The 2016 CF-18 demonstration jet will pay tribute to a formative period in the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The newly painted Hornet, unveiled at a ceremony at 4 Wing in Cold Lake, Alta., on April 5, 2016, highlights the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), a program that ran from 1939 to 1945 and generated 131,553 aircrew for the Allies during the Second World War. The BCATP was also responsible for the formation of the RCAF’s 400 series squadrons that make up the Air Force today.
The Hornet will be flown by Capt Ryan “Roid” Kean, an instructor pilot and the deputy operations officer of 410 Tactical Fighter (Operation Training) Squadron. Mike Reyno Photo
The BCATP produced pilots, wireless operators, air gunners and navigators for the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and British air forces.
“It’s a remarkable story,” said Col Eric Kenny, commander of 4 Wing, calling it a “privilege” to be entrusted with the design and delivery of the demonstration jet that will be flown during air shows across Canada and the United States throughout the summer. 4 Wing and 3 Wing in Bagotville, Que., alternate responsibility for the demo fighter.
The colour scheme features yellow indicative of the primary training aircraft of the program and black representing the darkness of war, with a tail section motif symbolic of a light against darkness. Mike Reyno Photo
Kenny added that four of the 400 squadrons at Cold Lake—401, 409, 410 and 419—will each mark their 75th anniversary as well with events throughout the year, including specially painted tail sections on some aircraft.
The Demo Hornet and the various tail sections were created by Jim Belliveau, the demo team design director and a veteran of more than 40 demonstration and commemorative aircraft paint schemes.
The paint crew showcases its work. Mike Reyno Photo
To honour the BCATP, which was referred to as the “aerodrome of democracy” by President Franklin Roosevelt, the colour scheme features yellow indicative of the primary training aircraft of the program and black representing the darkness of war, with a tail section motif symbolic of “a light against darkness,” Belliveau explained.
One of the vignettes on the tail captures Norma Sinclair, a woman born and raised in Cold Lake who joined the air force after her brother, a bomber pilot, was killed over France in 1942. She worked at multiple bases across Canada, packing parachutes and, in her off hours, painting air planes.
The BCATP led to the creation of 234 training establishments in 134 communities across Canada. All 134 towns and cities are listed along the body of the aircraft.
The BCATP produced pilots, wireless operators, air gunners and navigators for the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and British air forces. Mike Reyno Photo
“I hope this is a fitting tribute to the men and women who contributed to this program,” said Belliveau.
The Hornet will be flown by Capt Ryan “Roid” Kean, an instructor pilot and the deputy operations officer of 410 Tactical Fighter (Operation Training) Squadron with over 1,300 hours on the CF-18.
He said the theme ties together a pivotal moment in our air force and our longstanding relationships with communities all over Canada.
“It is a great honour,” he said, to commemorate such a pivotal moment for the RCAF and its longstanding relationship with Canadian communities. “I have wanted to do this job for a while now. The ballot came to Cold Lake and it turned out my name was on it. It is going to be a lot of fun.”