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"Hawk One" performing at the Portage-la-Prairie airshow, 2009.

The Golden Hawks were a Canadianmarker military aerobatic flying team established in 1959 to celebrate the 35th anniversary or the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the "Golden" 50th anniversary of Canadian flight, which began with the AEA Silver Dart in 1909.

Initially a six-plane team was envisioned as performing for only one year with the Canadair Sabre, but the Golden Hawks were so popular after their single 63-show season that the team was expanded. Another Sabre was added to the team, allowing for a five-aircraft main formation with two solo jets. They continued performing for three more seasons until they were disbanded for financial reasons, on February 7, 1964, having flown a total of 317 shows across North America.

Not only did the team perform the loops, rolls and other maneuvers standard to military formation flying, they had their own trademark maneuvers. One of the Golden Hawks' signature stunts was a low-level flyby of the crowd with their canopies open, waving at the spectators. The Golden Hawks pioneered the bomb burst maneuver and the use of two solo pilots working together as part of the aerial demonstration which virtually every military team since has adopted in various ways.

Tributes and survivors

In Oakville, Ontariomarker, 540 Golden Hawks Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron is named for the air demonstration team.

During the 1980s, 851 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron based in Prince Edward County, Ontariomarker owned a Sabre that at one time was used by the Golden Hawks. From 1961 to 1977 the same Sabre was on display at Pinecrest school in Bloomfield, Ontariomarker. The Sabre currently resides in Barrie, Ontariomarker.

In 2009, Hawk One, a fully refurbished Canadair F-86 Sabre in Golden Hawk colors, owned by Vintage Wings of Canada will be helping to celebrate the Centennial of Flight in Canada. Hawk One will be performing in air shows across Canada throughout 2009 both with and without the Snowbirds.

Accidents and incidents

  • March 12, 1959 - A Golden Hawks Sabre crashed into a wooded area near RCAF Station Chathammarker while practising a solo routine, killing F/L Sam Eisler.

  • August 10, 1959 - A Golden Hawks Sabre overshot when landing at McCall Airfieldmarker, Calgarymarker, Alberta, with the rest of the team and collided with a Piper Pacer about two miles west of the field. The Sabre pilot, F/L Jeb Kerr, and two occupants of the Pacer were killed.

  • 1959 - A solo Golden Hawk Sabre piloted by F/L G.T. Price was struck by a bird over Bedford Basinmarker, Halifaxmarker, Nova Scotiamarker shattering the windscreen and canopy. Although the pilot's helmet visor was torn away and his vision was temporarily impaired, F/L Price was able to land safely with the assistance of F/L R.E. Annis, the other solo pilot.

  • February 22, 1961 - Golden Hawks Sabre pilot F/O Jim McCann was killed during formation practice after the right wing of his aircraft was severely damaged during a collision with another Sabre.

  • April 1961 - Golden Hawks pilot F/O Bill Stewart ejected at low altitude during a practice routine near Chatham because of an engine malfunction.



  1. Hawk One


  • Dempsey, Daniel V. A Tradition of Excellence: Canada's Airshow Team Heritage. Victoria, BC: High Flight Enterprises, 2002. ISBN 0-9687817-0-5.
  • Fast, Beverley G. Snowbirds: Flying High, Canada's Snowbirds Celebrate 25 Years. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Lapel Marketing & Associates Inc., 1995. ISBN 0-96993127-0-7.

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