Abbotsford Airshow 2016

15 08 2016

I took myself and my kids to the Abbotsford Airshow (my wife did not wish to go, in spite of besuited handsome pilots), an event that is held every year in, wait for it, Abbotsford. It is outside Vancouver, and as all tourism brochures will have you believing, a leisurely 45 minutes east of Vancouver. Given the boost in population, urban sprawl, road work, etc, (you know where I’m going with this) it is more like 90 minutes. Abbotsford is a pleasant community, (50 km east or so) that offers an alternative to those who can’t afford a 300 sq foot shipping crate in downtown Vancouver. It has its own airport, for private planes and airlines that fly to Hawaii, and the ‘Interior’, as we call the inner province of B.C. (which stands for Bring Cash).

This event has been held annually since the 40’s, except when it’s not, such as in the 1990’s when there was a war brewing in the Gulf, or due to some budgetary issues, such as the cost of jet fuel and Ray Bans. I attended the airshow in the 80s with my parents and sis, and many times after that. Since it’s held in August, it is under sweltering temperatures. One is standing in an airfield under the blazing sun for eight hours or so, which means there is always the promise of collapsing and waking up on a stretcher, attached to an IV line. We slapped on SPF level 1000 sunscreen (although a mud pack would have been cheaper) every 20 minutes or so, to protect us from the punishing UV, gamma, and altogether hostile rays of the sun.

In this year’s show, the highlights were:

Boeing Super Hornet: corporate demo. For those of you interested in avoiding the morning commute. Cue the afterburners as you blaze out of your suburban cul de sac!

The Breitling Jet team: first time I had seen this team, who gave the Snowbirds a run for their money. Bonus: radio transmissions in French. As Steve Martin said, those French have a different word for everything!

Screamin’ Sasquatch: not a craft beer, but a powerful WW1 era biplane with a jet engine, that produces an incongruous show of power, and that distinctive roar of jet engines.

Bearcat, Spitfire, Skyraider, Mustang fly-bys. These aircraft and their distinctive livery and sound brought a lump to my throat that wasn’t the comped beef jerky. As with automobiles, the lines and style of these aircraft were evocative of a bygone era. Unlike automobiles, however, they were designed with superior air power and top notch maneuverability, to evade and overpower the enemy. And they looked cool. As soon as you enwrap yourself in such an aircraft, insults and slander bounce right off you.

Cormorant helicopter SAR tech demo, and much more (I feel like adding, ‘order now’ right here)

The closer, as always, were the famous Snowbirds, who were amazing despite an absent pilot, that made its usual contingent of nine planes one less. This meant that a few acrobatics were not performed, which was not a problem. In any case, by that point, 95% of the audience were dehydrated due to consumption of sweaty cans of Budweiser, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and Starbucks Jet Fuel Frappucino (they just grind espresso beans to a powder and dump it in a Frap. It enables one to operate an A-380 without the benefit of a co-pilot or navigator)

It was a good time, and brought back some great past memories. Sitting out in an airfield for that many hours may not be for everyone, and we may opt for the twilight show next year!

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