RCAF unveiled its new demonstration fighter jet, which will fly with a team from 410 ‘Cougar' Squadron from 4 Wing Cold Lake.
Captian Ryan Kean will pilot the RCAF CF-18 Hornet that was unveiled in the local base hangar.
Kean has 1,600 flying hours in high performance military aircraft, 1,300 of which are with a hornet.
“Being selected as the CF-18 demonstration pilot allows me to fly the aircraft in a way that few pilots get to do,” smiled Kean, who has been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces since 2003.
He's looking forward to flying the jet in over 30 shows this season and to bonding with his team, who are all west coast natives.
The jet was designed by cartoonist and graphic designer Jim Belliveau, Design Director for the CF-18 Demonstration Team and graphic artist for the 410 ‘Cougar' Squadron at 4 Wing.
Featured on the tail of the jet are late Canadian forces siblings Donald and Norma Sinclair. Donald was a pilot officer who was bombed down over France. In honour of her brother, Norma joined the war effort in Cold Lake where she became a parachute rigger as a part of the Women's Auxiliary Force.
“I chose her because I knew her and she's a shinning example of what anybody can do,” said Belliveau. “She joined the war effort because she felt it was essential and the right thing to do for her family.”
Belliveau has designed and helped paint over 40 demonstration, commemorative and unit livery paint schemes on CF aircrafts.
The design theme this year commemorates the 75th anniversary of the RCAF's 400-series squadrons, and the 75th anniversary of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). The RCAF credits the series for making up the modern RCAF and the plan as one of the world's greatest air training programs.
BCATP ran from 1939 to 1945, training over 131,000 aircrew for the air forces of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada by the end of Second World War.
“Truly this year again, Mr. Jim Belliveau has demonstrated incredible talent in capturing an idea as complex as the British Commonwealth Air Training Program,” said Col. Eric Kenny, Commander at 4 Wing. “Our technicians outdid themselves bringing to life Jim's idea.”
The Hornet was painted over the last three weeks prior to the reveal with the help of Grade 10 artist Elysee Franchuk of Cold Lake High School.
Franchuk told the Regional that he had to come up with brand new techniques to work on the jet and he was constantly aware that it was worth millions of dollars. The jet took long hours, some nights even into the early hours of the morning, but it was worth it for Franchuk.
“I've never had my art flying through the air before,” said Franchuk, noting he is trying to expand into larger cities with his art. “This is a great development for my art work. I'm really proud to be a part of it.”
The jet will debut in a show at Cherry Point near the end of April. It will appear in the Cold Lake air show July 16 and 17.