Monday, April 06, 2009

My World Tuesday - High Flight

I was sitting reading and having my morning coffee on Sunday when my quiet was disrupted by a hard working small plane engine. After several passes I finally got up to see what was "up"! I immediately recognized a small aircraft towing a glider. I had heard about the old remains at the Picton Airport, today was a good day to go check it out.

During World War II, the United Kingdom was under siege and required training facilities outside the British Isles for the thousands of pilots needed for defense. Britian signed an agreement with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States known as the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. A 130 training facilities were built in Canada with the other three countries supplying aircraft and men.
Because of geographical similarities to Great Britain, sparsely populated Prince Edward County was considered an ideal location for an RAF Bombing and Gunnery School. In the summer of 1940, an aerodrome was rapidly constructed and in November 1940 the RCAF moved in and began small arms training at the facility. In April 1941, the RAF took over the base as No. 31 Bombing and Gunnery School and used it to train many of the aviators needed to help defend Britain as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.


Following the end of the war, the Canadian Army maintained a training facility at the old aerodrome. It was renamed Camp Picton in 1960 when it became a fully operational Army base. In 1966, it was renamed Canadian Forces Base Picton, but this was shortlived - in 1969 the base was closed down and sold as part of the consolidation and downsizing of the Canadian military. Portions of the base have been divided up and have served many functions, including conversion of one of the newer barracks sections into a hospital (now defunct) and much of the old base housing is currently occupied as rental homes. The airfield is now known as Picton Airport.


The original aerodrome facilities were built using different construction methods than most bases built by the Canadian military. The rapid construction meant that the hangars and other buildings were not designed for longevity, although most still remain standing today. The former Camp Picton now serves many diverse functions but the unique appearance of the base makes it a significant, if obscure, historical landmark.

Picton Airport is a general aviation airport used primarily for recreational flying. It is also used regularly in the summer season for Canadian Air Cadet flight training using Schweizer SGS 2-33A glider sailplanes and Bellanca Scout 8GCBC aircraft.


Due to its distinctive appearance, the dilapidated airport has been used as a filming location for several productions. External scenes for the made-for-TV film Haven,starring Natasha Richardson, Colm Feore and Martin Landau were filmed there. It also served as a backdrop for the 1993 CBC production Dieppe, and was the filming location of Bomber Boys and the 2005 reality-TV show Canada's Worst Driver.


Many businesses use the facilities, including a hammock outlet, an auction house, and (since the late 1970s) the local Air Cadet squadron, 851 RC(Air)CS, Prince Edward which left that location in 2004.

A little bit of trivia...windsocks are used to determine wind direction and relative wind speed. An airport windsock must, as per FAA Standards fully extend the sock in a 15 knot(17 mph, 28 kph)wind and orient the windsock to wind direction with a 3 knot (3.5 mph, 5.6 kph)breeze and withstand windspeeds up to 75 knots(86 mph, 140 kph) and ambient temperature between -67°F (-55°C) and 131°F (+55°C.)! To learn about more great places from around the world go to MY WORLD TUESDAY.

19 comments:

Cedar ... said...

Very interesting! Thanks for the history and the great photos.

mrsnesbitt said...

Wow! Great stuff here, we learn so much from each other! Love your job title...an explorer...wow!

Violet said...

Funny how things built as temporary structures end up withstanding the ravages of time.

It's great to learn about what's in my own backyard!

Deborah Godin said...

Great post! I had no idea about any of that, and it's so (relatively) close by. Cool! I sure wouldn't mind having a garden-size wind sock at my place.

Martha said...

Very interesting post.
I see from your profile that a favorite book is "I heard the owl call my name". I haven't read the book but I watched the made for TV movie at least 5 times. It is one of my all time favorites.

George said...

Thank you for a very interesting post about a part of your world. I enjoyed the history as well as the pictures. Thanks, too, for visiting my site.

fishing guy said...

Carolyn: Neat facts from your world. This is something I'd never heard about.

I liked your glider phots.

Clara said...

Fascinating place. Thanks for the history lesson. And the windsock info. Who knew it had temperature specifications?

SandyCarlson said...

The reach of that war is frightening.

Rob Inukshuk said...

Most interesting. I had no idea of the Brits having training facilities here until I researched Norway Park in Toronto and found that Norwegian Airmen were trained at Toronto's Island Airport by the Brits who did quite a bit of training in Canada.

As you say, significant, yet obscure history. Thanks for sharing some good history.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Loved the history, and all your photos, nice reflection on the last photo

Nessa said...

Cool looking place. I can see why they use it for movie sets.

Lindab said...

Rather forlorn now, but full of history. One of my uncles trained as a pilot with the RAF in Canada during the war. tho I don't know exactly where.

Digital Polaroids said...

Beautiful post

marites said...

imagine that..it has withstand the test of time. It's good that somehow it's still in use. Its historical significance should always be maintained, i hope. Really nice information you have in the post:)

Janie said...

Interesting to learn about the airport. I like the reflection shot of the building in water.

Reya Mellicker said...

Really great history, thank you!

I love the reflection pic, of course.

How do people work up the nerve to get in gliders? Yikes.

soulbrush said...

enjoyed the info about these shots.

Anonymous said...

we just drove by this area - quite by accident - it was so beautiful & so unique & so desolate all at the same time - wondered how to find out what it was without calling picton township or my good friend - who is relatively new to the area - we've camped and toured the area for quite some time - "WOW" thanks for filling in the blanks - love to visit & take some of my own photos....

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