British Columbia

Supersonic sketches capture the art of flying a CF-18

A Vancouver artist says he became the first person to make art while flying at supersonic speeds, when he was allowed to take 90 minute flight in a CF-18 fighter jet.

Vancouver artist Michael Markowsky drew 100 sketches while flying in a RCAF CF-18

A Vancouver artist says he became the first person to make art while flying at supersonic speeds when he was allowed to fly on board a CF-18 fighter jet.

Michael Markowsky got the chance as part of  the Canadian Forces' Artist Program, which supports Canadian artists who wish to contribute to the history of the Canadian Forces.

"My goal is to convey the experience of travelling at the speed of sound, so that all Canadians can share in my experience," he told CBC News in an email.

While he was up in the clouds in Canada's most sophisticated front-line combat aircraft, a RCAF CF-18 Hornet fighter jet plane, Markowsky managed to sketch 100 drawings of the 90-minute flight.

Markowsky said the drawings will inform his creation of a 21-metre long mural and a life-size wooden sculpture based on a CF-18 that is intended to be something that can be climbed on and in.

Childhood dream comes true

Flying in a fighter jet is something Markowsky says he's wanted to do since he was a kid going to air shows. 

"I was finally able to achieve my dream," Markowsky said in an interview with CBC Radio's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

Michael Markowsky is seen sketching while in-flight in a CF-18 Hornet fighter jet. The drawings will inform a mural and life-size sculpture he will be creating, and footage from the experience is to become part of a short film about the project. (Michael Markowsky/YouTube)

But getting the permission for July's 90-minute flight did not happen overnight. Markowsky worked on his proposal with the Canadian Armed Forces for five years, and underwent six months of extensive training before he even got on base.

"It's probably the first time an artist has had to physically train!"

Flying with a qualified military pilot from the armed forces, Markowsky says he was able to take control of the plane at times, proudly noting he was able to do a "loop-de-loop."

He says people in the forces were initially skeptical of his plan, but they appreciated the art afterwards.

As part of an accompanying documentary project, the experience was recorded as digital video and a teaser trailer with some of the footage has been posted to YouTube.


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