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Bushplane has big plans to celebrate 100th anniversary of historic air service

The Ontario Provincial Air Service, which launched in March 1924, was originally housed at the current Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre site

The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre will be hosting events and exhibits this summer in honour of the oldest, continuously-flying, non-scheduled government air service in the world.

Launched on March 1, 1924, the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) and its successor, the Aviation, Forest Fires & Emergency Services in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have provided flying operations in support of resource management, emergency response, and advances in bush plane development.

“Our museum is dedicated to telling the story of bush flying in Canada, but specifically that of the Ontario Provincial Air Service. We are thrilled to be able to recognize and celebrate this amazing moment in aviation history in the waterfront hangar where it all began 100 years ago,” Jamie Hilsinger, executive director of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre said in a release.

The OPAS was considered a pioneering force when it was established, combining aviation with environmental protection.

With the development of its own fleet and workforce, the Department of Land and Forests established new resource management methods combined with what was considered an unprecedented efficiency.

“It’s the bush flying pioneers, and the thousands of pilots, air engineers and support staff who have contributed to 100 years of resource management, emergency response, and technical innovation who we are honouring this summer," Hilsinger also said. 

The planned events include:

  • Virtual Hangar Tour: A new, self-guided tour of the original building of the OPAS (which is where the CBHC is today) focuses on the contributions and people of the OPAS and their lasting impact on the community. The smartphone app-based tour is currently available in english and will be available in four more languages - french, spanish, german and hindi - by July 1, 2024.). You can access it here.
  • Unveiling of the H-boat Replica: The Curtiss HS-2L Flying Boat was the first aircraft used by the OPAS and a new quarter-scale replica will be added to the Collection in June and te exhibit will be unveiled at an event on June 13. Long-time volunteer and historian Pierre Verhelst will deliver a short talk about the significance of the aircraft as well.
  • Publication of Aircraft of the Ontario Provincial Air Service by John Stephens – June 2024: Discover every aircraft registered to the OPAS in their 100 years of operation with the release of "Aircraft of the Ontario Provincial Air Service" by former CBHC volunteer, John Stephens.
  • 100th OPAS Anniversary Celebration and Reunion: Join past and present members of the OPAS community and the interested public to celebrate a century of achievements and milestones in September. Details will be publicized in June.
  • Bushplane Days: To wrap up the 100th anniversary of the OPAS, the Bushplane Museum will be celebrating 30 years of Bushplane Days! Bushplane Days, an annual family friendly and funfilled weekend in support of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre takes place Sept. 21 and 22, 2024.

Additional details on the celebration can be found here.

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