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RCAF Station Winnipeg
No. 5 Air Observer School

General Information

Base / Station:

  • Winnipeg


Dates of Operation:

  • 1939- Present


  • No. 5 Air Observers School
    • Opened January 6, 1941 under the supervision of Yukon Southern Airlines. In January 1942 this company merged with 6 other companies to form CP Airlines which then assumed responsibility for the training of the personnel in this unit.
    • Air Observer Schools were responsible for giving navigators/bombaimers their initial training before they were sent to the Navigation Schools for advanced training.
    • Aircraft Flown:
      • Anson
    • Course List
  • No 112 Army Co-operation Squadron
  • No 2 Training Command HQ
  • No 14 Elementary Flying Training School
    • October 28 – December 5, 1940
    • the school was initially located at Winnipeg pending the completion of the facilities at Portage la Prairie.
    • Aircraft Flown:
      • Finch and
      • Tiger Moth
  • No 3 Wireless School – Flying Squadron
    • For more information on No 3 Wireless School please see link.
    • Aircraft Flown:
      • Finch,
      • Fort,
      • Norseman,
      • Stinson 105,
      • Tiger Moth, and
      • Yale
  • No. 402 “City of Winnipeg” Squadron
  • No 2 Air Command
  • No 11 Group / Tactical Group of North West Air Command
  • No 2 Air Navigation School
    • Was disbanded in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – 7 July 1945
    • Reformed in Winnipeg – 1 August 1951
    • Absorbed students from No 1 Air Navigation School, Summerside, Prince Edward Island – Summer 1953
    • Absorbed No 1 Air Radio Officer School, Clinton, Ontario – September 1954
    • Redesignated No 2 Air Observer School – 15 November 1955.
  • No 2 Air Observer School
    • Redesignated from No 2 Air Navigation School – 15 November 1955
    • Also known as Central Navigation School
    • Redesignated Air Navigation School – 3 April 1961
  • No 17 (Auxiliary) Wing
  • No 14 (Training) Group / Training Command Headquarters
  • No 429 Transport Squadron
  • Air Navigation School
    • Redesignated from No 2 Air Observer School – 3 April 1961
    • Redesignated Canadian Forces Air Navigation School –
  • No 429 Squadron
  • No 402 Reserve Squadron
  • Air Command
  • No. 435 Transport Squadron
  • Central Flying School
  • 17 Wing
  • 1 Canadian Air Division
  • Canadian Forces School of Survival and Aeromedical Training (CFSAT)
RCAF Aerodrome Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Image from the RCAF Pilots Manual of Aerodromes and Seaplane Bases circa 1942.

Unit Duties / Information:

  • No. 112 Army Co-operation Squadron continued to operate from Winnipeg, carrying out support operations and reconnaissance for army units.
  • No. 2 Training Command HQ was formed to manage the training of aircrew within the zone under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The zone encompassed Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and one station in   Western Ontario – Fort William/Thunder Bay.
    • April 15, 1940
  • No. 2 Training Command
    • Opened November 30, 1944
    • was amalgamated with No. 4 Training Command from Pennfield Ridge, NB to form No. 2 Air Command. This newly created command assumed the training management duties for the western region of Canada.
  • Also stationed in Winnipeg were No. 15 Technical Detachment, No. 2 Construction and Maintenance Unit, No. 170 Ferry Squadron (formed March 1, 1944). In addition there were three units located on the University of Manitoba campus. These were: No. 9 Squadron of the University Air Training Corps, No. 2 Nutritional Laboratory, and a Radio Mechanics detachment.
  • Following the war No. 402 “City of Winnipeg” Squadron (formerly No. 12 / 112 Army Co-operation Unit) was disbanded. However, on April 15 1946, “City of Winnipeg” was reconstituted.
  • No. 11 Group of the newly created Northwest Air Command was located at Winnipeg on March 1, 1947. The headquarters of this Air Command was based in Edmonton. No. 11 Group was redesignated Tactical Group April 1, 1949.
  • October 1, 1950 No. 17 (Auxiliary) Wing was formed.
  • At the end of July, 1951 No. 2 Air Navigation School was formed at Winnipeg the beginning of the transfer of No. 1 ANS from Summerside, PEI. The school was set up to meet the increasing demand for navigators for both Canada and the rest of NATO. In 1953, the Central Navigation School was moved from Rivers, MB and amalgamated with No. 2 ANS.
  • Also formed in 1951 was No. 2 Air Observer School. Along with No. 2 ANS it was tasked with training Canadian and NATO personnel. No. 2 AOS provided navigators with their basic training before being sent on to the ANS for their advanced and specialized training.
  • August 1, 1951 No. 14 (Training) Group was formed with its headquarters at Winnipeg.
  • September 11, 1958 marked the formation of Training Command Headquarters at Winnipeg. This Command absorbed No. 14 (Training) Group upon its creation. Air Command was created in Winnipeg in 1975 in an effort to centralize control of the Air Force.
  • The Canadian Forces Aerospace Navigation School (CFANS) has also continued its general operations since being located in Winnipeg in 1951. As with all other schools in the Canadian Forces, it has modified its course as the technology and requirements for navigators has changed.
  • No. 402 “City of Winnipeg” Squadron has operated as a reserve squadron. It is used as a means of keeping reserve pilots current as well as for training reserve ground crew. In 1988 No. 402 assumed control of flying duties for the new navigational training aircraft, the De Havilland Dash 8.
  • No. 429 Squadron has worked in association with CFANS and has operated the various aircraft used for navigation training.
  • No. 435 Squadron was moved to Winnipeg from Edmonton in 1994 in an effort to consolidate resources and reduce operation costs in the Canadian Forces.
  • The Central Flying School has been located at Winnipeg since being reformed in 1981 and is responsible for quality control. They visit and test instructors at CFANS, 3 CFFTS, and 2 CFFTS as well as developing and writing all training manuals, aids, and examinations. It also operates the Instrument Check Pilot School which graduates trained Instrument Check Pilots from all groups in Air Command. In addition there is a detachment of CFS located at CFB Portage la Prairie which is detailed with training all flying instructors for the Canadian Forces. This Flying Instructors School also provides refresher training for pilots returning to flying duties.

Aircraft Flown:

  • No. 112 A/C Squadron
    • DH 60 Moth,
    • AVRO 621 Tutor, and
    • AVRO 626
  • No. 402 Squadron:
    • North American Harvard (Jul 46 – Mar 57),
    • de Havilland Vampire (Apr 48 – Nov 50),
    • North American Mustang (Nov 50 – Sep 56),
    • Canadair Silver Star (Nov 54 – Aug 56),
    • Beechcraft Expediter (Aug 56 – Mar 64),
    • de Havilland Otter (May 60 – Jan 68),
    • Douglas Dakota
    • De Havilland Dash 8
  • No. 429 / No. 2 ANS and AOS (Flying Wing)
    • Beechcraft Expediter,
    • Mitchell B-25,
    • Dakota,
    • CC130 – Hercules, Buffalo
  • No. 433
    • Hercules CC130
  • Central Flying School –
    • Dakota,
    • CT 114 Tutor,
    • CT 134A Musketeer,
    • CH 139 Jet Ranger

Financial Impact: $440,552 (total cost of BCATP construction to 15 Mar 1942)

Station Magazine/Newspaper: The VoxAir

Date / Reason for closure:

No. 112 Squadron was assigned to the Canadian Active Service Force for overseas duty with the 1st Division. It was transferred to Rockcliffe September 10, 1939 to train on the Lysander aircraft before being sent overseas.

No. 14 EFTS was transferred to Portage la Prairie upon completion of the base December 5, 1940.

No. 5 Air Observer School (April 30, 1945) was disbanded due to the decrease in the level of fighting and subsequent lack of need for aircrew. Also factoring in this decision was the non-renewal of the BCATP agreement.

No. 170 Ferry Squadron was disbanded October 1, 1945 as the need for mass numbers of aircraft to be moved across Canada and overseas had ended.

Winnipeg served as the Headquarters for No. 2 Air Command until it was disbanded March 1, 1947.

August 1, 1951 No. 11 Tactical Group was moved to Edmonton.

January 15, 1966 Training Command was disbanded.

No. 429 Squadron was relegated to airlift operations upon receipt of the Dash 8 in 1988 and, shortly thereafter, was transferred to Trenton where it continues to operate as a transport squadron.

Financial Impact:

Commanding Officers:

  • G/C Randall
  • G/C Ingalls DSO, DFC, CD,

Date / Reason for closure:

Current Status:

  • Still an active RCAF Base. The Aerodrome is shared between the Winnipeg International Airport and the Military. One hangar, one base building still exists (south),several hangars still exist on Bristol Aerospace compound

Site Plan – 1942

Site Plan, No 5 Air Observer School, Winnipeg, Manitoba
(1942) (Source 1 Canadian Air Division)
Please click the photo to download a high definition PDF of the Site Plan.

Location – Google Map

Photo Gallery

No 5 Air Observer School, Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo provided by Douglas Carpenter)

Station Magazine – “The Drift Recorder”

Daily Diary – Links – No. 14 Elementary Flying Training School





Effective 5 December 1940, No 14 Elementary Flying Training School was relocated to its Permanent Home at Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

Daily Diary – Links – No. 5 Air Observer School

The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba has created a transcription of this Daily Diary.
Their web site is AirMuseum.ca


This list was compiled from the entries in the Daily diaries of No 5 Air Observer School, No 2 Air Navigation School, No 2 Air Observer School and other sources. The list likely does not include all fatalities of personnel who died while stationed at RCAF Station Winnipeg, and likely includes some errors. Currently this list contains 18 personnel.

Aircraft List

Course List
No 5 Air Observer School

For More information – External Links

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