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Arther Coy

From Edmonton to Fort Macleod, from High River to Calgary and then to Vulcan, Arther Coy was exposed to much of Alberta during his time in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). A Royal Air Force (RAF) Flight Officer (F/O), Coy began his training at Manning Depot (MD) in Edmonton. At Initial Training School (ITS), also in Edmonton, he proved to be a promising pilot and some months later was commissioned and posted to Flying Instructors School (FIS) in Vulcan. The following excerpt from Coy’s account of his time spent training in Alberta highlights some of what he recalled about his new surroundings and, in particular, Alberta's climactic conditions.

 

Like many others, I spent most of my time touring Alberta—Manning Depot in Edmonton, tarmac duty in McLeod, back to Edmonton for Guard Duty at the Manning Depot again before going to Initial Training School (ITS) at the University. Then to High River for elementary flying training, followed by a short hop to No. 3 Service Flying Training School in Calgary for more advanced training and eventually, our wings. I then received a commission plus a posting to Flight Instructor's School at Vulcan.

Edmonton, certainly the friendliest city in Canada at that time, was a perfect place for a young recruit to start. People would pick us up and take us downtown, possibly invite us to their homes for a meal and to visit...There was a regular Saturday night dance at the Y.M.C.A. with friendly hostesses to meet. Some long-lasting friendships started here.

Then there was the weather.  It went down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit and we really felt it. In Fort Macleod...I recall an unforgettable experience when we were involved in a fundraising bond drive. The idea was that we would stand on the sidewalk outside a bank and people would approach us to escort them into the bank to sign up to buy War Bonds. We nearly froze to death and had to run inside the bank to thaw out. It was a long day and too cold to be profitable.

Fort Macleod was our next stop for tarmac duty. No.7 Service Flying Training School was southwest of the town and within walking distance. We were on the open prairie, however, and exposed to wind at all times. We were told that "If the wind ever quits, all the residents will fall flat, one way or the other, because they are always leaning into the wind." As luck would have it, on the first day we arrived, dirt and pebbles were flying straight down the runway, high enough to hit our faces and hurt us. We had to cover up as much as possible. As each plane landed it was our job to run to it and sit on the tail to hold it down. Any increase in power by the pilot would cause the tail to rise and the plane would try to take off again, the wind being above flying speed. As there were students away on their cross-country exercise, we had to wait until the last one landed safely after which all flying was "washed out."

 

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