Today the Royal Canadian Air Force received its new Colours in a ceremony at Toronto City Hall. This included a flypast "parade in the sky" of historic and current RCAF aircraft. I was lucky enough to have a good vantage to photograph most of them, but these photos have been shuffled into a slightly different order. The RCAF provides a high-resolution jpeg poster that shows the correct sequence – follow the line of the arrow – as well as a PDF detailing more information about the ceremony and its significance.
The information here has been taken from the RCAF webpages, with links, from the announcers at the day's event as they introduced the aircraft, and from other sources as well where appropriate. You can click on the photos to make them bigger.
First image: CH-147F Chinook, 450 Tactical Helicopter squadron from Petawawa; CH-146 Griffon, 430 Tactical Helicopter squadron from Valcartier. Second image: the CH-148 Cyclone, front, and the CH-124 Sea King that will ultimately be replaced by the Cyclone. Both are from 12 Wing based in CFB Shearwater, Halifax. Given the fifty-plus years of service from the Sea King, it certainly deserves its own photo as well.
The CT-142 'Gonzo' electronics training aricraft is a variant of the commercial Bombardier DHC-8 "Dash 8" that's a common sight over Toronto in the service of Porter Airlines and a few other regional carriers. The second photo shows the modern CT-156 Harvard II turboprop and CT-155 Hawk pilot trainers flying in formation. The Harvard is our version of the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II, which is an extremely popular basic trainer that's also been put forward as a possible close-support aircraft for the USAF and other countries. The Hawk is a somewhat older design, but is also used by a long list of countries, and mostly retired the older Tudor trainers that still serve for the Snowbirds.
The CC-115 Buffalo, in search-and-rescue livery, is flown by 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of Comox, BC. I have a soft spot for Canadian STOL bush planes, so I'll be a little sad to see this plane replaced by the new Airbus C-295W. And of course there's the iconic Hercules, CC-130J, flown by 436 Transport Squadron out of CFB Trenton, which is just a bit down the lake from Toronto. The new "J" model has only been in service for a few years, but has already been deployed for airlift in Afghanistan and in support of the coalition against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. We too easily forget that Canada is routinely engaged in combat and support missions around the world.
The twin-engine CC-150 Polaris, from the 437 Transport Squadron based in Trenton, are former Canadian Airlines Airbus 310 airliners that have been modified for military service. This particular one has been modified further and repainted in blue and white for the VIP transport role, which has been the subject of repeated political controversies. The four-engine giant is the CC-177 Globemaster III is from 429 Transport Squadron in Trenton. In addition to its more traditional strategic and tactical airlift roles, the Canadian C-17's have been used for disaster relief after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and for transporting supplies in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The first two photos are of the CP-140 Aurora anti-submarine and patrol aircraft, flown by 404 Long Range Training and Patrol Squadron from CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia. It combines the airframe of the American P-3 Orion with the electronics of the S-3 Viking, and is a very capable aircraft. But one interesting future possibility for the RCAF would be to join the RAAF and others in moving to the P-8 Poseidon as the CP-140 fleet is retired.
This CF-188, more commonly called the CF-18 Hornet, is flown by 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron from Bagotville, Quebec. These two are seen flying in formation with a Hercules CC-130H for air-to-air refuelling, which made for a very impressive performance.
And, of course, the Snowbirds of the 431 Air Demonstration Squadron out of Moose Jaw. Flying the CT-114 Tudor and seen here with their companion CF-188 Demonstrator in Canada 150 colours – on the top of the aircraft, at least – these are the friendly public face of the Royal Canadian Air Force. As they always do, they ended the show to great applause, as the will over the coming long weekend at the airshow that ends the Canadian National Exhibition.
Seeing the Snowbirds was always the highlight of the CNE when I was a kid, and now their acrobatic routine brings them almost directly over my building several times per show. They don't come quite as close to me as they did for the City Hall flyby, but seeing them from my balcony, almost at eye level, will always be a striking experience.