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London’s ‘Skydrive’ Air Show
safely thrilled aviation fans

By Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President
Photos courtesy of Gus Corujo, www.gusair.com

Sept12 33 545

An RCAF CC-150 Polaris, escorted by two CF-18s from Bagotville, opened the London air show.

Canada’s first socially distanced, drive-in air show at London, Ontario, more than lived up to expectations.

‘Skydrive’ London was conducted safely with sellout crowds on Sept. 12-13. The event showed that it’s possible to overcome the restrictions of COVID-19 with innovative planning, logistics and exceptional community support.

Organizers weren’t sure if an event of such magnitude could be done amid the pandemic. However, they used the expansive space of London International Airport to produce a show that was a remarkable success --- especially considering it was the first socially responsible air display of this kind.

To ensure safety, about 2,500 six-by 7.5-metre parking spaces were created in three different zones at the airport. People enjoyed watching the action from their vehicles and lawn chairs. Many more sanitation areas and protocols were implemented. The feedback has been really positive.

Airshow London chairperson Jim Graham felt that organizers were not only making history with the drive-in format, but bringing the community together and honouring front-line workers battling COVID-19.

London has traditionally had an outstanding air show. This year’s edition once again provided what Airshow London chairperson Jim Graham described as “signature aviation entertainment.”

Organizers were rewarded with good weather for the show. It opened with an RCAF CC-150 Polaris from 8 Wing escorted by two CF-18s from Bagotville. The CF-18s flew a flypast in tribute to Captain Jenn Casey, the Snowbirds fondly remembered Public Affairs Officer.

The wide-ranging program featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, who staged from Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan, 140 kilometres from London.

Always known for impressive U.S. military participation, London showcased an unprecedented lineup this year. Four USAF demonstration teams, F-35 Lightning II; F-22 Raptor; A-10C Thunderbolt II; and C-17 Globemaster III were among the many highlights.

A touch of nostalgia was provided by a B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. In an incredible testament to its longevity, the B-52 is projected to remain in service at Barksdale until 2050.

As Graham noted, the show involved a cast of thousands and hundreds of hours and generous support to produce, and to produce quickly. The board of directors, staff, volunteers and partners deserve full marks and hearty thanks for a successful air show that was definitely an uplifting event in more ways than one.

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The CF-18s flew a flypast during the show to honour the memory of Capt. Jenn Casey of the Snowbirds.

 

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The USAF Thunderbirds at the London air show, arriving from Selfridge ANG Base in Michigan.

 

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Photographer Gus Corujo captures the Thunderbirds in action at London

 

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The Thunderbirds made their own only appearance in Canada this year at London

 

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Four Thunderbirds' F-16 Fighting Falcons in tight formation impressed the fans at London