OTD: Montréal-built Canadair F-86 Sabre helps pilot become first woman to break sound barrier

On today’s date in 1953, U.S. pilot Jacqueline Cochran flew a Montréal-built Canadair F-86 Sabre over California at speeds nearing 1,050 km/h to become the first woman to break the sound barrier.

Cochran took off from Rogers Dry Lake, Calif., with Air Force Captain Charles Yeager, who became the first man to break the sound barrier six years earlier.

Cochran eventually passed Mach 1 in an F-86 Sabre borrowed from the Royal Canadian Air Force.


In 1999, Canada Post featured the F-86 Sabre on a 46-cent stamp (Scott #1808) as part of its 16-stamp “Air Forces” series.

Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company on Tullis Russell coated paper using 10-colour lithography, the stamps were designed by Tiit Telmet and Marko Barac based on an illustration by Garry Lay. The stamps measure 56 millimetres by 27.5 millimetres (horizontal) and have general tagging along each side.

The Canadair F-86 Sabre in mid-flight.

The Canadair F-86 Sabre is shown in mid-flight.

“The researchers deserve a lot of the credit when it comes to this set,” said Telmet, of Toronto’s Telmet Design Associates. “The authenticity they were able to help us achieve is outstanding.”

“Each of these aircraft drawings represented 30 to 40 hours of computer drawing time alone—largely because we went through so many revisions in our attempts to be accurate,” added Lay.

An official first-day cover was also serviced with an Ottawa cancellation.

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