mounted Harvard trainer at airport
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Penhold crestPenhold Base 1939-1995

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 Penhold station, mostly from Britain. Two additional hangars were built.
Airspeed Oxford trainerThe 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.
Harvard trainersThe 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 Harvards.
Anderson of Craigmyle School before demolitionHouses, 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.
Penhold radar crestIn 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.
bunker during demolitionA 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.
cadet flag ceremonyThe 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 or


Harvard Historical Aviation Society logo
Diverse, Interactive, Educational - Plane History

A commemoration and celebration of the history of
the Penhold military base

Harvard Historical Aviation Society


Springbrook logo
Community Association


Sustainable Future,
Respectful Past


Paul at Red Deer Tourism

Rails and Trails
Innovative Transportation
Heritage Celebration
Regional Rail History

Paul Pettypiece
Consulting, Research
bold vision
a visitor destination with
4 unique attractions
featuring a ground transportation theme


Forth Junction Heritage Society
within a proposed family trail, rail and transit activity and heritage park
Forth Junction Project

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