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Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 18 Service Flying Training School / No. 2 Flying Training School / Canadian Forces Base Gimli / Gimli Industrial Park Airport (RM of Gimli)

Link to:
Commanding Officers | Photos & Maps | Sources

The No. 18 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) opened in the fall of 1943 as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program, the largest such facility in western Canada. The site in the Municipality of Gimli had some 50 structures, including six double hangars, built at a cost of $1,250,000. Construction was done by a consortium of builders, including the Bird Construction Company of Winnipeg, W. B. Ramsay Construction of Regina/Lumsden, and W. C. Wells Construction of Saskatoon. The school opened formally on 29 October 1943, though classes had begun several weeks prior. An opening ceremony on 20 January 1944, attended by Municipal Affairs Minister William Morton, involved a air show demonstration and graduation. The event was attended by Municipal Affairs Minister William Morton and a crowd of 500. The school closed in June 1945 with staff transferring to No. 17 Service Flying Training School.

The facility was later used as an air cadet training centre and summer camp for western auxiliary squadrons. Facilities were upgraded and, on 8 January 1950, the base was returned to an active flying school for member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At the time, the facility was Canada’s second such appointed flying school, known as No. 2 Flying Training School (FTS) with the other, known as No. 1 Flying Training School, located at Centralia, Ontario (near London). The FTS was active by the summer of 1950 with hosting capacity for 1,000 base staff and military trainee pilots. The FTS operated separately from the RCAF Gimli Station, though under a shared Commanding Officer. A grade school was also operated nearby for the children of base staff, and the site had a 35-bed hospital. The base was closed 1 September 1971.

The Gimli Industrial Park Airport, formerly the Canadian Forces Base Gimli, is today an operational civilian airport. One of the original parallel runways has been decommissioned and is being used by Gimli Motorsports Park as a dragstrip and road racing track. The industrial park buildings are home to many private businesses and government departments. The military residences are now occupied by civilians and referred to as Aspen Park.

Commanding Officers

Period

Commanding Officer

1943-1944

Group Captain Acheson Gosford Goulding (1893-1951)

1945

Wing Commander E. A. Weaver

1945-1947

?

1947

Squadron Leader R. D. Walker

1947-?

?

?-1950

Wing Commander P. S. Delaney

1950-1951

Wing Commander Harry Bishop

1951

Wing Commander Maurice Lipton

1951

Group Captain D. B. Richer

1954-1956

?

1956

Wing Commander N. Burden (Acting)

1956-1962

?

1962-1964

Group Captain G. Sutherland

1964-1968

?

1968

Colonel M. J. Doher

1968-1971

Colonel James F. Dunlop

Photos & Coordinates

Aerial view of Gimli air base

Aerial view of Gimli air base (1971)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, FRED/ARDA administration photographs and slides (A
0222), GR0107, Interlake Communities - Gimli

Aerial view of Gimli industrial park

Aerial view of Gimli industrial park (1973)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, FRED/ARDA administration photographs and slides (A 0222), GR0107, Industry - Gimli Industrial Park

Hangar from the former Canadian Forces Base Gimli

Hangar from the former Canadian Forces Base Gimli (September 2018)
Source: George Penner

Air control tower from the former Canadian Forces Base Gimli

Air control tower from the former Canadian Forces Base Gimli (September 2018)
Source: George Penner

Former military housing at the Canadian Forces Base Gimli

Former military housing at the Canadian Forces Base Gimli (September 2018)
Source: George Penner

Auto racing at the former Canadian Forces Base Gimli

Auto racing at the former Canadian Forces Base Gimli (July 1979)
Source: George Penner

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N50.63372, W97.04716
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 1 Air Navigation School (Wheatland, Municipality of Riverdale)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 1 Air Navigation School Monument (Municipality of Riverdale)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 5 Air Observers School (Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School (Macdonald, RM of Portage la Prairie)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 7 Bombing and Gunnery School (Paulson, RM of Dauphin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 14 Elementary Flying Training School / No. 7 Air Observers School (Southport, RM of Portage la Prairie)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 19 Elementary Flying Training School (RM of Wallace-Woodworth)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 26 Elementary Flying Training School (Municipality of North Cypress-Langford)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 26 Elementary Flying Training School, Eden Relief Field / Eden Airport (RM of Rosedale)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 10 Service Flying Training School / Barker Airport (RM of Dauphin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 10 Service Flying Training School, North Junction Relief Field (RM of Dauphin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 10 Service Flying Training School, Valley River Relief Field (RM of Dauphin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 12 Service Flying Training School / Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (Brandon)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 12 Service Flying Training School, Chater Relief Field / Chater Aerodrome (RM of Elton)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 12 Service Flying Training School, Douglas Relief Field (Municipality of North Cypress-Langford)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 17 Service Flying Training School (Municipality of Souris-Glenwood)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 17 Service Flying Training School, Hartney Relief Field / Hartney Aerodrome (Municipality of Grassland)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 18 Service Flying Training School / No. 2 Flying Training School / Canadian Forces Base Gimli / Gimli Industrial Park Airport (Municipality of Gimli)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 18 Service Flying Training School, Netley Relief Field / Netley Field (RM of St. Andrews)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 33 Service Flying Training School (Municipality of North Cypress-Langford)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 33 Service Flying Training School, Oberon Relief Field / Oberon Aerodrome (Municipality of North Cypress-Langford)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 33 Service Flying Training School, Petrel Relief Field / Petrel Aerodrome (Municipality of North Cypress-Langford)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 3 Wireless School (500 Shaftesbury Boulevard, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Brandon Winter Fair Building / Brandon Arena / No. 2 Manning Depot (Eleventh Street, Brandon)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 5 Release Centre / Jameswood Place South (Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: No. 8 Repair Depot / Jameswood Place (Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Goulding School No. 2337 (Maple Street, RM of Gimli)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: CFB Gimli Memorial (Gimli, RM of Gimli)

Sources:

“Vast Manitoba RCAF plans,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 August 1942, page 5.

“Another Gimli contract let for $1,250,000,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 August 1942, page 15.

“School opens,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 November 1943, page 4.

“Brandon air graduates attain high standings,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 September 1943, page 2.

“Gimli school officially opened by “air war”,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 January 1944, page 10.

“Wing-Cmdr Goulding Promoted to Group Captain,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 June 1944, page 5.

“Gimli Air School may train men for Far East,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 June 1945, page 17.

[Photo caption], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 July 1947, page 3.

“Gimli-based aircraft bomb field in fast-moving aerial manoeuvres [sic],” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 July 1949, page 21.

“Battle tempo returns to Gimli; RCAF School goes full-time,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 December 1950, page 1.

“Where to put them all? Town asks cottagers for help,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 December 1950, page 1.

“800 Western Air Cadets fly, play, eat at Gimli,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 July 1950, page 3.

“Training opens at Gimli Station with no fanfare,” Lethbridge Herald, 12 January 1951, page 2.

[Photo caption], Winnipeg Free Press, 24 January 1951, page 3.

“New crop of ‘refresher’ pilots ‘rarin’ to go at Gimli school,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 March 1951, page 9.

“Old soldier’s gift,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 April 1951, page 3.

“Inquiry to seek crash cause,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 October 1954, page 1.

“Fog grounds polar plane, singer drops in on RCAF,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 January 1956, page 3.

“Gimli C of C elects new officers,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 December 1962, page 13.

[Photo caption], Winnipeg Free Press, 26 April 1971, page 11.

“Gimli given jet plane,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 1971, page 55.

Manitoba School Records Collection (GR2047), Goulding School - Committee Minutes, Archives of Manitoba.

We thank Robert Morrison, Anne Brazeau, and George Penner for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 13 July 2022

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