Sometimes old relics are left to corrode away on some forgotten patch of ground. They slowly over time disappear becoming a part of the soil. Other times these old relics are found by someone who takes a real interest in a piece of history …someone who will spends hours and hours restoring it.
Such is the fate of a CT-133 Silverstar T-bird that was located by local resident Roy Harker. Harker purchased the plane from Dave Eccott who had purchased it from Kelowna Flightcraft and has made it is goal to see that the aircraft is restored as much as possible by himself and his wing man Hank Rabe as a private project to enhance the Princeton Airport. The duo worked with real enthusiasm to build a pedestal for the airplane to sit on and rotate around with the changing wind. The parts for the pedestal were donated by Envirogreen and after hours of work and labour intensive planning, Harker and Rabe have completed the first phase.
Harker and Rabe plan to secure the pedestal to the north corner of the airport property where it is closest to Highway #5A for the airplane to be mounted on. The CT-133 Silverstar T-bird was the first successful American jet fighter. Harker and Rabe are proud of their project and plan to set the restored plane on this rotating pedestal as soon as they get the rest restored to the condition they would like it to be in. It took two months to ready the pedestal for the base and working together the two hope that this large extremely unique weather vane will be ready in time for next year’s airport days. “This whole project was Roy’s idea,” stated Rabe, “but it is a great idea and I have really enjoyed helping him with the plane. It is a definite labour of love.”
Harker purchased the plane in March. “It came with a semi-load full of parts,” Rabe stated. “The plane needs a lot of TLC to be put back together and we plan on painting it in the original RCAF (Royal Canadian Airforce) service colours complete with insignia once we get it to where it needs to be.” Rabe estimates the refurbishing project to be have a $100,000 price tag by the time it is finished, but promises it will be worth the wait. “We will be dedicating the plane to the Princeton Air Cadet Squadron #217 that was based here,” said Rabe “and when it is mounted and moving in the wind it will have solar panels on the wings, so the wing and airplane lights illuminate at night.”
The Silverstar aircraft was in long time service for the RCAF and the Canadian Forces and after 50 years of service was retired in 2002. Its humble beginnings began in 1944 when it became America’s first jet fighter. Then, in 1948 a second cockpit was added making the Silverstar the first jet trainer. In 1953, Canadair out of Cartierville, Quebec won the contract to produce an RCAF version of the fighter plane. Over 650 CT-133 Silverstar jets were manufactured and sent to bases throughout Canada.
A time capsule will be mounted inside the plane and along with the time capsule, Harker and Rabe are preserving a part of aircraft history. The plane will be a welcoming landmark for those travelling along Highway #5A and a beacon home for those who live along Airport Road. “Roy had a great idea and I am just happy to be a part of it,” Rabe concluded. “I think it will be a really nice addition to our community. and our airport.”