The development of medical services in Sundre
Charlie Hodges was born on Feb.17/1899 in Somerset, England. In 1907, Charlie and his younger brother were brought to live in Calgary and lived on a ranch on the north side the Bow River.
In 1909, he worked for Bob Edwards, folding and delivering the EYE OPENER before he went to school. Then in 1912, he worked as a farmhand outside of Calgary. Having a love for horses, he moved to Banff and worked at Brewsters, working up to Trailrider and Guide. The family then moved to Olds, where he worked as an auto mechanic. While there, he discovered the remains of an abandoned airplane.
By 1928, he had saved enough money to buy the derelict aircraft and from then on was determined to fly. He took as many flights as possible with competent pilots of the time, picking up information and studying their flying techniques. His first flight was in July, 1930 in a KARI-KEEN.
While gathering all the flying information he could, Charlie was hard at work rebuilding the old relic he had purchased, a DeHavilland CIRRUS MOTH - D.H. 60X bi-plane with wood fuselage and wings. It took a year and a half to build the fuselage and another year to build the wings. While rebuilding the olds Moth, he did not have access to a hangar or a shop. This construction was done in living room-dining room of his home in Olds. His wife Kay, and her friend Mrs. Palmer of Bearberry (west of Olds & west of Sundre) did the sewing for the Irish Linen fabric covering. His daughter, Edith (Mrs. Ray Mjolsness) of Sundre (Bergen), Alberta, while only 4 years old at the time, still remembers the smell of the fabric "dope" in that house in Olds. When everything was completed and the aircraft was ready to assemble, the living room bay window had to be removedů and in this manner, the aircraft components - fuselage, wings and tail feathers were then assembled outside.
Charlie received his Private Pilot's License on November 9, 1932. He continued flying and building up his time and received his Commercial Pilot's License on September 13, 1933.
Flying in the 1930's was not something everyone could do. Charlie was a good all round mechanic. Each flight had to have a licensed Air Engineer sign the aircraft out as "Airworthy". So, Charlie studied up again and obtained his Air Engineer's license on February 10, 1937.
Due to the harsh weather conditions of the times, Charlie designed and built his own skis for the CIRRUS MOTH. He was called upon to conduct mercy flights to bring patients from the outlying districts into Olds to the Doctor's office or to the hospital.
He delivered the first Air Mail to Sundre, Eagle Hill, Harmatton, Torrington and flew wherever he was needed. Charlie kept flying until WWII, when he joined the RCAF in 1939. Because of his age, the military told him he was too old to fly but since he was a licensed engineer, he and his family were posted to St. Thomas, Ontario.
After his wartime service, he returned to Olds and became involved with the Olds Flying Club. He spent the remainder of his life in this area until he passed away on October 16, 1984.
Charlie Hodges, Trailrider and Outfitter Guide turned Pilot
Olds, Alberta, Canada