Introduction

This history began as a story of the relief landing ground that bore the name of our small town for the Gananoque Historical Society, but immediately came the realization that it had to be a story of the Kingston airdrome as well. The history was well recorded in the local newspapers which were available at the Gananoque and Kingston Libraries, as well as Queen’s University Library. The Commanding Officers’ diaries were available on inter-library loan, but it was necessary to visit the National Archives in order to read the Courts of Inquiry files. To add to these facts, I have been fortunate in that I have quotations and stories from several of the men who were stationed here which add greatly to the story.

Researching the crashes was difficult and I want especially to commemorate the sacrifice of the young men who died while serving here. When further research into the names of graduates revealed that a large number of them died after returning to the U.K. for training and while on active service, I added an In Memoriam page for them as well. None of the stories should be forgotten.

I’m grateful to everyone for stories and photos, but am sorry I didn’t complete it in time for more of them to see the finished product.

A printed version is available so contact me for information on purchasing one. It is a very good story and I’d like think there will be people interested in the history as not just one of local interest in Kingston and Gananoque but also one that will be of interest to those who want to know more about the contribution of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan to the war effort in the air and at sea. Since No. 31 S.F.T.S. was operated by the R.A.F. and the only one training Fleet Air Arm pilots in Canada, it is an opportunity to highlight their training and the special role they played in the war at sea. I’ve included as many names as I could find in records to help anyone with their own research.

This is a chronological history of both the Kingston and Gananoque airports and includes much detail. It was important to me to include all the facts, the personal stories I could find, and a bit of humour to soften the very sad and tragic stories of the deaths that are chronicled throughout the history.

When I attended the dances as a young teenager, I wasn’t thinking of a history that would preserve the memories of the airports. I was at the crash site on Kidd’s Mountain and at the dance when A/LA Garbutt was killed. The memories of the good times and the bad times are always there in the back of my mind. No one has attempted to write the history of No. 31, so I decided to do my best. Hope it passes inspection.

This story is dedicated to the memory of the Fleet Air Arm, the instructors who trained them, and the air force staff that kept the planes flying.

I’m very grateful to my grandson, Jeffrey Chase, for taking on the task of designing the website and placing the history and photographs online.

Per Ardua ad Astra

Geraldine Dailey Chase
Gananoque, Ontario

Chapter 1: The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan