Abbotsford International Airshow

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Abbotsford International Airshow
The Canadian Snowbirds on the "Hotline" at the Abbotsford Airshow 2000
Genre Air show
Dates August
Venue Abbotsford International Airport
Location(s) Abbotsford, British Columbia
Country Canada
Established 1962
Attendance ~125,000
Organized by Abbotsford International Airshow Society

The Abbotsford International Airshow is held annually on the second Friday, Saturday and Sunday in August at Abbotsford International Airport in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada.

It is Canada's largest airshow.[1] In the mid-1970s, Abbotsford was designated as Canada's National Airshow by Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau. It features both military and civilian aircraft from Canada and the United States, and on occasion military aircraft from other countries such as Britain, Germany (2000), and Russia.

The average annual attendance of 125,000+ people makes it the largest air show on the West Coast of North America.


MiG-29 fighter parked on the ramp after a demonstration flight at the Abbotsford Air Show, 1989.

The airshow was started in 1962 by the Abbotsford Flying Club.

The show experienced continuous growth through the 1960s and 70s.

The 1986 show was conducted in conjunction with Expo 86, the Vancouver world's fair. This saw the inclusion of several European teams like the Patrouille de France and the Frecce Tricolori to the traditional well as the behemoth six engine Soviet-Ukrainian Antonov AN 225...which is still holds records for pay load weight and size.

In 1989, the show set a three-day attendance record of 321,000 people. Post Cold War defence cuts affected the attendance of military teams and aircraft throughout the 1990s. Poor financial management resulted in the annual show being canceled in 1998 and returning in 1999.

In 1994 Dan and Loretta Newall got married before the start of the show, the first wedding in the 33-year history of the show. The "I do's" were almost inaudible due to the Harriers taking off six minutes ahead of schedule. The wedding cake was shared with people around the wedding site. CTV gave them five minutes of air time on the news.

In 1995, while the Abbotsford Airshow included an arms trade aspect, Project Censored Canada rated it as the 8th most censored news story of the year.[2] The trade expo saw delegates visit from countries such as the United States and Saudi Arabia to inspect and purchase weaponry.

Celebrating its fortieth anniversary in 2002 was a significant accomplishment; it was a milestone year while airshows across North America were threatened with cancellation due to high insurance costs after 9/11.

In 2014 it was named one of the ten best airshows in the world,[3] and also held a twilight show for the first time. In December 2014 the airshow won a prestigious Silver Pinnacle award from the International Council of Airshows.[4]

In 2015 the airshow is continued the highly successful twilight show and had the Breitling jet team from Europe, perform its first Canadian show ever. In addition the airshow hosted the USAF F-22 Raptor for the first time.[5]


The show is now operated by the Abbotsford International Airshow Society.


Propeller plane at the Abbotsford air show.

Bob Singleton has held the microphone at the Abbotsford International Airshow for 41 of its 48 years. Initially, he was assistant to Abbotsford's first announcer, Toby Trowbridge. He became Abbotsford's primary announcer in 1977.

Roy Hafeli provides the other familiar voice of the airshow. Roy began announcing at Abbotsford in 1999, and is a recipient of the North West Council of Air Shows 2005 Showmanship award and the 2006 Eric Beard Memorial Spirit of Flight award. Roy also announces at many other airshows throughout Canada as well as at other special events.

Ken Hildebrandt is the newest voice at Abbotsford. He began announcing in 2007 under the guidance of Bob and Roy. Having attended every Abbotsford show since 1979, he noticed that while he was certainly enthralled by the many amazing flying machines that screamed over his head each summer, he became particularly interested in the people who announced the action over the loud speakers. Thus began a thirty-year interest in airshow announcing.

Demonstration teams

• Breitling Jet Team, 2015

Accidents and incidents during aerial display[edit]

  • August 8, 1969 At noon a Boeing 747 airliner flew the 75 miles from Paine Field in Everett, Washington to make its first public airshow appearance completing three left to right flybys including a final low level slow pass to open the first day of the three day airshow. Immediately after a Mini Mustang entered the flight line from the left for a low inverted pass. Near midfield the Mini Mustang gyrated violently and dove into the ground killing the pilot, 20-year-old flight instructor Scott Nelskog from Washington State. The determination was that the residual wake vortex from the 747 pass rolled the Mini Mustang resulting in the fatal crash.
  • August 12, 1973: During a four plane formation display a Canadian Forces CF-101 Voodoo entered 'inertial roll coupling' which overstressed the aircraft leading to a mid-air disintegration into several balls of flames. Both crew members ejected safely through the fireball. No injuries occurred as debris landed in Washington State south of the Abbotsford Airport.[6]
  • August 6, 2008: Runway incursion of airshow truck twenty feet past threshold, no impact to operations.[7]


  1. ^ "Abbotsford Airshow: Show History". 
  2. ^ Simon Fraser University News. "All The News You Didn't Year: Project Censored's Top 10 List". 
  3. ^ USA Today Feb 2014 &
  4. ^ ICAS
  5. ^ Abbotsford Airshow &
  6. ^ Dempsey, Daniel V. A Tradition of Excellence: Canada's Airshow Team Heritage. Victoria, BC: High Flight Enterprises, 2002. p. 386. ISBN 0-9687817-0-5.
  7. ^ CADORS report for Airshow vehicle

External links[edit]