The Royal Canadian Air Cadets were formed in 1941 with the original purpose to provide a pool of pretrained airmen for the Royal Canadian Air Force. 52 Calgary Squadron was formed in September of that year and received its charter on 3 December 1941. By the following May, 725 cadets were on parade at #2 Wireless School, Calgary. By the end of the Second World War, this number had dropped to 169. A large number of the Squadron’s original alumni served overseas during this conflict, many never returning home after offering their life in service to their country.
In 1964, the Squadron was operating out of a group of “H” huts located in the Mewata Armories parking lot. Three years later, in 1969, the Squadron was moved into Mewata Armories where it remained until 1977. At that time, due to the growth of the city, it was decided to move into one of the south communities. The Squadron was then moved to Haysboro Elementary School where it remained until 1981.
In 1977, 52 Squadron became the first Calgary squadron to obtain a “Parent Sponsoring Committee”. In 1981, the fortieth anniversary of the Squadron, the Mayor of the City of Calgary bestowed the honor of the “Keys to the City” to 52 Squadron. This was a Canadian first. This honor is identical to the Regular Forces “Freedom of the City”, and entitles this Squadron to exercise the same rights and privileges including the marching through the streets with bands, arms, bayonets, swords and other military items.
It was at this time that the name of the Squadron was officially changed to “City of Calgary”. Also during 1981, the Squadron secured a building for its own use. After an almost unimaginable amount of hard work on the part of many fine people, a completely refurbished 1300 sq.ft. double-wide trailer was located immediately adjacent to Harold Panabaker Junior High School and in September 1983, this trailer became the new headquarters building for 52 Squadron. From 1983 to present day, 52 Squadron has been utilizing their new headquarters, the facilities at Panabaker Junior High, and, for the past decade, a portion of the Southwood Community Hall.
Some of the key achievements of the Squadron during its history include:
Only Air Cadet Squadron to be honored with “Keys to the City”
First Squadron to own their own Headquarters Building
First Squadron to use computers in all aspects of operation
Top Air Cadet Squadron in Canada 1981-82
Top Provincial Drill Team (Senior) 1985
Top Air Cadet Squadron in Alberta 2002-03
Top Sponsoring Committee in Alberta 2001-2002
Top Squadron Northwest Region, 2013/14 training year
Some of the young alumni to pass through the Squadron:
Greg Forsyth – became Chief Justice in Calgary
Dave Mitchell – became President of the Nova Corporation
Al Downs – became Professor and Dean of Biology in Ottawa
Nat Christy – became geologist at Gulf Oil
A.J. Carter – became Staff Sergeant with the RCMP
Ken Lewis – became Commander-Air Command-Canadian Forces
Col (ret'd) Roy Boehli - retired as Commander, 41 Canadian Brigade Group
F/L (ret'd) Herb Spear - Canadian aviation legend
Jameel Janjua - RCAF test pilot and Virgin Galactic pilot
And many, many more…
We are proud to have an affiliation with 403 (Helicopter) Operational Training Squadron, an active Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron that flies the CH-146 Griffon helicopter. 403 Squadron is forward deployed from 1 Wing Kingston to 5 CDSB Gagetown, and is the Centre of Excellence for tactical helicopter operations in the RCAF.
52 Squadron is one of seven Air Cadet squadrons in Calgary. We parade (have on strength) approximately 200 cadets. The squadron has four regular flights and a recruit flight (Hill, McKenzie, Weaver, Magwood, and Beurling), all named for 403 Squadron Distinguished Flying Cross recipients. We also have a military band and a pipes and drum band (McNair Flight), as well as a Flag Party. Additional training opportunities include a drill team, flight simulators, marksmanship, biathlon, and gliding familiarization days.