We all have that one show that will be the highlight of our season for it’s terrific lineup and appreciative atmosphere. For me, that show is the Abbotsford International Airshow in Abbotsford, British Columbia (BC), and this year is no different.
The fine organizers at the Abbotsford International Airshow Society have done it again; coming together, planning, and preparing to execute another brilliant show in the Pacific Northwest. It’s one of Canada’s and even North America’s greatest shows to catch for variety and excitement. Faced with the sequestration cutbacks in the United States, the show has pooled together local warbirds and aircraft and crews from the Royal Canadian Armed Forces to fill the spaces left by US performers and statics. Just last year a new Abbotsford tradition was started by cutting down Friday’s full show into a twilight show that can’t be missed. This year, the show is back at it again and with one of the best lineups I’ve seen to date.
As always, the show is scheduled for the second weekend of August (Aug 7-9) at the Abbotsford International Airport (CYXX). Headlining this year’s performances are the Breitling Jet Team in their L-39 Albatross aircraft from Europe that will be making Abbotsford their only Canadian stop during their first North American tour this year. Additionally, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds will return to show, meaning a sky full of large formations and graceful aerobatics. For west coast residents of the US and Canada, this will be one of the best opportunities to see the Breitling team without the cost or hassle of traveling to Europe.
Additionally, the Horsemen formation team will be returning to the show after last year’s debut, but this year they’re bucking their P-51 Mustangs for a trio of F-86 Sabres. This year is shaping up to be one of jet-powered fun, new and old. And speaking of…
Single Ship Demos
Down here in the states, we love watching our military single ship demo teams. It hurt us to see them go for as long as they did, and this year we’re happy to see schedules from both the US Air Force and US Navy. And wouldn’t you know it, Abbotsford is going to get a team from each.
At long last, and after a few years of teasing Abbotsford show-goers, the USAF F-22 Raptor will be making it’s debut alongside an Abby veteran, the USN F/A-18F Super Hornet. The Raptor is sure to dazzle spectators with its incredible maneuverability while the Super Hornet will show off its impressive power and agility.
On top of the US air power fun, Canada’s own CF-18 Hornet demo team will return sporting a fantastic new paint scheme honoring the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
If that’s not cool enough, in another Abbotsford first, Microsoft CEO Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection will be sending up Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc and Hawker Hurricane Mk.XIIA to fly a very special Battle of Britain tribute formation with the CF-18. Let me now pass on some words of advice I think anyone attending the show should remember: BRING. YOUR. CAMERA. This is a one-of-a-kind flight you won’t want to miss or forget.
Warbirds and General Performers
If there’s one group that Abbotsford has maintained strong support from in the years I’ve been attending the show, it’s the warbird community. This year, we’ll see John Sessions’ Historic Flight Foundation (HFF) return with their P-51B Mustang “Impatient Virgin?” and B-25D Mitchell “Grumpy” sporting a new coat of paint. US astronaut Bill Anders’ Heritage Flight Museum will be sending up their P-51D Mustang “Val-Halla” and A-1 Skyraider “Proud American”. The Canadian Museum of Flight (CMoF) will be making the short hop from Langley, BC for another year, bringing an assortment of their vintage flying aircraft. Geoff Latter will be making his Abbotsford debut with his Nanchang CJ-6A.
Finally, breaking a decade-long absence, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is flying their B-17G Flying Fortress “Sentimental Journey” in for the show. Both “Sentimental Journey” and “Grumpy” will be offering rides throughout the weekend. And to top it all off, the BC-based de Havilland Mosquito that debuted last year at the show will be back again for an encore performance!
Should vintage aircraft and jet power not be your thing, don’t worry because this year’s show will also bring unique aerobatics and performances from some of the industry’s best. Dan Buchanan in his hang glider, Manfred Radius in his H 101 Salto glider, and Brent Handy of Redline Aerobatics in his Pitts S-2B, plus Kent Pietsch with his Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet to perform his fun comedy and power-off glide routines. Back again after an extended absence will be Gene Soucy and Teresa Stokes with their thrilling wing-walking act as well as Bill Braack in the Smoke-N-Thunder jet-powered dragster who will race one of the performers. The Canadian Forces Skyhawks jump team will also be performing their precision parachute routine that’ll be worth catching.
Twilight Show Returns
Following its success at last year’s first twilight show, the Abbotsford Airshow is again taking Friday night to bedazzle and light up the night sky with pyrotechnics and afterburner. The CF-18 is likely to do its demo again just after the sun sets, showing off it’s beautiful tail of afterburner flames throughout the maneuvers, and believe me when I tell you that you haven’t seen a Hornet demo until you’ve seen it at dusk. Performers Manfred Radius and Dan Buchanan will also take to the night sky equipped with fireworks to draw colorful trails in the dark above. The evening will conclude with a large fireworks display at show center.
While it’s still a bit early to know the full lineup of static displays attending, there are some big additions worth mentioning now. The USAF will be back this year with a B-52 Stratofortress bomber along with a C-17 Globemaster III to spice up the previously year’s thin static line. The Canadian military is expected to send the following:
- CT-156 Harvard II
- CT-155 Hawk
- CC-177 Globemaster III
- CT-142 Dash-8 “Gonzo”
- CC-130J Hercules
- CC-115 Buffalo
- CP-140 Aurora
- CH-149 Cormorant
- CH-147F Chinook (x2)
- CF-188 Hornet
- CH-124 Sea King
- CH-146 Griffon
Other statics include the HFF’s B-25D, one of the Breitling L-39 Albatros, the CMoF’s D.H. Tiger Moth, a Ray Ban Gold Pitts S-2B, Nav Canada CRJ, a Vans RV-4, a beautiful Republic Seabee, UFV Boeing 727, the RCMP’s Air-1 helicopter, and the CAF’s B-17G. There will be an assortment of general aviation aircraft on display as well from the Abbotsford Flying Club.
This year’s Abbotsford International Airshow is setting up to be one of the best shows in North America. The show will have something for everyone with fast-moving military jets, daring aerobatics, elegant jet team performances, vintage aircraft, and various ground displays. West coasters take note: schedule the time off, arrange transportation, and get your camera gear ready for a terrific weekend at Abbotsford this year.
For more information about the show and tickets, please visit and bookmark www.AbbotsfordAirshow.com.