Pearce, Alberta, Flying instructor school – Part One

The Royal Canadian Air Force began the Second World War with a small number of trained flying instructors. Instructional flight was first formed at Camp Borden in April 1939 and moved to Trenton, Ontario, in January 1940, No. 1 Flying Instructor’s School. With a rapid growth, a new agreement was signed in June 1942, which made provision for three separate flying instructor schools in Canada. No. 1 at Trenton, Ontario, for twin-engined aircraft, No. 2 at Vulcan, Alberta, [later moved to Pearce] for Harvard instructors and No. 3 at Arnprior, Ontario, for instructors at elementary flying schools.

No. 2 Flying Instructor’s School opened at Vulcan, Alberta, on 3 August 1942, and moved to a new base located at Pearce, Alberta, on 3 May 1943. In August 1943, the base published the first station newsletter titled “Pearce Patter”, editor P/O J.O. Blick and cartoonists P/O R. Whitehead and F/O Barton. With each monthly issue a little cartoon Cessna Crane aircraft named “Dewey”, conducted interviews and stories of life at No. 2 F.I.S. Pearce. In the September 1943 issue Dewey interviews the C.F.I. [Chief Flying Instructor] Wing Commander Frederick Ralph Sharp. (That's Dewey depicted below.)


W/C Sharp was born at Moosomin, Saskatchewan in 1913, raised at Trenton, Ontario, where he joined the Royal Canadian Artillery in 1934. He attended the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ontario, for the next four years, and following the outbreak of war, enlisted in the RCAF in July 1939. Posted to Trenton, where he received his wings in August 1939, Camp Borden became the next step where he completed the flying instructors course under F/L G.P. Dunlop. He instructed at No. 3 S.F.T.S. at Calgary, Alberta, for 19 months, No. 2 F.I.S. at Claresholm, for 4 months, No. 2 F.I.S. at Vulcan for 9 months and then moved with the school to Pearce on 3 May 1943.

Wing Commander F.R. Sharp spent over four years [51 months] on instructional duties in Alberta, before being posted overseas as C.O. of No. 408 Squadron,    

26 November 1944. The war situation in 1944, allowed the closing of some BCATP schools, preference given to flying instructors, which released over 500 during the year. No. 2 Flying Instructor School, Pearce, Alberta, closed on 20 January 1945.

W/C Sharp won a DFC on 4 May 1945 with No. 408 [Goose] Squadron.