If you have driven past the Comox Valley visitor Centre you’ll recognize this airplane, and if you’re a fan of the RCAF Snowbirds you’ll probably know what it is – a Canadian built, Canadair CT-114 Tutor. The jetsicle (jet on a plinth) is a fitting, as 19 Wing Comox and the Comox Valley are the training grounds for the Snowbirds annual multi week spring training session.
There’s another local connection to the Snowbirds – Captain Matthew Hart, aka Snowbird 5 Second Line Astern. Captain Hart is from Parksville.
If you look at the tail of the jet on display you’ll see a large number 5, as in Snowbird 5, and a smaller 114115 – the tail number, or registration number, for the jet
This Canadair CT-114 Tutor CL-41A started life as construction number 1115, was numbered as RCAF 26115 when delivered to the RCAF, and was later renumbered to 114115 when the Canadian Forces adopted a six digit numbering system for aircraft. The first three digits are the aircraft type (CT-114) and the last three digits, the production number (115).
In 1996 the jet was stored at Aerospace & Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron, CFB Mountain View, Ontario, near 8 Wing Trenton. It was classified as a museum article on 8 November 2000, and transferred for display at the Comox Air Force Museum in 2005.
Now for the interesting part – this jet was operated by the Snowbirds as:
- Snowbird 4 in 1987 and 1988
- Snowbird 7 in the 1989
- Snowbird 6 in 1990
- Snowbird 7 in 1991
- Snowbird 9 in 1992 and 1993
- Spare Snowbird in 1994
- Snowbird 3 in 1995
So how despite never having flown as Snowbird 5, did this jet come to be marked as Snowbird 5?
10 April 2001, as the Snowbirds landed at Comox in a nine-plane diamond formation, the nose and right wing landing gear of Snowbird 5 collapsed. No one was injured.
And now you know…