Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette –  62 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Training

​Margaret Littlewood - Link Trainer Instructor
In World War II, thousands of men, both civilian and enlisted in the air force, provided valuable training at all levels to over 131,000 students from the air forces of British Commonwealth countries. Women were encouraged and recruited as civilians and air force staff into dozens of different trades in the Commonwealth air forces so that men could be released to take on combat roles. Although they were trusted in many jobs, women were not allowed to be instructors in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. One woman managed to enter and find success in this world exclusively allowed to men.

Margaret Littlewood was that woman. She started her career in aviation as a flying instructor at Barker Field in Downsview Ontario at the school where she earned her flying licenses. In 1942, civilian flying schools closed down when fuel for aircraft became unavailable because of gas rationing. Out of work, Littlewood applied for work at the 10 Air Observer Schools in the BCATP located across Canada. A stroke of luck was delivered to her when World War I flying ace and manager of No. Air Observers School in Edmonton Alberta W.R. `Wop’ May asked her take an open position as a Link Trainer Instructor.  At that time, the Link Trainer was a sophisticated flight simulator used by the air force to give flying experience to new students, especially with instrument flying procedures.

Littlewood came into this job with absolutely no experience with the Link Trainer but by watching other instructors on the job and the recording equipment on the Link’s control desk along with experiencing flying with her students, she quickly caught on to the job  and became very proficient. While working at No. 2 AOS, Littlewood was offered additional Link training duties with the Royal Air Force Ferry Command Centre in Dorval Quebec. In the three years she was in this job, she logged over 1200 hours of instruction time with 150 students at No. 2 AOS..
After World War II, she continued with aviation by completing all three levels of the commercial pilot license training – one of three women in Canada to do so. In 1954, Margaret joined the Canadian Ministry of Transport where she worked until 1980. In 1982 she was awarded the Amelia Earhart Award by the `Ninety-Nines’ international organization of women pilots for her pioneering achievements in advanced flying training.

Margaret Littlewood passed away on February 5, 2012 at the age of 96 years.

Attached are some photos of Margaret Littlewood at work as a Link Trainer Instructor for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.