This weekend, the skies southeast of London have been abuzz with the sounds and sights of aviation’s newest and greatest machines, thanks to the biannual Farnborough airshow. I dream to someday attend this fabled spectacle, since it is home to extensive static displays and impressive flying ones. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening this year, and I am forced to follow news of Farnborough 2014 from afar. This airshow does, however, remind me of a fantastic aviation experience I had last summer at the 2013 Hamilton airshow.
Hamilton, Ontario is home to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, which houses a collection of many former military aircraft and which also does much restoration work. Notably, the Museum possesses one of the world’s two flying Lancaster bombers. Last year, Hamilton held a full airshow, and I was fortunate enough to attend.
Airshow day- despite being in mid-June- was very overcast, breezy, and chilly. Rain was a constant worry; I was wearing an unseasonal coat and jeans; and the flying took awhile to get underway because the cloud layer was exceptionally low and would have obscured the aircraft’s demonstrations. But that meant we had several hours to peruse the static displays first, which were not disappointing.
An F-86 Sabre of the RCAF. A Sabre set an official world speed record of 670 miles per hour in 1948
A typically dull-coloured RCAF CT-133 Silver Star; a Canadian-built licensed version of the T-33 Shooting Star
A very fetching tiger-stripe paint job adorns this RCAF CF-104 Starfighter
An F-5 Freedom Fighter; also known as a MiG, according to Paramount Pictures…
Close-up view of the F-5’s hardpoints, one of which holds a drop tank for extra fuel
The ever-distinctive de Havilland Vampire
The imposing props of a C-130 Hercules
An F-18 Hornet, the staple of the modern-day RCAF
The tarmac where the flying aircraft were sitting was visible from the static display area, which added to my anticipation of what was to come. Several incredible WWII-era aircraft (many of which are quite unusual and rare) were to be flying later on, and it was a true privilege to even see them on the ground.
A German Me-262 sits beside an American DC-3 troop transport
This view could be straight out of 1944- it features a Westland Lysander, Avro Lancaster, and B-25 Mitchell
Although the skies were still distressingly grey and misty, we took up a prime position alongside a taxiway of sorts in preparation for the real show to begin. I was massively excited, as I always am around airplanes. Static displays are wonderful, since they allow one to see aircraft up close- but there’s nothing better than seeing an aircraft up in the air where it’s meant to be, and hearing its engine screaming or droning above. Moreover, Hamilton always puts on a great airshow, but this one was something truly memorable, as the upcoming second part of this post will attest!