72-013 Thunderbird Models 1:72 Imperial Oil Beechcraft Staggerwing D17S
High quality screen printed decals for the Sword kit. Printed by Microscale.
Imperial Products (Esso) is credited with being the first oil company to grasp the possibilities of aviation in exploration and communications, and credit for inspiring Imperial must be given to the manager of operations in Edmonton, Charlie Taylor. In 1921, Taylor convinced the company to buy two Junkers JL6s (F.13s), the famous “Vic” and “Rene”. The pilots who flew for Imperial read like a who’s who of Canadian aviation heroes; Wop May, “Moose” Fullerton, George Gorman, and of course, T.M. Pat Reid.
Pat Reid was born in 1895 in Ballyroney, Northern Ireland. In 1915 he joined the RNAS and piloted flying boats in the Mediterranean campaigns. After the war he joined Handley Page, but in 1924 decided to go to Canada and explore the flying opportunities there. In 1924 he joined the Ontario Provincial Air Service as a pilot and engineer. This was a common dual role in those days when an aircraft could be forced down in the middle of literally nowhere.
After 3 years with OPAS he joined the Northern Aerial Minerals and Explorations flying division being organised by H.A. Doc Oaks. Reid was responsible for northern exploration and route proving. In 1929, he flew an exploration party from Sioux Lookout, Hudsons Bay across the barrens to Great Bear Lake on the Arctic Coast. This epic flight in Fairchild FC-2W2 G-CATL opened up the first major air route across Canada’s Northwest.
Also in 1929, Pat Reid was to lead the international search for well known Alaskan pilot Carl Ben Eilson and mechanic Earl Borland. George Dorbandt and Eilson were flying rescue missions to reach the ice bound schooner Namikesu. On their first flight, Eilson and Dorbandt rescued six people from the schooner (including the owner and his daughter), but on the second flight Eilson disappeared. Reid was contacted by the Aviation Corporation of New York to lead the search mission. Flying Fairchild 71 CF-AJK, Pat was forced down by a snowstorm in a remote Alaskan valley damaging a wingtip. They had landed on a narrow creek bed, barely wider than the wingspan at the beginning and broke off four feet of wing by the time AJK came to a stop. It took seven days to repair the wing and fly out, barely missing the trees on take-off. Sadly, Eilson and Borland were later found, dead in the wreckage of their aircraft.
In 1931, Pat Reid joined Imperial Oil as Aviation manager and led the first Cross Canada Air Meet in his Puss Moth, CF-IOL. Later the Puss Moth was exchanged for the elegant Staggerwing featured on this sheet. A contemporary photo places Reid with the Staggerwing circa 1939.
Reid won the McKee Trophy (Canada’s top aviation award) for the years 1942-3 “... in recognition of his wholehearted and energetic support that he had given to anything worthwhile in aviation in Canada.” On 8 April, 1954, Reid and his wife were killed in a mid-air collision between an RCAF trainer and the TCA flight they were passengers aboard.
After many years in storage, CF-BJD was restored to flying condition over a 12 year period and is now resplendent in the classic Staggerwing scheme of yellow with black trim.