CFB Comox

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CFB Comox

Comox Airport
Comox Airport Logo.svg
Summary
Airport typeMilitary
OwnerGovernment of Canada
OperatorDND/Comox Valley Airport CommissionA
LocationComox, British Columbia
CommanderColonel Mike Atkins, CD
Time zonePST (UTC−08:00)
 • Summer (DST)PDT (UTC−07:00)
Elevation AMSL84 ft / 26 m
Coordinates49°42′39″N 124°53′12″W / 49.71083°N 124.88667°W / 49.71083; -124.88667Coordinates: 49°42′39″N 124°53′12″W / 49.71083°N 124.88667°W / 49.71083; -124.88667
WebsiteCFB 19 Wing Comox
Map
CYQQ is located in British Columbia
CYQQ
CYQQ
Location in British Columbia
CYQQ is located in Canada
CYQQ
CYQQ
CYQQ (Canada)
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12/30 10,000 3,048 Concrete
18/36 5,000 1,524 Asphalt
Helipads
Number Length Surface
ft m
1 100 30 Asphalt
2 100 30 Asphalt
3 100 30 Concrete
Statistics (2010)
Aircraft movements20,244
Front of the airport terminal building at CFB Comox, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Canadian Forces Base Comox (IATA: YQQ, ICAO: CYQQ), commonly referred to as CFB Comox or 19 Wing is a Canadian Forces Base located 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km; 2.9 mi) north northeast of Comox, British Columbia. It is primarily operated as an air force base by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and is one of two bases in the country using the CP-140 Aurora anti-submarine/maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft. Its primary RCAF lodger unit is 19 Wing, commonly referred to as 19 Wing Comox.

CFB Comox's airfield is also used by civilian aircraft. The civilian passenger terminal building operations are called the Comox Valley Airport and are operated by the Comox Valley Airport Commission.

The airport is classified as an airport of entry by Nav Canada and is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

History[edit]

Military air base operations[edit]

The Royal Air Force (RAF) constructed the airfield at the strategic location of Comox in spring 1942. RAF Station Comox was built to guard against any possible Japanese threat to North America.

In approximately 1942 the aerodrome was listed as RCAF Aerodrome - Comox, British Columbia at 49°43′N 124°54′W / 49.717°N 124.900°W / 49.717; -124.900 with no listed variation or elevation. The aerodrome was listed as "Under construction - Servicable" with three runways as follows: [5]

Runway name Length Width Surface
18/36 4,950 feet (1,509 m) 150 feet (46 m) Hard surfaced
11/29 4,950 feet (1,509 m) 150 feet (46 m) Hard surfaced
5/23 4,950 feet (1,509 m) 150 feet (46 m) Hard surfaced

In 1943, the RCAF took over control of the airfield, renaming the facility RCAF Station Comox. The RCAF used Comox for training crews of transport aircraft for the rest of World War II, basing a training squadron flying the Douglas Dakota in 1944.

From 1946 until 1952 the base was mothballed until tensions resulting from the Korean War and Cold War prompted reactivation and the establishment of a permanent RCAF base on Canada's Pacific coast.

No. 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron initially used the Avro Lancaster then Lockheed P2V Neptune, followed by the Canadair CP-107 Argus and now the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora.

No. 409 All Weather Fighter Interceptor Squadron was equipped with the Canadair CT-33 Silver Star and Avro CF-100 Canuck, followed by the McDonnell CF-101 Voodoo, an example of which can be found on display at the main entrance of 19 Wing.

In 1954, Comox became home to a Pinetree Line radar early-warning station, operated by the 51 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (radar). This facility was closed in June 1958 with the advent of more advanced radar systems such as the Mid-Canada Line and the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW Line).

In 1964, RCAF Station Sea Island near Vancouver International Airport was closed and turned over to the Canadian Coast Guard. Sea Island's 121 Composite Unit moved to Comox and was reorganized as 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, flying the Grumman HU-16 Albatross fixed-wing and Piasecki H-21 helicopter, later re-equipping with the CH-113 Labrador and CC-115 Buffalo. The Labrador helicopter was replaced with the AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant starting in 2001.

On February 1, 1968, the RCAF merged with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Canadian Army to form the unified Canadian Forces. RCAF Station Comox was renamed Canadian Forces Base Comox, shortened to CFB Comox. During a 1975 reorganization of the Canadian Forces, Air Command (AIRCOM) was created to operate the air element.

After CFB Comox began sharing the airport with scheduled airlines and other civilian aircraft, a Boeing 747 flown by Northwest Airlines became the first jumbo jet to operate into the field[6] when it made an emergency landing there on June 5, 1979. The flight, chartered by the U.S. military to transport 368 active duty personnel and their families from Travis Air Force Base to Japan and South Korea, was over Cape Scott following an intermediate stop at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport when fire broke out in one of the aircraft's engines. Efforts to extinguish the flames were unsuccessful; the crew declared an emergency and requested permission to land on the 10,000-foot (3,048 m) runway at CFB Comox. Though no flames were visible, the fire warning light was still flashing in the cockpit as the plane landed.[7] There were no injuries to the passengers or to the 13 crew members. Base officials, practiced at hosting large numbers of Canadian Forces personnel, ensured that the plane's occupants were comfortable while awaiting a new aircraft to carry them to their destinations.

In 1980, 407 Squadron began re-equipping with the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora. In 1984, 409 Squadron moved from CFB Comox to CFB Cold Lake leaving the base with the duties of coastal patrol, anti-submarine and transport missions, and search and rescue (SAR) missions.

In 1989, a strike force of United States Air Force KC-135E tankers from the Washington Air National Guard deployed to CFB Comox as part of the annual Global Shield Exercise. The deployment, which included vehicles, equipment and armed personnel arriving by landing craft at a local beach, prompting some locals to ask whether the United States was invading Canada.

Commercial airline service[edit]

During the late 1950s, Pacific Western Airlines was serving the airfield with nonstop and one-stop direct flights to Vancouver operated with Douglas DC-3 aircraft with the one-stop service being flown via Campbell River, British Columbia.[8] By the early 1960s, the airline had expanded their DC-3 service with nonstop flights to Port Hardy as well.[9] Pacific Western then introduced turboprop service with the Convair 640 (which the airline called the "Javelin Jet-Prop") and was continuing to operate nonstop flights to Vancouver, Port Hardy and Campbell River during the late 1960s.[10] The airline then began operating jet service into the airfield with the Boeing 737-200 and in 1975 was operating two nonstop 737 flights a day to Vancouver.[11] Pacific Western would continue to serve Comox with Boeing 737-200 jet flights through the mid 1980s by which time the air carrier had become an all-jet airline.[12] By 1995, the airfield no longer had jet service with flights to Vancouver being operated by either Air BC flying Air Canada Connector code share service with de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 turboprops or by Time Air operating Canadian Airlines Partner code share service with Dash 8 and Short 360 turboprops.[13] According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), Air BC and Time Air were operating a combined total of ten round trip nonstop flights on weekdays between Comox and Vancouver at this time.

Current use[edit]

Military use[edit]

CFB Comox is the primary air defence installation on Canada's Pacific coast and serves as the home base for maritime patrol/anti-submarine aircraft and fixed-wing and rotary-wing search and rescue (SAR) aircraft.

Its primary lodger unit, 19 Wing, has two operational squadrons:

19 Wing also includes the 19 Air Maintenance Squadron, and a number of other organizations.

CFB Comox is the location of the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, where all para-rescue specialists in the Canadian Forces, known as Search And Rescue Technicians or "SAR Techs", undergo training.

CFB Comox serves as a forward operating base for temporary deployments of the McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet fighter-interceptor.

Every April, the Snowbirds practise at 19 Wing Comox.

CFB Comox is used by the Royal Canadian Air Cadets for glider and powered flight training, training glider pilots on Schweizer SGS 2-33As and housing the cadets training on Cessna 172s respectively in the summer months. In addition, training for Advanced Aviation is also hosted at CFB Comox. An annex of CFB Comox, Annex A "Goose Spit", is used by the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets for CSTC HMCS Quadra where 600 sea cadets undergo training in the basic trades of gunnery, boatswain, music and sail. It also trains cadets in three specialty trades marine engineering, shipwright, and silver sail. The annex is also host to the local Canadian Forces Sail Association.

Civilian use[edit]

CFB Comox shares the airfield with a civilian terminal for commercial flights destined to Vancouver, Calgary, Campbell River, Edmonton and Mexico (Puerto Vallarta) as well as regional destinations in British Columbia. The base hosts a biennial airshow (although not held from 2005 to 2012) to celebrate Canadian Forces Day. The base is also home to the Comox Air Force Museum which features several aircraft and other historical exhibits. The base is a primary employer in the Comox Valley.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

AirlinesDestinations
Air Canada Express Vancouver
Seasonal: Calgary
Canadian North Charter: Calgary, Fort McMurray, Vancouver
Pacific Coastal Airlines Bella Bella, Campbell River, Vancouver
WestJet Calgary, Edmonton
Seasonal: Puerto Vallarta
WestJet Encore Calgary, Vancouver
Seasonal: Edmonton

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 19 July 2018 to 0901Z 13 September 2018.
  2. ^ Synoptic/Metstat Station Information Archived December 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Total aircraft movements by class of operation
  4. ^ Airport Divestiture Status Report Archived September 30, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Staff writer (c. 1942). Pilots Handbook of Aerodromes and Seaplane Bases Vol. 2. Royal Canadian Air Force. p. 130.
  6. ^ MacDonnell, Duncan; Martin, Debra (June 6, 1979). "747 Limps into Comox". Comox District Free Press.
  7. ^ McKellar, Ruth (June 6, 1979). "Jumbo's 399 Drop into Comox for Breakfast". The Daily Colonist.
  8. ^ url=http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 27, 1959 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
  9. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, Oct. 2, 1961 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
  10. ^ http://www.timetableimages.com, June 24, 1968 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
  11. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, April 15, 1975 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Vancouver-Comox flight schedules
  12. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, April 28, 1985 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
  13. ^ http://www.departedflights.com, April 2, 1995 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Vancouver-Comox flights schedules

External links[edit]