“Heroes of the Air” at Abbotsford next weekend” – By Ray Hudson

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New Art Image for the show enhances the “Heroes of the Air” theme for 2016.

54th Annual Abbotsford International Airshow

New Art Image for the show enhances the “Heroes of the Air” theme for 2016.
New Art Image for the show enhances the “Heroes of the Air” theme for 2016.

As the calendar counts the days until the Abbotsford International Airshow kicks off on Friday August 12, residents of the central Fraser Valley will be increasingly treated to the noisy but exciting pre-show rehearsals from the airshow performers as they prepare for show weekend.

Designated as Canada’s National Airshow, by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, no less, this year will be the 54th year that aerobatic performers, aircraft manufacturers, and military squadrons from all around the world will strut their stuff in the air over YXX, the Abbotsford International Airport. Around 125 thousand people will come out to watch the planes, they’ll climb over and under the display aircraft, and enjoy the various entertainment feature. Food and merchandise vendors will provide a variety of foods to the visitors.

Jadene Mah, Media and Marketing Director at the Abbotsford International Air Show, said that anticipation for an outstanding show, for attendance and weather cooperation are running high.

“Weather plays a big part in the success of the show,” Mah said, “and our definition of ideal weather is clear skies for maximum visibility, with temperatures, not too hot and not too cold, in the low to mid twenties and the best flying conditions possible.”

Asked how the airshow committee plans each year’s show so that it isn’t the same every year, she replied that it revolves around new and fresh themes and ways of presenting them.

“The dramatic difference in our theme presentation this year is reflected in our poster and multi-media artwork, which is the Action Comics style used to illustrate the promotional material Heroes of the Skies,” said Mah. “We’re attracting a wide variety of audiences with that theme, to showcase the everyday men and women who make the world a better place. Of course that includes our performers, civilian and military men and women. But the hero metaphor is wide-reaching. There are so many unsung heroes in our communities. Volunteers are everywhere and they all inspire us. We want to celebrate that,” she said.

The show is conducted each year with only two full time paid staff, bolstered by a couple of paid part-time staff and a few summer students who work in the office and bring a whole breath of fresh air and energy every year. On the field and around the show, the bulk of the work is carried out by over three hundred volunteers.

“What people will see on and over the field are a combination of civilian and military aircraft,” said Mah. “It’s not every day that we have the experience of watching the aerobatics of Jack Link’s Screaming Sasquatch Jet Wako (rhymes with taco). This is an amazing airplane. It’s a vintage aerobatic biplane powered by a rotary engine and a jet engine. It’s amazing to watch.
We are always proud to work with the Canadian Forces who are our heroes in the skies in Canada, the Snowbirds, the Skyhawks and the CF 18 Hornet demonstration will be here.  Also, back for the second year in a row is the Breitling Jet Team from Europe.  This will be a huge draw because they’re touring in North America for just two years, and Abbotsford, and the Toronto Air Show, are the only two Canadian stops on their tour. We will also see the Boeing Super Hornet fighter with a full load of weapons, so bring your phone and take a selfie with the pilots in the autograph tent.”

Aero India 2007 Air show and VIP Flights, F/A-18F Super Hornet MSF07-1693-### 2/4/2007
Aero India 2007 Air show and VIP Flights, F/A-18F Super Hornet MSF07-1693-### 2/4/2007

Mah said that among the aircraft for display, people will be able to see a couple of C17 Globemasters, some F15’s, some F18s, and two Super Hornet fighters. There will also be an A10 Thunderbolt (Warthog), the massive MD KC-10 Extender Air Tanker, a Canadian Forces C-130 Hercules and aircraft that are best described as Antique, Classic, Certified Aerobatic, Float, Homebuilt and Ultralight.

The food offerings include gourmet Mac & Cheese, BBQ and other delights. There will be Beer Gardens and Front-Line 19+ Flight Club (offering Craft Beer and BC Wines), Novelties and Ice Cream, Souvenir and Gift Kiosks.

Shuttles will provide free transportation between areas onsite and the parking lots and campground. The airshow also boasts fully plumbed washrooms throughout the show site and there will be first aid assistance available through the volunteers of St John Ambulance.

“Be sun smart and cover up.Bring hats, sunscreen, water, cash, camera, and that should provide for a great day,” said Mah, who also emphasized that everyone should buy their tickets on line, and once purchased the website will show a facilities layout map to help you get into the grounds faster.

“Bring the kids out, there’s lots of things for them to see and do as well,” Mah said, “but leave the pets at home.”

Impact on the City and surrounding areas

Alan Asaph, the Executive Director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce and Board Chair of Tourism Abbotsford underscored the positive impact of the airshow on the economy of Abbotsford.

“The Abbotsford International Airshow is a world-class event that’s hosted in Abbotsford and has put the city on the map for a considerable period of time,” said Asaph.

“The attendees at the event will occupy over 240 hotel rooms and 80 cars,” said Jadene Mah, “not to mention the restaurants and other services accessed by visitors.”

“It has a profound impact on the local business community in that it not only generates tourism dollars,” said Asaph, “but it supports a fairly strong business component as well. In conjunction with the Air Show, the Aerospace and Defense Expo Trade Show brings participants from all around the world. This is a great opportunity to showcase local business.”

“We’re already talking about the 2017 show, which will be its 55th year, and will occur in the 150th year of the Confederation of Canada,” said Mah. “In addition to the 2017 Aerospace & Defense Expo, the Canadian Business Aviation Association will hold its convention immediately prior to the 2017 air show. This is expected to draw an additional 650 delegates to Abbotsford during Air Show week, and sets the stage for a big public weekend show in the caliber of the Farnborough and Paris Air Shows.”

For more information, go to www.abbotsfordairshow.com on the web, or on Facebook.