WHAT IS TO BECOME OF RMCC’S F86 SABRE?
For nearly 50 years, the F86 Sabre jet has been in place overlooking the Cataraqui River as you enter the College, presented by the Class of 1968 as a gift. One of 1,815 aircraft manufactured by Canadair in Montreal in the 1950s for use by the RCAF and for sale to other Air Forces, it was part of the major NATO commitment by the RCAF – twelve squadrons of aircraft, in service in Europe until replaced by the CF-104 in 1962. In its day, it was a significant aircraft.
Recent visitors will have seen the deterioration of the exterior paint, but what is less apparent are increasing safety concerns – are the pedestal and its mounting safe? According to the plaque on the base of the pedestal, it was refurbished once, 22 years ago, although there is no known written or photographic record of the work that was done. Currently, the pedestal has been assessed as being structurally secure. Information received is that a box structure was initially fabricated and placed inside the airframe in order to attach it to the pedestal, but until the aircraft is removed from the pedestal, there is no way of verifying the security of the attachment which we have been advised could be a major safety concern.
During the past three years, the Monuments and Memorial Committee at RMCC have explored many options for doing the work needed now, including working with the Aircraft Technical and Electronic Support Squadron (ATESS) at CFB Trenton which has refurbished several similar aircraft that are being used as monuments. These projects have been used as training opportunities with ATESS providing free labour and the ‘owner’ providing funding to cover the cost of materials and of transporting the aircraft to and from Trenton. Based on similar projects, ATESS have estimated the cost of craning and transportation, and to completely refurbish and re-seal the airframe to prevent further degradation due to weather, birds and animals to be $45,000 (including a $7,000 refundable contingency if it is not needed).
Therein lies the challenge. Now, the total of $45,000 must be paid in full before ATESS will remove the aircraft from the pedestal and transport it to their repair facility. So what is to become of RMCC’s F-86 Sabre? If funding for the restoration cannot be found, the Monuments and Memorials Committee will need to recommend a solution which deals with the safety aspects of this particular memorial, probably removal of the Sabre from the College.
This is a broader appeal for help for a pressing problem. Can you help the College keep this Memorial flown by literally hundreds of Ex-Cadets during the Korean and cold wars? The future will require that similar gifts be accompanied with an endowment for their upkeep, but at the moment there is an urgent need to fix this particular problem.
3572 Frank Norman and 5256 Gwyn Griffith prepared this article and the RMC, Chief of Staff has approved it on behalf of the College.
The safety of the aircraft on the pedestal is becoming a major concern and the College needs a resolution soon.
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