419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron

The NATO Flying Training in Canada programme was launched in 2000 and 419 Ta ctical Fighter Training Squadron became responsible for Phase IV training – the last step before the cockpit of a frontline f ighter. Dirk Jan de Ridder investigates.

The area north of Cold Lake is very scarcely populated, making it ideal for all types of air-to-air and air-to-ground training. All the squadron’s sorties are flown with an Air Combat Manoeuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) pod on the left wing-tip station, a centreline fuel tank and an inert Sidewinder missile on the right wing-tip.
All photos Dirk Jan de Ridder

The sun rises over Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake, Alberta, as a group of young Canadian, Hungarian and Singaporean pilots walk out to their CT-155 Hawk jets. With several years of pilot training behind them and already cleared solo on the Hawk, this is a new chapter in their careers. Here at Cold Lake they will be taught to wear the aircraft like a suit, manoeuvre it to the limit in combat and kill bandits while staying alive themselves. After years spent in a relatively benign training environment, this is the first time they are part of a squadron. The pressure is on to demonstrate they are not just pilots, but fighter pilots.


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