Grey Ghost Flypast

Medium: Acrylic on 24 x 36 canvas (1997)
Display: Canada Aviation Museum Artflight show, Ottawa, 1997. CAAA TAAE (Alberta) shows (2003). Selected for inclusion in “Tradition of Excellence” by Dan Dempsey, a book on Canada’s air demonstration teams. Artist’s collection.


Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Banshees conduct a low-level pass over H.M.C.S BONAVENTURE, Canada’s last aircraft carrier, during a precision flying display at sea. The RCN aerial display team, named the “Grey Ghosts”, earned an enviable reputation for their flying skills during the 1960’s. The Banshee was Canada’s only operational naval jet fighter and served in that capacity in the RCN Fleet Air Arm. In the painting, the carrier has just turned into the wind and aircraft are being prepared for flying operations on deck. A Banshee is being keyed up for launch while a Tracker, anti-submarine patrol aircraft, is unfolding its wings in preparation for its turn. Other Trackers are ranged on the after flight deck with the ever-present rescue helicopter, “Pedro”, having just launched and taking up position in the carrier’s wake – ready for any mishap requiring a quick rescue of a ditched aviator.

Historical Note

The 1960s saw the development of a modern Canadian fleet with at sea aerial support from a modern carrier flying up-to-date jet fighters such as the Banshee, ASW Tracker aircraft and Seaking helicopters. This was the ultimate development of the Canadian Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.