Thunder over London

Airshow season is far from over in Ontario.

Airshow London will take flight from Sept. 17 to 18 and promises to be one of the best and largest airshows in Canada. The event will bring together a wide array of military aircraft from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as civilian-owned warbirds and aerobatic aircraft. It has been 12 long years since the last major airshow at London International Airport and it promises to rival shows of the past.

CF-18 Demo Hornet flying upside down.
London-born Capt Ryan “Roid” Kean will perform as the 2016 Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team pilot. Mike Reyno Photo
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Board chairman Jim Graham and air operations director Gerry Vanderhoek worked for 18 months on a business model for Airshow London. They wanted to see the return of an annual event at London International Airport, an outstanding venue for the airshow.

After the decision to proceed they developed and incorporated a non-profit organization with all the proper governance. The board has identified three important charities it wishes to support with the event:  London Children’s Health Foundation, Parkwood Hospital Veterans Care and Comfort Fund, and student bursaries at Fanshawe College’s aviation school.

Close to 400 volunteers have been enlisted to help make for a smooth-running event. These include seniors, students, local Air Cadets and local emergency services. Event director Dave De Kelver, said the London airport staff continues to exceed expectations.

Canadian Red Bull Air Race pilot Pete McLeod, who is based at the London airport, will perform an extreme aerobatic routine in his Edge 540. Eric Dumigan
Canadian Red Bull Air Race pilot Pete McLeod, who is based at the London airport, will perform an extreme aerobatic routine in his Edge 540. Eric Dumigan

De Kelver anticipates between 30,000 and 40,000 people will attend the event over the weekend.  Due to demand, the show has added an abbreviated “Hour of Power” on Friday evening with full shows on Saturday and Sunday.

Over 60 aircraft and 200 crew members will be hosted during the weekend. Over two-dozen food and souvenir vendors will be on site.

Corporate partners include Diamond Aircraft, General Dynamics, and Bombardier. With a strong affiliation with the aviation school at Fanshawe College, their strategic goal is to grow the show into an annual tradeshow and airshow, with expansion into the science and technology industries. De Kelver said they hope to promote industrial growth and education opportunities in the London area.

London-born Capt Ryan “Roid” Kean is the 2016 Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team pilot and will grace the skies over the city. The 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Snowbirds, are scheduled to perform as well as the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team, better known as the SkyHawks.

U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon in flight
A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon will be part of the show’s static display. Eric Dumigan Photo

Other Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft slated to fly include CT-156 Harvard II and CT-155 Hawk trainers and the CC-130J Hercules. Many more RCAF aircraft will be on static display and open for tours. Most notable will be Canada’s largest transport, the CC-177 Globemaster.

Airshow London will see a healthy participation from the United States military and feature the U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team. U.S. National Guard F-16s and USAF F-15C Eagles will also fly during the show.

On static display will be a B-1B Bomber, U.S. Navy E-6 Mercury and C-2 Greyhound and the first visit to Canada by a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon. The Royal Air Force will also attend the show with the first appearance of a KC-30 Voyageur refueler in Canada.

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“We have pursued the largest and fastest the military can offer,” said De Kelver. “Celebrations include special aircraft for the 75th anniversary of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and 100 years of U.S. Coast Guard aviation.”

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor in flight.
The U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team will be featured at the show. Eric Dumigan Photo

Canadian Red Bull Air Race pilot Pete McLeod, who is based at the London airport, will perform an extreme aerobatic routine in his Edge 540. Other local favourites will include the Canadian Warplane Heritage B-25 Mitchell, Jet Aircraft Museum’s British Aircraft Corporation Jet Provost and the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association. Many more aircraft are also slated to attend Airshow London.

“Our plan is to be an annual event which will grow, with an expanded trade show component,” said De Kelver. “Planning is already underway for a 2017 show, the weekend after Labour Day.”

Airshow London wished to thank the City of London, saying the city has a great reputation for hospitality when hosting national and international events.

More details can be found on the airshow website.

 

 

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