04 SEP 2019: It's not every day you receive an invitation to hang out with the RAF Red Arrows, the ace acrobatic flying troupe from Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But on the 70th anniversary of the Canadian International Air Show (CIAS) it was an easy invitation to accept. This year the CNE ended its annual outdoor party on a high note. The RAF Red Arrows – the fleet of Top Guns you normally see  jetting past Buckingham Palace in plumes of red, white and blue smoke –  were the big crowd pleaser.

The only other time the aerobatic fleet of special military jets zoomed above the CNE was back in 2002.

“The Brits are here, the Brits are here,” marvels CNE president John Kiru of their return to the air show where our own reliable RCAF Snowbirds demonstrated synchronized air movements, blowing everyone away.

As part of the RAF Red Arrows 2019 North American Tour, Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque, British High Commissioner to Canada, greeted guests at an exclusive viewing area at the Canadian International Air Show overlooking Lake Ontario. On a sun dappled late summer afternoon we watched the nail biting hair curling escapades of the flying RAF Red Arrows.

CIAS Super Pilots

Eleven other aerobatic teams also took to the skies achieving altitudes from 4,000 to 10,000 feet high, like the USAF A10 and RCAF Snowbirds. Richard (Coop) Cooper, Chair of the Canadian International Air Show Board was a speed demon himself. He debuted his MiG-15, a Russian fighter churning out smoke and nose diving until the last second. It doesn't go slow!

Retired Air Canada pilot Gordon Price (an Air Canada Captain for 36 years) who started flying in 1958 in Oshawa Ontario, was an RCAF fighter pilot and has designed and built aircraft. His white and red bird known as the Yak-50 fanned out smoke, made rings, did plunging dives then flew at one point to the sun like Icarus. The 77-year-old pilot has a pub called the Dam Pub in Thornbury, Ontario, and you'd want to have a shot or two after watching his aeronautical antics. A natural performer you can watch his talents in this riveting promotional video. http://gordpriceairshows.com/  He's available for event bookings too.

The Hangar Party

After the air show a celebratory dinner reception took place in a private hangar party at Pearson Airport. The British High Commissioner to Canada spoke of the flying extravaganza that saw Britain's Red Arrows start the show with the finale going to Canada's Snow Birds, describing it as “the perfect book end.”

Some RAF Red Arrows highlights:

-In a  tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing, the Red Arrows called The Hawks maneuver the “Apollo Roll.” The aircraft fly upside down at 2,500 feet against a blue sky as the crowd hears feeds from the cockpit with real time commentary. The cadence of the pilot’s voice is firm and assuredly oblivious to the movement of the aircraft somersaulting the entire way.

- For the super sonic airliner so many of us loved, we watched a 50th anniversary tribute to the maiden flight of  the Concorde in a cool technically difficult position known as the Concorde Bend. Red Arrows pilots – all nine of them are abreast and then switch behind each other adopting that legendary Concorde jet shape which is now a silhouette in the sky. Brilliant!!

-We cranked our necks skyward watching the formation of the historical Battle of Britain in a tribute to the Lancaster Bomber. “Roll up,” pipes in a RAF Red Arrows pilot's voice over the airwaves as the crowd sees the “Lancaster Roll” strut in the summer sky. The challenging move was a tribute to ace RAF pilot Alex Henshaw, the only pilot to ever perform a barrel roll in a Lancaster Bomber.

-Ribbons of red, white and blue with death defying moves known as the Python, Corkscrew, and Tornado were some of the aeronautic stunts that had the crowd on edge. Picture speeds up to 700 mph with average speeds of 400 mph and only 100 feet apart (about half the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa).

The team of nine Top Guns representing the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team has trained heavily for this exclusive 11-week North American tour in its 55th season. Upcoming cities are Dayton, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas; and more.

For details click HERE:

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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