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2023 Is the year the Aviation PhotoCrew crossed the ocean and started doing projects in the US and Canada. In August, 6 of our crewmembers went to the Abbotsford International Airshow for the first Canadian project. Abbotsford is located to the South-East of Vancouver in a truly beautiful scenery. It is an airshow with legendary status, so our expectations were pretty high! We operated from Chilliwack airport which proved to be a perfect airfield to operate from. It’s close to Abbotsford and at the foot of the mountains (and it has some great food!) We operated the Win Aviation Skyvan which was expertly flown by Vincent Lemay.
Upon arrival at Chilliwack we were welcomed by Clive Barratt who operates a Navion out of Chilliwack and, as an ex-instructor, would prove to be a helpful in briefing pilots who would fly behind the Skyvan for the first time. He made our jetlag a bit more manageable by offering us a much needed drink! One of the photographers who have been flying a long time with us is Mike Butorac, a Vancouver resident and a pilot…with a lot of pilot friends! He invited a number of his friends to join the Skyvan photoship, all magical moments and a ‘rediscovery’ on just how much fun it is to fly with GA aircraft!!
After a short night it was time to get back at doing what we do best: setting up the best air to air flights! The first day was packed with small planes. We’re so used to experiencing the jet power that we might forget how beautiful a Pitts can be. Certainly with the stunning backgrounds that the Vancouver area has to offer. Mount Baker didn’t feel like showing itself just yet, but that didn’t make the pictures any less good! After day one we could tick of the following planes of our list: Ercoupe, RV8, Pitts, Navion, Yak-18, Harvard and the Bushmaster Bullet. The last one gave us the ‘real’ Canadian vibe.
Day two did bring us some jet action.. The Canadian Hawk and Hornets gave us a good show. And still, it was kind of a Belgian reunion as the ex-Belgian Air Force F-16 Demo pilot ‘Grat’ was behind the stick of the Hawk! Unfortunately this will be the first and very last opportunity for us to catch the Canadian Hawk as they go out of service pretty soon. One of the many highlights and so cool that he brought the special painted jet. After the clouds cleared we had a beautiful sunset flight with a fourship of Yaks.
Day Three brought us some more diversity. We had a ‘real’ Canadian filght with the bright yellow Twin Otter, followed by our first genuine warbird, the P-51 Mustang from the Skagit Museum and flown by Greg Anders who is one of founders of the USAF Heritage Flight. Seeing the Mustang in this scenery was simply EPIC. The day ended with a sunset flight with Melissa and a dusk flight with Nathan Hammonds Super Chipmunk. Pyrotechnics and led lights included!
The fourth and final day was definitely the most diverse. We started the day of with the Baron and C-17. The morning light was still making its way through the valleys below when we had our first surprise for the photographers. We went ‘eagle spotting’ . Not the eagles with feathers and claws, but two Oregon Air National Guard F-15’s! These were followed by a pair of Canadian Air Force T-6’s, a Nanchang and a Cyclone helicopter. And that was just the first flight.
The weather was slowly getting better and in the afternoon we had another surprise for our photographers. They could choose between four stunning warbirds, a difficult choice, but we made it a little easier by sending all four up in the air. The Erickson Collection had their Mustang, Bearcat, Corsair and Kittyhawk posing over the Abbotsford showgrounds. And as if that is not enough. We still had a last surprise, one we couldn’t foresee ourselves. During the last flight with a GS2 floatplane (does it get any more Canadian?) and a Pilatus Porter, Mount Baker finally showed itself in all its glory! What a way to end a truly diverse and successful project!
Our first Canadian project was one of the best we have flown in 15 airshow season and for sure the nicest surprise of 2023. It became just as big as RIAT with an incredible variety of aircraft.

The Aviation PhotoCrew would like to thank the following people for making our first steps (and flights) in Canada so successful: all the aircraft who joined us, all the photographers who booked this project without knowing what to expect, the superb support from the entire Abbotsford International Airshow team, the equally fantastic support of the USAF and RCAF, the superb ATC team and Mike Reyno from the MHM publications and our local heroes Clive and Mike. In 2024 the airshow will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RCAF, so we got something to look forward to!!!

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If you like to fly with us in our new Canadian adventure, just send a short email to to get all the info on the various opportunities.


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