Canada’s Aviation History During War

The History of aviation in Canada is said to have begun with the first manned flight in a balloon at Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1840. The country started experimenting with aviation in 1909 with test flights and the epochal flight of the Wright Brothers. This experimental phase was the first sign of how aviation could be used in war.

With many Canadians serving in the British Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force in the First World War, the country was experienced with aviation and started to use airplanes for transportation and played a vital role in developing Canada’s Northern regions.

This article will showcase how Canada used aviation in both world wars.

First World War

About 23 000 Canadians served in British air services, including the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. This service was carried out during the first world war, with over 1500 Canadians losing their lives to the war. Some of the notable Canadian pilots who flew in the war include William George Barker, Billy Bishop, and Alan Arnett McLeod.

Despite the involvement of Canadians in the British Air Force, the Canadian government has never shown an interest in creating an air force.

Interwar Period

Due to the war, many Canadians had aviation training, with surplus aircrafts being easily accessible. After the war, a two-year aviation rollout started and created many jobs and lucrative careers, with the first paying passenger flight happening in 1920.

Throughout this period, many Curtiss HS flying boats and aircraft were donated to Canada by the United States government and made explorations easily done with forestry patrols also being able to assist with forest fires.

Second World War

During WW2 over 130 000 Canadians were trained as aircrew. As Canadian factories were far from enemy attacks, the country was also responsible for manufacturing the training and combat aircraft. The Canadian Pacific Air Lines organized the initial operations for flying in supplies across the North Atlantic route to the European theatre of operations.

Throughout both world wars and in between, Canada played a large role in getting supplies moved and fighting on the British side.


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The History of Canadian aviation and aircraft starts way back since the first World War when Canadians flew aircraft for the British Air Force. Now there are various museums spread across Canada to witness some of the most astonishingly preserved artifacts, aircraft, engines, and weapons that were used. This article showcases the most renowned preservers […]