At approximately 1015 local time, January 14th, Hawk One arrived from Cold Lake, Alberta overhead Gatineau airport. The temperatures were, well... brutally cold. The sky was without cloud, vapour trails, haze or birds - just horizon to horizon of what John Gillespie Magee called "burning blue". And out of that blazing azure sky, a golden bird shrieked in from the west - from the far west.
Hawk One, the Vintage Wings of Canada flying tribute to the Centennial of Flight was home - from the beauty parlour. Over two months ago she left for CFB Cold Lake, Alberta where she was painted by the Cold Lake paint shop in the markings of a team that once flew these very skies 50 years ago. For the next year she will fly across Canada and the US - sometimes alone and other times with the Snowbirds as part of their routine. For more on her significance and her mission, take this link: INSPIRATION
Vintage Wings of Canada's photographer Peter Handley was there to capture the homecoming. His photos say it all, so let's take a look. And yes... that sky is real!
Paul Kissmann lays down a dirty pass with all the laundry showing and sneaks a happy peek at the assembled members of the Vintage Wings of Canada family. Photo: Peter Handley
After the dirty pass, Paul lifts the laundry into the hamper and accelerates westward against an almost unreal sky. The boys at Cold Lake's Hawk One Paint Team have done a marvellous job and Vintage Wings thanks the Canadian Armed Forces for their strong and willing support. Photo: Peter Handley
Kissmann touches down in an Arctic scene after a long journey from Sault Ste Marie. Photo Peter Handley
Rolling out on the landing run, Kissmann and Hawk One are obscured from view by several feet of snow lying over the airport. In the background, the first small rollers of the Gatineau Hills rise to the north. Photo Peter Handley
Crossing the taxiway on the rollout, Hawk One comes into photographer Peter Handley's view finder. Photo Peter Handley.
Back-tracking down the runway and on to the taxi strip, Hawk One's Orenda spews clouds of kerosene blue and gouts of super heated air - so much more obvious in the minus 27 degree temperature. The Orenda engines still do the job perfectly - a testament to their original design. The folks at Orenda are an important sponsor and continue to support us with overhaul, test and technical help. Photo Peter Handley
Kissmann gives groundcrew two hearty victory fist pumps as he comes to a halt outside the Vintage Wings Hangar. Photo Peter Handley
Kissmann wasn't alone during the trip - he was accompanied by the hula-dancing mascot on the "dashboard" - there throughout the Hawk One rebuild and test flying. Photo Peter Handley
Vintage Wings Founder and President takes Kissmann's helmet as he greets him at the ramp. Photo Peter Handley
Vintage Wings mechanics dressed in Canadian Winter Battle Dress hook up Hawk One to manoeuvre her for a photo opportunity. All other mechanics are wimps compared to the Canadian variety. Photo Peter Handley
One look at her magnificent paint and one has to marvel at the guys who originally designed this paint scheme way back in 1958 - there has never been a better aerobatic team livery anywhere in the world. Photo: Peter Handley
Another view of Hawk One against the steel doors of the Vintage Wings of Canada hangar. Photo Peter Handley
In Canada, we have a saying for days like today - they are "colder than a well-digger's ass". But today was warm in every other respect - burning blue skies, warm handshakes, hot aircraft and blazing speed. Vintage Wings AMEs get the mule out and prepare to give Hawk One some respite from the cold. Photo Peter Handley
Half in her home and half in the cold heart of a Canadian winter day - you have to love it!! Photo: Peter Handley
One look says it all - happiness, pride, accomplishment, excitement and friendship - Mike Potter, founder of Vintage Wings of Canada shares his emotions with the gang at the hangar. Photo Peter Handley
Wasting no time, VWoC crew chiefs are all over Hawk One. Once the big doors are opened on a -27 day, the hangar becomes -27 too. It takes hours to reheat the hangar and the team must wear outdoor protective gear until the temperature rises. Photo: Peter Handley
Kissmann and Potter talk shop on the wings of the newly arrived Hawk. Photo Peter Handley
Thanks guys - your work is magnificent!!! Under the drop-down leading edge slat could be found the signature to their masterpiece. Photo Peter Handley