Demo Hornet honours Second World War training program and Canadian communities

Image Gallery

News Article / May 3, 2016

By Jeff Gaye

The 2016 Demo Hornet’s black, yellow and red paint scheme symbolizes the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and the struggle against Axis powers during the Second World War.

The Royal Canadian Air Force unveiled its 2016 CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Jet at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, in early April.

The aircraft is painted in a striking scheme that commemorates the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), one of the most successful training plans the world has ever seen.

The BCATP ran from 1939 to 1945 and trained 131,553 aircrew for the effort against Nazi Germany in the Second World War. Pilots, wireless operators, air gunners and navigators trained in BCATP schools across Canada to serve in the air forces of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

“It’s a big theme,” said Captain Ryan Kean, who will pilot the special Hornet on the air show circuit this summer. “It was a big part of Canadian history, and on the aircraft you can actually see the names of all the communities that hosted a BCATP base or station. They’re all commemorated not just in the theme, but actually by name.

“I think that adds a little special note to the aircraft. And as I take this jet across Canada and the U.S., whenever I stop, people are going to see their city on the side of the airplane, and they’re going to look further into it and see what their city did.”

The paint scheme was designed by 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron’s graphic artist Jim Belliveau, and implemented by Mr. Belliveau with a team of RCAF technicians. Local Cold Lake artist and high school student Elysee Franchuk participated in the project as a work experience student and as a volunteer.

“It’s been a wonderful project,” Mr. Belliveau said. The only direction he was given was to incorporate the iconic yellow colour of the training aircraft used in the BCATP. He chose to use black as a contrasting colour and artistic concept.

“Black is a wonderful contrasting colour, especially for yellow,” he said. “At the same time it conveys a certain message, in this case it conveys the darkness of World War II. During the standup of [the BCATP] program, we were it. The British Commonwealth was it against the Axis powers. And Canada stepped up to the plate with these training schools.

“And that’s the motif of the flame against the darkness.”

“It’s always a privilege” for 4 Wing to take on the design of the Demonstration Hornet,” said the wing’s commander, Colonel Eric Kenny.

“Mr. Jim Belliveau has demonstrated incredible talent in capturing an idea as complex as the British Commonwealth Air Training Program,” he said. “Our technicians outdid themselves bringing to life Jim’s idea.

“This jet will be for all to enjoy because of the hard work and commitment of our 4 Wing members.”

Jeff Gaye is the editor of The Courier, 4 Wing Cold Lake’s base newspaper where this article was first published on April 12, 2016.

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