Chapter: Challenges and Hardships


"When there's no block heater you make do"
1920s Blowpot (open-flame metal torch) warmed early aviation engines in cold weather Blowpot operation


Commercial aviation in Canada began in the North. In the 1920s, in areas where no train, truck or horse could reach, the airplane made modern industry possible twelve months of the year. By far the most difficult aspect of early northern air travel was the exhausting ritual of warming the engine. The open flame blowpot was placed under the engine block and a tarp was thrown over the fuselage, often for as long as two hours, to warm up the engine. For many pilots flying wood and fabric aircraft, "the only time we were warm was when we'd crawl under the tents with the blowpot."