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RCAF celebrates its centennial during Canada Day flypast in Ottawa

DND Press Release | July 2, 2024

Estimated reading time 8 minutes, 13 seconds.

To mark its Centennial, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) held its largest flypast in 20 years on Canada Day. Forty-nine aircraft took part in the 20-minute long ‘parade in the sky’ featuring historic, current, and future Canadian military aircraft.

The afternoon celebration began at 12:30 p.m. local time with a special appearance by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and concluded with another flyover by the Snowbirds and CF-18 Demonstration aircraft. The CF-18 on the Demonstration Team bears a distinct RCAF Centennial paint scheme.

The CF Snowbirds in formation with the CF-18 Demo aircraft on Canada Day 2024. Joe Letourneau Photo

The flypast represented most fleets and all capabilities of Canada’s Air Force, including training, maritime aviation, tactical transport, strategic transport and air-to-air refueling, tactical helicopter, search and rescue, and combat/NORAD missions.

Ranging in size from small two-seat training aircraft like the CT-156 Harvard II to the largest transport planes in the RCAF like the CC-177 Globemaster and new CC-330 Husky, the flypast afforded viewers watching from the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Parliament Hill, and LeBreton Flats, a chance to appreciate 100 years of service, dedication, and professionalism by Canada’s Air Force.  

Aircraft movements were carefully planned months in advance and coordinated with aircrew, air traffic control, NAV Canada, Transport Canada, Heritage Canada, civilian operators of historic aircraft, and members of the Vermont Air National Guard and United States Navy.  

The aircraft flew no lower than 500 feet above the highest obstacle on route during the flypast.  

A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter with a CH-149 Cormorant on Canada Day 2024. Joe Letourneau Photo

In addition to planes like the legendary Spitfire fighter, Lancaster bomber and distinctive yellow training aircraft of the Second World War, examples of future RCAF fleets like the PC-21, part of RCAF Future Aircrew Training, the F-35 Lightning II fighter (courtesy of the Vermont Air National Guard), and the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (courtesy of the United States Navy) were also included in the display.

“Today’s flypast by the Royal Canadian Air Force, in honour of its centennial, is a fantastic way to celebrate Canada Day in our nation’s capital. The RCAF has defended Canadians and their interests at home and abroad for a century – and this flypast is a fantastic way to recognize the pride, dedication, and professionalism of the hundreds of thousands who have served in the RCAF throughout its history. I thank RCAF members past and present for their exemplary service to Canada. To our Air Force personnel, veterans, and all Canadians: happy Canada Day!” — The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“The Royal Canadian Air Force is proud to conduct this flypast featuring historic, current, and future aircraft on Canada Day of this, its Centennial year. The flypast is a recognition of the importance of Canada’s Air Force and the operations it conducts 24/7, at home and around the world protecting and supporting Canadians and their allies. We remember all those who came before us and we rededicate ourselves to upholding the very best standards and values set out for us as we grow our Air Force for the challenges of today and the future.” — Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force

The new CC-330 Husky with VIP transport livery flies over Parliament Hill. Joe Letourneau Photo

“This flypast is a chance to connect Canadians to their Air Force as it celebrates and commemorates 100 years of service to Canada. Having historic aircraft in the parade reminds us of how far we have come as an institution and reminds serving members of the great legacy they uphold as they conduct missions in Canada and around the world. The future aircraft speaks to modernization and innovation that the RCAF is undertaking for the next century of service. Finally, we hope this will be a great moment of pride and reflection for current and past members of Canada’s Air Force.” — Colonel Maggie Jacula, Chairperson, Royal Canadian Air Force Centennial Committee

Quick Facts

  • The RCAF is made up of approximately 15,000 members coast to coast, flying over 350 aircraft. It is also responsible for Canadian Forces Station Alert, the most northerly, permanently inhabited location on Earth. It conducts round-the-clock operations all over the world and at home, including support to NORAD and continental defence and protects Canadians by providing air and marine Search and Rescue aircraft and maritime patrol.
  • Canada’s Air Force had humble beginnings in Borden, Ontario in April 1924, beginning with just under 400 members. By 1944 it grew to the world’s fourth largest Air Force with 215,000 members. Today, two serving RCAF officers are amongst Canada’s astronaut corps and the Air Force is embarking on its most comprehensive modernization program since the Second World War. 
  • The RCAF Centennial has featured many initiatives for 2024, including tribute hockey jerseys worn by the Winnipeg Jets paying homage to the 1948 RCAF Flyers Olympic hockey team, the RCAF Run at locations across the country, as well as a collection of coins from the Royal Canadian Mint, and feature displays at Ottawa’s Winterlude and Tulip Festival. Canadians across the country can take part in RCAF Centennial activities by checking out upcoming events in their area at Events – RCAF2024ARC and by sharing their images online using #RCAF100.

This press release was prepared and distributed by the Department of National Defence.

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

  1. Great celebration of 100 years aloft over our great big landmass as well as other places.
    Hooray for Canadian innovation and bravery.
    Long Live Canada and its airpeople. .

  2. I was watching the fly past personally on Canada Day. My hats off to the Royal Canadian Airforce for an excellent display of flights and acrobatics performed that day. May they go from strength to strength!

  3. I wander all the airplane since at that time till now still working. All those airplanes should be in a good maintenance. We people so thankful for any tax that we paid in Canada on that return among others. Happy Canada Day

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