CT-114 Tutor: 50 years of inspirational flight

News Article / October 20, 2014

By Captain Susan Magill

In early October 2014, Tutor fans gathered at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the CT-114 Tutor.

After 50 years of steadfast service to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), the Tutor was fêted by former and current pilots and technicians, aviation enthusiasts, photographers, and members of 15 Wing during a two-day celebration. Guests had an opportunity to tour the wing; view a static display and fly past; participate in a TGIF; watch the iconic Snowbirds, 431 Air Demonstration Squadron; and celebrate with a formal dinner in the Snowbirds’ hangar.

Hundreds of guests, military personnel, family members and friends saw the Snowbirds perform their final air display of 2014. Bundled against the cold, spectators watched the distinctive red and white Tutors perform precision formation flying in the blue prairie sky.

“The CT-114 Tutor is an ideal aircraft for both pilot instruction and air demonstration,” said Colonel Alex Day, 15 Wing Moose Jaw Commander.

The first aircraft to be designed from scratch by Canadair, the Tutor was manufactured to Air Force specifications and delivered on October 29, 1963. A year later, the nimble aircraft was put to use as the RCAF’s basic jet trainer and, by 1967, 190 Tutors had been delivered. Most of the CT-114s spent their days in Moose Jaw as primary trainers.

In 1967, 10 Tutors were modified to form an aerobatic team. Painted gold and blue, the Golden Centennaires were created to celebrate Canada’s centennial with 100 shows across the nation. The team flew just that one year, but in 1970, pilots at 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (CFFTS) in Moose Jaw began flying the Tutor again as a demonstration aircraft. In 1971, the team was named the Snowbirds and they officially became the Canadian Forces Air Demonstration Team in 1975. Three years later, the team of Tutors and pilots were organized as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron.

Once a force of 190 aircraft, the single-engine jet trainer is now used exclusively by the Snowbirds in Moose Jaw for air demonstrations, and by the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, for aircraft testing.

Guests at the Tutor 50th Anniversary dinner included a number of accomplished Tutor and Snowbird pilots and technicians. The guest speaker for the evening, Honorary Colonel Yogi Huyghebaert, accumulated more than 5,000 flying hours on fighter and training aircraft during his military career. He flew number nine solo for the Snowbirds from 1974 to 1975 and was the commander of the Snowbirds squadron from 1985 to 1986.

“The Tutor continues to provide venerable service to the RCAF after 50 years of operations,” said Colonel Day, who served as anniversary event host.

A commemorative coin, minted in pewter to mark the 50th anniversary of the Tutor, depicts the fighter jet in its first paint scheme of aluminum and red as the 2 CFFTS trainer. A limited edition of only 350 coins was ordered.

The Tutor is expected to continue flying as an air demonstration aircraft until about 2020.

“The Tutor,” Colonel Day said, “provided the RCAF with generations of pilots well versed in the many required skills of military aviation while capturing the imagination of the public at large and nurturing a desire to fly in the CF.”

The Snowbirds are an icon and a source of pride for all Canadians. The dedicated team members embody the high levels of professionalism, teamwork, excellence, discipline and dedication that are demonstrated by the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Armed Forces.

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