Airplanes were a rare sight in Sooke even in the 1920s.

Airplanes were a rare sight in Sooke even in the 1920s.

The boy and the plane that crashed

Elida Peers writes about the history of the Sooke region

We’ve mentioned the two vivacious daughters of Major George Nicholson, Bonnie and Gretel, but the Nicholsons also had a son, Cecil, or ”Mickie.” In March 1920 his name hit one of the Victoria newspapers, The Daily Colonist, as he too, earned his own little claim to fame.

There weren’t more than a few hundred people living in the quiet village of Sooke in 1920, and when something unusual happened, everyone came out to watch. In this case it was the excitement of an aeroplane flown by a pilot called Brown, who was providing a rare opportunity for local residents to enjoy viewing the village from on high.

This photo shows adults and children alike gathered to experience the novelty of the visit. The landing site chosen by the pilot was a field just east of Sooke School. Today the location of this upper field is dense with housing, encompassing as it does, the developments on Dover, Harwich, Golledge and Charters.

While we don’t have the names of all, the woman seated almost at the cockpit of the biplane is May Hatcher. This photo was taken just prior to the next flight aloft that was to end in a crash.

The biplane took two passengers on that next dramatic flight – one was a Mrs. Reid, the other the excited youngster, Cecil Nicholson, whose dad was manager of the famed Sooke Harbour Hotel situated on the headland above Sooke River estuary.

The Colonist account of the day notes that in the crash Mrs. Reid was severely shaken, but tells us … “A few scratches and bruises were all that were suffered by the youngster as a result of his sudden fall to land … The first words of young Cecil on being picked up were ‘Mr. Brown, can I fly again when you mend the aeroplane?’”

It’s interesting to note that much later, a daughter of Cecil Nicholson married a helicopter pilot, Bruce Payne, of the Goldstream Payne family.

Elida Peers,

Historian

Sooke Region Museum

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