Canada 150: The RCAF celebrates its contribution to our great nation

News Article / July 1, 2017

Shortly before Canada Day, the commander and chief warrant officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force sent the following message to the airmen and airwomen of the RCAF.

From Lieutenant-General Mike Hood and Chief Warrant Officer Gérard Poitras

As Canadians from coast to coast to coast prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation in a few days, we are reminded of the crucial role that the Royal Canadian Air Force has played in the development of our great nation and the growth of our Canadian identity.

The first movement towards a national air force occurred in 1914, a mere five years after the Silver Dart flew Canada’s first powered, heavier-than-air flight from the frozen surface of Lake Bras D’Or in Cape Breton. Canadian airmen flocked to join the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War and, in 1917, many joined the first military pilot training program in Canada to train for service overseas – a centennial that the RCAF is celebrating this year.

The interwar period brought us the bush pilots, many of whom had served during the war. They helped open up our frontiers, including the Far North. During that time, as new aerial photography techniques revolutionized map-making, the RCAF was heavily engaged in mapping the whole of the Canadian land mass.

With the Second World War came an increased emphasis on the RCAF as a national institution. A new aircrew training program in Canada was, in contrast to the previous war, operated and managed by the RCAF. In addition, Canada insisted on establishment of RCAF squadrons, under RCAF command, to serve overseas. Many of you now serve in those squadrons.

Fast forward to today. You, the men and women of the RCAF, serve with pride, professionalism, and dedication every day, on missions essential for the protection of Canada and Canadians, and the maintenance of international peace and security. But concretely, as the only one of the three services able to reach every square metre of our vast nation, the RCAF is the Guarantor of Canadian sovereignty.  This applies equally whether your role is on the ground, in the air, or focussed in space.

Canadian geography, sovereignty and history is meshed with our own RCAF history, and this drives our doctrine, our roles, and our understanding of our responsibilities to Canada.

You, and all Canadians who have served in military aviation, are therefore part of Canadian history. As we celebrate 150 years of Canadian confederation and look forward to a bright future, stand tall as Canadians and as members of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Be proud of the contribution you make to our great nation as we are proud of you.

For, in the words of the RCAF’s motto, Sic Itur Ad Astra – such is the pathway to the stars.

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