How it All Started: The History of Edmonton’s Flying Club


Until the 1920s, Canada had no formal system of licensing or training for pilots. In 1927, the government introduced a system that pledged to support aviation clubs with aircraft and funding.

In response, Captain Wilfrid R.’ Wop’ May, a WWI flying ace, and Ken Blatchford, the former mayor of Edmonton, called a meeting on August 2, 1927, that led to the formation of the Edmonton and Northern Alberta Aero Club. The club was created to promote aviation and provide flight training. May was elected as club president, and the club initially had 32 members.

Early Years

In 1927, the club established a ground school, secured an aerodrome, and cleared several runways. This made the Edmonton and Northern Alberta Aero Club the first to meet the government requirements for a flying club.

The first aircraft pledged by the government, a yellow wooden De Havilland 60X Cirrus Moth, G-CAKJ, arrived on June 23, 1928, and the second, G-CALB, arrived in August. May instructed the first class of 15 students in July, and the first four graduates were tested in September 1928.

Shortly after, Charles C. Becker took over as president. In 1929, Captain Moss Burbidge began teaching, training over 1,100 flyers.

Success and Growth

Despite struggles, the club continued to grow and, by the end of the first year, included 125 members. By 1931, the club had 20 graduated pilots and more flight hours than any other club in Canada.

Starting in 1930, the club began putting on airshows, the first of which included over 65 aircraft and 35,000 attendees.

Wartime Involvement

In January 1940, the government contracted the club to train pilots for the RCAF and, in need of more space, the club relocated to Bowden, Alberta.

Post-War Development

In 1944, the club returned to Edmonton, was renamed the Edmonton Flying Club, and began operating as it does today.

A fire destroyed the club’s facilities, hangar, and 14 aircraft in 1967; however, the club recovered quickly and, by the end of the year, spent over $90,000 on new aircraft, flew 13,772 hours, had 12 aircraft in the air, and graduated 152 private pilots and 26 commercial pilots. The club developed rapidly throughout the 1970s, logging 28,000 flight hours annually.


Over the years, the club has had various aircraft, including Gypsy Moths, Cherokees, Archers, Fleet Canuks. Today, the training fleet consists of six Cessna 172s and one Piper Seminole.

The Edmonton Flying Club currently operates out of Parkland Airport in Parkland County, located West of Edmonton, Alberta. It is known as one of the best flight training schools in the country, has contributed to the training of thousands of pilots, and is regarded as a pioneer in Canadian aviation.

This post was derived from an article in a 1970s edition of Slipstream newsletter.
Click here to read the original article.