This article originally appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Airforce Magazine.

Airforce Magazine 2008Every year we seem to reach another significant milestone in Canadian aviation history. This year is no exception. September 5th, 2008 marked the 50th anniversary of the Red Knight's first 'official' public appearance. That display, part of the Canadian International Air Show (CIAS), took place during the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto. The act, which would become Training Command's solo aerobatics display, continued for the next 12 years, making over 600 appearances at more than 300 locations throughout Canada and the United States. This achievement ranks second only to the Snowbirds for a Canadian military aerobatics display.

The Red Knight was commonly sent to venues considered too small for the aerobatics teams of the day. The trademark of the Red Knight was his brilliant red aircraft; first the T-33 Silver Star and then, for the last two seasons, the CL-41 Tutor. The unique feature of the Red Knight displays was that all the manoeuvres were performed within the boundaries of the airfield - keeping the action in view of the spectators throughout the entire show.
The 17 Red Knight Pilots

Roy Windover (1958/59)

Belleville, Ont, native and World War II veteran, Roy Windover, was the first Red Knight. An Instructor at Central Flying School (CFS) in Trenton, Ont, he conceived the idea for his solo aerobatics act at the 1957 CIAS. Windover lobbied the "Brass" and was granted permission to perform at the 1958 show. For his CIAS appearance, Windover's T-33 Silver Star was painted day-glo red.

His act was unofficially dubbed the Red Knight, after the German Flying Ace of World War I. Initially, there were no plans to continue the act beyond 1958; however, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) had seen Windover perform at the CIAS. In 1959, the CAS personally requested the "red jet" for his Air Show at Rockcliffe, Ont. Windover made a total of six performances as the Red Knight, before being posted to Europe in 1959. He died in an automobile accident on May 29, 1990.

C.R. 'Bob' Hallowell (1959/60)

An experienced instructor and former F-86 Sabre pilot from Guelph, Ont, Hallowell was the RCAF's first 'official' Red Knight. Selected as Roy Windover's backup in 1959, Hallowell assumed the role when Windover was posted overseas.

Shortly thereafter, Hallowell was moved, with CFS, from Trenton to Saskatoon, Sask. Hallowell performed the final seven shows of 1959 and saw the positive reaction to the act. Wanting to see the Red Knight continue, he wrote an impassioned memo to his boss and saved the show. During 1960, Hallowell completed a North American schedule of 45 performances and brought the Red Knight program to maturity. Hallowell was making preparations for the 1961 season when he was posted to Europe.

Ray Goeres (1961)

Raised in Stranraer, Sask, Ray Goeres joined the RCAF in 1941. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), while serving with the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command during World War II. After a few years of civilian life, Goeres re-enlisted in 1951. He flew the F-86 Sabre with the RCAF's NATO Air Division, before returning to Canada as a Flight Instructor with No. 2 Advanced Flying School (AFS), Portage La Prairie, Man.

When Bob Hallowell was posted overseas, no one at CFS in Saskatoon was interested in assuming the role of the Red Knight. An appeal went out to other RCAF Stations and Goeres was selected as the 1961 Red Knight. Goeres made 54 appearances as the Red Knight in 1961. He passed away on August 6th, 2007.

Dave Barker (1961/62)

Lakeview, Ont. native Dave Barker flew the F-86 Sabre with 444 Cobra Squadron in Europe and was a member of the 1958 and 1959 Guynemer Trophy winning teams. He returned to Canada in March of 1960 to attend FIS at Portage La Prairie. Barker began instructing students at No. 2 AFS, at Portage, in June of 1960. In 1961, he was selected as the first "Alternate" Red Knight.

In 1962, Barker succeeded Ray Goeres as the Red Knight. During his two seasons with the Red Knight program, Barker performed 74 displays. In 1963 he became a member of the Golden Hawks. Dave Barker was killed during a practice session with the Golden Centennaires on February 15th, 1967.

Bill Fraser (1962/63)

Raised in Salmon Arm, B.C., Bill Fraser enlisted in the RCAF in 1952. He spent two years at Royal Roads Military College in Victoria, B.C., two years at the Royal Military College (RMC), in Kingston, Ont, and one year at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, B.C. Fraser received his flight training during those summers. In 1957, he received his BASc in Mechanical Engineering and was awarded his wings. Following training at the CF-100 Canuck OTU in Cold Lake, Alta, Fraser was posted to 409 Nighthawk Squadron, in Comox, B.C.

In 1961, he was transferred to Portage La Prairie to become a Flight Instructor. While at Portage, Fraser was selected as the 1962 Alternate Red Knight. In 1963, he succeeded Dave Barker as the Red Knight. The season was just beginning when Fraser received word that he was being posted overseas. He made 17 official appearances during his two seasons with the Red Knight program.

'Bud' Morin (1963)

A native of Maniwaki, Que, James Wilfred "Bud" Morin joined the RCAF in 1956. He received his flight training at Centralia, Ont, Claresholm, Alta, and Portage La Prairie. Morin was awarded his wings in 1957. His next posting was to the F-86 Sabre OTU in Chatham, N.B. By October of 1957, Morin was overseas at No. 2 Fighter Wing in Grostenquin, France - a member of 430 'Silver Falcon' Squadron. In July of 1959, he was posted to 61 Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Metz, France.

He returned to Canada in 1961, attending the FIS at Portage. In March of 1962, he began instructing at No. 2 AFS. He was selected as Alternate Red Knight for the 1963 season. Morin assumed the role of the Red Knight when Bill Fraser was posted to France. He was killed during his 49th performance of the year at Gimli, Manitoba, on August 21st, 1963.

Wayne MacLellan (1963)

Raised in Stellarton, N.S., Wayne MacLellan joined the RCAF in August of 1957. He received his wings at Gimli and served overseas with No. 3 Fighter Wing at Zweibrucken, Germany. As a member of 427 Lion Squadron, he flew the F-86 Sabre.

MacLellan returned to Canada and became a Flight Instructor at RCAF Station, Portage La Prairie. He was appointed Alternate Red Knight when Bill Fraser was posted to France. MacLellan assumed the role of the Red Knight after 'Bud' Morin was killed at Gimli. By the end of 1963 air show season he had completed 32 displays. MacLellan left the Red Knight program, and the RCAF, in March of 1964 - a victim of DND budget cuts that year.

Bill Slaughter (1963/64)

Winnipeg native Bill Slaughter joined the RCAF in September of 1957. He received his flight training at Centralia, Moose Jaw, Sask, and Gimli. Slaughter was awarded his wings in 1959. After graduation he flew an operational tour with 421 'Red Indian' Squadron at Grostenquin, France.

His unit was equipped with the F-86 Sabre. In 1962 he was transferred to RCAF Station Portage La Prairie as a Flying Instructor and later became the unit Test Pilot there. In the fall of 1963, Slaughter volunteered for the role of Alternate Red Knight. When Wayne MacLellan left the RCAF, in March of 1964, Slaughter became the Red Knight. During his tenure with the Red Knight program, he performed 26 air show displays.

'Tex' Deagnon (1964/65)

D.C. 'Tex' Deagnon was born in Regina, Sask. Raised on a farm just north of Regina, in Zehner, Sask, he joined the RCAF in 1957. Deagnon received his wings in 1959. After training on the F-86 Sabre at Chatham, he was posted overseas in November 1959. Deagnon went to Grostenquin, France to No.2 Wing and served with 430 Silver Falcon Squadron.

He returned to Canada in late 1962 and became a Flight Instructor at Portage La Prairie. While at Portage Deagnon was selected as the 1964 Alternate Red Knight. In 1965, he assumed the role of the Red Knight. Deagnon completed 21 displays during his year as the Red Knight.

Terry Hallett (1965/66)

Born in England, Terry Hallett moved to Canada when he was nine. Growing up, he lived in Sarnia, Ont. and Powell River, B.C. Hallett joined the RCAF after completing High School, in 1958. He received his flight training in Centralia, Penhold, Alta. and Portage La Prairie. Hallett graduated in April 1960 and was selected to fly Sabres in Europe. He was sent to Grostenquin, France to join No. 2 Fighter Wing and served with 430 Squadron.

After three years in Europe, Hallett returned to Canada and was sent to Portage to become a Flight Instructor. He moved to Moose Jaw in 1964, with the Advance Flying School (AFS). In 1965, Hallett was selected as the Alternate Red Knight, serving as Tex Deagnon's understudy. He became the Red Knight in 1966; however, before the air show season was completed he was posted to fly CF-104s. During the two seasons Hallett was involved with the Red Knight program he made 59 air show appearances.

Roger Cossette (1966)

A native of Amos, Que, Roger Cossette joined the RCAF in 1957. He received his flight training at Centralia, Penhold, and Portage La Prairie. Cossette was awarded his wings in 1959. In April of 1960 he was sent to the CF-100 'Canuck' OTU in Cold Lake. Cossette 's first operational unit was 432 Leaside Squadron, operating from Bagotville, Que. He converted to the CF-101 'Voodoo' at RCAF Stn. Namao, near Edmonton, Alta, in 1962. Cossette then joined 416 "Lynx" Squadron, operating from RCAF Stn. Uplands, near Ottawa, Ont, then Bagotville and finally on to Chatham. In 1964, he was sent to Portage La Prairie to become a Flight Instructor.

Later that year Cossette moved to Moose Jaw and began instructing on T-33 and Tutor aircraft. While at Moose Jaw, he was asked to take on the role of Alternate Red Knight for the 1966 season. Cossette did about 60 shows that summer, spending much of the season in eastern Canada, mostly in Newfoundland. During the season, Cossette accepted a position with Air Canada and was unable to complete the schedule.

'Jake' Reilly (1966)

Raised in Regina, Jake Reilly enlisted in the RCAF in 1952. Reilly spent four years at the College Militaire Royal de St. Jean in Sherbrooke, Que, two years at the Royal Military College in Kingston, then completed his studies at McGill University in Montreal, Que. He graduated with a background in Arts, as well as Military and Mechanical Engineering. During this time Reilly received basic flight training at Penhold, Trenton and MacDonald, Man. Upon completion of his studies, he went to Portage La Prairie, for a re-fresher course.

Reilly's next posting was to the F-86 Sabre OTU at Chatham, N.B. Upon completion of that course, he was posted overseas with No. 441 'Silver Fox' Squadron, in Marville, France. When Reilly returned to Canada in 1963, he attended Instrument Check Pilot School at Saskatoon. Once he met the qualification requirements, he returned to Marville. In 1964, he was sent back to Portage for Advanced Flying Instructor School, then on to Moose Jaw as a Flying Instructor.

In 1966, Reilly became the Standards Officer and Instrument Check pilot at the base. He was asked to take on the role of Red Knight when Terry Hallett was posted to CF-104's and Roger Cossette decided to join Air Canada. Reilly completed the final eight shows of the season.

Jack Waters (1967)

Born in Kingston, Jack Waters received his primary schooling in Peterborough, Ont. and his secondary schooling in London, Ont. He joined the Royal Canadian Navy in February of 1953. After a brief stint in the Navy, Waters enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in December of 1955. He was awarded his pilot's wings at Claresholm on May 15, 1957. Waters served as a Flight Instructor at Gimli for the next four years. In 1961, he was transferred to Europe, where he flew the F-86 Sabre with NATO forces.

While stationed at Grostenquin, France, Waters was a member of 430 Fighter Squadron. He later moved to Zweibrucken, Germany, where he served as Check Pilot. Returning to Canada in 1965, Waters became Commanding Officer of a Recruiting Centre in Kitchener, Ont. He was asked by O.B. Philp to assume the role of Red Knight in 1967. Waters made 94 appearances as the Red Knight during Canada's Centennial year.

Rod Ellis (1967)

A native of Bathurst, N.B., Rod Ellis graduated from High School in June of 1961 and enlisted in the RCAF the following January. He was commissioned as a pilot in August of 1963, having received his wings at Portage La Prairie. Ellis was sent to FIS and became an Instructor at Moose Jaw, instructing on Harvards and Tutors. He was Maintenance Test Pilot on Tutors and T-33's at Moose Jaw from March of 1966 until February of 1967.

Ellis was named Alternate Red Knight for the 1967 Centennial season and transferred to Portage. He made a total of 7 air show appearances as the Alternate Red Knight. Ellis left the RCAF to become a commercial airline pilot.

Dave Curran (1968)

Born in the United States, Dave Curran immigrated to Canada with his family and was raised in Kingston. Curran began his military career in 1958, when he began pilot training at Centralia, Moose Jaw and Gimli. Curran was commissioned to the rank of Flying Officer and received his pilot's wings in May 1959. A brief tour of duty at Chatham followed, before he went overseas to serve in France with No. 2 Fighter Wing of the 1st Canadian Air Division. Two years later, in 1961, Curran became a flying instructor at Portage La Prairie, serving there until May 1964.

His next duty took him to Rivers, Man, as a low-level support pilot with 408 Squadron for a period of six months, after which he was promoted to the rank of Captain. Curran then moved to Moose Jaw and for the next two years instructed on the T-33. In October 1966, he returned to Portage where he instructed on the T-33 and Tutor jet trainer aircraft with the Central Flying and Navigation School Detachment. On March 1, 1968 he was named as the Red Knight. Dave Curran completed 22 performances during the 1968 season. He passed away on August 11th, 2006.

John Reid (1968)

John Anton Reid was born in England, in 1942. His father was killed in an air raid that same year. Reid 's mother re-married and his stepfather, an RCAF Wireless Air Gunner (WAG), moved the family to rural Saskatchewan. He enrolled in the RCAF in April of 1961. Reid received his flight training at Centralia, Moose Jaw and Portage La Prairie. He was awarded his wings in 1962. Reid was assigned to the F-86 Sabre OTU in Chatham in July 1963.

In March 1964, he was sent to Cold Lake to attend the CF-104 Starfighter OTU. Reid was posted overseas in September 1964. He was stationed at Baden-Soellingen, Germany where he served in No. 4 Fighter Wing, flying with 421 'Red Indian' Squadron. Reid returned to Canada in January 1968, to attend FIS at Portage. In the spring of 1968, he was selected as Alternate Red Knight. Reid died on May 21, 1968 after striking the runway while executing a low-level aerobatic manoeuvre during a photo session at CFB Portage.

Brian Alston (1969)

Born in Calgary, Alta, Brian Alston was raised in the Yukon, the United Kingdom, Edmonton and Downsview, Ont. He obtained his Private Pilot's License before joining the RCAF in January 1966. Alston underwent his military pilot training at Centralia and Moose Jaw. He was awarded his wings and a commission in the rank of lieutenant in April 1967. In May 1967, Alston went to Portage La Prairie for advanced flying training.

In July 1967, he returned to Moose Jaw to take up duties as a flying instructor. Alston was unsuccessful in his application to become the Alternate Red Knight in 1968. He applied again, in 1969, and was selected as the Red Knight. Alston was killed on July 13, 1969 during a display at CFB Moose Jaw.

Despite having to operate in some of the smallest communities and most remote areas of the country, there is no evidence that a Red Knight performance was ever cancelled due to mechanical or logistical problems.

This would not have been possible without the excellent technical and administrative support of the following RCAF/CAF personnel; Red Knight Crewmen: Bob Ferguson (1959), Jack Woodhouse (1960-61), Les Matthews (1961), Moe Foote (1962), Grant Harrison (1962), Patrick 'Stretch' Dunn (1963), Bob Casey (1963), Ellis Gauthro (1964), Paul Boucher (1964), Tom Lupton (1965), Jack Rathwell (1965-66), 'Chip' Lake (1966), Bob Hawes (1967 & 1969), Greg Moore (1967), Vince Kavic (1967), John Hilts (1968), Larry Hunt (1968-69) Red Knight Station Co-ordinator Dennis Simmans (1961-63) Red Knight Officer Commanding: Jack Des Brisay (1964), Jim Stothard (1965), Ken Sheppardson (1966) Red Knight Commentators: Joseph Holden (1968-69), Robert Cran (1969).

KNIGHTS ASSEMBLED By Don ConnollyAll Red Knight personnel tended to be clean-cut, well spoken, and responsible young men - much like the Snowbirds of today. They were excellent goodwill ambassadors for the RCAF/CAF and Canada and served as role models for a generation of 'Baby Boomers'. Undoubtedly, many of today's pilots were inspired to pursue careers in aviation after seeing a performance of the 'Red Knight'.

Photo/Art Credits:

  1. Photo of 'Dave Barker' courtesy of Pat Donaghy
  2. Photo of 'Dave Curran' courtesy of Dave Curran
  3. All other 'Red Knight' photos used on this page are courtesy of the Department of National Defence (DND), reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2009
  4. Original painting KNIGHTS ASSEMBLED By Don Connolly