One of our favourite event every summer in Vancouver is the Abbotsford Airshow. For this year, we made it a point to attend because Arkensen had taken an interest in anything air force ever since he joined that Royal Canadian Air Cadets. For me, this is a great time to use my 70-200mm lens.
We went to IKEA for their breakfast before the show since IKEA is located on the way to the Abbotsford Airport.
There is no better breakfast deal than IKEA. The breakfast is just $1. That includes scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausages and a croissant. Suanne does not like eggs, nor hash browns, nor sausages but when it comes to a dollar breakfast, somehow everything seem so tasty to her! Serious, she never ever makes eggs or hash browns for herself for breakfast.
As a matter of fact, everything is $1 during breakfast. The pair of Apple filled crepes were also $1. Coffee? $1 with free refill. So we ordered only one coffee to share between ourselves. Since it was free refills, I had several rounds and went hyper for the rest of the day.
There is only ONE item that is not one dollar … and that is the 99 cents juice. Don’t know why they do not just round it up to $1 so that everything for breakfast is $1. Strange, huh?
Anyway, for cheapskates like us, we love $1 breakfast.
The Abbotsford Airshow is held every mid-August since 1962. So that makes it the 45th show this year.
I felt that the crowd was a bit thinner this year. It used to be so crowded that we once took about 1.5 hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic from Highway 1 to the airport.
The trick to avoid the heavy traffic to make sure you buy the tickets from places like Safe-On-foods. You will avoid the long lines at the payment line.
We are able to get close up view of the fighter planes. The F15E Strike Eagle is perhaps the most lethal of all strike fighters in the airshow.
The E-3 Sentry AWACS was the most interesting. We got our questions answered at every section of the plane. I wished I had taken pictures of the interiors but I guess they would have kicked me out of the plane. Some of the electronics looked pretty dated — my PC at home looked much more hi-tech.
Couple of things that I distinctly recalled … first, this plane can fly virtually forever (with mid-air refueling) but the biggest problem is that it comes equipped with only a small washroom. Secondly, this plane is manned by not only Americans … there were also crew members with Canadian patches on their uniform. Wow!
The replica of the Spitfire sat roped off from the public on the tarmac. It’s not a refurbished Spitfire. Someone actually built this scratch from old planes. And it actually could fly. The Spitfire is the plane which helped Britain won the Battle of Britain which prevented a full-scale invasion of the German forces during WWII.
The F-117 Nighthawk made a very deep impression on me when I first saw it a few years ago. In that first encounter I had, the plane’s shadow crept up me. It could glide with zero sound and does so so gracefully. Man! Not only is this super stealth fighter is invisible to the radar, it could fly low and creep up on the enemy without them knowing they are just overhead them.
This is the only plane that we could not get to touch. There are guards with heavy machine guns guarding it while on the tarmac. This is perhaps the last year we are able to see this mysterious plane as the USAF is retiring it this year.
One tip … bring along lawn chairs and make yourself comfortable. The back-to-back airshow takes about 6 hours in all. This year the weather was much milder as it could be brutally hot on a sunny day.
There are all kinds of shows. They generally starts off with light hearted shows. The bi-planes were entertaining.
The Jelly Belly plane was amazing … it could take off and LAND on the shortest landing strip in the world … that platform on top of the pickup truck.
The EA-6B Prowler is the US Navy’s electronic warfare system with fully integrated radar jamming capability.
The new Canadian Forces C-17 Globemaster was delivered on the day we were there. This new plane landed for the first time on Canadian soil. This is a strategic airlifter and basically is able to deliver almost any load to any where in the world — including tanks and all.
The “Heritage Flights” was interesting too. The USAF pair consisted of the planes from different era … the F-16 and the P-51 Mustang. Both are single seater aircraft fighters.
The F15-E Strike Eagle … I wanted so much to capture a shot when it blast past in high-speed. I had seen nice pix of it with the condensation on the wings when it hit supersonic speed … that picture below was the best I could get. I need longer lens … hint, hint … nudge, nudge, Suanne.
There were also some demonstration bombing runs. The one from the fighters were awesome … especially looking at how it swooped down. Gosh … the USAF planes were really impressive. BTW, the explosions were fake.
The warbirds demo, well, was just a fly past but they sure were colorful.
Then, there it is … the Spitfire. I had always admired the Spitfire since my early school days.
The highlight of the show … Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds … the world famous aerobatics demonstration team. In some previous years, we had both the Snowbirds and also the US’s Blue Angels but this year we only had the Snowbirds.
The squadron is made up of nine planes flying in formation and to music. The plane used by the Snowbirds is the CT-114 Tutor. This jet training aircraft is almost 50 years old now and I think they only have limited life to it. Once this is retired, I won’t be surprised if the Canadian government will fund a new set of aircraft for the snowbirds.
The head-on cross manoeuvre is the most dangerous of all manoeuvres. This had resulted in several spectacular crashes in airshows around the world. Just imagine this … the planes approaches each other at a combined speed of about 1000 km/h. The movement need to be precise and there are no room for mistakes.
The were several other great formation but the pictures did not turn out OK.
The final fly past was moving. Last year, Snowbird #2 crashed during training. The pilot was killed and the results of the investigation came back just a few weeks ago. The reason of the crash was because a seat restraining belt came undone during a backflip. The pilot was thrown upside down resulting in a total instant loss of control.
In the fly past, the position where crashed Snowbird #2 was were indicated with the smoke trail. This is what is known as the Missing Man formation. You know, this was not the first fatality in the Snowbirds. Since it was formed in the 1970s, there had been 14 accidents resulting in 6 deaths.