Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flight Ops Update

With the air show season quickly upon us, there is a hub of activity on the flight deck preparing the birds for the summer flying season. Here is a quick and dirty status report on some of the fleet:

Gray Ghosts:
Gray Ghost One is the Robert Hampton Gray FG-1D Corsair. All systems are a go for her Naval Centennial celebrations. Only one recent set back and that's the weather, which kept her on the ground Saturday 8 May for the 65th Anniversary VE-Day celebration here in the nation's capital.
This Saturday, 15 May, the Corsair is scheduled for a flypast at the Vice Admiral Kingsmill Dedication over Portland ON.

The other half of the Gray Ghosts program is our Fairey Swordfish, Gray Ghost Two. Still without an engine, the contribution she will make in celebrating the Naval 100th Anniversay is not clear, but not completely ruled out. She is still on the books for the International Fleet Review in June.

For more information on the celebrations for the Canadian Naval Centennial in 2010 visit

Discovery Air Hawk One Sabre:
Continuing on the success of the 2009 Centennial of Flight celebrations, our Sabre will, once again, take to the skies for another air show season beginning 5-6 June in Borden. Hawk One is now completely under the Vintage Wings' umbrella although we continue to receive financial and in-kind support from DND. She also has acquired an additional namesake. Well, two new names actually. In recognition of this year's principle sponsor, Discovery Air, we have adopted the name in the title and their logo on the side the jet.

A not-so-obvious name appearing on the jet is Al Lilly whom the F-86 Sabre will be dedicated to later this month. Lilly is Canada's first test pilot to break the sound barrier in 1950 when flight testing the Sabre prototype. Prior to his distinguished career in aviation, he was a member of the RCMP and became instrumental in the formation of the dog-handling team. It was only fitting that Vintage Wings partner with the RCMP in the dedication to one of our great aviation legends.

Now be sure not to address Will "Fat-Daddy" Radiff or Mike "Woody" Woodfield as Mr. Al Lilly when you see them exiting the jet a an air show near you. Our two new flight jocks to join the Hawk One team may not be well recognized yet but they will be. For now they carry the responsibility, albeit an honourable one, of explaining the new name below the canopy when they tour the air show circuit this summer. Returning pilots Paul Kissmann (Team Lead) and Chris Hadfield are familiar enough faces that it should be an issue for them. We shall see.

Spy Taxi:
The third key flight operation for 2010 is the Westland Lysander IIIA. She has undergone a major restoration and will soon be ready for a flight test. Transport Canada inspectors were just in yesterday to pay a visit. They didn't leave with the plane or appear to be unsatisfied so the visit couldn't have been all that bad. The techs are still happily carry on about their business for the next engine run-up. A sure sign of progress. Stay tuned for her flight check. Be sure to read Dave O'Malley's Vintage News article "The Second Coming" for a more complete story on the Lysander restoration and the team that made it all happen.

Sponsored Ride Program
The word is spreading and the interest is growing for a sponsored flight on one of the aircraft designated for the program. The P-40 Kittyhawk has undergone an annual inspection (AI) and the last of the snags is fixed. Dave Hadfield will conduct a test flight Friday in preparation for the air show season. A memorable flight has already been flown this season, at least for one fellow. Stay tuned for his blog entry to learn more about our Hawaiian connection and the man who spent a lifetime pursuing his Kittyhawk passion.

The new Tiger Moth will be a featured aircraft in the Sponsored Ride Program and has already been signed up for flights. A few broken ribs underneath the wing walk - a delicate area on the aircraft - will be necessary until then, but she will be ready for operations in very short order.

The de Havilland Beaver has undergone an extensive and detailed AI and was in need of much TLC as per the NTD inspection guidelines. That means repairs to meet airworthiness standards. She has met those standards now and is ready for her 2010 mission, the Sponsored Ride Program.

And purring like a charm is our North American Harvard. Later this month on 29 May, she and Mike Potter will participate at the Air Cadets Aviation Day in St Hubert, QC. along with the Chris Hadfield in the Discovery Air Hawk One Sabre.

- This update is brought to you by Mary Lee, VW Public Affairs. My goal is to learn the lingo on the hangar floor to better articulate maintainers' "tech-talk!" The maintainers' goal is to learn blogging 101 so they can keep these regular updates coming and keep you, our members, informed.

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