Airshow London 2018

 

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Airshow London 2018
7-8 September 2018
London International Airport, Ontario, Canada

I attended Airshow London 2018 at London International Airport, in Ontario Canada, on 7 & 8 September 2018. For reference – London is about 116 miles/186 km west of Toronto. Having heard such good things about the airshow’s resurgence, I really wanted to attend this year. The show’s headline acts included the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, United States Air Force Viper Demo Team, RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demo with their specially painted jet with the NORAD 60th Anniversary scheme, recently restored CT-133 Red Knight by the London-based Jet Aircraft Museum, F-86 Sabre, Pete Mcleod, Mike Tryggvason, F-5A Freedom Fighter, RCAF CC-130H, TF-51D Mustang as part of the Heritage Flight, United States Special Operations Command Parachute Team “The Para-Commandos”, Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team “The SkyHawks”, A-10 Warthog flyby, F-22 Raptor flyby, RCAF CF-188 Hornet flyby and New Jersey Air National Guard F-16C Viper flyby.

Unfortunately, the F-5A did not fly and was parked on the ramp, nor did the New Jersey Air National Guard F-16Cs make it to the show.

 

 

The scheduled statics included United States Air Force C-5, US Navy P-8 Poseidon, USAF KC-135s from the ANG units of Alaska, Arizona and Tennessee, USAF EC-130H from the Pennsylvania ANG, USAF KC-10, Ornge AW-139, Ornge PC-12, 2 USAF A-10s from Davis Monthan AFB, USAF C-130, RCAF C-90 King Air, 2 USAF F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson AFB, USAF C-17 Globemaster III, USAF TC-135 Rivet Joint, 3 US Navy F-18E Super Hornets from VFA-143 World Famous Pukin’ Dogs, USAF F-16D “Swamp Fox” from the South Carolina ANG, United States Navy T-45, 3 USAF T-38s, US Navy F-35C from VFA-101, USAF C-130J from Dyess AFB, 2 USAF F-35A from Luke AFB, 2 F-16 18th Aggressor Squadron – Eielson AFB, 2 Canadian Forces CF-188 Hornets, RCAF CT-142 Gonzo, RCAF CH-136 (x2) Trenton / Bagotville.
The T-45s, 18th Aggressor Squadron F-16s and CT-142 Gonzo were no-shows.

I arrived at my London hotel Thursday afternoon, and could see and hear multiple aircraft arriving. I regret not going to find a spot to shoot the arrivals as most of them did multiple approaches and fast passes.

 

Friday
I was fortunate to have media access, but has also purchased a 3-day Photo Tour pass, which allowed me to be in a very large show line area, the ability to be on base on Friday all day, including the evening show, to get on the ramp at 7 AM Saturday and Sunday, and to borrow Nikon gear from the Nikon Professional Services tent. I borrowed a Nikon 400mm f2.8 lens for most of the day Friday and Saturday, and owe them gratitude for that lens allowed me to get the vast majority of my shots. They were professional, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable, and was a fantastic perk of the Photo Tour.

I cannot say enough positive things about the Photo Tour, and Ken Kula will have an article dedicated to it, so be sure to look for that on Photorecon!

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On Friday I arrived around 845 AM and got my official badge from some friendly volunteers. We were escorted in small groups amongst the statics which had arrived already. We also got to witness 3 RCAF Hornets and 3 USN Super Hornets take off for training, and upon returning to the airport, do multiple high-speed passes creating vast amounts of vapor. Throughout the afternoon, other aircraft and teams practiced including the Snowbirds (including USAF Viper Demo pilot Major John “Rain” Waters riding along in Snowbird 8), CF-18, Viper Demo, CT-133, F-86, United States Special Operations Command Parachute Team “The Para-Commandos” and the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team “The SkyHawks”.

Additional static aircraft arrived as well, mixed amongst the occasional London Airport commercial traffic by Air Canada and Westjet. The aircraft arriving included F-15E Strike Eagles, F-22 Raptors, P-8 Poseidon and A-10 Warthogs.

The 3 VFA-143 F/A-18Es, and 1 CF-18 Hornet were moved into the static area – a bit to my disappointment after seeing them fly some nice patterns together on Friday.

Friday Evening Show
One of the draws for me and attending this show was the Friday evening performance, which featured the Snowbirds, Viper Demo (solo and with a P-51 for the Heritage Flight) and the CF-18 demo and CT-133 Red Knight, including the infamous tailhook drag upon landing. As the day progressed, the clouds moved in unfortunately, leaving a bland grey sky. We all hoped for a glorious sunset illuminating clouds, but that was not the case. Regardless, the demos were great, especially the Viper Demo and CF-18 Demo with their afterburners and vapor, and the CF-18 tail drag with sparks galore.  The CT-133 Red Knight was also great to see in the air with the CF-18 Hornet. Once again, the borrowed Nikon 400mm f/2.8 lens allowed me to capture images in low light.

Leaving the show around 8 PM, there was not much traffic at all, and was an easy exit.

Saturday
I arrived at the show at 645 Saturday AM and went to the Photo Tour area, again being greeted and escorted by friendly volunteers, and we were free to capture not only the statics, but the performers’ aircraft as well. The sun was just rising and beautiful, but also very short lived, as clouds were present. We had the ramp to ourselves, along with the many volunteers and workers, for 2 hours before the regular crowds arrived. It was fantastic to get the statics with so few people around.

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Flying was scheduled to start at 1PM, so I had more time to wander around and get more static shots and speak with the crews. Though, during this time, the 2 Michigan ANG A-10s departed to fly over the Michigan college football game. Interestingly, the exact 71st Fighter Training Squadron T-38A Talon I flew in at Langley AFB during Operation Atlantic Trident in April 2017, was one of the statics. I saw it during the 7-9 AM timeframe, and wanted to check later and see if the crews were there. It was nice to go back and see the jet, and speak with the 2 friendly pilots that flew the jets to the show.

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The flying commenced at 1PM, and by this time, the sky was a flat grey. The afternoon was jam-packed with lots of flying, and I thought the flying portion had a good flow to it.

There was a plan to have a Canadian CF-18 Hornet fly with a USAF F-22 Raptor as part of the NORAD celebration (I was really looking forward to seeing that formation), but issues with the F-22 prevented the pair-up, and the CF-18 did some passes alone. Ultimately, the F-22 did fly at the very end of the show, after 3 engine starts and some maintenance checks or work. It thrilled the crowd with its speed, vapor and afterburners.

Sunday
I only had 3 hours available in the morning to attend on Sunday before leaving, but seeing the weather was much colder, overcast and windy, on top of getting the shots I was looking for on Saturday early morning, I decided not to attend on Sunday.

Final thoughts
During the show, I got to meet so many people in person that I had known online in various social media channels. We all have a love of aircraft and airshows, and was nice to put names with faces.
While at the show, all of the staff I met, from signing-in and getting my badge until I departed Saturday evening, were friendly, welcoming, professional and helpful. The mindset was definitely geared towards all attendees – from the casual visitor to diehard airshow enthusiasts. I had the feeling that people would go out of their way to help or answer questions. Airshows are surely stressful to plan and execute, but not once did I get that reaction from anyone.

Another thing I really liked, was the number of food trucks present. Having these offered so much more variety than simply basic tents. Seeing food trucks at more shows would be a great feature.

Special thanks to all the organizers and volunteers of Airshow London, the Photo Tour staff, Nikon Professional Services Canada, and Public Affairs.

I look forward to seeing what Airshow London 2019 brings!

The Photo Gallery is filled with the Photorecon.net/ClassicWarbirds.net/CivilAviationWorld photo team’s photos… from Ken Middleton, Shawn Byers, Mark Kolanowski and Ken Kula.

 

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