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Fairchild CF-AXJ crash at Dawson Airport, 1941

Arctic & Northern Aviation

The Whitehorse Star - Friday, February 7, 1941


    A pall of gloom descended upon this community on the afternoon of January 31st, when it was known that the B. Y. N. Company's Fairchild Aircraft, CF-AXJ, had crashed near Dawson Airport, carrying to instantaneous death Pilot Lionel A. Vines and passenger Ernest H. Chapman. The AXJ took off from Dawson Airport at 11.38 a.m. January 3ist, on a flight to Hungry Lake, in the Bonnet Plume River district, where Mr. E. H. Chapman, a pioneer Dawson merchant, maintained a Trading Post. Shortly after the aircraft had departed a lady at Fournier's Ranch telephoned the Dawson Airport that she had watched the plane and it had disappeared from sight low near the Klondike River, and feared it might be in trouble.

    Pilot Vernon Bookwalter of the White Pass Airways, who was engaged in unloading his Boeing plane on the Airfield, immediately took off and circled the vicinity a number of times, finally locating the Fairchild in the poplars within about fifty feet of the Klondike river. Bookwalter landed at the Airport and accompanied by other Company employees, hurried to the scene of the accident, only to find that the Fairchild had crashed and that one wing had been torn off. An ambulance and Doctor were immediately dispatched to the scene of the accident but the occupants of the plane were beyond mortal assistance. The bodies were removed from the wrecked plane and taken to Dawson.

    The remains of Lionel Vines were flown to Whitehorse on the Travelair by E. L. Wasson, arriving in Whitehorse 1 p.m. February 5th, when fellow workers escorted the deceased to Masonic Hall.

    Lionel Austin Vines was born at Petitcodiac, New Brunswick, March 26th, 1906. His aviation training was received at East Boston Airport and with Great Western Airways, Calgary. From 1929 to 1937, Mr. Vines was in the Air Service of Great Western Airways, Independent Airways, Edmonton, Brandon Aero Association, Fort William Aero Club as Pilot Instructor, Pioneer Airways, Vancouver, and Northern Airways, Carcross.

    In the fall of 1937, Pilot Vines became a member of the Air Service of the British Yukon Navigation Co., being promoted in the spring of 1940 to the position of Chief Pilot. He held Public Transport License, Instructor's License and A. & C Air Engineer's License.

    On October 22nd, 1932, Mr. Vines was united in marriage to Miss Ellaline White at Edmonton, Alberta. Mrs. Vines came to the Yukon in February, 1937, since which time they made their home in Whitehorse.

    We all called him "Lionel"; he was that sort of chap. Smiling and cheerful always though the clouds were dark; a man who made many friends and kept them; a fine citizen, most efficient in anything he chose to do. Lionel Vines had a record of 5000 hours in the air and was considered one of the most competent Pilots in all of Canada. His name was the synonym for safe and skilful flying. Wherever men foregather in the Northland that knew him, in the hamlets along the Yukon, in the trappers' cabins, and in all of our homes, there is sincere regret. His name shall live in the Yukon, written high in the list of those intrepid flyers who have laid down their lives in building the New North. Far and wide had he soared on man-made wings; o'er many an un-named lake and winding river; he knew the great limits of the boundless Arctic, the Yukon, the Peel, the Mackenzie, the Liard and the Stikine. Flying the "Condor" with the sun blazing o'er a sea of fleeey clouds; flying the "Fairchild" through fog and snow and sunshine, and then - beyond that last horizon where Eagle spirits wing their way to everlasting rest and peace.

    Lionel Vines is survived by his wife Ellaline and sister Shirley at present in Whitehorse; father and mother Mr. and Mrs. Harold Vines; and two sisters Nora and Mrs. R. Bray, all of Chilliwack, B. C.; another sister Mrs. A. Genier of McLure, B. C., and brother Laurence of Calgary. The heartfelt sympathy of all Yukoners goes out to them in this sad hour.

    Ernest Chapman, known to Yukoners as "Chappie," is survived by his wife and two married daughters, Mrs. Craig and Mrs. Redmond, a sister Mrs. F. Clarke, all residing in Dawson. His father Owen Chapman lives in England, and a brother Harry in Vancouver. To these bereaved ones our sympathy is extended.

    An impressive funeral service was held in Christ Church yesterday afternoon, the Rev. L. G. Chappell, L. Th. officiating. The church was filled to capacity. A memorial service was also conducted simultaneously by the Rev. H. M. C. Grant at St. Saviour's Church, Carcross, Y. T. Both these services were a silent and eloquent tribute to the high regard in which the deceased was held throughout the Territory as were also the large array of fresh cut flowers which were brought in from the coast.

    Interment took place at the local cemetery, the pallbearers being J. Aubrey Simmons, Don V. Patry (representing the Y. S. A. T.) D. W. Wilson, E. L. Wasson), W. D. Gordon, Jr. and E. Kubicek (representing the B. Y. N. Co.). The beautiful hammered copper name-plate affixed to the bier was the work of Mr. C. T. Atherton. During the service the flag of the B. Y. N. Co. was flown half-mast at the local depot.