Abbotsford International Airshow

I took myself, my son, and his buddy up to the Abbotsford International Airshow in Abbotsford, BC, Canada over the weekend.  My wife bought me tickets for Father’s Day (yes, she’s very good to me).  Had never been up to that particular show before, though I’ve wanted to for ten years.  It was worth the wait.  They put on a great show, even with fewer planes than normal this year.  Shows up there are a little different.  On the one hand, there are far more planes you can crawl into and around than at our shows.  Even though some of the planes are the same planes that routinely show up at Arlington and Paine Field events.  Don’t know if it’s because insurance is different up there, liability laws or better, or if it’s just more manageable with smaller crowds.  Whatever the reason, I like it.  On the down side, nearly all the planes that flew off and on throughout the day were on the other side of a rope that you couldn’t cross.  Never even got to go near the T-33 or the Spitfire Mk IX (two of my favorites).  On the whole, it was a great show (though it was remarkably hot).

Driving up I-5, I was starting to worry about what we’d find when we crossed into Canada.  Not exactly promising weather for an airshow (though at least we wouldn’t get sunburned).  No need to worry, it was sunny and hot nearly the whole weekend.

If you live anywhere but Washington in the US, you know this bridge as “The Bridge That Fell Down Because The US Is Ignoring Our Crumbling Infrastructure”.  Because that’s how the legacy media loves to portray things like this.  If you live up here, you know it as “The Bridge That Fell Down Because A Semi Truck Crashed Into The Supporting Structure For The Fourth Time And Finally Broke Something Important”.  I’m not saying the national news is entirely wrong about us ignoring crumbling infrastructure, but this incident didn’t quite fit their agenda, and pushing their agenda on the sheep is far more important than reporting facts, so they “helped” the story a little.  And then they wonder why ratings and circulation are both falling like rocks…

Yet again, I wonder why we spend so much time and money in this country screwing around with the complexity of hybrids.  My 6.6L turbocharged diesel V-8 hauling around 7000lbs of American Steel averaged just over 27 mpg by the time we arrived in Canada.  And it was 70mph most of the way up there.  If something the size of a third world apartment can get 27mpg, why in God’s name would we mess with a Prius?  Buy a diesel, and be done with it.

Somebody brought a spectacular Seabee.  Flawless.  There’s no way it could have looked this nice the day it rolled out of the factory.

The Spitfire Mk IX flew many times during the show.  It was especially cool when it flew with the P-51D.  The sound of two Merlins tearing by is unique, to say the least.

The F-18s spent a good deal of time tearing holes in the sky as they shrieked by.  It sounded like God himself was tearing the sky limb from limb.  You could tell the airplane people from the non-airplane people very easily.  The non-airplane people were crouched on the ground with hands clamped firmly over earplugs over their ears.  The airplane guys were standing there with idiotic grins on their faces and glittering eyes as these monsters ripped overhead.  There’s no sound in the world quite as cool as the noise made when you turn jet fuel into awesomeness.

Gorgeous DC-3 from Paine Field.  Yes, you could go inside.

A B-25 from Paine Field.  Yes, you could climb around in this thing, too.  Yes, even the nose.

Yep, got to go in here, too.

I thought it was cool that they flew the American flag along with the Canadian flag everywhere, including during the opening ceremonies.  There were a surprisingly low number of Americans at the show (based on accents and license plates in the parking lot), but we were made to feel very welcome.  In fact, every vendor I dealt with took American Dollars at a 1:1 rate with Canadian, which made buying things really simple.  Very much appreciated.

Field artillery is fun.

Boom!  They weren’t firing projectiles, but they were setting off real powder charges.  That thing makes quite a bang.

You know what happens when you mix acres and acres of dry brown grass with fire?  You get more fire.  Lots more fire.  Oops.

One of my all-time favorite planes (the T-33) flew quite a bit.  Put on a nice show.

Yep, got to go in here, too.

One of the few big planes we couldn’t go inside of.

Check out the water erosion on the prop tips.  Wow.  Rain is nasty stuff.

As always, the Staggerwing is one of the prettiest airplanes ever made.

Three nearly perfect Cubs.

Yes, this is from the pilot’s seat of a DC-3.  A place I never imagined I’d actually park my butt.  Made the whole trip worthwhile all by itself.

View out the port window from the DC-3 pilot’s seat.  It’s quite a ways up.

Maybe even cooler, this is the view from the pilot’s seat of the B-25.  Complete with original WWII era Garmin GPS and King transponders and radios.

Yep, got to go in here, too.

Living in Seattle, we see a LOT of Beavers.  After all, Kenmore Air is based here.  But Beavers on wheels are so rare that they’re kind of an oddity.  All of ours are on floats.

T-33 about to go fly.  Unfortunately, you couldn’t get anywhere near it at any point during the weekend.  Oh well.

Bad Kitty.  I never get tired of the F-7F.  We didn’t get to see it fly (hydraulic leak in the gear), but it’s enough just to get to look at it.  Besides, it’ll fly at the vintage military fly-in at Paine next week (or the week after, I forget).

John Marzulli was apparently at the show with his CH-701, but try as I might, I never found him.  I did talk to three people who had talked to him, but never did find him myself.  Oh well.  His plane was drawing quite a crowd.  Everybody loved it.  John posted a cool youtube video of his flight up and back here.

Cubcrafters rocks.

The T-33 racing the jet car.  They’d alternate letting each other win throughout the weekend.  On one of the races, I was listening in on the Air Boss frequency on my radio, and the pilot made the comment at the end of the runway, “Damn!  That thing is fast!”

Sunday morning was nice.  The cooler temps and the slight rain kept the crowds away for the first couple of hours.  Much nicer for seeing things.  It was plenty hot and dry by afternoon, though.

I’d never seen the Snowbirds before, so this was my first.  I’ll have to say, they’re quite good.

Over the top.

If you’ve never seen the border between the US and Canada, it might come as a bit of a surprise that the border (in many places) consist of nothing more than a strip of grass.  The road on the right (the one I’m on) is in Canada.  The road on the left is in the US.  No fence.  No guards.  No nothing.  You can quite literally simply step across.  Just a few miles ahead is a full blown border crossing with fences, guards, radiation detectors, cameras, and guards with guns.  But here in the farming areas, it’s just grass.

What I just realized I never got a picture of was Rob Holland‘s performances.  Probably because I was standing there the whole time with my jaw on the floor.  Don’t know about you, but I rarely even bother to look up any more when the hot-rod stunt planes are doing their thing.  It’s not that they’re not good – they are.  But they’re all the same.  It’s the same tricks over and over.  No matter how good, eventually, you’ve seen it enough times that it’s not worth the effort to look up and watch again.  That was before I saw Rob.  Rob has won more awards than I could possibly list here, but among other things, he’s the current reigning world champion in unlimited class aerobatics.  And he does things with his airplane that will simply blow your mind.  The first day he performed, I didn’t even bother to look up and see who was flying.  Until I caught sight of him out of the corner of my eye doing something that airplanes can’t do.  I watched the rest of his performance with my jaw on the floor.  Then I watched him do it again on Saturday.  Then again on Sunday.  Every second of it.  He does stuff that I thought only R/C planes could do.  Check him out on youtube, and you’ll be astonished.

Anyway, great show, and I’ll definitely be going back.

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