Saskatchewan Aviation Chronology 1940-49

February 1940 -- the Regina airport terminal building was opened. It was built by the federal Department of Transport.

 1940, Summer -- 1940, September -- Squadron Leader Ernest A. McNab of Regina commanded the RCAF’s No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron as it went into action during the Battle of Britain. This unit was soon renumbered as No. 401 Squadron, RCAF in order to avoid confusion with the RAF’s own No. 1 Squadron. (See "Canadians Into Action When Order Comes", The Leader-Post, Thursday, Sept. 5, 1940, Page 1.) McNab's squadron used British-built Hawker Hurricane fighters.

 1940, late summer -- Directors of Moose Jaw-based Prairie Airways began discussing an offer from Canadian Pacific Airlines to purchase their firm. This was approved; Prairie's GM, Dick Ryan, joined CPA’s staff as manager of its Saskatchewan region, but soon was loaned to the management staff of 3 Air Observer School (AOS) in Regina. (See From Boxkite To Boardroom by Richard W. "Dick" Ryan.)

 This allows a discussion of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the all-Canadian megaproject that quickly built, staffed and operated a network of air training schools across the Dominion.

Below is a sketch of BCATP facilities. Source:http://www.ualberta.ca/EDMONTON/CONTRIB/airmuseum/aambcatp.html

 No. 1 Training Command

 January 1, 1940 first formed at Toronto, Ontario.

In January 1945 merged with No 3 Training Command to form No. 1 Training Command

 

No. 2 Training Command

 April 15, 1940 first formed at Winnipeg, Manitoba

 April 15, 1940 Training School Number 7 set up in Saskatoon

 Elementary Flying Training Schools

 No.2 Fort William, Ont.

 No. 6 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

 No. 14 Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

 No. 19 Virden, Manitoba

 No. 23 Davidson, Manitoba (moved to Yorkton January 1945)

 No. 26 Neepawa, Manitoba

 No. 35 Neepawa, Manitoba (RAF school incorporated into No.26 EFTS)

 

Service Flying Training Schools

 No. 4 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (reformed from No 7 Training School)

 No. 10 Dauphin, Manitoba

 No. 11 Yorkton, Saskatchewan

 No. 12 Brandon, Manitoba

 No. 13 North Battleford, Saskatchewan

 No. 17 Souris, Manitoba

 No. 18 Gimli, Manitoba

 No. 33 Carberry, Manitoba (RAF)

 No. 35 North Battleford, Saskatchewan (RAF school incorporated into No.13)

 

Air Observer Schools

 No. 5 Winnipeg, Manitoba

 No. 6 Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

 No. 7 Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

 Central Navigation School

 No. 1 Rivers, Manitoba

 Wireless School

 No. 3 Winnipeg, Manitoba

 Bombing and Gunnery Schools

 No. 3 Macdonald, Manitoba

 No. 5 Dafoe, Sask.

 No. 7 Paulson, Manitoba

 On November 30, 1944, 2 Training Command merged with No 4 Training Command to form No 2 Air Command

 

No. 3 Training Command

 March 18, 1940 first formed as Training Group No 2 at Montreal, Quebec

 April 29, 1940 redesignated No. 3 Training Command

 January 15, 1945 merged with No 1 Training Command to form No. 1 Training Command

 

No. 4 Training Command

 April 29, 1940 first formed at Regina, Saskatchewan

 October 1, 1941 moved to Calgary Alberta

 

Initial Training Schools

 No. 2 Regina Saskatchewan

 No. 4 Edmonton, Alberta

 

Elementary Flying Training Schools

 No. 5 Lethbridge, Alberta (moved to High River, Alberta June 1941)

 No. 8 Vancouver, B.C.

 No. 15 Regina, Saskatchewan

 No. 16 Edmonton, Alberta

 No. 18 Boundary Bay, B.C.

 No. 24 Abbotsford, B.C.

 

No. 25 Assiniboia, Saskatchewan

 

No. 31 De Winton, Alberta (RAF)

 

No. 32 Bowden, Alberta (RAF)

 

No. 33 Caron, Saskatchewan (RAF)

 

No. 34 Assiniboia (RAF school incorporated into No. 25)

 

No. 36. Pearce, Alberta (RAF)

 

Service Flying Training Schools

 

No. 3 Calgary, Alberta

 

No. 7 Fort Macleod, Alberta

 

No. 8 Weyburn, Saskatchewan

 

No. 15 Claresholm, Alberta

 

No. 19 Vulcan, Alberta

 

No. 32 Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (RAF)

 

No. 34 Medicine Hat, Alberta (RAF)

 

No. 36 Penhold, Alberta (RAF)

 

No. 37 Calgary, Alberta (RAF)

 

No. 38 Estevan, Saskatchewan (RAF)

 

No. 39 Swift Current, Saskatchewan (RAF)

 

No. 41 Weyburn, Saskatchewan (RAF school incorporated into No.8)

 

Flying Instructor Schools

 

No. 2 Vulcan, Alberta (moved to Pearce, Alberta in May 1943)

 

Operational Training Squadron (WAC)

 

No. 13 Sea Island (moved to Patricia Bay, B.C. November 1940)

 

Operational Training Unit (WAC)

 

No. 3 Patricia Bay, B.C.

 

No. 5 Boundary Bay, B.C.

 

No. 6 Comox, B.C.

 

No. 32 Patricia Bay, B.C. (RAF school incorporated into No.3)

 

Air Observers Schools

 

No. 2 Edmonton, Alberta

 

No. 3 Regina, Saskatchewan (moved to Pearce, Alberta in September 1942)

 

Wireless School

 

No. 2 Calgary, Alberta

 

Bombing and Gunnery Schools

 

No. 2 Mossbank, Saskatchewan

 

No. 8 Lethbridge, Alberta

 

Operational Training Units (WAC)

 

No. 3 Patricia Bay, B.C.

 

No. 5 Boundary Bay, B.C.

 

No. 6 Comox, B.C.

 

No. 32 Patricia Bay, B.C.

 

Nov 30, 1944 merged with No 2 Training Command to form No 2 Air Command

 

Among the BCATP training facilities in Saskatchewan, 6 Elementary Flying Training School at Prince Albert was operated under contract by the Saskatoon Flying Club. M & C Aviation, which had a government contracts to overhaul RCAF aircraft in the city, employed about 600 people in Prince Albert alone. (See Prince Albert Daily Herald, August 28, 1966, Pages A-26/28). 15 EFTS at Regina was operated by the Regina Flying Club.

 

1943, Oct. 19,1943 - RCMP Superintendent Maurice Powers, a medical doctor who headed the RCMP’s pioneering crime detection laboratory in Regina, was killed in the crash of an aircraft near North Battleford, along with Cpl. B.J. Ford-Smith and their pilot, A.A. Green.

They were flying from North Battleford to Saskatoon late that evening in poor weather. After they and their aircraft failed to arrive at Saskatoon, a search was organized and the wreckage was found at mid-morning the next day 4 1/2 miles north of the Red Pheasant Indian Reserve. Two reserve residents told searchers they had heard an aircraft overhead during the night. The position of the wreckage indicated the aircraft, an Airspeed Oxford, was flying in a westerly direction, apparently heading back to North Battleford, and had struck telephone wires while in a shallow 20-degree dive, then crashed into a hill. Comments the Canadian Society of Forensic Science web site: "This was a great loss to the Force and Laboratory Services. Surgeon Powers had been a prime mover and organizer behind the first crime detection laboratory and is considered its founding father."

 Reference: Web site of the Canadian Society of Foreign Science at http://www.csfs.ca/history/rcmphist.htm/P

 1944, summer -- Regina’s 15 EFTS and 3 AOS began shutting down. The Department of National Defence gave the Regina Flying Club six Tiger Moths, a Stinson 105 plus a Cessna Crane. (See From Boxkite To Boardroom by Richard W. Ryan.)

 1944, summer -- The two ex-Prairie Airways Beech 18s operated by Canadian Pacific on its north-south Saskatchewan route (which connected with the east-west Trans-Canada Airlines route at Regina) were sold to Venezuela’s TACA airline. Astonishingly, both are still intact and preserved.

 These aircraft were CF-BKN and ‘BKO (c/n 177 and 178, respectively).  ’BKN is in the Pima County Air Museum at Tucson. Its last owner, M.W. Sweeley, donated the '18 on July 30, 1980. It carried American registration N55681 and had 6,000 hours in the air, logged between 1938 and 1980.

’BKO, after flying with TACA, was re-registered in the Miami, Fl., area and was flown from New Jersey to California in the mid-1970s. It sat in storage at Carmel, owned by a T. Larson, registered as N87AZ. This aircraft later went to an owner in Dallas, then to a Beechcraft museum in Tennessee -- painted in its red and blue Prairie Airways colours!

 The two Beeches were replaced in 1944 by CPA Barkley-Grow aircraft, then by Lockheed 18s and finally by DC-3s. (For more on the young CPA’s Prairie equipment, see Wing Walkers, pages 146-7.)

Prairie Airways’ Dick Ryan rose to become executive vice-president of Canadian Pacific Airlines, working alongside the famous Grant McConachie. Ryan retired in 1965 and died in November, 1992, at 96.

1944, Sept. 27 -- The RCAF’s top-scoring fighter ace of the Second World War, Squadron Leader Henry Wallace "Wally" McLeod, was killed in action in a dogfight over Germany.

Born in Regina on Dec. 17, 1915, McLeod served in the militia’s 5th Saskatchewan Regiment and Regina Rifle Regiment,1928-34. After graduating from the Regina Normal School (teachers college), he joined the RCAF in Regina on Sept. 2, 1940, training at No.2 ITS Regina, 6 EFTS at Prince Albert (graduating in January 1941) and No.1 SFTS (graduated 1 April 1941). He arrived in the UK on 9 May 1941 and was assigned to 132 Squadron (21 July-28 August 1941), 485 Squadron (28 August to 2 December 1941), 602 Squadron (2-23 December 1941) and 411 Squadron (23 December 1941 to 5 May 1942).

 Posted to Malta, flying with No.603 Squadron (from 3 June 1942 to an uncertain date) and 1435 Squadron (late June or early July until 26 October 1942). By now a season ace, he returned to Canada in December 1942.

 He instructed at 1 OTU, Bagotville from 12 March 1943 to 12 January 1944, returning to the UK in January 1944 in command of the RCAF’s 127 (Fighter) Squadron, which was soon renumbered as 443 Squadron. He was killed in action on 27 September 1944. For additional details see H.A. Halliday’s book The Tumbling Sky.

For his actions over Malta, McLeod received a Distinguished Flying Cross and bar, and later the Distinguished Service Order. At the time of his death, he had 20 or 21 confirmed kills, depending on which historical source one consults.

1945, September --The provincial government announced plans to establish a northern air service within the Department of Natural Resources. By May 1947, it had three Norsemen, one Anson Mark V, one Stinson Voyager 150, one Waco, four Tiger Moths and had flown a total of 4,000 hours. Source: The Leader-Post, May 28, 1947

 1945, Sept. 6  -- The Yorkton Enterprise reported the BCATP airfield just north of the city would be retained as a peacetime RCAF flying training base. This was borne out nine days later with the official announcement that Yorkton’s 2 Flying Training School would be one of only two flying training schools in Canada, the other being 1 FTS at Centralia, Ont. Alas, the number of pilots available to the postwar RCAF exceeded those needed by the small peacetime air force. As a result, on Dec. 6, 1945, it was announced that 2 FTS would close, its personnel transferred to Centralia. Early in 1946, it was decided to close the station completely. See: The Yorkton Enterprise, Sept. 6, 1945 and Best In The West, pages 64 68.

 

1945, November -- The federal Department of Transport took over operation of the Saskatoon airport from the RCAF.

 

 1945, Sept. 6  -- The Yorkton Enterprise reported the BCATP airfield just north of the city would be retained as a peacetime RCAF flying training base. This was borne out nine days later with the official announcement that Yorkton’s 2 Flying Training School would be one of only two flying training schools in Canada, the other being 1 FTS at Centralia, Ont. Alas, the number of pilots available to the postwar RCAF exceeded those needed by the small peacetime air force. As a result, on Dec. 6, 1945, it was announced that 2 FTS would close, its personnel transferred to Centralia. Early in 1946, it was decided to close the station completely. See: The Yorkton Enterprise, Sept. 6, 1945 and Best In The West, pages 64 68.

 

1945, November -- The federal Department of Transport took over operation of the Saskatoon airport from the RCAF.

 

1946/7 -- The federal Department of Transport took over operation of the airports in Swift Current, Yorkton and North Battleford.

 

1946, Feb 3  -- A Saskatchewan Department of Public Health Norseman aircraft inaugurated a provincial air ambulance service, flying a 100-mile round trip to Liberty, northwest of Regina, in order to bring Mrs. Denis Mahoney, 57, to a Regina hospital. The pilot was RCAF veteran D.K. Malcolm, who landed in a stubble field three miles from Liberty.

 

The plane, which had arrived in Regina Feb. 1 after being reconditioned at Edmonton, was one of two in the air ambulance service, serving the area south of Prince Albert, while a Department of Natural Resources aircraft was assigned to serve the area north of it. On this inaugural flight, the other crew members were flight engineer Donald Watson and nurse Mabel Gleadow of the Saskatchewan health department, a former army nurse who served overseas. See "Ambulance in air: Patient is flown", The Leader-Post, Feb. 4, 1946.

 

1946 - spring -- Mitchinson Flying Service was established in Saskatoon by RCAF veteran Harold "Mitch" Mitchinson, a man so dedicated to flying that he "used to fly home for lunch to the then-separate town of Sutherland, about six miles east of the field". Though ownership of this charter/training firm changed hands in 1979, it has remained in business to the present, a remarkably durable firm. (Source: company web site at http://www3.sk.sympatico.ca/mitchins/history.html)/P

 

1946, Sept. 15 -- Dakota transport s/n 962 of the RCAF’s 124 (Ferry) Squadron crashed at Estevan, killing 21, including 19 pilots who had been ferrying Cornell trainer aircraft back to the United States. (See Under Their Wings -- A History of Minot International Airport from 1928 to 1978 by Ardeth Strand, Carol Baney and Eleanor Pietsch, published by Ace Books, 1978.)

 

1947 -- The RCAF’s 406 (Auxiliary) Squadron was formed at Saskatoon, flying Harvards (initially) and, later, Mitchells, T-33s, Expeditors and Otters.

 

February, 1947 -- a long series of blizzards on the Prairies forced aircraft operators, including the Saskatchewan Air Ambulance, into desperate, innovative uses of their equipment.

 

1947 (Spring) -- The government of Saskatchewan announced the formation of a team of smokejumpers, modelled on similar teams in the U.S., to fight forest fires in the northern half of the province.

 

1947, May -- The provincial government announced plans to buy the assets of Prince Albert’s M&C Aviation, merging it with the northern air service already maintained by the provincial Department of Natural Resources. Source: May 28, 1947 news stories in The Leader-Post and the Prince Albert Daily Herald, August 28, 1966, Prince Albert Pages A-26/28. In its 17 years of operations, M and C Aviation had only one fatality, a pilot killed in a crash at Emma Lake. It flew an untold number of mercy flights into the far north and was solely responsible for the hospital at Ile a la Crosse converting to year-round operations. Because of the isolation, the hospital earlier had been open only in the summer, but with M & C carrying patients, the hospital found it necessary to provide accommodation in the winter as well.

 

1947, July 1 -- Trans-Canada Airlines began new DC-3 services with stops at Sault Ste. Marie and Port Arthur/Fort William, with a new service to Medicine Hat and Swift Current. Also, on July 1st, a new TCA route linked Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton.

 

1947, July 5 -- The provincial government's fish-marketing board, a Crown corporation based at Prince Albert, announced the purchase of a Stinson Station Wagon to carry employees and light freight in the northern part of the province. Its purchase brought to 13 the number of government aircraft operating out of PA. The fish board had another Stinson, a Voyager 150, stationed at Prince Albert. The other 11 planes owned by the government in Prince Albert were operated by the aircraft division of the natural resources department. They were four Norsemen, four Tiger Moths, one Waco, a Fox Moth and a Mark V Anson.

 

1947, July 8  -- The RCMP in Regina showed off its newest acquisition, a Stinson 105 monoplane based in the city. The crew members mentioned in a newspaper caption are Sgt. H.A. Heacock and Const. L.H. Munro of the RCMP’s aviation section.

 

1947, July 11  -- RCAF headquarters released a list of Canadians killed or fatally inured while flying for the RCAF or RAF during the Battle of Britain. Two Saskatchewanians were listed: P/O Camille R. Bonseigneur of Regina and P/O E.R. Hale of Lemsford, Sask. The list is released in conjunction with a memorial service in Britain.

 

1947, July 12 -- A Regina firm called Hannah Brothers, acting as local agent for Winnipeg’s Skyways Services Ltd., announced in an advertisement that it was taking bookings for crop- dusting "using the famous Bell helicopter". An article in the same day's Leader-Post said: "A helicopter piloted by Jimmy Samson and Bob Addy of Winnipeg landed in Moosomin Friday night (the previous day) on its way to Regina, where it will be used to spray crops bordering the city. The pilots spent the night in Moosomin. They left Portage la Prairie, Man., earlier in the day and are expected to reach Regina Saturday noon. Another machine left Portage Saturday morning for Regina."

 

1947 Monday, July 14 -- The Leader-Post carried a front-page story and photograph of one of the helicopters, wrecked "when the rotor blade struck a telephone pole Sunday about 7 p.m. on a farm operated by Stan Walker about 20 miles south of Regina, near Rouleau. According to eyewitnesses, the accident occurred as the plane was rising. The rotor blade came into contact with a telephone pole and lopped off a top section before tumbling to the ground. Repair crews were out Monday to effect repairs to the lines ...The craft was badly damaged when it turned over after striking the ground."

 

An accompanying photograph showed what appeared to have been a wheeled , open-cockpit early model Bell 47 . This seems to have been the first use or appearance of a helicopter in Saskatchewan.

 

1948, July 24 -- A baby was born aboard a Saskatchewan Air Ambulance aircraft. The birth of Leon Dubreuil was registered at the Wadena Union Hospital -- but actually occurred nearby in mid-air on an emergency flight from Rose Valley to Regina. This information came from veteran aviator Don Campbell, who served with the province's Air Ambulance service from 1948-68, by which time no fewer than 17 babies had been born in its aircraft. See Wings of Mercy, Campbell’s 1993 book on the service. The pilot on this historic flight was the late Julian Audette. The flight nurse was Elaine Fraser and flight engineer was Gerry Roast. The aircraft was Norseman, CF-SAM, now preserved in the Moose Jaw branch of the Western Development Museum.

 

1949 -- a control tower was opened at the Saskatoon airport. (See: History of Canadian Airports by Tom McGrath, page 209-210.) Shortly thereafter, Trans-Canada Airlines began east-west service to Saskatoon.

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