Military members are hoping Portage la Prairie will continue to play a huge role in producing student pilots for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
Brigadier General John Alexander, Commander of 2 Canadian Air Division, attended the Rotary Club of Portage la Prairie's meeting on May 16th. He says it was a great opportunity to maintain that relationship between the military and the communities that support them.
"The base here was first built back in 1940, and through that time we have been involved here in Portage pretty well throughout," explains Alexander. "There was a small gap between 1945 and 1952 where the base was shut down for a while. But, since then, we've been producing student pilots here ever since."
He mentions that they chose to set up a base near Portage la Prairie due to a variety of factors, including the number of sunny days per year and the airspace not being nearly as crowded as other areas. Alexander also says the flat prairie land lends itself to being flier friendly.
"The Royal Canadian Air Force is, right now, in the middle of a contract negotiation for what we call future air crew training," says Alexander. "Where we are going to have a pilot, navigator and airborne sensor operator, all under a civilian contract. For Portage la Prairie that means that all the training that currently goes on here now will carry on for at least the next 25 years under that contract."
Alexander mentions that he enjoys his time whenever he comes to Portage la Prairie and would love to see pilot training continue in Portage for decades.