Sunday, September 11, 2016


I like this thing. I like the art of it, I like the science of it, I like the history of it, I like it for the implications for the future. This thing is something to which I look forward every year. Collette and I always make our way down to Toronto's lakeshore to watch this thing, sitting for hours in the heat and the hollowing sun.

We like this thing but lately it's been rather difficult to like this thing. Or to admit that we like this thing. Other people do not like this thing and because they do not like it, it means that it is wrong. So I am wrong for liking it

Which sucks. Because I love the CNE Airshow

The CNE airshow has been running for over 100 years, it is the oldest airshow in Canada. I've rarely been there when the seats are not packed and people all line up all over the Ex grounds. So the Air Show is popular and has been so for a long time

But the show has been garnering a lot of criticism of late, most of it centred around its inclusion of military aircraft. Now, I have noticed a greater emphasis on the military. This year was the anniversary of the creation of an international coalition to which Canada belonged and there are fewer acrobatic airplanes but I don't see how you can have an airshow without including the military; right wrong or indifferent that is how aviation technology has advanced over the years

I have written before about the conflicts I feel about enjoying the demonstrations of these flying guns. War planes, even the beautiful classic aircraft, are indeed guns, designed as weapons, no matter how elegant they may appear. I have some pretty deep seated views on war, as in even the very few "justifiable" wars could have been prevented at some point and I'm not at all certain who wins in a war. But that notwithstanding, I can still admire the engineering of a war plane and more importantly, the skill of those who fly them

Then you have the situation of the Air Show's opening act, the Breitling Jet Team, out of France. They fly decommissioned L-39 Albatross jets, military jets, but the team is a civilian team. And I would suppose that most of them once served in the military

There is no doubting the military authenticity of the US Navy F/A 18F Superhornet, nor that of the Canadian Forces CF-19 Hornet. Both are warplanes, both were flown by serving military pilots and both are flying guns. They are weapons and I rarely agree with how these weapons are employed. The men flying them may not agree either but fly them they will. Do we have some control over when these planes are flown? To some degree we do. We could ban them from flying over Toronto's lakeshore or we could take care with our politicians, we could be vigilant and pro-active and don't permit our governments to use the flying guns to further their own careers. Me, I would much rather see these planes fly over the lake to entertain us. Stopping them from doing that will in no way stop them from being used in a war.

Besides, they dressed up the CF-18 for the party

One of the justified wars, and a war that certainly could have been avoided, was represented at the show. The Queen Beach Expeditor and the Harvard are planes with their origins in World War II. I particularly love the Harvard, the plane on which virtually all Canadian pilots of that ear were trained. The sound of its huge radial engines is distinct and to me, as thrilling as a jet engine

Someone who is totally un-military is Mike Wiskis, one of my favourite madmen stunt pilots. He flies a custom Pitts Special biplane and he has a lot of the old barnstormers in him. Or in the case of this air show, water boat stormer as he loves flying low on the deck over Lake Ontario and strafing the fire service water boat that marks show centre

And of course every Air Show cumulates with the Sow Birds. Every member of this team are serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces. The Tudor jets which they fly are Canadian Military training planes. Like the Harvards of old, the Tudors are not armed and are never involved in combat missions. But they are military planes, flown by military pilots. They are not flying guns but they are used to train people to pilot flying guns.

What the Snowbirds are, is beautiful. The little planes with their retro lines and their red and white paint scheme are beautiful. The program and choreography are beautiful. And the skill of the pilots is beautiful.

In Parkdale, the neighbourhood that surrounds the CNE grounds, recent immigrants to Canada have complained that they find the airshow terrifying. The sound of the jets conjures up memories of wars and battles in their homelands. This is real and I take it seriously. But it is also part of a trend of those who don't like something so think that thing should not exist. Perhaps we can help people by educating them about the airshow, that it is a display of skill and engineering, not a flexing of military muscle. And perhaps others should realize that their world is not my world.

And in my world, the Airshow rules

So clearly there will be some who will not appreciate the video below. That is fine. You don't have to watch it, you don't have to like it. But I will continue to go to the Airshow, Collette will continue to take photos like all the ones in this blog and I will continue to m make videos. In my world, everyone gets to enjoy what they enjoy

So enjoy

C.N.E Airshow 2016 from Victor Kellar on Vimeo.

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