Canadian Forces Baggage Tags

It is not always realised that when troops are carried in military transport planes on long journeys, it is often very much like a commercial air flight. Passports may be needed, meals are provided at your seat and baggage needs to be carried in the aircraft’s hold just like on a commercial flight. With an aircraft holding several hundred soldiers, there is often a lot of baggage to manage and just like at a civilian airport tags are attached to the luggage to ensure the bags are loaded onto the correct plane and nothing goes astray. Today we are taking a look at a set of Canadian issue luggage tags dating from the 1970s:

As one would expect from Canada, the tags are bilingual and printed in both English and French. Two of the tags are for a flight to Gander, a town in Newfoundland that was a regular stop for aircraft on transatlantic flights before aircraft had enough range to do the flight in one single trip.

The date 1977 can just be seen at the top of the tag. Gander is the home of the RCAF’s air sea rescue that covers most of the Western Atlantic and it is an important Canadian military base, hence the tags for flights bringing men to and from this base.

The second design of tag is orange rather than white and is for a flight to Ottawa:

The aircraft used for long range transport at this period was the Boeing CC-137 which had been introduced in 1970 when five of them purchased for long range military and VIP transport. The aircraft could hold 174 passengers and was a great upgrade on the previous Yukon and Cosmopolitan transports and the aircraft were to see service right through until the 1990s.


  1. I may have been in Gander in 1977…probably still have a few CF baggage tags in a drawer too πŸ˜‰

    We maintained a detachment in Gander for refueling/rearming our CF-101 VooDoo Interceptors since they wouldn’t have enough fuel to get back to Chatham after a scramble mission over the North Atlantic.
    Personnel usually went for two weeks at a time so the rotation was steady
    We had a floor in the Holiday Inn since it was closer to the airfield but eventually ended up in a self contained building 😦
    Service Flights also served Nfld bases and were a divert base for transatlantic flights as well as the SAR detachment.
    We also often used civvy air to get there when Service flights were either full or cancelled.
    CFB Goose bay was another Nfld Base used for NATO training.
    It’s not quite on the edge of the world, but you can see it from there.
    My brother was told he was being stationed there and he said he’d retire first
    He was told he’d be promoted if he went and answered “the pay raise won’t cover the alimony”
    He ended up being promoted anyway and retired a few weeks later when his job in the SAR Helicopter Sqn was outsourced to a civilian company and he applied for that…
    He ended up making more for the same job plus a pension πŸ˜‰

    • And since we only had five 707’s in service, I’m pretty confident I can say I’ve flown on the one in the picture πŸ™‚

      • And of those five airframes, one was usually in for scheduled maintenance, one was often configured for AAR for our CF-5’s, one was regularly configured with a VIP module in case some politician wanted to go somewhere, another also configured that way as a backup (can’t make politicians wait, of course)
        The last, or maybe two if there wasn’t AAR going on, were on the regular interbase ‘sea to shining sea and points beyond’ run including Europe (we had two large bases in Germany at the time)
        If one broke down, guess which one got cut…
        Lost out on ‘priority 5’ non-duty standby seating a lot of times when the A/C crapped out. got stranded halfway across the country more than once, hitched a ride on a Herc or other transport after being stranded and ended up on civvy air to get to training courses at other Bases or countries more often than not.

  2. Seeing some things just drags old memories to the front kicking and screaming.
    Thanks for giving them a last chance before they fade completely.

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