The Vintage Aviation Team (TVAT) of Brampton Ontario is making steady progress in the building of a full-scale reproduction of the Fokker D.VII 8609/18 that was famously flown at public air displays all across Canada by Canadian World War One Ace and the most decorated serviceman in the history of Canada, the British Empire and the Commonwealth of Nations, Lieutenant Colonel William George Barker VC, DSO & Bar, MC & Two Bars.
Born in 1894, Barker was credited with 53 aerial victories. His Victoria Cross was awarded after he single-handedly fought off an estimated 60 German aircraft on October 27, 1918. Despite being wounded, he manaqed to shoot down several enemy machines before crash-landing his Sopwith Snipe behind Allied lines. The fuselage of his Snipe was recovered from the battlefield and is preserved at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.
Years later, Barker’s funeral was the largest national state event in Toronto’s history and was attended by an honor guard of 2,000 soldiers, including an honor guard provided by the United States Army. The procession stretched for more than a mile and a half and some 50,000 spectators lined the streets of Toronto to pay their respects along the route to Mount Pleasant Cemetery, where Barker was interred in his wife’s family crypt.
The original Fokker D.VII 8609/18 was was one of many German aircraft that were shipped to Canada after the war as trophies after the close of hostilities and was flown at numerous public displays in 1919 with this national hero at the controls. Most notably at the 1919 Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto. The CNE is presently home to the Canadian International Air Show, which is the culminating event of the exhibition and is the country’s premier air display, bringing together the most aircraft and the largest crowds of any Canadian air show.