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Our Founding Heritage

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was a joint military aircrew training program created by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, during World War II. It remains the single largest aviation training program in history, and was responsible for training nearly half the pilots and crew who served with the Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force during WWII.


Canada was chosen as the primary location for the BCATP owing to the vastness of its size and its consequent suitability for training, its established industry for manufacturing of training aircraft, its abundance of supplies, and its security. In all, over 130,000 aircrew are estimated to have trained in Canada under the BCATP, with many of those trainees having come from other countries such as France, Holland, Denmark, Greece, Poland, and the United States.


The Royal Canadian Air Force ran the plan in Canada. At its height, it included well-over 200 training locations, more than 10,000 aircraft, and approximately 100,000 military administrative personnel. At its conclusion, tens-of-thousands of pilots had been trained under the BCATP in Canada between 1940 and 1945.


In his capacity as chief ground school instructor, Alexander Forsyth MacDonald was responsible for the graduation, in ground school subjects, of more than thirty-five percent of the Elementary Flying Instructors engaged in the BCATP. It was during this period that the seeds were planted for From the Ground Up. The structure devised for his courses became the material that served as the foundation upon which “Sandy” MacDonald created the original version of this textbook.


In the passing of years since its first publication, From the Ground Up has received continual acclaim for its authorship and contribution to the advancement of aviation and of flying. In many ways, the storied history of the BCATP was the precursor that has contributed to the nation of Canada as being recognized continually as one of the foremost countries in the world in which to train as a pilot or aircrew.


For its part in the development of a nation where flight training leads by exceptional international example, From the Ground Up is a memorial to its original author, “Sandy” MacDonald, and to the thousands of men and women who, through their dedication, participation and sacrifice in the BCATP, participated in the establishment of a framework that has since set the standard by which those who choose to look skyward, earn their wings to fly.

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