The Curtiss Aviation School in Toronto
The Curtiss Aviation School in Toronto opened in May 1915 as
an extension of the Curtiss Company in Hammondsport, New York.
Unlike the air training school in British Columbia, it received
full funding for each student that entered the school, as long
as they had a signed agreement stating they would enter the RNAS
or RFC upon graduating. Adding to the success of the school was
the new aircraft factory opened by the Curtiss Company in
Toronto that produced the Curtiss JN biplanes used in training.
The school was established at Long Branch with three large
hangars. Added to these facilities was a flying-boat station
located at Hanlan’s Point.
There were no serious accidents or fatalities that occurred
during the entire operation of the Curtiss Aviation School. The
school trained 54 pilots for the war effort.
lithograph of a painting by R. W. Bradford titled "Curtiss 'F'
Flying Boat" and the caption is "A typical training day at the
Curtiss Flying School.
Royal Flying Corps Starts Training in Toronto
With the increasingly important role of aircraft as a weapon
during World War I, a new effort began in 1917 to train much
larger numbers of pilots. The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) came to Canada
and Egypt to establish training schools to fulfil the increasing
need for aircrew.
The main goals of the RFC were to recruit and train aircrew
for the Royal Flying Corps in Britain. The RFC was responsible
only to the War Office and later the Air Ministry in London.
Militia recruiting offices across Canada cooperated with the RFC
to supply aircrew candidates.
Training was carried out with the Curtiss JN4 (also called
Jenny, which was not an advanced aircraft, and new pilots had to
upgrade their training when they arrived in Britain on more
advanced aircraft. To address this need, an order for 500 Avro 504Ks was ordered. This was part of a plan to
continue the training program in Canada if the war continued
into 1919. With the end of the First World War, the training
program ended, along with the contract for the Canadian built
504Ks. In the end, only two 504Ks were produced.
Flight was still new as the winter of 1917 approached, and
there was concern about whether open cockpit biplanes could
successfully fly in winter conditions. The result was that most
of the members of the RFC Canada planned to take the training
effort to Fort Worth, Texas from December 1917 to February 1918
to continue training, and to assist the Americans in developing
their own air force. It was agreed that they would assist in
training 400 pilots, 2,000 ground tradesmen, and 20 equipment
officers for the Americans. This period of training was then
extended to April, adding 144 pilots, 12 tradesmen, and more
The North Toronto Wing Number Forty-Three remained in Canada
to determine if winter flying was possible. This was considered
an experimental effort with the introduction of ski-fitted
undercarriages for the Jennies, and the use of newly developed
anti-freeze and protective clothing for the pilots. It was found
that morale remained high, and there were no negative effects on
the number of flying hours completed.