Post Cards from Comox

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Photographer Derek Heyes captures a moment almost identical to one captured a half century ago (Inset) - only the team has changed.

After a slow trans-Canada crossing through murk and clag and garbage weather, Tim Leslie flying Hawk One burst into sunlight somewhere east of the West Coast and dropped down through 34,000 feet of sparkling sunlight to the sun-warmed runways of 19 Wing Comox - the western most air base of Canada's Air Force - all the while sucking cold BC air into the front and blowing history out the back.

Leslie's arrival marked the beginning of what promises to be a stunning flying season for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, who will share their stage with the aircraft that was their progenitor - the Canadair Sabre in the markings of the legendary Golden Hawks. Hawk One, a special Centennial presentation of Vintage Wings of Canada, Canada's Armed Forces, Discovery Air and a host of visionary sponsors, will appear across Canada throughout 2009.

For the next week, the valleys and mountains in and around Comox thundered and reverberated with the sounds of spring work-ups for the team and their new consort. The whole island was buzzing with the story and even back here in the "middle east" we could hear the excitement being generated around the warbird and air show community.

We received some fabulous images from freelance shooter Derek Heyes and rolled them into images taken by the consummate pros at Combat Camera of the Canadian Armed forces. So to all those who couldn't be there, here are some "postcards from the edge" of Canada. Here they are for your enjoyment and as every postcard says - "Wish You Were Here".


Tim Leslie smokes a perfect landing at 19 Wing Comox on a beautiful sunny day after crossing a whole country's worth of clag. His touchdown signalled the start of Hawk One Team work-ups for the Centennial of Flight show - opening for the Snowbirds. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Leslie taxies up the ramp trailing a plume of super-heated air mixed with the sweet, sweet smell of jet fuel. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Hawk One team mechanics were standing by as Tim shuts down. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Tim Leslie, the man who dreamed up the whole idea for Hawk One, stretches his legs after a few hours sitting strapped to a legend. His pride and joy are evident in that big Huntsville smile. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Hawk One Hand Off - Symbolic of the project itself, Leslie hands the reins of the Sabre over to Team Lead Steve Will who will be doing the lion's share of the workups along with Paul Kissmann of Vintage Wings of Canada. It is one thing to have dreams, but it is another to pull them through. Steve Will and Paul Kissmann... and their group of professionals are responsible for turning this dream into reality. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Hawk One crew members prepare to hook the Sabre to a tow vehicle. The Hawk One look is authentic right down to the white coveralls that were also worn by the original Golden Hawks maintainers. Photo: Derek Heyes.

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Some of the Hawk One Team on hand for Leslie's arrival pose for an impromptu group shot. Back row L-R:  Team Coordinator Dominic Taillon, Public Affairs Officer Mary Lee,
Team Coordinator Réal Turgeon, Lead Coordinator Jeff Hill, Team Lead Steve Will, Pilot Tim Leslie. Front Row L-R: AME Tony Forster, and Crew Chief: Dave Scharf .  Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Dave Scharf tops her up. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Steve Will fires up Hawk One during a training session the following day. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Young red-suited Snowbirds listen intently as two former Snowbird leads (Steve Will and Dan Dempsey - now Hawk One pilots) discuss details of the upcoming training flight where Hawk One will join with the Snowbirds for the first time.  Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Steve Will anxiously awaits the start of a training flight. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Steve Will brings Hawk One in for a solo pass.  Photo: Derek Heyes.

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The striking gold of the Golden Hawks paint scheme shows beautifully against the blue sky of Vancouver Island.  Photo: Derek Heyes.

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Sucking air in through the front and blowing history out the back, Hawk One screams overhead. Photo: Derek Heyes.

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Photographer Derek Heyes captures a few birds with one well placed camera lens - Hawk One, 9 Snowbirds and a bald eagle - wondering what all the fuss is about. Photo: Derek Heyes.

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Each combined Hawk One/Snowbirds show will begin with the Snowbirds escorting Hawk One to centre stage. Photo: Derek Heyes.

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Celebrating 100 years of flight in Canada this year is going to be a lot of fun for spectators lucky enough to catch the full show. Photo: Derek Heyes.

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From a Snowbird chase aircraft, a Canadian Forces Combat Cameraman snags a shot across the pilot's seat of Hawk One over the Strait of Georgia.  Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Throughout the week, Hawk One practised with the Snowbirds. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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In tight to the formation, we can see that the Snowbirds are also sporting a new logo on their tails - the Centennial of Flight logo designed for all of Canada by Vintage Wings.  Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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The Snowbirds and Hawk One were not the only game in town this week. The CF-18 Hornet demo bird known as the "Century Hornet" was there for work-ups as well. She also wears the Centennial logo on her tails along with the spectacular paint scheme designed by Jim Beliveau.   Photo: Derek Heyes.

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The top surfaces of the Hornet's wings evoke images of snow and ice and even migrating birds - the best ever Hornet paint scheme many believe. Photo: Derek Heyes.

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Photo: Derek Heyes.

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The Century Hornet lets 'er rip as photographer Heyes follows the speeding jet. Photo: Derek Heyes.

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A beautiful sun-drenched photo of Hawk One shows that she too is sporting a tail emblazoned with the 100th Anniversary logo. Beyond her lay the Coastal Range of mountains. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Streaking across the mountainous interior of Vancouver Island, the team shows the perfect precision that is the hallmark of the Snowbirds.  Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Dancing where the wild blue yonder meets the wide open sea. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

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Enough said. Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera

The complete Warbird U Calendar for 2012
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