100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Canadian Aviation Corps First And Only Pilot Killed

Canada's first military aircraft, a Burgess-Dunne seaplane - October 1914

Canada’s first military aircraft, a Burgess-Dunne seaplane – October 1914

At the beginning of the war in Europe, Canada’s Minister of Militia and Defense decided to form the Canadian Aviation Corps. Hughes appointed Ernest Lloyd Janney as provisional commander and authorized him to spend up to $5000 on an aircraft. William F Sharpe was a Canadian who had shown an early interest in aviation and was trained by Glenn Curtiss. He was one of only four Canadian pilots licensed by the Aero Club of America. Janney made him a lieutenant and the CAC’s first and only pilot. In October 1914 the CAC bought a plane in America, a Burgess-Dunne seaplane, and flew it to Canada where it was taken apart, crated, and shipped to England. Janney and the two other CAC members, Lieutenant W. F. Sharpe and a mechanic accompanied the aircraft. The plane, a Burgess-Dunne seaplane, was damaged beyond repair during the voyage and left abandoned on the Salisbury Plain, having never flown any combat operations. Lt Sharpe joined the Royal Flying Corps and served for England as a pilot. In January 1915, he traveled to France to experience the efforts of French pilots.

On February 4, 1915 Lt William Sharpe was in Shoreham, England flying a French Farman biplane at 1,000ft when he made a sharp turn when at the same time attempting to climb. The machine side-slipped and made a nose dive and crashed into the ground, destroying the plane and killing Lt Sharpe.

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