Ottawa, Ontario Photo Scrapbook


A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-137 tanker/transport departs during an Ottawa air show weekend. 

Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (CYOW) serves Canada’s National Capital Region, sometimes known as Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan area. The airport is serviced by all of the larger Canadian air carriers, plus several international airlines too.

Originally opened in Uplands by the Ottawa Flying Club, it became a training base for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during World War II. After the War, it became a joint-use airport, with CFB Uplands on one side of the airport, and a busy civil airline terminal on the other. To the north, the Ottawa Flying Club still operated from a small enclave of a short runway and hangars during the 1990s. Over the years, Royal Canadian Air Force jet fighter and transport squadrons were based here, and airlines such as Trans-Canada Airlines (later Air Canada) and Bradley Air Services (now known as First Air) operated from the same runways. Thus, the airport has significant military commercial and general aviation history.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage’s Lancaster bomber drew quite a crowd before it flew during an Ottawa appearance.

Beginning in 1990, the National Capital Air Show (NCAS) convened for a number of years at Ottawa’s main airport; the flying displays were integrated with scheduled airline traffic. As such, airliners were part of the show; both domestic and international carriers offered a break from aerobatics, the rumbling warbirds, and jet fighter noise.

A Russian Air Force MiG-29 ready to wow the crowds at Ottawa. 

The show coincided with the weekend of Canada Day, the national holiday celebrating the 1867’s Constitution Act, which effectively merged three British colonies into a single Dominion under the British Empire… and thus the beginning of the Canada we know today. An important day in history required a significant air show, and the National Capital Air Show was billed as an important part of the Canada Day celebrations. Historic warbirds and active military aircraft were headlining acts; the RCAF’s Snowbirds always performed, along with domestic and international acts. The Italian Air Force’s Frecce Tricolori were guests one year, a Russian Air Force MiG-29 was another performer of interest during another show.  

Hawker Hurricane IIB was operated by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, flown during one of the Ottawa shows, and then was destroyed by a fire in 1993.

Here is a series of photos, taken through the years 1990 through 1997, showing some of the military aircraft of the show… both operational military and retired (warbirds). 

CF-188 Hornet adorned in a special color scheme was the solo demonstration aircraft one year.

Another specially adorned aircraft is this CP-140 Araura patrol plane.

Only the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario separate the U.S. from the National Capital Area, and these U.S. Navy T-2 Buckeye trainers were willing static display participants. 

A specially painted CT-114 Tutor from 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the unit.

U.S. Navy TA-4J Skyhawk arriving for a static display in Ottawa.


The MiG-29 drew a curious crowd of North American photographers during pre-flight preparations in the early 1990s!

A Boeing Vertol CH-113 Labrador Search and Rescue helicopter on the Ottawa ramp. Not only was it on standby during some of the shows, but crews performed SAR demonstrations in some years too.

New to the scene in 1990, the CL-215T was a turbine upgrade version of the original radial-engined CL-215 water bomber.

A Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King arrives in Ottawa.

U.S. Navy Grumman F-14A Tomcat being towed into position for static display on the airfield.

Another U.S. Navy Grumman… this time a KA-6D tanker version of the A-6 Intruder carrier-based bomber.

A U. S. Navy LC-130R Hercules of Antarctic Development Squadron Six (VXE-6), a long way from its home in Point Mugu, California.

This DC-3A, operated by the Canadian Coast Guard, was originally a U.S. Army C-47A during World War II and became an RCAF transport both during and after the war. It was subsequently passed into Canadian civil government operations later on.

An Italian Air Force MB-339pan  of the Frecce Tricolori.

One of the more interesting parts of the National Capital Air Show was that the crews mounted their aircraft in front of the crowds.

Another exotic military attendee at Ottawa was a USAF F-117A Nighthawk – the “Stealth Fighter”.

Friday arrivals day photography at the NCAS shows was always a treat… close to the action and filled with a wide variety of front line military aircraft and warbirds.

During one year of the NCAS, Embraer sent its EMB-312 Tucano as a performer, in hopes of helping the type’s chances during a next generation trainer competition for the RCAF. The flight demo was fun to watch, but the type didn’t get the contract, in the end.

Pennsylvania Air National Guard A-10A Thunderbolt II awaiting its tow into the static park.

Convair CC-109 Cosmopolitan operating outside of the air show, shuttling military and/or civilian VIPs on a Friday afternoon from the CFB Uplands part of the airfield.


Canada operated nine early version CH-147 (this is a -C version) Chinooks, this is the last of this series to be delivered. The RCAF also operated their own versions of the CH-47D and now CH-47Fs too.

Camouflaged Canadair CF-116A Freedom Fighter fitted with a camera in the nose, and carrying the fake painted cockpit shadow underneath too. 

USAF General Dynamics F-111G “Aardvark” was a former FB-111A nuclear bomber that was stripped of specialized gear and ended up as a conventional bomber and trainer.

P-51D “Death Rattler”, which tragically crashed shortly after this photo was taken, killing the pilot, Harry Tope from nearby Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Hurricane IIB.

Bell CH-118 Iroquois rescue helicopter departing before staging a mock rescue for the show.

Spitfire Mk. IX now resides in a museum, but twenty five or so years ago performed aerobatics during the air show. 

Just a “short” hop from Goose Bay, Labrador, these two German Air Force Dornier Alpha Jets were used for low level flight training in the air ranges near Goose Bay. NATO members who used the training areas to the north would be frequent visitors to the Ottawa shows.

Ken Kula

Assignment and Content Editor, writer and photographer A New Englander all of my life, I've lived in New Hampshire since 1981. My passion for all things aviation began at a very early age, and I coupled this with my interest of photography during college in the late 1970s. I spent 35 years in the air traffic control industry, and concurrently, enjoyed my aviation photography and writing adventures, which continue today. I've been quite fortunate to have been mentored by some generous and gifted individuals. I enjoy contributing to this great site and working with some very knowledgeable and equally passionate aviation followers.

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