Trainees at the Technical Training School, St. Thomas, Ont.
The Canadian Armed Forces: The British Commonwealth Air Training
The 'aerodrome of democracy'! So United States President Franklin
D. Roosevelt described Canada's role as the trainer of 131,533 pilots
and aircrew for the Allied war effort. This was done under the British
Commonwealth Air Training Plan, an agreement signed in December
1939 by Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand to train aircrew
in Canada. Nearly half of the pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, air
gunners, wireless operators and flight engineers employed in all
the Commonwealth during the war were trained under the .
Canada's big open spaces and good climate for flying made it an
ideal choice for large-scale flying training, which began on
April 29, 1940. The program greatly expanded after the fall of France
( see The German Invasion of Western Europe ) when, fearful of a German
invasion of Britain, the moved a number of its training schools
to Canada. At the Plan's peak in late 1943, it operated 107
schools and 184 other supporting units at 231 locations all across
Canada. Individual Canadians helped through their flying clubs and
commercial aviation companies, which ran many of the schools.
72,835 of the graduates were Canadians. The rest came not
only from Britain and the other original Plan members, but also
included Americans, trainees from other Commonwealth countries and
from the of the countries of occupied Europe.
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