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The J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport
A history of the airport

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 performance.

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.

Learn more about the airport at
Flights can be booked through West Jet and Air Canada

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