British Commonwealth Air Training Plan began 75 years ago
By Mark Newman, News Staff
It was arguably Canada’s most important contribution to the Second World War.
On Dec. 17, 1939 after more than two months of often difficult discussions, the Royal Canadian Air Force along with the Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force signed the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan agreement in Ottawa.
Administered by the Canadian government, the BCATP saw the creation of 231 air training facilities.
Among them were more than 100 air fields across Canada, including Hamilton.
By 1945 the plan had trained nearly 132,000 air crew including 49,707 pilots from the Commonwealth countries.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the BCATP the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum will be hosting a special fly-in on Saturday of some of the aircraft that were used to train pilots, navigators, wireless radio operators and other air crew during the war.
“We’re talking anything from training aircraft such as the (De Havilland) Tiger Moth, Fleet Finch, Fleet Fort, (North American) Harvards, (Cessna) Cranes, (Avro) Anson, (Boeing) Stearman and (Fairchild) Cornell,” said Al Mickeloff, marketing manager at the warplane museum, who noted they have as many as 25 vintage aircraft flying in for the day. “I think about four or five Tiger Moths are coming in, there’s two Fleet Finches, one or two Yales and a handful of Harvards and a couple of Cornells.”
The visiting aircraft will be on ground display during the day along with the museum’s yellow-painted BCATP trainers.
“We do plan to line all of the aircraft up by aircraft type,” said Mickeloff, who noted the museum will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday with regular admission rates.