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2019 In Review

Whew, now where has the time gone!  This year seems to have blazed by, as our fleet has for many passengers and spectators.  2019 will be remembered as a special year for the Waterloo Warbirds. Among other things, our MiG-15 returned fully to the air following an extensive modification to the braking system that has elevated the safety of operating this aircraft to a new level. We also acquired a WWII veteran classic Harvard to enhance our pilots’ year-round training and bring the original training aircraft for warbird jets into the fleet. Some team members even traveled to EAA Airventure 2019 in OshKosh, and they caught the OshKosh fever!

Our flying season extended this year with flights launching right to the end of November! And is showing no signs of stopping. Passengers continue to travel to us from far and wide to enjoy the thrill of flight in classic jets (or a Harvard that believes it’s a jet).  The feeling of power, freedom, maneuverability and intimacy with the sky is energizing, and awe-inspiring. There is a smile for that; and our passengers leave with it every time.

We kicked off the airshow season with our Vampire and Harvard heading to St. Hubert, Quebec; in June. Peter Stewart flew a graceful routine in the Vampire, which is becoming a crowd favourite for its looks and distinctive whistle (courtesy of the Goblin engine), which are both quite unique.  Early July saw us participate in Air Force Day celebrations at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, where three of our fleet (plus Peter’s de Havilland Tiger Moth) were on display. 

Our season carried on with participation in Aviation Fun Day at our home airport here in the Region of Waterloo and flights of the Vampire and T-33 in the Community Charity Airshow, in Brantford. This Airshow was where we debuted our new 2-ship demo routine, showcasing two intrinsic aircraft of our country’s aviation and military history. They made for a powerful story and stunning view against the clear sky; and we received many compliments for their attention-grabbing routine.  Aviation Fun Day, an open house event, was packed with people of all ages.  The entire fleet was on display and this was an excellent chance to show-and-chat them up with the public who have never had the chance to get up-close to icons of aviation innovation and ask pilots questions directly about the aircraft and its flight characteristics.

The highlight of our season had to be in July, when our entire participated in an air-to-air photo-shoot with Skies magazine.  It was even sweeter as SKIES Magazine is also a local, small business within Waterloo Region. Bringing the two teams together for a global project was a tremendous opportunity. The photos and video are outstanding and if you haven’t had the chance, peruse the August issue online or in print.  Special Thanks are extended to Mike Reyno of SKIES Magazine, and his fantastic team, for this great opportunity to show off the fleet!. Grab a drink, settle back and check out the story here.

This Fall, the weather kept us on the ground during two significant events, Wilfred Laurier University Home Coming; and our traditional Remembrance Day Fly Overs across two regions’ worth of events. Missing opportunities to show our support are extremely disappointing for the team. However, it did not slow the team down in working to complete several different projects in the hangar!

With the weather blistering outside, Waterloo Warbirds used its time wisely this fall to redesign our public engagement program with our new ALLY PROGRAM! You can join Waterloo Warbirds’ Sierra Squadron with an annual fee of $60.00CDN, payable on-line in our e-Store. Sierra Squadron participants support Waterloo Warbirds in our efforts to maintain our fleet , keep them flying safely, restore our second Canadair T-33, grow our outreach to youth in raising awareness of their potential futures in aviation, and the robust history of aviation. And, to continue to develop our Remembrance Program to honour Veterans, through the sharing of their stories and sacrifices.

Those that take flight in one of our aircraft, are part of the Waterloo Warbirds’ Bravo Squadron. An elite group steeped in the common ground of experiencing our flight program from the cockpit; and the unique, powerful flight each of our aircraft delivers. Participants in this Squadron share a bond and story of their adventure with us; and can continue to share with their fellow Squadron members, plan further flights, and stay connected to happenings on their aircraft of choice.

Sierra Squadron enjoys front-of-the line access to select Waterloo Warbirds’ hosted events and Fly Days, along with special offers. Bravo Squadron enjoys front-of-the line access to all Waterloo Warbirds’ hosted events, exclusive Fly Days, special offers and more!

Individual Fleet notes:

T-33 ‘Mako Shark’

T-33 ‘Mako Shark’

‘Mako’ returned to the skies late Spring with a feverish roar to make sure we all knew she was back.  She is the current leader in flight experiences and always in demand, whenever she appears at events.  The unique paint scheme and touching story of the Naval Squadron (VU32) that this scheme commemorates pulls a lesser-known story from the history books of the RCAF. We are proud to be the keepers of sharing that story; and reflecting the heroism of that squadron, with our jet. She is the second of our fleet to complete her annual inspection and is back on the circuit for passenger flights. Cold air is like candy for her engine.

Vampire

Vampire DH155

Our Vampire was the airshow leader for the team this year, appearing at all events we attended and receiving much admiration from all.  There is something special in seeing this classic lady in the air; our Queen of single-jet engine innovation. Although the Vampire’s paint scheme was actually launched in 2018; the beautiful Haiku artwork continued to garner rave reviews throughout the year. Also a formation favourite with both prop and jet engine aircraft, the Vampire is a photographer’s muse in flight.

L-29 Delfin

L29 Delfin (Viper Engine)

Waterloo Warbirds’ Aero Vodochody L29 Delfin has spent the year slapping clouds, formation flying, being inverted and putting smiles on passengers’ faces with thrilling, kick-in-the-pants flight experiences; all courtesy of her upgraded Viper engine and incredibly talented pilot.  Unlike the slower stock version of this aircraft type, typically found in ride programs across North America and Europe, ‘Viper’, as we fondly call her, brings over 60lbs of additional thrust to every element of her flight profile. Pound for Pound, the L29 in our fleet delivers the next level of value and thrill in comparison to the others. Smaller than the rest of our fleet, her enhanced thrust let’s her punch ‘above-her-weight-class’ in flight experiences.

MiG-15

MiG 15

2019 confirmed that the extensive and labour-intensive modifications done to the MiG’s braking system, was completely worth the effort and wait. Capable of delivering a once-unachievable level of safety in stopping the aircraft, our MiG 15 is also able to land on shorter runways; increasing the airport locations we can now reach to showcase this gorgeous aircraft. Pilot Richard Cooper flew ‘Natasha’ in the Canadian National Air Show at Toronto’s CNE this past September, making her an instant star in the show, and THE buzz on the street that she is notably the only MiG 15 available for flight experiences in North America.  Of our fleet of classics, we have jets and then we have our MiG, which is essentially a jet engine with wings.  Richard carefully satisfies her thirst for speed and love of shaking up the skies, to the delight of those booking their flight experiences for 2020.  Natasha is ready for her close-up with passengers. We look forward to delivering ever-lasting memories to a number of people in 2020. 

Harvard MK IIb

Harvard Mark IIb

Spring brought the arrival of our ‘new’ aircraft: a Noorduyn constructed 1942 Harvard Mark IIb.  This historic aircraft was assigned to number 14 Service Flying School at RCAF Station Aylmer, Ontario, current home of the Ontario Police College.  After the war ended she served in St. Hubert, Quebec and then went into private hands in 1960.  We are privileged to have this historic aircraft become a member of the Waterloo Warbirds.  She brings a unique flight experience to our fleet of jets. And the opportunity to fly in ‘The Pilot Maker’ aircraft that turned so many young men, and women, into fighter pilots. It is said, if you can fly a Harvard, you can fly anything. A thrill for our passengers that enjoy aerobatic rides in this historic, aviation icon.

Speaking of rides, for anyone interested in blazing the skies we still may be able to accommodate you before the year is out.  I guarantee you won’t regret reaching for the skies in any of our planes!

2019 has been a productive and fun year for our organization.  We look ahead to an incredible 2020, and continuing our work as Waterloo Region’s Air Force for thrilling adventure, humbling remembrance, and welcoming aviation opportunities for the next generation. The phone lines, e-store and email are all open. BOOK YOUR FLIGHT EXPERIENCE NOW! OR JOIN THE SIERRA SQUADRON.