Our Mission and History
Waterloo Warbirds is dedicated to honouring men and women who have, and currently, serve Canada at home and abroad, while also inspiring a new generation of aviators by keeping historic jets flying and providing an opportunity to experience the thrill of flight in a classic aircraft.
Enacting Our Mission
- Preserve, maintain, and actively fly our unique fleet of historic warbirds, allowing their legacy and stories to continue living.
- Tell the stories of past and present aviators through our Stories From My Logbook video interview series.
- Provide the unprecedented ability to see, touch, and experience history by getting up close to our aircraft when publicly displayed at airshows and events, and by hearing the stories of our aircraft from our passionate volunteers.
- Provide the opportunity for passengers to take flight in operational historic aircraft. Passengers can see, hear, feel, and experience exactly what our past and present air force service members experience when flying jet trainers and fighters.
- Share on our Honour Wall the names and stories of Canadians who served with the aircraft types we operate.
- Inspire children and future aviators through community involvement at airshows and aviation events.
- Conduct flyovers to honour our country and veterans at key events such as Remembrance Day, Canada Day, Vimy Ridge Day, and Veteran funerals.
Acquiring the T-Birds
The core of what was to become Waterloo Warbirds started in 2007, when the first two of the eventual fleet of aircraft were acquired. Two Canadair CT-133 Silver Stars - serial numbers 577 and 446 - had originally been bought surplus in 2003 from the Government of Canada, as the “T-Bird” had been retired from air force duty. By 2007, a golden opportunity presented itself to resurrect this significant jet type, as by that time there were no privately flying T-33s in Canada. Once obtained, it took a hard-working team until 2010 to get our first aircraft flying. T-33 serial number 577 became C-FRGA on the civil registry, and this T-Bird would fly for one season in her original Canadian Forces low-visibility grey military paint scheme.
Pictured here are Bill ‘Turbo’ Tarling and Andrej Janik, who took C-FRGA up for her first test flight. Turbo is the highest time T-Bird pilot in the world with over 7,000 hours in the T-33.
Creating the Mako Shark
While the grey paint was historically accurate, the paint scheme that C-FRGA would take on in 2011 would be much more eye catching. The new paint scheme was based on the commemorative “Silver Shark” T-33 flown in 1992 by VU32 Squadron out of CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia. Thus, the ‘Mako Shark’ was born. At this time, the Mako Shark began to operate under loan to another museum while still being managed by those who would become Waterloo Warbirds.
Enter the Vampire
The leadership at Waterloo Warbirds had been made aware of another rare aircraft on the market in 2009. As a result, an ex-Swiss Air Force DH-115 de Havilland Vampire became the next addition to our fleet. The Vampire was purchased in the United States and landed in Canada in 2010 to begin a 4 year restoration project to have it return to the skies in peak condition.
The L-29 and MiG-15 Join the Team
During the same time period as the Vampire was being added to the fleet, Richard Cooper of Viper North decided to bring both of his historic aircraft to Canada from the United States. Viper North operated an Aero L-29 Delfin with a Viper engine upgrade and a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15, representing two of the most important early jet technologies of the Soviet Union. Where most people would only experience these aircraft as static examples in museums, they were now able to see Canada’s cold war adversaries up close and flying.
Richard Cooper and the MiG-15
Waterloo Warbirds Was Born
In 2014, to ensure that all these aircraft continued to fly regularly for the public, a decision was made by the aircraft owners to amalgamate their operations, continue financial support, and focus the program on pure flying out of Waterloo, with a new mission-focused group.
Thus Waterloo Warbirds was born.
Who is Waterloo Warbirds?
We are a team of over fifteen volunteers, many of who helped return these classic aircraft to the air and who continue to keep them flying. Our main goal is to fly these aircraft and introduce a new generation of Canadians to the amazing history behind them, while respecting those that have come before us in Canadian aviation.