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ISSUE 178 - July 2011
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Hamilton Airshow 2011 - The Return - Part I

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer
Roslin, Ontario, Canada

The CWH Avro Lancaster Mk X, one of only two flying Lancasters in the world.

For years the Hamilton International Airshow at Mount Hope, Ontario was a given. Everyone who loved and/or flew airplanes anticipated the weekend that Canadian Warplane Heritage and the city of Hamilton hosted their airshow. It was the place to be to see, and hear, warbirds. Ten years ago the shows stopped and Southern Ontario lost a great airshow.

One of the most beautiful sounds in the world of aviation with its four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, the CWH Avro Lancaster, left. The ever-popular Canadian Warplane Heritage aircraft, the Canso, right.

Earlier this year a decision was made to have a 2011 airshow. With mere months to plan, organize, prepare and have an airshow it would prove to be a tough go to ensure they secured aircraft from other museums, along with the CWH aircraft, to participate in the event. The biggest reason for the 2011 airshow was a precursor to the 2012 airshow and the 40th anniversary of Canadian Warplane Heritage. The 2012 show is going to be a big one so better to get the growing pains over with in 2011. The date was set and the preparations began.

Two visiting B-17 bombers, B-17G "Chuckie" from the Military Aviation Museum (foreground, nose section) and B-17 "Memphis Belle," background, from the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group, left. Line up of three of Vintage Wings of Canada aircraft, left to right, the P-40, Mustang and Corsair, right.

So, the 2011 airshow became a reality and on the first day, early Saturday morning, they offered opportunity for both media and photo pass holders to get into the CWH museum and ramp early to photograph some of the aircraft without any, or too many, people around them. As the sun rose, lighting up the day, airplanes were moved around and lined up, with ground crews and flight crews stopping to chat about and prepare their aircraft for the days flying.

The CWH Lysander, one of only two flying in Canada, left.
The CWH Dakota touches down, right.

The usual Canadian Warplane Heritage attractions garnered much attention including the Consolidated PBY-5A Canso, North American B-25J Mitchell, the Westland Lysander Mk III and, of course, the Avro Lancaster Mk X. Many people took advantage of the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with these superb, vintage aircraft with a visit inside the Lanc and the Dakota.

The 1941 Historical Aircraft Group B-17, "Memphis Belle," left.
The Military Aviation Museum's B-17G, "Chuckie," right.

There were some fabulous visiting aircraft that garnered a lot of attention as well as they are airplanes not often seen in airshow skies or on flight lines in Canada. Two "heavies" that fit the bill were two B-17's, one from 1941 Historical Aircraft Group, "Memphis Belle," and the other from the Military Aviation Museum, "Chuckie." Seeing and hearing these two big World War II bombers rumble down the runway and into the air was an opportunity appreciated by airshow goers, young and old alike.

From the Commemorative Air Force, West Texas Wing, the only flying example of the Helldiver takes to the air, left, and in a nice top-view pass, right.

A wonderful sight at the show was the only flying example of the Curtiss-Wright Helldiver SB2C from the Commemorative Air Force, West Texas Wing. This magnificent aircraft, known affectionately as the "big-tailed beast," was fully restored in the late 1980s after it was badly damaged in an emergency landing. Despite opinions that it would never fly again, she does so today and is proof that time, money, very dedicated volunteers and determination can do just about anything.

Taking to the air, the Military Aviation Museum's FM-2 Wildcat, left,
and their AD-4 Skyraider, right.

Also on hand was a beautiful example of a General Motors FM-2 Wildcat, the big Douglas AD-4 Skyraider and, always a favourite, five of Vintages Wings of Canada's aircraft including the Supermarine Spitfire Mk XVI, Hawker Hurricane Mk IV, North American P-51D Mustang, Goodyear FG-1D Corsair and the ever-popular Curtiss P-40N Warhawk. These beautiful single engine World War II fighter aircraft make the heart pound as they cut across the sky in a nice, tight formation.

The S.E.5a and 1 1/2 Strutter in the sights of the Triplane, left.
The Sopwith 1 1/2 strutter, right.

The Great War Flying Museum out of Brampton, Ontario brought three of their wonderful World War I aircraft, the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a, Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, and the venerable Fokker DR.I Triplane. Dropping the speed of the show down with their aerial dogfight in the skies over Mount Hope airport with the crowd cheering to the defeat of the "Red Baron" as smoke streamed from the engine of the Triplane.

A rare sight in the skies, 9 Harvards (4 from CHAA, 3 from CHAT and 2 from CWH) in a nice formation pass, left. The CHAT Harvards, smoke on, during their aerobatic display, right.

Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association (CHAA), seen at airshows across Southern Ontario and at airshows such as Geneseo, NY was there with 7 aircraft in attendance, three of which perform as the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team (CHAT) with Dave "Flyboy" Hewitt, Pete Spence and Kent Beckham at the controls of these beautiful, 70+ year old Harvards, better known in the US as T-6 Texans.

Beautiful aerobatic display by Bill Carter in his Pitts Special S2S, left.
Bill waves to the crowd as he taxies past after his aerobatic routine, right.

Performing a solo aerobatic performance was Canadian aerobatic pilot Bill Carter in his beautiful Pitts Special S2S. This little aircraft, which can reach speeds in excess of 200mph and is fully aerobatic, cut through the hazy sky thrilling young and old alike. Carter's final pass was the slicing of a ribbon while not 20 feet off the ground, inverted!

The Nanchang, with Daniel Fortin at the controls, performing aerobatics
coming out of the bottom of a loop, left, and a nice pass, right.

Also performing aerobatics in a bright red Nanchang CJ-6A was commercial and former Canadian Air Force pilot Daniel Fortin. A onetime training aircraft of the Chinese Air Force, the Nanchang was purchased by Daniel's friend, Michel Côté, in 1996 but is usually flown in shows by Fortin. The Nanchang, known for the "Red Dragon" it sports on the nose of the airplane, is tossed about the sky by Fortin performing barrel rolls, loops and assorted other aerobatics during shows.

Next week we'll complete the visit to the 2011 Hamilton Airshow and will look at what the 2012 Hamilton Airshow could include in its line-up of aircraft!

By Kevin Moore, Contributing Editor & Photographer

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