THUNDER REPLAY: The Canadian Harvards
This flying tribute to the veterans of World War II has been flying for many years with decades of experience behind them, and continue to astound crowds around North America.
(Info taken from the Canadian Harvards Web Site.)
The Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team. This flying tribute to the veterans of World War II has been flying for many years with decades of experience behind them, and continue to astound crowds around North America.
The team originated as a father-son (Beckham) act based at Woodstock Ontario. Norm ('Mr.Harvard'- Kent's dad) performed his last airshow at London Airshow '98. Kent, Dave and Pete trained as a three plane act, premiering at London Airshow 2000. The 4 plane act debut was 2014.
The aircraft flown today were all built in 1941 and have been in continuous service for over 60 years due to the care and support of their operators. Harvard #1 and Harvard #3 were both manufactured in Inglewood, California by North American Aviation (the same people who brought the world the P-51 Mustang fighter later in WWII). Harvard #2 is a true Canadian Harvard as it was built under license by Noorduyn Aviation in Montreal, Quebec.
The Harvard is a Pratt & Whitney powered, dual tandem seated, low winged metal monoplane (with the exception of fabric covered control surfaces). It's 600 HP supercharged engine directly drives a 9'1'' metal Hamilton Standard constant speed propeller. This combination of a radial engine and supersonic propeller tips give the Harvard it's distinctive roar.
Originally used as advanced trainers by the RCAF for the purposes of night, formation, aerobatic, light bombing and gunnery (later rocketry), they earned the nicknames of 'The Pilot Maker' and 'Yellow Peril'. A common military saying was simply, "If you could fly a Harvard well, you could fly anything".
To not only see yellow Harvards against a blue sky billowing light smoke, but hear and feel their pulse is an incredible experience shared with airshow spectators. The combination of subsonic, transonic and supersonic sections of the prop release a roar that is the music of the Harvard.
It's all about energy management. Potential energy (altitude) being traded for kinetic energy (airspeed) and back again results in a beyond belief show larger than your stationary field of vision. You'll have to crane your neck to take in the full experience. Mouths will be agape, and tonsils will be surnburnt. Unlike jets which pass for a fleeting moment; the Canadian Harvards dominate centre stage without dead sky limited only by the surface of the earth itself.
Although the guys use these 3 ton aircraft masterfully to perform a tight aerial sequence with upbeat background music, better modern aircraft exist that would make the task much easier - but they just wouldn't have the same presence in the afternoon sky. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.
The performers have so much fun, it's hard to determine who is enjoying the show more- the audience or the pilots.