From its beginning more than half a century ago, British Columbia’s annual Abbotsford Airshow has grown consistently to become one widely regarded as one of the best airshows, not only in Canada, but in the world.
The first Abbotsford Airshow took place in 1962, with 15 000 spectators attending the show over two days. Ove the years, the airshow gained considerable momentum, becoming more popular and featuring military jets and formation teams. This year, thousands of enthusiasts attended the show, which has become known as ‘Canada’s national airshow’, from 10 to 12 August.
As with previous years, the airshow was preceded by the Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo (ADSE), held at the Tradex Centre at Abbotsford International Airport. ADSE afforded delegates the opportunity to see industry exhibits, hear keynote speeches, and attend panels and workshops, and benefit from networking opportunities. As always, high-profile presenters provided the latest information and insights on topical industry related developments.
As the expo drew to a close on Friday afternoon, August 10, the airshow gates opened, allowing thousands of spectators to view an impressive static exhibition, which featured a variety of military and civil aircraft. A twilight show followed, setting the pace for the next two days’ airshow flying. Highlights included the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, as well as the US Navy Blue Angels team, which made its first appearance at the show in fifteen years. This year marked the 60th anniversary of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). This milestone was highlighted by the RCAF’s (Royal Canadian Air Force) CF-18 Demonstration Team’s Hornet, which had been given a beautiful NORAD paint scheme. In addition, a commemorative flypast was flown by a formation of US Air Force and RCAF fighters. On the ground, the airshow had a stunning assortment of activities, exhibits, show stands and food options. One of this year’s new attractions was ‘The Grandstand: A Craft Beer Experience.’ This fenced-in beer garden featured music between flying events, excellent seating and a several craft breweries to sample. As with previous years, the Nikon Photo Pit offered an ideal vantage point to aviation photographers, as well as the opportunity to try out Nikon’s latest equipment.
On Saturday afternoon, shortly after the day’s airshow had ended, there was an incident involving a rare Dragon Rapide of the Washington-based Historic Flight Foundation. Thankfully, due to the fact that an airshow had just taken place, emergency resources were already in place and able to respond quickly and professionally. The pilot and four passengers were hospitalized, although three of them were soon released.
On the following day, the airshow continued with its tremendous lineup of displays. Despite the previous evening’s incident, and smoke from hundreds of massive wildfires in British Columbia, the Abbotsford International Airshow was a definite success. Perhaps now is a good time to mark you calendar for next year’s show, set to take place from 9 to 11 August, which will feature the US Air Force’s Thunderbirds.