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On July 1, 2017, Canada’s Air Force plans to fly up to 39 vintage and current military aircraft over Parliament Hill, as part of our nation’s 150th birthday celebrations. It may well rank as the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) largest flypast since the end of the Second World War. As well, in response to community requests, the RCAF has scheduled flypasts at about 60 other locations nationwide during Canada Day.
“The flyby over Parliament Hill might be termed a ‘parade of aircraft,’ ” said Maj Yanick Gregoire, the RCAF’s air display director. “An opportunity to celebrate Canada 150 with this parade in the sky is important, since it helps us all visualize and appreciate Canada’s history; which includes the role of the airplane in shaping our nation.”
The scheduled Canada Day flypast over Parliament Hill includes the RCAF’s CF-18 sporting a special Canada 150 commemorative paint job. Also on hand for the Parliament Hill flypast will be the world-famous Snowbirds in their nine CT-114 Tutor jets.
Vintage military aircraft will also be out in force. For instance, members of the Vimy Flight flying team (all active or retired RCAF pilots) will be flying a group of three replica Nieuport 11 First World War biplanes over Parliament Hill.
Meanwhile, Vintage Wings of Canada (a non-profit aircraft conservation group based in Gatineau, Que.) will be covering the Second World War with a four-plane flight consisting of a FG-1D Corsair, a Hawker Hurricane, a Mustang IV, and a Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX. They’ll be in a Finger Four formation until the Spitfire climbs heavenward, resulting in a Missing Man formation to commemorate Canadians’ ultimate sacrifices in war.
Also in the skies over Ottawa on July 1, will be the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Avro Lancaster four-engine heavy bomber and its North American B-25J Mitchell two-engine medium bomber. The ‘Lanc’ is the last Canadian-made Lancaster capable of flight, and one of only two still flying worldwide. A total of 7,377 were originally built.
Then there’s the RCAF’s aerial parade of current aircraft, whose roster is still to be announced–the reason? On June 27, 2017, the RCAF’s Facebook page asked its followers: “Which of our current aircraft would you like to see in a flyby on Parliament Hill, on July 1? Let us know in the comments which ones and why it’s special to you.”
Possible candidates for the flypast are 20-plus RCAF aircraft currently in service, from a CT-156 Harvard II trainer to the massive CC-177 Globemaster III.
“We have received well over 1,000 responses on the RCAF Facebook pages (English and French) and most people seem to want to see at least one of each type of RCAF aircraft in the parade of aircraft,” said RCAF social media manager Karen Johnstone. “While operations or weather may affect the plans, Canadians can expect to see many of them in the skies on Canada Day.”
All told, the RCAF is expecting up to 39 aircraft to take part in its July 1 aerial parade over Ottawa. Up-to-date details can be found on the RCAF’s Twitter accounts: @RCAF.ARC in English and @ARC.RCAF in French.