Prince Edward Island’s aviation history originated in 1940, which marked the establishment of a Canadian Forces Military base to support the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In the years to follow the evolution of the base served to support multiple capacities of the Canadian Forces including;
- Renamed as the Royal Canadian Air Force Station Summerside supporting No. 9 Service Flying Training School for pilots, No. 53 Air Cadet Squadron, and No. 1 General Reconnaissance School for pilots and navigators (1941)
- RCAF Air Navigation School (1948)
- Maritime Air Command , as the No. 2. Maritime Operational Training Unit (1953)
- Maritime Proving and Evaluation Unit (1959), bringing the first ARGUS aircraft to Summerside
- Establishment of 415 “Swordfish” Squadron (1961)
- Renamed Canadian Forces Base Summerside (1968)
- Establishment of 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron as the prime search and rescue unit serving Canada’s east coast (1968).
- Junior Leadership School was formed to develop leadership potential for the Canadian Armed Forces (1974)
- 880 Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron and 420 Air Reserve Squadron relocated to Summerside, operating the TRACKER aircraft (1981)
Following a near 50-year history, the announcement to close the Canadian Forces Base in 1989 led to the industrious collaboration of government and key partners to develop a commercial aerospace cluster in Prince Edward Island utilizing the assets and infrastructure of the former base to create a business park known as Slemon Park Corporation. The results of these efforts soon came to fruition with the establishment of the first aerospace facility in Slemon Park in 1992. While a significant proportion of the cluster is located in Western Prince Edward Island (Slemon Park and Summerside areas), sector growth in recent years has led to the establishment of facilities throughout Central and Eastern parts of the Province. Sector investment and development continues to thrive and is now recognized as one of the fastest growing and leading economic industry sectors in the province.
Today, the sector in Prince Edward Island is comprised primarily of companies serving commercial aviation markets in the manufacturing and MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul) segments.