NATO Pilots’ “Wings” Course 5615

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This site provides information and memorabilia relevant to the NATO Course 5615 RCAF “Wings” flying course.

Flying training in the RCAF

After the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme ended, following victory in the WWII, Canada had acquired a great deal of experience training allied pilots. With the advent of NATO, this expertise was applied in the service of this new defence alliance and, by the time the NATO training program ended in 1960, had trained pilots (and navigators) from all the NATO countries except the US.

This website is a 50th anniversary commemoration of one group of pilots who underwent training under this scheme from February 12th 1957 to St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) 1958. We started at Centralia, Ontario on DeHavilland Chipmunks, moved through North American Harvards (MkII and MkIV) at Penhold, Alberta, and finished at Portage La Prairie and Macdonald, both in Manitoba, on Lockheed Silver Star jets, or T-Birds—the two-seat version of the Shooting Star jet fighter. The pilots were a motley crew, from Canada (“Canucks”), Belgium, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK (“Limeys”). We also have contact with some of the navigators who started either with the Kirton-in-Lindsay “95” Course, or the Canadian basic training course 5615 at Centralia in Ontario, who went on to learn their navigational skills at the Stephenson base in Winnipeg. If you were a member of any of these groups, please contact the webmaster.

This site is complete and reasonably up-to-date, while the planned reunion took place in September 2007 in the UK with 19 of the original 59 graduates of the FTS course at Penhold attending with their spouses—the number comprising nearly half those still living because ten members had died, many in the course of flying duties. Details of the reunion, with pictures, appear as one of the later items in LAFTER—Life After FTS Through Eventual Retirement. The reunion included lunch at the British House of Commons and attendance at the Battle of Britain air display at Shoreham in Sussex

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Page created 2006
Last modified: Wed Sep 19 17:52:46 PDT 2012