CBC Documentaries
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Documentary series

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio-Canada have joined forces to produce a four-part documentary series to commemorate the centenary of flight in Canada. This series will focus on how Canadian aviation has transformed the country and linked its citizens as never before.

Our aim is to salute not only the courage and the determination of those who participated in the hundred-year odyssey of aviation in Canada but also to focus on the passion and the imagination of those who are now making history.

Episode One – First Flight

At Toronto’s Pearson Airport a six year-old boy experiences flight for the first time. He will cross the Atlantic Ocean at 700 kilometers per hour and land three hours later in St-Lucia. It is an experience he can barely imagine, and one he will never forget. A flight of this distance and speed seemed utterly unthinkable 100 years ago when the first “heavier than air” plane bumped along a frozen lake in Cape Breton before achieving liftoff for a brief, exhilarating moment. The Silver Dart was a first for Canada, indeed for the entire British Empire.

First Flight illustrates how flight has changed individuals and revolutionized a country. It captures the passion of a group of aviation devotees as they painstakingly stitch the canvas wings and hammer together a replica of the Silver Dart, hoping to experience the thrill of flying the same way the early pilots did. We encounter Canadian astronaut Julie Payette who describes the exaltation of being blasted into space, and meet a young immigrant whose first flight will transport him to a dramatically different life in Canada. We also follow the training of a fighter pilot as he takes command of a CF 18 for the very first time.

First Flight was directed by Leora Eisen and produced by Lesley Cameron. It will air on Oct. 8th at 8pm on CBC.

Click here to watch the full episodes of this series online.

Episode Two – Conquering Geography

de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver

From the beginning, air flight in Canada presented dizzying possibilities. But there were formidable hurdles to overcome. Canadian pilots and their flying machines would have to adapt to a landscape that looked untamable. But with a little ingenuity and a lot of courage they learned to fly in ice and snow, land in darkness on the frozen tundra, put out forest fires, and map the backcountry from the air. Opening up air travel linked citizens from the four corners of the country, and made possible the exploitation of Canada’s immense natural resources.

There is the story of the Beaver, Canada’s solution to flying backcountry; of native communities taking command of their destiny through the ownership of their own airline; of putting out forest fires the Canadian way with CL-415s and of the ‘Aurora Patrol’ that helps maintain territorial sovereignty.

Conquering Geography was directed by Jo-Ann Demers and produced by Achille Michaud. It will air on Oct. 15th @ 8pm on CBC.

Click here to watch the full episodes of this series online.

Episode Three – Lifelines

This episode explores how the airplane has become an indispensable tool - literally a lifeline - to those living in isolation or danger. Lifelines shows how Canadian pilots, and the expert teams and equipment they carry, are saving lives and offering hope at home and abroad.

We meet a Montreal pediatrician who is passionate about flying, and devoted to her many young patients who live in tiny remote communities in Ungava Bay. We fly with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to parts of the world struck by natural disasters and meet a search and rescue pilot who has lead more than 200 rescue missions. We will also travel with a airborne medical unit as they cross the globe to bring home Canadians struck by illness.

Lifelines was directed by Yves Lévesque and produced by Michel Rochon. It will air on Oct. 22nd @ 8pm on CBC.

Click here to watch the full episodes of this series online.

Episode Four – Dancing with Danger

Why do some people seek thrills and adventure in the sky? This episode explores the extraordinary deeds of men and women that defy imagination.

A wing walker takes us back to the days of barnstorming in rural Canada. The Snowbirds, ambassadors of Canadian aviation throughout the world, illustrate precision flying and the trust within a unit. We follow a woman as she goes through the extraordinary steps of conquering her fear of flying. And we meet airline pilot Robert Piché who glided his fuel-spent aircraft to safety sparing the lives of hundreds. Military and civilian test pilots put aeronautic flight systems though their paces and push to the limit so that others may fly safely.

Dancing With Danger was directed by Cindy Banks and produced by Claude Berradelli. It will air on Oct 29th @ 8pm on CBC.

Click here to watch the full episodes of this series online.

Take over