Welcome to the No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum
There is a little-known gem of a museum in Dunnville, Ontario that preserves artifacts and training aircraft from the No. 6 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) that was used to train fighter pilots. This was one of 19 SFTS in Canada run by the RCAF as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). An additional 10 SFTS were run by the RAF.
Starting in late spring of 1940, Timbro Construction turned working farmland into an active airfield that was to become the site of the No. 6 SFTS, including five hangars, three double runways, 50 H-huts, a drill hall, a canteen, a fire hall, and other buildings. The site was chosen because it was not near controlled air space and was close to the open water of Lake Erie. The No. 6 SFTS was the first Service Flying Training Schools to be built especially to train Air Force pilots. As a result, it was the only one to use structural steel in the construction of the hangars. (Those five hangars are still in use today.) Subsequent Service Flying Training Schools were built using wooden trusses to preserve steel for the war effort.
The No. 6 SFTS officially opened on November 25, 1940. The first class of pilots earned their wings on February 10, 1941. The last of 53 classes graduated in November 1944. A total of 2,436 pilots from Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the United States earned their wings here. Training aircraft included Yales, Harvards, and Ansons. By the middle of 1943 Yales had been eliminated, but one Moth was added for five months. During the four years of operation, 47 men lost their lives. Six Yales and 26 Harvards were destroyed in training accidents.
At the end of the War, No.6 SFTS was decommissioned and became a storage and maintenance site for WW II aircraft. A great number of the buildings were taken down or sold. This lasted until the early 1960’s when the property was sold to a group of businessmen who for the next 30 years used the property to raise Turkeys.
Fortunately in 1999 the property was purchased by 3 local businessmen. Russ Cameron, Vic Powell, & Dan Silverthorne. These three individuals were very instrumental in helping to guide the Museum in getting started with both personal efforts, and financial help. Most notably were the restoration of 2 Harvard’s and the purchase of a number of vintage aircraft. The Museum you see today would not be what it is without these individuals, and the volunteers who put so many hours into its creation. The No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum opened its doors on July 5th, 2003.
Today the Museum features:
- EXTENSIVE DISPLAYS of photographs, uniforms, memorabilia, medals, and artifacts, including some used at the No. 6 SFTS. Because of these extensive displays and artifacts, a retired US Air Force officer said this was "One of the best Air Force Museums I have visited."
- VINTAGE AIRCRAFT of the type used at the No. 6 SFTS and other training bases, including a Yale and a Cornell. We also have a Fleet Finch that was used at Elementary Flying Training Schools, as well as realistic models of a Spitfire and a Mosquito bomber. Also on display are a Grumman Tracker that flew off of the HMCS Bonaventure, and a World War I Nieuport 17. As the Dunnville Airport is now closed to flight operations, we no longer fly any of these planes.
- FLIGHT SIMULATOR that allows ground-based pilots to “fly” a wide variety of vintage aircraft to any former training base in Canada.
- A MEMORIAL GARDEN that honours the men who lost their lives while training at the No. 6 SFTS, as well as those who were in training at the No. 16 SFTS in Hagersville as bomber pilots and the No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School in Jarvis.
- A LIBRARY of books and video tapes about World War II, operational aircraft and the men who flew them.
Through these memorabilia and vintage aircraft, visitors gain a sense of what it was like for the young men from Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the USA who trained at the No. 6 SFTS and served during World War II in the European Theatre. Some visiting veterans, and family members who lost loved ones during the War, find the Museum an emotional event.
New Feature Added
If you want to see more detail on the embedded photos, just click on a photo and an enlarged version will open in a new window.
We are an all-volunteer organization with no government or outside funding. The annual operating and capital budget is covered by memberships, donations, sponsorships and fund raisers.
Memberships are the life blood of the Museum. Three types of memberships are available: Annual ($50), Lifetime ($500) and Corporate Lifetime ($1,000). Please contact us for details.
Every Tuesday a dedicated crew of volunteers comes out to the Museum to work on new projects and do necessary maintenance. Volunteers also work on fund raising projects to keep the Museum operating.
Come out and join us!
Museum now on winter hours
We are open Tuesday mornings all year long from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. You can arrange a tour by sending an email through the Contact Us page or by calling 905-701-7223.
Copies of recent Museum Newsletters now available on the Web site.
Any one interested in newsletters since February 2015 can access those through the News page.
Records of No. 6 SFTS Trainees
The Museum records of pilot trainees has been converted to searchable digital files to facilitate the search for student names in response to requests from family members. We also have the details of the 47 men who died while training at the No. 6 SFTS, as well as a book detailing every member of the RCAF who died during WW II. Send requests using the email form on the Contact Us page.
Fatalities at No. 6 SFTS
Details of the 47 fatalities while the base was in operation as a training facility are available by clicking on this link.