As I mentioned in a previous post, OurAirports now lets you invent your own tags for airports and view maps of the airports you’ve tagged. This morning, I made a map of 60 of the airports that were part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP):
You can drag the map around and zoom in to see specific areas (Eastern Ontario was especially dense). The map (which is still missing a few airports) shows how much the BCATP shaped aviation in Canada — while it used existing airfields when possible, many of the fields were built specifically for the plan, and most of those are still operational. Some still have original hangar buildings, and many maintain the original triangle of three runways that’s so typical of Canadian airports (often with one extended to handle light jets).
While Canada was chosen because of its safe distance from combat and easy access to fuel, wartime flight training was still a brutal business in the BCATP — you could expect at least one fatality in every class training in planes like the Tiger Moth pictured above. Little RCAF Pennfield Ridge, for example, lost 61 student pilots and instructors during its three or four years of operation as a navigational and operational school.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons