Sic Itur ad Astra, a Chronological History of Canadian Civil and Military Aviation on the 100th Anniversary of the RCAF Volume 1, From the beginning to the end of 1945

Sic Itur ad Astra,

a Chronological History of Canadian Civil and Military Aviation on the 100th Anniversary of the RCAF 

Volume 1, From the beginning to the end of 1945

(Cover Photo, Author’s Artwork)

Avro Lancaster, No. 6 (RCAF) Group, Bomber Command, safe return at dawn.

Publication planned for the fall of 2023.


In 2024, the RCAF celebrates its 100th anniversary. As an Associate RCAF Historian, and Canadian aviation artist, I have chosen this venue to document key dates in our aviation history.  The story is illustrated with a considerable number of interesting stories and photographs of the Canadian airmen and airwomen and their aircraft that either flew them or kept them flying.  You will find brief historical notes of the aircraft as they came into service.

The data specifically includes the history of the buildup of Canadian flight experiences from balloon and glider flights near the turn of the century and on, to the classic first powered flights before the wars.  You will find details and photos here of the heritage aircraft that were flown by Canadians who served with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during the First World War and in the fledgling Canadian Air Force(CAF) that followed between the wars. The launch of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1924, and the aviation elements of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army and the Canadian Forces (CF) continue the story.

For aircraft held on strength in significant numbers with the CF, their variants, and, where known, their serial numbers, are included in the timelines.  During the Second World War, more Canadians flew with the Royal Air Force (RAF), than the RCAF, because of the urgent need for replacement aircrews as the fortunes of war caused tremendous casualties in all elements of Commonwealth and Allied aviation.  You will find a good number of photos of the combat aircraft that were in service with active Squadrons at home and overseas during and after both major wars.  I have borrowed a great number of historical photographs from the Library and Archives Canada, RCAF, RCN, and DND Archives and collections to illustrate examples where they appear in the timeline presented here.  Where possible, I have included a few of my own and a few from colleagues who have worked to preserve our aviation history.

One of the magnificent things Canadians have done is our national and provincial investment in a remarkable number of museums dedicated to the material and documentary preservation of our aviation history.  It is exciting to see the actual numbers of former Canadian warplanes increasing as a few rare examples are being recovered from their crash sites in the bush, traded for, or bought back from owners who have been flying them in other countries. In a few outstanding cases, accurate replicas, such as the Burgess-Dunne, Canada’s very first official warplane, and the Canadian Vickers Vedette biplane have been replicated.  Full scale models such as an Avro CF-105 Arrow replica have also made a welcome appearance.  

Oneof the aims of this book is to identify what our historic aircraft looked likeand to help an enthusiast track down more detailed information which might behelpful in identifying an aircraft to determine if it was “one of ours.”

Itis my sincere hope that our aviation history will be shared and preserved forall who look to the sky and long to be up there making the most of it.

Ex Coelis (From the Skies)


Major (Retired) Harold A.Skaarup

Fredericton, New Brunswick

(Aviation artwork by Don Connolly)

16 June 1917. Canadian 2Lt L.P. Watkins, a graduate of the Curtiss school in Toronto, shot down Zeppelin L.48 over England. L.48 joined in an attempted attack on London with 4 other biography of A/C/M Lloyd Samuel Breadner, CB, DSC, may be viewed in Vol. 2, Annex B, Distinguished Canadian Zeppelins, L 42, L 44, L 45 and L 47. Commanded by George Eichler, on his 13th raid, it became lost and was intercepted and destroyed by Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.12 (Serial No. 6110), flown by Canadian pilot 2LtLoudon Pierce Watkins. He was attached to No. 37 Squadron RFC. Watkins enlisted with his three brothers. He had been based in the UK, as home defence, since 11Dec 1916. Watkins shot down L 48 over water near Great Yarmouth on 17 June 1917but it crashed near Theberton, Suffolk, a village near the town of Leiston. There were three survivors, with the rest of the crew buried at Theberton, later to be exhumed and reburied at Cannock Chase. Of the seven Zeppelins lostover England that were shot down in 1917 during the First World War, L 48 was the only one shot down by the RFC's Home defence. (Wikipedia)

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643715)

Canadian Air Force cap badge

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