The History of the Abbotsford Airshow

The Abbotsford Airshow began in 1962 when the recently formed Abbotsford Flying Club decided an airshow would be an effective way to promote flying from Abbotsford Airport, which was inactive at the time. The Flying Club approached W.J. (Bud) Lloyd of the Abbotsford Rotary Club for their support. The Rotary Club put up the $700 to cover the budget of the show and the Flying Club provided the manpower.
Ryan STA
Mark Hoskins and his 1939 Ryan
STA at the 1962 Abbotsford Airshow

The first show attracted 15,000 people and was an unqualified success. Included in the flying demonstrations that first year were Mark Hoskins in his Ryan STA, a Fleet 2 - the oldest registered aircraft in Canada - flypast on floats and a demonstration by a RCAF twin rotor H-21 "Flying Banana", among others.

  Flying Banana
RCAF H-21 "Flying Banana" in 1962

The following years showed continuous growth and by 1965, the Abbotsford Airshow had become the largest airshow in Canada. Over these years many different aircraft and performers had been to Abbotsford including Jim Moss in his Great Lakes, Mitch Meany in the WACO, Bill Hines in his 240 mph homebuilt and a P-51 Mustang. Ground displays included, among others, F-106 Delta Darts, a CF-100 Canuck and the largest aircraft to come to Abbotsford at that time, the C-141 Starlifter
curtiss
Pete Bowers in the replica 1911 Curtiss Pusher at Abbotsford 64. Pete Bowers is best known for his design of the Fly Baby, one of which is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. (Jim Larsen photograph)

1967 marked Canada's Centennial and the Abbotsford Airshow was the only airshow officially recognized as a Centennial project. It was the first three day show and it was the first time Abbotsford was able to draw a military jet formation team. The Golden Centennaires flying eight CT-114 Tutors, the same aircraft to be later used by the Snowbirds, were joined by the US Navy Blue Angels flying F11A Tigers.
Vulcan bomber
The Vulcan bomber made its first appearance at Abbotsford in 1967 (Bill Johnson photograph)

The RCAF was very well represented at the 1967 show with a CF-101 Voodoo, CF-104 Starfighter, T-33 Red Knight, CF-5 Freedom Fighters, CH-113 Labrador and three CP-127 Neptunes all performing. The Royal Air Force also made their first appearance at the airshow bringing both the RAF Falcons parachute team and on static display, the Vulcan bomber. Highlighting the civilian component were Art Scholl in the Chipmunk, Mira Slovak in the Bucker Jungman and Chuck Lyford in the F8F Bearcat. Art Scholl would become a regular at the Abbotsford Airshow for many years.

neptune
Two Neptunes help celebrate Canada's Centennial at Abbotsford (Bill Johnson photograph)

The title "Abbotsford International Airshow" was officially adopted in 1968. Bob Hoover made his first visit to Abbotsford that year flying his P-51 Mustang, William Ross flew a Spitfire and Chuck Lyford returned to Abbotsford, this time in a P-38 Lightning. The RAF Vulcan made its first of many flying demonstrations at Abbotsford in 1968. The RCAF Red Knight was back but this time in a CT-114 Tutor. The Red Knight also joined up with the Vulcan for a rare formation flyby. Other notable performers included the RAF Falcons, Voodoos, CP-107 Argus, Skyway Avenger firefighting demo, Art Scholl and a wingwalking act with Bud Fountain and Terry Holm and their Stearman.

RAF Vulcan and CT 114
The RAF Vulcan and CT-114 Tutor "Red Knight" join up for a rare formation flyby at the 1968 Abbotsford Airshow (Bill Johnson photograph)

 

 

A Boeing 747 made its Canadian debut at the Abbotsford Airshow in 1969. Also making their first appearance at Abbotsford that year were the USAF Thunderbirds in their F-4 Phantoms. The Canadian Armed Forces were very well represented in the air in 1969 highlighted by four-ship demonstrations by both CF-101s and CF Art Scholl and Skip Volk -104s, a CP-107 Argus and a JATO assisted takeoff by a CC-130 Hercules. Other acts in 1969 included the Vulcan, Art Scholl and Skip Volk in duel Chipmunks, Bob Hoover in the Shrike Commander, Chuck Lyford and the P-38, Frank Geelan in the Harvard and the Skyway Avenger firefighting demo.


Art Scholl and Skip Volk perform at the 1969 airshow (Bill Johnson photograph)



Prior to the airshow in 1970, the Government of Canada gave the Abbotsford Airshow the official status of "Canada's National Airshow". The Blue Angels made their second appearance at Abbotsford in 1970, this time in F-4 Phantoms. New to the airshow in 1970 were the US Army Golden Knights parachute team and the twin Bearcat routine with Bill and Corkey Fornof. The RAF Vulcan was not at the show in 1970; a Short Belfast was on static as a replacement. The Canadian Armed Forces were well represented in the air with six CF-104s, four CF-101s and four CF-5s. Civilian performers included Art Scholl and Skip Volk, Frank Geelan in the Harvard, Bob Hoover flying the Shrike Commander and Miss America and a Conair Aviation Avenger fire fighting demo.

1970 AbbotsfordAirshow

View from the air at the 1970 Abbotsford Airshow. On the right is the civilian perfomer area where Bob Hoover's Shrike Commander and the Bearcats of Bill and Corkey Fornof can be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

1971 marked the debut of the Snowbirds jet demonstration team at Abbotsford. The Snowbirds have not missed an Abbotsford show since. Other new acts to Abbotsford in 1971 included the Goodyear Blimp and Joe Hughes in the Stearman with Johnny Kazian wingwalking.
Two jet teams were in Abbotsford in 1972, the Snowbirds and the Blue Angels. Newcomers in 1972 included Tora! Tora! Tora!, Bobby Bishop in the Bellanca and a Hawker Sea Fury flown by Ormond Hayden-Baillie. Among the old favourites were Joe Hughes and Johnny Kazian, Frank Geelan, Bob Hoover and after a one year absence, the Vulcan.


Conair Aviation Conair Aviation, from Abbotsford, BC, demonstrates the fire fighting capabilities of the DC-6 (sometime in the early 1960s)

Perhaps the most memorable event at the 1973 Abbotsford Airshow was the explosion of a CF-101 Voodoo during the four-ship Voodoo display. The aircraft had just completed a high speed pass and was climbing away from the airport when it exploded. Both crew members on board ejected and the remains of the aircraft landed in a vacant field. The Voodoo was part of a new official airshow demonstration team from Comox. New to Abbotsford in 1973 were Paul Bennett in an F-86 Sabre, a BD-5 (the world's smallest jet) and a Pitts Special formation team (Bill Cowan and Don Farion). Art Scholl, Bob Hoover and Joe Hughes, this time with Gordon McCollom walking the wing, were all back at Abbotsford in 1973. 


Vulcan bomber
The Royal Air Force Vulcan bomber was a common sight in the skies over Abbotsford from 1967 until 1983. (R. Van Tilborg photograph)

 

 

 

 

The Abbotsford International Airshow was paid a visit by King Hussein of Jordan in 1974. After his visit to Abbotsford, King Hussein approved the formation of an aerobatic team that would eventually be called the Royal Jordanian Falcons. The Falcons were formed in 1976 and performed in Abbotsford in 1977. The 1974 show featured, for the first time, the Canadian Armed Forces Skyhawks parachute team and a search and rescue demo by a CC-115 Buffalo. Also new to Abbotsford in 1974 was Joann Osterud flying clipped wing Cub aerobatics.
New at the 1975 airshow were a dogfight between the National Museum's Nieuport & Sopwith with a Fokker Triplane and Mark Sorrell flying the Hyperbipe, which he designed himself. Other highlights at the 1975 show were the Snowbirds, CF-101s, Vulcan, and P-51 Miss America flown by Howie Keefe.

King Hussein 1974
King Hussein of Jordan made a visit to the Abbotsford Airshow in 1974

 

 

 

The 1976 Abbotsford International Airshow celebrated the United States Bi-Centennial with both the US Navy Blue Angels, flying A-4 Skyhawks, and US Army Golden Knights joining the Snowbirds. The Abbotsford Airshow was officially recognized as a US Bi-Centennial event even though it took place in Canada. New to Abbotsford in 1976 was a JATO demo and bulldozer drop by a Canadian Armed Forces Hercules transport. The new Pitts Special team, formed by Bill Cowan and Rod Ellis, the Canadian Reds, was at Abbotsford in 1976. Other highlights included the Vulcan, CF-101s, CF-104s, Bob Hoover and Art Scholl.

CP 107 Argus
CP-107 Argus from Comox at the Abbotsford Airshow (Jim Larsen photograph)

CH 113 Labrador



CH-113 Labrador search and rescue demonstration at the 1977 Abbotsford Airshow (Robert Harrington photograph)

 

The Thunderbirds returned to Abbotsford in 1977 flying T-38 Talons. Making their debuts at Abbotsford were the Royal Jordanian Falcons and the "Happy Hookers", a US Army Reserve CH-47 Chinook team from Paine Field, Washington. The Canadian Armed Forces were well represented in the air in 1977 with the Snowbirds, CF-101s, CF-104s, CF-5s, Labrador, Buffalo, Hercules, Tracker and Argus all performing.

 

Goodyear Blimp The Goodyear blimp performs over a CF-101 Voodoo on static display in 1978

Headlining the 1978 show were the Snowbirds and the Blue Angels. The F-14 Tomcat made its debut in Abbotsford with one aircraft flying in the airshow and one aircraft on static display. Another first for the Abbotsford Airshow were flybys by the SR-71 Blackbird. The UK was well represented in Abbotsford with a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter and a Royal Air Force Nimrod joining the Vulcan in the flying display. That was the Nimrod's first visit to Abbotsford.

 

B 52
B-52 performs at Abbotsford for the first time in 1979 (Dick Smallenberg photograph)

The first CP-140 Aurora to enter service in the Canadian Armed Forces was delivered straight to the Abbotsford Airshow, landing in Canada for the first time on August 9, 1979. Another aircraft to debut in 1979 was the De Havilland Dash 7. Two examples were on hand, one on static and one flying in the airshow. A new act to Abbotsford was the two-ship BD-5 Acrojets flown by Corkey Fornof and Bob Bishop. Joann Osterud was back, this time flying the Stephens Akro. The Blackbird returned to Abbotsford in 1979, its second staight year at the airshow. It performed flybys on the Friday of the show. A B-52 flew at Abbotsford for the first time, and two F-15 Eagles were on static display at the airshow, their first time in Abbotsford.

CP 107 Argus
CP-107 Argus from Comox performs at the 1980 show. (Dick Smallenberg photograph

The 1980 Abbotsford International Airshow was very significant as it was the site of the first appearance in Canada of the new F/A-18 Hornet; Canada's new front line fighter. The Hornet that flew in the show in 1980 was the second production aircraft for the US Navy and came directly from the McDonnell Douglas factory. Another highlight in 1980 was the first aerial demonstration of the Harrier. Bud Granley also made his Abbotsford debut in his Harvard. Bud has been a regular at the Abbotsford Airshow ever since. A B-52 Stratofortress made its first appearance in the flying display as well. Two jet teams were present in 1980, the Snowbirds and the Blue Angels.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds and Skyhawks and the USAF Thunderbirds were joined by a number of other display teams at Abbotsford '81 including the CF-101 'Nighthawks', CF-5 'Rut Zulus', Canadian Reds and the French Connection in their only appearance at Abbotsford. Two CF-100 Canucks were at the show as part of a farewell tour for the CF-100 as it was to be retired. One aircraft flew in the show; the other was on static display. The most notable aircraft in the static display was a F-105 Thunderchief in what was quite possibly its only visit to Abbotsford. A sizable warbird presence in the flying display included 12 Harvard/T-6s, 3 P-51 Mustangs, a B-25 Mitchell and a B-17 Flying Fortress. 1981 would also mark the second last time the RAF Vulcan would grace Abbotsford's skies.

CF 100 Canuck
1981 was the last year for the CF-100 Canuck in the Canadian Armed Forces. To mark the occasion two of the CF-100 were painted in special paint schemes. One CF-100 was painted in the same black paint scheme used by Avro on the original prototype and the second aircraft was painted in a commemorative camouflage scheme (Dick Smallenberg photograph)

 

 

CF 5 Freedom Fighter

CF-5 Freedom Fighter from the "Rut Zulus" display team at Abbotsford '82. (Dick Smallenberg photograph)

Three Canadian jet fighter formation teams were at Abbotsford in 1982, the CF-101 Voodoos, CF-5 Freedom Fighters and CF-104 Starfighters. 1982 would be the last appearance of the CF-104 at Abbotsford (except for two civilian operated ex-Canadian Armed Forces Starfighters that were at the show in 1999). There were some unique photo opportunities at the show when two Starfighters joined up with a P-51 Mustang and the four CF-5s flew a formation with a Sea Fury. The Eagles aerobatic team flying Christen Eagles made their Abbotsford debut in 1982. Notable on static display was the Ford Trimotor, Spirit of Philadelphia.

RAF Vulcan and CF 101 Voodoo A salute to two of the most popular acts at Abbotsford for many years, the RAF Vulcan and CF-101 Voodoo, at their last appearances at Abbotsford. (Robert Harrington photograph)

In 1983, the Abbotsford International Airshow said farewell to two of the most popular displays in the history of the airshow, the CF-101 Voodoos and the RAF Vulcan. The Voodoos opened the show for the last time and on the last day of the airshow a special display was put together with some formation flying with the Vulcan and two of the Voodoos. The same show that marked the retirement of the Voodoo featured the first flying display of the new CF-18 Hornet. An SR-71 Blackbird also flew in the show. Warbirds included a Sea Fury, Mustang, De Havilland Vampire and F-86 Sabre. Notable static displays included a RAF Victor in its first appearance at Abbotsford as well as the Abbotsford debut for the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


KC 135 Stratanker
A KC-135 Stratanker and A-10 Thunderbolt aerial refuelling demonstration (Dick Smallenberg photograph)

1984 featured the first aerial demonstration of the F-15 Eagle at Abbotsford. Abbotsford '84 also featured a new Canadian Armed Forces formation team, the Dragonflies, flying Kiowa helicopters as well as the prototype P-3 AEW&C (Airborne Early Warning and Control) in its only appearance ever at Abbotsford. The US Air Force displayed its air to air refuelling capabilities with a KC-135 Stratotanker and an A-10 Thunderbolt. 1984 would be the last performance at Abbotsford for Art Scholl would later lose his life while filming scenes for the movie "Top Gun". Appearing for the first time on static display were the KC-10 Extender and Royal New Zealand Navy Wasp helicopter.

Brazilian Air Force
The Brazilian Air Force Esquadrilha da Fumaca perform at Abbotsford for the first time. (Dick Smallenberg photograph)

Abbotsford '85 featured, for the first time in Canada, the Brazilian Air Force display team, Esquadrilha da Fumaca, flying the EMBRAER Tucano. Other military performers included the Snowbirds, CF-5, CF-18, A-10, Buffalo, Labrador and KC-10 Extender. Civilian performers included the Ray Ban Golds, Team America, Goodyear Blimp, Frank Ryder, Bud Granley, Bill Warren and the Daring Damsels and Steve Wolf. A very unique formation was witnessed at the 1985 show when a CP Air 747 flew a formation with the three Ray Ban Golds Pitts Specials on one wing and Bud Granley in his Harvard on the other wing.

Briish Airways Concorde
A British Airways Concorde was one of the many highlights of the memorable 1986 Abbotsford International Airshow. (Robert Harrington photograph)

The 1986 Abbotsford Airshow was held in conjuntion with Expo 86 in Vancouver. The theme of Expo 86 was transportation and the aviation period was timed to coincide with the airshow. As a result, the airshow was able to attract many international acts. Five military demonstration teams headlined the 1986 Abbotsford Airshow. The Patrouille de France and Frecce Tricolori from Italy made their first appearances at Abbotsford joining the Snowbirds, Blue Angels and Esquadrilha da Fumaca. The USSR had two aircraft, both making their North American debuts, at the airshow. The An-124 and An-74 both flew in the show and were on static display. The Royal Air Force was represented by a Nimrod in the flying display and a VC-10 and Victor on static. The SR-71 Blackbird was also on static display at the airshow. This was the first (and perhaps only) time the Blackbird has ever been on Canadian soil for a public display. Also new to Abbotsford in 1986 were the Concorde, F-16 Fighting Falcon, Craig Hosking and NASA's QSHRA (Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft) which was based on a De Havilland Buffalo airframe. The 1986 airshow attracted record crowds of 303,000 over the three days forcing airshow officials to close the gates by 11:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

AV 8B Harrier
An AV-8B Harrier leads a rare formation with an F-86 Sabre and a MiG-15. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The Esquadrilha da Fumaca from Brazil returned to Abbotsford for the third consecutive year in 1987. New to Abbotsford in 1987 was a three-ship F-4 Phantom demonstration team from the Oregon National Guard and a CH-54 Tarhe (better known as a Skycrane). 1987 was another year of unique formations at the Abbotsford Airshow. In 1987, the AV-8B Harrier joined up with a F-86 and MiG-15, which were also flying in the show, for a three-ship flyby. The Ray Ban Golds, just as in 1985, joined up for a formation pass with a 747, this time operated by Wardair. Jimmy Franklin, Johnny Kazian, Eliot Cross and Lori Ross as a part of their two-ship wingwalking display performed a new maneouver at Abbotsford, the baton pass. This was the first time the pass was completed successfully in front of an airshow audience and was then named the "Abbotsford Pass". The baton pass was soon eliminated from the performance as it was too dangerous.

B 1B Lancer
The B-1B Lancer is placed on static display after its first flying display in Canada. (Lee Conway photograph)

 The 1988 edition of the Abbotsford International Airshow featured, for the first time in Canada, a public flying display of the B-1B Lancer. The B-1B arrived at the show on Friday and after its display was placed on static display for the remainder of the weekend. Also debuting at Abbotsford in 1988 was Manfred Radius. A B-52 Stratofortress was on static display for the first time. Among the military flying displays were the Snowbirds, Blue Angels, F-4 Phantoms, CF-18 Hornet, F-14 Tomcat and AV-8B Harrier. The civilian performers were headlined by Team America, Bud Granley, Craig Hosking and Joann Osterud.

An 225 Mriya One of the star performers at the 1989 Abbotsford Airshow was this An-225 Mriya from the USSR. The An-225 is the largest aircraft in the world. (Robert Harrington photograph)

In 1989, the USSR was represented by a large number of aircraft at Abbotsford. Making their North American debuts were two MiG-29 Fulcrums (a single and two-seater), an Su-26M aerobatic plane, a Ka-32 helicopter and the An-225 Mriya, the world's largest aircraft. The MiG-29 demonstration pilot at Abbotsford was Anatoly Kvotchur, who had ejected out of a Mig-29 at Le Bourget, France just months earlier. History was made at Abbotsford on the last day of the show when Major Bob Wade, Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 Hornet pilot, became the first western pilot to fly a modern fighter jet from the USSR. Major Bob Wade took the controls of the Mig-29UB two-seat aircraft with Soviet test pilot Valery Menitsky. Other highlights at the show included the first appearance at Abbotsford for the only airworthy Lancaster bomber in North America and the return of the USAF Thunderbirds for the first time since 1981. Attendance at the 1989 show reached a record 321,000 people. The show was completely sold out with an estimated 60,000 people turned away on Saturday alone.

Hawker Hurricane This Hawker Hurricane was a part of the Battle of Britain display at the 1990 Airshow. (Robert Harrington photograph)

The 1990 Abbotsford Airshow saluted the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain with a Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane in the flying display. Featured military performers included the Snowbirds, Blue Angels, Skyhawks parahute team, CF-18, CF-5, F-14 and A-10. Among the civilian performers were the Ray Ban Golds, Manfred Radius, Bud Granley, Joann Osterud, Mike Wigen and Les Shockley's Shockwave.

 

 

Su 27

Two Su-27s made their Canadian debut in Abbotsford in 1991. One example flew in the Airshow, although poor weather conditions kept it on the ground until Sunday. (Lee Conway photograph)

The Soviet Union provided another large contingent to the 1991 airshow in conjunction with the Airshow Canada trade show. Present were two Su-27 Flankers, two Il-76 Candids, a MiG-31 Foxhound, Ka-32 Helix, and Su-26 and Yak-55 aerobatic aircraft; all which flew in the airshow with the exception of the Il-76s. The F-117 Nighthawk also made its first landing in Canada at Abbotsford for the airshow. It was on static display all weekend under very strict security. Headlining the civilian performers was the first Abbotsford appearance by Sean D. Tucker.

MiG 29 Two Ukranian MiG-29s visited Abbotsford in 1992 as part of a North American tour. (Lee Conway photograph)

In 1992, following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Air Force sent a two-ship MiG-29 team on a North American tour with a stop in Abbotsford. Tora! Tora! Tora! returned to Abbotsford after a long absence. Making his first appearance at Abbotsford was Wayne Handley in his Raven, joining Abbotsford favourites Jimmy Franklin, Johnny Kazian and Bud Granley. There were many military demonstrations including the Snowbirds, Blue Angels, B-1B, CF-18, CF-5, F-15 and A-10. The F-117 stealth fighter was on static display for the second consecutive year.

International flyby Historic flyby at the end of the 1993 Airshow with military aircraft from the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and the United States. (Lee Conway photograph)

1993 featured three jet demonstration teams, the Snowbirds, Thunderbirds and Russian Knights in their second visit to North America. Military performers included the B-1B, CF-18, CF-5, F-15, RAF Nimrod and an impressive Canadian Armed Forces refuelling demo with a C-130 Hercules, three CF-18s and a CF-5. The civilian component of the show featured Sean D. Tucker, Bud Granley, Manfred Radius, Bill Warren and the Daring Damsels and Mike Wigen.

RAF Nimrod RAF Nimrod performs at the 1994 Airshow (Chris Smallenberg photograph

The Snowbirds, Blue Angels and Tora! Tora! Tora! display headlined the 1994 Abbotsford Airshow. Other performers included the CF-18, CF-5, A-10, Nimrod, P-51 Mustang, Sean D. Tucker and Bud Granley.

 

 

Rich Gibson Wall of Fire Rich Gibson's Wall of Fire was a very popular addition to the 1995 Abbotsford Airshow. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The 1995 Abbotsford Airshow was headlined by three military demonstration teams, the Snowbirds, Esquadrilha da Fumaca from Brazil, and in their first Abbotsford appearance, the Chilean Halcones. A large number of civilian acts were booked for the 1995 show including the Northern Lights, Jim Cheatham (R-22), Julie Clark (T-34), Dave Harris (BD-5), Dan Buchanan (hang glider), Eddie Andreini with Anders Brandi walking the wing and Delmar Benjamin (Gee Bee), all making their first appearances at Abbotsford. The AV-8B Harrier returned to the flying display program after a six year absence flying two displays each day. Another new feature at the 1995 show was the Breitling World Cup of Aerobatics. Patty Wagstaff was one of the pilots competing for the United States at Abbotsford.

F 117 The F-117 stealth fighter seen here flying over Mt. Baker in 1996. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

Military performers at the 1996 airshow included the Snowbirds, a four-ship T-33 display team, the F-117 stealth fighter, CF-18, F-16 and a C-130 refuelling demo with two CF-18s. Unfortunately, the F-117 experienced significant mechanical problems over the weekend and was only able to fly Saturday. Civilian performers included Bud Granley, Jimmy Franklin with wingwalker Lee Oman, Manfred Radius, Jim Cheatham, Les Shockley's Shockwave and John Piggott making his Abbotsford debut in the Su-29.

Avro Arrow Avro Arrow replica at the 1997 Airshow. This full scale mock-up was used in the CBC Avro Arrow movie starring Dan Ackroyd (Lee Conway photograph)

The 1997 airshow featured a number of aircraft making their first Abbotsford appearance. A U-2 spy plane arrived on the Friday of the show and the crowd was treated to a rare display of the landing of a U-2 complete with chase car. The U-2 was on static display the rest of the weekend. A B-2 stealth bomber made its first Abbotsford visit on Saturday. Another aircraft to make its debut was the Panavia Tornado. Two German Air Force Tornados were at the show, one on static and one flying. One of the highlights of the static display was a full scale replica of the Avro Arrow. The Arrow was able to taxi under its own power into its spot in the static display at show centre during the Friday show. The Arrow replica was completely rebuilt at Abbotsford Airport by a group of volunteers.


Civilian Starfighter
Civilian Starfighter team makes Abbotsford debut in 1999. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

After taking a year off in 1998, the Abbotsford International Airshow returned in 1999. With 1999 being a fresh start for the airshow, a number of new acts to Abbotsford were booked for the show, most notably the F-104 Starfighter team. This was the first time a Starfighter took to the skies over Abbotsford since 1982.

Spitfire

Bud Granley demonstrates a Spitfire at Abbotsford 2000. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The 2000 edition of the airshow featured for the time in Abbotsford, Jim LeRoy flying the Bulldog.  A Corsair and a Spitfire both made rare appearances at the show as well.


Super Hornet
US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The U.S. Navy Super Hornet performed in Canada for the first time in 2001. After a lengthy absence, 2001 also marked the return of the RAF Nimrod.

Air Canada 747

 


Air Canada 747 flyby at Abbotsford 2002. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The USAF Thunderbirds joined the Snowbirds to co-headline the 40th Anniversary Abbotsford Airshow. The Thunderbirds had not been to Abbotsford since 1993.


F-14 Tomcat
US Navy F-14 Tomcat. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The Blue Angels returned to Abbotsford for the first time since 1994.  2003 also marked the last F-14 Tomcat tactical demonstration at Abbotsford.

Franklin & LeRoy


The Masters of Disaster at Abbotsford 2004. (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

2004 featured a rare appearance of a B-17 Flying Fortress at Abbotsford.  Jim Franklin and Jim LeRoy returned to Abbotsford performing the popular Masters of Disaster routine. 


Red Baron Squadron
Red Baron Squadron (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The Red Baron Squadron, flying four Stearman aircraft, made their one and only appearance at Abbotsford in 2005.  The Thunderbirds also returned after a two year absence.

B-1B Lancer bomber


B-1B Lancer (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

Two B-1B Lancers, a rarity at Abbotsford, were in attendance at the 2006 show.  One flew in the show each day.  The F-15E Strike Eagle, a pair of S-3 Vikings , a C-17 Globemaster and a T-6 Texan II all performed at Abbotsford for the first time. 


F-117 Nighthawk
F-117 Nighthawk (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The first CC-177 Globemaster to be delivered to the CAF landed on Canadian soil for the first time Saturday morning and was on display for a few hours before departing to Trenton, ON.  The F-117 Nighthawk made its last appearance at Abbotsford.

Thunderbirds


USAF Thunderbirds (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

The Thunderbirds co-headlined the 2008 show with the Snowbirds.

 

 
Canadian Heritage Flight
Canadian Air Force Heritage Flight (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

2009 featured the celebration of 100 years of flight in Canada with Centennial Heritage Flight including Hawk One, an F-86 painted in Golden Hawks colours.

Lancaster


Avro Lancaster (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

Headliners in 2010 were the Snowbirds and Thunderbirds.  2010 featured a strong warbird lineup with a Lancaster, Corsair, Mustang, Bearcat, Skyraider and others.


B-25 Mitchell
B-25 Mitchell (Chris Smallenberg photograph)

2011 once again featured a strong warbird lineup with a B-25 Mitchell, Spitfire, Sea Fury, Mustang and Sea Fury, amongst others.  A rare performer was a Sea King helicopter which hadn’t performed at Abbotsford in decades.


  • Newsletter