The Ford Trimotor was an American three-engined transport aircraft of all-metal design. When it was first introduced in 1926, it was the largest of its kind in America. Manufactured by Henry Ford (of automobile fame), 199 Trimotors were built and flown by over 100 airlines in the world.
The RCAF became the initial purchaser of the Ford Trimotor in Canada, buying one example in 1929. This craft, registered as G-CYWZ, was used experimentally for crop and forest dusting making it one of the largest crop dusting aircraft ever developed.
Edmonton’s Grant McConachie, who started United Air Transport in 1933, bought his first Ford Trimotor monoplane (G-CARC) in January, 1935. Initially, he used it to haul fish, but in 1936, he started a mail, passenger and freight run between Edmonton and Grande Prairie/Peace River. By this time, the RCAF purchased a second Trimotor G-CYWZ and reregistered as CF-BEP. Commencing in 1937, McConachie operated the two Trimotors on an extended Edmonton – Fort Nelson – Whitehorse run.
McConachie continued to expand his northern operations and in 1939, United Air Transport became Yukon Southern Air Transport. That same year, he lost his Ford Trimotor, CF-BEP, when a RCAF Hurricane attempting to take-off in Vancouver swerved and crashed into the aircraft where it was parked nearby. The Trimotor was wrecked beyond repair. White Pass Airways subsequently purchased CF-BEP for parts to reconstruct its own Trimotor, CF-AZB, but this failed and what remained of CF-BEP was bulldozed for fill under Whitehorse’s extended runway in 1942.
Only the right pontoon float remains from this aircraft and it was acquired by the Alberta Aviation Museum from the Pembina Lobstick Historical Society. It is believed to be the only one in existence.