It’s what flying cadets may have experienced 70 years ago, fluttering over forests and farm fields — not including the ooh-ing crowd.
On Aug. 13, more than 10 first-time and experienced showmen showcased flying aerobatics in vintage training and fighting warbirds at the decades-old Vanderhoof International Airshow.
Pilot Geoff Latter of Abbotsford partnered with Nancy, a fully-restored all-metal Nanchang CJ-6A from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force of China.
Built in 1958 and mainly used for advanced training in formation flying, aerobatics, and combat tactics, the plane was also flown for border control and agriculture spraying, Latter said.
When armed, Nancy carried 7.62-mm machine guns, bombs, and rockets.
In 2012, Latter acquired Nancy from her previous owners, who purchased the plane from China in 2006 as surplus stock.
“I love this aircraft,” he said. “It’s a real pilot’s aircraft, with nice handling.”
Demonstrating the aircraft’s ability in travelling as slow as 2 km/h and as fast as 370 km/h, Latter has been flying for 18 years — he flew his first plane at the age of 12 and grew up with his grandfather’s stories of World War II airmen. He first flew in Vanderhoof’s show two years ago.
“We’re quite happy here for the second time.”
Boeing small and large, then and now
Hailing from Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island, Kevin Maher usually flies a Boeing 747 with Air Canada, and barrel-rolled through Vanderhoof’s skies in a Boeing Model 75 on Aug. 13.
The aircraft features a steel tube fuselage structure with wooden wings; over 10,000 of the model were built during the Second World War.
Built in 1944, the open-cockpit two-winged aircraft served with the U.S. Army Air Force in Tennessee, training over 50 pilots who went on to fight in the South Pacific region.
After the war, she was converted for crop spraying in Missourri as well as Canada, until 1995 when she restored to its military configuration.
Though new to the airshow world — Vanderhoof was his first — Maher flew similar planes in the past, when he sprayed crops in Alberta for his first job.
“I’ve always wanted to fly and spray crops since I was six years old, working on farms to pay for flying lessons,” Maher said. “I love round-engine vintage planes, being close to the ground.”
He went on to study engineering, flying cargo for work until airlines changed their vision requirements —Maher needed glasses.
“I never envision I would be flying a Boeing 747,” he said. “This is very similar to what I used to fly, takes me back to my youth.”