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Royal Canadian Air Force Station, Saskatoon

In 1927, the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) began to encourage the formation of civilian flying clubs to train Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) personnel. As an inducement the Department, on the basis of a long-term loan, offered clubs deHavilland Gipsy Moth airplanes. As a result, the Saskatoon Aero Club was formed in 1928. During this period the RCAF was also required to provide an airmail service across the prairies, so the city of Saskatoon was asked to build an airfield that could accommodate this service; to this end, the Saskatoon Airport was formally opened in 1929.

In January 1940, the airport was leased to the federal government to serve as the RCAF’s No. 4 Service Flight Training School (SFTS) under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), a program designed to train aircrew personnel during World War II. Five large hangars, barracks, classrooms, workshops, a hospital and a control tower were built to accommodate the new RCAF station. In 1944 the Saskatoon Airport air radio was installed to provide navigational facilities, air-to-ground communication, and weather information. Radio operators manned the station 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When the war ended in 1945, No. 4 SFTS was closed, and in November 1946 the airport was transferred to the Department of Transport.

The airport was expanded again in 1950 when the RCAF announced its decision to establish a training station there. Construction began on new barracks, married quarters, runways, offices, and a huge new hangar. On January 1, 1952, the RCAF's No. 1 Advanced Flying School (AFS) began to train RCAF, Royal Air Force, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air crews on B-25 Mitchell light bombers and Beech C-45 Expeditors. Saskatoon's No. 1 AFS trained men in instrument flying from 1956 until 1962, when RCAF Station Saskatoon was transferred from Training Command to Air Transport Command and the training school was moved to RCAF Station Rivers (Manitoba). In the summer of 1964, RCAF Station Saskatoon closed and the four hangars were again turned over to the Department of Transport.

Daria Coneghan

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