AIRSHOW LONDON TAKES SPECTACLE TO NEW HEIGHTS IN 2018
Each summer Airshow London wows Western Ontario spectators with aerial feats, High-tech aerospace technology, vintage aircraft, interactive exhibits on the ground, and yes… Loud noises.
Every year, the show gives attendees the chance to get hands-on with a wide array of military and vintage aircraft. They can climb into the cockpits, walk on the fuselages, and talk to the crews. Every visitor seems to have their favourites along with lists of questions for the relevant pilots and likely photo and selfie opportunities to wow friends and social media audiences.
About 35,000 spectators head to the London International Airport each year to attend the event that stands as the largest military aircraft in Canada and the third-largest military aircraft airshow in North America. With highly-anticipated U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters, Cold War era F-16s, A-10 Thunderbolts, F-22s and the exciting new F-35 Lightning II having taken to the skies over London in past years, Airshow London has established its clout as the largest demonstration of military air power. The event is a two-day attraction that draws spectators from as far away as Europe. American spectators are also commonly encountered at the event.
In the past and on occasion, the event has had to call specific days on account of rain – but this perennial concern has never outright cancelled Airshow London, while it was running. However, before returning in 2016, the airshow wasn’t held for about 12 years, citing escalating insurance costs, and concerns regarding the event’s ability to remain safe and secure amidst numerous international terrorist threats. Eventually, a committed and passionate group comprised of London airport personnel and Fanshawe College staff and students, a new not-for-profit vision of what Airshow London could be was made a reality.
Occasionally, certain aircraft citing specific safety criteria had to be grounded and sometimes the risk just isn’t worth it for the sake of entertainment. Thunder and lightning are always prime considerations, and the safety of pilots, crews, and attendees is always the first consideration for organizers who have to make tough calls. But now Airshow London is back for keeps, and the city is thrilled to host it. The organizers are thrilled to not only be the ones to bring the airshow back, but to also play a key role in supporting the Children’s Health Foundation, Parkwood Hospital, and the Fanshawe Norton School of Aviation at the same time.
A committed team of in excess of 500 volunteers is required to pull off Airshow London every year. Some 100 of these volunteers work year-round to make the event go off without a hitch. All in all, the volunteers each contribute to an amount of time that is into the hundreds of thousands of hours every year – indubitably one of the largest and most committed volunteer efforts that go into events of this scale anywhere in the world. The event certainly makes a big deal about their volunteers’ collective efforts, recognizing them as the heart and soul of the event’s personality – the friendly faces that interact with and answer questions for the majority of the visiting public. As a non-profit event, Airshow London raises money for the Veterans’ Care Program and the bursary and scholarship initiative at Fanshawe College’s aviation program, based here in London.
A Special Mission
“We want to see those kids [at the Fanshawe Norton school of aviation] stay in London. We want to attract aerospace industries to London. London is an aerospace defensive hub corporately for Canada, and it’s important that all those folks in that industry have a place to show it off. The other reason is Londoners just really missed the airshow. It’s been very exciting to have all that community goodwill,” said airshow president and chair, Jim Graham speaking to Global News.
“We’ve got the F-35 demo team, we’ve got the F-35 sea aircraft, first time it’s ever been outside of the United States. We’ve got F-22s, F-16s, A-10s. We’ve got the Canadian Forces F-18 demo team, we’ve got the Snowbirds, and much much more, and that’s just the flying stuff,” said Graham. “On the ground, we’ve got a whole group of heavy aircraft, big refuelers. There’s going to be wings, airplanes, engines, and all kinds of afterburners in the sky.”
For Graham, safety is of the utmost concern. “Absolutely no drones. The no-drone zone around the airport has been expanded to 10 miles. The London Police Service, as well as a number of the other security services, are going to be enforcing that with great vigilance. It’s dangerous to pilots, dangerous to the crowds. Use those drones other days and elsewhere please,” he said.
The shutterbug in your family or group of friends will appreciate the ASL Photo Contest that happens now each year. Sponsored by Nikon, the contest takes advantage of all the action and lets attendees share their own stories through telephoto lenses. Last year’s contest saw over 750 entries, with the winner (Daniel Larouche) taking home a $500 ‘grab bag’ of photography gear and accessories for his shot of the Super Hornet (below).
Leading up to the September 7 – 9th event NIKON will be offering tips on how to take your aviation photo techniques to greater heights. Follow NIKON on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for more information.
For the second year in a row, Lockheed Martin is taking the top sponsor spot in a show featuring some of their most dazzling aircraft. The company issued the following in a press release in anticipation of the event:
“We are so pleased to see Lockheed Martin return to AIRSHOW LONDON. All eyes are on our city as we prepare to host Canada’s largest military display,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “London is a leader in the aerospace and defence industry and we are looking forward to welcoming partners from around the globe for ASL 18.”
“Lockheed Martin is proud to return to AIRSHOW LONDON as the presenting sponsor for the second consecutive year,” said Charles Bouchard, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Canada. “As a global leader in developing the world’s most advanced aircraft, we are thrilled so many of our platforms will be on display. From the mighty C-130 Hercules and C-5 Galaxy, to the F-16 Viper and the highly advanced F-35 Lightning II, AIRSHOW LONDON has attracted Lockheed Martin’s biggest and most exciting aircraft.”
According to the website, the event is still has sponsorship opportunities available. Additional sponsors of Airshow London include:
- London International Airport
- Fanshawe College
- The City of London
- London City Chrysler
- Rexall (at whose locations tickets can be purchased)
- General Dynamics
- J-AAR Excavating
- BMO Wealth Management
- Delaware Speedway
- Siskinds Law Firm
- Try Recycling Inc.
- M&T Printing Group
- Pratt & Whitney
- Alpha Door Systems Inc.
- Huron Tractor
- The FActory
- King Drilling
- London District Heavy Construction Association
- Royal Fence Limited
- Diamond Aircraft
- DoubleTree (by HIlton)
- Versa Bank
- Stronghold Services
London’s Role in Canadian Aviation
Also quoted by Global News is Captain Matthew Kutryk, an F-18 pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force who has been flying in airshows all summer long.
“So normally I’m flying the grey F-18 operationally as a tactical section lead. This summer I take the same aircraft, but I’ve got a special paint job. I’m taking that aircraft, showcasing the aerodynamic capabilities of Canada’s multi-role fighter the CF-18. Flying that jet in its clean configuration, when I say clean I mean there’s no external weight on it, no external tanks or weapons. It is the engineered aerodynamic limit of the aircraft,” said Kutryk. “So I get to take it as fast as it can go, as high as it can go, as low as it can go, and as slow as it can go, transitioning between those regimes with very aggressive aerodynamic manoeuvres. Loops, rolls, high-angled attack… how fast I can turn, it’s amazing. As a pilot and as a fighter pilot, it’s like a dream.”
“I think London has a special place in most fighter pilots’ hearts,” he continued. “There’s two reasons for that. One is the geographic connection with a lot of guys being from this area that currently fly the F-18, but the other connection is the support and enthusiasm we see here in London. This show here in London this weekend at the end of September is our last Canadian show of 2017. We’re pretty fired up. It’s been an amazing season getting here to London. Seeing the crowds pre-show on a Thursday is a bit of an indicator of what’s to come. On top of that, the weather forecast is absolutely gorgeous. I’m enthusiastic, and I know my whole team is pretty excited to wrap the season up with the big one here in London.”
Food Services Available
Airshow London provides more than just exciting things to see and do for attendees. A considerable list of varied food vendors will also be onsite to keep visitors well-fed for the two-day event:
- Big Daddy Bacon
- Donut Diva
- Anne’s carmelcrisp Ltd.
- Pappas Greek Food truck
- Smokestacks Food truck
- Rosie’s Streetery
- Bifana Boys Ltd.
- J. Bogal Foods
- Megacone London
- Megacone Kitchener
- Pete’s Poutine
- Bayak’s Lebanese Cuisine
Gates open at 4:00 p.m. Friday, air display begins at 5:00 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the gates open 9:00 a.m. and air display begins at 1:00 p.m.
Parking will be managed by volunteer attendees each day and visitors are encouraged to follow their instructions at the various offsite parking locations. The following lot information will allow visitors to plan their day. FREE shuttle bus service will provide transportation from the off-site lots to the main gate. See below for shuttle bus times and schedules. Please note there is NO VISITOR PARKING available at the AIRSHOW LONDON venue including the main Airport Terminal. All parking is distributed through off-site parking lots and VIP lots. These lots will be serviced by a free shuttle service directly into the venue. Visit the website for the most up to date parking info.
Guests can pre-arrange for VIP Parking at the Huron Street East location. Guests must enter these areas on Huron St. eastbound and not via Crumlin Rd. VIP parking can be pre-arranged or a $10.00 cash fee will be charged to allow entry. A shuttle bus will transport guests to the Admission Gate. Contact Airshow London in advance to arrange for these needs.
Parking for those with accessibility concerns will be available in the VIP Parking Lot located at the east end of Huron Street east of Robins Hill Road. All vehicles must have a valid Accessible Parking Permit displayed on the vehicle. All off-site parking lots will have accessible parking available. A drop off zone is located at the front of Cargo Building, 2480 Huron Street, East.
General admission single day tickets are $30, $15 for students and children aged six-12, $25 for veterans, military, or seniors, and children under five get in for free. Tickets can be purchased at the following locations across the Western Ontario region:
Rexall Store Locations
740 Hyde Park Rd – 519-471-7262
1551 Dundas St E – 519-451-0510
Beaverbrook & Wonderland – 519-657-2580
1593 Adelaide St N – 519-645-7760
1240 Commissioners Rd W – 519-474-7424
1795 Ernest Ave – 519-681-2482
1505 Highbury Ave N – 519-457-3387
350 Oxford Street E – 519-432-7164
71 Sandwich Street – 519-736-1022
401 St Clair St – 519-436-0005
697 Cathcart Boulevard – 519-332-5575
440 James St – 519-627-3388
1215 Ouellette Ave – 519-256-1700
1775 Sprucewood Ave – 519-250-3988
3840 Howard Avenue – 519-967-8512
706 Dundas St – 519-421-3784
Kids aged 12 and under get in free if accompanied by a valid ticket holder. Tickets are also available at the gate or online.