Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/1/2017 (1417 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As Brandon’s 82 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron prepares for its 75th Anniversary on Jan. 14, many air cadet alumni are reaching for their photo albums, remembering back to those days when they reached for the skies and acquired their wings through the local program.
Retired captain Mark Delmage has a lengthy and rich history with the squadron, first joining the program as a 13-year-old back in 1965. The flight training in the 1960’s looked quite different than in 1945 when the war ended and the Brandon Flying Club took on the job of training Air Cadets using two Tiger Moth aircraft. Not only was there an increase in the required number of flight hours to obtain a private pilot’s license, but the aircraft had changed as well. The old open-cockpit, bi-plane Tiger Moths had been replaced by the sleeker, all-metal, closed-cabin Cessnas. Cadets, however, were often allowed the thrill of riding with and sometimes flying for brief periods of time the larger planes at the club.
Delmage explained what the program looked like back in the late 1960’s when many of the instructors were former Air Force instructors, retired from the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
"In those days, the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) had lots of airplanes, so we were flying in planes like the Expediter, the Single Otter and the DC3. As a cadet you got to go up front and control it for a couple of minutes so it was a lot of fun. By the time you got to your fourth year you got to take the powered-pilot’s course which they called the ‘flying scholarship’ back in those days, and that’s where you got your private pilot’s license. Now, it’s quite a bit different as you can get your glider’s license even after the third year, and then cadets will go for their powered license the next year."
Delmage achieved his private license in his fourth year and upon completion of the five-year program Delmage joined the Canadian Forces (CF) and then returned back to the Brandon squadron as an instructor. Perhaps that is what sparked his passion for teaching, as soon after Delmage stepped away from the CF and became an educator.
Across Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s would see change to the program. Since 1941, the Air Cadet League of Canada worked in partnership with the RCAF. However, in February of 1968 the Air Cadet League would lose its original partner and due to unification it would see a new partnership with CF. The following year, a Directorate of Cadets was formed at National Defence Headquarters to set policy and to coordinate the activities and training of the air, army and sea cadet movements.
Further change would see the official participation of girls in the cadets. For a number of years girls had been involved "unofficially’’ in all three elements, but on July 30th, 1975, the official participation of girls would be approved by the government.
Delmage recognized the benefits to these changes as he would continue to instruct young people in their passion for flying and the program itself. Many cadets can speak to the dedication of Delmage and to the commitment he put into fostering young men and women during his years as instructor, commanding officer and friend.
After 52 years, Delmage has an understanding and heart for the program and what it stands for.
"For any young person who has a passion for flying I would definitely tell them to join the Air Cadets because they have so many opportunities to learn about flying; the ground school aspect, how to operate at an airport and how its laid out and how it works, air craft engines and technical stuff, the aerospace course, going to camps dealing with flying. There’s just a tremendous number of courses they can take if they’re interested. But it’s more than that. It gives young people the opportunity to shoot for something and be part of a team.’’
» Betty Froese is the public affairs representative for the Regional Cadet Support Unit.