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85 Years of Service on the Wing

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  • 85 Years of Service on the Wing

    April 1, 1924

    The senior services played one last joke in the creation of the Royal Canadian Air Force, all the paper work was done to bring it into existence on April fools day.

    If you think of the times, aircraft had not really been around that long and continued to be mostly fragile wood and fabric biplanes. Not something the Army or Navy considered serious.

    Today Air Power is a critical factor in every military engagement, more important in many ways military airpower is often the first on scene during man made and natural disasters, delivering medical aid, humanitarian aid, equipment and personnel to assist those in need. Throw in search and rescue in all forms of terrain and conditions and you have a military asset that assists all those in trouble.

    Today is the 85th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force, if ever the comment "tiny but tough" fit it would be for this branch of the Canadian Armed Forces, but it wasn’t always that way.

    Through WW2 and into the Cold War Canada had the fourth largest Air Force in the world, with some of the most technologically advanced aircraft and they were built in Canada. Canadian Air Force personnel are and always have been considered some of the best in the world. People worthy of being proud of.

    From the Battle of Britain in 1940 to the Helicopters on stand by for the potential floods in Winnipeg our Air Force is there.

    The Royal Canadian Air Force has been a major part of the history of Edmonton, the first aircraft to land at the newly licensed “Blatchford Field” was Punch Dickens in a RCAF Siskin biplane. The RCAF in the 20s and 30s conducted many of the northern survey flights and created some of the routes later used by the bush pilots.

    During WW2 the hangar that currently houses the Alberta Aviation Museum was #2 Air Observers school and the Edmonton Flying Club became #16 Elementary Flight Training School, between them training tens of thousands. Our airport was the start of the North West Staging Route with tens of thousands of aircraft heading to the Russia and the start of the Alaska Highway, supported by air. Para Rescue was developed here in Edmonton during WW2 and is now used around the world.

    Peter “Cowboy” Blatchford, son of Mayor Ken Blatchford awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) during the Battle of Britain, MIA over the English Channel defending a squadron of out numbered and under attack. Russ Bannock DFC, known as the “Savior of London” for his abilities in destroying V-1 Flying Bombs attacking London (the first cruise missiles), Bob Boyden DFC with Bar flew the unarmed Mosquito bomber on several raids they were unexpected to return from, Justice Doug Matheson then a fighter pilot, prisoner of war DFC, Mike Kutyn DFC and many others, all Edmontonians, all heroes.

    Post War Edmonton was home to 418 Squadron, 435 Squadron both with outstanding records in delivering humanitarian aid around the world and Tactical Military needs. 447 Squadron was based at CFB Namao and held an outstanding search and rescue record of service. CFB Namao also acted as an Operational Training Unit for many of Canada’s fighters and still holds a world record.

    Today Edmonton still serves the Air Force with 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based at now CFB Edmonton Garrison providing military support in Afghanistan and Humanitarian missions at home and abroad.

    The Royal Canadian Air Force (now the Canadian Air Force) has served this country and Edmonton well. Take a minute today to thank all those that serve and have served.

    Per Ardua Ad Astra
    (From Adversity to the Stars)

    Thomas Hinderks

    Executive Director
    Alberta Aviation Museum Association
    11410-Kingsway Avenue
    Edmonton, AB

  • #2
    What an insightful article Tom, thank you.

    No April Fools day joke indeed. The men and women who have served or are serving and the significance of aviation are what makes this city the city of champions.

    Thank you to all.


    • #3
      Congratulations to the RCAF on their 85th anniversary! They've done some great things.
      "Talk minus action equals zero." - Joe Keithley, D. O. A.


      • #4
        Even more amazing is what Canadians in Military Service accomplished before the RCAF was formed.

        During WW1 the majority of the top aces were Canadian, Bishop, Barker and so many more including Edmontonians Roy Brown and WOP May.

        The history, the stories, the adventures of heroes and villians. Bet Hollywood wishes they could write stuff as good as how our history reads.