No. 2 Flying Training School

On March 13, 1952, an Organization Order was issued, reactivating the air force base at Moose Jaw (effective June 1, 1952) as part of the RCAF’s training expansion. The station became No. 2 Flying Training School (FTS) when that unit was relocated from Gimli, Manitoba, from May 4 to June 22, 1953; a single-engine Advanced Flying School was opened at Gimli in its place. RCAF personnel and their families were to become an integral part of the Moose Jaw community. For the first year of the station’s existence, children living on the station attended local public and high schools. However, as early as October 1952 the Moose Jaw school board realized that the city’s schools would not be able to accommodate all the children from No. 2 FTS. The local school board and the commanding officer of Training Group Headquarters, which was responsible for No. 2 FTS, began serious discussions in February 1953 about building a Department of National Defence school on the Station.

On April 8, 1954, the most tragic flying accident in the station’s history occurred when a NATO trainee in a Harvard collided with a Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) North Star passenger liner over the city. All 35 TCA passengers and crew and the NATO pilot perished. Miraculously, only one person on the ground was killed when the North Star wreckage crashed into a house. The civil air route was moved twenty miles north, and No. 2 FTS training routes were moved south of the city.

The first class to graduate from No. 2 FTS was composed of eleven students from Great Britain, seven from France, five from Holland, and two from Canada. An increased number of NATO countries were represented in the graduating classes of the last months of the NATO Air Training Plan. Between December 1, 1957, and May 31, 1958, 139 pilots from seven NATO nations graduated: 53 Canadian, 43 Turkish, 21 British, 12 Dutch, 5 Danish, 3 French, and 2 Norwegian. RCAF Station Moose Jaw continued to receive NATO students after 1958 because of post-Training Plan bilateral agreements. The Souvenir Program of Moose Jaw’s Air Force Day reported on June 16, 1962: “Since June of 1953, Moose Jaw has graduated over 1,800 students from nine NATO countries and Canada.”

Rachel Lea Heide