Hawk One and the Mynarski Lancaster take to the skies

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On June 12 / 13, 1944, 419 ‘Moose’ Squadron Avro Lancasters of the #6 Bombing Group, RCAF took to the skies to attack a target at Cambrai, France. Aboard Lancaster KB726 was Winnipeg native, Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski, the mid-upper gunner on the mighty Avro bomber. During the raid, KB726 (VRA) was attacked by a German night fighter and set ablaze. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out, but against orders Mynarski stayed aboard the doomed aircraft to help save the struggling tail gunner, Pat Brophy, who was trapped in the rear turret. After numerous attempts to help Brophy out of his turret, Mynarski, with parachute and flying suit ablaze, finally jumped from the aircraft, but not before saluting his trapped comrade. PO Mynarski survived the jump but perished from his burns upon landing. Miraculously Brophy survived the crash of the Lancaster and was thrown free from his turret when the aircraft hit a tree. Brophy was able to tell the tale of his friend’s heroic actions and as a result, Andrew Mynarski was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his brave efforts.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Avro Lancaster is dedicated to Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski VC.

On June 13, 2012, the 68th anniversary of Mynarksi’s selfless actions, the Lancaster took to the skies over Southern Ontario with the Discovery Air Canadair Sabre V – ‘Hawk One’ for an air-to-air photo mission.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Peter Handley / Vintage Wings of Canada

East Meets West: L-29 v. Sabre

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Here at Vintage Wings, we are all about cooperation. We all graduated from kindergarten and we know how to share and get along with each other – even though, at times, our histories may clash. Take for example the two jets sitting in the hangar. In one corner we have an L-29 Delphin, a Czechoslovakian aircraft built in the 1960’s and used by all the Eastern bloc countries (except Poland) for training. Sitting a safe distance away and closely guarded by piston fighters is a Mk V Sabre, built under licence by Canadair a decade previous, in the 1950’s and used primarily as a combat/fighter jet, mostly by the Western countries.

The fire-engine red L-29 is a temporary resident to the building. It is being imported by Vintech Aero, Vintage Wings’ AMO (Aircraft Maintenance Organization) for a private owner. The gold coloured Sabre meanwhile, is a part of the Michael Potter Collection, featured by Vintage Wings of Canada, and it resides permanently here at the hangar.

The first Sabre flew for the U.S. forces in 1947. Worldwide, over 9500 of these single-seat fighters were produced. Eighteen hundred of those were built right here in Canada from 1950-1958. The Canadair Sabre came in six different flavours and featured the Avro Orenda engine, with a 10-stage axial flow compressor and single-stage turbine. The Orenda engine produced 7275 lbs of thrust for this combat/fighter aircraft that earned the name “MiG Killer” during the Korean War.

Built at different times and for different purposes, the L-29 and Sabre would not normally draw comparisons. But you never know what you are going to find in the Vintage Wings hangar. Every aircraft has a story and our tour guides would love to share them with you. Now is the perfect time to come in and check it out. Call 819-669-9603 to book your free tour.

Farewell to Friends – We Shall Remember Them

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By Dan Dempsey, Hawk One Team Leader

As Hawk One has traversed Canada over the past two years our team has had the privilege of meeting two special groups of people – the RCAF veterans who flew and worked on the F-86 during the heydays of the Sword along with hundreds of youngsters whose wide-eyed stares have marveled at the beauty of Hawk One. Watching the jet fly has set many a young mind racing with imagination, but for the veterans it has been fifty year-old memories that have been rekindled. They too were once young…

It is a sad reality that time stands still for no one, not even the steely-eyed fighter pilot, and so it is that we have had to recently bid a fond farewell to two stalwart members of the Sabre fraternity – Don Myles and Jim McCombe. Both had a nostalgic connection to Hawk One.

Don Myles

Having joined the RCAF in 1952, Don Myles was a young fighter pilot on 441 (F) Sqn when a certain Sabre 5 arrived at No.1 Fighter Wing in Marville, France in early 1955. Bearing the RCAF serial number 23314, this was the aircraft destined to become Hawk One 54 years later. Don was among the first pilots to fly 314, doing so for the first time on March 15, 1955. He would do so numerous times over the next 16 months until the aircraft was replaced by the Sabre 6 and repatriated to Canada. In all Don would complete four operational tours in Europe during the Cold War, including a tour as commanding officer of 441 Tac (F) Sqn on the CF-104 Starfighter. In retirement in Victoria, BC, he was a regular tour guide at the BC Aviation Museum, conducting his last tour only a few weeks before he passed away on November 16, 2010.

F/O Don Myles, budding fighter pilot circa 1953. The RCAF took delivery of 1,180 Sabres between 1951 and 1956, initially manning 12 squadrons in Europe.

Sabre 23314, the RCAF fighter destined to become Hawk One. The jet served 16 years in the RCAF, including as a training aircraft for the Golden Hawks in 1962-1963.

Don reunited with an old friend in Comox in April 2009, Sabre 23314 rechristened as Hawk One.

Jim McCombe

Jim McCombe joined the RCAF in the early fifties fresh out of high school and following conversion onto the F-86 at RCAF Stn Chatham, N.B. found himself posted to No. 3 Fighter Wing in Zweibrucken, West Germany where he served on 434 (F) Sqn. Subsequently returning to Chatham to instruct at the OTU, he was destined to become a charter member of the RCAF Golden Hawks aerobatic team when he was selected by team leader S/L Fern Villeneuve to fly the right wing position on the team in February 1959. He spent three years on the team, his last as team leader in 1961. All told, Jim put in over 900 hours of aerobatic flying on the Sabre and flew in over 200 Golden Hawk airshows. He concluded his 23 year Air Force career as a search and rescue pilot in his hometown of Summerside, P.E.I.  Jim later spent 12 years with the Department of Transport and finished his flying career as chief pilot of Atlantic Airways where he continued to motivate young people to fly. Jim passed away in Halifax on January 7, 2011.

Jim McCombe’s Golden Hawk portrait photo in 1959

The famous shot of the Golden Hawks inverted over Niagara Falls on September 29, 1959. Lead – S/L Fern Villeneuve; Right Wing – F/L Jim McCombe; Left Wing – F/L Ed Rozdeba; Slot – F/L Ralph Annis.

Three of the orginal Golden Hawks (Ralph Annis, Bill Stewart and Jim McCombe) gathered at the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum in Feb 2009 to be briefed on the Hawk One project.

Jim (second from left) signing autographs with former Golden Hawks George Miller, Jack Frazer and Ralph Annis during their reunion in April 2009 at Comox marking the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada and 50th anniversary of the formation of the Golden Hawks.

Don Myles and Jim McCombe are characteristic of the hundreds of young men in the RCAF who stood alert during the early days of the Cold War in Europe. They loved to fly and served their country with distinction. Both were also very strong supporters of the Hawk One program.

We are proud to have known these fine gentlemen … and honoured to carry on their legacy. After all, they too once “danced the skies on the laughter-silvered wings” of an F-86 Sabre.

Per Ardua Ad Astra

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

John Gillespie Magee, Jr

The Flying Hadfields

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photo: Peter Handley / Vintage Wings of Canada

On Canada Day, an unusual pairing of aircraft took wing over the Gatineau Hills. The Vintage Wings of Canada P-40 Kittyhawk and the Vintage Wings / Discovery Air Hawk One Sabre V flew formation for a piece of Canadian aviation photographic history. The Kittyhawk, flown by Air Canada A-330 pilot Dave Hadfield with father and retired 25,000 hour AC pilot Roger in the back seat, paired up with the Sabre, flown by brother, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris.

Heartaches and Hang Ups

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By Mary Lee, November 3, 2009

The flight suits hang silently in the Vintage Wings locker room as the Hawk One team closes out the year. In total, Hawk One made 60 appearances including air shows, static displays and flypasts – a considerabley higher than anticipated season. The 2009 Centennial of Flight celebrations will forever be etched in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts as one of the most extraordinary events and will go down in aviation history as being simply brilliant.

This is the hardest blog entry I have had to make all year. Each time I posted an article from a local paper featuring one of our show appearances or a static display of Dan’s I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. Reading through the many lines of text splashed across pages and pages of newsprint, one could only feel proud of what our jet accomplished. We thrilled thousands of spectators, relived many magical moments for former Sabre jocks and help a nation pay homage to 100 years of incredible aviation history. We made it happen. A team of 24 volunteers of various backgrounds and talents meshed all together in one package called Hawk One. A team drawn together through a interesting network of connections that were woven over a span of more than 20 years of military history. The Six Degrees of Separation theory could never be truer than what lies behind the scenes of the Centennial of Heritage Flight project.

Peter Handley / Vintage Wings of Canada

And, on 30 October, at the Hawk One Year-End dinner, we raised a glass to our success and reminisced over our incredible journey – one that began three year prior but really only happened this year. It was a night to always remember. I laughed and I cried as Steve Swill Will read over the highlights of our season and gave personal thanks to each and every member of the team. “I find myself running out of adjectives,” describes Swill. “Hawk One is part of a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. The Hawk One story actually began February 23rd, 1909.” As Swill poured over the remarkable history that led to the creation of the Centennial Heritage Flight project, I feverishly wrote down notes on little sheets from a sticky pad someone kindly tossed in my direction. I didn’t want to miss a word. It was pointless. My emotions were too strong. This night was good-bye and we knew it. It wasn’t a night to play PAO/reporter. It was a night to celebrate with my team, and we did. However, there was one special message that does resonate from Swill’s eloquent speech that was also expressed by LGen André Deschamps. There is a future for Hawk One. “Suffice it to say, the Hawk One dream will not stop here,” stated Swill.

Stay tuned…

The images that follow tell the story of our celebration evening. I invite you, our readers and fans, to share comments and email us your special memories from the season.

Photo: Ruth Dempsey

On the only occasion the entire Hawk One team came together was for the Year-End dinner held in Ottawa, 30 Oct. It was an opportunity not to pass up for one final 2009 team photo.
Front Row (L-R): B. Granley, D. Taillon, R. Turgeon, R. Tomsett, M. Lee, S. Greenwood, and J. Trost.
Standing (L-R) B. Coyle, D. Dempsey, P. Kissmann, S. Will, J. Hill, T. Leslie, and C. Hadfield.
Wing kneeling (L-R): C. Adams, T. Forster, J. Maillet, and A. Janik.
Back Row (L-R): B. Schwindt, M. Gauvin, M. Underwood, D. Scharf, and R. Rader.

Photo: Ruth Dempsey

The Men in White

Photo: Ruth Dempsey

Deputy team lead presents team lead with a bottle of Macallan Single Malt Scotch, compliments of his team for a job well done.

Photo: Ruth Dempsey

Gerald Haddon shares a special image of his late Grandfather, J.A.D McCurdy to Michael Potter and gives thanks to him and Dan Dempsey for helping celbrate 100 years of aviation greatness in Canada.

Photo: Ruth Dempsey

Dan Dempsey stands with Jim Belliveau, the man with the incredible talent behind the Century Hornet and the Hawk One Sabre paint scheme. Jim sports his masterpiece on a tie that’s fit for the occasion.

Photos: Peter Handley / Vintage Wings of Canada

During the Year-end ceremony and dinner held at the RCAF Mess in Ottawa, LGen André Deschamps, Chief of the Air Staff, presented a cheque in a amount of $50,000 to the Military Families Fund on behalf the entire Hawk One team. With CAS were the following sponsors who made the project and donation all happen due to their generous donation: (L-R) Jim Strang, Sabre Pilots Association of the Air Division (SPAADS); Brad Martin, Magellan Aerospace Corporation; Dave Jennings, President and Chief Executive Officer Discovery Air, CAS; Michael Potter, Vintage Wings of Canada; John Irving, Irving Oil; Denny Roberts, Raytheon; and Jack Irving, Irving Oil.

Photo: Sam Reid

Dave O’Malley’s CoF logo was so popular, even the steak was branded! That’s taking Common, Look and Feel to a whole new level.

Canada Above and Beyond / Pour l’amour du ciel

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Photo: Peter Handley / Vintage Wings of Canada

The Radio-Canada film crew gather footage at Vintage Wings of Canada for the CBC/SRC documentary. Episode four, airing 29 Oct 09, will include footage of Hawk One filmed during the first flight of the F-86 Sabre, a day in the life of Paul ‘Rose’ Kissmann on test-flight day and various other footage shot early on in the Hawk One season. Stay tuned!

In celebrating the Canadian Centennial of Flight, CBC Television and Radio-Canada have produced an aviation documentary, Canada Above And Beyond: 100 Years of Aviation (Série Aviation: Pour l’amour du ciel). The production is a four-part documentary series that explores the revolutionary impact of aviation on this country and our great passion for flight.

The series will be aired in English on CBC Television, beginning Thursday, 8 October at 8 p.m. for four consecutive weeks.

Photo: Mary Lee

Filmed in high-definition, Canada Above And Beyond captures extraordinary stories of flight told by passionate individuals—from fighter pilots learning to navigate the CF-18 Hornet at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. to a dedicated paediatrician who flies to remote native communities to treat young patients.

An encore presentation of the English four-part series, Canada Above And Beyond: 100 Years of Aviation, can be seen on CBC Newsworld, each Friday beginning 9 October, at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

For more on the series, visit www.cbc.ca/canadaaboveandbeyond

For more information on the Air Force Centennial of Flight celebrations visit www.airforce.canadiancentennialofflight.ca

Pour célébrer le centenaire de l’aviation au Canada, le réseau de télévision de CBC et de Radio-Canada a produit un documentaire sur l’aviation, intitulé Pour l’amour du ciel (Canada Above And Beyond: 100 Years of Aviation). La production est une série documentaire de quatre épisodes qui porte sur l’incidence révolutionnaire de l’aviation sur le pays et notre grande passion pour l’aviation.


La série en anglais débutera le jeudi 8 octobre à 20 h HNE/HNP pendant quatre semaines consécutives sur le réseau de télévision de CBC.


Tournée en haute définition, la série Pour l’amour du cielprésente les récits extraordinaires de passionnés d’aviation – de pilotes de chasseurs qui apprennent à naviguer le CF18 Hornet à la 4eEscadre Cold Lake, en Alberta, au pédiatre dévoué qui se rend en avion dans des communautés autochtones éloignées pour soigner de jeunes patients.


 La séries de quatre épisode en anglais, Canada Above And Beyond: 100 Years of Aviation, sera rediffusée sur la chaîne CBC Newsworld chaque vendredi à compter du 9 octobre à 22 h HNE/HNP.




Pour de plus amples informations sur la série, visitez le   www.cbc.ca/canadaaboveandbeyond.

Pour de plus amples informations sur le Centenaire Canadien de l’aviation (Force aérienne), visitez le www.forceaerienne.lecentenairecanadiendelaviation.ca






Trenton Open House brings tears of joy, fond memories and moments of glory

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All images: Eric Dumigan

By Mary Lee
It was a very poignant moment in the air show season and a particularly moving one for the family of the late Colonel (Retired) Peter Graham Howe, a former Sabre pilot who served in the Air Force for 30 years. The story of Peter Howe is one that will leave a lasting impression on the Hawk One team for years to come because of this one simple yet beautiful act of kindness that symbolizes what the mission of Hawk One and Centennial of Flight celebrations are all about – to resurrect, to celebrate, to motivate and also to pay tribute.

What began with a request to Vintage Wings of Canada grew to become one of the most endearing tributes I have ever witnessed and, I venture to guess, that it was because of the can do attitude of the men and women of Vintage Wings and Hawk One that it was able to happen in the first place.

It was in early May when Paul Kissmann, Hawk One Deputy Team Lead, received an email from Dan Magee regarding an unusual request. In his endearing email, Dan humbly asked if it was at all possible to fly the ashes of his stepfather who had sadly succumbed to his battle with cancer in February. Before Peter’s passing, he had always spoken about his fondness for the Canadair Sabre. These stories left an impression as it was Marc Magee, who realized what better gift for his stepfather than a ride in the Sabre. As fate would have it, Dan and Paul were college mates at the Royal Military College (RMC), class of ‘87. At the same time, Peter’s friend and neighbour, Dave Houghton, had also been inquiring directly with Vintage Wings. So, when the word spread throughout the team, without hesitation the request was met with a unanimous yes. What more fitting and compelling way to honour those who came before us than through a remarkable tribute of this calibre.

Thus, on July 4, a day that had already been set aside for Peter’s memorial, Hawk One flew his ashes at the Trenton Open House and gave Peter what he had always dreamed of most: to fly once again in a beloved Sabre.

Laurie Howe brings the ashes of her late husband, Peter, to LCol Steve Will, Hawk One Team Lead, for his Sabre flight, July 4 during the 8 Wing Trenton Open House.

Yet, while the story may end there, it began many years earlier. It is Peter’s story and it is the story of all our airmen who once served for the love of their country, for the love of flying and because life just happened to put them in places for much greater things to happen. This is the story of Peter as I have come to know it. I have never met the man but I know him. I know him now in my own special way through my connection with Laurie, his wife of many years, and because Laurie entrusted me with Peter until we placed him onboard the Sabre for his long awaited flight.

Peter, too, was a RMC graduate, class of ’56. His career took him across Canada and over to Europe. He loved flying and spent many years on various airframes including Sabres, Harvards and then CF-5s before accelerating to higher rank and file then eventually retiring into the private sector. He is particularly proud of being a part of the Air Force’s introduction of air-to-air refuelling in 1971 when he commanded 434 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Cold Lake, Alberta. Peter was a free-spirited fellow, according to an RMC alumni newsletter. That same spirit was evidently personified when, at an Officer’s Mess function the night before a flying competition with US Air Force F-5s, Peter broke an ankle while partaking in fun shenanigans on the dance floor. Nevertheless, he remained focused on his mission, completed the competition and led his squadron to victory. Records will have it that when asked how he defied doctor’s orders not to fly he replied, “Simple, I out-ranked the base doctor!”

No member of the Hawk One team can fly in the F-86 Sabre without being christened a member of the Hawk One team. Steve Will places the team crest on the box containing Peter Howe’s ashes as he prepares for the flight.

A risk-taker who pushed the envelope is perhaps the story of Peter, much like the many great aviators who came before him and will come after him. But Peter was a friend, a father, a husband, and he was loved; that is what struck me the most about this man. When Laurie came to meet the team on Friday before the flight, she was accompanied by Dan, Dave and his wife Jane – a tight knit of friends who shared their tales about Peter. Suddenly, Peter came to life as we read through scanned newspaper clipping and photographs that Laurie passed on in emails.

As our meeting adjourned, Laurie asked us to keep Peter’s ashes in case problems were encountered getting on to the base Saturday morning. We wouldn’t dare take Peter to pub for the Meet and Greet later that evening since any good pilot should know and respect the bottle to throttle rule before a flight. Yet, somehow I think he would have appreciated it and seen the humour in it. Instead, I gingerly placed him by the night stand in the base accommodations, and, as the team bid him goodnight, we felt as though we were in the company of an old friend.

His flight, in the hands of Steve Will, Team Lead, was as graceful as his character and charm. The Sabre flew in formation for the Centennial Heritage Flight and then with the Snowbirds before breaking off into its solo routine. And, as Dominic Taillon, Hawk One Team Coordinator, announced the special meaning of this flight, I caught a glimpse of Mary Kapitza, Peter’s daughter, who stood quietly with her son among the crowd of thousands. A hand brush along her cheek as the words “this flight is dedicated to Peter Howe and his family,” echoed across the Trenton airfield. In that moment, the purpose of the Hawk One journey was realized.

Members of Peter Howe’s family meet with the Hawk One team to place the ashes aboard the Sabre. Back row (l – r): Laurie Howe, Dan Magee, Andre Magee (grandson), Bryton Kapitza (grandson) and Mary Kapitza (daughter). Front row: Hawk One Team members Mary Lee, Steve Will, Dominic Taillon, Chris Adams, and Andrej Janik.

Hawk One looks in the mirror

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Photo: Parr Yonemoto Photography

On Wednesday June 3, Hawk One paid a visit to the Canadian Warplane Heritage in Mount Hope, Ontario and had a chance to look in the mirror at another Golden Hawk… a Canadair Sabre 6 on loan from the Canada Aviation Museum that served with the Golden Hawks from March through October 1963.

Photo: Parr Yonemoto Photography

19 Wing Celebrates Centennial of Flight

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By Mary Lee

In a year of the aviation centennial celebrations in Canada, opportunities for making history are likely to happen, which is exactly what took place at 19 Wing Comox during the Canadian Force Snowbirds annual spring training session this April.  Joined by Hawk One, an F-86 Sabre that has been refurbished by Vintage Wings of Canada in partnership with the CF to help commemorate 100 years of powered flight, the Snowbirds’ work-up training drew larger than normal crowds from all over Vancouver Island to witness this spectacular formation flying.

The Comox valley was alive in aviation activity as the Snowbirds, the Hawk One Sabre and the Century Hornet, this year’s demonstration CF-18 piloted by Capt Tim  “Donor”  Woods, raced through the skies daily to practice their 2009 aerial demonstration performances.

Meanwhile, another quieter but equally unique historical event was in the making. For the first time in their history, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Golden Hawks, Canada’s jet aerial demonstration team of the Cold War era (1959-1964) had gathered for a special reunion and to help celebrate the Centennial of Flight in their own special way.

Past and present icons of the Air Force came together to pay homage to Canada’s aviation heritage beginning with an autograph session with the Snowbird team, a common practice afforded to the community every year after an intense three weeks of  formation flying. Joining the public event was the Golden Hawk Alumni, nine in total, the present Hawk One team, and the Century Hornet team.

Wrapping up the Centennial of Flight celebration, 19 Wing Comox, under the coordination of the Comox Valley Air Force Museum, played host to a gala dinner that will go down in the history books as being truly rare and indeed memorable. Led by Col (Ret’d) Jon Ambler, former 19 Wing Commander, as master of ceremony, the dinner brought together famous names like James”Stocky” Edwards, Canada’s highest scoring ace in the Western Desert Campaign; Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary of the Minister of National Defence; Wing Commander (Ret’d) Fernand Villeneuve, the first Golden Hawk team lead; Col (Ret’d) Ralph Annis, a former Golden Hawk and Honorary Snowbird; and Michael Potter, founder of Vintage Wings of Canada and owner of the Hawk One Sabre.

“It has been an extraordinary night to remember,”commented Col. Fred Bigelow, 19 Wing Commander.” This year is very significant for all members of the Air Force since it showcases our ability to master technology to achieve great feats. This Wing has played a significant role in the defence and growth of our country since a Royal Air Force Base was established in 1942 and it has been an honour for us to host a Centennial of Flight event that brought together such great names in Canadian military aviation.”