The J.A. Douglas McCurdy
Airport was developed in 1929 through the Cape Breton Flying Club, which
operated the airport primarily for local air traffic. The Department of
National Defense acquired and upgraded the Sydney facility in 1938, with
the construction of three 1220 meter runways. During the Second World
War, the airport was used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as a base for
aircraft engaged in anti-submarine operations off the Atlantic coast and
in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and was also home to an RCAF fighter
squadron. Between 1940 and 1943, the existing runways were extended to
1525 meters to meet operational requirements. When the war ended in
1945, the sub threat to the Atlantic coast was over and Royal Canadian
Air Force Station Sydney was decommissioned.
In March of 1946, the Department of Transportation recognized the
potential of the site and assumed operation of the facility in support
of Trans-Canada Airlines passenger service to Sydney. The first license
for J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport was issued on March 10, 1947.
During the 1950s, the airport underwent renovations as runway 07-25 was
extended to 2155 meters. The airport at this time was designated as a
weather alternate for North Atlantic air routes; however, during the
mid-1960s, air traffic through J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport increased
significantly and the air terminal building featured a restaurant,
lounge, gift shop, and car rentals, as well as other amenities for the
convenience of air travelers.
In keeping with our history of safe, accessible, and comfortable air
travel to and from Cape Breton, we continue to work with the federal
government and access their capital assistance program to provide safe
and secure, worry free travel to our customers.
All of the lighting from the Sydney-Glace Bay Highway to the front the
Air Terminal Building has been replaced. We have purchased the MacLean
hangar in an effort to assure that the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport owns
the entire infrastructure located within its boundaries. With the
assistance of the federal government's Airport Capital Assistance
Program (ACAP), we have replaced thirty-five apron panels, which
contribute to the safety issue for passengers and airlines utilizing J.A.
Douglas McCurdy Airport.
These improvements reflect our customer-oriented approach. We want every
experience at the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport to be a positive one. Our
goal is to provide the best service possible to make sure the customer
keeps coming back.
Board Recognizes McCurdy In Name Change
Barnstormer, pioneer, aviator, engineer, Lieutenant Governor
Pick one. Pick them
all! What's in our name? Turns out everything when it is a reference to
J.A. Douglas McCurdy, Canada's aviation pioneer and Cape Breton's
favourite son of Silver Dart fame. Born in Baddeck, Cape Breton in 1896,
J.A. Douglas McCurdy's horizon was destined to rise to elevations that
would challenge conventional thinking about travel and play a
significant pioneering role in the early days of air travel. An engineer
by profession and an innovator and adventurer by spirit, J.A. Douglas
McCurdy joined famed inventor Alexander Graham Bell's team's flight
experiments in Baddeck. In February, 1909 McCurdy piloted the first
flight in the British Empire over the frozen waters of the Bras d'Or
Lakes. That flight of almost a mile at an estimated 40 miles per hour
confirmed McCurdy's belief that flight would change the world of travel.
His passion for all things aeronautic was not a flight of fancy. He saw
significant roles for air flight in the theatre of war and industry.
Along with Dr. Bell and his friend Casey Baldwin, they would set up an
air plane factory to develop planes for use in national defence by the
Canadian government. While the work conducted for national defence did
not result in any contracts it did continue to advance flight
Maybe growing up on Cape Breton Island with its both dramatic and
romantic oceanbound skyscapes were the source of his passion for
discovering the world beyond the horizon. It was his record breaking 94
mile flight out-of-the-sight-of-land from Florida to Cuba in 1911 that
proved his skill as one of the great aviation pioneers. During that
flight McCurdy blazed the first path for open ocean flight that would
make the world smaller and more accessible. In a fitting tribute and nod
to a local son of Cape Breton who saw and confidently demonstrated the
future of flight over-the-ocean the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport
is used as a flight-planned alternate for flights traveling between
points in Atlantic Canada and flights traveling overseas. On July 27,
2009 The Sydney Airport was renamed J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport
in honour of the distinguished pioneering Canadian aviator and the 19th
Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia – John Alexander Douglas McCurdy.
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