Backgrounder - The New Royal Canadian Air Force Badge

September 13, 2013

On March 13, 2013, the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, approved a new badge for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The badge was unveiled in Ottawa on September 15, 2013, following the national ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

This change to RCAF insignia came about in the wake of the restoration of the traditional name for Canada’s air force – Royal Canadian Air Force – which occurred on August 16, 2011. The restoration was a return to the name that had been approved for the air force in 1923 by His Majesty King George V and that came into effect on April 1, 1924.

The Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force merged into a single service known as the Canadian Armed Forces on February 1, 1968, when the Unification Act came into effect.

In reality, the air force disappeared completely as a separate command entity, as air assets were distributed among other commands. However, in 1975, Air Command was formed and its commander became responsible for all air assets within the Canadian Armed Forces.

The new Royal Canadian Air Force badge hearkens back to the pre-unification RCAF badge. It shows a golden eagle volant – or flying with outstretched wings – on an azure (sky blue) background. The badge combines pride in the past with contemporary spirit; the eagle flying solo reflects the confident, experienced, resilient, agile and integrated RCAF.

This new badge replaces the Air Command badge, which showed an eagle rising from a Canadian astral crown.

The Royal Canadian Air Force retains the Air Command motto Sic Itur Ad Astra – “such is the pathway to the stars”. This motto was first granted to the Canadian Air Force when it was formed in 1920. Sic Itur Ad Astra was replaced by Per Ardua Ad Astra, the motto of the Royal Air Force, when the Royal Canadian Air Force came into being in 1924. Thus, Sic Itur Ad Astra continues to recall the very earliest days of the establishment of a national air force.