Yellowknife’s airshow returns in 2020. Here’s what you’ll see

Organizers of the Yellowknife International Airshow – which was cancelled in 2018 – said their event will return next year and outlined a program of expected attractions.

Major Steve Thompson, a longtime organizer of the show, made the announcement to city councillors at a presentation on Monday. He said the show would take place on July 11 and 12, 2020.

Gord van Tighem, the former Yellowknife mayor, will chair the airshow’s organizing committee. The 2020 edition will mark Joint Task Force North’s 50th anniversary, Thompson said.


Thompson said the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Snowbirds are earmarked to participate in the 2020 show, as are the SkyHawks parachute demonstration team and a CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft.

The airshow will take place a week prior to the Folk on the Rocks music festival, ensuring no competition between bands and the roar of jets overhead.

The CBC published stunning footage of the Snowbirds over Yellowknife in 2016.

Also slated to appear are stunt pilot Kent Pietsch and his “Jelly Belly” aerobatics display. Pietsch’s routine is described as “a comedy act … you must see to believe,” featuring parts appearing to drop off the aircraft among other antics.

Thompson said organizers hoped to be joined by Canadian Red Bull Air Race pilot Pete McLeod. Other attractions yet to be confirmed include army vehicles brought up from Edmonton and the crew of the ship HMCS Yellowknife, if they are available.

The theme for day one of the show is “Aviation: the link to Canada’s Arctic,” said Thompson. The second day is entitled Canadian Armed Forces Day.


The airshow began in the late 1980s, running each May until, in Thompson’s words, “we realized snow wasn’t overly great for attendance.”

Now held in July, the show runs every two years but skipped 2018 following its inability to confirm star acts for that year’s event. Both the Snowbirds and CF-188 were otherwise engaged.

“With the absence of the two main acts, it was thought best to defer to another year,” Van Tighem told the CBC at the time.

In response to concerns that the trip was proving too arduous for only one day in the sky, 2020’s event will take place over 48 hours.