Chilliwack air show ready to soar again

Look to the skies this weekend for aerial ballets, historic planes and roaring engines

The 25th Annual Chilliwack Airshow is at the Chilliwack airport this Sunday. Admission is free but parking is extremely limited. A shuttle will be running between the old UFV site on Yale and the airport every 15 minutes.

The 25th Annual Chilliwack Airshow is at the Chilliwack airport this Sunday. Admission is free but parking is extremely limited. A shuttle will be running between the old UFV site on Yale and the airport every 15 minutes.

Aerial ballets, historic military planes and roaring engines will have Chilliwack looking to the skies this weekend, as the 25th Annual Chilliwack Airshow takes over the Chilliwack airport.

This is one of the only free airshows in North America, and organizers believe it’s the longest running of its kind.

The show includes three separate events this year, from a meet and greet with the performers on Friday night, to the popular Hangar Dance on Saturday night, and finally, the show throughout the day on Sunday on the tarmac.

The Chilliwack Flight Fest Society is hosting the meet and greet on Aug. 19, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Coast Hotel. The public is welcome to attend this VIP event, and meet the performers.

This year’s Dinner and Hangar Dance should be as exciting as ever, with live entertainment by The Afterburners. It’s a great time to take in the Twilight Airshow and enjoy dinner and dancing in the Firkus Hangar right at the airport. Tickets are $40 per person at Save-On-Foods downtown, Firkus Aircraft and the Magnum Management office.

Sunday morning is when the real fun begins. The Mt. Cheam Lions are hosting the annual pancake breakfast, served from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The gates open at 10 a.m. for a chance to check out the static, on the ground displays.

At 11 a.m., the VIP tent, beer gardens, and kids area are all open. (Correction: The RC Flyers group will not be performing this year.)

The airshow itself runs from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and is jam-packed with jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring performances.

Aviation fans will want to get a look at the Corsair F4U-7, from the Erickson Air Collection in Madras, OR.

This carrier-based war plane saw combat in the Indo-China War in 1953-54, the Suez Canal War in 1956 and later in the Algerian War. It is one of the rarest of its kind, and was reconstructed in the 1970s. It had extensive damage, including three bullet holes in the fuselage.

And of course, the Yak’s are back thanks to the Granley Family.

The Granleys are an airshow favourite and have a connection to flying that now spans at least three generations.

Brent Handy Aerobatics will also take the skies, with his high-performance solo aerobatic and formation show. Born in Wyevale, Ontario, Brent longed to fly from an early age, and he joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets as soon as he could. Later, he got his glider wings, and then his private pilot license. In 2007, Brent moved to Cold Lake, Alberta to train on the CF-18 Hornet and at the age of 27, he became a CF-18 fighter pilot with 409 Squadron. He was invited to join 431 Air Demonstration Squadron – the Snowbirds, Brent flew the Opposing & Lead Solo positions, logging more than 150 performances during his two years with the famous nine-plane jet team. He entertained crowds across North America until the end of the 2013 season, then stayed on with the team, flying as a standards pilot. Brent’s passion for aerobatics drove him to pursue sport aerobatics, and he purchased a beautiful, classic red and white Pitts S2-B in 2013.

Geoff Latter will also impress, with an aerial ballet demonstrating the grace of flying his Nanchang CJ-6A, nicknamed Nancy. Audiences of all ages enjoy the look and noise of this unique aircraft, as well as the graceful lines in the sky that are created by the smoke system.

Erickson Aircraft is also bringing a classic P-51 Mustang, one of the greatest success stories of military aviation. Originally designed for Great Britain, the North American fighter was adopted by the U.S. Army Air Force and upgraded with the powerful, reliable Rolls-Royce Merlin which powered the Supermarine Spitfire.

A first at the Chilliwack Airshow this year will be the Yellow Thunder Harvard Formation Team, the dual and solo aerobatic team of David and Drew Watson.

Of course no Chilliwack Airshow would be complete with John Mrazek and his Harvard Mark IV Pussycat II. With lots of noise, smoke, and skill, John’s aerobatic performance will bring the entire airshow crowd to a standstill. John is a well known aerobatic airshow performer with over 25 years experience flying the airshow circuit.

The crowds will be up and dancing when Will Allen takes over the show. This “rock and roll airshow man” puts on a show that is a combination aerial display and rock concert. Using state of the art broadcasting equipment, Will is able to sing and announce live from the airplane in a way never done before. Flying to his custom-written soundtrack, he sings and interacts with the crowd, giving the feel of a lead singer getting the crowd on their feet at a concert.

Peter Herzig will bring his T28 Trojan to the show. This White Rock pilot has been flying for 50 years starting at 15 years old on gliders and then completing his private license scholarship as well with the Air Cadet program. Peter over the years obtained his commercial license and developed a passion for aerobatic competition which saw him obtain his aerobatic instructor rating and go on to fly international competitions.

It is very rare that you see warbirds of this size presenting a formal aerobatic show routine.

The Canadian Museum of Flight is bringing some of the old aircraft for demo, from their home in Langley, and Ric Peterson will be on hand as Airshow Announcer.

Peterson is an award winning broadcast journalist. He’s announced at over 100 such events the past 26 years, and is also an honorary member of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds Jet Demonstration Team. He has written and narrated several television documentaries on aviation and is very active on the web allowing air show fans to follow his travels and get an insider’s view of these exciting events.

There are a few things to know before heading to the airshow.

Admission is free but parking is extremely limited. A shuttle will be running between the old UFV site on Yale and the airport every 15 minutes.

Donations are being accepted at the gate for the Chilliwack Flight Fest Society, and patrons are reminded to bring a blanket or chairs for comfort, as the viewing area is paved. Umbrellas are recommended, for protection from the sun or rain.

No pets, except service animals, are allowed on site.