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Wm. "Turbo" Tarling

The following Bio was written for my introduction as the Reviewing Officer for 831 RCAC Squadron's annual inspection at Leduc, AB in May 2004. You can imagine how desperate they were to find a reviewing officer since they settled for a retired RCAF/CF captain. They were also dedicating their refurbished T-33 that had gone for an unauthorized flight from its pedestal during a fierce windstorm about 5 years earlier; hence the emphasis on my T-33 flying.

Biography - Captain W.M. (Turbo) Tarling CD1 (Retired)


Captain Tarling was born and educated in Toronto, Ontario. In 1949 he joined 218 "Danforth Lions" Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Cadets, at the age of 11. In 1954 WO2 Tarling was selected as the outstanding cadet in the Greater Toronto area and named as the de Havilland Test Pilot For A Day. Later that year he completed his flying training and received his Private Pilot License on his 17th birthday. In 1955, WO1 Tarling was selected as the leader for the USA Exchange visit.


In September 1955, he joined the RCAF and was selected for pilot training. Flight Cadet (F/C) Tarling trained on the venerable Harvard at RCAF Station Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (P/O) a few weeks before his 19th birthday. After further training on the T-33 Silver Star at RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba, he was promoted to Flying Officer (F/O) and was presented his RCAF wings by his father, Flight Lieutenant (F/L) William Tarling, 218 Squadron's adjutant, who had flown out to Gimli from Toronto for the occasion.


Following operational training on the CF-100 Canuck at RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta F/O Tarling was posted to 428 AW(F) "Ghost" Squadron at RCAF Station Uplands, Ottawa, Ontario for three years. In 1960 he was posted back to RCAF Station Cold Lake as an instructor on the CF-100.


In 1962 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant, converted to the CF-101 Voodoo and spent the next three years with 425 AW(F) "Alouette" Squadron at RCAF Station Bagotville, Quebec. A one year posting to the DEW Line in the arctic in 1965 was followed by a posting to RCAF Station Winnipeg, Manitoba where he flew the T-33 Silver Star as an instructor at the Instrument Check Pilot School (ICPS).


He was then posted to the Wing Instrument Flight at CFB Lahr, Germany in 1969 flying the T-33 and spent the next year flying all over Western Europe. When the Canadian Forces reduced its air force in Europe in 1970, Captain Tarling returned to Canada and spent the next three years flying the T-33 with VU-32, a navy squadron at CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia, with many deployments to Bermuda and Puerto Rico. It was during his tour at VU-32 that Captain Tarling passed 4000 flying hours on the T-33.


In 1973 Captain Tarling was posted to CFS Val d'Or, Quebec as Officer Commanding, Combat Alert Centre. His tour there was cut short when the Canadian Force was experiencing a shortage of CF-101 Voodoo pilots and posted Captain Tarling to 416 AW(F) "Lynx" Squadron at CFB Chatham, New Brunswick, again flying the Voodoo for three more years. During his Voodoo refresher flying at CFB Bagotville in 1974, he passed the 5000-hour mark on the T-33.


In 1977 he returned to CFB Cold Lake (now 4 Wing Cold Lake) as the T-33 Flight Commander at Base Flight and the Base Instrument Check Pilot. When he passed the 6000-hour mark on the T-33 in 1977, Captain Tarling was invited to visit Lockheed Aircraft at Burbank, California, USA and was presented a special plaque by the famous test pilot, Tony LeVier, who was also the first pilot to fly the T-33. In January 1980 he passed 7000 hours on the T-33 and was invited to visit Canadair in Montreal where he again received a special award for this unique achievement.


Captain Tarling retired from the Canadian Forces in 1982 when he reached Compulsory Retirement Age (CRA). In his air force career he amassed 11,645 flying hours in 50 different types of aircraft, including 28 jets. With more than 10,400 hours jet time, Captain Tarling is probably the high-time jet pilot in the RCAF/CF.


For the next 17 summers he flew the Douglas B-26 “Invader” fighting forest fires in Alberta.

In March 1998, 417 (CS) Squadron (formerly Base Flight) at 4 Wing Cold Lake invited Captain Tarling to fly the "specially painted" T-33 for the T-33's 50th Anniversary (March 22, 1948) commemorative flight.


Captain Tarling is now the Chief Pilot for Air Combat Warfare International (ACWI) and recently ferried the first two of 14 ex-CF T-33s purchased by ACWI. His total flying time is 12,918 hours on 64 types of aircraft and his 7655 hours on the T-33 Silver Star is thought to be a world record.


Captain Tarling has been a member of the RCAF Association/AFAC since 1975 and is a founding member and Wing Historian of 784 "Diamond Jubilee" Wing at Cold Lake, Alberta.