Sprott Shaw’s Aviation School: A Glimpse into the Past

sprott shaw aviation school flight training history

As one of British Columbia’s oldest post-secondary institutions, Sprott Shaw College has a deep history that dates all the way back to 1903. Since then, we’ve been through a lot (like World Wars, the Great Depression, and much more) and have made a lot of changes, developments, and progress. Through it all, we’ve held our promise of being dedicated to our students and offering high-quality education. 

Since our inception, one interesting fact that many people are unaware of is that we used to offer flight training at our Aviation School. Yes, you read that right – Sprott Shaw College had an Aviation School!

The History of Sprott Shaw’s Aviation School

Throughout the 1920s, aviation was an advancement that developed rapidly in BC.

To meet the increased demand for flying in the Lower Mainland, a new airport was established. In May of 1929, BC’s second licensed airport, Lansdowne Airfield, officially opened. While Lansdowne Airfield was only supposed to be a temporary facility until a permanent site was built, the airport grew in demand and actually became the hub of aviation in the Lower Mainland during its operation.   

sprott shaw aviation school flight training history

One of BC’s first airlines, British Columbia Airways, operated out of Lansdowne Airfield and flew Canada’s first international passenger plane service, which travelled between the cities of Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle. This flight was very popular as it received over 1000 passengers during the first few weeks of its service in the summer.

However, the British Columbia Airways line was short-lived as they faced a tragic plane accident on one of their flights. After facing lawsuits after the crash, the flying school part of the business from British Columbia Airways was taken over by Sprott Shaw College.

After this incident, the Lansdowne Airfield became the home of several commercial aviation companies and flight schools, including the Aero Club of BC and our very own Sprott Shaw Aviation School.

sprott shaw aviation school flight training history

During this time, gliders were used to teach our students elementary flight principles and allow them to practice flight control. These gliders were launched using a Maxwell automobile and a four-hundred-foot towrope, which let the students see altitudes of approximately 200 feet before cutting loose and landing at the airport!

While we no longer offer flight training for our students today, we do have a variety of other equally interesting programs like Early Childhood Education, Community Support Worker, Practical Nursing, Health Care Assistant, Construction Electrician, Industrial Design, and more.

To learn more about our history, visit our page here.

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