A military CT-155 Hawk that made several fly-bys Friday afternoon in Vernon airspace was doing “flight proficiency training,” according to the Canadian Armed Forces.
Public affairs officer Maxime Cliche with the Canadian Air Division based in Trenton, Ont., says the jet was piloted by a senior qualified flying instructor without a student.
”The instructor was conducting their own required proficiency flying," Cliche says.
The pilot took off from Moose Jaw, Sask., but had too much fuel to land at its Kelowna destination.
According to Cliche, the jet's circling of Vernon Friday was twofold. Vernon's proximity to Kelowna allowed the jet to reduce its fuel level in an airspace with much less traffic, to ensure safe landing.
The CT-155 Hawk is the platform used to train future RCAF CF-18 (fighter) pilots. With its superior technology, the jet can perform a wide range of high-performance training missions.
The Hawk’s cockpit features a heads-up display, hands-on throttle and stick controls as well as integrated navigation and targeting systems.
While the education experience may have been valuable to the pilot, the military learning opportunity came as a surprise to staff at Vernon's airport.
“Vernon Regional Airport did not receive any notification regarding the fly over of a jet above Vernon on Friday,” says city spokesperson Christy Poirier.
Cliche confirmed advance notice isn't required saying, "at most Canadian airports, there is no requirement for any prior notification by either civilian or military aircraft arriving there."
Larger airports, such as Vancouver or Toronto, often require timing reservations to ensure that air traffic control can safely accommodate the planned volume of flights that day.
Cliche adds: "The flight was conducted with due regard to all applicable rules and regulations. A flight plan was submitted like any other civilian aircraft would do."
Specific requirements and information for operations at all domestic airports are published in the Canadian Flight Supplement.