When Syd speaks, we should listen

Dear editor,

Regarding the Dec. 6 letter “Super Hornets a waste of money,” written by a distinguished former RCAF fighter pilot, LCol (retd) Syd Burrows.

I have known Syd for a long time, and can assure readers that he is no “fighter jock,” expressing outdated opinions. He is a serious individual with many accomplishments to his credit, during and after his service life. Many in the Canadian Armed Forces know Syd’s story but I thought it might be helpful for your civilian readers to become aware of Syd’s background.

His first encounter with near-tragedy happened when flying his Sabrejet over Germany during the Cold War era. A bird strike shattered his canopy and a shard of Plexiglas pierced his left eye, destroying it and causing a lot of blood to flow. Other pilots might have ejected at this point, but not Syd Burrows. He stuck his head out into the slipstream to clear his good eye and he piloted his damaged aircraft back to base, landing it safely. For this he received a commendation from AFHQ – and a message telling him he couldn’t fly any more.

For any pilot this would be devastating news, but he found he could still sit in the co-pilot’s seat, teaching others how to fly. His boss, LCol Bob Hallowell (The Red Knight) one day pointed to a nearby T-33 trainer aircraft and instructed Syd to fly it solo. Syd did this successfully, flying with his one good eye, and eventually he got his wings back, flying light transport aircraft.

In retirement, Syd founded SPAADS, the Sabre fighter pilots association, but his more lasting achievement, after a 10-year campaign, was the creation of the Seventh Book of Remembrance, listing all in the military who lost their lives between major wars, either through accident or enemy action. This book will never be closed. It is held in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

When Syd Burrows speaks his mind on subjects like a fighter replacement, his is the voice of experience and first-hand knowledge, and the government should pay attention.

Norm Blondel

Courtenay

 

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