For decades, many a keen member of “the aviation circle” has dropped in to the former British Commonwealth Air Training Plan aerodrome north of Gananoque, Ontario. The place had been built in the early 1940s as a relief, or, secondary field to serve No.31 service Flying Training School at Kingston (see “RCAF Station Kingston” on wiki). “Back in the day” No.31 SFTS was doing advance training mainly for RAF student pilots on the Battle, initially, then, on the Harvard, once they were available.
A relief field served several roles. Instructors could take students there from the busy Kingston circuit to practice “touch-and-goes” and other procedures; advanced solo students could do the same. If a runway incident closed a runway at Kingston, Gananoque would save the day, the same if local weather conditions closed Kingston, while Gananoque still was open. Such fields were bare bones. They had the standard BCATP runway layout, but usually just one small hangar, a few other basic buildings and a skeleton staff.
After the war most relief fields soon disappeared. Local farmers often bought the buildings and equipment (even some airplanes, if any were lying about), then the place normally reverted to agricultural use. It’s a bit of a miracle that Gananoque survived, certainly passed 1960. I don’t know how this happened, but a few such aerodromes did have temporary RCAF use postwar. Carman, Manitoba, for example, was used for aircraft storage into the 1960s. Does anyone know what purpose Gananoque served from 1945 into the 1960s?
One thing we do know is that – subsequently — the place was taken over for skydiving in 1971 when the Gananoque Sport Parachuting Centre opened. The company website is sparse about history, but does mention that in 2020 the founding family remains in charge. My last visit was in 2015, but Richard Mallory Allnutt visited in 2018, so has some more current info. His follow-up article is published on the web in “Warbird Digest”. ere it is: http://warbirdsnews.com/warbirds- news/the-ghost-of-gananoque-a-flying-boat-in-a-barn.html This is really tops — well research and smoothly written. Richard polished up his story with some good solid photography, so be sure to have a close read. You’ll love it! I like his reference to the old Hitchcock “North by Northwest” – the dusty road leading to the field would remind any film buff of that great classic flick. Meanwhile, here are a few of my Gananoque photos from my visit of August 23, 2015. Have fun … Larry
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