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The Air Force Museum of Alberta, located at The Military Museums in Calgary, hosted a plaque presentation on June 23, 2017, in the Cold War Exhibition area. The plaque honours the life of Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Golden Hawk pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jeb Kerr, who died in a mid-air collision near the Calgary International Airport during the Golden Hawks aerobatic performance in Calgary on Aug. 9, 1959. His aircraft collided with a civilian aircraft when he was on final approach to land.
Ken McTavish who witnessed the crash recalled, “That the team had lined up in single file for landing when F/L Kerr, not happy with his landing, overshot to attempt another landing. On the latter part of his circuit, an American grey Piper Tri-Pacer entered the control zone also intending to land on Runway 07. Kerr did not see the Piper and collided with the small aircraft.
“The Tri-Pacer spun down hitting the ground in a gravel pit creating a large plume of grey dust. The Sabre rolled onto its back and dove straight down creating a fire ball and a large column of black smoke.”
Tragically, all three pilots were instantly killed. Later reports stated that the Tri-Pacer had been warned repeatedly to stay out of the Calgary Airport control zone as there was an airshow in progress.
“The Golden Hawks aerobatic team formed in 1959 and toured Canada to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the RCAF and the 50th anniversary of the first powered flight in Canada. The team consisted of six F-86 Sabre jets with a spare aircraft and pilot. The Golden Hawks’ popularity grew as the team toured Canada and large crowds attended every show.”
The plaque, designed by Daniel Goguen of New Brunswick, was presented to the Air Force Museum of Alberta by Kevin Anderson, the executive director of the New Brunswick museum of aviation. The F-86 Sabre was in RCAF service from 1951 to 1963 during which 107 pilots lost their lives.