Out of this World
Alberta's air space is a busy place
by Alberta Venture Staff
Illustration Kid Pixel
It’s not quite Fightertown USA, but 4 Wing Cold Lake is Canada’s largest and busiest fighter-pilot training facility. In fact, Canada’s favourite astronaut, Chris Hadfield, trained at 4 Wing in the mid-1980s before his illustrious career with the Canadian Space Agency.
To some, this Albertan link with aerospace might seem like an oddity, but the province actually has a long history with the industry. In 1927, Edmonton’s City Centre Airport became the first municipally licensed airport in Canada, and during World War II, Alberta was home to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Since then, this little-discussed sector in Alberta has, well, soared.
Alberta is strong in aircraft manufacturing and maintenance, and is now branching into space science. University researchers and companies such as NovAtel and BlackBridge Geomatics (formerly Iunctus) have helped design and build components for the Mars Rover, the Herschel Space Observatory and many other projects.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone!
Medicine Hat is home to the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, a federally supported organization that advocates for the sector. And the province is home to more than 70 companies, military organizations and educational institutions working on the research and development of unmanned vehicles. Alberta has already been the site for the development of high-tech drones for military and surveillance use, but the potential applications go well beyond just those areas. These vehicles, both aircraft and on-ground, can be used for everything from crop surveillance to transportation of goods.