2016 Event Review

2016 Great Lakes International Air Show, June 18-19, 2016
Location: ST. Thomas Municipal Airport, Ontario
Admission: $30 Adults, $25 Seniors and Youth at the gate. Several upgrades were available on the internet including a photo pass.
Parking: Off site, transportation by school buses to air show grounds.
Value: Very good
Rating out of 10:10
 

 

After several year of absence, the Great Lakes International Air Show was back for 2016, in St. Thomas, Ontario. While the scope of the event was much smaller in scale than previous shows, it was still well worth the visit for any air shown enthusiast from south-western Ontario. Even the weather cooperated as it was nice and sunny on both days.

The main attractions for the event were the Snowbirds, and the CF-18 Demo Team. For a change, the Snowbirds started off the show, this was a refreshing change, as they are usually the ones to finish off the show as the last attraction but at ST. Thomas  for this year it was the CF-18.  

The CF-18 Hornet for 2016 has a historic paint scheme, celebrating Canada's greatest contribution to the Allied victory during WWII -- the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Since there were several trainers from the era, which are featured on the tail fins of the CF-18, I approached the Air Show Director, Airport Manager and the PA officer of the CF-18 with an idea, to have a Harvard placed besides the Hornet for a photo opportunity. On Saturday after the show this idea became a reality.
Just before the official show start, the Ornge AgustaWestland AW139 flew in for a short visit, but took off just after the show started with Snowbirds. Pete McLeod followed with an amazing display in his Red Bull Edge 540 aerobatic aircraft, which is quite different than the one he uses during the Red Bull Air Race. He also flew against Rick Kopp's the Pyro Jet Truck, powered by a Westinghouse J34-WE-48 Turbojet engine from a T-2 Buckeye, producing 12,000 HP and 6,000 lbs. of thrust. The jet powered truck was huffing and puffing like a dragon, bellowing out lot smoke from unburned fuel. To win the race, it required a head start.
Several RCAF aircraft were invited for static display, but only the CF-18 and a CH-146 Griffon showed up, the CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft which was to arrive on Friday canceled at the last minute. Thus the static displays were a bit sparse, unlike in previous years full of Canadian and American warbirds. A CC-130 Hercules did fly in for a short SAR display, dropping two SAR rescue personnel by parachute and then landing to pick them up, and left. Four Harvards from Canadian Harvard Aircraft Associations, located nearby Tillsonburg, performed next led by Bill "Shep" Shepard. One of the Harvards developed a mechanical issue and had to land shortly, but the three other Harvards continued in an impressive three ship formation. Other historical trainer aircraft that flew were; the 1941 Sterman Model 75 "Kaydet", and the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk; The Chipmunk is a tandem, two-seat, single engined primary trainer aircraft which was the standard primary trainer for the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Air Force and several other air forces throughout much of the post-second World War years. Both of these were from the CH2A Canadian Historical Aircraft Association located in Windsor, Ontario; and lastly, the Fleet Finch biplane that was manufactured in Fort Erie, Ontario.
For those who do not like jet noise or piston engine sounds, Manfred Radius performed in his sailplane. Other performers included Kent Pietsch and the Jelly Belly plane that land on a moving truck, and Tom Markin's EVO 1 Experimental aircraft.

There was a kid's zone, a beer garden, plenty of food and just as important portable sanitation were plenty and well dispersed. For adventure seekers helicopter as well as aircraft rides were available. The shows' MC was the well known Canadian Ric Peterson. For the photographers there was a special area set aside(for additional price) adjacent to the hot ramp where the Snowbirds were parked. There was a "DO NOT PARK HERE " demo; a parked car (an older wreck) was moved by a helicopter and it was dropped to the ground to everyone's delight.

Over all it was an excellent air show, GLIAS once again proved that it is not necessarily he size of the air show that matters, but how it is done,:well worth the admission price. Note all the proceeds go to several charities that include ST. Thomas General Hospital, Air Cadets 741 (Elgin) Squadron, Military Family Resources Centre and St. John Ambulance.

Just as in 2013, I've found the hospitality of the organizers top notch, my thanks goes to all of the volunteers involved, especially to Jim Banman GLIAS President, Dale B. Arndt. Airport Superintendent, Hugh Shields, Andrew Buttigieg, Media/Public Relations Director, and Al Rulton for the helicopter ride. I hope the GLIAS will be back in two years... can't wait to go again!

 
Performers included:

Canadian Forces Snowbirds,

CF-18 Hornet Demo Team,

Canadian Forces CC-130 Hercules SAR demo

Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association – 4 Harvards

CH2A Canadian Historical Aircraft Association's Stermann Model 75 "Kaydet", and the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk.

Pete McLeod - Red Bull Edge 540

Manfred Radius – Sailplane

Fleet Finch biplane

Kent Pietsch and the Jelly Belly plane

Tom Martin's EVO 1 Experimental aircraft

Pyro Jet Truck

Static displays included:

CF-18 Hornet Fighter on static

CH-146 Griffon Helicopter

Dornier Do 27-H2

T-28 Trojan

BAC Jet Provost

Stermann "Miss Delish"

 
Report and photography by Laszlo Nyary, The Aviation Magazine

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