London

Snowbirds to join London's drive-in airshow in August

Inspired by the success of last year’s drive-in airshow, organizers are planning a repeat performance this summer and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds will be among the aerobatic teams taking part in SkyDrive 2021.

The show will also include performances by the CF-18 demonstration team

(Photo courtesy of Simon Pont)

Inspired by the success of last year's drive-in airshow, organizers are planning a repeat performance this summer, and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds will be among the aerobatic teams taking part in SkyDrive 2021.

The event will be held from August 27 to 29 at the London International Airport.

"We're very excited to host the Snowbirds once again", said Jim Graham, Chair of Airshow London.

"We missed them last year, as well as the Canadian Forces F-18 demo, as they stood down, due, of course, to the pandemic."

The Snowbirds were grounded for several months in 2020 following two crashes in less than a year. Capt. Jennifer Casey, the team's public affairs officer, was killed shortly after takeoff from Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. She died while trying to eject, while the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, suffered severe injuries.

It will be a different Snowbirds show this year because of new restrictions imposed when the team was allowed back into the air in late August.

The restrictions include fewer low-level and low-speed manoeuvers, according to Col. Ron Walker, commander of the Snowbirds.

Canada's CF-18 demonstration team, along with the Snowbirds, will continue last year's Operation Inspiration with the goal of uniting Canadians throughout the  pandemic.

The show will also include performances by:

  • The United States Navy Blue Angles
  • The United States Air Force F16 Viper Demonstration
  • The C17 Globemaster Demonstration

A Friday night show has been added to this year's schedule. It will feature a special flyby from two United States Air Force B-1B Lancers.

"We call it the Hour of Power … It's really a neat way to see an air show as twilight hits…you get that late evening sun on the aircraft," said Graham.

Normally, the Friday evening show is reserved for volunteers and those in the media. "We'll be able to lift the curtain for the public this year," he said.

Airshow London says it expects to announce more performers leading up to the show.

Last year's airshow was a sell-out, attracting more than 2,000 vehicles a day with physical distancing and people watching from their vehicles or lawn chairs. This year's event will feature the same format with an added capacity of about 2,500 vehicles.

Graham said they decided to retain the drive-in format because there were too many unknowns as they started the planning process, and they knew they already had a winning formula.

"We also had tremendous response to being able to tailgate and watch the show versus the traditional festival-style show."

Tickets for the show must be purchased in advance and are sold per vehicle, with a maximum of six passengers.

More information can be found at airshowlondon.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Ennett

Morning News Editor

Gary Ennett is a veteran editor and reporter. He’s been with CBC since the opening of the London bureau in 1998. His email address is gary.ennett@cbc.ca

With files from Canadian Press

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