Radar Lock-on

The Sabre's Radar is Locked on...


Sabrejet Classics is proud to lock the Sabre's radar on Squadron Leader Andy MacKenzie, RCAF (Ret). His story is truly a remarkable one, spanning World War II and the Korean War.

Andy achieved "ace" status in World War 11, downing 8.5 Luftwaffe aircraft. Three of them went down in one day, 20 December 1943 - in only ninety seconds!! But his tour was not without a couple of rough spots. He was shot down twice by AAA. And one of those times it was by U.S. gunners over Normandy's Utah Beach. The other time, his Spitfire was hit by enemy flak over Caen while he was flying at 18,000 feet, and he was forced to dead-stick the Spit in friendly territory.

As exciting and spectacular as his WW2 exploits were, Andy would probably not be appearing in Sabrejet Classics were it not for his brief (?) exchange tour flying the
F-86 with the 51st Fighter Group in Korea. On 5 December 1952, his fifth mission, Andy was shot down again. And again it was American gunfire that brought him down! It was one of those terrible times when, in the heat of battle, his Sabre was mistaken for a MiG-I 5 by another Sabre pilot.

Andy successfully ejected, but was captured by the Chinese Reds, and remained a prisoner until 5 December 1954 - long after the 27 July 1953 cease fire went into effect ending the Korean War. Eighteen months of those two years were spent in solitary confinement. While in captivity, Andy was reminded by his captors that no one even knew he was alive, and he could easily be killed. But Andy steadfastly refused to sign any of the statements accusing the United States of war crimes. Only when other released prisoners asked, "Where the hell is Andy MacKenzie?", was Andy finally returned to freedom.

Andy and his wife Alison, live in Oxford Station, Ontario, and they attended the most recent reunion of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association. Now 81 years young, Andy proudly recalls his twentyseven years as an RCAF fighter pilot. In all, Andy earned twelve medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross awarded for the downing of the three German aircraft in one day. He retired in 1966, and retains his sense of humor. When asked recently what went through his mind when he squeezed the triggers on his ejection seat over Korea, Andy said, "I wonder if this damn thing works!"

The Association points with pride to our esteem member and friend, S/L Andy MacKenzie. And we look forward to enjoying his company at future reunions.

No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.

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