Aero Gatineau-Ottawa 2021 Text and photography by Claude La FrenièreCanada's National Capital Region Air ShowFull power take-off by Capt. Dan Deluce in the CF-18 demonstration aircraftAero Gatineau-Ottawa was back for its 4th edition from September 10 to 12, 2021, at Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport (CYND), after having been cancelled in 2020 due to the global pandemic. The organizers worked with the ICAS (International Council of Air Shows), NECAS (North East Council of Air Shows) and public health officials to put in place a formula to hold an event that meets health standards, is interesting and safe for both the public and the participants, because the safety of all has always been the top priority.

This 100 percent volunteer team had to juggle with health alert levels of the province of Quebec, where restrictions jeopardized the show. If the maximum number of spectators allowed at the event had been lowered too much by public health, the organization would not have been able to pay for it. Finally, the show was able to take place under the “drive-in” formula which has been successfully used by a majority of air shows this year all over the world.
Capt. Dan Deluce in his cockpit after an impressive demonstration flightThe site was delimited into separate pricing zones, fragmented into small lots to allow aerobatic enthusiasts to settle in with their vehicle (6 people per vehicle maximum) to be able to observe the sky from their own chairs and enjoy the space around their vehicle. There was a limited quantity of 550 tickets on sale for each day, starting at $79 per car. The event was quickly sold out.

To spectators, the experience was very different from the one in 2019. This year, there were no planes on the ground on static display, no concessions and fewer spectators. Most of the military jets, except the CF-18 demonstration aircraft, operated from Ottawa Airport (CYOW), and civil and vintage aircraft were based at Gatineau (CYND) in areas not accessible to the public.

It is obvious that the pandemic has hurt. Normally, the event attracted up to 15,000 visitors per day, while this year only 5,050 visitors in total attended the show.
Four Snowbirds aircraft crossing each other only a few meters apartUnforeseen and changing: organizing an air show is of great complexity

Organizing an air show is very complex and rarely do things always go as planned. There were cancellations and last-minute changes in the programme for all sorts of reasons beyond the organization's control, but the organizing committee had plan-Bs.
The planned air demonstration list was diverse and included the participation of Royal Canadian Air Force demonstration teams, the Snowbirds and CF-18 demonstration aircraft, as well as many classic vintage warbirds aircraft, but the highlight of the long-awaited show was the arrival of the USAF F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, which participated in Gatineau for the first time.
However, the pilot of the F-16 Viper demonstration aircraft, Major Garret “Toro” Schmitz, had a serious mountain bike accident, preventing him from flying for eight weeks. Therefore, the team’s participation was cancelled.

This was quite a disappointment, but then US Air Force proposed a replacement team: the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team. However, the requirements of the latter team were more difficult to meet than those of the F-16 Viper team. On the logistical side, it was necessary to host a team of fourteen members rather than a team of six, while assuming significantly higher operating costs than those of the F-16. To ensure the safety of modern high-performance jets, it is essential to have a diversion airport in case of problems. The USAF requires the F-22 to have a diversion airport that has at least one system of arrestor cables within a 75-nautical-mile radius. The only possible alternative was Mirabel Airport (CYMX), which is just within range and had arrestor cables. Unfortunately, Mirabel (CYMX) was not able to deploy the arrestor cable equipment during the required time slots. The cargo airport is operating at full capacity 24/7 due to the pandemic, and it was impossible to close the only runway in operation (the other being under renovation) for two to three hours to install the arrestor equipment, and it was with great regret that the F-22 Demonstration Team had to withdraw.

Over the months, several aircraft which were to participate in the show, such as the P-40 Kittyhawk, Hawker Hurricane MK 12, Canadair CL-415 water bomber, Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros of the International Test Pilots School, and the Pitts 12 Monster, had to be withdrawn from the programme for various reasons and were replaced by others to compose a high-quality show with fourteen flying performances involving more than 35 aircraft.
Westland Lysander

The magnificent Westland Lysander (C-FVZZ) opened the show. With a wingspan of 50 feet (15.24 m), equipped with a Bristol Mercury Radial engine of 870 hp, it flies at a maximum speed of 212 mph (184 kts).

The Lysander equipped six Royal Air Force squadrons for artillery spotting, reconnaissance and other communications tasks during the first year of the Second World War. They were later converted into target tugs to help train anti-aircraft gunners in Britain. Others, equipped with air droppable life rafts, formed the RAF's first Air/Sea rescue squadrons and helped save hundreds of airmen who would otherwise have drowned.

Today, Lysanders are best remembered for the clandestine and dangerous role they played. Thanks to their superb short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities, Lysanders were used in unprepared pastures and forest clearings, in the darkness of the night, to recover secret agents and saboteurs in occupied Europe.

The yellow planes from the Vintage Wings of Canada collection

Four training aircraft, emblematic of the RCAF pilot training programme, paraded through the Gatineau skies. They were all painted in the standard yellow livery of all Canadian training aircraft of the time.
Fleet Finch II (C-FPFF)

The Finch was a pillar of the RCAF before and during the outbreak of World War II, flying in Elementary Flying Schools (EFTS) in parallel with the better-known De Havilland Tiger Moth. Finch was phased out of service from October 1944 and the last was removed from RCAF inventory in 1947.
Fairchild Cornell (CF-YQR)

In 1943, the Cornell found its place in elementary flight schools with a closed cockpit, improved heating system, equipment changes and a Ranger piston engine.
De Havilland Canada Chipmunk (CF-EGO)

The Chipmunk was the training aircraft that took over from wartime models to teach basic flying skills to a new generation of pilots of all types during the Cold War.
North American Harvard Mk IV (CF-ROA)

The Harvard is recognized as the largest advanced training aircraft of the war. With its size and maneuverability close to that of a fighter aircraft, 50,000 allied pilots received their wings after qualifying on the Harvard at Canada's air training bases under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). The Harvard was a good training aircraft, but it had just enough flaws to keep the students on their toes.
Aero L-29 Delfin de ACM Warbirds of Canada (C-GGRY and C-GGRJ)

The Aero L-29 Delfin was the standard training aircraft of Warsaw Pact forces for basic, advanced combat and tactical support training during the second half of the twentieth century. Both of these aircraft come from the surplus of the Bulgarian Air Force and are owned by ACM Warbirds of Canada, which offers packages where you can fly a Cold War aircraft.
CH-146 Griffon (146439) of 439 Saber-Toothed Combat Support Squadron

A CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 439 Combat Support Squadron at 3 Wing Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, performed a rescue simulation of a person in distress. The helicopter’s primary role is responding to emergencies related to operational squadron aircraft based at 3 Wing Bagotville.

The roles of the Griffon within the RCAF are: tactical personnel and equipment transport, search and rescue (SAR) missions, surveillance and reconnaissance, casualty evacuation and anti-drug operations in cooperation with Canadian police forces.
De Havilland DH-83C Fox Moth (C-FYPM), a princely aircraft

This light commercial aircraft with good performance and low operating cost was put into service in 1932. It has proven to be excellent for cold weather operations in Canada, thanks to its closed front four passenger compartment. Fox Moths were used by bush aviation pioneers such as Arthur Fecteau and Max Ward.

This particular Fox Moth has perhaps the best pedigree of all. Its first owner was Edward, Prince of Wales who would become the king who abdicated. But for a while he was carried by this remarkable aircraft, enjoying the comfort of a luxurious cabin. It was operated by the Royal Flight Corps (forerunner of the Royal Air Force) for about a year before being sold to private interests. Abandoned in 1960 in Fiji, the remains were brought back to New Zealand and restored in 1993.
CT-156 Harvard II (156108, 156106) - 15 Wing, Moose Jaw

The CT-156 Harvard II is a single-engine, twin-seat aircraft used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as a training aircraft for the NATO Phase II flight training programme in Moose Jaw. Its top speed of 310 kts and range of 835 km, combined with the cockpit layout, fully pressurized cabin and good maneuverability, make it an ideal springboard to help new pilots seamlessly transition from basic flight training to advanced jet training phases.
Boeing 737-408 of OWG Nolinor Aviation (C-GGWX)

A magnificent Boeing 737-400 in the blue and pink-purple colors of the new Quebec airline OWG gracefully flew over the airport site at low altitude. OWG's B737-400s feature the “increased gross weight” option with reinforced landing gear and structure. It has a payload close to that of a B737-800. OWG is a division of Nolinor Aviation's subsidiary airline that has been operating in Canada for more than 27 years.

WWII Classic Warbirds

An air show in Gatineau is not a real air show without the presence of classic fighters from the Second World War and we were spoiled by three beautifully restored aircraft. A Spitfire Mk IX flew in close formation with a Mustang, and a second Mustang soared alone into the sky for an impressive demonstration of its capabilities.
Mustang TF-51-D “Mad Max” by Louis Horschel (NL51MX)

“Mad Max” (NL51MX), originally designated as a P-51D Mustang, was built in 1944 and then assigned to the MX-A 307th Fighter Squadron. Just before leaving military service, it was redesignated as an “F-51D”, because in 1948 the USAF introduced a new designation system, changing from “P” for Pursuit to “F” for Fighter. In the mid-60s, it was converted into a dual-control two-seater “TF-51D” Mustang Cavalier by Trans-Florida Aviation. Later in the mid-2000s, it was rebuilt in Fort Wayne, IN, using a new fuselage and components from two other retired USAF Mustangs.
Mustang P-51D “RCAF 9253” by Hannu Halminen (NL951HB)

This P-51D has an interesting history, as it was delivered to the USAAF 8th AF as number 44-72059, but was soon transferred to the Swedish Air Force. Ten years later, it was sold to Nicaragua and then returned to the USA in 1963, and was sold to Bolivia in 1966, which used it until 1995. It was then repatriated to the USA shortly thereafter after with the current registration “NL951HB”. Its restoration began in 2002 and it made its first flight on September 26, 2020.

Owner Hannu Halminen chose to give it the Canadian colours of the aircraft “RCAF 9253” with “BA-S” of 424 Squadron “City of Hamilton”, based in Mount Hope, Ontario, in the ‘50s. It is interesting to know that the real RCAF 9253 still exists. This other Mustang, formerly 44-74582, now flies with the registration of “N51JT”, in the colours of the USAF.

RCAF squadrons flew P-51Ds during the Second World War for reconnaissance and long-range escort, and after the war, Canada received 100 Mustangs, some of which remained in service until 1961.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX (C-GYQQ), Vintage Wings of Canada

This Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX is an exceptional aircraft built in 1945 by the firm “Castle Bromwich”, today BAE Systems. This unique example, restored by Vintage Wings of Canada, was awarded as the Second World War Grand Reserve Champion Silver Lindy and the Golden Key of the Phoenix award at the 2018 EAA AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, WI.

It is painted in honour of Arnold Roseland, a Canadian who flew “Y2-K” of 442 Squadron more than 65 times before being shot down and killed over France in 1944. Dave Hadfield was at the helm of the Spitfire, himself a member of a renowned family of aviators including his brother, Chris, the famous Canadian astronaut.
Widely regarded as the most beautiful aircraft of its time with its elliptical wings, it became the symbol of a nation’s willingness to endure and triumph with the role it played in the Battle of Britain. More than 22,000 examples were built in nearly 30 variants.
CC-144C Challenger (144618) - 412 Falcon Transport Squadron, Ottawa

A CC-144C Challenger of the 412th Transport Squadron made several graceful non-acrobatic maneuvers over the airport. This business jet is used by the RCAF as a high-performance medium- and long-range transport aircraft.

It has an intercontinental range and can fly at Mach 0.8 up to 49,000 feet. The CC-144 is also used by Canadian Electronic Warfare (GE) squadrons as a training platform. The two oldest examples in service were replaced in 2020 by new Challenger 650s. Designated CC-144D, this new variant has increased take-off thrust and latest generation avionics.
CT-155 Hawks, four aircraft (155204, 155208, 155207, 155220) - 15 Wing, Moose Jaw

Four CT-155 Hawk two-seat dual-control trainers from 2nd Canadian Forces Flying School (2 CFPS) at 15 Wing, Moose Jaw, flew over the airport in tight formation at low altitude.

The CT-155 Hawk features integrated navigation and targeting systems to train fighter pilots. Thanks to its modern technology, this aircraft lends itself to a wide range of high-performance training missions.
RCAF CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team - (188782)

Still one of the spectators’ favourites, the CF-18 demonstration aircraft was flown by Captain Daniel Deluce, a pilot from a great family of Canadian airmen. His grandfather Stan Deluce fought in a Hurricane during World War II and his father Joe Deluce was a commercial pilot for forty years. An RCAF pilot since 2010 and a member of 419 Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, he will return to his instructor position where he will teach aspiring Canadian fighter pilots after the air show season.

The team's official theme was illustrated by the special paint scheme on the aircraft: (Protect Canada) “Strong at Home”, to commemorate the Canadian Forces’ involvement in operations involving them on national soil, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Snowbirds.

Unfortunately, as in Toronto recently, Gatineau spectators did not have the opportunity to admire the magnificent paint of the aircraft, because technical problems forced Captain Deluce to use a replacement CF-18 all weekend. The theme paid tribute to the Canadians who lost their lives this year, including Captain Jennifer Casey of the Snowbirds and the country the RCAF has proudly served for 97 years.
CH-148 Cyclone (148812) - 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, 12 Wing, Shearwater

An impressive 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron CH-148 Cyclone helicopter of Shearwater, NE, demonstrated its maneuverability and stability. The CH-148 Cyclone is one of the most efficient maritime helicopters in the world. As Canada’s primary embarked maritime helicopter, its job is to provide air support to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Its missions include surveillance and control of surface vessels and submarines, as well as search and rescue and tactical transport day and night, under all weather conditions. These on-board helicopters are integrated into the ship's systems, allowing it to increase the capability of its sensors and weapons.
Gordon Price and his Yakovlev 50 (C-FYGP)

Gordon Price, an 80-year-old Canadian aviation legend, a former CF-104 Starfighter military pilot, has performed in air shows since 1967. After a 24-year absence from the world of aerobatics, when he was an airline pilot on Boeing 747s, he returned to aerobatics in 2012.

At the controls of his Yakovlev 50, identified with the name of an establishment he owns, the “Dam Pub” in Thornbury, Ontario, and re-engined in 2017 with a powerful 435 hp Vendenyev engine, Gordon had fun doing low-altitude, high-energy manoeuvres with smoke. At 80, he is still gaining strength with +7G manoeuvres.
Antonov An-2P (C-GFBR) (1990)

Although not officially part of the show, we had the opportunity to see an amazing Antonov An-2P pay a friendly visit to those at Vintage Wings of Canada during the practice day. This particular plane was made in Poland at Mielec's WSK-P2L plant in 1990. The An-2 is a sesquiplane (i.e. a biplane whose lower wing surface is half or less of the upper wing). It was the first aircraft to be designed by the Antonov Manufacturer's Bureau in 1947.

The aircraft’s NATO designation is “Colt” and it is also referred to as “Annushka” (Little Annie) and “Kukuruznick” (Corn Eater) by the Russians. This An-2P (Passazhirskiy) version is a purely civilian version, which can carry up to 12 passengers or 1,240 kg of cargo.

Recognized as the largest single-engine biplane in the world, it stands out for its robustness, easy maintenance, low operating costs and extraordinary ability to fly at low speeds and perform take-offs and landings in short distances.
The An-2 has been used in a wide variety of roles. It has features that make it suitable for operations in remote areas, such as makeshift tracks with a pneumatic braking system, allowing it to stop in short distances. It is also equipped with a system for inflating and deflating its wheels by means of a compressor that allows it to adjust tire pressures and absorb. It also has its own built-in fuel pump, which allows it to refuel directly from barrels without the need for external pumps.
The Snowbirds 431st Air Demonstration Squadron -15th Wing, Moose Jaw

The closing word of the show was reserved for the highly anticipated Snowbirds of 431 Air Demonstration Squadron. The squadron resumed its activities in 2021, after a year of absence following the tragic accident that claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey in 2020. The Snowbirds have come back in force and are still as impressive as in the past. Their accuracy and slower speed give their maneuvers a grace that is often compared to an acrobatic ballet.

The show crew always travels with eleven CT-114 Tutors, of which nine are used for aerobatic performances and two as spare aircraft.
In conclusion

Aero Gatineau-Ottawa 2021 was an interesting show with an impressive list of performers. The organizers had to juggle until the last minute with changing sanitary measures and they suffered the loss of their headliner on two occasions, but the organization was able to present 90% of the announced performances with more than 35 aircraft in flight, which, given the circumstances, was a miracle.

The event was a great success despite the concerns of the organizers and the famous Aero Gatineau-Ottawa show came out with even more prestige. Someone in the know told me that more than one major demonstration team has expressed a keen interest in participating in the 2022 edition, which will be held from September 16 to 18.
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