Canadian Forces’ First “Keshdhari” Sikh Flies Aboard CF-18 Hornet


By Ken & Tashi Sekhon ( On Special assignment for “The Link”

ABBOTSFORD  – The 49th annual 3 day spectacle of the Abbotsford International Air show, was held during the sunny weekend of August 12th-14th. Approximately 100,000 people of all ages, came to see military planes, civilian aircraft and ground crews from Canada and the United States, putting up a variety of shows.

There was something for everybody. Amazing aerial demonstrations by military and civilian planes of many generations, enthralled the crowds. However, there was one event, though not so readily apparent, yet of great significance, that occurred during this year’s events.

Prior to the official commencement of the show, for the first time in Canada’s military aviation history, a Keshdhari  turbaned Canadian Sikh, a civilian freelance correspondent of Canada’s military affairs, was permitted to fly aboard a CF-18 frontline fighter. Having a beard, has so far been deemed a hindrance to the proper fitting of the oxygen mask that pilots of such aircraft have to wear. Indian air force though, has no such restrictions, and have had bearded Sikhs as frontline fighter pilots of such aircraft for many years.

After obtaining special clearance from the air force command, the CF-18 demo team comprising of pilots, maintenance crews, as well as the coordinators, took painstaking and meticulous efforts to make this a safe event for Joetey S. Attariwala, and all involved.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Abbotsford International Airshow, and plans are already underway to make that an extraordinary show.

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