3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School

The mission of 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (3 CFFTS) is to conduct pilot training.

3 CFFTS tasks include oversight of the Primary pilot selection and training of all Air Force pilots provided by Allied Wings, who also conduct the visual flight rules flight training for all Air Force navigators.

3 CFFTS conducts helicopter pilot training and multi-engine aircraft pilot training using a variety of aircraft to accomplish its mission, including the Raytheon King Air C-90B multi-engine trainer and the Bell CH-139 Jet Ranger training helicopter. The Grob 120-A elementary trainer is operated by Allied Wings.

3 CFFTS operates from the Southport Aerospace Centre at Portage la Prairie, Man., in a partnership between the Air Force, Allied Wings and the Southport Aerospace Centre, Incorporated. Allied Wings and the Southport Aerospace Centre maintain the aircraft, operate the airfield, and provide all of the services necessary for the effective operation of 3 CFFTS.

Civilian pilots instruct the Primary pilot training and air navigator training courses, while military pilots instruct helicopter and multi-engine aircraft pilot training to Wings standard.

3 CFFTS was formed at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Portage la Prairie on 1 July, 1970, as an amalgamation of personnel and equipment from 1 Primary Flying School at CFB Borden, Ont., equipped with the de Havilland Canada CT-120 Chipmunk primary trainer, 4 Flying Training School from CFB Rivers, Man., equipped with the Hiller CH-112 Nomad helicopter and 3 Flying Training School at Portage la Prairie, which had been equipped with the recently-retired Beech CT-128 Expeditor multi-engine trainer.

By mid-1971, the CT-120 Chipmunks were replaced by Beech CT-134 Musketeers for the primary training role. By the end of 1971, the first of the Bell CH-136 Kiowa helicopters arrived to replace the Nomads.

The 1970s saw the rise of two air demonstration teams comprised of flying instructors from the school: the Dragonflies, flying the CH-136 Kiowa and Musket Gold, flying the CT-134 Musketeer. Both teams would perform at airshows and other events in the local area.

In 1981, the CT-134 Musketeers were replaced with a newer model, commercially known to Beech as the Sundowner, and the Kiowas were sent to operational flying squadrons, replaced by the CH-139 Jet Rangers. Both new aircraft had the same improved instrument package. In 1990, some of the Kiowas would return, as the Jet Rangers were deployed to Honduras on United Nations duty as part of OPERATION SULTAN.

The greatest change that 3 CFFTS would undergo came in 1992, when Canadian Forces Base Portage la Prairie closed as a unit, and the infrastructure was handed over to the Southport Aerospace Centre. Base support functions, aircraft and aircraft maintenance would be handled by a civilian contractor as the Contracted Flight Training and Support program.

The Contracted Flight Training and Support program saw the Musketeers replaced with Slingsby T-67C trainers and the primary flying training carried out by contracted civilian instructors. Multi-engine training would now also be carried out by military instructors at Southport using the Beech C-90A King Air. Helicopter training would continue at Southport using the Jet Rangers.

Major change came again in 2005, with the announcement of a new $1.77 billion, 20-year Contracted Flying Training and Support contract to the Allied Wings consortium. The Slingsby T-67C Fireflies were replaced by Grob 120A trainers and the Raytheon C-90B King Air replaced the older C-90A King Airs. The CH-139 Jet Ranger helicopters were refurbished, and nine Bell 412 CF (Canadian Forces) helicopters (former CH-146 Griffons) were added to the 3 CFFTS fleet for the advanced helicopter phase of training. There are also new, state-of-the-art ground training and hangar facilities under construction.

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