In 1939, land was purchased and prepared for a
future airfield. Construction began on what was to become R.A.F. No. 36 Service Flying
Training School, one of several flying schools across Canada as part of
the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, an agreement with
Britain to train Commonwealth pilots, a key component in
Canada's contribution to World War II. By late 1940, 31 buildings and
5 large double hangers had been built and were used briefly as a
RCAF Manning Depot. No. 36 SFTS officially
opened in 1941 when a train brought in 600 officers and men to
mostly from Britain. Two additional hangars were built.
facility started with 20 training aircraft with others in reserve. The
trainers were primarily twin-engine Airspeed Oxfords. Eventually there were close to 200 Oxford trainers
on site and well over 1,200 pilots graduated. A rail spur was
built from the CPR line nearby primarily to supply coal to the
steam plant at the base.
The air training school and airfield closed in 1944 with only a
military radio station remaining. Much of the electronic equipment was
destroyed in 1945 and, except for the hangars, most of the
buildings were demolished.
The base started preparing to re-open in 1951 as a #4 Flying
Training School for NATO but the actual training didn't start
until 1953. In 1954, a maintenance hangar was destroyed in a
multi-million dollar fire. The primary training aircraft were
Houses, duplexes and townhouses were built in 1954 adjacent to
the base for officers and their families. The new residential
area was called Mynarski
Park (named after P/O Andrew Charles Mynarski, one of the R.C.A.F.'s two
Victoria Cross recipients). In the same year, Anderson of
Craigmyle School opened (Grades 1-8) named after the Anderson
family of the area who had lost 3 sons in the War.
In 1961, the #43 Radar Station started construction about
24 kilometres east of the base and opened in 1964. Most of the
radar personnel lived in Red Deer and the radar site closed in 1986. #743 Communications
Squadron also called CFB Penhold home.
A 77,000 sq. ft. bunker was secretly constructed on the east side
of the base and opened in 1964. It was designed to house
provincial leaders in the event of a major emergency and it
housed the Provincial Warning Centre. A secondary bunker was
built several miles away. The bunker was sold in 1995, bought
back by DND and
demolished in 2001.
In 1965, military flying operations ceased and the City of Red
Deer operated the airport for several years until the regional
airport authority took over in 1999.
The base was named CFB Penhold in 1966 as the result of
unification of the armed forces. Leadership and radar schools
operated from 1973 to 1986. A summer cadet camp operated in some
form since the Second World War and to this day, space is leased
during the summer for various programs that involve up to 1700 cadets.
In 1990, CFB Penhold was downgraded to a detachment of CFB
Edmonton. Most operations ceased in 1992 and completely closed
down in 1995 when it was sold to private developers, at which
time the residential area was renamed Springbrook.
For more on the Penhold base, visit