Former Lister resident Clarence (C.B.) Lang was once one of the world’s finest airshow jet pilots, leading the Golden Centennaires in more than a hundred performances to commemorate Canada’s centennial year in 1967. Now volunteers of the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce are working to bring a Tutor jet of the sort Lang flew in tight formation with his fellow pilots.
“We’ve purchased a jet that was available through a private sale in Ontario,” said John Huscroft, chamber of commerce director and local pilot. “We tried our hardest, with great support from Jim Abbott (Kootenay-Columbia member of Parliament), but there were no Tutors available from the military and none anticipated in the near future.”
Huscroft, who said the money for the purchase is being raised through private donations, envisions the jet being displayed at the chamber of commerce site, mounted in flying position.
“I think this would help local residents and visitors understand what an amazing history we have in this valley,” he said. “Clarence is only one of a number of Creston Valley pilots who have made an impact in other parts of the world.”
C.B. Lang was born in 1937 in Assiniboia, Sask., and moved with his family to Lister in 1949. He graduated from high school in 1955 and went to work in a logging camp. But it was a chance flight with local pilot and neighbour Ken Huscroft that gave him and a friend their first taste of flying. Lang joined the Royal Canadian Air Force the following year.
Lang became a pilot in the air force and was soon flying F86 Sabres in Europe. Later, he was posted to Gimli, Man., where he was a flight instructor and member of the Gimli Smokers T33 display team.
In 1962, Lang was not only chosen to be part of the famed Golden Hawks precision flying team, but selected to fly in the difficult slot position. He remained with the Golden Hawks until the team was disbanded in 1964 in a federal government cost-cutting move.
Then, in 1966, a decision was made to create a new display team to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday. Lang was named team leader and the Golden Centennaires flew 98 shows in Canada, seven in the United States and two in the Bahamas. The team was considered the best in the world by its peers.
Lang retired as a colonel in 1980, and immediately moved back to Lister with his wife and three sons. He went into the dairy business with his brother, Alvin. Even though he was struck with cancer soon after, he was invited by the Snowbird display team to help them with a manoeuvre he had perfected with the Centennaires. He was picked up in Creston and flown back home from Moose Jaw a few days later.
Ken Huscroft, who had given Lang his first airplane ride, also gave him his last, and flew him to the cancer clinic in Vancouver. Lang died on April 22, 1984.
For more information about the Tutor jet or to make a donation, contact the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce at 250-428-4342.