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Hornet heavenEast Coast EXPO

Adrian Lang was in Halifax, Canada to cover the Nova Scotia International Air Show on 11/12 September 2004. All photos by the author.

The maritime weather in Halifax, Nova Scotia, turned out to be exactly what you would expect from the east coast - foggy, clear, cloudy and rainy. Mind you, this was all in a span of 48 hours… Apart from the climate, Halifax played host, once again, to a first-class airshow and both civilian and military trade exhibition.

Due to the Atlantic Aerospace and Defense Security Exhibition, as well as the Civilian Aerospace Exhibition, the Nova Scotia International Air Show had quite a bit of international participation in both its static and flying displays. Italy and Spain both sent their candidates for the possible replacement of Canada's aging fleet of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft - both the Casa C-295 and the Alenia C-27J Spartan performed incredible aerial demos and impressed the huge crowds of military dignitaries and airshow fans alike. The Sikorsky S-92 helicopter also made its Canadian debut, as it is to replace the ever-so-aging fleet of Sea Kings.

Halifax static society
F-14B Tomcat
EA-6B Prowler
Luftwaffe Tornado
Halifax flying society
Blue Angels' C-130
Blue Angels
Blue Angels solo
Sea King
USAF Heritage Flight

First of all, the arrivals day at Halifax International Airport on Thursday was horrible. The maritime fog and occasional rain created chaos at the airport as airplanes, not only for the airshow, were diverted due to Pea-souperalmost zero-zero visibility. This weather continued until Friday night, which really put a damper on things, as the 'Twilight Teaser', a pre-curser to the weekend's events, was called off due to the low ceilings and poor viz. The weather all but cleared up for the Saturday and Sunday, so even with very gusty winds we were in for a great weekend with awesome flying.

The static display was quite tight, as the area for aircraft was rather small for the amount that was on hand. Nonetheless, it boasted a variety of aircraft from all the forces in the United States and Canada. The US ANG sent F-16s from North Dakota and Maryland, three US Navy F-14 Tomcats from VF-11, Seymour-Johnson Strike Eagles, a C-5 Galaxy and a few KC-135s from various air wings. Canada was well represented, as a model of every aircraft in its inventory was present. Many other aircraft were on display, making the static park a joy to walk through and photograph. The presence of two German Air Force Tornados was much appreciated to those who haven't seen one in a long time.

To start the weekend off, a Canadian Buffalo took off, carrying the Army's Parachute Team, the 'Skyhawks', who opened the show to the national anthem and cheers of the audience as each jumper touched down. As they finished gathering their gear, the six Hornets of the United States Navy Demonstration Team the 'Blue Angels' took their mark at the end of the runway. To open up the display, the Blues' C-130 transport, named 'Fat Albert', took off at the opposite end and made several passes to jeer the crowd on. After landing, the smoke and burners were turned on and the rumble of four F/A-18s was heard as they took off simultaneously. Due to the strong winds, the traditional diamond formation was not performed, however. The solos then performed their incredible take-offs, number 5 in its dirty roll and then number 6 in the hard 'G' pull-up. Their dazzling display of formation and solo passes was a great sight for all who watched.

Tankers at restNext was the Canadian Forces CP-140 Aurora, making several passes before returning to its nearby base at CFB Greenwood. The Spanish Casa C-295 then put on a great show, with its very short take-off roll and incredible maneuverability. The Italians then put the Alenia C-27J Spartan through its paces, as the pilots performed hammerheads and a barrel roll to an amazed audience. It will be tough to decide which will be seen as Canada's next military cargo plane! The boys from Charleston AFB next demonstrated the awesome abilities of the C-17 Globemaster III. It is always a joy to watch this display with its sheer size and power! Captain 'Super Dave' Pletz was next, demonstrating the CF-188 Hornet, with its specially marked tail. Helicopters followed as both the old and the new generations were displayed - first off, the Canadian Sea King flew in from its nearby base at CFB Shearwater after which Canada's newest, the Sikorsky S-92, flew an impressive display, showing us why we really need to update our military fleet.

On the civilian side, Matt Chapman launched into his aerobatic act, twisting and turning his incredibly colorful Mudry CAP 231EX. Continuing back to the military acts, we caught a glimpse of the past, as Ed Shipley took to the sky to perform in the P-51 Mustang. As he exited, Major 'Hak' Hickman put the blowers on and took centre stage as the F-16C East Demo Team tore the skies apart in a thrilling demo. This was followed up with the merging of both the Viper and Mustang in the Heritage Flight - a wonderful photo op for all aviation photographers! To close out the show, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds flew a flawless demonstration with their red and white CT-114 Tutors, which, as old as they are, look pristine in the blue sky.

In conclusion, the Nova Scotia International Air Show was an incredible success. This was a truly unique event and a joy for all aviation enthusiasts, including many who came from Belgium, Holland and the UK.


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