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Maple Ridge pilot to fly jet fighter for air force demo team

Started with local Coronation Squadron Air Cadets, will be in Abbotsford Air Show in August
Capt. Jesse Haggart-Smith will fly a jet fighter with the 2022 CF-18 Demonstration Team. (RCAF/Special to The News)

Maple Ridge pilot Capt. Jesse Haggart-Smith will fly a jet fighter during the coming air show season.

The Royal Canadian Air Force has announced that Smith will be a pilot for the 2022 CF-18 Demonstration Team.

“Capt. Haggart-Smith will wow audiences around Canada during the 2022 air show season, flying his specially-painted CF-18 Hornet commemorating RCAF fighter aircraft operations at home and abroad,” said the team in a social media announcement recently.

Born in Maple Ridge, Haggart-Smith has logged 1,000 hours in military jets, including 600 hours in a CF-18. He has flown missions for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and served as part of a NATO operation in Romania.

“It is an incredible honour to be selected to represent the Royal Canadian Air Force as the CF-18 Demonstration Team pilot for the 2022 season,” said Haggart-Smith. “I am looking forward to being a part of this highly dedicated team of professionals, sharing my passion for aviation with everyone as we travel across Canada this summer. I hope our team will inspire Canadians, motivating them to reach for their dreams, as I did when I decided to become a fighter pilot, while at the same time demonstrating the capabilities of RCAF fighter aircraft.”

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Haggart-Smith joined his hometown Air Cadets 583 Coronation Squadron at the age of 12, to begin his journey. He earned a glider pilot’s licence, and then enrolled in the Royal Military College of Canada at the age of 16.

He has served in the RCAF since 2011, received his pilot’s wings in 2016, then got a fighter qualification training in Cold Lake, Alberta in 2018.

The Canadian Forces CF18 Demo Team has a schedule of 15 events from June through September, and they will be close to home for the local pilot. They will be at the Abbotsford Air Show on Aug. 5-8.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge cadet to perform in concert celebrating Commonwealth

There are only 77 CF-18 Hornet aircraft in Canada, each worth $35 million U.S. They are capable of reaching a top speed of more than 1,800 km/h.

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