Under the federal government, Blatchford Field lengthened and
improved runways and increased construction of taxiways. Larger
hangars were constructed, and a new administration building was
built. Air traffic increased considerably between 1939 and 1945,
as the British Commonwealth Air Training Schools, defence
activities, and the Northwest Staging Route brought increasing
demands on the airport.
In March and April of 1942, there was an additional demand
made on Blatchford Field when the American government pressed
ahead with the construction of the Alaska Highway, which added a
land-based transportation route north. Air transport of
personnel and supplies was a factor in the rapid building of the
Alaska Highway, allowing work to take place at several places at
the same time. Airfields at Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray
also saw significant increases in air traffic during this time.
Another development that added to the air traffic in
Edmonton, Peace River, Embarras, Grande Prairie, and Calgary was
the construction of the Canol Pipeline, which would run from
Norman Wells to Whitehorse. Crude oil from Norman Wells was to
be sent to a new refinery at Whitehorse and then moved by
additional pipelines to where it could be used on the Northwest
Staging Route and the Alaska Highway.
During a 24-hour period at the Blatchford Field in June 1942,
there were 500 landing aircraft reported. One of the busiest
days, 29 September 1942, saw over 850 arrivals and departures.
In 1943, Blatchford Field held the record as the busiest
airfield in North America.
By the summer of 1943 the demand had increased so much at the
Edmonton airport that a new airfield known as Namao was built 11
kilometres north of Edmonton, and was operated by the Americans
until the end of the war.
Wartime Airfield Construction Part 2: Building Up the Hangar – Walter Bennett
Mr. Bennett explains the order of construction and how all the pieces of the hangar went together.
Watch | Read | Biography
Source: Myers, Patricia A. Sky Riders: An Illustrated History of Aviation in Alberta 1906-1945. Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1995.