For nearly 50 years, the F86 Sabre jet has been in place overlooking the Cataraqui River as you enter the College, presented by the Class of 1968 as a gift. One of 1,815 aircraft manufactured by Canadair in Montreal in the 1950s for use by the RCAF and for sale to other Air Forces, it was  part of the major NATO commitment by the RCAF – twelve squadrons of aircraft, in service in Europe until replaced by the CF-104 in 1962. In its day, it was a significant aircraft.

Recent visitors will have seen the deterioration of the exterior paint, but what is less apparent are increasing safety concerns – are the pedestal and its mounting safe? According to the plaque on the base of the pedestal, it was refurbished once, 22 years ago, although there is no known written or photographic record of the work that was done.  Currently, the pedestal has been assessed as being structurally secure.  Information received is that a box structure was initially fabricated and placed inside the airframe in order to attach it to the pedestal, but  until the aircraft is removed from the pedestal, there is no way of verifying the security of the attachment which we have been advised could be a major safety concern.

During the past three years, the Monuments and Memorial Committee at RMCC have explored many options for doing the work needed now, including working with the Aircraft Technical and Electronic Support Squadron (ATESS) at CFB Trenton which has refurbished several similar aircraft that are being used as monuments.  These projects have been used as training opportunities with ATESS providing free labour and the ‘owner’ providing funding to cover the cost of materials and of transporting the aircraft to and from Trenton.  Based on similar projects, ATESS have estimated the cost of craning and transportation, and to completely refurbish and re-seal the airframe to prevent further degradation due to weather, birds and animals to be $45,000 (including a $7,000 refundable contingency if it is not needed).

Therein lies the challenge. Now, the total of $45,000 must be paid in full before ATESS will remove the aircraft from the pedestal and transport it to their repair facility.  So what is to become of RMCC’s F-86 Sabre? If funding for the restoration cannot be found, the Monuments and Memorials Committee will need to recommend a solution which deals with the safety aspects of this particular memorial, probably removal of the Sabre from the College.

This is a broader appeal for help for a pressing problem. Can you help the College keep this Memorial flown by literally hundreds of Ex-Cadets during the Korean and cold wars?  The future will require that similar gifts be accompanied with an endowment for their upkeep, but at the moment there is an urgent need to fix this particular problem.


3572 Frank Norman and 5256 Gwyn Griffith prepared this article and the RMC, Chief of Staff has approved it on behalf of the College.

The safety of the aircraft on the pedestal is becoming a major concern and the College needs a resolution soon.   

Please feel free to leave a comment and or a suggestion.


  • Chuck Oliviero

    January 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    She certainly is a beautiful old bird; but I am confused. It is my understanding that once a gift is accepted by the Crown, then the Crown bears the responsibility to maintain said gift. Do I have this wrong? Does DND bear no responsibility to maintain the monument?

  • Art Jordan

    January 18, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    If the Club (or other entity) were to establish a fund to raise the $45,000 required to restore this wonderful piece of military and aviation history, I will happily make a suitable donation to the cause.

    Who is in with me?


  • JJ Smith

    January 19, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    As laudable as the maintenance of legacy RCAF aircraft may be, the priority when it comes to displayed memorials (objets de guerre, more accurately) on College grounds must surely be something in tribute something to the many RCN engineer officers to have graduated from our CMCs, serving valiantly at sea. An open Y-100 gearcase, reciprocating feed pump or steam turbine would honour their efforts on behalf of a grateful nation. (And have the advantage of not being at risk of structural degradation in the future.)

  • J.D. Smith, 8074

    January 22, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    I am with Art: Please advise of the mechanism and funding to restore the Sabre and count me in!
    Best Regards, Smitty, TDV