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Greetings!      This is Christmas letter #34 from Cold Lake.


The year got off to a good start with the first of 4 trips to Kitchener (KF) in late January to fly the T-33. On 27 Jan Larry Ricker & I ferried T-33 504 (previously ferried to KF last November) from KF to Houston TX, low level, in 3 hops. There are many hoops to jump through when you fly a Canadian-registered ex-military jet to the USA but everything went smoothly thanks to Larry who has lots of experience ferrying planes to the USA. The new owners in Houston were delighted with their new T-33 (Canadair-built T-33s are very popular in the USA as they have the bigger, very reliable, Nene 10 engine).


We thoroughly enjoyed our one balmy evening in Houston; then returned home via Air Canada to Toronto. On 2 Feb T-33 577 was finally ready for its first test flight since Lester & I ferried it to KF 31 Dec 03 – 6 years earlier. 577 passed the test flight with “flying colours” which is just as well since the ejection seats are no longer certified, i.e. they don’t work. For added insurance I had Andrej, the AME who worked on & certified 577, as my crewman in the rear seat! The next day I returned to Edmonton/Cold Lake.


Normally our RCAF 86th Anniversary mess dinner would have been held on/about April 1 but for practical reasons it was delayed until April 15. Once again I wore my Air Force Association formal regalia. For the up-coming RCAF 87th Anniversary mess dinner I had hoped to squeeze into my soon-to-be 50-year-old 1961RCAF mess kit but the fine- material shrink fairy has been hard at work and it’s now unlikely that my mess kit would survive the trauma!


In mid-July I went back to Kitchener for the first JAM T-33 groundschool in London 17/18 July and did the first engine-run for T-33 346 after its overhaul. We had hoped to complete a test flight for 346 but there were too many delays – it still hasn’t flown. However, operating under the JAM umbrella, T-33 577 at KF was used to begin the training for JAM pilots on July 25 – Larry did one of the flights in the rear seat of the KF-based L-39 Albatross jet trainer to instruct in flying dissimilar aircraft formation with the T-33. It was a full day and all three instructors got airborne at least twice each. On 27 July it was back to Edmonton/Cold Lake.


On 11 August it was back to KF again. The plan was to fly 577 to Tillsonburg, ON for their air show on August 14, then to Windsor, ON the next weekend for their air show, in formation with the Toronto-based MiG-15. The Tillsonburg air show went as planned but politics and an apparent power-trip by Windsor air show staff cancelled our Windsor air show participation. Fortunately my ultra-flexible friends, Chuck & Cheryl Kemp, in Fenwick hosted me until I returned to Edmonton/Cold Lake on August 24.


And finally, the fourth and possibly most successful trip to KF on September 7. Here the plan was to fly from KF to Halifax, via Montreal, on September 8th for the Nova Scotia International Air Show at CFB Shearwater on September 11 and 12 (I flew at CFB Shearwater with navy squadron VU-32 from 1970-73).


We were scheduled to give media flights in the T-33 on September 9, followed by a practice on the 10th. This time no politics were involved, just weather – lots of it – so we delayed at KF until the 9th, then the 10th, and finally departed on the 11th in perfect weather (until the Maine/NB border), finally landing at Halifax in an afternoon rain shower. A lobster-fest at the CFB Shearwater officers’ mess for all the air show participants that evening was a resounding success.


I flew in the air show on Sunday 12th, and planned to fly to Gatineau QC (near Ottawa) on the 13th for the Vintage Wings of Canada air show on the 18th. Weather blocked us again on the 13th & 14th so we took advantage of the delay to have a mini-reunion with Doug & Joan Chiddenton (Doug was my VU-32 Commanding Officer) and to tour the Shearwater Air Museum.


While in Gatineau we visited Doug Williams, my 81-year-young CF-100 navigator who retired in Ottawa, and the National Air Museum. Mike Potter, the dynamic founder of Vintage Wings of Canada at Gatineau, flies many of the WW2 fighter planes in his collection but had never flown a jet (his F-86, Hawk One, is a single-seat jet fighter) so naturally we went flying together in T-33 577. There was a new twinkle in his eye when we climbed out – well, I did warn him he would fall in love with the T-bird!


The Gatineau air show on 19 Sep was perfect from start to finish (after the morning fog lifted). T-33 577 & F-86 Hawk One made a number of formation passes – we believe this was the first T-33/F-86 formation in Canada in more than 40 years. For those interested, you can go to www.jetaircraftmuseum.ca and click on the JAM Oct/Nov Newsletter for photos and a write-up.


My son has set up this website for me (he’s been appointed the official webmaster) and while it will take years to complete it, he’s done a commendable job getting it up & running. You will also find photos of the Shearwater & Gatineau air shows on this site.




Turbo in T-33 577 (C-FRGA) & Fat Daddy in F-86 Hawk One in a canopy pass at the Vintage Wings of Canada Air Show at Gatineau QC – September 18, 2010


Back to Kitchener on the 19th, then a flypast for the International Ploughing Match at St Thomas ON on the 21st. That wound up the scheduled flying for 577 for this year. We had hoped to finally get T-33 656 test-flown at KF (it had been there since November 2009), then ferried to Abbotsford BC, especially since I was already at KF. After a few delays I visited my still-flexible hosts, Chuck & Cheryl, in Fenwick to wait for confirmation that 656 was ready. Regrettably, they couldn’t get it ready so I decided to return home on October 9th. We’re now aiming for mid-February 2011 or April/May to get 656 test-flown and ferried.


Winter has settled in the west once again as I write this. I trust 2010 was a good year for you and send Best Wishes for an even better year in 2011.


As usual, I’ll plan to nuke a small dead turkey or a large dead chicken in the microwave for the Festered Season. I look forward to your annual up-date news.