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Canadian Aviation Expo

(NOTE: The Canadian Aviation Expo has now been hosted by the Waterloo Air Show)

Gary

by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Boys Day Out…

I drove to Port Hope to pick up my two grandsons and my son-in-law. It was the boys’ day out! Here we were, the four of us, headed for Oshawa and the Canadian Aviation Expo. Today’s drive was short, but the excitement in the car was just as intense as our trip the day before to Port Dover! The Oshawa Airport was hosting the annual Aviation Expo. In addition to featuring aircraft and aircraft equipment, the Expo was holding an air show! This is what the boys really wanted to see! We followed the event signs to Taunton Road and found the entrance to the Oshawa Airport. Cars from both directions were streaming onto the airport road and heading for the parking areas. We followed the instructions of the parking staff and found a convenient parking spot. It appeared that we weren’t the only ones excited by the event. We parked the car and followed the crowd to the airport terminal. Here we paid our admission fee and then wound our way through the building to the tarmac and airplanes. Our adventure was about to begin! Thank goodness for the sunny day!

On The Tarmac…

The tarmac was a sea of visual delights! A fence divided the exhibitors from the runways and staging area. The organizers of the Expo didn’t want anyone accidentally wandering onto an active runway! One of our first discoveries was a sun powered car. It was low and sleek and glistening in the bright sun! We were told that they were going to demonstrate it as part of the show. A little further along we came to a variety of airplanes, some new and some older. We stopped to admire a aerobatic bi-plane and imagined it in the looping gracefully like a bird in flight. Next came a Seabee. This is an oddly shapes amphibious airplane that looks equally awkward on land or water! My brother, Chuck, a recreational pilot, and his friend Dennis were co-owners of a blue Seabee. I can remember Chuck flying it to our family cottage on Lake of Bays. It was exciting to watch the plane take off and land! Flying in the plane was always a thrill! Close to the Seabee was a display of all terrain vehicles. The boys, including Eddy loved these machines! It was great fun watching the two grandsons getting onto the vehicles to “try them out”! Further along this section of the tarmac was the Cirrus Airplane display and show trailer. There was a new Cirrus plane on display with both its doors open. Visitors to the Expo could “climb aboard” and sit in the cockpit. The instrument panel looked extremely complicated; although I am sure to an experienced pilot it would all make sense! The boys were allowed to climb into the cockpit. Two budding pilots, perhaps? Behind the display plane was Cirrus’s trailer. We walked up the stairs and entered the dimly lite showroom. The room told us all about Cirrus and its wonderful planes. There was even some interactive equipment for the boys to investigate! At the end of the showroom Cirrus had set up a display of their newest model. We gathered around to get a better view! Outside the Cirrus trailer we continued our trek along the tarmac. Off in the distance was a large hanger. We walked towards it. Just before the hanger Air Canada had set up a booth promoting “Dreams Take Flight”. We stopped to learn more and the boys were given “Dreams” handouts. As we came to the hanger we could see that there were several beautiful aircraft inside. Unfortunately the opening to the hanger was roped off so we could only admire them from a distance. Although the boys were intrigued by these newer planes, something more interesting further along had caught their eye…

World War II Revisited…

What had caught the boys’ attention was the military equipment exhibit! There were planes, tanks and armoured vehicles. The display included two aircraft, a tank, a troop carrier, a jeep and a command vehicle. The kids loved them all! Where permitted they climbed and posed! It is too bad that such an interesting display had to represent so much hardship and loss! It seemed that there was something there to admire for both young and old. We spent time wandering through this great display of war relics. We weren’t the only ones admiring the planes. A group of uniformed airmen sat under the wing of the DC-3 reminiscing about the times and the planes. Across from the military display were a number of different types of small aircraft. It seemed like all styles were represented! I saw everything from a float plane to an ultra light glider. There was a Murphy Rebel on display. This is the same type of kit aircraft that my friend Barry uses in his aerial photography business. The ultra lights were very interesting. I have seen them flying over our area on a number occasions. Past these smaller aircraft were the “big and expensive ones”! We wound our way through these large aircraft marveling at the size and for some, the luxury! We stopped and admired many of them. My grandsons were able to ask some questions from aircraft representatives. Even for the none aircraft enthusiasts the array of planes on display was breathe taking! Showtime for the Canadian Aviation Expo Air Show was quickly approaching, so we made our way back towards the military display. A set of viewing bleachers had been set up nearby and we wanted to reach them before all the seats were taken!

The Air Show (First Stage)…

We arrived to the Air Show viewing bleachers in time to find seats for us all. We settled in for a great show! First up was an aerobatic bi-plane. We watched as the plane hurray down the runway, finally to lift off in front of us. The plane flew past the crowd of spectators with the pilot showing us his aerobatic skills. The plane made several passes before safely landing. Next was the glider. After the aircraft was attached to the “tow” plane, it was slowly “walked” to the takeoff area. While this was taking place, the solar powered car was brought onto the closest runway. When everything was ready, the car took off down the runway! We were amazed by the speeds it was able to reach! Once it reached the end of the runway, the driver turned it around and he raced back to the start. The crowd applauded its approval! It was now time for the glider and tow plane to start their performance. The tow plane roared its engine while the glider was steadied with helping hands. Then the tow plane started to move forward with the glider following in tandem. After a short distance both took flight perfectly. Once they had reached the right altitude, the tow plane released its charge. The glider was on its own, eager to soar to new heights! The glider and its pilot gracefully dipped and swooped as it followed nature’s currents! High above the crowd the glider danced as the pilot put the aircraft through its manoeuvers. It passed quietly overhead and finally floated to the ground for a perfect landing! The quiet was shattered by the roar of a jet engine! The Russian marked jet had made its way to the end of the runway, throttling its engines for takeoff. The jet flashed by us as it raced down the runway. In a flash it was high above us! Suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, the jet streamed into view, engines throttled down so that we see it more clearly. Once it had passed us by, it throttled up and took off at high speed! As soon as the jet had finished it performance and had landed, the PA announcer told us that the Air Show had been postponed for about ¾ of an hour due to a nearby weather cell. To pass the time, we all walked back to the large plan area. Just beyond it was another large hanger. This building housed the “Trade Show” portion of the Canadian Aviation Expo. We wandered through the aisles stopping to investigate to what each booth offered. We discovered that being a plane enthusiast could be very expensive! After about ½ hour of walking through the Trade Show area we decided to make our way back to the viewing bleachers.

The Air Show (Second Stage)…

Finally, an announcement was made that the Air Show was about to begin again. The second stage of the Air Show was started off by aerobatic super star pilot Patty Wagstaff. Patty’s reputation as an extraordinary Air Show performer was legendary! Her plane taxied onto the runway and made its way to the end of the closest runway. She throttled up her engine and came roaring along in a cloud of smoke! She flew at low levels until she reached the end of the runway and then lifted vertically into the air! She went as high as she could until power and gravity started to pull her back to earth. The plane fell back and started to come back down in a controlled spin! Time after time Patty threw her plane into near impossible loops, dives and spin. The spectators on the ground were terrified, but thrilled. Each time Patty’s passed by the audience roared with approval! I tried to follow her manoeuvers with my camera and almost fell over for my troubles. Fortunately Eddy was there to give a helping hand! Breathlessly the crowd followed Patty’s each move and only breathed a sigh of relief once she was safely on the ground! As she taxied her plane to the staging area the crowd stood and applauded her outstanding performance! While Patty’s was taxiing back, 4 Harvard aircraft cranked up their engines and taxied to the farthest runway. Once they were ready for takeoff the Harvards started to roll 2 at a time. With all 4 in the air they joined up in formation and started their performance. They were able to make a few formation fly-bys before weather forced them to land. As soon as the Harvards had landed safely, the announcer informed us that the remainder of the Canadian Aviation Expo Air Show had been cancelled. Just as we reached our car, the heavens opened and the rain poured down! Thunder and lightning quickly surrounded us! It was an unfortunate way to end a great day, “The Boys’ Day Out”! 

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