History of 5 Wing Goose Bay

1941 Creation of 5 Wing Goose Bay. Canada and the United States build an airfield on the present site for anti-submarine patrol aircraft and staging aircraft to Britain. The site was selected because of the excellent flying weather, ease of construction, accessibility by sea during the summer months and its strategic location.

1942 to 1945 During the Second World War, a total of 22,500 Canadian- and American-built fighters and bombers stage through Goose Bay on their way to Europe.

1950 Low-level flying training starts over Labrador with the Royal Air Force. Goose Bay was a very attractive training facility for Allied air forces in light of the high population concentration in their countries and numerous laws preventing low-level flying. Many of the ranges surrounding 5 Wing Goose Bay were larger than some European countries.

1950s With the start of the Cold War, a line of radar sites is built from Newfoundland along the Labrador coast to join the Mid-Canada line. The site's responsibilities were surveillance, identification and interceptor control for the Labrador area. This was accomplished by the outlying radar sites reporting to the United States Air Force manned Melville Manual NORAD Control Centre, located near the wing, where the overall command was exercised. The United States Air Force increased its strategic presence by deploying KC-97 Stratofreighter tankers in support of B-47 Stratojet bombers. Air Defense Command stationed a full squadron of F-106 Delta Dart interceptors and by the early 60s, KC-135 Stratotankers were operating from Goose Bay in support of B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

1951 to 1965 The United States Air Force builds infrastructure capable of supporting 12,000 service personnel and dependents.

1970s The Canadian Armed Forces reduces its presence in Goose Bay and the station’s principal reason for being is solely to support the Melville Radar Site.

1971 The Canadian Forces takes control of the Melville Manual NORAD Control Centre after it has been maintained and manned by the United States Air Force through many organizational changes within NORAD.

1975 The Melville Manual NORAD Control Centre becomes a limited Long Range Radar in that the radar inputs are automatically passed to a control centre in North Bay, Ontario. The station became the Melville Data Maintenance Control Center and was responsible for the quality of radar inputs and for the projection of control of interceptor aircraft whenever assigned.

1976 All Strategic Air Command units are withdrawn and the United States Air Force operation is reduced to a Military Airlift Command detachment committed to transient servicing of C-5 Galaxy, C-141 Starlifter and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

1981 The German Air Force starts low-level flying training over Labrador.

1985 The Royal Netherlands Air Force starts low-level flying training over Labrador.

1988 The closure of the Melville Data Maintenance Control Center is announced, and on July 1, 1988, it ceases operations.

2001 The Italian Air Force starts low-level flying training over Labrador.

2005 All of the Allies withdraw their contingents from 5 Wing Goose Bay and jet aircraft low-level flying operations cease over Labrador.

2015 The role of 5 Wing Goose Bay has changed dramatically in the past few years, moving from a small station supporting a Long Range Radar site to a medium-sized base sustaining multinational flying operations and hosting a wide array of many international guests, both military and civilian. 5 Wing’s operational mandate is currently in transition.

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