Years ago in Comox, Stefan Porteous would deliver the Comox Valley Record with his brother and take the occasional break — particularly in the spring — to look skyward and watch the Snowbirds methodically practise overhead.
Those breaks, along with some inspiration from a family friend who worked in aviation, will allow Porteous — now a captain in the Royal Canadian Air Force — to see his life come full circle early next year.
Porteous has been chosen as the RCAF’s 2018 CF-18 demonstration pilot.
“I am extremely excited,” he said during a phone interview from a conference in Las Vegas. “It’s such a small world because I’m coming home to Comox.”
Every year in April, in conjunction with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds team, the CF-18 demo team trains in the sky over the Comox Valley, in preparation for the upcoming air show season.
When he was 12 years old, Porteous joined the 386 ‘Komox’ Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron. He earned his glider pilot licence in 2004, followed by his private pilot licence in 2005.
The Highland Secondary School grad joined the military in 2008 and was posted to 4 Wing Cold Lake, for on-the-job training.
Following flight training, he was selected to fly jets in 2012 and received his pilot wings in 2013 on the CT-155 Hawk aircraft.
One year later, he graduated from 410 Tactical Fighter (operational training) Squadron in Cold Lake, which qualified him to fly the CF-18 Hornet.
He is currently posted with 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron at 3 Wing in Bagotville, Que.
While he doesn’t often get the opportunity to return home to visit his parents (who still live in the Valley), he is looking forward to giving his family a firsthand look at what he does in his military career.
“It will be different than flying the plane on a day-to-day basis. It’s all about showcasing the power of the F-18. We want to show off that it’s loud and fast and everything you think of when you think of a fighter jet. The most challenging part (of the air show circuit) would probably be that we’ll be constantly moving around and the transit time,” he noted and added the F-18 is an “incredibly powerful” aircraft.
Not only will Porteous and his team be visiting Canadian and American air shows, they will also fly to the U.K. for a show.
He added the theme in 2018 — the 60th anniversary of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) – fits in well with the work he does.
CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft are on continuous alert to respond to any potential aerial threat to the safety of the country and Canadians.
“The bilateral agreement with the U.S. is important as a fighter pilot, to protect the security and sovereignty of airspace in North America. There truly are airplanes really to go at any time — every day Canadian men and women are ready to go to protect our sovereignty. We take a lot of pride in that, and it’ll be a great summer celebrating with our American partners.”