by Alfred McDonald

The year 1959 marked a significant anniversary for aviation in Canada. The Royal Canadian Air Force was celebrating its 35th Anniversary, and Canadian aviation was markings its 50th year of powered flight since the SILVER DART flew at Baddeck, Nova Scotia in 1909. To mark these milestones, the RCAF formed the GOLDEN HAWKS, an aerobatic team equipped with Canadair hard-winged Sabre Mk 5s. The HAWKs were scheduled to tour Canada for only this one year. But because of their popularity, they became a permanent team at the end of the 1959 tour.

By the time I joined the team in 1961, the Sabre Mk 5 had been replaced by the more powerful, and slatted winged Sabre Mk 6. After two years the HAWKs were performing a spectacular and very polished show. They drew huge crowds of aviation enthusiasts to watch their displays in both Canada and the United States.

On one particular occasion the unforeseen happened. We were performing at Sydney, Nova Scotia during August 1961. During the 'bomb burst' maneuver before the spectators watching from the hangar line, , four of the HAWKs were doing a low altitude crossover. HAWK 3, Norm Garriock, while flying toward the hangar and the crowd, did not see a tall pole supporting an anemometer directly In front of him. His right wing hit the pole at a speed of 400 knots. The pole did considerable damage to the Sabre's leading edge. The other three aircraft quickly checked him over and monitored the Sabre during the immediate emergency approach to landing. Garriock landed the Sabre without further Incident.

I landed shortly afterward and investigated the area of the hangar Norm had just flown over. During this time I overheard the following conversation from a young woman who had been 'perched on the throne' inside the hangar during the incident with Garriock's Sabre - and directly beneath the support base for the anemometer pole "Well", she said excitedly to a friend, "I heard this great thundering noise as the aircraft passed over, then this loud bang directly above me. Just then some debris from the roof fell right beside me! You know, I darn near s--t!" The two of them suddenly realized where she was sitting and broke up into uncontrolled laughter. The accident had lost its seriousness for the moment and further investigation soon flushed out the cause!

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