|London Air Show, September 16 - 18, 2016
|Location: London International Airport, London, Ontario
|Admission: Friday Hour of Power $15, Satuday and Sunday $35/day for adult, several VIP and other options and Photo Tour tickets
|Parking: Free with shuttle service
|Value: Excellent based upon what it could have been
|Rating out of 10: 6.5 over all with Saturday's cancellation
USAF B-1B Lancer from Dyess AFB, Texas
The first air show in 12 years in London, Ontario, was held on Sept 16th to Sept 18th at the London International Airport, with mixed results.
On paper, or on the web more accurately these days, it looked very promising and by the number of performers and static displays too: it was the largest air show in Canada for 2016.
The general synopsis of the air show consisted around the spectacular line up with the Snowbirds, CF-18 Demo Team, Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team – The Skyhawks, F-22 Raptor Demo Team and historical flight with the CF-18 and Harvard II and the F-22 with a P-51D Mustang, in flight refuelling demo, F-16s and F-15s delivering military fighter demonstration with lots of jet noise!! Add civilian performers to mix, such as Pete McLeod in his Edge 540 of the Red Bull Air Racing fame, Gregory "Wired" Colyer flying his Ace Maker T-33 and several others.
|As any seasoned air show attendee knows, having a long list of aircraft at an air show does not make the show a good one alone there are many other factors that make or break the event. Some of them are the entry fee, facilities such as food vendors, portable toilets, friendliness and knowledgeable staff, ease of parking and getting around, and a very key important factor: the weather! And the weather Gods did not favoured the air show for 2016.
|The review is split up into 3 sections:
Friday: media day, arrival for many performers and static, and an evening show called the Hour of Power with gates opening at 4 pm and the show starting at 5pm until dark. A limited number of tickets were available in advance for this with a cost of $15.00 and included free onsite parking. Perhaps the best deal over all.
The weather was perfect on Friday, warm and sunny and the sun was be behind the spectators during the air show, which makes photography better. From media's perspective, there were a lot of confusion just were can the media go by the security personnel, our promised tent was not accessible, as the security did not allowed the media to go there, also we were prevented getting a closer look at the USAF B-1B, USAF's RC-135 Rivet Joint and USN P-8 Poseidon as well, which were parked on the way back on the static apron. This was a bit of a joke as school kids were able to visit them all day. After 4 pm as the Hour of Power attendees started to come in, the media finally had a chance to visit the 3 aircraft already mentioned which was joined by the KC-135R tanker by then.
Photo Tour tickets were available for 2 days $125.00 or for 4 days $200.00 (arrivals on Friday, departures Monday). The Photo Tour attendees were corralled into an large area on the flight line right of the static apron, giving them a fairly good look at the right hot ramp, but limited view of the left side were the F-22s, CT-130, P-51 Mustang, OV-1 Mohawk and the Harvard II were parked.
The Hour of Power was quite good and started off with the arrival of the F-16s and the F-15s, they made several low level passes thrilling the photographers. Also (3) additional CF-18s arrived as the sun was going down. for a total of (4) when the Demo jet was taken into consideration.
|RAF KC-30 Voyager (first time in Canada) above, (4) F-16Cs and (3) F-15Cs arriving on Friday below
|Saturday: Cancelled due to weather: rain and thunderstorms.
|Sunday: Since the Saturday show having been cancelled due to rain, the organizers honoured those tickets at the Sunday show. This was a good move from the organizers as many attendees drove to the show on Saturday morning only to learn at the gates that it was cancelled, and they were not too happy!
|Arrived at the show around 7am for the photo tour on the tarmac. Security was a bit lax in that there was no ropeline across the taxiway where performing planes were parked, we delighted as a Westjet 737 departed on YXU's live runway 33/15, and viewed the Snowbirds, F16s (3) Harvard 2 and F18s as well as the CAF Skyhawks' CC-130J Hercules on the performing line then crossed to the static area where we saw 3xF15C, a CF-18, and a nice assortment of heavies – the RAF KC-30 Voyager, a USAF KC-135R tanker and a USN P-8 Poseidon as well as the USAF's RC-135 Rivet Joint. Tucked behind all those big planes at the end of the runway was a sweet USAF B-1B Lancer bomber, truly a beautiful feat of engineering. There was a nice assortment of trainers and classic planes including a Canadair T-33, a USN T-6 II, a USN T-45 and a pair of Harvards. Copters included an RCAF CH-139 Jet Ranger, an RCAF Bell 412, US Navy MH-60 Seahawk and the most impressive of them: the US Navy MH-53 Sea Dragon. Others included the big Antonov AN-2 biplane, the USN E-2C and D Hawkeye and a USN C-2 Greyhound.
|The show itself was fairly well handled although the extra crowds made getting around a bit difficult due to Saturday's cancellation. Navigating around pools of water in the seating area in addition to dealing with crowds and long lineups at the food trucks and in the VIP area, made for a less than optimal experience. The organizers must have been proud of the high attendance however, as the weather was perfect. We media were also pushed out of a reserved area with access to refreshment and tables and internet hookups, to make room for more catering for the anticipated larger VIP crowd. We had to make do with a small, swampy area on the flightline in between the VIP and general admission seating areas, and had to scrounge our own seating and tables to store gear (the ground was still very wet). But we muddled through.
The organizers of the show, or at least our media contact, were unable to provide a schedule of performers and from the looks of the performer’s ramp and listening to the Air Boss chatter on our scanner, it was evident that there were times when they were kind of making it up as they went along depending on who was ready right at that moment, whether there was a regular flight arriving or departing from YXU, or how much traffic there was on the tarmac. They did still provide a very good show that included a terrific display by the F22 Raptor East demo team (who really never disappoint to be honest), Pete McLeod’s Edge 540 stunts and several classic displays from a BAC Jet Provost, a Grumman OV-1 Mohawk (sporting an MIA livery), the CF-18 Demo Team in its BCATP livery, the Skyhawks parachute team with CC-130J flybys… Two heritage flights featured the F22 with a beautifully restored P-51 Mustang and the CF-18 with a Harvard 2. I think my favourite performer aside from the F22 was Greg Colyer’s T33 Acemaker, a beautifully restored USAF jet from the Cold War era.
CC-150 with 2x CF-18 Flyby did occur. A lot of to-ing and fro-ing going on as the CF-18s headed to Ottawa in the morning for a flyby and returned for their flyby in the London show with the CC-150 (an RCAF Airbus A-310) … this might have been what the show was calling a ‘refuelling demo’ as the CF18s lined up nicely on the wingtips of the CC-150.
The three F16s that were so popular on the ground did manage to get a couple up for a few flybys before the show, after which they headed south of the border to do a flyover at a football game in the US. They returned mid-show for a couple of flyovers again.
The C-17 Globemaster was a no show from the static lineup. The show also promised the (3) F-15C Eagles as "performers" but they never left the static display. I asked one of the pilots (who was in the midst of helping a young lady up on the wing of his plane) and was told that the quick flyover they did before they landed on Friday afternoon was the extent of their "performance" for the weekend.
|Over all the show was good, and it was the largest in Canada for 2016 but Saturday's cancellation dampened the over all rating and there were a few additional glitches as aforementioned. We hope that for next year these will be ironed out and the weather will cooperate too.
CF-18 Demo Team
Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team – The Skyhawks with CC-130J
F-22 Raptor Tactical Demonstration
Heritage Flight: P-51D Mustang "Double Trouble two", F-22 Raptor
Canadian BCATP Historical flight: CF-18 and Harvard II in BCATP livery
Gregory “Wired” Colyer flying his Ace Maker T-33
Pete McLeod in his Edge 540 of the Red Bull Air Racing
BAC Jet Provost
Grumman OV-1 Mohawk
CC-150 with 2x CF-18 Flyby
|Static displays included:
RAF KC-30 Voyager (first time in Canada)
USAF KC-135R tanker
USN P-8A Poseidon (first tim ein Canada)
USAF’s RC-135 Rivet Joint
USAF B-1B Lancer (rare to see in Canada)
USN T-6 II
RCAF CH-139 Jet Ranger
RCAF Bell 412
US Navy MH-60 Seahawk
US Navy MH-53 Sea Dragon
Antonov AN-2 biplane
USN E-2C and D Hawkeye
USN C-2 Greyhound
USAF ANG F-15C
USAF ANG F-16C
USCG MH-65 DOLPHIN
RCAF CT-142 Dash-8
and several others...
Report by Hamish Grant and Laszlo Nyary the Editor of The Aviation Magazine with photography as noted