News

Celebrate a Century of Aviation

May 9, 2024  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS): Celebrate a Century of Aviation Innovation at the Bushplane Museum  

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario — The oldest, continuously-flying, non-scheduled government air service in the world will be celebrated this summer in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. 

The Ontario Provincial Air Service was launched on March 1, 1924.  It and its successor, the Aviation, Forest Fires & Emergency Services in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, have provided a century of flying operations in support of resource management, emergency response, and consequently, advances in bush plane development.  

To honour this significant milestone, the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre (CBHC) will be hosting a series of events and exhibits. 

“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,” said Jamie Hilsinger, Executive Director of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.   

The OPAS was a pioneering force in 1924, combining aviation with environmental protection. By developing its own fleet and skilled workforce, the Department of Land and Forests established new methods of resource management and development with 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.” – J. Hilsinger 

Anniversary exhibits and events represent chapters in the OPAS’s notable history and are designed to engage, educate, and inspire attendees of all ages.  

  • Virtual Hangar Tour: This new, self-guided tour of the original building of the OPAS (where the CBHC is housed today) highlights the contributions and people of the OPAS as well as their lasting impact on the community. The smartphone app-based tour is currently available in English. It will be available in four more languages (French, Spanish, German and Hindi by July 1, 2024.)  Access it now: Download Link Here 
  • Unveiling of the H-boat Replica: The Curtiss HS-2L Flying Boat was the first aircraft utilized by the OPAS and a new ¼ scale replica will be added to the Collection in June. The exhibit will be  unveiled at an event on June 13, 2024. Long-time volunteer and historian, Pierre Verhelst will deliver a short talk about the significance of the aircraft. 
  • 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 fun-filled weekend in support of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre takes place September 21 and 22, 2024. 

For more information and updates on the OPAS 100th Anniversary Celebration, visit OPAS 100th Anniversary & Celebration or contact Robin Wilson at rwilson@bushplane.com. 

Closed - July 1st.

In observance of Canada Day.