The dream that began for Cpl. Alex Doduk at the Abbotsford International Airshow has become a reality.
While volunteering at the airshow in 2007 and 2008, Doduk saw the SkyHawks perform, sparking a drive that has brought him back to the show seven years later – as a member of Canada’s only military parachute demonstration team.
Originally from Mission, Doduk studied at MEI in Abbotsford and attended the University of the Fraser Valley, studying criminology, where he weighed the idea of joining law enforcement.
After seeing the SkyHawks perform their aerobatic parachute formations, he settled on joining the military and began to tailor his life and career to gain the experience needed to make the team.
Now, with the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, it is his first season with the SkyHawks and his first time as a performer at the Abbotsford airshow.
Achieving his goal required a good deal of hard work. Stationed at CFB Shilo in Manitoba, Doduk is part of a non-airborne unit that doesn’t jump out of planes.
Doduk had to get his qualifications for the SkyHawks team on his own – “my own parachute, my own training, my own time.”
After receiving the necessary training, he made his first application for the team, but despite his focus and dedication, he didn’t make the cut.
Unfazed, Doduk was the only person to ask what he could do to become more competitive for the next year. He did as advised, logging accuracy jumps and getting training in canopy-relative work, which is the maneuvering of skydivers into contact with each other’s parachute canopies, necessary for the stacked formations characteristic of the SkyHawks.
He returned and made the team.
As a local and former volunteer, Doduk said he is excited to perform at the place where he found his passion, in front of family and friends.
What’s unique about the SkyHawks, he said, is not only their airborne performances, but the interaction they do with the crowd on the ground.
Doduk is proud of the high-level professionalism, dedication and physical fitness required by the armed forces, as well as the team.
“Everyday I have to remind myself, I am a SkyHawk,” he said. “For six years, I’ve been wanting to do this and now I’m finally here. Now, everything has almost come to fruition – in a full circle – and here I am back where I started.”
The SkyHawks are among the many performers at the 52nd annual airshow, which kicks off this evening with the first-ever twilight show.
Spectators will see the various performers literally in a new light, featuring performances with pyrotechnics.
The show will open to the public at 4:30 p.m. and will feature most of the acts of the day show, including the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. It concludes with fireworks at 9:45 p.m.
On Saturday and Sunday, the airshow – which has been named one of the 10 best in North America – will once again feature a full range of performances, static displays and jet- and prop-fuelled excitement. The three-day event will see the return of the CF-18 Hornet, along with perennial favourites and new acts and performances, including a demonstration by one of only two flyable Mosquito airplanes in the world.