There will be plenty of engines roaring overhead this weekend at the 63rd Canadian International Air Show, a crowd favourite at the Canadian National Exhibition.
Budget cuts being made by the U.S. Air Combat Command mean they are sending fewer demonstration teams to air shows this year. But air show organizers say it hasn't made a dent in this weekend's event, where there will be more aircraft over all than last year, including a U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon fly-by.
Along with civilian aerobatics, Canadian military demonstrations, including the famous Snowbirds, will be part of the show. (The Canadian Forces declined to say whether they've made cuts to their air show budget at a time of government austerity.)
Here's a look at the air show, by the numbers:
Aircraft at the Canadian International Air Show this year. The total is up from 25 last year, and 18 in 2010. The show is usually about 80 per cent Canadian and 20 per cent American, including military and civilian performers, and this year is no different, said John Ferrara, general manager of air operations at the demonstration. "We want to make sure that we make the show different every year," he said.
Savings the U.S. Air Combat Command says it will make by scaling back its usual six demonstration teams down to one this year. Flying the F-22 demonstration team at 20 air shows this year will cost about $1-million total, or $50,000 each, said 1st Lieutenant Sarah Godfrey, a public affairs officer. "Given the significant fiscal constraints we face, it's critical we appropriately allocate our limited resources," she said in an e-mail.
Only one Canadian air show, in Abbotsford, B.C., had aircraft from the U.S. ACC this year, down from six in 2011 and four the year before. The Canadian Forces has not said whether it has made similar cuts. Air Force public affairs Captain Jean-François Lambert said he could not say whether the number of performances had been reduced in line with cost reduction across government departments. He said military air show participation is funded by the Canadian Forces, except for car rental.
Roughly how many litres of jet fuel each Snowbirds aircraft, a CT-114 Tutor, will use during the airshow performance. Captain Thomas Edelson, public affairs officer for the Snowbirds, said if the weather allows, the team will perform a "high show" this weekend, which lasts about 30 minutes. "That's the show … that everyone expects, that has lots of vertical manoeuvring and horizontal manoeuvring," he said. The nine jets used in the show hold about 2,200 pounds of jet fuel each (or 1,000 litres), he said.
About how many practise flights the Snowbirds completed in Moose Jaw, Sask., before the air show season started in May, when the nine show jets and two extras started performing. "You have to become proficient in all the manoeuvres you'd expect to put on with a crowd, [for] reasons of ease and safety," Capt. Edelson said. But he said the number of practices often comes down to the weather. "Every year's different, this isn't going to be an exact science," he said.
Months before the season kicks off in May, the International Council of Air Shows meets each December, usually in Las Vegas. Organizers, including Mr. Ferrara, pick acts for their upcoming events. "That's where we start to build the show based on our budget," he said, adding it covers everything from performer fees to accommodation, depending on the type of sponsorship each performer has. He declined to reveal the show's budget.