After spending years researching the former Caronport airbase for his book In Plain Site, author Joel From has now produced a self-guided walking tour of the complex for history buffs.
No. 33 Elementary Flight Training School (Royal Air Force) was part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during the Second World War. During the base’s short existence — it operated from January 1942 to January 1944 — it turned out 1,837 graduates, part of the plan’s overall graduate number of 131,553, including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators for the air forces of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Touring the former airbase and its remaining buildings is not a new activity for From, he explained, as he had been giving group tours irregularly for more than five years, while he has also dragged his students around the base with him.
“It occurred to me that aviation buffs might want to see what the book is about,” he said recently. “I thought people who read the book could take an hour to see what the base was like.”
Chuckling, From acknowledged that while many of the buildings on the base are no longer standing — a few still are — their locations are on the map for people to visit.
From had help putting the booklet together from Josh Knowles, who assisted with the artwork, while eight organizations from Caronport provided funding. On the front of the booklet is a picture of a Tiger Moth trainer, while attached are five pages containing the 17 locations on tour. Also attached is a map of the base, a map of the runway system, and an additional tour of the Caron cemetery, where 10 RAF airmen are buried.
Several residents of Caronport tested the tour ahead of its launch, From said. It took them 45 minutes to walk the entire tour since they live there. For others, it will probably take 60 minutes to make the full circuit. Since there are 17 stops, people can drive from location to location.
From has worked out a deal with The Pilgrim Inn in Caronport, where if visitors stay the night there, the hotel will provide the walking tour booklet and map for free; otherwise, the package costs $9.99 plus tax. Tourists could then stroll around the former airbase, while they could also visit the cemetery.
“I’m very excited. I’d like to see people, especially those who read the book, to walk through this tour and remember what they read,” he said. “But (at the same time) it might also bring people to the book.”
Now that From is finished creating the tour, he plans to start promoting his book once again and giving presentations about it. He will also continue to respond to people looking for information about relatives who were stationed at the base during the war. During the pandemic lockdown, five people from places such as California, England, Australia and Canada contacted him looking for such information.
Depending upon From’s availability, he might be able to offer groups a personal guided tour. Anyone interested in booking a tour should visit the website www.caronairbase.com and click on the “Walking Tour” tab.
“I am not aware of anything like this (tour) anywhere,” he added, “especially in Canada.”