PHOTO: WO Serge Peters, A/F PA.
OTTAWA – The Canadian Centennial of Flight Board of Directors and Hawk One team officially launched a commemorative project Saturday, September 20th to mark 100 years of powered flight that Canadians can celebrate throughout 2009.
During a press conference held at the Vintage Wings of Canada in Gatineau, P.Q., Colonel (retired) Chris Hadfield, Canadian Space Agency astronaut and former CF-18 fighter pilot, addressed a crowd of aviation enthusiasts of all ages by unveiling Hawk One, a Centennial of Flight project involving the resurrection of a fully restored Canadair F-86 Sabre 5 that will fly across the country in 2009 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada. Colonel Hadfield was joined by members of the Hawk One team and Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame member, Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Fern Villeneuve, the original leader of the RCAF Golden Hawks aerobatic team.
Mr. Geoffrey Languedoc, chairman of the Centennial of Flight Board of Directors, announced yearlong celebrations by unveiling the Canadian Centennial of Flight logo that will be displayed nation-wide to inform Canadians of the distinguished civil and military aviation history that Canada can be proud of and will pay tribute to starting in February 2009.
It was on a cold day in Baddeck, Nova Scotia on February 23, 1909 that the first flight of the Silver Dart took place, flown by J.A.D. McCurdy, a young engineering graduate from the University of Toronto and founding member of the Aerial Experiment Association.
Legendary pioneers in Canadian aviation history associated with that historic event nearly 100 years ago included Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, a visionary and prolific inventor who helped propel aviation technology into the 20th century.
The Canadian Centennial of Flight Project is envisioned as a way to provide support to Canadians who want to make the 100th anniversary of the first flight in Canada an opportunity to celebrate not only the historic event of 1909, but also to showcase our myriad achievements in civilian and military aviation in the decades since then, both at home and abroad.
Over the past 100 years, Canada has achieved an enviable record of accomplishment in all facets of aviation – from design and manufacturing to transportation, military operations, flight safety and the exploration of space in partnership with her allies.
Chris Hadfield, an accomplished pilot and Canadian astronaut who embodies many facets of the Canadian Centennial of Flight, will join four other highly experienced former Canadian Forces’ pilots to fly the F-86 Sabre at select air shows throughout 2009.
The F-86 was the RCAF’s principal fighter aircraft during the first decade of the Cold War. Canadian fighter pilots flew the Sabre with 12 RCAF squadrons based in Europe with No. 1 Air Division as well as at several RCAF stations within Canada.
Hawk One derives its title from the Golden Hawks, Canada’s legendary aerobatic demonstration team, which was officially formed at RCAF Station Chatham, New Brunswick on March 1, 1959 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of powered flight.
The Hawk One project represents a unique partnership between Vintage Wings of Canada, the civilian sector (through corporate sponsorships) and the Department of National Defence (through “in kind” support). Michael Potter, founder of Vintage Wings of Canada, which operates and displays a collection of classic aircraft from their facility at the Gatineau Airport in Quebec, purchased the Sabre which served 16 years in the RCAF prior to being demilitarized and registered as a civilian aircraft.