airport.

The ‘Wop” May/Vic Horner Mercy Flight recreation is one of four slated from December 2008 to August 2009. The weather has played a major role in postponing the early flights. Thus, the flight scheduled for Peace River and Fort Vermilion Jan 2, 2009, looks as though it will not arrive in Peace River until Tues. Jan. 27.

When in Peace River, the plane, similar to the Avro Avian flown by the intrepid flyers, will be housed in Northern Air Charter’s hanger at the Peace River Airport, thanks to Rob King, and will set out the next day for Fort Vermilion.

There will be a public reception, hosted by the Town of Peace River, at Northern Air Charter. The exact date and time will be announced.

If you have any questions, please call, or e-mail us at the Museum, 780 – 624-4261, or