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Military Training

Blatchford Field


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World War II

Cockpit training When the Second World War began in 1939, many remembered both the success of the Canadian fighter pilots and the training facilities that were established in Canada during the First World War. The new technology of war brought with it an important role for aircrew of all classifications. There was a massive demand for highly trained maintenance personnel as well as pilots. Canada was seen as the best choice for the training facilities because of its physical position on the North Atlantic trading routes, its wide open spaces, and its geographic closeness to the massive industrial power in the United States. The result was the establishment of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP).

The BCATP was established with air training facilities across the nation and Alberta played a very important role. Almost every category of the air training school was located in the province, including Initial Training Schools, Elementary Flying Training Schools, Service Flying Training Schools, Air Observer School, Flying Instructor School, and Bombing and Gunnery school.

To provide services that the men in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) could not, the Women’s Division of the RCAF became pilots, mechanics, and ground crew among other categories of work. The women of the Women’s Division played a critical role in the success of the Air Training Plan.

During the war, Blatchford Field became the busiest airport in all of North America as it was the main centre for an Air Observer School, an Elementary Flying Training School, and the main air link for the Americans who were building the Alaska Highway for the Northwest Staging Route to provide military defence in Alaska if the Japanese attacked. The airfield was also the centre drop off point for the aircraft being ferried to Russia from the United States as a part of the Lend-Lease Program.

Adding to the air traffic at Blatchford Field was one of Canada’s largest aircraft repair companies, Aircraft Repair Ltd..

Throughout the Second World War, Alberta was a busy place contributing to many aspects of air training for the Allies, and providing a gateway to the north where the Northwest Staging Route provided a link for the defence of Alaska, and the corridor for aircraft being provided for the Lend-Lease Program.

Vera Dowling

Vera Dowling: UFO Pilot – Vera Dowling
An interesting and amusing story about Vera’s experience as a flight instructor in Edmonton.
Watch | Read | Biography

Harold Heacock
Landing in the Spring – Harold Heacock
One of the jobs that Harold regularly undertook was to fly the Norseman into remote locations, airlifting in medical supplies and personnel, and taking patients out.
Watch | Read | Biography

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