2017 Event Review

AERO150 Air Show April 30, 2017

Location: Gatineau Executive Airport, Quebec, 20 km east of Ottawa
Admission: Free, Limited number of Hawk1 VIP, and photo pit tickets from $100 and up per person
Parking: Free on the side streets with bus service $5 donation per person
Value: Excellent
Rating out of 10: 7 due to weather conditions
United States Army Special Forces Black Daggers Parachute Team

PAF patch for the USA 2017 Tour

On April 30th the only appearance of Patrouille de France in a Canadian air show was scheduled to celebrate Canada's 150 years of Confederation. Patrouille de France (PAF) was in North America essentially to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the America's entrance to WWI with a multi state appearance at air shows and flyovers in the USA. This was PAF's first appearance in 30 years in North America. The Gatineau Executive Airport just east of Ottawa hosted this event with the cooperation of Vintage Wings of Canada.

Saturday April 29, was designated for the media only (mostly just photographers, I might add). The media was restricted to the Vintage Wings ramp from 9 to noon, due to Transport Canada, because it was an active airport, funny not even one civilian flew in or took off. Only during the military authority from noon to 3 pm we were able to go to the designated media area and take photos of the ongoing practice activities. Eventually we had "group" static visit, which was far from satisfactory to take good images from different angles of the static aircraft, which included surprisingly 2 RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s, who flew up from Langley AFB, from their joint Atlantic Trident Exercise with the FAF, RAF and USAF. It would have been better to send the much better looking and interesting FAF Dassault Rafale instead than the RAF multi-role fighters.

The weather was a bit cloudy in the morning, but cleared up by noon. However, it was very windy all day and only about 7C at the very most. It was a great way to get not only sun but wind burn too! Before noon only the Vintage Wings Mustang, Corsair and Hurricane went up to practice formation flying however, due to high winds they ended it very quickly. Too bad as I wanted to take some nice images of them, but it was way to windy to get a decent slow shutter speed shot for the blurred prop look, and the angle of view from the museum's ramp was restrictive too. In the afternoon the first to perform was the CH-147F Chinook that flew in from CFB Petawawa, and used as a platform for the SkyHawks to jump from. It was very windy but at least they jumped. After their jump the helicopter left. A CP-140n Aurora showed up for a fairly good flyby and touch and go demo, but did not stayed for static. The Snowbirds went up and did a good show however, their PA person should take courses in how to deal with the media, as she was far from friendly, in fact she was downright rude! That is a shame and unacceptable. Two CT-155 Hawk trainers also went up for couple flybys and that concluded the media day.

For Sunday the public day, the weather turned nasty. It was overcast with ugly grey cloud cover and only 3 Celsius. The wind picked up and just after the gates opened at 9 am, it turned even darker and ice pellets started to fall. Then the rain started too. It was damp, windy and cold, far from being an ideal weather for an air show. Personally, I have been at 150+ air shows over the years and by far this was the nastiest. Overnight a Transall C-160NG of the FAF flew in too, I assumed carried some of the French Air Force personnel.

Around 10:30 am the first 3 PAF Alphajets arrived from the Air Tattoo at Norfolk, Virginia, on their way back to France, and landed quickly in the pouring rain. Shortly after their arrival the Chinook arrived from CFB Petawawa too. Right on the schedule at 11:30 the Airbus A400M arrived bringing in the rest of the non-performing crew and staff of the FAF. It performed an impressive extremely short landing for such a large aircraft and just about turned on a dime on the runway as it taxied slowly into the "hot zone". This was the first time that the A400M Atlas been seen at an air show in Canada, even if it was just a static in the "hot zone". It is interesting to note that the A400M has 4 counter rotating 8 blade propellers. The two engines closest to the body rotate towards the wing tips and the two outside engines rotate towards the body. Shortly after the A400M's arrival in groups of three the other Alpha jets landed too.

At noon the SkyHawks Parachute Team took of in the Chinook and opened the show, despite the cold, messy mix of rain and ice pellets. The first jumper had a large French tricolor flag. The Snowbirds flew next, despite the weather they did a good show for the cheering crowds, who had to be truly dedicated to put up with the miserable weather. After the Snowbirds, a pair of CT-155 Hawks took off just around 2 pm. By this time both of us, my assistant Lawrence and I, were totally frozen and we heard that a heavier rain shower was about to move in. My assistant and I decided to leave. Unfortunately, we missed to see the PAF perform, which they did but only a low show. However, I've seen them perform several times in France, Malta and other European venues in the past. The PAF images are courtesy of SIRPA AIR, their PA office. Unlike the Snowbirds PA, they have an outstanding and very helpful Public Affairs Department! Thank you Lieutenant Antonia Buroni, Officier Relations Publiques, Équipes de présentation de l'armée de l'air 20.300, you are the BEST!

In summary the AERO 150 was an interesting air show, it could have been an excellent show but the nasty weather ruined that experience and that was beyond the control of the show organizer. Over all for the die-hard fans to see the PAF and their A400M Atlas transport it was once in a lifetime experience! It had a few glitches such as no media parking, and the public had to find parking on the nearby streets, with free shuttle buses to the main gate.

On Monday May 1st, the PAF along with the Snowbirds flew over Ottawa and then on to Montreal in a 19 ship formation. See the images below:

Ottawa image by Snowbirds/Patrick Cardinal
PAF with the Snowbirds over Montreal, image courtesy of SIRPA AIR
PAF are scheduled to depart for France on May 4th from CFB Bagotville, Quebec.
would like to thank all the show volunteers and in particular Girvan Patterson, Marketing Director of the AERO150 for their hospitality and cooperation. I would like to thank Major Holly Brown of the RCAF for her support and kindness.
Art work to celebrate the PAF visit, this is also the separator for images between Media Day and the public show
Flying display participants on show day:

PAF  10x Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet but only 8 perform the other two were photo chase aircraft
RCAF 9X CT-144 Tutor Snowbirds

SkyHawks Parachute Team jumping from the CH-147F Chinook
RCAF 2X CT-155 Hawk
Vintage Wings: P-51D, FG-1D Corsair, and Hawker Hurricane MK IV



Static included:

2x RAF Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4
FAF C-160
FAF A400M Atlas (hot zone)

RCAF CF-18B Hornet
RCAF CF-142 (Dash 8)
RCAF 2x CT-156 Harvard II
L-29 Delfin
RCAF CT-145 Beechcraft King Air
F-86/Canadair Sabre
Bell 412 Canada Coast Guard
and several other civilian aircraft


Report and photography by and additional images by SIRPA AIR as noted

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Images from LIMA 2017 by
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