The Spirit of Flight Aviation Museum, housed in an original 1940 RCAF Canteen, is dedicated to highlighting from the Southwest Ontario Region, the many varied aspects of civilian and military aviation history unkown to the public today. Utilizing the building’s heritage and the adjacent Spooner Memorial Gardens, the Museum collects, preserves, documents and displays artifacts, provenance, ephemera and stories significant to the region’s rich aviation history. The Museum works with various heritage and educational groups to present engaging, educational and entertaining exhibits, presentations and special functions. The many Air Cadet Squadrons in the region will be one of the major focuses of the Museum.
- View interactive displays and see how we are working to preserving Southwestern Ontario’s rich aviation history
- Get hands-on with a computer generated flight simulation with the help of Air Cadet squadrons
- Tour the site with retired service men and knowledgeable volunteers
- Enjoy lunch and refreshments for sale
With the end of the Second World War, airmen returning home to London wanted to continue their interest in aviation both as flyers and friends. So it was that on April 2, 1947, the London Air Force Association was formed with a Constitution and By-laws.
Across Canada, other airmen were also thinking of forming clubs and as a result, on September 16, 1948, the fledgling Royal Canadian Air Force Association (RCAFA) held its first meeting in Ottawa, basing its Charter and By-laws on those of the London Air Force Association. On March 15, 1950, 427 (London) Wing received its Charter from the RCAFA and today is one of the leading members of what has now become the Air Force Association of Canada (AFAC), with more than 70 “Wings” across this country.
One of the more interesting features about 427 Wing is the building that it occupies on the grounds of the London International Airport. Built in 1939-40 as an Airmen’s Canteen, a place where wartime personnel could be relaxed and refreshed, it is believed to be the last representative and still usable building of its kind in Southwestern Ontario. Post-war, it remained in use throughout the Korean and NATO eras until purchased by 427 Wing on September 1, 1959.
Subsequently, 427 Wing was incorporated under the laws of the province of Ontario, received its Provincial Charter on June 14, 1962, and its liquor license in the fall of 1963. In 1979, the executive purchased a small church on Brydges Street, moved it to the Wing and fastened it to the west side of the original building. The plan was to turn it into an RCAF museum, but lack of funds dictated otherwise, and eventually, the new building was leased to the Royal Canadian Naval Association which has occupied that space since March 1, 1991.
Among the several important events that took place at the Wing in past years was the creation of the Spooner Memorial Garden adjacent to the Wing building. The Garden was dedicated on September 14, 2002. It consists of a memorial walkway, a curved wall with flags of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan nations, seven plaques giving a brief history of RCAF training units located in and around London during the war years, and a large commemorative stone with information about LAC Gerald Kenneth Spooner. LAC Spooner, a 20-year old navigator trainee at RCAF London, was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his heroic action on May 14, 1943. The George Cross is given “for conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger… for actions not in the face of the enemy.”
The Wing has received recognition from the London International Airport Authority for its past military and civil accomplishments. We will continue to work toward our goal of having the 427 (London) Wing accepted as a heritage site by the City of London and the Province of Ontario.
Royal Canadian Air Force Station London
Originally opened at the Crumlin Airport on 24 June 1940 as the home of: No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School and No. 4 Air Observer School of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
The expansion of No. 4 AOS necessitated the closing of No. 3 EFTS on 3 July 1942. By the time No. 4 AOS closed in December 1944, 4439 students had graduated from the school.
RCAF Station Crumlin remained open after WWII, eventually becoming part of the post-war RCAF. The name of the station changed to RCAF Station London.
Several RCAF Auxiliary units formed at RCAF Station Crumlin, including: 420 (Fighter) Squadron of the RCAF Auxiliary. In September of 1948, Crumlin became home to 420 Fighter Squadron (Auxiliary), flying first Harvards, then Mustang fighters and for a short time Thunderbird jet fighters until disbanded on 1 September 1956.
MU 4004, a Medical Unit 2420 AC&WS All of the Auxiliary ACWUs achieved Squadron status on 1 December 1953. On 1 July 1956 RCAF Air Defense Command reformed 2420 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (Auxiliary), training Fighter Control Operators. As the ACWUs were created for, and occupied with air defence, it was decided that these squadrons would report directly to Air Defence Headquarters. This change came into effect in October 1958. All were to share the same fate with the coming of SAGE. As SAGE was an automated system and all auxiliaries were trained with the manual system only, It was decided that they could no longer augment the Regular Force and would not be trained to operate SAGE as a cost-cutting measure. All Auxiliary Aircraft Warning & Control Squadrons were disbanded by the end of 1961 after performing more than a decade’s worth of valuable and much appreciated service.
22 Wing (Auxiliary) formed in 1956
3049 Technical Training Unit of the RCAF Auxiliary.
NATO Training & Induction School (in 1950). Airmen from Norway, West Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal and Turkey arrived for three month courses. English language training for up to 12 weeks was added. The graduates went on to elementary flying training at Centralia. The NATO school re-located to RCAF Station Centralia in 1959.
RCAF Station London became the home of the No. 1 Officers School in 1951. At the Officers Selection Centre, trainees underwent Air Force indoctrination prior to undertaking flying training elsewhere. Later known as #2 Personnel Selection Unit (Officers) (2 PSU (O)
After being abandoned by the RCAF, various uses were made of the building complex. For a time, they housed a Veterans Hospital, a morgue, and the hangars were used to store military aircraft.
The former station is now the London International Airport (CYXU). Two buildings from the WWII era remain: one of the original hangars and the Air Force Association of Canada, 427 (London) Wing Building which began life in 1940 as an Airman’s Canteen.
* Parking and entrances are located at the front and back of the museum. Bathrooms are not wheelchair accessible.