The world’s first “socially distanced” air show took off in London, Ontario Saturday with a lineup that rivals the best of any “normal” air show. A host of military demonstration teams, including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, are ripping the airspace over the southern Ontario city in an extremely rare display of skill and power. The RCAF Polaris tanker and CF-18 fighters were also in the show but the Snowbirds are on an operational pause after the fatal crash of one of their support aircraft in Kamloops, B.C. in May during Operation Inspiration, which was a cross-country effort to raise the country’s spirits after months of confinement for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic caused the cancellation of virtually every air show in North America and Airshow London came up with a creative way to go ahead with their show. The show used a drive-in format and asked patrons to remain within a designated patch of ground big enough to park a car and allow a few lawn chairs. That made room for about 2,000 patrons each day and the show sold out both days. Because of the pandemic, the U.S. teams staged out of Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan, about a 15 minute flight from London. A few key U.S. personnel were allowed to stay in London for the weekend but were kept away from local citizens and escorted by RCAF members.