CFB Borden’s most recent airshow was in 2012, and while I am impatiently awaiting the next one, I often reminisce about 2012’s amazing show. It was a perfect weekend for an airshow; with clear and sunny skies, and a gentle wind. And the show’s lineup was just as promising as the weather, with warbirds and modern planes alike set to perform!
We (my brother, father and I are all aviation enthusiasts) arrived at the show early, as a surprising number of other visitors did as well! As we queued for our tickets, some Canadian Forces parachutists made a jump overhead. I can’t remember what type of plane dropped them- it might have been a C-130 Hercules- but it was a very impressive and patriotic display, and the parachutists carried a giant Canadian flag with them on their jump.
The Canadian flag flying proudly
The show began with performances from two wonderful planes of the past in quick succession. First came an F-86 Sabre, the compact post-war jet fighter which was used by both Canada and the US during the Cold War period. It’s a good-looking plane, with swept wings and a rather pugnacious snubbed nose which accommodates the intake for its turbojet engine.
The Canadair Sabre was used only until 1962 by the RCAF, but it was used by other countries such as Pakistan up until 1980
Next came a Hawker Hurricane, which was used by the World War II-era RAF alongside its better-known counterpart, the Supermarine Spitfire. The Hurricane and Spitfire are very similar in age and appearance; but the Hurricane is about six months older and its fuselage looks slightly swollen and hunched compared to the Spitfire. Although I do prefer the Spitfire, it was neat to see another noteworthy RAF aircraft in the air.
Although not quite so graceful as the Spitfire, this Hurricane is an attractive aircraft
The Hurricane was also fearsome in its own right, claiming 60% of RAF air victories during the Battle of Britain
After the Hurricane had vacated the sky, a familiar sight around CFB Borden took its place. I live close to Borden, and I periodically see a CH-146 Griffon helicopter flying around the area. The Griffon’s performance at Borden was much more lively than its everyday flights- I was actually surprised by all the manoeuvres it was making!
The Griffon did lots of extremely low-level flight over the nearby runway, which was exciting!
I love helicopters, and even though I’ve never had a ride in one I hope to learn to fly one someday! After the Mi-24 Hind, the Griffon would be my chopper of choice!
The next performer really caught us off guard, along with most other people at the show! We were in a tent, waiting to look at some standard-issue Canadian Forces small arms, and then there was a dull, distant rumble audible in the sky. We wasted no time in rushing outside, and made it out just in time to see a very low CF-18 scream over the tent! It was an artful and awe-inspiring entrance; and as I started to laugh with delight, all the surrounding toddlers burst into tears from the noise. That’s quite an amusing memory for me!
A gear-down, upside-down pass is customary to the CF-18’s airshow routine. It really looks unnatural!
The CF-18 Hornet then went on to put on a fantastic display, with several other high-speed passes and many spiralling manoeuvres that showed its prowess in the air. Nothing compared to its entrance, however- it was deliberately unexpected and it was one of the best experiences ever!
The CF-18 is fast, manoeuvrable, and well-armed. It’s equipped with a 20 mm M61 Vulcan, which is a 6-barrel Gatling gun
I was sad to see the Hornet finally leave, but it was followed by the Harvards which remain one of my favourite airshow acts of all time. And I had a great view of them- the Borden airshow’s static displays are right alongside an old runway, over which the aircraft perform.
The Harvards are such nice, dependable planes with great aerobatic capabilities!
All of the performers at Borden in 2012 were amazing, and it was a fabulous day. I didn’t even mind that I got a sunburn which lasted for a month and a half!! I do hope that Borden will put on another airshow before long, because it always ends up being a special show.