Headquartered in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, GSH and its group of companies is one of the largest helicopter operators in Canada.
Discovery Mining Services is a mining service and expediting company serving the needs of companies operating throughout Canada.
Air Tindi operates a diversified fleet of fixed-wing aircraft and offers air ambulance, tourism, cargo transport, charter flying and scheduled service across Canada’s north.
Discovery Air Defence Services is the prime supplier of Airborne Training services to the Canadian Army, Navy and Air Force.
Discovery Air Inc.’s Class A common voting shares and unsecured debentures trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (symbols DA.A and DA.DB.A, respectively).
Discovery Air Technical Services (DATS) is a Transport Canada Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO 23-10) with a wide range of capabilities. We are authorized to perform maintenance and modifications on all U.S. registered aircraft as listed in the U.S./Canada bilateral agreement (Ref. CFR 43.17) and under EASA 145 (European Aviation Safety Agency).
Hawk One Flying High with Discovery Air
By Dan Dempsey, Top Aces Inc.
Hawk One Team Historian
Thanks in large part to Discovery Air, Canadians looking skyward this summer are once again being treated to a magnificent aerial sight – the classic lines of the “Hawk One” F-86 Sabre sweeping across the sky adorned in the colours of the legendary RCAF Golden Hawks aerobatic team. For the second consecutive year, Discovery Air has led the way in teaming up with Vintage Wings of Canada, the Canadian Forces and a number of like minded corporate sponsors to highlight Canada’s proud aviation heritage. There is one distinctive change to the paint scheme on the aircraft this year however – the addition of the Discovery Air logo to the side of the aircraft as a salute to that corporation’s vision and leadership.
Formed last year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada, Hawk One and the Centennial Heritage Flight toured across Canada in a highly visible tribute to Canada’s myriad aviation accomplishments. “Resurrect, Celebrate and Motivate” was the theme behind the refurbishment of the classic Sabre affectionately referred to as “The Sword” by the hundreds of RCAF fighter pilots who flew her during the early days of the Cold War in Europe.
All volunteers, the Hawk One team brings together a formidable group of highly experienced civilian and military professionals who are once again displaying the Sabre across Canada from Halifax all the way to Victoria, allowing Canadians young and old to “look, touch and learn” about the rich aviation heritage that helped build our nation. Last year, some two million spectators had the opportunity to see Hawk One fly with hundreds of spectators, young and old alike, having the additional privilege of having their photo taken in the cockpit of the legendary jet.
The 2010 season kicked off in style last month in the nation’s capital where Vintage Wings teamed up with the RCMP to dedicate Hawk One to Al Lilly, a former RCMP officer and later Canadair test pilot who was not only the first Canadian to fly the F-86, but also the first to crack the sound barrier on August 5, 1950. More recently, Hawk One thrilled over 20,000 airshow fans at the Vintage Wings of Canada Open House on the 4th of July and will soon be on its western swing. This will include the jet’s first major foray into the United States where it is expected that over one million attendees at the famous Oshkosh Airshow south of Chicago will see the jet for the first time in its Golden Hawk and “Discovery Air” livery.
RCAF Sabre 23314
The F-86 Sabre that was destined to become Hawk One has a distinguished history. It was the 1,104th Sabre to come off the Canadair assembly line in August 1954, bearing the RCAF serial number 23314. Built as a Sabre 5, it was one of 1,183 Canadian-built Sabres that were delivered to the RCAF between 1951 and 1957 to equip 12 squadrons in Europe as Canada’s aerial commitment to the defence of Europe in the early days of the Cold War.
The jet served in Europe with 441 (F) Sqn following the move of RCAF 1 (F) Wing from North Luffenham, England to Marville, France. Upon repatriation to Canada, it served in a number of locations, most appropriately as one of the training aircraft for the Golden Hawks at RCAF Stn Trenton during the workups for the 1963 airshow season. The aircraft ended its service career with the RCAF and Canadian Forces at the Sabre Transition Unit located at CFB Chatham, New Brunswick where it was used as a lead-in fighter trainer for the CF-104 Starfighter. Sabre 23314 flew its last RCAF sortie on December 31st, 1968. Following the removal of its six 50 calibre machine guns and several years in storage, 23314 was sold to private interests in the United States where it remained for some 35 years. Following its sale to Vintage Wings in September 2007, it winged its way home to Canada to begin a long restoration process.
Flying the F-86 Sabre
As any fighter pilot would anticipate, the Sabre is an absolute joy to fly. Most pilots who have sat in it have expressed surprise at how tight the cockpit is – the old adage of strapping a fighter to your back is not far off when it comes to the F-86. To date, eight former Canadian air force pilots having fighter experience of one sort or the other (from Mustangs to Starfighters to Hornets), have checked out on Hawk One. This year’s displays are being flown by two former Hornet demonstration pilots, Mike Woodfield of Westjet and Will Radiff of the Canadian Forces.
The Sabre loves to fly fast and, while she is no match for today’s afterburner equipped fighters, she accelerates to over 450 knots with little effort or sensation in the cockpit. Yet, she is surprisingly easy to fly – a fighter pilot’s fighter as they say. Even at an all up weight of 16,233 pounds, nosewheel rotation occurs at 115 knots and she eagerly leaps into the air at 131 knots – with only 2,800 feet of runway behind her. As the jet rapidly accelerates through 200 knots her leading edge slats automatically slide closed. Once over 300 knots the roll rate of the aircraft, even at half aileron deflection, is very fast – dizzyingly so at full deflection. Combining pitch, roll and acceleration rates as she races through the sky, it is readily apparent why the Sabre was so successful as a dog fighter – and why she was so revered by those fortunate enough to have flown her.
One of the truly amazing technological advances of the Sabre was its leading edge slats which automatically deploy at slow speeds to improve manoeuvrability. Mounted on simple rollers, there is no sound or sensation as they extend or retract, an invaluable asset in a slow speed dog fight or while turning base to final. Overhead pitches are nominally flown at typical fighter speeds of 300 knots. After lowering gear and full flap at 185 knots, final turn is flown at a minimum of 150 knots decreasing to 130 on final and 110 over the threshold.
A Unique Partnership
Like all celebrated projects, Hawk One began with a vision that hard work and determination turned into a reality. The members of the team, from the technicians to the support staff and pilots, have each had a role to play in bringing the project to fruition. Still, the project would never have seen the light of day without the generous support of many organizations and individuals. It is a credit to Discovery Air that they have led the way in helping Vintage Wings tell the story of a legendary aircraft and the RCAF pilots who helped make her famous.
Dan Dempsey is a former CF fighter pilot, Snowbird commander and airline captain who now flies for Top Aces. He is honoured to be a member of the Hawk One team, last summer being one of the five pilots to fly Hawk One across Canada. He currently has 40 sorties in the Sabre to his credit.
The RCAF Golden Hawks
The Golden Hawks were formed on March 1, 1959 as the RCAF’s contribution to the Golden Anniversary of Flight in Canada. Under the command of Wing Commander Jack Allan, Squadron Leader Fern Villeneuve and his team flourished, quickly establishing themselves as one of the finest aerobatic teams in the world. Resplendent in their six gold-coloured F-86 Sabre 5 fighters, the Golden Hawks represented everything that was glorious about the RCAF and aviation in Canada.
Although originally slated to fly for only one year, the popularity of the Golden Hawks ensured their survival for five full airshow seasons until debilitating budget cuts to national defence sealed their fate on February 7, 1964 as the team practiced for their sixth season.
All told, over 15,000,000 North Americans watched the Golden Hawks weave their aerial magic in 317 shows over five years. They came to symbolize a form of national pride, a thrilling sight millions of Canadians would cherish and never forget. Today, their legacy lives on through Hawk One and the Snowbirds, this year celebrating their 40th year of aerial excellence.
Other Community Involvement
100 Years of Powered Flight in Canada
This year Canada celebrates the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Canada. As part of those celebrations, a group of volunteers have refurbished a classic RCAF Sabre 5 in the colours of the legendary Golden Hawks aerobatic team.The Hawk One Team forms part of the Air Force’s Centennial Heritage Flight and will be joining Canada’s own Snowbirds throughout the 2009 Airshow Season. The combined mission of the Snowbirds and the Hawk One Team is to motivate young people to reach their dreams, whatever they may be.
Discovery Air is proud to be a Tier 1 Sponsor for the Hawk One Team. The Hawk One Team is led by former Snowbird commander LCol Steve Will, and brings together a formidable group of highly experience aviators, including Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and our own Top Aces Westwind Captain Dan Dempsey.
Discovery Air's President and Chief Executive Officer, Dave Jennings, is pictured above at the Vintage Wings Hangar in Gatineau, QC. He is extremely proud to take part in the Hawk One project and wanted to take the time to salute Hawk One for their extremely successful season.
To learn more about the celebrations that were held in Gatineau for the Hawk One project, please visit blog.hawkone.ca/. For more information about the Hawk One project itself, please visit the Hawk One website.
Every year, residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut pursuing an aviation-related career in the North can each receive one of 16 $5,000 scholarships from a fund sponsored by the NWT Department of Transportation, Nunavut Department of Economic Development and Transportation, Discovery Air, Keewatin Air, North-Wright Airways, and First Air. The scholarships are offered to full-time residents of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (two year minimum residency - a combination of continuous residency in both territories would be accepted to meet the residency requirement) pursuing full-time aviation-related studies. The studies can be related to airline or airport operations or management, aircraft maintenance, and pilot training.
If you would like to concentrate on flying aircraft while knowing you are in the safest hands around, our team of maintainers will take care of all aspects of managing your fleet.
Discovery Air Fire Services operates with four divisions
Discovery Air Fire Services has been active in the aviation industry for over 60 years and is organized into four operating divisions; Fire, Charter, Imagery and Training.Read More
Discovery Air International was established to expand Discovery Air’s range of specialty aviation services domestically and internationally and will focus initially on executive charter, medevac and repatriation services out of Western Canada with its primary base and main operations based out of Calgary, Alberta.
The Northlinx Network brings together many of the GSH Aboriginal Joint-Venture Partnerships allowing all participants to benefit from pan-territorial mega-projects requiring helicopter services in the North. Presently there are twelve partnerships operating in this profitable model around the NWT and Nunavut. On top of that, Air Tindi has an additional four Aboriginal partnerships and Discovery Mining Services has two.
We are committed to providing our customers with specialty aviation solutions whenever and wherever they are required. Our pilots, maintainers, logisticians and administrators operate with precision and pride in some of the most challenging environments in the world.
Discovery Air is committed to recruiting and retaining the best talent in aviation industry. By joining Discovery Air you will have the opportunity to participate in a unique and dynamic environment focused on growth, entrepreneurship, innovation and teamwork.
Discovery Aviation Academy is a flight school based in Sudbury, Ontario that offers many different types of pilot flight training to meet the needs of all aspiring aviators.