RCAF Announces 2018 CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Pilot And Theme

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RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demo Pilot Captain Stefan "Porcelain" Porteous
Photo courtesy of the RCAF

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has announced the CF-18 Hornet demonstration pilot for the 2018 airshow season, as well as the theme for the 2018 team.

Captain Stefan “Porcelain” Porteous will be the demonstration pilot for the 2018 season. He is from Comox, British Columbia and earned his private pilot license in 2005 after first learning to fly gliders with the Royal Air Cadets. He joined the RCAF in 2008 and qualified to fly the CF-18 Hornet in 2014. Capt. Porteous is currently part of 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing in Bagotville, Quebec.

The theme he will be flying for in 2018 is the 60th anniversary of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD is the military command charged with defending North American airspace. It was jointly established in 1958 by Canada and the United States and continues to maintain a 24/7 watch to protect both countries.

Assuming tradition holds, the aircraft assigned to the demonstration team will be given a special paint scheme (designed by Jim Belliveau) celebrating this theme. The 2017 demo jet, flown by Capt. Matthew “Glib” Kutryk, featured a stunning red and white paint scheme celebrating Canada 150, the 150th anniversary of the country’s confederation.

Previous demo paint schemes have ranged from special tails to designs covering the entire aircraft. During a live video interview, Capt. Porteous reported that the 2018 scheme will be a full aircraft design with midnight blue as the primary color. More details on the 2018 paint scheme will be released at a later date!

Take a look at the 2018 CF-18 Hornet demonstration schedule to see if the team will be performing near you!

Quotes from the press release:

“I am extremely honoured to have been selected as Canada’s 2018 National CF-18 Demonstration Team pilot. I am very much looking forward to commemorating 60 years of NORAD at air shows throughout the summer while having the opportunity to be part of a highly dedicated team that will work together to put on thrilling performances aimed at demonstrating the professionalism and skill of the men and women of the RCAF. I look forward to meeting as many people as possible over the course of the coming demonstration season.”

– Capt. Porteous, 2018 CF-18 demonstration pilot

“As the Commander of the Canadian NORAD Region, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase the important NORAD mission and our important bi-national partnership through the 2018 National CF-18 Demonstration program. The men and women of NORAD work diligently to keep watch over our countries and to protect the air sovereignty of North America. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, no matter what – we have the watch.”

– Major-General Christian Drouin, the commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region

Canadian Snowbirds And CF-18 Hornet Spring Practice/Air To Air Photos

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Canadian Forces Snowbirds - Air to Air Over British Columbia

For the past few weeks, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and CF-18 Hornet demo teams have been ripping up the skies over Comox, BC, practicing their routines for the upcoming air show season, now just around the bend. We were lucky enough to participate in observing their practices and operations last week, and even a unique air-to-air photo op!

View all of the photos from Comox in our photo gallery: Canadian Snowbirds/CF-18 Hornet Air to Air and Comox Practice

Winter training takes part at CFB Comox on Vancouver Island as the base offers both teams the chance to practice over land and water with the Strait of Georgia just beyond the base perimeter. To the east are the majestic peaks of the Beaufort Range offering additional practice opportunities. While at Comox, both teams will fly at least once nearly every day, rain or shine. The wind and rain were heavy during last Thursday’s practice and both teams went out; the Snowbirds over Air Force Beach and the CF-18 over the base, both performing low shows.

2015 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Practice - Comox, BC Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Air Force Beach, BC

Both teams have maneuvers to perfect in their routine. Thorough debriefs follow each practice, where the team reviews their entire performance and critiques each maneuver to correct mistakes, some not even visible to observers on the ground. Each member of the Snowbirds is tasked with progress reports during the debrief to pass along any improvements or struggles they have had since the last practice. Flying the routines is only one element of the practice for the team. Simulator training also occurs, practicing taxi maneuvers and close proximity parking to perfect the ground performance as well. These practices develop the team into the fantastic performers we love to see each season.

Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Double Take - Air Force Beach, BC Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Opposing Pass- Air Force Beach, BC

This year, the Snowbirds are changing things up a bit. For shows with adequate runway length and fair weather, the team will depart in a 5 jet/4 jet formation takeoff, as opposed to their traditional 3/3/3 formation. You’ll also notice some new maneuvers such as the Card Nine and the Double-Take (as seen above) inserted into their performance this year.

2015 CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Battle of Britain Scheme - Air to Air Over British Columbia 2015 CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Battle of Britain Scheme - Air to Air Over British Columbia

As we reported previously, this year’s CF-18 demonstration aircraft is wearing a gorgeous camouflage scheme honoring the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. But you may not have known that there’s quite an interesting history behind the paint scheme chosen to adorn this year’s Hornet. The scheme matches that of a Hawker Hurricane Mk. I belonging to No. 1 Fighter Squadron RCAF, later renamed 401 Fighter Squadron, piloted by F/L Gordon R. MacGregor. From Jim Belliveau, the graphic artist who designed and painted the aircraft:

“The serial identifier used of YO-H was not only piloted by MacGregor… it was the first RCAF aircraft to score a confirmed kill in the battle.

I could go on in detail about the rationale behind the two murals, but the decision to feature the iconic pics of St. Paul and the London dockyards is rather subjective, and you may not want to… go there.

In my mind the St. Paul mural depicts the ultimate hope that good will always triumph over evil. And as to the dockyards, both that industrial area of London, and collaterally the working class who lived there, took a disproportionate amount of the bombing campaign in the war. It is my small tribute to those wonderful East Enders who were the quiet unsung heroes of the battle.”

Canadian Snowbirds Practice - Maple Split - Air Force Beach, BCCanadian Snowbirds Practice - Lag Back Cross - Air Force Beach, BC

The practices at Comox are not only an opportunity for the teams to practice their flights, it is also one of the first opportunities for the public to get a glimpse of the team. The people of Comox and Courtney, BC flock to the shores of Air Force Beach for a free air show that truly looks amazing. The Cascades on the mainland just across the water offer a spectacular scenic backdrop and the lighting in the afternoon is excellent.

CFB Comox operations continue as normal during these practice weeks. The base is home to RCAF 19 Wing consisting of 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron, one of only two squadrons that operate CP-140 Auroras, and 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, operating the CC-115 Buffalo and CH-149 Cormorant. Search and rescue operations and regular missions along the coastline of British Columbia carry on while hosting the teams. Comox also serves as a forward operations base for CF-18 Hornets deployed to the region.

CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Battle of Britain Scheme - Air to Air Over British ColumbiaCanadian Forces Snowbirds - Air to Air Over British Columbia

On April 28, the teams flew their acceptance shows over Comox and on the 29th they headed back to their bases to prepare for their upcoming first shows. The CF-18 will quickly be heading south to Chino, CA for the Planes of Fame air show this weekend (May 1-2) while the Snowbirds will be heading to Dallas, GA with the CF-18 for the Salute America Airshow on May 9-10. Be sure to check the CF-18 and Snowbird schedules to find out where you can see them perform this year!

Special thanks to: Lt. Patricia Brunelle and Lt. Mathew Strong for the help in covering their team’s practices, 442 squadron for the CC-115 ride and photo ship, and the Canadian Armed Forces for letting this Yank visit.