A brief trip down memory lane

By Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

On a sunny Saturday morning, Sept. 8, 1956, my father Jack and I arrived at Malton Airport to see two demonstration teams that flew in the Canadian International Air Show at the CNE. I was nine years old, but the day stood out in memory as it was the only occasion that I ever saw the McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee in Royal Canadian Navy service.


RCN Banshees, VF 870 Squadron, at Malton for the 1956 CIAS.  On the left, USN Blue Angels Grumman F9F-8 Cougars. (Jack McNulty)

The Banshees of the VF 870 Squadron Aerobatic Team were parked next to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, who flew the Grumman F9F-8 Cougar at the time. The other aircraft that I recall, in an attractive U.S. Navy white and orange paint scheme, was the navy equivalent of the Beech Expeditor, a Beech SNB-5.

My father specialized in photos of Canadian-registered aircraft and I have attached some of the Banshees. (A good colour photograph of the overall scene, credited to John Searle, appears in both Carl Mills’ book, Banshees in the Royal Canadian Navy, and in A Tradition of Excellence: Canada’s Airshow Team Heritage, by Daniel V. Dempsey.)
As described in these excellent books, it was the first visit to the CIAS by the VF 870 Banshees. Eight Banshees participated, supported by an Expeditor. After the air show, the team flew to St. Louis for a three-day visit to the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation plant, where they saw the assembly lines for the new F3H Demon for the U.S. Navy and the F-101 Voodoo for the U.S.A.F.


McDonnell F2H-3 Banshee, RCN 126102, Malton 8 Sept., 1956. (Jack McNulty)

The VF 870 team performed for the last time in October, 1956 for “Navy Day” celebrations in Quebec City, but a new, more formal Banshee aerobatic team --- the Grey Ghosts --- was soon established. The Grey Ghosts began air show displays in 1958 and flew until 1960.


F2H-3 Banshee, RCN 126313, at Malton Sept. 8, 1956 (Jack McNulty)


RCN Banshee 126429 at Rivers, Manitoba. VF 870 Banshees deployed to Rivers in the spring of 1957 for live weapons firing. (Jack McNulty Collection)


The Royal Air Force Red Arrows completed flypasts over Victoria and Vancouver on Sept. 26 before moving to California to complete their largest-ever tour of North America this year. As we don’t often have an opportunity to see this remarkable team in Canada, I have a few more photos of the Arrows that I took at the CIAS over the Toronto waterfront at the CNE on Aug. 31.


BAE Systems Hawk T1 jets flown by the Red Arrows at CIAS, Aug. 31, 2019.


The Red Arrows split up in a dynamic manoeuve during the CIAS Aug. 31, 2019.


 A flypast by five Red Arrows at the CIAS exemplifies synchronised, formation aerobatics.


The nine-jet Red Arrows team at the Canadian International Air Show Aug. 31, 2019.


The Snowbirds and their trademark nine-team formation concluded the 2019 CIAS.