How the Noorduyn Norseman changed wilderness aviation

Robert S Grant traces the career of Robert B C Noorduyn’s prototype Norseman CF-AYO – from its first flight during a chilly November morning to its tragic demise on a balmy August evening

As workers eased a seaplane into the silty St Lawrence River near Montréal, Quebec, test pilot William J McDonough prepared to start the 420hp Wright Whirlwind R-975-E-2 engine. Moments later, the prototype Noorduyn Norseman

Mk.I became airborne after a 23-second run. From that momentous morning of November 14, 1935, hundreds more followed and all owed their existence to the fabric-covered floatplane the world would know as ‘Canada’s Own’. 

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