Royal Canadian Air Force Centennial


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Royal Canadian Air Force Logo: Stylized eagle in the center, symbolizing strength and agility, with maple leaves and blue and white colors to represent Canadian identity.

With immense honor and respect, we celebrate the centenary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), an institution that embodies courage, excellence, and dedication to service over a remarkable century. Since its founding in 1924, the RCAF has played a crucial role in defending and promoting peace, shaping history, and inspiring generations.

Over a hundred years, the men and women of the RCAF have fearlessly taken to the skies, defending the ideals of freedom and justice that are fundamental to the Canadian identity. Their bravery in times of conflict, such as during World War II, where RCAF pilots significantly contributed to the Allied victory, is a testament to the courage and commitment of this exceptional air force.

Beyond combat moments, the RCAF has been a vital force in responding to natural disasters, humanitarian missions, and protecting Canadian airspace. Its legacy extends beyond geographical boundaries, touching lives and communities worldwide.

On the centenary of the RCAF, we pay tribute not only to the aviators and support personnel but also to the families who, with patience and resilience, supported their loved ones in service. We recognize the sacrifice and devotion that have permeated each decade of this extraordinary journey.

To the Royal Canadian Air Force, we express sincere gratitude for its exemplary service, continuous innovation, and vital role in defending the sovereignty and security of Canada. May this centenary be a moment of celebration, reflection, and inspiration for future generations who will continue to carry forward the impressive legacy of the RCAF. May the wings of the RCAF continue to soar high, defending freedom and peace for many more years. Congratulations on 100 years of exemplary service!

The national flag of Canada featuring a stylized red maple leaf at the center, flanked by two vertical red bars on the sides and white background.

`Captain Tarling was born and educated in Toronto, Ontario. In 1949, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, at age 11. In 1954, WO2 Tarling was selected as the outstanding cadet in the Greater Toronto area and named the “De Havilland Test Pilot” for a Day. Later that year he completed his flying training and received his Private Pilot’s License on his 17th birthday. In 1955, WO1 Tarling was selected as the leader for a USA Exchange visit.

In September 1955, he joined the RCAF and was selected for pilot training. Flight Cadet Tarling trained on the venerable Harvard at RCAF Station Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (P/O) a few weeks before his 19th birthday. After further training on the T-33 Silver Star at RCAF Station Gimli, Manitoba he was promoted to Flying Officer (F/O) and was presented his RCAF Pilot’s Wings in January 1957 by his father, Flight Lieutenant (F/L) William Tarling. The senior Tarling was the Adjutant of 218 Air Cadet Squadron and had flown out to Gimli from Toronto for the occasion.

Following his training on the CF-100 Canuck at 3 All Weather (Fighter) Operational Training Unit at RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta, F/O Tarling received a posting to 428 AW (F) “Ghost” Squadron at RCAF Station Uplands (Ottawa), Ontario for the next 3 years. In 1960 he was posted back to RCAF Station Cold Lake as an instructor at 3 AW (F) OTU.

In 1962 he was promoted to F/L. He converted to the CF-101 Voodoo All-Weather fighter and spent the next three years with 425 AW (F) ”Alouette” Squadron at RCAF Station Bagotville, Quebec. After a one year posting to a Distant Early Warning (DEW) line radar station in the far arctic in 1965, he received a posting to RCAF Station Winnipeg, Manitoba where he began flying the T-33 Silver Star as an instructor at the Instrument Check Pilot School (ICPS).

His next posting was to the Wing Instrument Flight (WIF) at CFB Lahr, Germany in 1969, flying the T-33 once again, where he spent the next year flying all over Western Europe. When the Canadian Forces reduced its air force contingent in Europe in 1970, Captain Tarling returned to Canada and spent the next three years flying the T-33 with VU-32, a Navy squadron at CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia. It was during his tour at VU-32 that Captain Tarling passed 4,000 hours on the T-33.

In 1973, Captain Tarling was posted to CFS Val d’Or, Quebec as Officer Commanding, Combat Alert Centre. His tour was cut short when the Canadian Forces experienced shortages of CF-101 Voodoo pilots. Captain Tarling received an immediate posting to 416 AW (F) “Lynx” Squadron at CFB Chatham, New Brunswick, where he flew the CF-101 Voodoo for the next three years. During his CF-101 Voodoo refresher flying at CFB Bagotville in 1974, he passed the 5,000 hour mark on the T-33.

In 1977 he returned to CFB Cold Lake - now known as 4 Wing Cold Lake - as the T-33 Flight Commander at Base Flight and as the Base Instrument Check Pilot. When he passed the 6,000-hour mark on the T-33 in 1977, Captain Tarling was invited to visit Lockheed Aircraft Corp at Burbank, California, USA and was presented a Special Plaque by the Legendary Test Pilot Tony LeVier, who was the first pilot to fly the T-33 aircraft. In January 1980 he passed the 7,000 hour mark on the T-33 and was invited to visit the Canadair Plant in Montreal, PQ where he again received a Special Award for this unique achievement.

Turbo retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1982 when he reached Compulsory Retirement Age. In his air force career, he amassed 11,645 flying hours in 50 different aircraft, including 28 different jets. With more than 10,400 hours jet time, Captain “Turbo” Tarling may be the most experienced jet pilot to ever serve in the RCAF/CAF.

Turbo accumulated almost 13,000 flying hours (none as a long-range autopilot attendant), on 65 types of aircraft with 7,690 on the T-33 Silver Star. That may be the World Record for hours flown in a T-33!

Turbo was instrumental in helping Jet Aircraft Museum get its six T-33s from Mountainview to London. Canada and the RCAF lost a unique character when Bill “Turbo” Tarling passed in 2023.

The Jet Aircraft Museum thanks the New Brunswick Aviation Museum for their help in writing this biography.`