Special to The Journal
In the autumn of 2013, after 40 years of honouring fallen air force personnel from the Battle of Britain, the F-86 Sabre Golden Hawk monument was taken down from its perch in Sarnia's Germain Park.
The goal was to restore the badly damaged jet to its former glory, in accordance with the wishes of veterans from the Royal Canadian Air Force 403 Wing Sarnia. When they approached a professional company to get an estimate of how much the project would cost, the project was deemed too expensive.
That's when a dedicated, all-volunteer restoration team took on the difficult task. The team included members of the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association, plus a few skilled local aircraft enthusiasts and other capable people. Working with a shoestring budget and donated materials and services from local companies and individuals, the team overcame many challenges.
The front section of the fuselage, the most heavily damaged area of the jet, was done first. Then, an authentic F-86 Sabre jet canopy was acquired from Vintage Wings Museum.
Crews and personnel at 409 and 410 Tactical Fighter Jet Squadron's Cold Lake, Alberta facility developed a graphics package that was used to create an authentic decal and insignia work.
As the project nears completion, the Golden Hawk's pedestal in Germain Park is being prepared. A large, black granite memorial stone will be placed at the site listing the generous companies, organizations and individuals who helped to bring the project to fruition.
The team hopes to have the aircraft back in place for Remembrance Day on Nov. 11.
The Sarnia Golden Hawk was a working member of the RCAF Golden Hawk aerobatic team in the late 1950s and early 1960s. When the F-86 Sabre Golden Hawk monument is rededicated this fall, it will not only honour the Battle of Britain, but all air force personnel who have served their country.
Bonnie Stevenson is a freelance journalist and writer, and author of Ahead of Her Time: The Tale of Bootjack Mary and its upcoming sequel.