“Hornet 1” Theme is Canada 150 Tribute in 2017
If you are anything like me, I enjoy seeing special paint schemes on fighter aircraft. Arguably, nobody is doing it better and more consistently than than the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Every year before the airshow season starts I anxiously await what supreme design will adorn the RCAF CF-118 known as ‘Hornet 01’. This years design theme is ‘Canada 150’ , a celebration of the nations 150th Anniversary of Confederation. The specially painted CF-118 Hornet features the official logo for ‘Canada 150’ placed throughout the design. The logo is composed of a series of diamonds, or “celebratory gems”, arranged in the shape of the iconic maple leaf. The four diamonds at the base represent the four original provinces that formed the Confederation in 1867: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Additional diamonds extend out from the base to create nine more points. Together they symbolize Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. On the left wing, the timespan of Confederation is shown with the year of Confederation, 1867, and the 150th anniversary year 2017. The right wing bears the official name of the celebration ‘Canada 150’. All aspects of the design come together to create a truly unique and fitting tribute to this important year in Canada’s history. The teams Public Affairs Officer, Lieutenant Jennifer Halliwell, says one of the best features of the paint scheme is that it was designed to be viewed in flight. Every maneuver in the demo performance was considered by the designer Jim Belliveau and you can see that in how amazing the jet looks in flight. The Canada 150 maple leaf has a 3D effect to it that makes it pop and has led to many people asking if it is photoshopped into photos – it is nothing short of an amazing design!
Another cool aspect is the grey bottom of the jet. Many people ask why the bottom was not painted. The tactical grey on the bottom of the jet is exactly the same as other CF-18 and was part of the design. It was important to the designer that although there is an amazing paint scheme on top, the operational history of the CF-18 and their past defending Canadians and their values were not forgotten. This also makes the manuvers during the performance striking as one minute you see the beautiful red paint scheme and the next you see a tactical CF-18 no different than any other the fleet. Another important fact to note is that the paint is the only difference between the Canada 150 jet and an operational CF-18. Nothing has been modified on the jet for air shows and if necessary it could be deployed almost immediately.
Every year designs are submitted for the demo paint scheme to meet the theme chosen for that year. This year the design made by Jim Belliveau who incorporated the official Canada 150 logo that was designed by a student named Ariana Cuvin. Her logo is featured across Canada on all Canada 150 related materials including the demo jet. Lieteanant Halliwell said that the team recently had the opportunity to meet Ariana and show her the jet with her logo on it. The team also surprised her with honor of featuring her name on the jet as well.
I wondered what becomes of these amazing creations after the airshow season is completed. Lieutenant Halliwell explained that many of the jets that had their tails painted still have their schemes. Even last years fully painted demo jet remains painted with some parts slowly reverting back to tactical grey as it goes through routine maintenance. Normally the jets are not repainted immediately after the season but instead wait for the next time it is due to be painted or have part replaced.
I had the tremendous opportunity to witness the RCAF CF-188 (CF-18 as it is commonly known) demonstration at Wings Over Wayne at Seymour Johnson this past May. Lieutenant Jennifer Halliwell was kind enough to spend some considerable time with me in preparing this article. The team is currently part of this tour which kicked off officially on April 28th in Chennault International Airshow in Lake Charles, Louisiana. This year the team is scheduled to take part in thirty official show sites or flypasts across North America until the end of their season on October 1st at the Grand Junction Airshow in Grand Junction, Colorado. The teams ambitious schedule will see them travel from from coast to coast in North America performing in British Columbia to Nova Scotia and from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico sharing their amazing fighter along the way.
This years demonstration pilot Captain Matthew ‘GLIB’ Kutryk was inspired to fly by his first airshow experience at Cold Lake, Alberta. He was eager to join the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program: first with 551 Whitehorse Lions Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron (RCACS), and later with 341 Mundare RCACS. As an Air Cadet, Captain Kutryk earned his gliders pilot’s license in 2000 and his private pilot’s license in 2001. Captain Kutryk joined the Canadian Armed Forces in August 2006 and, in 2008, began military flight training in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, and later in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. In 2010, he was selected to fly fast jets and moved to Sheppard Air Force Base at Witchita Falls, Texas, for training. He graduated in May 2012, realizing a life-long dream of receiving his RCAF pilot’s wings. Captain Kutryk has actively trained throughout Canada and in the United States with the Hornet, and has served on NORAD missions across Canada, including the High Arctic. He is currently a section lead and fighter electronic warfare instructor with 425 Squadron.“Being selected as the pilot for the CF-18 Demonstration Team is an incredible honour, especially on such a significant year for Canada,” said Captain Kutryk. “I am excited to travel all across Canada and the United States to show the skill and professionalism of the Royal Canadian Air Force. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the team of highly dedicated professionals that support the team and make our performances possible.” http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/cf-18-demo-team/cf18-demonstration-pilot.page
The demonstration pilot is chosen through an intense selection process that includes a requirement for the pilot to be nominated and supported by their chain of command. Every year CF-18 pilots who are interested in the position must submit their name for consideration. Their background and flying skills are then evaluated to ensure the chosen pilot has the skill level and training to properly prepare for the challenging and dynamic routine. Another key part of the selection relates to their ability and motivation to connect with the public. This includes public speaking ability, handling questions from the media and an interest in engaging with the public. They are one of the main spokespeople for the Royal Canadian Air Force and therefore must be skilled communicators. Since the Demo pilot became an annual position there has not been a pilot who has been in the position for two years.
The Demonstration teams safety pilots, Major Darryl Shyiak, Major Yanick ‘CRANK’ Gregoire and Captain Renaud ‘GRAT’ Thys have extensive backgrounds as demonstration pilots. Major Shyiak served with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds as Lead pilot. Major Gregoire served as both Canadian Forces Snowbirds Lead pilot and CF-18 Demo pilot. Captain Thys served as the Belgian F-16 Demo pilot for three years. They provide flight and performance advice to Captain Kutryk.
The team is made up of eight technicians who are split into two teams of four. The East crew from 3 Wing Bagotville Quebec take care of the jet during shows on the East coast. The East crew team members are Sergeant Francios Brisson crew chief, Master Corporal ‘Chevy’ Chevier deputy crew chief, Corporal Pierre-Luc Poitras technician and Corporal Steevan Maltais technician. The West crew from 4 Wing Cold Lake Alberta take care of the jet during shows on the West coast. The West crew members are Sergeant Christopher Gilson crew chief, Master Corporal William Oshanek deputy crew chief, Corporal Alexandre Dugas technician and Corporal Adrian Locke technician.
The technicians drive to each show site bringing their trailer that contain the necessary tools and parts to maintain the CF-18 Demo jet. Throughout the 2017 air show season the demo team technicians will travel across North America ensuring the demo jet is fit to fly. By the time I saw the team they had been on the road for three weeks and put 12,000 km on their truck and trailer. The team has little down time traveling to and from show sites, but they managed to squeeze in a trip to Graceland while in Memphis Tennessee. The team also receives support in carrying their equipment from demonstration pilot Captain Matthew ‘GLIB’ Kutryk. Glib will carry things for the kit shop and extra promotional material with him in the luggage pod of the jet when he transits. One of the three safety pilot’s who are all located in Winnipeg will normally bring any extra promotional material needed since it is created there. Lieutenant Halliwell travels with the extra cameras and computers needed for imagery support. She said “It’s a team effort getting everything we need where we need it!”
The entire team is comprised of thirteen members including the demonstration pilot, eight technicians, three safety pilots and a public affairs officer/narrator. A new CF-18 Demonstration team is selected every year. One technician from each team that may stay on for second year to help the new crew adjust to life on the road. Each member of the team is selected on a number of factors including their expertise, experience, motivation and ability to connect with the public. It is a very competitive selection process and all of the members who apply must have the support of their trade (occupation) and their Wing Commander before being considered. Lt. Halliwell said ‘we have an amazing team this year who are all incredibly skilled but we also have a lot of fun which is important when you spend so much time together away from home. Team cohesion is very important!’ Lt. Halliwell explained that everyone on the team has different responsibilities in order to make sure we are able to put on our performances. Captain Kutryk is the team lead and responsible for the team as a whole. Each of our technicians have a specialty that they bring to the team and our crew chiefs have the responsibility of tracking jet maintenance and ensuring their team has what they need. Our safety pilots help Captain Kutryk coordinate all of the operational flight requirements at a show including ensuring the air space is safe and all requirements are met before Glib performs his demo. Lt. Halliwell also acts as the coordinator ensuring the logistical requirements of the team by coordinating with our points of contacts for hotels, rental cars, etc. It really is a team effort.
The demo team in its current form (a summer deployment for the whole team) has been this way since about the early 90s. Before that they all still did perform demos at air shows, however the difference was that it was not a set team or pilot. Instead the RCAF would have operational pilots volunteer for different shows to perform throughout the season. There was even a time when there was an East Coast and West Coast pilot so the teams were totally separate.
This years demonstration is an aggressive demonstration made up of twelve manuevers with various additional repositioning maneuvers as well. The demonstration begins with Captain Kutryk summoning Hornet 01’s 32,000 lbs of thrust available in afterburner for the take off dirty roll into a Cuban eight. Glib then positions Hornet 01 for a quad 270 roll. Glib then returns the CF-188 for the square loop before setting up for the topside pass which gives the crowd its first look at the magnificient artwork of the Canada 150 hornet. The rest of the demonstration is made up of various passes such as the high alpha, dirty inverted and photo. The CF-188’s power is also demonstrated by the minimum radius turn and the maximum rate turn before closing with an unrestricted vertical climb and break for landing.
I asked about the CF-188’s unique searchlight and if it is used during the demonstrations. Lt. Halliwell said that they do use the searchlight and all other lights on the demo jet during the twilight show. A twilight show is exactly the same as a normal performance but done at sunset which makes the afterburners and the lights on the jet look incredible. Lt. Halliwell stated that having an opportunity to see a twilight show, it is highly recommend it as the jet looks even better than normal!
Just like other military demonstration teams, the RCAF tries to keep the specially painted aircraft as the star of the show. The RCAF travels with a back up aircraft, however Lt. Halliwell said that they do not have a set back up jet for the season. If Hornet 01 requires maintenance then another would be used from the fleet, but there is no specific backup jet. This is why the technicians are so crucial to the team. They make sure the jet is fit to fly every weekend and work very hard to ensure they have the painted jet ready for all shows. They really are the backbone of the team and the tour would not be possible without them.
I cannot say enough good things about this team and their pride for this magnificent aircraft and what it is celebrating. Take the time to see them and thank them for a job well done!