Hercules flyovers thrill residents

For more than 70 years, the Canadian International Air Show has been held over Lake Ontario on Labour Day Weekend during the final three days of “The Ex” (Toronto’s CNE). As a child I would beg my parents to return to Toronto by Labour Day so I could go with friends to watch it. Now that I live in the Valley year round, I’ve realized we have our own air show – no less spectacular and – because it happens without warning just above the treetops – every bit as thrilling as bigger air shows. Each time a Hercules emerges above the hill behind our home just west of Barry’s Bay, the sound is deafening and it feels like the house actually shakes! 

Current readers have submitted their photos of Hercules flyovers taken this summer, so here’s your Labour Day treat. Above: Hercules flyover Sand Bay Camp August 12. Photo: Chad Beckwith Smith



Hercules flyover Trout Lake, taken June 30.   Photo: Wendy Wolak

Wendy Wolak said it appears that the pilots actually tip their wings to watercraft as they pass over.



Another Hercules flyover, taken May 29   Photo: Wendy Wolak

Chad Beckwith Smith of Combermere writes, “While I was sailing my boat near Sand Bay Camp the Hercules low level Canadian Air Force planes came screaming by. We who live in the Madawaska Valley see them all the time, but they are hard to take photos of as they seem to come out of nowhere and then disappear above the tree line. This time I was lucky and got my camera out just in time. One thing that photographers always say about their great photos is, “It is better to be lucky than good.”



August 12 flyover Sand Bay Camp   Photo: Chad Beckwith Smith

Beckwith Smith took his photos at 3:27 p.m. on August 12 and explains that the flyovers are training exercises so the pilots learn to fly under the radar and thus avoid getting shot down. 

Fans of the annual “big” Air Show will have to catch the action (including some historical footage) online this year due to pandemic restrictions. Recent media reports speculate that as a result of COVID-19, the future of annual crowd events like the CNE is in jeopardy.





  1. Sean Kelly

    Great story…it’s all true. This past Tuesday I was part of media day at CFB Trenton and had the pleasure of flying around Eastern Ontario aboard a C-130 Herc. We flew above Brighton, Picton, Kingston, Bancroft and yes my hometown BARRY’S BAY! The pilot does wave to folks lakeside with the wings of the Herc. I’ve travelled highway 62 many times and it takes two hours to make it south to Belleville/Trenton. In the Herc this week – Barry’s Bay to CFB Trenton took 24 mins. The plane cruises the sky at 300 mph – just over 220 knots.

    Sean Kelly
    Director of Programming
    Quinte Broadcasting
    Belleville, Ontario

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