Wednesday, June 9, 2010

And so it begins, the Hawk One buzz

During the 2009 season in which we celebrated Canada's centennial of flight with the gorgeously restored pristine F-86 Sabre, the team on the show tour met more family and friends of Sabre and Golden Hawk pilots than ever anticipated. More often than not, someone would approach one of the team members and pour their heart and soul out reminiscing of the RCAF glory days in the 1950s. Many of us weren't even born during that time period while others, like Dan Dempsey and Chris Hadfield can personally attest that it as these "golden" boys that inspired their dreams of flight. Still, to hear these stories from the people of that era that is not not so long ago is quite moving.

The season and all its heartwarming stories, cemented the purpose of what it is we do and why we do it. To commemorate and inspire, or in the case of Hawk One, to "relive" the golden era of flight wit ha fully restored airworthy fighter jet that was the at he pinnacle of aviation greatness in Canada.

Well, with just one show under our belt since the season began officially for team Hawk One, the stories have already begun to trickle out of the closet and into the hearts of others. We will continue pay tribute to all those men and women who served this nation during the Cold War era and, where possible, share these experiences for all to appreciate.

Here is one of many for the 2010 Hawk One season as shared by Mike "Woody" Woodfield, newly minted Hawk One team lead and Sabre pilot. He flew his inaugural air show performance in Borden 5-6 June.

"I had the opportunity to escort Beverly Barker, the widow of one of the [Golden Hawk] demo pilots, to the Hawk One Sabre on Sunday. She had tear in her eyes as she sat on the wing while her family took photos of her and her daughter reliving memories of her late husband Dave. He had a real love for the Sabre. It was truly a moving experience for me! It really gave me a feel for what this chapter of aviation history is all about."

The story of Dave Barker is a tragic one. A RCAF pilot, Barker was the only pilot to fly in all three aerial demonstration teams. First as a Red Knight (1961-1962), a soloist with the Golden Hawks (1963 and 1964 til they were disbanded) and then as lead solo of the Golden Centennaires. Sadly, Barker was killed in Comox on 15 Feb 1967 in a nine-plane formation practice when a teammate took his tail off and he was unable to get out. In fact, this was the reason the Centennaires became an eight-plane show. There was no time to work up a replacement prior to opening Expo 67 in Montreal on April 27th.

Well, Beverly and family of Dave Barker, we hope that bringing the Sabre to life will help heal wounds of those tragic endings and also to help commemorate and celebrate those magic memories.

- Mary Lee with historical references from Dan Dempsey, team historian.
Pictures of the Barker family forthcoming

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