Hawk One Teams with NAV CANADA to Reach New Heights

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One of the best relationships that the Discovery Air Hawk One Sabre could have secured this season is its agreement with NAV CANADA to fly in reduced Vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace.

The agreement, secured between both parties this spring, allows the Sabre jet to transit at a higher altitude (FL 400 versus FL 280) thereby saving fuel consumption and dollars.

Details about the NAV CANADA agreement can be found in their internal-based monthly newsletter  this month. Hawk one, Vintage Wings and the stunning photography of Peter Handley are featured below, written by Lyn Martin, NAV CANADA.

Anniversary of Memorial Sabre flight marked in a very special way

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It’s hard to believe that a full year passed since the Hawk One team of 2009 made a very memorable flight on 4 July at the Trenton Open House and Air Show.  That was the day the ashes of the late Peter Howe, former RCAF fighter pilot, were flown on board the Hawk One F-86 Sabre during her aerial performance. During the flight, piloted by past Hawk One lead Steve Will, a touching narration was broadcasted across the airfield with a message addressed to the family members in attendance. The messages was as follows:

Hawk One is flying the ashes of the late Colonel (Retired) Peter Howe, a former Sabre pilot who served in the Air Force for 30 years.  Before his passing, his dream was to fly in the Sabre once again.  And today, Peter’s dream has come true. This flight is dedicated to Peter Howe and his family.

Those tender words marked the beginning of a long awaited healing process for his beloved wife Laurie. Though our encounter with Laurie, her children and grand-children was brief, the memory of that flight and its profound impact on the family will last a lifetime. Laurie once again reached out to us here at Vintage Wings to reiterate her sincere appreciation for all that we did and to let us know how it enabled her to move forward in her life. And, as a remarkable gesture of her gratitude, Laurie made a admirable donation of $1,000 to the Vintage Wings of Canada organization.

Now Laurie, it is Vintage Wings and Hawk One who are humbled by this gentle act of kindness.

God Bless and thank you!

Snowbirds share in excitement of unique ‘Canadian moment’ ‘There’s something special today,’ pilot says of first experience

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Photo: Janet Trost

Centennial Heritage Flight flypast over Parliament Hill.

By Kristy Nease, July 2, 2009
Reprinted from the Ottawa Citizen

A few hours after making fly-overs at Parliament Hill and the Canada Aviation Museum on Canada Day, 11 snowbird pilots strolled into the museum to greet more than 300 excited youngsters, aviation enthusiasts, and sightseeing families.

And with them was retired Col. Chris Hadfield, an astronaut with the Canada Space Agency, who flew the Hawk One – a fully refurbished RCAF F-86 Sabre 5 – with the Snowbirds to celebrate 100 years of Canadian aviation.

Snowbird Maj. Doug Clements, called his experience flying over the Peace Tower as “indescribable.”

“What a feeling,” Clements said. “… to be a part of it, it chokes you up.

“You fly over and see the people down there, you know they’re cheering; it’s quite a Canadian moment, that’s for sure. I don’t think there’s a bigger Canadian moment, really, for any pilot.”

Photo: Janet Trost

Chris Hadfield and Heather Hiscox, CBC News, during interview for the morning show on Parliament Hill, 1 July 2009.

Clements’ family watched the flights on television from Moosejaw, Sask., where the busy Snowbirds are based.

“There’s a real sense here – I mean, it’s my first year – but there’s something special today,” he said. “You can feel it.”

And Clements wasn’t the only pilot feeling the energy.

After signing hundreds of autographs and posing for countless photos, Hadfield wanted to get up close to a fighter jet he knew well: the CF-18 Hornet.

Photo: Janet Trost

Proud Canadian fans greet the aerial demonstrations teams (Snowbirds, CF-18 Century Hornet and Hawk One) at the Canada Aviation Museum, 1 July 2009, for an autograph session.

“Let’s see if we get in trouble,” he said. With precision, Hadfield snapped open a hidden ladder, which he then proceeded to climb – a probably highly unusual happening at the orderly museum.

“That’s how you get into a Hornet,” he said casually from the top of the steps.

Security staff at the museum noticed a strange pair of legs disappear from underneath the sleek fighter, and came to make sure their prized bird was alright.

“It’s not every day we let someone climb in,” said one, with a great big grin on his face, after shaking Hadfield’s hand. “But I think it’s OK.”

After snapping the ladder back in place and greeting excited staff, Hadfield said the first thing he thought about that morning was the weather.

“It’s one of those things where, almost, your emotions get trapped behind you because you’re busy. There’s a whole sequence of things you have to do right when you’re flying a jet, and you have to pay attention to what’s happening, especially when you’re in formation,” he said.

“You almost have to climb out under your own shoulder to have a look at what’s actually going on, and to realize just what a rare, and privileged, and, in this case, historic thing is going on.

“It’s a magnificent experience.”

Photo: Janet Trost

Pilot lives childhood dream showcasing restored fighter jet

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By Nick Lewis, July 21, 2009

Reprinted from the Calgary Herlad

CALGARY – He still remembers the day. June 6, 1959 is when Daniel Dempsey first fell in love.

He was a six-year-old Calgary boy whose parents had taken him to see the Golden Hawks, a team of Canadian aerobatic airmen who dazzled crowds below with a string of daring aerial stunts.

“I remember the day vividly because I was mesmerized,” he said Monday.

“And I recall the day before the show, my dad and I were on a gravel road not too far from McCall Field, and the Golden Hawks had to land because of strong winds. And they stopped and taxied right in front of us.

“And the guy at the very back, who later I found out was Lt. Bill Grip, waved to me. And that’s all I ever wanted to do from that moment on — join the air force and fly like the Golden Hawks.”

Dempsey joined the air force, and today, at age 56, the retired lieutenant-colonel gets to fly like the Golden Hawks, in a golden, restored F-86 Sabre.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Golden Hawks air show team, Dempsey and a crew of four other Snowbird pilots will be flying and showcasing the Sabre all across Canada.

Dropping in at Calgary’s SAIT Art Smith Aero Centre on Monday morning, right at McCall Field, the former Snowbird team leader got to relive a dear childhood moment as he soared across the sky.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am; this is such a thing of beauty to fly,” Dempsey said with a grin as he stepped out on the runway.

“This is a magnificent aircraft, the one that won the Korean War. By today’s standards, it may be old technology, but back in the ’50s, it was an incredible fighter.”

The F-86 Sabre, a fast, nimble jet, was the backbone of the Royal Canadian Air Force in the ’50s and its primary air defence fighter. Crafted to outfox the Soviet MiG-15s flying in Korea, it was an incredible prestige for a Canadian pilot to fly one.

Retired Col. Gerry Morrison, 74, had that pleasure.

As he saw his plane saunter into the hangar Monday morning, he walked up to it and kissed it on its snub nose, saying he felt his heart beat faster.

“I flew this particular aircraft in 1960 when I was in training to go fly Sabres in Europe,” he said. “And again in 1967 when I was getting trained to become a CF-104 Starfighter pilot.

“It was Canada’s second-ever jet fighter, but it was by far the best fighter in the world at that time. Flying one was the most sought-after job in the RCAF. As soon as everyone got their wings, that’s what they wanted to fly.”

In 1959, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of powered flight in Canada, the RCAF created the Golden Hawks; the Sabre was the natural choice to showcase its first Canadian Airshow team.

The Golden Hawks became synonymous with acrobatic flying across Canada, and a number of young Canadians were inspired to join the RCAF after seeing pilots doing low-level flybys with their canopies open, waving to the crowd. The program was disbanded in 1964, and succeeded by The Snowbirds in 1971.

Even today, Canada’s greatest fighter aircraft commands the attention of its young people. A group of SAIT aviation mechanic students at the field Monday blinded the golden bird with paparazzi flashes as it landed, staring at it with wonder.

“I’m not particularly familiar with this aircraft, we work primarily with civilian aircraft,” said 20-year-old student Michael Cummings.

“But it’s great to become familiar with all aspects of aviation, and this plane is really, really cool.”

For Dempsey, the opportunity to fly the Sabre back to where he first fell in love with it was something special.

“It’s amazing how the memories just flood back,” he said.

“I distinctly remember standing right over there when I was a kid. This really is cool.”

The F-86 Sabre is being hosted by the NATO Veterans Organization and will be on display at the Art Smith Aero Centre today from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m. Admission is by donation, and proceeds will assist Canadian pilots who flew on duty for NATO during the Cold War.

Operational pause lifted

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Photo: Janet Trost

The much anticipated air demonstration of the CF Snowbirds and Hawk One Sabre since the operational pause was first implemented finally took place 21 June at the St. Thomas Air Show. Paul Kissmann, Deputy Team Lead, flew the Sabre at his first air show since the season began having missed Bagotville, Que and Baddeck, NS as a result of a problem with the Ballistic Disconnect Link Assembly in the tutor lap belt.

June 19, 2009
WINNIPEG – The operational pause placed on aircraft equipped with an ejection seat system used by some Canadian Forces aircraft has been lifted.

The operational pause, implemented on June 12 as a safety precaution, ordered that all flying operations cease until an assessment of overall fleet safety impacts could be completed. It affected the Hawk One F-86 Sabre, a CT-133 flown by the National Research Council, and all 25 CT-114 Tutors in the Air Force fleet, including the Golden Centennaire and the Snowbirds, the iconic aerobatic team that personifies excellence for the Canadian Forces. All of these aircraft share the same ejection seat system.

A problem was identified in the Ballistic Disconnect Link Assembly, a portion of the lap belt system that is designed to automatically come apart during an ejection sequence. Although the nature of the problem has been identified, its cause factors are still under investigation by the Directorate of Flight Safety.

Based on the initial assessments, all lap belts in the system will be overhauled and tested via non-destructive means (x-ray) to ensure serviceability. Individual aircraft will be returned to service once the overhauled lap belts have been installed.

The lap belts for the Hawk One Sabre and Golden Centennaire were overhauled, inspected and returned to service, and the lap belts for the Snowbirds’ aircraft are currently being overhauled and inspected.

This operational pause demonstrates the effectiveness of the procedures we use in the Air Force,” said Major-General Marcel Duval, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region. “We caught the problem on the ground as part of our standard pre-flight checks, and once the investigation was launched, our people acted quickly to determine the problem and find a resolution.”

The occurrence involved the Ballistic Disconnect Link Assembly and is unrelated to false-lock issues previously experienced on the CT-114 Tutor lap belt. The ongoing flight safety investigation is focusing on maintenance procedures and training.

A Golden Moment; A Centennial Year

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Photo: 410 Sqn, 4 Wing Cold Lake, AB

By Mary Lee, Hawk One PAO

It was a long time coming and when it finally did happen it was golden. Golden are the colours of three commemorative jets for this year’s celebrations of Centennial of Flight. And on Sunday, 7 June, spectators cheered as the three-ship formation graced the Prairie skies marking the first flight of its kind since all three jets were painted in their respective colour schemes.

The jets form the Centennial Heritage Flight consisting of the CF-18 Century Hornet, the Golden Centennaire Tutor and the Hawk One F-86 Sabre. Throughout the 2009 Air Show season, the Centennial Heritage Flight will perform at various Canadian sites to help pay tribute to Canada’s 100 years of powered flight.

It wasn’t until the second day of the Portage La Prairie Armed Forces Day that Canadians finally witnessed the Centennaire Tutor perform with the CF-18 and the F-86 Sabre. Rain had temporarily hampered the wiring system thus precluding the Tutor from making its inaugural flight on opening day.

The Tutor is, in fact, a Snowbird jet – tail number 019 – that was recently repainted by the maintenance team at 431 Squadron, 15 Wing in Moose Jaw, Sask. The paint scheme is that of the original Golden Centennaires, the aerial demonstration team that performed in 1967 for Canada’s 100th birthday.

Photo: 410 Sqn, 4 Wing Cold Lake, AB

Capt Gregg Wiebe, 431 Sqn standards officer, had the privilege to fly the jet at the Portage show and to relive a piece of aerial demonstration history. “As a young boy, I remember watching the Golden Centennaires perform over my home town in 1967,” said Capt Wiebe. “For that reason I am especially honoured to be flying the Golden Centennaire Tutor.”

The Centennaire Tutor will also transit frequently with the Hawk One Sabre for stops across Canada between air shows. Capt Dave Boudreau, 431 Sqn standards pilot, will share the Centennial Heritage Flight experience this summer with Capt Wiebe. For a complete list of the Centennaire Tutor schedule and the Centennial Heritage Flight appearances visit

A Golden Transformation

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Have a look at some great time lapse video of the work that was done on Hawk One last fall by Jim Belliveau and the team in Cold Lake… the video is in 4 stages… what music do you think would be appropriate? Flight of the Golden Bumblebee perhaps?

Click here for Stage 1

Click here for Stage 2

Click here for Stage 3

Click here for Stage 4

Sabrena and I

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By Tim Leslie, Hawk One

The allure of flying, for me anyway, lies in the incredible focus it occasionally demands; and of course, the incredible views from the cockpit.
The story of my journey across Canada in the Sabre would be easier to understand if I told it chronologically. However, though only a day or two has passed since this adventure; it is not how I remember it.

Being the sole pilot, passenger, and cargo on an aircraft affords no opportunity to point fingers or attempt to blame others for decisions and actions – there are no excuses – the buck stops here.

It is a trait I like about the world of aviation; taking on sole responsibility for your actions.

Moose Jaw, originally intended as an overnight stop, had turned into three nights. A weather system parked itself over Saskatchewan and was having its way with the airport. The Sabre was safely tucked away in the Snowbird hangar (the Snowbirds being deployed to Comox…where I was supposed to be). I was safely tucked away in the Golden Hawks room on base. Not only could I not fly, the walk from the barracks to the mess was impeded by snow and sleet falling horizontally. I had lived in Moose Jaw for five years and had many fond memories. This weather instilled no desire to want to move back.

But…there are no wars being fought with this Sabre. To risk this precious artifact with a misplaced “need” to get out of Moose Jaw and to Comox would be irresponsible. The primary mission of Vintage Wings of Canada is to commemorate and inspire… not be on time and on target. Of course, a professional entity will endeavor to deliver; but to force the weather is a mistake. In my profession as a Research Pilot, there are times when one has to force the weather. Flying VWoC aircraft is not one of those times.

All those platitudes and caveats being said…there I was at the end of the runway in Moose Jaw debating what to do. It was my third day there and the weather was now ‘close’ to my stated minimums (never say never). I asked the tower for a few minutes on the button to “align my GPS” (a leftover excuse from the good old days when Inertial Navigation Systems needed alignment). I suspect ATC was being nice when they said “take all the time you need…you are the only guy flying today.”

I made it clear to all my minimums for departure were “1500 and 3” (1500 foot ceiling and 3 miles visibility). I wanted the option of turning around VFR and landing should things get silly. The tower was calling 1300 and 8… a dark overcast sky hanging at 1300 feet. To make matters worse, a heavy migratory bird warning was in effect. So now the self-negotiation and rationale kicks in. Well, I don’t quite have the ceiling… but I have more than my minimum visibility. Is there a balance somewhere? Only I know.

I feel like a used car salesman convincing myself it is okay. At least a used car salesman can “check with his manager”. I have no such luxury today. I am the master of my own fate.

A few minutes pass. I rehearse the sequence of events should all go well. I then rehearse the sequence of events should it not. At one point I say “f%$* it” and re-engage the nose wheel steering and start to taxi forward with the intent of returning to the hangar. “Christ Tim, don’t be a wimp”. I lift my feet off the floor and press the toe brakes…my knees are shaking a bit.

“Tower, this is Hawk One…could you please advise the status of the birds.”

“Roger Hawk One, there are two large flocks heading north…they are just passing the through the departure end…I will advise when they are clear.”

“Thanks…quite a day.”

So…this is it. As the joke goes…this is why pilots make the big bucks.

“Hawk One…the departure path appears clear.”

My left hand pushes the throttle lever to max…my slightly shaking knees come off the brakes and I am rolling…80 knots, 100, 125, rotate, 130 clear…gear up, flaps up…here we go into the dark clouds.
The decision is made, the nervous tremor in my knees gone. It is time for action. There is some precipitation in cloud, but there is no icing…the forecasters got it right. There is no view outside of the cockpit – my entire world consists of my instruments. This is a numbers game and my focus is on precision.

Through 8000 feet I break out between layers. I now have more options.

Back into the soup at 11000 feet – my world once again closes in on the instruments. It is amazing how tuned into things one can become. Like a drug, this focus is ironically highly addictive.

Passing through 26000 feet I break clear of clouds and see something I have not seen for three days…the sun.

My only companion is the hula girl on the instrument coaming. She does not have a name. She deserves one. “Well Sabrena… here we are.”

There are of course other adventures to relate from this trip: the funny noises an engine makes when you are alone over Lake Superior; or the flooding that has turned southern Manitoba into a lake – an eerie sight to see from 28000 feet. My heart goes out to those folks.

I’ve been across this great country in several different aircraft types. However, I cannot recall as striking a trip as this – it is history. Being afforded the view of Canada over a gold wing is a privilege I do not take lightly. My mission is to get this Sabre to Comox so the Hawk One team can practice alongside the Snowbirds.

When one considers the “risk/reward” equation, my experience in Moose Jaw certainly address the numerator aspect. But there are rewards.

About 100 miles back from Comox the cloud suddenly broke. In the distance I could see the unmistakable landmark that is 19 Wing’s runway. Below me is the incredible expanse of the Rockies.

I have 34000 feet to lose. Like a skier who has climbed the mountain in search of the perfect run; I ask ATC for lower – they comply and give me an unrestricted descent to 5000 feet.

“Well Sabrena, hold on…we’re about to negotiate perfect powder”. It’s a good thing an aircraft’s transponder does not transmit the attitude of an aircraft. There is nothing like an unimpeded view of the mountains that can only be had when flying inverted. Freedom can only be truly appreciated when it is earned.

Per ardua ad astra…through adversity to the stars.

This particular journey has ended. But I look forward to more. Life is for the living. I feel incredibly grateful to so many for these types of opportunities. This list is too long…but you all know who you are. Thank-you.