One of Canada’s most significant contributions to the Second
World War was
the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which
produced over 131,000 aircrew for the Allied cause. Training
schools and facilities were established across Canada to produce
all the various trades needed to conduct the war in the air in
Europe and around the world.
The Air Training Plan was a massive national undertaking that
cost in excess of two-and-one-quarter billion dollars, and saw
fully equipped airports built rapidly across Canada, with paved
runways, hangars, and other buildings. Alberta was a desirable
location because of its sparse population and wide-open spaces.
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (Part 1)
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Alberta was host to a wide array of schools, ranging from
the Initial Training and Elementary School, to the Service Flying
Training School. Vulcan became the host of an Instructor
Training School. There was a Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge, an Air Observer School (Navigation School) in
Edmonton that later moved to Pearce, and a Wireless School in
Calgary. Edmonton was host to No. 3 Manning Depot. After 1941,
Calgary was host to No. 4 Training Command Repair along with a
number of equipment depots.
There were new demands on local communities as massive
numbers of men and women in the services arrived to work in the
air training schools. There were shortages of
housing everywhere, and many in the host communities found themselves
supplying rooms in their houses for service personnel to rent.
Cities that were host to air training schools found that they
had to supply proper sewage draining, roads, and most importantly, greatly
increased and improved supplies of power to light the airports and
the roads leading
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (Part 2)
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There were large numbers of American personnel arriving and
buying goods that had to be brought in, which created an
economic boom. However, as wartime activities slowed down, many
wondered what would happen to the huge airfields that could be
seen in communities and cities like Calgary and Edmonton. Most
agreed that the future for air travel across Canada and around
the world was bright.