Cold Lake Air Show is ready to roar

The Snowbirds will bring their amazing aerobatic demonstration to the Cold Lake Air Show this weekend.
Photo by MS Roxanne Wood 19 Wing Imaging

Jeff Gaye

4 Wing has all hands on deck as we get down to the final preparations for the 2018 Cold Lake Air Show.

Col Eric Grandmont, chair of the air show committee, says the whole weekend from Friday’s Full Throttle festival downtown to two days of flying, will be a thrilling audience experience.

The excitement, he says, begins with the lineup of performers. Cold Lake will have the United States Air Force F-22 Raptor’s only Canadian stop for 2018.

“The F-22 is an incredible machine, a jaw-dropping type of demonstration,” Col Grandmont said. “And when you see that even fighter pilots are impressed by the demonstration, you know the ‘normal’ people like us will be astounded by the things the aircraft can actually do.”

In addition to its solo demonstration, the Raptor will participate in a special flyby of fighter jets including the F-15C Eagle, F-16 Viper and the RCAF’s CF-18 Hornet. All of these jets participate in NORAD’s defence of North American airspace.

The three Canadian Armed Forces demonstration teams—the SkyHawks, the CF-18 Demonstration Hornet and the Snowbirds—will be major crowd pleasers. “You couldn’t have an air show without them,” Col Grandmont said.

Several civilian performers will show off the barnstorming tradition of aerobatic flying.

And there will be plenty to see on the ground, with military and civilian aircraft on display. “We’ll open as many cockpits as we can and allow people to jump in,” Col Grandmont said.

Hosting big crowds can be difficult, but the last Cold Lake Air Show was a logistical success story. The 2018 committee has studied what went well, as well as opportunities for improvement.

A better sound system and a more condensed layout will boost the audience experience.

The committee has also centralized and expanded the food services, and relocated the beer garden with a family-friendly patio area. Getting around the site will be easier, thanks to a tractor-trailer “people mover.”

“People will be able to hop in and hop out so they can travel faster on the site and enjoy more things,” LCol Grandmont said.
Cold Lake will start to heat up Friday night with the Full Throttle festival, featuring live entertainment and an outdoor beer garden, sponsored by the City of Cold Lake.

“We have a great partnership with City of Cold Lake, they have been a great player and it’s an honour to work with them,” Col Grandmont said. “We thank all the sponsors that make this possible. Without them there’s no way we could put this world class event together.”

Col Grandmont says one day at the show might not be enough “There’s so much to see during the air show that two days may be required for someone to enjoy 100 per cent of we’ve put forward for them,” he said.

If you’re inclined to go for just one day, Sunday may be your best choice—advance ticket sales for Saturday have outpaced Sunday. The show will go on rain or shine, but the schedule is subject to change if there is unfavourable weather.