We found an interesting account of British Commonwealth Air Training Plan activity in Pearce Alberta on a great website -- (http://www.timothyallanjohnston.com/a-daily-diary-history-of-rcaf-station-pearce-alberta.html). 

It has a selection of excerpts from the daily reports written for the various schools that were located there during World War II. It is the story of a BCATP school where no one seemed sure what its purpose was to be.

Pearce first played host to No. 36 Elementary Flying Training School which opened on March 30 1942. It was open for 137 days to the Royal Air Force which used de Havilland Tiger Moth and Boeing Stearman aircraft for flying training. For all Canadian wartime training, the Stearman was used only by three RAF elementary schools, all located in Alberta.  On May 31 1942, the school had 69 Stearman and 14 Tiger Moth aircraft.

In anticipation of opening, the school became home for 32 officers and 304 airmen, all RAF, who arrived on March 17 1942. On arrival, personnel were given the opportunity to exchange a maximum of 10 British pounds to Canadian dollars. They were also allowed pay advances in the amount of  $50 for officers, $25 for Warrant 

The Boeing Stearman 

(from the Glenbow Museum)

Officers, $15 for Flight Sergeants and Sergeants and $10 for Corporals and below. Students did arrive with the officers and airmen in March and another 90 students arrived from an overseas voyage to Moncton New Brunswick in early April.  

The short-lived station magazine for No. 36 EFTS was ``The Elevator.’’

There were three fatalities as a result of one mid-air collision at No. 36 EFTS. After operating for four short months, the school was relocated on July 14 1942 to another RAF school due to the high winds at Pearce which students could not cope with in light aircraft.

No. 3 Air Observer School succeeded No. 36 EFTS at Pearce on September 12 1942. It was open for 267 days.  The school, under the command of the Royal Canadian Air Force, was operated by a private company known as Prairie Flying Training Ltd. which provided staff pilots and ground crew for the RCAF. Instruction was provided by RCAF staff. The first 43 trainees arrived with 12 staff and six officers on September 12 1943 for one Bomb Aimer and two Navigation Courses. By December 31 1942, the school was home to 14 RCAF staff officers, 2 RCAF WD officers, 2 nursing sisters, 69 RCAF staff airmen, along with 83 trainees of which 68 were RCAF, 11 were RAF, 2 were Royal Australian Air Force and 2 were Royal New Zealand Air Force trainees.

On January 22 1943, a Wings Parade was given to honour Course 65 which graduated 10 RCAF, 11 RAF, 2 RNZAF and 2 RAAF Air Bomber grads. There were no wash outs. On April 15 1943 another Wings Parade was given in honour of the  Course 66 Navigators of which 25 were Royal Australian airmen and 1 was from the RCAF.  There was one wash-out. All of the graduates were posted to No. 1 Y Depot in Halifax Nova Scotia.

No. 3 AOS was originally located in Regina Saskatchewan. With the move to Pearce, Regina was reclassified as No. 3 AOS Detachment. Pearce did not have the facilities that other Air Observer Schools had and could not accommodate a full complement of students. As such, Regina continued to train a portion of the classes.

As of December 31 1942, No. 3 AOS in Pearce operated a total of 19 Avro Anson, 2 Cessna Crane and 1 Stinson aircraft.

Open for less than one year, the writing was on the wall again for the school in Pearce. On April 3 1943, two  courses were moved to the Regina detachment leaving only one at Pearce. The last course to graduate at Pearce was in April 1943. By the time No. 3 AOS closed down in Pearce on June 6 1943, all of its personnel had been dispersed to other schools and No. 3 AOS Regina Detachment closed when three remaining courses graduated.

Pearce finished out the war as No. 2 Flying Instructor School which had been moved from Vulcan Alberta on April 26 1943. It was in operation for 646 days and closed on January 31 1945. 


After closure, Pearce was used until 1960 for the storage and disposition of aircraft no longer needed  by the Royal Canadian Air Force. It became the final resting place for many aircraft prior to ``breaking-up'' and transport to the scrapper.

Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette - 010 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Stations
​No. 36 Elementary Flying Training Schhol

No. 3 Air Observer School

No. 2 Flying Instructor School

​Pearce Alberta