"Cold Lake - Air Combat Fighter Training Area" Cold Lake by Bwana_Brown
Cold Lake Travel Guide: 31 reviews and 49 photos
Born during the Korean War and in the midst of the Cold War, construction of the fighter base at Cold Lake, Alberta was begun in 1952 and finished two years later. The idea was to have a vast training area where live-firing, bombing and air-to-air combat exercises could be held. Unlike the desert terrain of the US training area in Nevada, the forests and lakes of northern Alberta and Saskatchewan more closely resembled European terrain where it was felt the 'flashpoint' for war would be located.
As a result, the Base at Cold Lake was built to service the aircraft using the 138 x 45 mile live-firing range as well as its low level flying area of the same size as France (please see my General tip for a map of its location). Regular major exercises involving up to 300 aircraft from the United States, Canada and Europe are held here.
My son-in-law, an Air Force Search & Rescue Technician, had been re-posted here from Greenwood, Nova Scotia on the Atlantic coast. That was good enough for us, two and a half months later, in September 2004, we arrived to check out their new surroundings!
This CF-5A Freedom Fighter is one of the static displays along the road that leads from the town centre onto the Base itself. Canada purchased 240 of these mid-performance fighters between 1968-1975 as the backbone of its NATO reinforcement committment, with the task of helping the defense of Norway.
I was not sure what to expect in the wilds of Alberta, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The town of Cold Lake is an amalgamation of three separate communities and has beautiful streets, roads, stores and scenery. Almost half of the population of 12,000 people are directly associated with the Base.
We were long overdue for a second visit, so in June/July, 2006 my wife and I returned for a look at Cold Lake in the summer. The weather was fantastic, with temperatures of 25-27 C and sunshine every day for a week! As chance would have it, our next trip there was in December, 2007 as we celebrated New Year's Eve with our oldest and youngest daughters. The problem was, the weather was in the reverse direction, at -23 C, but at least the area was beautifully snow-covered!!
- Pros:Lot's of outdoor activities close at hand
- Cons:A long drive from anywhere else!
- In a nutshell:Quite a nice little town
Cold Lake did not get its name by accident - for a good seven months of the year it is not a warm place in which to be... more travel advice
The day after our lakeside swim, we decided to take advantage of the sunny weather by having a traditional Canadian... more travel advice
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