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Restoring the Golden Hawks Canadair F86 Sabre Mk. 5

By Mark Seibutis, EAA 670580

These days I really have to force myself not to read the electronic edition of EAA Sport Aviation magazine so that I can enjoy the "analogue" (paper) version completely. Every time I pick it up, I'm amazed at the projects different people undertake and complete, sometimes through great adversity.

Given that can-do spirit found throughout the organization and after numerous trips to Oshkosh talking with many builders/restorers, a small group of guys (mostly EAAers) decided to undertake a milestone project: the restoration of the Canadair F86 Mk. 5 Sabre - Golden Hawk that has stood guard over the Royal Canadian Air Force Memorial in Sarnia, Ontario's Germain Park.

It's also hoped that this project will help give back to those that made our freedoms possible and honour them through our work.

The Sabre Restoration Team
The Sabre Restoration Team

On February 12, our local group led by EAA and COPA members undertook this mission to do as good or better a job than the original craftsman (for lack of a better word) did 40 years ago. They set the bar high for themselves, and the Hawk's longevity after all this time is a testament to their work.

What makes this more special is the fact that this is actually one of the original Golden Hawk Sabrejets. For those that don't know, the Golden Hawks were the aerobatic team for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The team flew for about five years but fell victim to budgetary cutbacks. It was the predecessor to the RCAF's world-renowned Snowbird team, which flies many routines invented by the Golden Hawks.

This particular Canadair Sabre Mk. 5 was built under licence from North American in Montreal. It was purchased from Crown Assets in 1971, but before it was ready for display on a specially built pylon overlooking the memorial, the plane was damaged in a warehouse fire and thought lost.

Through the efforts of the local 403 Wing RCAFA and donations from the public, the plane was restored to display status and put up on her pedestal in 1973 in original Golden Hawks paint scheme, and it's been guarding the memorial ever since. Now, after 40 years of faithful service, it's ready to come down and get some well-deserved TLC.

Sabre being removed for restoration
Sabre being removed for restoration

I've seen it written on these pages that homebuilding really does bring people together. Well, here's an example of that occurring, and in the process, giving back to the veterans, pilots, and people on the ground - caring for a piece of the past for future generations. Thank you, EAA, for facilitating that spirit!

If anyone would like to contact me on this important project, send me an e-mail.

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