by John Charles Corrigan
Review by T.F.J. Leversedge (Airforce Magazine, Vol 46 No 4)
431 (Air Demonstration (AD)) Squadron (aka the Snowbirds) have an honourary "Snowbirds title: for those who have contributed to the team's support and success over the years. If the Red Knight aerobatic team were still in existence, John Charles Corrigan would surely be an honourary Red Knight team member. Aviation historian and author Corrigan spent 25 years researching and chronicling the Red Knight solo aerobatic display team's history, that thrilled airshow audiences throughout North America from 1958-1969. With over 600 performances, the Red Knight team ranks third in RCAF history to today's Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet demonstration teams.
Corrigan published his first book on the team in 2017, which was simply titled The Red Knight. This first book, which is still available, was also previously positively reviewed in Airforce magazine.
But more than just chronicling the team's history by publishing a second, in-depth book on the subject, John Corrigan has been directly instrumental in garnering further recognition of the team's importance by sponsoring a successful nomination for Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame (CAHF). The CAHF honoured the Red Knight team with its "Belt of Orion" Award for Excellence in 2020. As well, Corrigan assisted the Royal Canadian Mint, which recently issued an impressive commemorative team coin in 2022.
John's latest book, The Tutor Knights, takes the reader on an insider's journey through the final two seasons of the team's existence, before the program was cancelled in 1970. The book details various issues and the associated chain of events through the use of numerous interviews, media reports, illustrations and never-before-seen photos and documentation. He describes a program in flux and subject to extraordinary stresses, which then led to a series of tragedies that finally brought the team's existence to an end. John is both highly knowledgeable and insightful in his writing and this translates into an easy and informative read. And, there are still lessons to be learned from this program. Happily, this book is complete with both colour and black & white photographs and illustrations in support of the narrative.
John Charles Corrigan is to be complimented both on his latest effort as an author and for his overall efforts in garnering recognition for the Red Knight team , so many years after the fact.