Hawk One reflects rich Canadian aviation history

En route from an air show in Medicine Hat, Alberta to the B.C. Aviation Museum in Victoria, the Hawk One fighter jet paid a visit to the Abbotsford International Airport last Tuesday afternoon.

  • Jul. 31, 2011 5:00 p.m.
Pilot Lt. Colonel Dan Dempsey in the cockpit of his F-86 Sabre 5 fighter jet

Pilot Lt. Colonel Dan Dempsey in the cockpit of his F-86 Sabre 5 fighter jet

En route from an air show in Medicine Hat, Alberta to the B.C. Aviation Museum in Victoria, the Hawk One fighter jet paid a visit to the Abbotsford International Airport last Tuesday afternoon.

The jet’s gold frame came into view, cut down the side with a red and white streak that progresses into a hawk’s head. The plane’s open nose, which draws air for its jet engine, is a trademark.

The aircraft costs $5,000 an hour to run due to fuel and maintenance.

The historical F-86 Sabre 5 fighter jet is the only one flying in Canada, and will be making an appearance at the Abbotsford Airshow, which runs from Aug. 12-14 at Abbotsford International Airport, 1464 Tower Street.

Piloted by retired Canadian Armed Forces Lt. Colonel Dan Dempsey, the aircraft will be performing low level acrobatics at the show, potentially alongside the Snowbirds and an F-18 demo.

Dempsey has been flying in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for 23 years.

He grew up admiring planes as his dad also flew in the RCAF.

Ultimately, it was the influence of the Golden Hawks, which flew F-86 aircrafts from 1959 to 1964, that inspired Dempsey to join.

“They were the first to give recognition to Canadian aerobatics,” said Dempsey. “When they stopped, it sent reverberations through the RCAF.”

When the opportunity arose in 2009 to fly the Hawk One, Dempsey emerged from retirement.

Painted in the same colour scheme as the Golden Hawks, Dempsey discovered his particular plane was once used as a Golden Hawks training jet, making the experience even more special.

Since returning from retirement, he’s been touring across Canada, performing at air shows, talking to veterans about their stories and working to encourage youth.

“We’re speaking with kids and hopefully inspiring them to do something unique and special with their lives,” he said. “We try to plant a seed of motivation with them.”

The Hawk One continues to travel by sponsorship and donation.

At shows, audiences have a chance to “look, touch and learn” about Canada’s rich aviation heritage.

“We don’t want that history to be lost.”

Dempsey is excited to return to the Abbotsford Airshow, where he first performed 40 years ago, and has returned many times since.

“It’s one of the greatest airshows in the world,” said Dempsey. “It’s such a wonderful, diverse event every year, from the Snowbirds to war birds. Some of the best performers in the world continue to touch down at the Abbotsford Airshow.”

The event will feature a number of military planes, warbirds and civilian demonstrations.

For more information about the Abbotsford Airshow, visit www.abbotsfordairshow.com.