Tudhope Mapped Canada Airway
Lethbridge today owes its strategic position on the Trans-Canada airline to two reasons—geography of western Canada and Squadron Leader J. H. Tudhope
, M.C., of Montreal.
When nature was pushing up the towering Rocky mountains between the Pacific coast and the great central plateau, she formed a barrier to trans-Canada flying. A knotty problem arose as to the best way of crossing the mountains by air and the solving of this problem was put in the hands of Squadron Leader Tudhope away back in 1930.
Wins McKee Trophy
So "Tuddy", then residing in Ottawa as superintendent of airways, wound up his Stearman biplane and started out west to pick the route. Before he returned he had won the prized McKee trophy for 1930 and selected the Crow's Nest Pass route to the western ocean.
In capturing the trophy, the flier became recognized as the leader of all Canadian birdmen for that year. His judgment in selecting the southern route through British Columbia was often questioned during subsequent years but always upheld by leading Canadian aviation authorities.
Tuddy's first worldly appearance was in far-away British South Africa. There he enlisted as the opening barrage of the World War was set off and he subsequently saw service on many fronts. He first was tried under fire with the expeditionary force in German South-West Africa and can sometimes be persuaded to tell of the days when he led a pack horse through that dangerous part of the "dark continent."
Shortly he proceeded to England and in 1916 joined the Royal Flying Corps as a cadet. He won his wings and was granted his commission in April, 1917. Afterwards he was never long out of the pilot's seat. He served in France as a member of No. 40 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, and was awarded the Military Cross with Bar for gallantry.
Becomes A Farmer
After demobilization, "Tuddy" hearkened to glowing accounts of the fortunes to be made in wheat farming on western Canada's plains. So he quit flying forever and plowed up a big acreage during the drought years of 1920 and 1921. This proved discouraging. So when the call went out for former officers of the Royal Flying Corps to join the permanent Royal Canadian Air Force, "Tuddy" sent in his bid and was accepted. He resumed flying and has stuck with it as instructor, navigator and officer commanding government air stations at Dartmouth, N.S. and at Vancouver, B.C.
While stationed at High River the flier had one of his closest calls. He was engaged in forest patrol work, flying solo near Rocky Mountain House. A sudden storm broke and a stray bolt of lightning struck his plane. The pilot was knocked unconscious and the unguided ship fell earthwards in a long glide. As Tudhope came to he was about one thousand feet from the ground and dropping rapidly. He just had time to pick out a farm yard and land there, marvelling at his miraculous escape.
In 1930 the old prairie air mail service was in operation and the government was anxious then to extend it into a coast-to-coast service. Tudhope, who had been loaned by the R.C.A.F. to the government as superintendent of airways, was given the job of pioneering the line. From January to April of that year he flew the whole route, chalking up 100 hours and covering around 10,000 miles.
"Tuddy" at that time explored all the mountain passes between Alberta and the coast, settling finally on the Crow's Nest Pass route at Lethbridge's front door. In that way Lethbridge's aerial future was made.
Freezes His Hands
In the course of his mountain survey, the flier at one time froze both hands but continued his work alone in the air and pioneered an airline which the planes of the future are to follow.
Time marched on and in the fall of 1936 "Tuddy" again appeared in the west. This time he was in charge of calibration of radio stations through the mountains in preparation for the Trans-Canada air service with which he had been identified for so long.
This work was carried on in a plane of Canadian Airways Ltd., flown by Air Commodore Hollick-Kenyon, until the department of transport purchased its own ship, a Lockheed 12. In charge of this speedy machine "Tuddy" covered the whole of Canada, checking and re-checking radio range stations. In this work he made many trips over the Canadian Rockies, between Lethbridge and Vancouver.
Tudhope was at the controls of this same plane when the first dawn-to-dusk flight across Canada was flown. He whisked a number of passengers, including Hon. C. D. Howe, minister of transport, right across the Dominion, setting a record which has not since been equalled.
Last fall the famous flier retired from the R.C.A.F., accepting a post with a Montreal firm specializing in aircraft insurance. His new duties take him aloft occasionally, just sufficient to keep in practice. He makes frequent visits to the west, travelling over the airline which he pioneered.
Few have a wider range of acquaintances in Canada. "Tuddy" is the typical British air officer. Shy and self-effacing, he is the most affable of men, with a whimsical smile, and despite his military bearing, does not look the courageous pilot his comrades know him to be.
But those who have seen him at the controls of speedy Pitcairns, Stearmans and Lockheeds understand the spirit of the man who has served his country with distinction in time of war and with equal loyalty in peace.
The Lethbridge Herald (Lethbridge, Alberta) - Saturday, June 03, 1939