One of the most anticipated performances at the Yarmouth International Airport Air Experience this weekend is the Canadian Forces CF18 Demo Team. Captain Patrick Pollen compares the fighter jet’s demonstration to a rock concert.
“It’s got a high-energy feel to it. It’s loud, there’s a great sound track and narration describing the maneuvers to people and they get really enthused,” he said.
“It only lasts 18 minutes but it’s 18 minutes of pure joy,” he added.
Capt. Pollen has been flying CF18 jets since 2006. Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, he’s now based in Bagotville, Quebec. He has served in Afghanistan and Libya.
He says he has wanted to be a pilot since he was six-years-old. As soon as he could, he joined the air cadet program.
“I had my pilot’s licence before I had my driver’s licence. I first soloed when I was 15 in a glider.
“It was such an accomplishment to be able to fly a glider all by myself. To this day it’s one of the happiest moments in my life,” he said.
The show routine encompasses 11 different maneuvers that demonstrate all the capabilities of the CF18.
Captain Pollen says people will see the aircraft fly its maximum permissible speed of just under 1,000 kilometres per hour. That’s just half of what the CF18 is capable of. The supersonic fighter can fly twice the speed of sound but breaking the sound barrier is not permitted at shows. Windows in the vicinity would shatter with the sonic boom.
“It may impress people initially but then they’re going to be upset when they see their car,” said Capt. Pollen.
All of the maneuvers will be performed directly in front of the crowd to provide the best performance possible.
His favourite maneuver is the square loop, a maneuver that results in maximum G-force.
“I used to be six-foot-five and now I’m only five-foot-eight,” he said then added, “I’m kidding.”
The maneuver is impressive to watch because the aircraft radically changes directions as it performs the regular looping maneuver, squaring off the corners.
“That’s a unique capability of the CF-18. To be able to demonstrate that to people gives me a sense of pride,” he said.
The aircraft is fly-by-wire which means commands are entered into a computer, which goes through a series of very complicated algorithms, based on the air speed, the air density, the position of the aircraft and many other factors, to react almost instantaneously.
“We don’t get into the aircraft; we strap it on, because it’s an extension of our being. The computer enables us to do that stuff,” said Capt. Pollen.
The CF18 is expected to remain in service until 2020.