Welcome to Claresholm Airport, an idyllic aviation destination nestled amidst the breathtaking beauty of southern Alberta, surrounded by prairies and world class Mountain scenery to the west.
Owned and operated by the Municipal District of Willow Creek, this airport is a proud asset of the local community and well supported by our local government officials and administration.
Claresholm Airport not only serves as a premier aviation facility but is also home to Lancaster Drive - Aircraft Hangar Subdivision, 15 fully serviced, freehold hanger lots with taxiway access. Lancaster Drive provides a unique opportunity for pilots and aviation enthusiasts to establish their own private hangar spaces, come and book yours today!
Our airport boasts a meticulously maintained 3,000-foot asphalt runway and dedicated taxiway, capable of accommodating a wide range of aircraft. Whether you're soaring through the skies in a private plane, honing your skills as a student pilot, or operating a commercial flight, our top-notch facilities are designed to cater to your needs.
Our airport fosters a vibrant aviation community. Join us and you too can connect with like-minded enthusiasts, share stories, and indulge in your passion for flight. Come and experience the unparalleled joy of flying at Claresholm Airport, where every journey begins with the endless possibilities of the open sky.
A Rich Aviation History
The Claresholm Airport has been an integral part of the local community and it has served as a hub for aviation-related activities, fly-ins, and community events. The airport has also played a role in emergency services, providing a base for an advanced driving course for Police and Peace Officers.
To support increased aviation activities, the Claresholm Airport underwent infrastructure development and modernization under the guidance of The MD of Willow Creek. Focused on significant upgraders to the main runway and taxiway and a recent civilian aviation hanger subdivision, the MD of Willow Creek is backing Claresholm Airport and ensuring a successful future.
The Claresholm Airport continues to operate as a thriving general aviation facility. It serves a range of users, including private pilots, flight schools, and aviation businesses. The airport remains an important asset to the local community, fostering economic growth, recreational opportunities, and contributing to the rich aviation heritage of the region.
The Claresholm Airport, located in Claresholm, Alberta, Canada, has a rich history that spans several decades.
In the early stages of the Second World War, a groundbreaking initiative called the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) took flight. The program witnessed the graduation of an astonishing 130,000 personnel from Great Britain, Canada, and other Commonwealth nations, as they honed their skills at 107 training schools scattered across Canada.
On June 9, 1941, the aerodrome west of Claresholm sprang to life as No. 15 Service Flying Training School, serving as a crucial component of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
Not far from the main aerodrome, two Relief Landing Fields were established near the quaint villages of Woodhouse and Pultney. These relief fields, complete with hangars, maintenance facilities, and barracks for overnight stays, offered support and additional training opportunities. Some of these fields even accommodated advanced training units specializing in bombing or gunnery exercises.
No. 15 SFTS, a distinguished advanced flying training school, became the training ground for budding aviators, immersing them in the complexities of twin-engine Avro-Anson and Cessna Crane aircraft. The inaugural class comprised approximately forty young Canadian pilots, and subsequent training courses welcomed aspiring pilots from Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, and even America. Despite the latter country's initial reluctance to engage in the war, numerous Americans eagerly enlisted in Commonwealth air forces.
From April to September 1942, the Aerodrome also played host to No. 2 Flight Instructor School, until its relocation to Vulcan.
With the conclusion of the European conflict, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan came to an end, leading to the closure of No. 15 SFTS on May 30, 1945. An impressive 1800 pilots received their coveted wings in a remarkable "Wings Parade" as they graduated from the school.
In the following years, the station continued to operate with a modest caretaker staff, though its activities were significantly scaled down during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
However, the Detachments at Woodhouse and Pultney were ultimately abandoned. Today, the abandoned runways still endure in Woodhouse, while Pultney has left no trace of its existence.
The post-war expansion of the RCAF breathed new life into several WWII stations. RCAF Station Claresholm, revived in 1951 under the NATO Aircrew Training Plan, served as the home of No. 3 Flying Training School (3 FTS). Similar to its predecessor, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the NATO Air Training Plan brought together aircrew trainees from various countries within the NATO Alliance.
The station experienced significant growth compared to its WWII days, necessitating the construction of over 140 housing units for the families of permanent staff members. Moreover, a modern eight-room school, two churches, a grocery store, and a barber shop emerged, catering to the needs of the burgeoning station population, which stood at approximately 1100, including civilian employees.
Assuming command in mid-August 1951, Group Captain Sampson became the first officer to lead No. 3 FTS, spearheading the revitalization of RCAF Station Claresholm. However, this resurgence would, regrettably, prove to be short-lived.
By 1957, many participating countries had established their own independent training facilities, leading to the gradual winding down of the program. The summer of that year witnessed the arrival of the final cohorts of students under the original NATO Aircrew Training Scheme, signaling a decline in activity at No. 3 FTS. Eventually, on August 25, 1958, the station officially ceased operations, with Group Captain J.P. McCarthy, DFC, CD serving as the last Commanding Officer, overseeing the closure procedures and RCAF Station Claresholm closed its doors.
The airport gradually transitioned into a civilian facility, offering services such as general aviation, flight training, and recreational flying. Over the years, the airport attracted private pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and related businesses.