Spirit of the Yukon

June Lunny

“Charlie [Lindbergh] was working on his plane when I arrived,” wrote Andrew Cruickshank as he awaited completion of his own duplicate of the Spirit of St. Louis. With this plane, Cruickshank started the first airline in the Yukon. It was 1927, long before the legendary Grant McConachie’s time. Andrew Cruickshank, a dashing and brave young RCMP officer, has decided to leave the force for the skies. Cruickshank’s exploits included not only bush piloting in the Yukon but also stunt-flying in Hollywood and piloting seaplanes out of Vancouver. While a pilot with Western Canada Airways in Winnipeg, he was part of one of the most extensive air searches of all time, the McAlpine Rescue.

Killed by a plane crash early in his career, Cruickshank had been almost forgotten by Canadian aviation history until his youngest daughter, June Cruickshank Lunny, found a treasure trove of his letters while on a family visit to England. From these letters, Lunny has reconstructed her father’s adventures as a Mountie and as a bush pilot. “He was one of the top bush pilots of his day,” says Peter Corley-Smith, author of Barnstorming to Bush Flying.