Wings Over Claresholm (captions available in both French and English). Enjoy this video with an English transcript.
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan set up over 107 Canadian Air Training Bases. Students came from eleven nations around the world, all fighting the Second World War with the Allies.
The Royal Canadian Air Force (the RCAF) managed Canadian training bases. The RCAF ran the Service Flying Training School in Claresholm.
Students started their basic military training at the Manning Depot. From there, they went on to ground school or Initial Training School.
Then they would move to elementary flight training. After that, they
went on to service flying in more advanced schools.
Training at the Royal Canadian Air Force No. 15 Service Flying Training School at Claresholm, AB
One of the more advanced schools was located near Claresholm, Alberta – Number 15 Service Flying Training School (No. 15 SFTS).
The course at Claresholm lasted approximately 16 weeks. Students began with 8 weeks of intermediate flying sessions. It was followed by advanced training, including night flying training in a flight simulator called the Link trainer.
Service flying schools like Claresholm were the final leg of a student’s training journey in the Plan – it was where they got their “wings.”
More than 131,000 aircrew graduated from the Canadian air training schools. Graduates included: pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, air gunners, wireless operators and flight engineers.
Some pilots who graduated from Claresholm went on to instruct other pilots and aircrew. Graduate Jim Milne became a Navigation Instructor.
Other pilots, like Jim Ashworth, were posted to an Operational Training Unit (OTU) in Canada or overseas to finalize their learning, then on to assume active duties in a combat unit overseas.