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Airdrie-raised pilot returns home for air show

By: Matt Durnan

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 11, 2013 11:23 am

Cpt. Steve Hurlbut grew up in Airdrie and graduated Bert Church High School in 1993. He will be back in town this weekend, flying a CF-18 Hornet at the Airdrie Regional Air Show.
Cpt. Steve Hurlbut grew up in Airdrie and graduated Bert Church High School in 1993. He will be back in town this weekend, flying a CF-18 Hornet at the Airdrie Regional Air Show.
Matt Durnan/Rocky View Publishing

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Airdrie Regional Air Show goers will be treated to an up-close look at a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter aircraft, the CF-18 Hornet this weekend.

At this yearís show, Airdrie raised Cpt. Steve Hurlbut, a graduate of Bert Church High School, will be at the helm.

Hurlbut will be piloting the CF-18 - an aircraft capable of speeds up to mach 1.8, roughly 2189 km/ hr - on July 13 and 14, in performing in his first air show.

It was a bit of serendipity that led the 37-year-old Air Force Captain to be added to the roster for the air show. He was in Calgary earlier last week to march in the Stampede Parade and it worked out that he was available for the show.

ďItís awesome to be here flying the (CF-18) Hornet in my home town,Ē said Hurlbut. ďItís a dream, itís what you read about in magazines and itís never you thatís going to do it, itís always going to be somebody else; if I never do another air show again I wouldnít care because I got to do this one.Ē

Hurlbutís passion for flight has been with him since he was a student at Bert Church High School.

He became a member of the 538 Air Cadets in Calgary and attained his pilots license at the age of 16.

In 1993, at 17, Hurlbut joined the Royal Canadian Air Force where he spent 10 years as a navigator on an Aurora CP-140 Ė a mammoth 35 metre long aircraft, with a wingspan of 30 metres and weighing over 27,000 kg.

Following that 10-year stint, Hurlbut returned to school where he achieved a masters in physics at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario.

He is currently a member of the 409 Squadron where he has been flying the CF-18 for about two years. The 409 is a tactical fighter squadron based out of Cold Lake, Alberta where Hurlbut lives.

This air show is what Hurlbut describes as ďjam on the toastĒ or something extra, as CF-18 pilots are given a lot of responsibility, primarily to NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and answers the call when the Royal Canadian Air Force is needed overseas. The 409 Squadron are among the first to be called upon.

The jet will be fueled in Calgary before making its appearance in Airdrie where. Hurlbut will give a demonstration and pose for pictures with air show attendees.

Flying the plane itself isnít all that difficult for Hurlbut, who says itís the operation aspect that is most difficult.

ďItís a very complex machine and it takes a lot of brain power to operate it, but the flying itself is second nature,Ē said Hurlbut, who wanted to alert those who will be in attendance that he wonít be performing anything too crazy at his first air show.

ďIím just going to do some touch and gos on the runway and make some noise and then stop so that people can see the airplane,Ē said Hurlbut. ďItís not going to be a full on Hornet demonstration because thatís a very specific qualification, I donít want to give people the wrong idea and that Iím going to be coming in inverted along the runway at low level.Ē

Hurlbut will essentially be a one-man crew over the weekend, inspecting and flying the plane without the assistance of technicians, but heís fine with it and says that itís not as tough as it may seem.

ďI do a specific inspection to make sure everything is working properly,Ē said Hurlbut. ďThe jet is actually pretty straightforward though and itís about as easy to start as a car.Ē


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