Air Show Report : Airshow London 2017
2017 Airshow London – Ontario, Canada
Air show report by Ron Cembrowski from the 2017 Airshow London at London International Airport in Ontario, Canada, with photos taken on September 21 to 25, including arrival days, Friday's "Hour of Power" twilight show, and Monday departures.
Airshow London Rebirth
Back in September 2016, after an absence of 12 years, the long-awaited return of an air show to London, Ontario, became a reality.
The new not-for-profit organization is called ‘Airshow London’. The Airshow London board of directors come from the private, public and educational sectors. The air show works with the City of London and businesses which include London International Airport and Fanshawe College’s School of Aviation Technology.
As a non-profit organization, Airshow London supports children’s healthcare, Veterans and support programs, and aviation technology education programs.
Airshow London 2016 weekend was attended by over 20,000 spectators and resulted in an investment of over $700K dollars in local products and services and an overall economic impact of over $2M dollars.
Airshow London 2016 became the largest military air show in Canada that year.
2017 Airshow London
After hitting the ground running in 2016, Airshow London 2017, held on Friday, September 22 to Sunday, September 24, was even bigger and better. Once again, the air show took the top position for Canadian military air shows for 2017.
The show celebrated ‘Canada 150’, the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
The 2017 program line-up included the USAF Air Combat Command F-35 Heritage Flight Team with the P-51D “Bald Eagle”, the US Navy East Coast F/A-18F Super Hornet Demo Team, the RCAF CF-18 Demo Team in the special ‘Canada 150’ colour scheme and the RCAF Snowbirds.
Although the Friday before the air show weekend is still largely participating aircraft arrivals, practise shows, and air show field set-up, as in 2016 there was a “Fighter Friday” or “Hour of Power” twilight show, with gates opening to the public at 16:00 hrs and the show starting at 17:00 hrs.
The evening show was great opportunity to see all the featured jet demo teams as well the MiG-17PF, with its very unique VK-1 afterburning turbo-jet engine, flown by Randy Ball.
The show line parallels Rwy 15-33 and you can get some lovely evening light illuminating the aircraft, often with spectacular afterburner glow. However, Friday being the first day of Autumn and with the sun setting earlier and earlier as the days progress towards winter, the useable light levels do drop off very quickly (sunset occurred shortly after 19:00 hrs).
After a brief time of constantly adjusting the camera sensor speed setting upwards from ISO 2000 to ISO 6400 and running head long into ISO 12800, with its impossibly low resolution and very “noisy” images, it becomes rather futile to try to get a decent “jet with afterburner” shot in the dark. I just resolved to simply put my camera down and enjoyed watching the show.
Weekend Air Show
On Saturday (September 23) and Sunday (September 24) the gates opened to the Public at 09:00 hrs, with the flying display beginning at 13:00 hrs.
- The weekend air show flying schedule was as follows:
- Canadian Forces SkyHawks
- RCAF CF-18 Demo Team
- USAF ACC F-35 Heritage Flight Team
- US Navy East Coast F/A-18 Super Hornet Demo
- USAF 70th Anniversary Fly-bys
- US ANG F-15C (Saturday only)
- US ANG F-16C (Sunday only)
- US ANG A-10
- MiG-17PF (Randy Ball)
- DH115 Vampire (Jerry Conley)
- Edge 540 (Pete McLeod Aerobatics)
- RCAF CC-115 (Saturday only)
- RCAF CT-155 and CT-156 Heritage Display
- RCAF Heritage Flight (CF-18 ‘Canada 150’ Hornet and DH115 Vampire)
- RCAF Snowbirds
All told, by my count, there were at least 58 aircraft on the ramp (static and hot) participating in the air show, including 16 from the USAF, 10 from the US Navy and Coast Guard and 23 from the RCAF (although a couple of these only made brief appearances as air show transport/support aircraft), and 1 from the RAAF.
The Static Displays were available from gate opening and closed at 17:45 hrs. The air show gates closed at 18:00 hrs.
In spite of a number of cancellations because of operational considerations (the B-1B had been previously confirmed but cancelled) due to both the global political climate and the very unfortunate severe hurricane season experienced in the southern US, the hot and static ramps were full with little or no additional room to spare. For that matter the KC-135T (58-0099, Old Iron II) from the 171st Air Refuelling Wing (PA ANG) was parked on a separate ramp south of the air show area. It was only seen as a fly-by display.
Airshow London Photo Tour access
The photo pit was located in the same spot as all of the previous London air shows of many years past. Situated at the north-west corner of the main taxi-way (paralleling Rwy 15-33) and south of Rwy 09-27 the photo pit area provides a first-class view of aircraft movements (arrivals and departures) and the air display which runs along Rwy 15-33.
The 2016 Airshow London offered a 4-day Photo Tour pass for the air show weekend, including Friday arrivals and Monday departures. This year, the 2017 Airshow London, added a fifth day on Thursday September 21. Access on the Thursday as well as on the Monday departure day was only available to the full 5-day Photo Tour pass holders (Thursday through Monday). The total cost for the 5 days was $328 CDN ($250 US).
The addition of Thursday was most welcome since the heavy aircraft (in this case the KC-10A, KC-135R and KC-135T) will often show up a day earlier than the regular scheduled (Friday) arrival day and as with most air show arrivals they will often treat the photographers and air show staff/volunteers to a fly-by or a touch and go or two. It’s a prime opportunity to photograph the larger aircraft before they park at the static ramp.
General admission gate opening for Saturday and Sunday was 09:00 hrs, but the Photo Tour pass provided early access at 07:00 hrs on those two days. This provides a good opportunity to get relatively unobstructed photos of both the static ramp and hot ramp aircraft. The Thursday, Friday and Monday Photo tour check-in was 08:30 – 09:00 hrs. Access on those days was not available to the general public except for the Friday evening “Twilight Show”.
Although there was a separate Media Area set up, the photo pit area is far more ideal location. It’s spacious, secure, has separate toilet facilities, and a large tented area to escape the sun (and hopefully not the rain!). Snacks, water and other non-alcohol drinks are provided as part of the package.
The area is restricted to those who have purchased Photo Tour passes (full 5-day pass or weekend passes). Media were not allowed in the Photo Tour pit. As well Media were only invited to the Friday arrival day (and evening Twilight Show) and the Saturday and Sunday show days.
The 5-day Photo Tour package is definitely well worth the cost, not only because of the excellent location and top rate volunteer services, but also because the show is a not-for-profit event that helps to support the local community.
It’s to the credit of the organizers who took lessons learned from the previous year to make the 2017 event that much better. A thanks is owned to Mr. Jim Fisk, Director – Photo Services and the all the Photo Tour pit volunteers who helped to make photographing the show such a success.
Airshow London 2018 is scheduled for September 7 – 9.
More information can be obtained on their website at airshowlondon.com
F-35 Lightning II
As a side note, this was the first time I’d seen an F-35 of any variant. It was very interesting to see the US Navy F-35C Lightning II alongside the two USAF F-35A Lightning IIs on the hot ramp. Although all three F-35 variants are fifth-generation supersonic stealth fighters and are said to have similar performance, each is built to suit various combat missions and basing requirements which defines the three different specialized airframes. This ranges from the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) configuration of the USAF F-35A to the US Marine F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant and the US Navy carrier variant (CV) with its obvious larger, more robust landing gear. What I found quite surprising was that the physical differences between the A and C variants at the show were quite noticeable.
Not having read too much on the F-35 program details in the past I had always assumed that much of the airframe dimensions (components) were the same. A quick review of the Lockheed-Martin F-35 “Fast Facts Sheet” revealed that this was certainly not the case. Both the F-35A and F-35C are at, or near, the same length however there is a distinct height difference with the F-35A at 4.38 m and the F-35C at 4.48 m. The two dimensions that really stand out are the horizontal tail spans with the F-35A at 6.86 m and the F-35C at 8.02 m and the wing spans with the F-35A at 10.7 m and the F-35C at the much larger 13.1 m. It seems that the original proposed 3-in-1 cost savings of the three variants, never did materialize given the very different design requirements. According to an April 4, 2017 Bloomberg Businessweek article the degree of commonality (shared features) among the three versions of the F-35 was not the anticipated 70 percent but only 25 percent, so the original hoped-for economies of scale never materialized.
Having said all of this, the F-35 is an extremely impressive piece of aviation design and technology to witness in flight.
- 2017 Airshow London Program
- 2017 Corporate Hosting and Sponsorship promotional brochure (pdf)
- Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II Program Status and Fast Facts (Feb 5, 2018)
- Bloomberg Businessweek – Danger Zone (Paul Barrett), April 4, 2017
2017 Airshow London aircraft:
|Type / Designation||Serial / Registration||Unit||Base||Participation||Notes|
|A-10C||80-0224||107 FS 127 Wing, MI ANG||Selfridge ANGB, MI||Flying Display|
|A-10C||80-0265||107 FS 127 Wing, MI ANG||Selfridge ANGB, MI||Flying Display|
|C-2A||162157||VAW-120||NAS Norfolk, VA||Static Display|
|431 (AD) Sqn 15 Wing||CFB Moose Jaw, SK||Flying Display|
|CC-115||115457||442 (T&R) Sqn 19 Wing||CFB Comox, BC||SAR Tech Demo Jump|
|C-130H-30||93-2041||169 AS 182 AW, IL ANG||Peoria Int’l A/P, IL||Static Display|
|CC-130J||130612||436 (T) Sqn 8 wing||CFB Trenton, ON||Not part of the scheduled air show.||Aircraft was used in a show support role.|
|CT-133||C-FUPP (ex-133573)||Jet Aircraft Museum||London (CYXU), ON||Static Display||RCAF Red Knight Colour Scheme|
|CT-142||142805||402 Sqn 15 Wing||CFB Winnipeg, MB||Static Display||Lodger Unit at Winnipeg|
|CT-156||156116||2 CFFTS 15 Wing (NFTC)||CFB Moose Jaw, SK||Flying Display|
|CT-155||155212||2 CFFTS 15 Wing (NFTC)||CFB Moose Jaw, SK||Flying Display|
|CT-155||155213||2 CFFTS 15 Wing (NFTC)||CFB Moose Jaw, SK||Flying Display|
|CT-155||155217||419 Tac (F) Trng Sqn 4 Wing||CFB Cold Lake, AB||Static Display||419 Sqn Commemorative Colour Scheme|
|CC-177||177703||429 (T) Sqn 8 Wing||CFB Trenton, ON||Not part of the scheduled air show.||Aircraft was used in a show support role.|
|CF-188||188734||3 Wing / 4 Wing||CFB Bagtoville, QC /CFB Cold Lake, AB||Flying Display||CF-18 Demonstration Team ‘Canada 150’ Colour Scheme|
Pilot: Capt. Matthew Kutryk
|CF-188||188766||401 Tac (F) Sqn 4 Wing||CFB Cold Lake, AB||Not part of the scheduled air show.||Aircraft was u/s & underwent some maintenance over the show days. Departed on Monday.|
|CF-188||188788||425 Tac (F) Sqn 3 Wing||CFB Bagotville, QC||Static Display|
|CF-188B||188938||425 Tac (F) Sqn 3 Wing||CFB Bagotville, QC||Static Display||(410 Sqn "Cougar" emblem on LEX fences not yet painted out)|
|DH115 Vampire||N593RH||Vampire Aviation||Wilmington, DE||Flying Display|| Pilot: Jerry Conley|
RCAF HF with CF-18 Demo Hornet
|E-2C||166507||VAW-120||NAS Norfolk, VA||Static Display|
|E-6B||164409||VQ-7 (Roughnecks)||Tinker AFB, OK||Static Display||Aircraft is assigned to VQ-3 (Ironmen). |
VQ-7 is the Training Sqn. A/C are loaned to VQ-7 from the two operational sqns VQ-3 & VQ-4 (Shadows).
|Edge 540 (Zivko)||C-GXRB||Pete McLeod||London, ON||Flying Display||Sponsored by Red Bull|
|F-15C||78-0509||122 FS 159 FW, LA ANG||NAS New Orleans (JRB), LA||Flying & Static Display|
|F-15C||78-0536||122 FS 159 FW, LA ANG||NAS New Orleans (JRB), LA||Static Display|
|F-15C||80-0035||122 FS 159 FW, LA ANG||NAS New Orleans (JRB), LA||Static Display|
|F-16CM||89-2112||112 FS 180 FW, OH ANG||Toledo Express A/P, OH||Flying & Static Display||‘112 FS’ on tail|
|F-16CM||89-2129||112 FS 180 FW, OH ANG||Toledo Express A/P, OH||Flying & Static Display|
|F-16CM||90-0702||112 FS 180 FW, OH ANG||Toledo Express A/P, OH||Flying & Static Display|
|F/A-18E||168482||VFA-14||NAS Lemoore, CA||Static Display||NG/211|
|F/A-18E||168484||VFA-14||NAS Lemoore, CA||Static Display||NG/213|
|F/A-18F||165808||VFA-106 (Gladiators)||NAS Oceana, VA||Static Display||AD/221, USN East Coast Demo Team|
|F/A-18F||166467||VFA-106 (Gladiators)||NAS Oceana, VA||Flying & Static Display||AD/247, USN East Coast Demo Team|
|F-22A||00-4015||43 FS / 95 FS 325 FW||Tyndall AFB, FL||Static Display||Marked as ‘01-015’|
|F-22A||02-4035||43 FS / 95 FS 325 FW||Tyndall AFB, FL||Static Display||Marked as ‘AF 04035’, 325 OG|
|F-35A||11-5038||61 FS 56 FW||Luke AFB, AZ||Back-up Aircraft||USAF HF Team|
|F-35A||12-5055||61 FS 56 FW||Luke AFB, AZ||Flying Display||USAF HF Team|
Pilot: Maj. Will “D-Rail” Andreotta
|F-35C||169161||VFA-101 (Grim Reapers)||NAS Oceana, VA||Static Display||NJ/122|
|HC-144A||2308||USCG||CGAS Cape Code, MA||Static Display|
|HU-16 Albatross||N7025J||International Test Pilots School (ITPS)||London (CYXU), ON||Static Display|
|KC-10A||79-1948||6 ARS / 9 ARS 60 AMW||Travis AFB, CA||Static Display|
|KC-30A||A39-002||No. 33 Sqn (RAAF)||RAAF Base Amberley, Australia||Static Display||A330-203 MRTT|
|KC-135R||58-0015||465 ARS 507 ARW, AFRC||Tinker AFB, OK||Static Display|
|KC-135T||58-0099||146 ARS / 147 ARS 171 ARW, PA ANG||Pittsburgh Int’l A/P, PA||Flying (Saturday only)||“Old Iron II”|
|L-29 Delfin||C-FLVB||International Test Pilots School (ITPS)||London (CYXU), ON||Static Display|
|MH-60S||166349||HSC-22 (Sea Knights)||NAS Norfolk, VA||Static Display||USS Wasp|
|MiG-17PF||NX620PF||WSK MIELEC LLC||Fairport, NY||Flying Display||‘Red 620’, ‘B’ on tail|
Pilot: Randy Ball
Owner/Restorer: Jon Blanchette
|P-51D||NL51JB||Philadelphia, PA||Flying Display||“Bald Eagle”, USAF HF Team|
Pilot: Tommy Williams
|SC-7 Skyvan||N193WW||Win Win Aviation Inc.||Wake Forest, NC||CF SkyHawks Jump Aircraft|
Report and photos by Ron Cembrowski ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 13 May 2018