A historic Harvard training aircraft will buzz the Westerner Days Fair and Exposition Parade route as a centennial salute on July 17.
Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, it was traditional for a Harvard from nearby CFB Penhold to open the parade that starts at 9:30 a.m. with a flypast, said Jodi Smith, president of the Springbrook-based Harvard Historical Aviation Society.
The practice actually put this area in the aviation record books in 1965. That year, the venerable Harvards had been de-commissioned across the country, but in Red Deer the Harvard flypast had already been advertised for that year’s parade.
An urgent call from City Hall to the Penhold station’s commanding officer Wing Commander F.P. Clark was made and he agreed to recommission a Harvard for one day on July 21, 1965. With Clark himself on the stick, Harvard Serial No. 20370 made one last flight.
“It was the last commissioned flying Harvard in Canada,” said Smith.
The plane was later bought by the city and presented to the base and now sits on a post outside Red Deer Airport. The yellow Harvard is owned and maintained by the Red Deer Flying Club.
“We felt that with the centennial of the city it would be nice to have the Harvard fly the parade route again.”
While aviation regulations will keep the plane above 300 metres, it should provide a memorable glimpse of flying history for parade-goers.
Plane owner Blain Fowler, of Camrose, will be at the controls.