toronto air show

Fighter jets are flying over Toronto today and it's really freaking loud

The Canadian International Air Show returns to the skies above Toronto this Labour Day weekend, bringing with it a whole fleet of military fighter jets that do swoopy things for our apparent entertainment.

Of course, if you actually live in the city, you don't need me to tell you that: You can hear said jets periodically roaring and screaming outside while you attempt to enjoy an otherwise lovely Friday afternoon.

You hate it, don't you? Most people do.

Described by organizers as "a jam-packed air display showcasing modern military jets, vintage warbirds, thrilling aerobatics and of course our beloved Canadian Forces Snowbirds celebrating their 50th season," the air show doesn't actually begin its two-day stint until Sept. 4.

The show is set to take place, as usual, along the waterfront from noon until 3 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.

And yet, dogs and cats all over the city are shaking with terror right now thanks to rehearsals that are every bit as long and every bit as loud as the main show will be this weekend.

While there are some people who enjoy the aerial acrobatics — many of them tourists who don't have to deal with their Zoom calls being interrupted by the sound of fighter jets for several days in a row — locals generally detest this annual display of noisy war machinery.

Twitter regularly explodes with rage once the pilots begin practicing their stunts around this time of year, and we don't even have a nice trip to the CNE (cancelled for 2021) as consolation.

Anyone who lives in the downtown core, particularly near the Exhibition grounds in Toronto's west end, can expect regular thunderous whooshing noises for much of this afternoon.

The only way to avoid the noise is to literally leave the city. Maybe that's why rich people always go to their cottages for this particular long weekend?

The air show and rehearsals for it are annoying and disruptive for people trying to work or who have babies sleeping or whatever, but the ritualistic showcase of Canadian and American military aircrafts is more problematic than many of its longtime fans realize.

Advocates for refugees, veterans, survivors of war and people with conditions such as PTSD and anxiety have been pointing out more and more in recent years that the air show is actually pretty f*cked up.

"The Toronto Air Show. An annual tradition where a few people enjoy themselves and the rest of the city shudders. A metaphor," tweeted actress and filmmaker Sarah Polley on Friday afternoon.

"I don't keep track of when the air show is, so a half hour ago I was pretty sure we were under attack," replied one follower.

"I didn't realize it was happening this year and immediately felt my chest tighten with anxiety when I first heard the jets in the last hour," wrote another. "Without context or warning it's truly a fear inducing sound."

The air show has also come under an increasing amount of criticism in recent years for its environmental impacts.

"Ah, the Toronto Air Show. Looking forward to my dog being terrified to go outside for two weeks while jet fuel is being wasted above our heads in the midst of a climate crisis," tweeted one local on Friday afternoon.

"I tweet this every summer, but the air show is a horrifying anachronism that needs to end," wrote another.

"This summer, more than ever, the screaming fighter jets above my head sound like nothing less than a celebration of climate catastrophe and endless war."

Lead photo by

Jack Landau

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