Air Show Report : Canadian International Air Show 2017
Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) 2017
Ron Cembrowski reports back from the Canadian International Air Show 2017, with photos of the waterfront displays and the two media days at the airports of Toronto-Pearson (CYYZ) and Toronto-Buttonville (CYKZ).
Canadian International Air Show September 2-4, 2017
The September Labour Day long weekend is not only the last weekend of the Canadian National Exhibition, but is also the traditional weekend of the annual Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) held along the shores of Lake Ontario, at Toronto's Harbourfront.
The CIAS has hosted many firsts in its 67 year history, including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels in 1952, the British-French supersonic turbo-jet passenger airliner Concord (which retired in 2003) and the first Canadian visit by the US Air Force (USAF) fifth-generation F-22 Raptor fighter. Now in its 68th year, the CIAS paid tribute to Canada's sesquicentennial; the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
In past years the civilian and warbird aircraft staged out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (CYTZ). However, due to construction activities this year space at the airport was limited so a decision was made to stage the participants out of Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport (CYKZ), in Markham, ON. The airport is located 29 km north of downtown Toronto.
As in previous years the military jet aircraft staged out of Toronto Pearson International Airport (CYYZ).
The photos in this report were taken at the two media days, the first held at Pearson International Airport (CYYZ) on Thursday, August 31, and the second held at Toronto Buttonville Municipal Airport (CYKZ) on Friday, September 1, the flying display at the Toronto Harbourfront on Saturday, September 2, and jet aircraft arrivals/departures at Pearson International on Monday, September 4.
- The Thursday media day, located at the North Lounge Building, at Toronto Pearson was scheduled from 10:30 to 13:30, and included:
- the USAF F-22 Raptor Demo Team with two aircraft (one as the back-up)
- the CF-18 "Canada 150" Demo Hornet
- two of the Canadian Forces Snowbird CT-114 Tutors, Snowbird #10 and the special colours "Canada 150" Tutor
Photos of the aircraft arriving, and parked, were taken on the ramp area outside of the North Lounge Building.
Snowbirds "Canada 150" Special Colour Scheme
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, 431 Air Demonstration Squadron - Snowbirds painted one of their CT-114 Tutor aircraft (s/n: 114089) in special commemorative colours.
The aircraft in its new colours was unveiled at 8 Wing, CFB Trenton, ON, in late June.
The aircraft was mainly intended to be used, in either static or flying displays, at smaller locations, or where the full Snowbird Demonstration Team could not appear during the 2017 Canada 150 celebration year due to schedule conflicts.
The aircraft retains the iconic overall red, white and blue livery of the Snowbirds with added elements designed to emphasize the 150th anniversary celebration.
The official Maple Leaf styled "Canada 150" logo is placed on the upper fuselage nose and an enlarged portion the logo appears on the upper left and right wing surfaces. The upper tail surface carries the official name of the celebration, "Canada 150". The underside of the aircraft fuselage, wings and tail displays 150 red maple leaves, one for each year of Canadian Confederation.
- The Friday media day at Toronto Buttonville was scheduled from 06:30 to 09:00, and featured:
- Mike Wiskus and his 'Lucas Oil' Pitts S-1-11B Special
- the Sikorsky S-58ET helicopter
- Gord Price and his Yak-50
- Jim Beasley and his P-51D Mustang
- the Beech Expeditor 3NM "Canadian Queen"
- Gregory Burnard and his Boeing B75N1 Stearman
- the Royal Canadian Air Cadets with their Bellanca Scout tow-plane and Schweizer 2-33A Glider
The very early morning start at Toronto Buttonville provided some beautiful photo opportunities, with the warm orange glow of the rising sun.
The photos of the participants launching and returning, for either the media flights or practise flights, were shot from outside the airport fence from the east side of the airport, near the main taxiway parallel to Rwy 15-33.
Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team (CHAT)
"The CHAT is a professional 4 plane aerobatic team which flies as a tribute to the veterans of WWII, and to inspire others through teamwork and passion".
Three of the team members each have over 20 years of experience flying at air shows and the fourth member has been flying all of his life, including a career in the RCAF and 4 years with the Snowbirds.
- Position #1 - Pete Spence, flying Harvard MkII (C-FNAH)
- Built by: North American Aviation Ltd (USA) in 1941
- Manufacturer's number: 66-2651
- RCAF serial: 2918
- Taken on Strength (TOS): February 21, 1941
- Flown by #2 Flying Training School (FTS) Gimli, MB from September 1951 to May 1952.
- Flown by 411 Auxiliary Squadron, Downsview, ON, from 1953 to 1958
- Struck off Strength (SOS): April 28, 1960
- Purchased by Les Balla in 1985. Les did a ground up restoration over the next decade and returned 2918 to the skies in November 1994.
- Les Bella sold 2918 to Pete Spence in August 2005.
- Position #2 - Dave Hewitt, flying Harvard MkII (C-FNDB)
- Built by: Noorduyn Aviation (Montreal) in 1941 (It was the 6th Harvard off the assembly line.)
- RCAF serial: 3039
- TOS: May 3, 1941
- Loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 1953 at Shearwater, NS
- Transferred to Montreal in 1956 and then to Downsview, ON
- SOS: November 25, 1960
- Purchased by Stan Fitzeur based out of Mount Hope until 1978.
- Sold to Bob Hewitt and Norm Beckham.
- C-FNDB is now owned by Dave Hewitt
- Position #3 - Kent Beckham, flying Harvard Mk II (C-FMKA)
- Built by: North American Aviation Ltd (USA), in Inglewood, California, on June 26, 1941
- Manufacturer's number: 75-3496
- RCAF serial: 3222
- TOS: July 8, 1941
- Suffered a belly landing on July 26, 1941
- Repaired and returned to service at Trenton, ON, on October 25, 1941.
- Transferred to Centralia in late December, 1953, where it served for two and a half years when it suffered another belly landing. The aircraft was overhauled in 1957 and was put in long-term storage in May of 1957.
- SOS: August 25, 1960
- Aircraft sold in 1960 to T. Ray Craven of Tillsonburg, ON
- Aircraft then sold to Norman Beckham and Robert Hewitt in 1968
- Kent Beckham became the full owner of the aircraft in 2011
- Position #4 - Marco Rusconi, flying Harvard MkIV (CF-FBD)
- Built by: Canadian Car & Foundry, in Fort William, ON (now Thunder Bay), on May 15th 1952
- Manufacturer's number: CCF4-98
- RCAF serial: 20307
- TOS: May 15, 1952
- Served as an RCAF trainer in Macdonald, MB, and Moose Jaw, SK.
- SOS: June 23, 1965
- Aircraft sold by Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (CADC)
- Stored in the US and then repatriated when purchased by Francis (Burt) Davis, registered as CF-FBD and restored in 1993 in Wetaskiwin, AB.
- In 2009 the airplane was sold to Mr Olivier Combret of Oliver, BC, and maintained by Mr. Walt Lannon.
- Purchased in 2010 by Marco Rusconi
Air Show Days:
The Saturday air show performance was photographed from the CIAS media area, on the waterfront, near show centre, as marked by the Toronto Fire Services boat, the "Wm. Lyon Mackenzie".
- The following was the flying schedule for each of the three days of the air show weekend:
- CF-18 Hornet Demo, Capt. Matthew Kutryk
- Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team
- Mike Wiskus & Lucas Oil Pitts Special
- Sikorsky S-58ET Helicopter - Skycrane Lift Demo, David Tommasini
- Yak-50 - Aerobatic Display, Gordon Price
- USAF F-22A Raptor Demo Team - Maj. Daniel Dickinson
- USAF Heritage Flight - F-22 (Maj. Daniel Dickinson) & P-51D (Jim Beasley)
- Beech Expeditor 3NM Flying Display - Goldman/Kay
- Boeing B75N1 Stearman Flying Display - Gregory Burnard
- Royal Canadian Air Cadets, Schweizer SGS 2-33A Glider & Bellanca 8GCBC Scout Tow Plane
- CH-146 Griffon Helicopter Demo - 424 (T&R) Sqn, 8 Wing, CFB Trenton
- 431 Air Demonstration Sqn, (4 Wing) - Snowbirds, based at 15 Wing CFB Moose Jaw, SK
The flying display started at 12:00PM and ended at about 3:00PM.
The opening act with the RCAF 2017 "Canada 150" CF-18 Demonstration Hornet was piloted by Captain Matthew "Glib" Kutryk. Captain Kutryk is the official RCAF 2017 CF-18 Demonstration Team pilot. The aircraft is painted in special commemorative red and white "Canada 150" colours.
The Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team (CHAT), flying four vintage Harvard aircraft, provided the crowd with a spectacular show of their highly skilled and very tight formation manoeuvres. During World War II, the Harvard was used as an advanced pilot trainer and in Canada it served at fifteen Service Flying Training Schools across the nation as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. A total of 20,110 Harvards were built between 1938 and 1954, 3,370 of them in Canada.
Returning to the CIAS was aerobatic pilot Mike Wiskus, flying the Pitts S-1-11b Special, sponsored by Lucas Oil. A U.S. National Aerobatic Champion and dubbed "an Honourary Canadian", Mike obtained his pilot's licence at age 17 and is now qualified in more than 40 aircraft types. His awe inspiring flying display has made him a CIAS favourite.
David Tommasini gave an impressive demonstration of the aerial lift capabilities of the Sikorsky S-58ET helicopter, hoisting a large roof top air conditioning/ventilation unit. The helicopter is operated by Sprint Mechanical/Four Seasons Aviation Ltd.
At 75 years old, Gord Price has a rich and storied background as an aviator and designer. Gord served in the RCAF with 422 Squadron flying the CF-104 Starfighter, in the nuclear strike role, from 1964 -1966. He was an Air Canada Captain for 36 years and retired from the company in 2001 flying the Boeing 747-400. He designed and kitted the "Ultimate" series of biplanes for the home market and he represented Canada at three FAI (the World Air Sports Federation) World Aerobatic Championships in 1980,1982 and 1988.
Gord has been performing at air shows since 1976 and now flies the prototype Yak-50 aerobatic aircraft (C-FYGP, manufacturer's serial: 001), built at the Yakovlev Design Bureau in Russia.
Sikorsky S-58ET (C-GFXP), Sprint Mechanical, Four Seasons Aircraft Ltd
The S-58ET helicopter is operated by Four Seasons Aircraft Ltd, in partnership with mechanical engineering and construction firm Sprint Mechanical Inc. of North York, Toronto, ON.
Four Seasons Aviation Ltd. is a privately owned helicopter company head-quartered at Downsview Airport (at Helicopter Fixed Base Operator (FBO) - Rotor-City) in Toronto. The company provides services in the field of Executive Aircraft Management and the Aerial Cinematography industry.
The company has recently moved into the aerial lift/construction business with the purchase of the Sikorsky S-58ET.
The helicopter is used to hoist Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) / Roof Top Units (RTU) onto office buildings, malls or anywhere were a crane lift is necessary.
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3 engines, providing a maximum horsepower of 1,626 HP the helicopter is capable of lifting 4,500 pounds (2,043 kg). With a range of 250 nautical miles and endurance of 2.2 hours it can provide 20 - 25 lifts per hour.
The aircraft has been proving itself over the use of land based cranes, which can take days to set up and dismantle depending on the job site. The S-58ET can perform the lift in minutes.
The Air Combat Command F-22 Demonstration Team, based at Langley Air Force Base, VA, made another appearance at the CIAS this year. The 2017 F-22 Demo pilot is Maj. Daniel "Rock" Dickinson. His flying performance demonstrated some of the very unique and super-manoeuvrable capabilities of this fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The F-22 also teamed up with Jim Beasley and his P-51D Mustang for the US Air Force (USAF) Heritage flight.
Also returning this year was the Beech 3NM Expeditor (Beech Model 18) (registration C-FTLU), bearing the nose art "Canadian Queen". This particular Beech Expeditor is the navigation trainer variant of the Beech Model 18. It was built in 1952 and saw post-WWII military service with the RCAF from April 12, 1952, until July 7, 1967. The aircraft is based in Woodstock, ON.
The Air Cadets' flying display included the Bellanca 8GCBC Scout tow-plane and the Schweizer 2-33 Glider. Both of these aircraft are used in the cadet flying training program.
The air show concluded with Canada's renowned military aerobatic team, "The Snowbirds". The team is based at 15 Wing, CFB Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and officially know as 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron.
The Snowbirds’ show is the result of six months of intensive preparation and training. Their flying demonstration flows seamlessly with their nine-plane and seven-plane formations expertly and gracefully transitioning from one pattern to the next and their two solo aircraft providing the always astounding and thrilling cross-over manoeuvres. The Snowbirds continue to demonstrate the skill, professionalism, and teamwork of Canadian Forces personnel.
Upon concluding their Monday displays, the military jets were spotted on their return to Pearson. The landing photos were from their approach to Rwy 23.
The 2018 Canadian International Air Show is scheduled for September 1-3. For more information please visit the CIAS.org website.
A special thank you to Colleen McCourt, Manager, Public Affairs and Media Relations, CIAS, and to the volunteers for their kind support during the two media days and at the air show media area.
- RCAF website - Snowbirds celebrate “Canada 150” with 150 maple leaves
- Sprint Mechanical - Four Seasons Aviation Ltd. - Sikorsky S58ET Specification Handout
- Four Seasons Aviation Ltd. website
- Sprint Mechanical Inc. website
- Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team website
- Transport Canada (aircraft details) website - Canadian Civil Aircraft Register
- Canadian Military Aircraft, J.A. Griffin, 1969 (p. 253, 255, 258, 448)
- ACC Aerial Events - USAF Air Combat Command website
- Gord Price Airshows website
- Ultimate Biplane Series website
- Lucas Oil Aerobatics
- Air Cadet League of Canada
Report and photos by Ron Cembrowski ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 30 December 2017
30 Dec 2017 minor typo fix