Vintage Wings Hawker Hurricane flies

On April 23 at Ottawa-Gatineau Executive Airport, Ontario, Dave Hadfield took Vintage Wings of Canada’s Hawker Hurricane XII RCAF 5447/CF-TPM up for a first test flight, 15 years after work to put the Canadian Car and Foundry-built fighter back into the air began.

The machine wears the markings of a No 242 Squadron Hurricane I, P2961/LE-A, flown by Fg Off William Lidstone ‘Willie’ McKnight DFC and Bar, Canada’s most outstanding fighter pilot of the first 18 months of the war.

Dave Hadfield eases the Vintage Wings of Canada Hurricane XII RCAF 5447/CF-TPM into the air at Gatineau Executive Airport, Ontario on 23 April. Note the personal ‘Reaper’ emblem worn under the cockpit of ‘Willie’ McKnight’s original No 242 Squadron Hurricane I, P2961.
Dave Hadfield eases the Vintage Wings of Canada Hurricane XII RCAF 5447/CF-TPM into the air at Gatineau Executive Airport, Ontario on 23 April. Note the personal ‘Reaper’ emblem worn under the cockpit of ‘Willie’ McKnight’s original No 242 Squadron Hurricane I, P2961. Peter Handley/Vintage Wings of Canada

Commanded by the then Sqn Ldr Douglas Bader, the otherwise all-Canadian-manned unit was based at RAF Coltishall and Martlesham Heath during December 1940 and January 1941. Edmonton-born McKnight was shot down during a fighter sweep over Calais on January 12, 1942 at the age of 22, having scored a total of 17 confirmed victories.

Regarding the maiden flight, test pilot Dave Hadfield — the elder brother of astronaut Chris Hadfield — said, “All went well, observed by owner Mike Potter — the founder of VWoC — flying the Extra 330, and engineer Pat Tenger, whose DNA is all over this aircraft, in the passenger seat.

The Hurricane’s first flight was made with the wheels down at an air speed below 140mph indicated. Cycling the gear was due to start with the second flight.
The Hurricane’s first flight was made with the wheels down at an air speed below 140mph indicated. Cycling the gear was due to start with the second flight. Michael Potter/Vintage Wings of Canada

No smoke or leaks were evident in flight, and the Trig radios were clear and strong, so the chase-plane’s only job was to observe and photograph from a position well clear of the Hurricane”. For more, buy the June issue of Aeroplane, out on May 12.