Back at the end of May, I was fortunate to be in Cold Lake for the final week of training, of the CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team. For the past few years, workups were held in Comox BC, alongside the Snowbirds. However, this year, the team worked up at 4 Wing Cold Lake, where the final touches were put on this year’s routine.
This year’s demonstration pilot is Capt Brian “Humza” Kilroy. Humza grew up in Stony Plain, AB, where he got involved with the local Air Cadet Squadron. Air Cadets led Capt Kilroy to join the the RCAF, where he started his flight training, in 2008. Selected to fly jets, Capt Kilroy attended the Euro Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training program, where he would receive his RCAF Wings. Capt Kilroy returned to Canada, and went through his Fighter Pilot Course, with 410 “Cougars” Operational Training Fighter Squadron. In 2013, Humza was posted to 409 “Nighthawks” TFS, before helping reform 401 “Rams” TFS. Capt Kilroy has taken part in operational deployments, during Op Reassurance and Op Impact.
Finally, in 2018, Capt Kilroy was chosen as the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Pilot. "Being chosen to represent the Royal Canadian Air Force as the 2019 CF-18 Demonstration Pilot is a true honour...to me this year's theme is a call to action and an amazing opportunity to inspire the next generation. We're challenging ourselves and Canadians to keep pushing the limits of what is possible and to keep innovating. I hope that this summer, our team will inspire Canadians to think and dream big while also demonstrating the impressive capabilities of their Air Force."
The 2019 air show season, runs from June to September, at 15 different show sites, within Canada. Every year, the Demo Team highlights a specific theme. The theme for 2019 is “To The Stars”. The theme is a take on the RCAF motto, “Sic Itur Ad Astra”. Along with a theme, the aircraft sports a unique colour scheme. Over the past few years, air show fans have been treated to fully painted aircraft. This year, the art work covers just the vertical tails, of the aircraft and a unique luggage pod. The scheme was designed by Capt Jeff Chester, from 1 CAD, in Winnipeg and painted by 3 AMS at 3 Wing Bagotville. The team also has an additional theme, celebrating the 70th Anniversary of NATO.
Over the winter months, Capt Kilroy trained in the CF-18 simulator, before progressing to flying the aircraft, under the supervision of a previous year’s demo pilot. Over the following months, Humza would fly full show practices, putting his simulator training into practice. Practices are flown at higher altitudes, slowly working down to show altitudes that he will fly, during the season. During the final three weeks, in May, the entire demo team comes together and full shows are flown, complete with music and narration. The training period culminated with an acceptance show, which was flown in Bagotville, and the show was signed off by the Commander of the RCAF, MGen Alain Pelletier. This gives the team authorization to fly for the public.
While on the road, Humza is supported by two teams of talented aircraft technicians. Technicians from 3 Wing Bagotville, support eastern air shows, while techs from 4 Wing Cold Lake, support western stops. The team is also made up of three safety pilots, who back up the demo pilot, ensuring a safe performance. Finally, the team Public Affairs Officer, will travel to all 15 show sites, and also provide narration, for the performances.
I would like to extend a big thank you to the CF-18 Demonstration Team, for the access and hospitality, during my time in Cold Lake. Also, thank you to Capt Jennifer Halliwell, at 1 CAD, for putting me in touch with the team. Finally, a huge thank you to Demo Team Public Affairs Officer, Lt Becky Major. Thank you for your help with arranging passes and escorting me, while on base. I truly appreciate it.
With that, I wish the entire Demo Team, a successful 2019 air show season. Make sure to see the team, at a show near you. http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/cf-18-demo-team/schedule.page
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