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A few Springbank (Calgary) Air Show pics.....

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I love airshows, but like everyone else, I hate the hassle of entering and leaving the venue due to the large crowds that go with them.  I especially like the “Aviation Nation” airshow at Nellis AFB (Vegas) every couple of years, which I will be attending this November, but you can easily spend 1 ½ hours getting onto the base and another 1 ½ hours leaving the base, for a total of 3 wasted hours of standing in line.   :(  Thankfully, this air show is always worth the wait, especially if you like fighter jets like I do.  There are no worries about what fighter jet might show up, because all the key ones live at Nellis, including the Thunderbirds.  F-15’s, F-16’s (usually Aggressors), F-18's (Navy comes every year), F-22’s and now F-35’s are all a given, with lots of other cool aircraft like Warbirds fill the skies.


Here in Calgary we don’t have any big airshows, but we often have a small one on the western outskirts of Calgary at the small Springbank Airport, which is going on today and tomorrow.  I know from experience that getting in and out of this airport is a really big hassle, so I wasn’t planning on attending, knowing that I was getting my airshow fix at Nellis in November anyway.  It turns out, however, that most of the airshow acts do a practice run on the Friday and the Canadian Snowbirds sponsor a VIP tent right on the main runway, for families with children who have Cerebral Palsy.  Through some connections I was asked if I would like to attend, to take some pictures of the kids and transport a few of the attendees to and from the show.  Hell Yes!  So my wife and I attended this mini-show yesterday and as advertised, there was only about 80 of us with front row seats- and no other people, other than those who collected in the deep background to get a glimpse of what was going on.  Very cool, and a real tribute to the Snowbirds for sponsoring this charitable event.


With that long preamble out of the way, here are a few pics of the show and for privacy reasons, I will stick to the aircraft pics only and not the many “people” pics I took.  While photography is another hobby of mine, I don’t have any of the super long prime zoom lenses (400 mm+) that are required to capture airshow acts cleanly, since I would rarely use them and they are super heavy and expensive.  Instead, these are some pics using my Nikon Z7 II camera and a 70-200 mm f 2.8 lens, which is great for people shots, but not so good for aircraft flying by at high speed.  With the big 45.7 MP sensor of this camera, however, I was able to digitally zoom in a bit further than 200 mm with a few decent results.


The main act for me is the Canadian CF-18A Legacy Hornet, which is showing its age, but man can it still put on a great show!  These demo jets are usually brightly painted in a new scheme every year, but for some reason this year is just two tone grey in an almost digital pattern.  This pic also gives you an idea of how close we were to the performing aircraft.




My next favorite aircraft, as always, is the P-51D Mustang.  I’m not sure where this beauty came from (California?), but it was gorgeous!




A bit closer.  Note the “back-up” Hornet in the background.




First act were parachutists, waving the Canadian flag.




And also recognition of our American friends and performers.




Next were three Pitts Specials of the Northern Stars Aerobatic Team, who are Canadian RCAF veterans.  These guys are good….








There were two Mustangs that flew, like the one above that is called “Grim Reaper”.  Note the dark clouds starting to roll in, which eventually shortened the airshow later due to lightning.




And another P-51D, which is an obvious tribute paint scheme of the Tuskegee Airmen from the Erickson Aircraft Collection of Oregon.  Not as pretty as the Grim Reaper by a long shot, but it flew just as well and as fast.




Take-off.  This where a long prime lens would have been much better.  I can hear the sound of that Merlin music just looking at it.






The other Mustang...




Next up was the CF-18, with thunderstorms growing in the background.




Take-off, showing how close the airport is to a residential area and the growing wind speed.






I think this new paint scheme is supposed to look like a real Hornet?






With the humidity building in the air, every high G turn came with a good vapor trail off the LEX.




I still love these jets, even if they are old.




Speaking of old jets, the last act, and sponsor of our group, were the Snowbirds that fly CT-114 trainers, which date back to the 60’s.  While nowhere near as fast as the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels, the skill to fly them in such tight formations is still fantastic to witness, especially since there are usually 9 of them instead of the traditional 6.
















The Snowbirds had to cut their demonstration short due to the building thunderstorm clouds and a few strikes of lightning in the distance, or I likely would have taken a few more shots.  It was time to leave for everyone, so we all packed up and left the airport with NO crowds to hold us back!  Pure airshow Nirvana, and a great day for a great cause all around.  My wife and I were very touched by the attendees, which on it's own, was well worth our small efforts.








Edited by chuck540z3
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41 minutes ago, LSP_Ron said:

Awesome pick.  I would have loved to go but as you say,  it's a complete gong show getting in and out of there.  I guess a person could have just sat on the side of Hwy 1?


Hi Ron,


My guess is that either a lot of people do just that, or there are no parking signs all over the place, since it's obviously a big distraction and could be a highway hazard.  Nothing is stopping anyone from going to Calaway Park nearby, however, or parking on Springbank Road which is parallel to Hwy 1.  All of the acts fly predominantly North-South so anywhere along that trajectory should be able to see something fairly well.  If you're interested tomorrow, the Hornet flies at 2 PM and the Snowbirds are at 3, so it's not a big time commitment.  When you go home, it's better to continue west to Hwy 22 and loop around through Cochrane, to avoid the $itshow of construction at Valley Ridge with extra traffic from the airshow.




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