October 29th, 2009

  • dj_axle

Democracy's Airport

During the Second World War US President Roosevelt described Canada as "Democracy's Airport" mostly because of our huge involvement with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), which saw thousands of pilots trained on our soil.

While on Vacation earlier this month I had the chance to visit two such locations that were a part of the BCATP.

CFB Ottawa North, formerly RCAF Rockcliff. The actual airstrips are still in use, and part is the National Aviation Museum, but the actual base is now shut down. But the land is currently in dispute.

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The second location was the former CFB/RCAF Picton, a bomber school. The base at Picton originated as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. An airfield was built on a high plateau overlooking Picton and the Royal Air Force's No. 31 Bombing & Gunnery School officially opened in April 1941. Five bombing ranges were also created to allow the students to practice. Aircraft flown at the base included the Avro Anson, Fairey Battle, Bristol Bolingbroke and Westland Lysander. The school offered six week courses in bombing, navigation and air gunnery until it was disbanded in November 1944.

After the Bombing & Gunnery School was disbanded, the Royal Canadian Air Force established the No. 5 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit at Picton. This unit was responsible for aircraft storage and maintenance of the airfield itself. This unit operated until January 1946 when its functions were absorbed by a unit at RCAF Station Trenton.

I was rather lucky to get permission at this location, the owners like to get people for trespassing.

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