Photo stories by Ed Anderson

Abbotsford 2005
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Abbotsford International Airshow
August 12-14, 2005

By Ed Anderson

Flashback 2004:
Build a good show and the people will come. The 42nd edition of Canada's National Airshow drew top drawer performers, attractions, and thousands of enthusiastic visitors to the Abbotsford International Airport for this season's super show. August 13-15 saw close to typical old time Abby weather return for the airshow, to the delight of fans and performers alike. Gates were opened to the general public at 8 am and closed at 6 pm. Ten hours of ongoing activities and action entertainment, plus innumerable ground exhibits, displays, vendors, and aviation related attractions. Enough enjoyment for even the most avid of airshow fans. Light flying events began at 10 am with fly pasts of vintage bi-planes from a local museum. The official opening and anthems were conducted at the high noon hour followed by the main flying program which was closed at days end by the Canadian Forces "Snowbirds". See Photo Selection

Canadian and American military air arms were, as usual, well represented by a wide variety of fixed-wing and rotor-wing aircraft for public display. Host aircrews were also close at hand for questions and aviation chat. Neatly fitted in amongst the friendly military giants - C-5 Galaxy, KC 10 aerial tanker, and the like - on static row, were numerous types of general aviation aircraft, with others, including warbirds, parked on the taxiway perimeter. Lots of hardware for everyone to look at up close. Although the thunderous power, color and pizzazz of an American military jet display team wasn't on the schedule for this year, the "Snowbirds", Canada's Airshow Team, were much in evidence with their venerable smoke-equipped Canadair CT-114 Tutors.

Always the graceful and entertaining aerobatic formation routines. Hopefully the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron will continue for many more years as Canada's foremost goodwill Ambassadors. Jet thunder-power, however, was by no means absent. In this respect, energetic flying demonstrations were provided by: Captain David J. Pletz, 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, Bagotville, Quebec, in a CF-188 Hornet; Lt. Ted Steelman, piloting a USN F/A-18F Super Hornet, VA 122, NAS, Lemoore, CA; an A-10 Thunderbolt II (Warthog), from Davis-Montham AFB, AR, driven by Major Narc Brogan, gave airshow buffs all the noise gratification they could handle, plus more when the warbirds and civilian performers were added to the mix, especially Jim Franklin in his Jet Waco. An air superiority F-15 Eagle arrived late Saturday for a Sunday demo performance before joining the USAF Heritage Flight.

One of this year's distinguished visitors was a B-17G Flying Fortress "Sentimental Journey". Operated by the Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, this immaculate and historic heavy bomber of World War Two is on summer tour. Each year the C.A.F. 'Queen of the Skies' visits an average of 60 cities and towns as a patriotic and educational exhibit. Designed by the Boeing Aircraft Company, this four engine bomber was accepted by the Army Air Corps March 13, 1945, and served in the Pacific Theater of Operations until war's end. Subsequently, #83514 was reassigned to photo-mapping missions as RB-17G, and air-sea rescue service as DB-17G, after which it was then released by the military 27 January 1959. In civilian life the B-17 became N9323Z, then employed as a fire tanker for the next 18 years. Afterwards the C.A.F. acquired the bomber who undertook a full restoration program leading to it's current configuration and operational status. "Sentimental Journey" was also the lead ship in the daily 'Great Warbird Flight', that included a P-51D Mustang, "Val Halla" flown by Greg Anders, a Hawker Sea Fury with Ellsworth Getchell at the controls, and three Texan/Harvard trainer types, piloted by Bud Granley, Keith McMann and George Kirbyson. All six aircraft together, in close formation for several passes followed by individual fly pasts, held us all spellbound in the serenity of another time. Just a wonderful sight, married to the captivating sounds of powerful radial and inline engines of yesterday's warriors and defenders of freedom.

Back for another year as an individual performer and a participant at large was Ellsworth Getchell of San Jose', CA and the F.B.11 Hawker Sea Fury. "RAN WH587/105" powered by an 18 cylinder Bristol Centaurus 2480 hp radial engine, behind a large five-bladed propeller, the ex carrier-based fighter bomber, cleanly dressed in colors and markings of the Royal Australian Navy is, by itself, a striking sight that draws more than just a passing glance. But airborne, and in the hands of it's gifted master, plane and man have it all together in exceptional displays of raw piston power and graceful flying epitomizing perhaps, the essence of powered flight.

The Granley Air Force evermore a presence in the Pacific Northwest, certainly were no less at Abbotsford. An SNJ masquerading as a Harvard in Golden Hawk colors, a Yak 55M, a Yak 18T and a Fouga Magister were all part of the airshow makeup including, of course, pilots extraordinaire Bud and Ross Granley and the clan.

Also impressing the crowds, a CH-149 "Cormorant" and crew demonstrating the diversity and capabilities of this new Search and Rescue Helicopter, based at CFB/19 Wing Comox, Vancouver Island.

Most shows have but a single Heritage Flight, but Abbotsford had three. The USAF flypast involved a P-51D Mustang , and an A-10 Thunderbolt II of the Idaho ANG. An F-15 Eagle from Tyndall AFB, FL, joined the Flight for the Sunday review. An F/A-18F Super Hornet from NAS Lemoore, CA and the F.B.11 Sea Fury, made up the US Navy Legacy Flight. A Canadian Air Force Heritage Flight rounded out the group having a CF-188 Hornet, wearing 80th birthday commemorative tail markings, pair up with the 'Golden Hawk Harvard'.

Other featured performers included: Kent Pietsch, another amazing aviator in his Interstate Cadet; sailplane maestro Manfred Radius and partner, the H-101 Salto; countless award winner and a crowd favorite Julie Clark, flying her Mopar sponsored Beechcraft T-34 Mentor; Jimmy Franklin aerobatic superstar put on an exceptional show of his own in the 1940 Waco, let alone the performance with his son Kyle as Wing Walker on the World's only known Jet-Powered Bi-Plane. Last but not least, Jim LeRoy and his "In Your Face" spectacular aerobatics with his "Bulldog", a 400 hp highly modified Curtiss Pitts S2S, that simply leaves you aghast and wanting more. And more is what we got!! - the two award winning dynamos, Franklin and LeRoy-X Team (Masters of Disaster), in a game of unbelievable dueling aerobatics, front and center for twelve incredible minutes, nonstop. The wily veteran Jimmy Franklin showcased his unique Waco, driven by 4,500 lbs of thrust from in excess of 2,000 hp, generated by a 450 radial and a J-85 jet power-pack slung under the forward fuselage. The punch is phenomenal. But, no shadows on the more recent tiger of the sky, Jim LeRoy, who in the "Bulldog" is likewise an extraordinary master of aerobatics. No audience anywhere, could have been better entertained. Certainly in my mind, the action highlight of the show. In fact, I was so engrossed I couldn't even lift the camera, realizing that only quality video with sound could pay proper tribute to their performance. Wow!!

Story and Photos

By Ed Anderson