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Wings Over Alberta


List of Schools

Politics of Base Selection

Then and Now

Interactive Map

BCATP site locations for visitors

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Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Calgary, Alberta. Home of No. 37 Service Flying Training School (SFTS).' Alberta played no small part in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). It was home to 18 training schools, No. 4 Training Command, No. 3 Manning Depot, Recruiting Depots and No. 7 Release Centre. In training aircrew that could compete with Germany’s Luftwaffe, Britain looked to its Dominions for air training space with which Canada was much blessed. Far from Europe and German bombers, Canada was the perfect place for training aircrew, and when it came time to begin choosing the sites, various locations in Alberta were considered.

The lengthy and rigorous process of site selection was left to the Department of Transport (DoT) as well as the Aerodrome Development Committee (ADC), a group of Royal Canadian Air Force officers who had previously been through the process of selecting aerodrome sites. Although many have insinuated that political patronage played a substantial part in base selection, recent research seems to indicate otherwise.

Royal Air Force (RAF) Station De Winton, Alberta. Home of No. 31 Elementary Flying School (EFTS).'In determining the suitability of a site, the Department of Transport would study topographical maps in an attempt to find approximately one square mile of level land. Beyond that, different terrain was suited to individual types of training. For pilot school, mountainous regions were ruled out. On the other hand, a navigation school was preferably located close to all types of terrain and large bodies of water, while a bombing and gunnery school required a great deal of space to prevent harm in their practice.

Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Penhold, Alberta. Home of No. 36 Service Flying Training School (SFTS).'When a suitable section of land was found, the department would investigate the site by air and, if found to be level, dry and accessible, it would be examined by foot and a report drawn up. This preliminary report would be turned over to the ADC, who would subsequently check it over and request another more detailed report if the site looked promising. Surveyors and engineers would descend upon the site and design hangar and runway plans in order to calculate the construction costs. If the Department of Transport approved these plans, they were forwarded to the Minister of National Defence for Air, C.G. Power, and finally, back to the ADC. While it was necessary for each proposal to be approved by C.G. Power, there is not a case on file recommended by the ADC that he declined. 

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Station Edmonton, Alberta. Home of No. 3 Manning Depot.'While the flatlands of Alberta were ideal for flight training and allowed for airstrips to be fashioned with relative ease, there were additional reasons the government was encouraged to build here. As the BCATP came to fruition very quickly, access to existing facilities was attractive. In some cases civilian flying clubs were appropriated and built upon for RCAF purposes.

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