Canadian CF-18 Hornet Demo Team Announces Theme And Pilot For Limited 2019 Season

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2019 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Pilot Capt. Brian "Humza" Kilroy. Photo Credit: DND

The Royal Canadian Air Force has announced that the theme of the 2019 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team will be celebrating the history of the RCAF and highlighting Canada’s role in the NATO alliance. They also announced that the demonstration pilot for the 2019 airshow season will be Captain Brian “Humza” Kilroy from Alberta.

Each year’s theme is reflected in a special paint job applied to the primary demonstration aircraft; for 2019, the 70th anniversary of NATO and the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion were popular suggestions for the theme. In recent years, themes have honored the 60th anniversary of NORAD, 150 years of Canadian confederation, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and the Battle of Britain.

There have been indications that the 2019 demo paint scheme will be limited to the aircraft’s tail fins. Recent designs have covered the entire aircraft but tail-only designs have been done before as well. Regardless of the limitations, we look forward to seeing what the talented paint techs can come up with!

Unfortunately, according to the schedule they released at ICAS the CF-18 team will not be performing anywhere outside of Canada in 2019. In fact, their schedule has been reduced by 40% compared to last year. A later report by the Toronto Star indicates that the reduced schedule is a conscious decision in light of significant personnel shortages in the RCAF, although the wisdom of reducing recruitment efforts during a shortage is questionable. The aircraft are also in poor shape; the team had many high-profile struggles to keep the primary aircraft flying during the 2018 show season and had to skip at least one entire weekend due to mechanical troubles. Less time on the road should reduce wear and tear on both man and machine.

Make sure you check the CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team’s 2019 schedule to see if they’ll be anywhere near you!

Here is the full press release from the RCAF:

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Captain Brian Kilroy as the pilot for the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team.

Captain Kilroy will wow audiences around Canada during the 2019 air show season, flying his specially-painted CF-18 Hornet commemorating the RCAF’s pathway to the stars and the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“The 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team theme is an opportunity for the Royal Canadian Air Force to reflect on the innovations and people that have contributed to our success while challenging ourselves and the next generation to help us shape the future of our organization for the better,” said Major-General Christian Drouin, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region. “I am very proud of what the RCAF has accomplished in the last 95 years and I can’t wait to see where the next few decades take us.”

Captain Brian Kilroy

Born in Grande Prairie, Alberta Captain Kilroy spent his childhood in Stony Plain, Alberta, and graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in chemical engineering.

The son of an RCMP officer, he was strongly supported to pursue his aviation dreams by his mother, who also shared his love for aviation. He attended numerous airshows throughout his childhood where he even had the chance to see the CF-18 Demonstration Team perform, which further inspired him to follow his dream of becoming a fighter pilot.

Captain Kilroy was a member the Royal Canadian Air Cadets in Stony Plain before deciding to pursue his dream of flying and joining the RCAF in 2006. He was later given the opportunity to attend the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program in Witchita Falls, Texas, where he went on to fulfill his lifelong dream of receiving his RCAF pilot’s wings.

Following flight training, he was posted to 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, as an operational fighter pilot in 2013. Captain Kilroy has actively served throughout Canada on the Hornet in support of NORAD and has deployed numerous times on international NATO and Canadian Armed Forces missions.

Today, Captain Kilroy is a four-ship lead and qualified Electronic Warfare Instructor with 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron, using his combat and operational experience to train the next generation of CF-18 pilots.

“Being chosen to represent the Royal Canadian Air Force as the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Pilot is a true honour and I can’t wait to meet the rest of my team and start the season,” said Captain Kilroy. “To me this year’s theme really is a call to action and an amazing opportunity to inspire the next generation. We’re challenging ourselves and Canadians to keep pushing the limits of what is possible and to keep innovating. I hope that this summer our team will inspire Canadians to think and dream big while also demonstrating the impressive capabilities of their Air Force.”

2019 Theme

Based on the RCAF’s motto Sic Itur Ad Astra (Latin for “such is the pathway to the stars”), the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team will celebrate the history of the RCAF, recognize the innovative and driven Canadians who have led the charge for change and stand ready to inspire a new generation to take up the flame of innovation and help shape the RCAF’s pathway to the stars.

The 2019 season also provides an opportunity to highlight the RCAF’s operational role within NATO, a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy, as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

2019 Schedule

The 2019 schedule will see the team visit 15 different show sites across Canada, as well as take part in the Parliament Hill flypast in Ottawa on Canada Day. The 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Team is looking forward to thrilling audiences across Canada this summer and demonstrating the RCAF’s capabilities to Canadians.

Nellis Air Force Base Concludes 17-2 Red Flag Aerial Combat Training Exercise

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This past week, the year’s second Red Flag Exercise, known as Red Flag 17-2, came to a close after two intense weeks of training consisting of air to air, air to ground, aerial refueling, and overwatch missions. Missions were flown during the afternoons and evenings, resulting in two mass launches and two mass recoveries of aircraft each day, five days a week.

Red Flag happens four times a year, hosting the world’s elite fighter squadrons from the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, Air National Guard, NATO, and other allied nations. These groups gather to take part in ultra-realistic simulated aerial war games, which all take place at the Nevada Test and Training Range.

One participating aircraft type that really stood out from the crowd was the EA-6B Prowler operated by the US Marine Corps. This will be marked as the last Red Flag participation from any EA-6B squadron, as VMAQ-4 is set to deactivate. The squadron will be retiring its aging Prowler fleet this June, marking the end of an era for a distinguished airframe.

Colorado Air National Guard F-16 passing the moon during Red Flag 17-2EA-6B Prowler returns during Red Flag 17-2

The amount of time and effort that goes into creating these highly realistic combat environments is unprecedented. Even when the jets are not flying, the maintainers are hard at work on the line keeping the jets ready for the next sortie. While the maintainers and pilots do their tasks, the unsung warriors are the dozens of Red Flag mission organizers that help thoroughly brief and debrief hundreds of pilots from the 15 visiting fighter and support squadrons:

Royal Netherlands Air Force

  • F-16 Fighting Falcon

Spanje (Spanish Air Force)

  • ALA 111 – Eurofighter EF-2000
  • ALA 312 – KC-130H Hercules

Air National Guard

  • 100th FS – F-16 Fighting Falcon
  • 120th FS – F-16C Fighting Falcon

US Army

  • 149th AVN – UH-60 Blackhawk

US Air Force – Europe

  • 493d FS – F-15C/D Eagle

US Air Force

  • 16th ACCS – E-8C Joint STARS
  • 55th FS – F-16CJ Fighting Falcon
  • 79th RQS – HC-130 Hercules/HH-60 Blackhawk
  • 960th AACS – E-3 Sentry
  • 91st ARS – KC-135 Stratotanker

US Navy

  • HSC-21 – MH-60S Seahawk
  • VAW-117 – E-2C Hawkeye

US Marine Corps

  • VMAQ-4 – EA-6B Prowler

HC-130 Red Flag 17-2

Beyond the squadrons’ jet fuel-driven training, exercises also draw crowds of a different breed. Hundreds of aviation photographers travel to Nellis each Red Flag for the opportunity to photograph aircraft from squadrons they may never have the chance to see again. Squadrons such as the Spanish, Dutch, and the Lakenheath-based USAFE F-15C/Ds were on every photographer’s must-shoot list. Nothing provides a better opportunity for good photos than the almost always clear Vegas skies mixed with perfect late afternoon light.

Though 17-2 has come to a close, photographers should mark their calendars as Nellis AFB will be hosting two more Red Flag exercises during the 2017 calendar year; the first taking place mid-July (17-3), and the second in mid-August (17-4).

– Anthony Cornelius

Spanish Eurofighter at Red Flag 17-2

F-16C From the 140th wing returning to Nellis AFBColorado Air National Guard F-16s leading a pair of Shaw AFB F-16s

Red Flag 17-2 Night Launch Operations