CF-100 ceremony marks community achievement 0
Chester Howse, project coordinator to refurbish the iconic CF-100 fighter jet in Haliburton, gives credit to the community and everyone who helped with returning the plane close to its original state at a re-dedication ceremony in Haliburton on Tuesday, Aug. 28. Howse and Haliburton Legion president Carla Watson spent more than a year raising money and seeking donors for this project. DARREN LUM/HALIBURTON ECHO/QMI AGENCY
She’s alive and looking like new.
It’s probably a little politically incorrect to affix any gender to a plane, but for the iconic Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck in Haliburton it fits, as she has given birth to an effort to honour the men and women who have served (and continue to serve) in the Canadian Forces.
A crowd of more than a hundred people gathered at the base of the plane for a ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 28 to acknowledge the refurbishment efforts.
The event included special guests such as veterans of past wars and conflicts, Legion zone commander Belinda Wilson, pastor Bev Hicks, Dysart Reeve Murray Fearrey, Sinclair Russell, who is brother to Haliburton County’s only Canadian Forces colonel, Colonel Neil Russell, and Rex Sutcliffe a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force who flew the exact plane on the pedestal.
Chester Howse and Legion branch 129 president Carla Watson spent more than a year on the project. They held fundraising events and asked around for money.
Two large donations, one from an anonymous donor and a subsequent one from a man from England, were helpful in this endeavour, Howse said. There were close to $56,000 in donations. Initially the project’s goal was $89,000 to take the plane down in pieces and do the work down south.
Howse, project co-ordinator, was pleased about achieving his goal and thanked the community, Fearrey, Kashaga Paint and Heritage Metal Restoration, who made a proposal to reduce the final cost of the project.
“I think it looks beautiful. [Kashaga Paint Design and Heritage Metal Restoration] have done a great job. We got it done without any tax dollars I’m proud to say. Really thankful to our two anonymous donors, plus all of you people in Haliburton County who donated to this,” he said.
Howse said John Lally of Pinestone Resort helped to put fundraising over the top by hosting a golf tournament in July.
“We’re happy – happy that we’ve reached this point. There were a couple of hiccups along the way, but we persevered and sang a few hallelujahs and got it done,” he said.
Landscaping work and lights around the base of the pedestal are next.
Fearrey still remembers the initial efforts to bring the plane to Haliburton. He recognized people like Wayne Wood and Les Roberts for their work bringing it in 1973. He said Howse was a leader in the project with his persistence and determination.
Sutcliffe, 78, of Oakville learned through his logbook that he piloted the same jet sitting on the pedestal in British Columbia on Dec. 19, 1959.
“In a way it’s still going strong and so am I,” he said.
He flew the jet when he was 23 and was glad to see his plane returned to its former glory. The amiable man, who described the plane as “dependable,” flew close to 1,000 hours during a little more than three years in the 409 squadron. His claim to fame, he said, was taking the jet up to 50,000 feet.
“I can tell you at 50,000 feet the high speed and the stalling speed were two or three knots different,” he said.
Sutcliffe came with his navigator Don Corker, who told his friend about the plane a few years ago. Although Corker didn’t fly this exact plane, he was still proud of Haliburton’s achievement to preserve history so dear to him.
Sinclair Russell of Carnarvon came on behalf of his brother Colonel W. Neil Russell, who was at the first ceremony for the plane.
Russell pointed out his older brother, who was raised in Carnarvon and born in Minden, but lives in London, Ont., is the only person from Haliburton County to earn the rank of colonel in the Canadian Forces. He served the Forces for 33 years. Legion Zone 4 deputy commander Wilson has seen the ups and downs of the project and pointed to what the plane symbolizes.
“This is a tribute to the community. It’s a tribute to the branch. It’s a tribute to everyone and to all our fighting men and women,” she said. “And, again, it’s just a real pleasure to be here and witness today. I thank Carla for the invitation. I just want to know who is the hotshot was that landed the sucker?”
The Haliburton Legion branch purchased the plane in February 1973. It served during the Cold War on NATO bases in Europe and as part of NORAD. There was 692 CF-100 aircraft produced by Avro Canada. It was the only Canadian-designed fighter jet to enter mass production. There are only 27 other aircraft on display across the country.
- with files from Royal Canadian Legion, branch 129, Haliburton