COLD LAKE - The Royal Canadian Air Force will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024 and 4 Wing Cold Lake is planning to go full throttle in recognizing the milestone.
The formation of the first Canadian squadron occurred just after World War 1 in 1918, and it is from there that 4 Wing traces its lineage. On April 1, 1924, the RCAF came into being in Borden, Ont. and 30 years later RCAF Station Cold Lake opened.
Following the closure of its base in Baden-Soellingen, Germany, CFB Cold Lake became the home of 4 Wing in 1994.
RCAF Major Karl Braschuk shared this brief history of 4 Wing with City of Cold Lake council members Oct. 24 as he presented the base’s preliminary plans for the 100th celebration of the RCAF locally and invited them to engage with 4 Wing in the planning.
“Currently, our mission here at 4 Wing Cold Lake is the defense of North America, Canada specifically, so we stand on guard currently for our nation and the future is we have F-35s coming and there’s other capabilities looking at 4 Wing as home.”
Braschuk said next year will see the base kicking off new infrastructure and capacities around the F-35 jet fighters, slated to replace the CF-18 jets that have been in play since 1983.
“I’m sure everyone is aware of that and looking forward to the future of the air force base here in Cold Lake.”
4 Wing has set May 21 – May 25 for a focused week of anniversary celebrations. Additionally, other events during the year, including the Cold Lake Air Show in July, will celebrate the 100th anniversary.
Among the highlights is an open house May 22 hosted at the Medley Terminal on the base with 4 Wing units on display, RCAF attractions and Canadian Armed Forces recruiting.
“Expect to see aircraft, vehicles and much more – people are going to talk about their capability and we’re all proud. uniform and civilian, of what we do and we’re going to present that,” Braschuk said, explaining that it will be open to the public and regional schools will be invited to bring their students.
Wing War Day will also take place on May 22. “That just means there will be a lot of airplanes flying that day. It’s going to be awesome,” Braschuk said.
“Wing War Day is something that happens at least once, sometime multiple times a year and you see a lot of airplanes go up and do what we call a mass formation attack. They’ll go out to the range and do that.”
Mayor Craig Copeland wondered at the prospect of 4 Wing buzzing the city that day.
“Can you image if you throw up 50 or so planes in the air and have them buzz north to south, that would be amazing.”
“Sounds good sir,” Braschuk said, adding “We’ll see if we can get 50 aircraft,” which drew some laughter from those in the room.
May 23 has been tagged as “Freedom of the City” day and will possibly include a fly-past of 4 Wing assets and a parade.
“4 Wing parading through town – it’s going to be a big event and so we have some coordination to do,” he said.
May 24 will be the RCAF Run and Wellness Walk at the base followed the next day by an RCAF gala.
4 Wing Cold Lake is recognized as the busiest fighter base in Canada.
“4 Wing Cold Lake is, without question, the home of the fighter pilot. It not only hosts Canada's world-class tactical fighter force training, but also deploys and supports fighter aircraft at a moment’s notice to fulfill the domestic and international roles of Canada's Air Force,” notes the RCAF on its website.