The Canadian Aviation Moments were submitted by Dennis Casper from the Roland Groome (Regina) Chapter of the CAHS. The questions and the answers are now being published together in the same e-newsletter, rather than questions one month and the answers the next. We are hoping this instant gratification might encourage more interest and research by our readers. Spoiler alert - if you read any further than each question, you will find the answer to June's questions directly below. Good luck and have fun!

The Canadian Aviation Moments questions and answers for June are:

Question: How many Canadians were in RAF service as aircrew at the outbreak of World War II?

Answer: “During the 1920s and early 1930s, a trickle of worthy Canadian lads joined the RAF through nomination to the RAF Cadet College at Cranwell, and also as recent graduates of Canada’s Royal Military College. Once rearmament commenced in earnest during the mid-1930s, an ever-increasing number of “Imperials” applied to join the RAF as both aircrew and ground crew. Hugh Halliday maintains that as many as 950 CAN/RAF aircrew, serving as both commissioned and non-commissioned members, and many additional members in the ground trades may have been in RAF service at the outbreak of the war. However, Halliday feels that there would not have been more than 700 CAN/RAF pilots or observers who had achieved a measure of operational proficiency by that time.”

Source: No Prouder Place – Canadians and the Bomber Command Experience 1939-1945 – Page 20


Question: What was the World War II fighter pilots’ survival tactic?

Answer: “They climbed to height as quickly as was permitted, and they treasured possession of an altitude advantage. The pilot’s hope was to sight the enemy before he himself was sighted and use his slight advantage to gain a position between the enemy aircraft and the sun. Diving out of the sun, he was virtually invisible to his foe. He accelerated in the dive and positioned himself to attack the rear of the formation. Thus he hoped to avoid their defensive fire and maintain enough speed to carry out a successful attack on his first dive and still be able to maneuver away. If the attack failed, a dedicated professional fighter pilot used his speed to flee in order to fight another day rather than pursue an alerted enemy.”

Source: Canada’s World War II Aces – Introduction (1st Page)


Question: Who devised the name “Snowbirds” for Canada’s formation team? What year did the Snowbirds first appear, and where was their first appearance? How many shows did they do in the first year and what was the public’s reaction?

Answer: “The new team was named “Snowbirds,” the result of a name-the-team contest held at the base elementary school in June 1971. The winning entry was submitted by Doug Farmer, a Grade 6 student. The team first appeared as the Snowbirds at the Saskatchewan Homecoming Air Show in 1971. This performance was followed by appearances at other major air shows and at military bases across Canada. During their first show season, the team performed twenty-seven times. Public response indicated that re-establishing a Canadian formation team was a popular move.”

Source: Snowbirds –Behind The Scenes With Canada’s Air Demonstration Team – By Mike Sroka – Page 23