Home » Research » The First of the Finest

In 1980, 411 Squadron had converted to the CH-136 Kiowa Light Tactical Helicopter and the military really didn't know what to do with the Sabre anymore. The C.O. at the time, Lt. Col. J.N. (Jim) Peirce, realized the historical significance of the aircraft and decided to donate it to the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba for some Harvard airframe components. By now the engine had been removed and the cockpit had been stripped of all instrumentation. When it arrived in Winnipeg it was in pieces and still in its USAF livery. They reassembled it and painted it in a scheme similar to the original. They also tried in vane to get a Mk 2 wing to put back on it.

The Mark 3 Sabre stayed in Winnipeg until 1998 when Byron Reynolds traded a well worn deHavilland Vampire s/n 17020 for it. It was moved to the Reynolds Aviation Museum. In 1992, Stan Reynolds started donating a multitude of automotive, agricultural and aviation artifacts to the province of Alberta. They formed the basis of the government run Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. In 2007, the Mark 3 Sabre was also transferred there. Because their storage and display facilities are at current capacity, the Sabre is parked outside. They would like, in the long term, to bring it inside.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Orenda powered Sabre was one of the finest aircraft ever made. It has proven itself on the battlefield and has withstood the test of time. Yes, they can still be found flying and can be purchased in airworthy condition. We are fortunate to have one in my area that is part of the Vintage Wings of Canada collection. It is a Sabre 5, ex-RCAF s/n 23314 and, after spending a few years in the United States, was returned to Canada. It was given the distinctive paint job of the Golden Hawks, the Canadian Sabre aerobatic team and christened Hawk One. It now does numerous airshows across the country initiating a new generation to the allure of the Sabre.

Bernie Runstedler, October 2012

Air Force Association of Canada

The writing of this story would have been impossible without the help of the following people: Lewis Chow, Chief Experimental Engineer, Canadair (Retired), Flt/Sgt B. F. Runstedler RCAF (Ret'd), Bill Upton Canadair (Ret'd), Michelle Kopfer, Archives Technician, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas, Brian Mullen, Media Projects Manager, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Washington D.C., Tim Dube, Chairman, Ottawa Chapter, Canadian Aviation Historical Society, Fiona Smith-Hale, Manager Information Resources, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa,Ontario, Ian Leslie, Library Assistant, Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Shirley Render, Executive Director, Western Canadian Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Keith Olsen, Western Canadian Aviation Museum, Brian Sutherland, Directorate of History and Heritage, Ottawa, Ontario, Justin Cuffe, Curator-Transportation Collections, Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Vic Johnson, Editor, Airforce Magazine (Ret'd) and Paul Hayes, CAF Brigadier-General(Ret'd).

A tribute to the life of Mr. Lewis Chow is currently on display at the Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The author, numerous friends and colleagues of Mr. Chow are endeavoring to expand this exhibit with the hope to contain more of his significant contributions in the field of aviation in Canada. As part of the expansion, Mr. Todd Fleet, Curator of the museum would welcome the airplane as a part of the permanent display.

NOTE: Bernie Runstedler is a long time Private Pilot living in the Ottawa area. He has authored numerous aviation articles and, in 1999, had his first book "Breezes Against My Brow" published. He has a great love of Canadian aviation history and does all he can to help maintain and preserve it.

... page 3 page 4 page 5 page 6 page 7
Facility Rentals Northern Nature Trading Bushplane Productions Our Aircraft Ontario Provincial Air Service
pinterest Facebook Twitter