Every September, Torontonians are enthralled by the sounds and sights of jet aircraft overhead during the Canadian International Air Show. Hamish Grant will be documenting some of the airborne events for Torontoist.
Not only is the Canadian International Air Show a spectacular demonstration of piloting skills, it’s also a lesson in aviation history. Many of the aircraft have been lovingly restored and refurbished, alluding to their heydays of technology, conflict, and design. Here, stunt planes and vintage fighters sit quietly at the City Centre (Billy Bishop?) Airport yesterday evening as they await this weekend’s showcase.
Most striking is the P-51 Mustang fighter, flown by the three-pilot Horsemen Aerobatic Team. The P-51 was designed and airborne in only about four months to serve the United States and Royal Air Force as a fighter-bomber, helping to establish air superiority over Germany in World War II (the aircraft also flew in a limited basis during the Pacific War and Korean War). The Horsemen, who employ a Grim Reaper insignia, are the only P-51 aerobatic team in the world.
The modified Lucas Oil Pitts S-1-11b SS is being flown by Michael Wiskus, who experiences plus-eight and minus-seven gs of acceleration while maneuvering—a stress not only on the human pilot, but on the airframe itself.
The Royal Canadian Air Cadets are showcasing their Schweizer SGS 2-33 glider this weekend, which is the one of the most common training gliders in Canada and the United States. The plane’s empty weight is only a mere 272 kilograms, with a wingspan of almost sixteen metres.
Pilot Rick Volker, a member of the Canadian Forces’s Heritage Flight team, will be showcasing his daredevil skills in the WWII Supermarine Spitfire MK IX. The famous Spitfire debuted in 1936, dominating the airspace during the Battle of Britain. Volker’s aircraft, which is owned by The Russell Group in Niagara Falls, was originally built in 1944 and restored to fly again after forty-four years in 2000.
Stunt pilot Mike Goulian was born into aviation, and was soloing in a Cessna 150 before he was able to drive a car. For the air show this weekend, he is flying his Extra 330 SC aerobatic plane, which has a steel tubing fuselage with a carbon fibre skin, built to withstand the extreme forces of snapping, rolling, and tumbling.
Matt Chapman is one of the highest-ranked aerobatic pilots in the United States. He is flying the Embry-Riddle Mudry CAP Eagle 580 stunt plane, which is only one of six flying today and which boasts a roll rate of four-hundred degrees per second.
All photos by Hamish Grant/Torontoist.