The 2012 display season Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18A Hornet demonstration aircraft was unveiled in its new colours on March 1.
IN A small ceremony at 3 Wing, Bagotville, Quebec, on March 1, the 2012 CF-18 Demonstration Hornet, CF-18A 188781, was officially unveiled by Colonel Paul Prévost, wing commander and Captain Patrick ‘Paco’ Gobeil, the 2012 Demo Pilot. Each year, the CF-18 DemonstrationTeam features a unique theme and for the 2012 season it is ‘The True North, Strong and Free’. The Arctic theme is timely and relevant, as the defence of Canadian sovereignty and the protection of territorial integrity in the Arctic are a top priority for the Government of Canada and, by extension, for the Royal Canadian Air Force.
“More than a third of Canada is located north of the 60th parallel,” said Col Prévost. “For us in Quebec, the North begins just a few miles from here [Bagotville], at the 49th parallel and includes more than two-thirds of our territory.” ‘The True North, Strong and Free’ ecapsulates the magnificence of Canada’s North and the Canadian resolve to demonstrate a visible presence there and have the capacity to defend Canada’s Arctic territory.
To embody this concept, this year’s Demo Hornet displays tail and dorsal art capturing the Arctic landscape and its people. It also features 13 distinctive snowflakes – representing Canada’s provinces and territories, as well as the 13 RCAF Wings – scattered across a dramatic Arctic blue background.
Created by Jim Belliveau, veteran graphic design director of 410 Squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, each snowflake also represents a unique northern theme. The complexity of the snowflakes, each of which required a separate stencil with numerous intricate pattern pieces that all had to be separated by hand, made the implementation of this year’s design a painstaking endeavour.
“Our biggest challenge was time, the only factor we couldn’t control,” said Mr Belliveau. But pressure also can add a positive stress. “Even though we had a plan…the whole process had an air of immediacy and spontaneity about it.”
This year’s design is Mr Belliveau’s 20th, and with a trip to 3 Wing every two years to oversee the painting process, Bagotville has become like a second home. “I have always enjoyed working with 3 Wing,” he said. “Everyone is professional and welcoming, always eager to jump in and be part of both the creative and technical processes.”
For 2012 Demo Pilot Capt Pat Gobeil, being able to watch the painting process over the last several weeks has been an unforgettable experience. “The jet has been in the paint bay for almost two months now and the work that has been done on the airplane is tremendous. There are many challenges that come with painting a supersonic jet and Jim Belliveau, Sergeant Harold Girard, Corporal Claude Houde and their entire team took up the challenge with outstanding results. They are the best at what they do.”
During the first week of May 2012, the colourful jet will be seen ripping up the skies in the Comox, British Colombia, area, where the entire team will come together for its annual training before launching its 2012 air show season. “We have the nicest airplane on the planet, a great team and I am looking forward to the start of the air show season,” said Capt Gobeil.