By MWO Normand Marion, 16 Wing
Have you noticed that a significant landmark has recently vanished from the landscape alongside Highway 90, between Barrie and CFB Borden? If you guessed "a big, bright red aircraft", you are correct. On the weekend of February 21-22, the familiar T-33 aircraft, painted in the colour scheme of the legendary Red Knight air show act of the 1950s, was taken down from its pedestal and loaded on a truck to begin its voyage home to CFB Borden.
According to Major Blair Verner, Chief of Staff at 16 Wing, the move was necessary due to the recent sale of the property that had been home to 441 (Huronia) Wing of the Air Force Association of Canada over the past decades. "The T-33 Red Knight display aircraft located on-site had to be dismantled and relocated to CFB Borden, as it is considered to be a Crown asset," he confirmed.
The Wing Chief of Staff described the operation as team work, involving elements from Base Transport, Base Construction Engineers, the Aircraft Maintenance Flight of the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE) at 16 Wing Borden, and the Recovery and Salvage Support team of the Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron located at 8 Wing Trenton. Police escorts provided by the OPP and the base MPs ensured a safe road trip. In order to be able to clear the Nottawasaga River bridge and other narrow points along the road, the tail of the aircraft had to be removed.
Affectionately known as a "T-Bird", this T-33 - or CT-133 in modern day CF inventory, was used as a training aid at CFB Borden until the early 1980s. After being declared surplus to inventory, it was refurbished to display status by CFSATE technicians and offered to 441 Wing on long term loan. In 1989 it was mounted on a pedestal next to 441 Wing's building where it stood until last month. It was given a fresh paint job last year by a team of volunteer Aircraft Structures Technicians from CFSATE.
The Red Knight T-Bird will soon join more than a dozen other aircraft in the Base Borden Military Museum collection, most of which are already on display around the base.