Brandford's Municipal Airport was built as the RCAF's No. 5 Service Flying Training School during World War II. No. 5 SFTS opened in November 1940 to train student pilots on the Anson, a twin-engine aircraft. Most trained for bomber and transport operations. The first Wings parade took place in January 1941 when 13 airmen graduated as Pilot Officers and 25 as Sergeant pilots. Of these 38, 13 were sent to the Central Flying School at Trenton for instructor training, 23 to the Overseas Pool at Rockcliffe and two were held on charge for low flying. The class' only failure was recommended for Observer training and remustered to No. 1 Manning Depot.
No. 5 SFTS saw its share of aircraft mishaps although some of these could clearly have been avoided. One of the student pilots must have been really keen on testing his "ground-hugging" skills as he was daring enough to fly over a CNR work-crew so low that he hit a load of railroad ties on a hand car. By doing so, part of one of his wings tore off striking one of the railroad crew-members, but fortunately, without seriously injuring him. This airman was given 42 days detention, to be served at No. 1 Manning Depot Detention Barracks, but did return for a subsequent flying course to earn his wings. Other airmen weren't so lucky. One died by walking into a revolving propellor and a few others, in a mid-air collision upon ground approach.
At Brantford, the Commanding Officer and staff were held in high regard by local citizens. Hospitality was even extended by the natives from the Six Nations Reserve. The CO, Group Captain Johnson, was so well-regarded by local natives that he was made an honorary Indian chief and given a Mohwak name, "Da-Ha-Dahs", meaning "One Who Flies", along with a special sash, all during a colorful ceremony. Few officers across Canada received such an honour.
No. 5 SFTS closed on 17 November 1944. In its four years, it graduated 2143 Pilots and as Brantford was a twin-engine school, these were assigned to bomber and transport operations. This school was one of the few SFTSs to have its own official crest and motto, the latter being: "Omnes Condiscimus" (We Study Everything).
The day after No. 5's disbandment, the aerodrome became a holding facility for surplus equipment and was dubbed the No. 4 Reserve Equipment Maintenance Unit. The Unit controlled similar facilities, called REM Satellites, at Hamilton, Dunnville, Jarvis and Port Albert. No. 4 REMU disbanded in April 1946 and its functions at Brantford were then absorbed by the RCAF's 6 Repair Depot.
Today, little of the airport remains. Three of the seven original hangars still stand but none of the barracks remain. The airport is now used by the Brantford Flying Club and Canadian Blue Bird Coach Limited. It is located on the north side of combined highways 24/53 a few kilometers west of the city.
Our thanks to Paul Ozorak for making this detail available and providing valuable information about #5 SFTS.
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Updated: June 6, 2005