Super Dave has taken to the skies over Chilliwack for practice this spring. He's gearing up for a big season of air shows in 2013.

Choreographing a ‘dance in the sky’ over Chilliwack

The recent flights are because Super Dave has to practise his aerobatic manoeuvres on a regular basis for safety reasons

The roar of Super Dave’s plane is being heard over Chilliwack  — even though the local Flight Fest isn’t until August.

The recent flights are because pilot Dave ‘Super Dave’ Mathieson has to practise on a regular basis for safety reasons, says Ray Firkus of the Chilliwack Flight Fest Society.

Super Dave made Chilliwack his official training town a couple of years ago, so he’s been preparing aerobatic manoeuvres in his two-seater plane for 15 minutes at a time.

Mathieson is gearing up for a big summer season of air shows across the country, such as the free Flight Fest in Chilliwack.

Both City of Chilliwack and Chilliwack Airport officials have fielded a few noise complaints from residents since the twice-daily flights started. But the city has no jurisdiction over the federally issued flight permits.

“Some are finding it noisy and inconvenient, but he’s only up there 15 minutes at a time, and it’s not every day.”

It’s crucial for it to happen.

“All performers have to practise to get their cues just right,” said Firkus. “It’s a dance in the sky that they are choreographing.”

For Super Dave, it’s all about split-second timing, and calculations as he flips and rolls the plane during the practice runs without any audience below him. High performance pilots have to get their “G tolerance” built up every year.

“It’s done in the interest of safety,” Firkus said, who takes on the role of Air Boss during the Chilliwack Flight Fest every year.

Mathieson flies one of the most advanced aerobatic aircraft of its kind, an MX2. It’s designed for plus-or-minus 16Gs, and has a roll rate of 500 degrees per second, powered by a 380-horsepower motor. That gives the stunt plane a top speed of 300 miles per hour.

All of Super Dave’s special flight operating certificates from Transportation Canada and insurance papers are in perfect order, say officials, but a handful of calls have come in anyway.

The pilot needs a special permit when doing flips and rolls below 2000 feet, heading toward the ground, like those required to make his ‘Smiley Face’ move. He also has to obtain permission from the land owner, which is the Chilliwack Airport.

The fact the Super Dave Air Shows brought its entire business operation and plane to Chilliwack is a boon to the airport and local businesses, said Firkus, who is also president of the Northwest Council of Air Shows

“Since he bought this airplane, this has been his home base in B.C. He’s bringing money into this community. This is something we want to encourage.”

Firkus runs an aircraft business at the airport, which conducts the maintenance on the air show plane.

“When the farmers spread manure around the airport, I don’t like it either, but I really enjoy farm fresh food, and Chilliwack really enjoys its air show.”

The pilot has been trying to conduct his practice runs both safely and “respectfully,” said Firkus.

So many kids like to get autographs from Super Dave.

“Super Dave is all about the kids. Come down after you hear him fly and have the kids meet him.”

The MX2 just received a brand new “wrap” from a sponsor and a new shade of orangey-yellow.

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