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Jet Aircraft Museum Red Knight CT-133 moving ahead

Report and photos by Gord McNulty

JAM Red Knight CT 133 Silver Star C FUPP ex RCAF 133573 London Oct 29 2017 Gord McNulty

JAM Red Knight CT-133 Silver Star C-FUPP, ex-RCAF 133573, London, Oct. 29, 2017

A tribute to a memorable aerobatic tradition in RCAF history, the Red Knight, is moving ahead at the Jet Aircraft Museum (JAM) in London, ON. JAM plans to return one of its Canadair CT-133 Silver Stars, painted in the striking red paint scheme of the “T-birds” that thrilled aviation fans in solo aerobatic displays from 1958 to 1970, to the skies in 2018.

C-FUPP, formerly RCAF 133573, was on static display at the JAM hangar when I visited on Oct. 29 for the museum’s final “jet blast” fly day of the 2017 season. It made a vivid impression with its glossy red finish, featuring a red knight’s helmet emblazoned on the nose. JAM president Scott Ellinor noted the ejection seats were being removed from the jet trainer at the request of Transport Canada. Successful engine runs were completed earlier this year and if all goes well, JAM is anticipating flight testing can take place in the spring.

JAM Red Knight Silver Star C FUPP London Oct 29 2017

JAM Red Knight Silver Star, C-FUPP, London, Oct. 29, 2017.

The classic Silver Star, introduced into RCAF service in 1953, was a highly successful jet trainer into the 1970s. A number remained in service for other roles such as electronic warfare training until 2005. The introduction of the Red Knight dates to 1958. Instructor F/L Roy Windover, concerned about the lack of a high-profile Canadian presence at the CNE air show, received approval to paint a CT-133 in red in order that it would stand out among the foreign aircraft. Windover flew as a solo performer and his red T-bird shone like a beacon. The instant popularity of the demonstration convinced the RCAF to establish the Red Knight program. Nearly 100 appearances were made in 1963 alone. Seventeen RCAF pilots carried the mantle of the Red Knight. In 1968, the lighter Canadair Tutor served as the Red Knight before the program ended in 1970.

The restoration of the 64-year-old CT-133 has been an ambitious project, involving more than 1,200 hours of work, under the direction and supervision of AME Brian Rhodenizer. Various organizations have supported the project, including generous donations from two sources in the U.S. among others. Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings of Wichita, Kansas, donated the paint and California-based Concorde Batteries donated two brand new batteries.

The Air Force Heritage Fund contributed and Bill Burns of CanMilAir produced accurate markings. Rich Refinishing Auto Body, London International Airport, Executive Aviation and North Wind Aviation also provided much-needed support.

For excellent reading about the Red Knight, highly recommended is A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage, by Dan Dempsey. For more information about JAM, consult the website jetaircraftmuseum.ca or phone 519 453-7000.

Of note, also seen at London on Oct. 29, was a Grumman HU-16 Albatross, the latest addition to the International Test Pilots School fleet. An ex-U.S. Navy aircraft, now registered N7025J, the versatile amphibian was acquired by the ITPS to train pilots in connection with the large AG600 amphibious aircraft being developed in China.

The Jet Aircraft Museum BAC Jet Provost C FDJP flew during the Jet Blast on Oct 29 at London

The Jet Aircraft Museum BAC Jet Provost, C-FDJP, flew during the Jet Blast on Oct. 29 at London.

 Grumman HU 16 Albatross of the International Test Pilots School in London ON Oct 29 2017

Grumman HU-16 Albatross of the International Test Pilots School in London, ON, Oct. 29, 2017.

Rockwell Commander RC700 C FLSJ one of nine fixed wing aicraft in the ITPS fleet London Oct 29 2017

Rockwell Commander RC700, C-FLSJ, one of nine fixed wing aircraft in the ITPS fleet. London, Oct. 29, 2017.