Airworthy Starfighter project under way in Canada

British Columbia museum takes delivery of CF-104D from owner in Arizona

At Kelowna airport, British Columbia, the KF Centre for Excellence took delivery by road of a former Royal Canadian Air Force/Canadian Armed Forces Lockheed CF-104D Starfighter, serial 12633, on 29 June. The 1962-built trainer, which served with a test squadron at Cold Lake, Alberta from 1962 until 1973, was previously kept in near-airworthy condition by a private owner at Mesa, Arizona.

After being retired by the Canadian Forces in 1973, this Starfighter was sold to the Royal Norwegian Air Force, which operated it from Bodø with 334 Squadron as a trainer until its retirement in December 1982. The aircraft was sold to a museum in California during 1984, the Starfighter spending the next 10-plus years in the USA with several private owners.

Having flown approximately 200 hours over the past two decades and still in near-airworthy condition, the decision was made to ship the CF-104D from Mesa on two flatbed trucks. “We feel truly lucky to have been able to acquire this piece of Canadian military aviation history”, says KF Centre for Excellence executive director Paula Quinn. “This is an aircraft that holds a special place in the hearts of many veterans and aviation enthusiasts alike, and we are incredibly excited to bring it back to Canada, recognise its contributions, and be a part of its next chapter.”

CF-104D 12633 being unloaded after arrival at the KF Centre for Excellence at Kelowna Airport, British Columbia on 29 June.
CF-104D 12633 being unloaded after arrival at the KF Centre for Excellence at Kelowna Airport, British Columbia on 29 June. KF

Paula continues, “Currently, our aircraft maintenance engineers are hard at work, combing through the aircraft piece-by-piece, bolt-by-bolt, to ensure its structural stability. Any part, big or small, that looks even remotely questionable will be replaced or repaired by our expert team, in an effort to restore it to an airworthy state. As one can imagine, this process will take some time.

“Next, the plan is to repaint the aircraft back to its original RCAF livery in order to pay tribute to the pilots who flew CF-104 Starfighters. Some of those same pilots live right here in the Okanagan Valley, so, naturally, we tracked down as many as we could and invited them to observe the arrival of our Starfighter, which was an emotional experience for all in attendance. It reminds us why we do what we do, and why it is so crucial to preserve Canadian aviation history.”