19 Wing Comox
19 Wing Comox is based on Vancouver Island. Its Aurora crews keep watch over the Pacific Ocean while its search and rescue teams regularly locate downed aircraft in some of Canada's roughest terrain.
19 Wing has a rich history, which began with the construction of the air base in 1942 to protect the Pacific coastline from a possible Japanese invasion.
Today, its two operational squadrons fly the CP-140 Aurora Long Range Patrol Aircraft, CC-115 Buffalo Search and Rescue (SAR) Aircraft, and the CH-149 Cormorant Helicopters.
Using the CP-140 Aurora, the pilots and crews of 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron spend long hours on surveillance missions over the ocean looking for illegal fishing, migration, drugs and pollution in addition to foreign submarines. They can also perform search and rescue missions using air-droppable survival pods.
With CC-115 Buffalo Aircraft and CH-149 Cormorant Helicopters, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron carries out search and rescue operations in the busiest region in Canada, stretching from the B.C.-Washington border to the Arctic, and from the Rocky Mountains to 1,200 km out into the Pacific.
In addition to its operational squadrons, the Wing is home to 19 Air Maintenance Squadron and a national training school, the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue (CFSSAR). 19 Wing also supports cadet training at the Regional Cadet Gliding School (Pacific) and HMCS Quadra sea cadet camp.
Regional Air Cadet Operations
The Royal Canadian Air Cadet flying program is another significant component to the operations of the Wing. The program began in BC over thirty years ago training cadets in Princeton and, later, Chilliwack. Although based in Comox since 1988, it was not until 1998 that the complete summer training program fully operated from here. Each year approximately 50 glider pilots and 80 Air studies students are trained using five tow aircraft and six Schweizer 33A gliders.
The Wing supports HMCS Quadra, a national Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Training Establishment. HMCS Quadra is located at Goose Spit near Comox, which has a long naval history dating back to the nineteenth century.Training is carried out from Juneuntil September each year supporting up to 1,000 trainees.
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The airfield at Comox was opened as a Royal Air Force (RAF) Base in 1942 and was officially constituted as a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Aerodrome on 1 May 1943. Its initial task was that of flying control unit for 32 Operational Training Unit (OTU), RAF, at Patricia Bay, near Victoria, B.C. In June 1944, 32 OTU (RAF) moved to Comox and became No.6 OTU (RCAF). No.6 was a Transport Establishment flying the C-47 Dakota under the command of Group Captain D.C.S. MacDonald.
In January of 1946, No. 6 OTU was moved to RCAF Station Greenwood, N.S., and RCAF Station Comox was closed and placed under a care and maintenance program under the direction of the Department of Transport.
More 19 Wing History
In June of 1952, Station Comox was reactivated as an Air Defence Command (ADC) establishment under the operational control of 12 Air Defence Group (later changed to 5 Air Division) Vancouver. Starting in 1954 an extensive modernization program took place and several new buildings including a new large hangar (7 Hangar) were built. There was also an extension of the main runway to its present length of 10,000 feet.
The Station’s first operational squadron, 407 “Demon” Maritime Patrol Squadron, was reactivated on 1 July 1952 and equipped with Lancaster bombers that were modified for the Anti-Submarine Warfare role.
In February of 1953, the first 150 units of Permanent Married Quarters (PMQs) were completed and occupied. An elementary school for children of RCAF personnel was also established with classrooms for grades one to six and kindergarten.
409 “Nighthawk” All Weather Fighter Interceptor Squadron was re-activated at Comox on 1 November 1954. Over the years, it was equipped with the T-33 Silver Star, CF-100 Canuck and the CF-101 Voodoo. Also in l954, 51 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (radar) was formed at Comox as part of the CADIN-Pinetree radar line.
1960s & 70s
Comox had been designated an Air Defence Command base upon its reactivation in 1952. However, on 15 September 1961, it was officially placed under the control of Maritime Air Command. With the closing of RCAF Station Sea Island in Vancouver, 121 Composite Unit moved to its new home at Comox in July of 1964 with their Albatross aircraft.
In July 1968, the 121 Composite Unit became 442 Communications and Rescue Squadron and, a few months later, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron.
In August of 1974, a second Maritime Flying unit, VU 33, moved to Comox from Patricia Bay Airport in Victoria with three CP 121 Tracker and three T-33 Silver Star aircraft. The move of VU 33 to Comox consolidated all military flying activity in British Columbia at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Comox.
On 1 September 1975, CFB Comox and all squadrons came under the command of the Commander Air Command, with headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
1980s & 90s
On 29 June 1984, 409 Squadron ceased Voodoo operations at Comox and moved to CFB Cold Lake. Moreover, on June 1992, VU 33 ceased its operations and the squadron was disbanded. On 5 July 1992, 414 Squadron moved from North Bay to Comox. 414 Squadron was officially stood down 16 April 2002, following the retirement of the CT-133 Silver Star the previous month. In May 1993, 19 Air Maintenance Squadron was established in order to provide operational support to the Wing.
In 2002, 442 Squadron traded in their CH-113 Labrador helicopters for CH-149 Cormorants, marking a new era in Search and Rescue capabilities at the Squadron.
In 2002-03, 407 Squadron took part in Operation APOLLO in support of anti-terrorist surveillance operations over the Persian and Arabian Gulfs. From 2003-2011, 19 Wing personnel deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation ATHENA, as well as numerous other operations around the world, like Operation MOBILE in 2010-11 above the skies of Libya.
Today, the two flying squadrons, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron and 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron, supported by 19 Air Maintenance Squadron, maintain a heavy operational commitment, with an increased focus on Joint operations across the Canadian Forces.The approximately 1000 military and 300 full and part-time civilians fulfil the task of putting the right aircraft in the right place at the right time.
Our Contact Details
19 Wing Comox
P.O. Box 1000, Stn Main
Lazo, BC V0R 2K0
Base Switchboard Operator: (250) 339-8211
19 Wing Operations (Noise Complaints): (250) 339-8231
Air and Marine Emergency number ONLY: 1-800-567-5111 or *727 on your cell phone
Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria
Media or information - (250) 413-8937
Recorded message line - (250) 413-8930
Public Affairs Officer
Phone: (250) 339-8201
Fax: (250) 339-8120
All general or media enquiries, including all questions or suggestions regarding any section of the 19 Wing web site, can be addressed to the 19 Wing Public Affairs officer.