Aviation Historian 31
F.Villeneuve - Hawk One (1)
F-51D MUSTANG AND VAMPIRE F. Mk. 1 fighters of the R.C.A.F. were declared obsolete last November and eighty-eight Mustangs and twenty-nine Vampires are now for-sale. CB-569 is serial 9569 and GO-021, 17021.
From training on piston-engined Harvards and Beech 18s, Fern graduated on to jets with the de Havilland Vampire, of which a total of 86 English Electric-built single-seat F.3s were acquired by the RCAF during 1948-49. There were no two-seat dual instruction variants for RCAF pilots; their first experience of jet flying had to be solo.
Fern acquired his Private Pilot Licence in late 1946 and his Commercial Pilot Licence two years later. Paid flying work, however, was hard to find, and in 1950 he joined the RCAF, with which he trained initially on the trusty North American Harvard. This example, Harvard IV serial 20439, was built by Canadian Car & Foundry in Ontario.
After his brief tenure with No 431 Sqn, Fern was sent on an instructor’s course for the Harvard, before volunteering to become an instructor on the CT-133 Silver Star, a Canadair-built version of the Lockheed T-33. After a period instructing at Portage La Prairie, Fern was posted to the Central Flying School to evaluate and instruct the instructors, accruing a great deal of experience on the Silver Star, another type he enjoyed pushing to its limits.
Sabre Mk 2 19172 of No 441 Sqn with the airbrakes and leading-edge slats extended. On May 21, 1953, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visited North Luffenham, RCAF magazine The Talepipe noting "a beautiful display of precision flying in the form of a formation aerobatics team made up of Fg Offs Brine, Villeneuve, Annis and Gaudry".
A pair of Canadair Sabre Mk 2s of the RCAF’s No 441 Sqn up on a sortie from North Luffenham during No 1 Fighter Wing’s tenure at the airfield in Rutland, the first Canadian Nato base in Europe when the RCAF arrived in 1951. Although Fern referred to flying the F-86 throughout the interview, all the Sabres he flew were Canadair-built.
In early 1954 Fem returned to Canada to join No 431 Sqn, and by March had established a four-man formation aerobatic display team, practising extensively up to the team’s first official engagement at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto on June 12 that year. Seen here at the show beside one of the Sabre 2s, all given ”Indian head” insignia and the legend Iroquois are Fern (leader, kneeling) and standing, from left to right, Rod MacDonald (right wing), Art Maskell (box) and Fred Rudy (left wing).
Flying the flag for Canada - gleaming in their bare-metal finishes and adorned with the unit’s distinctive chequerboard fuselage stripes and fin flashes, a pair of Sabre Mk 2s of No 441 Sqn RCAF are photographed from the shadow of a Handley Page Hastings at the Queen’s Coronation Review of the RAF at Odiham on July 15, 1953.
The Avro Canada CF-100 was developed as an indigenous two-seat long-range all-weather interceptor, the twin-Rolls-Royce Avon-powered prototype making its first flight on January 19, 1950. Production aircraft were fitted with Avro Orenda engines and this Mk 4B, 18322, participated in the SBAC show at Farnborough in 1955.
The type that started it all - in 1944 Fern was at an Air Cadets camp when he was given his first flight experience; a short trip in an RCAF Avro Anson. This example, Yeadon-built Anson I serial 6302, was one of many supplied to the Canadians during 1940-41 and operated with the RCAF’s No 2 Training Command during 1943-44.
Fern, aged 78, with his Globe Swift C-GLYN (in honour of his wife Lynda), at Lee Bottom Flying Field, Indiana, USA, in September 2005.