|Owner||Government of Canada|
|Operator||DND/Comox Valley Airport CommissionA|
|Location||Comox, British Columbia|
|Time zone||PST (UTC−08:00)|
|• Summer (DST)||PDT (UTC−07:00)|
|Elevation AMSL||84 ft / 26 m|
|Website||CFB 19 Wing Comox|
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). CBSA officers at this airport can handle general aviation aircraft only, with no more than 15 passengers
Military air base operations
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.
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 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 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 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 Sea-Tac 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 runway at CFB Comox. Though no flames were visible, the fire warning light was still flashing in the cockpit as the plane landed. 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 USAF 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
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. By the early 1960s, the airline had expanded their DC-3 service with nonstop flights to Port Hardy as well. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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:
- 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron flying the Lockheed CP-140 Aurora
- 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron flying the CC-115 Buffalo fixed-wing and CH-149 Cormorant rotary-wing aircraft
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 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 2-33A's and housing the cadets training on Cessna 172's respectively in the summer months. 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. Also it trains cadets in three specialty trades Marine Engineering, Shipwright, and Silver Sail. It is also host to the local Canadian Forces Sail Association.
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
|Air Canada Express||Vancouver|
|Canadian North||Charter: Calgary, Fort McMurray, Vancouver|
|Island Express Air||Abbotsford, Boundary Bay, Nanaimo, Victoria|
|Pacific Coastal Airlines||Bella Bella, Campbell River, Vancouver|
Seasonal: Puerto Vallarta
|WestJet Encore||Calgary, Vancouver (begins December 14, 2017)
- Canada Flight Supplement. Effective 0901Z 17 August 2017 to 0901Z 12 October 2017.
- Synoptic/Metstat Station Information Archived December 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Total aircraft movements by class of operation
- Airport Divestiture Status Report Archived September 30, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
- MacDonnell, Duncan; Martin, Debra (June 6, 1979). "747 Limps into Comox". Comox District Free Press.
- McKellar, Ruth (June 6, 1979). "Jumbo's 399 Drop into Comox for Breakfast". The Daily Colonist.
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Sept. 27, 1959 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Oct. 2, 1961 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, June 24, 1968 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 15, 1975 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Vancouver-Comox flight schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 28, 1985 Pacific Western Airlines system timetable
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 2, 1995 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Vancouver-Comox flights schedules