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The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

Graduating paradeOne 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. Two Fleet Finch aircraft.

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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A collection of Fairchild CornellsAlberta 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. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

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 to them.


British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (Part 2)
Listen | Read


Fairy Battle aircraft 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.


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