The fire behind the Fort St. John International Air Show

With 25 years of experience, April Zalesky of AV8FX will be running the show along with a team of special effects experts. 

“Basically we blow stuff up at air shows,” she laughs. “It’s a lot of fun. We’re always trying to add a little bit of fire to the show.” 


The audience this weekend can look forward to some “flash and bang” during the CF-18 Hornet demo, as well as a few walls of fire. Zalesky says a lot more work goes into planning the special effects for a show than people think. 

“It’s not just putting together the explosives effects and getting the gas out onto the field and setting all that up,” she explains. It’s choreographing with the pilots, it’s getting the permits done ahead of time… and then also the day before and setting up on the day of the show is very labour intensive too. It’s probably five to six hours every day to set up for an evening show.” 

The cost of gasoline and the explosives mean it’s too expensive for most shows to have a practice run, which means the special effects team has to be well-coordinated every time. The pyrotechnics are done in time with certain shows, and as Zalesky explains, along with the awe factor, they also add a sense of realism, like when the Hornet does a simulated attack mission. 

“They will incorporate that into a few passes of the demo to simulate what the fighting might of the jet,” she says, “So basically it adds a lot of realism to the show. It’s very cool to have the jet flying as part of the show, but to add the pyro to it, it’s sort of the icing on the cake.” 

There are two chances to catch the Fort St. John International Air Show this weekend: Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. For more information on tickets and parking, visit