features Photo feature: The best of Airshow London SkyDrive 2022

This year's Airshow London lived up to its title as No. 1 Airshow in North America.
By Dayna Fedy-MacDonald | October 14, 2022

Estimated reading time 9 minutes, 36 seconds.

It was another sold-out year for the annual Airshow London SkyDrive, which was held Sept. 9 to 11 at London International Airport (YXU). A true military air power themed show, this year’s event welcomed an impressive variety of air display performers, including the renowned U.S. Air Force (USAF) Thunderbirds as the headliners for the show.

Other performers this year included the F-22 Raptor Demo Team, E-3 Sentry, and two F-15 Eagles from the USAF; the CF-18 Demo Team, CC-130J Hercules, CT-155 Hawk, CT-156 Harvard IIs, and CC-150 Polaris from the Royal Canadian Air Force; and, so much more. The enthralling B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber also performed a flyby.

In addition to thrilling air display performers, SkyDrive had an exciting ground display lineup, too. Some of the aircraft on static display included the P-8A Poseidon, KC-10 Extender, KC-46A Pegasus, CC-177 Globemaster III, CT-146 King Air, U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey, two KC-135 Stratotankers, and several F-16 Fighting Falcons. Showgoers had the opportunity to get up close to the aircraft and even meet the crews.

The event saw the return of the successful drive-in format for the third consecutive year, with roughly 2,500 cars and 10,000 attendees per day. Showgoers were able to watch the performers tailgate-style from their own 20- by 25-foot parking site, and also utilize the new hop-on hop-off trolley to check out the ground display area.

Airshow London director of flight operations, Gerry Vanderhoek, said the show’s success would not be possible without the amazing logistics team that works tirelessly to plan an event that is both epic and enjoyable.

“The team behind the show is what makes the guest experience, the pilot experience, and our sponsors’ experience so great,” he said. “It’s a veteran crew that puts in a lot of hours, and we feel pretty blessed to have that.”

The countdown is already on for next year’s show; see you in 2023!

See photos from this year’s show below, and find more in the October/November issue of Skies!

The USAF Thunderbirds pull out of a large loop during their six-ship demonstration. The aerial display program was recently tweaked
with the help of ex-Disney choreographers to shorten the program and increase audience engagement. The Thunderbirds have been
flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon since 1983 in a display of grace and sheer speed. Patrick Cardinal Photo
An RCAF CC-130J Hercules performs a topside pass during its display of tactical maneuvers. The CC-130J is an all-purpose airframe serving coast to coast to coast, as well as internationally to support the Canadian Forces. Patrick Cardinal Photo
A rare visitor to Canadian airshows: the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber. This particular airframe, 82-1066 “Spirit of America,” is the first B-2A to ever take flight, on July 17, 1989. A distinct comparison could be made between the B-2’s crew of two and 40,000 pounds of payload, versus the crew of 10 and 8,000 lbs. of payload of the Second World War B-17 Bomber also on display at Airshow London. Patrick Cardinal Photo
Marking its 40th year in RCAF service, the CF-18 Demonstration Team Hornet turns and burns during its performance — piloted by Capt Jesse “Modem” Haggart-Smith of 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cold Lake, Alberta. During his display, Modem will pull upwards of 8Gs in some maneuvers. Joe Letourneau Photo
The Boeing B-17 “Yankee Lady” of the Yankee Air Museum in Michigan graced the skies over London this year. Also known as the Flying Fortress, the B-17 bore the brunt of daytime bombing raids into Axis-occupied territory during the Second World War. Patrick Cardinal Photo
Airshow London provides the opportunity for training between the RCAF and USAF. In the mornings before the official start of the show, CF-18s launched to practice basic fighter maneuvers against F-16s over the Great Lakes. The flights returned as part of the show. Here, an F-16 from Toledo Air National Guard Base, Ohio, is paired with a CF-18. Patrick Cardinal Photo
The E-3 Sentry AWACS is a mobile command and control platform, providing situational awareness to U.S. and NATO forces where ever required. Surface, air, and sea targets can be tracked and coordinated through the E-3, acting as an intelligence hub. Thirteen to 19 systems operators are housed in the aircraft on a typical mission. Joe Letourneau Photo
With 70,000 lbs. of thrust available, the F-22 Raptor at times possesses a greater than 1:1 thrust-to-weight ratio. This gives the aircraft outstanding vertical performance and the ability to ‘supercruise’ — sustained supersonic flight without the use of afterburner. Joe Letourneau Photo
An Airshow London fan favorite is the Friday evening “Hour of Power,” which usually features arrivals and team displays, and ends with the tail hook drag spark show by the CF-18 Demonstration Team. This particular show featured a beautiful Harvest Moon. Patrick Cardinal Photo
The SkyDrive drive-in concept has proven very popular with Airshow London crowds. It gives attendees the ability to drive in, park, and watch the show tailgate-style. This year, the reintroduction of static displays and a hop-on hop-off trolley system allowed the movement of patrons around the site. Joe Letourneau Photo
The Beechcraft C-90 King Air, operated by KF Aerospace and used by the RCAF as an instructional aircraft. The contract training program started in 2005 and will run through 2025. The aircraft sports markings representing VR-R “Ropey,” a Lancaster bomber in the Second World War. Patrick Cardinal Photo
A KC-135 Stratotanker arrives at London International Airport with two F-16 Fighting Falcons in tow, adding to the impressive static display at Airshow London. Patrick Cardinal Photo
The “Eagles Nest” at this year’s show did not disappoint, as seven F-15 Eagles of various configurations were in attendance, including four F-15 C/Ds from Kingsley Field, Oregon; two F-15Cs from New Orleans, Louisiana; and one F-15E Strike Eagle from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Patrick Cardinal Photo
An RCAF CF-18 pilot prepares for a night training flight. This particular aircraft was at Airshow London as a back-up jet for the Hornet Demo Team. While at airshows, the RCAF crew take the opportunity to develop skills and maintain currency. This training flight went to CFB Trenton and returned back to Airshow London shortly after in the dark. Joe Letourneau Photo
Michael Balserak of the 93rd Fighter Squadron “Makos” took this photo from a KC-135 of a “Katie’s Bear” enjoying a ride in an F-16 on the way back to Florida from Airshow London 2022. Michael Balserak, Boneyard Safari Photo
An impressive static display returned to Airshow London this year. The ground displays were canceled for the 2020 and 2021 shows in an effort to reduce transmission risk during the pandemic. Static displays are a large part of any airshow, allowing attendees to interact with both the aircraft and crews. Patrick Cardinal Photo

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1 Comment

  1. Great article! You did Airshow London proud. We have never been to an Airshow that we did not enjoy, this was right up there with the best of them. All three days.

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