Visiting London, Ontario: Remembering Aviation Heritage at London International Airport & Canadair T-33 Display
Civilian and military activity intertwined
The history of aviation at what is now London International Airport, Ontario, goes back many decades.
From small beginnings in the early 1920s, aviation activity has been associated with the site. An airfield known as Lambeth consisted of a grass strip.
During World War Two, the site was used under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, negotiated among Canada's Mackenzie King Government, the British Government, in London, England and other territories. The Royal Canadian Air Force Station Crumlin site is now located within the city limits of London Ontario.
After World War Two, the name of RCAF Station Crumlin was changed to RCAF Station London. In the post-war years, airplane types flown from the station included Harvards, Mustangs and Thunderbirds.
Interestingly, the air training function performed at Crumlin during World War Two, under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan's auspices morphed in 1950 into NATO air training. Learners from West Germany and Italy, countries at war with the Commonealth until a few years previously, joined trainees at RCAF Station London from other former Allied countries, by then in NATO; these countries included Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands and Norway.
The airport's function today is mainly commercial and general aviation use. A new terminal was opened in 2003, following the expansion of regional and international airline services. In recent years, as well as connections within Ontario, airlines have served destinations in Western Canada, the United States and the Caribbean from the airport.
I was interested to read a historical display about the airport in the main terminal building.
The airport is located at 1750 Crumlin Road, London.
A Canadair T-33 airframe is displayed near the front of the main terminal building. 656 of this airplane type were manufactured under licence in Canada, following a contract made in 1951 between Lockheed and Canadair.
The Canadian-built variety of this type was designated the CL-30, under the name Silver Star. The type was used for many years by the Royal Canadian Air Force, which referred to it as the CT-133, and subsequently by the Canadian Forces. A number of other designations were also used to refer to different adaptations of the type.
The durability of the T-33, with its distinctive wingtip fuel tanks, may be seen by the fact that this airplane type remained in service with the Canadian Forces until the year 2005. The airframe on display at London International Airport is in the colours of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Also worth seeing
In London , Ontario, itself, prominent buildings and visitor attractions include: Eldon House; St. Paul's Cathedral; the Middlesex County Court building; the former Armouries; the Fanshawe Pioneer Village.
Kitchener (distance: approx. 105 kilometres); Woodside, former home of long-serving Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King is a National Historic Site of Canada.
How to get there: Air Canada flies to London International Airport, from Toronto Pearson Airport, from where there are wide North American and other connections. Car rental is available at London International Airport. VIA Rail serves London , connecting with Windsor and Toronto, and other cities. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada