The Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team


Our Next Show: EAA AirVenture, Oshkosh, Wisconsin

CHAT is a professional 4 plane formation aerobatic team which flies as a tribute to the veterans of World War II, and to inspire others through teamwork and passion.

The Team

Members of the Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team are professional airshow performers who have years of experience behind them.

Pete Spence - #1

Pete is an excavation contractor from Muirkirk, Ontario. He has been flying air shows for over twenty years.

Dave Hewitt - #2

An owner/manufacturer in the auto parts industry (tubular products and assemblies). Dave resides in Woodstock, Ontario, is married, has two boys and has been flying air shows for over twenty years.

Kent Beckham - #3

Flying the most difficult position, Kent is a pilot with a major Canadian airline. Kent has been flying air shows for more than twenty years and has performed aerobatics in the film 'Iron Eagle IV'.

Marco Rusconi - #4

Born in Italy, Marco has flown all of his life. After a career in the RCAF, and 4 years with the Snowbirds, Marco enjoys a career with WestJet airlines and as #4 with CHAT.

Capabilities

Take your show to the next level with our many capabilities!

  • Formation Aerobatics and Solo Aerobatics

    Our tight formations and jaw dropping aerobatic manouvers will surely wow the crowd!

  • Media Rides

    Give a sponsor the ride of their life in the back of our vintage aircraft!

  • Formation Flights

    No aerobatic box? No problem! Our formation flights will demonstrate the precision and capability of our aircraft and pilots.

  • Static displays

    Want to give the crowd an up-close and personal view of the Harvards? Our static display will show the meticulous care we take in the maintenance of our aircraft.

  • Fly-Pasts

    Need to start a race or game? Want a memorial flypast? We can do it all!

  • Twilight Show

    If you thought we looked good in the day, wait until you see us at twilight! With lights on, we'll fly a beautiful performance that will amaze all!

The Aircraft

The Harvard is a Pratt & Whitney powered, dual tandem seated, low winged metal monoplane (with the exception of fabric covered control surfaces). It's 600 HP supercharged engine directly drives a 9'1'' metal Hamilton Standard constant speed propeller. This combination of a radial engine and supersonic propeller tips give the Harvard it's distinctive roar.

Originally used as advanced trainers by the RCAF for the purposes of night, formation, aerobatic, light bombing and gunnery (later rocketry) training, they earned the nicknames of 'the pilot maker' and 'yellow peril'. A common military saying was simply, "If you could fly a Harvard well, you could fly anything".

The 4 aircraft flown today were all built between 1941-1952 and have been in continuous service for over 60 years due to the care and support of their operators.

  • NAH

    C-FNAH

    Flown by Pete Spence


    Harvard 2918 SN 66-2651, was taken on strength on Feb 21, 1941. 2918 was in #2 FTS Gimli, Manitoba from Sept 1951 to May 1952. It was then flown by the 411 Aux. Squadron between 1953 to 1958. It was struck off strength April 28, 1960, and went to 13 SFTS Dunnville, Penhold and to Board of Education (Central Technical School, A/C Department) where it was used as a training airframe. 2918 was obtained by Les Balla in 1985, who had been a student at Central Tech. Les did a ground up restoration over the next decade and returned 2918 to the skies in November 1994. Les sold 2918 to Pete in August 2005.

  • NDB

    C-FNDB

    Flown by Dave Hewitt


    Harvard 3039 was manufactured by Noorduyn Aviation in Montreal in 1941. It was the 6th Harvard off the assembly line. In 1944, in the RCAF, 3039 suffered a major accident and underwent major overhaul. It was loaned to the RCN in 1953 and served in Shearwater until it was transfered to Montreal in 1956. It was then sent to Downsview where it was sold off from crown assets in 1960. It was bought by Stan Fitzeur based out of Mount Hope until 1978. NDB was then sold to Bob Hewitt and Norm Beckham. NDB is now owned by Dave Hewitt and is based out of Woodstock, Ontario.

  • NAH

    C-FMKA

    Flown by Kent Beckham


    Harvard 3222 was built on June 26, 1941 in Inglewood, California. It had hardly began service when it suffered a belly landing in July. It was repaired and put into service in Trenton on October 25, 1941. It then moved to Centralia in late December, 1953. It served here for two and a half years when it suffered yet another belly landing. It was overhauled in 1957 and was put in longterm storage in May of 1957. In 1960 it was sold to T. Ray Craven of Tillsonburg, and then sold to Norman Beckham and Robert Hewitt in 1968. Kent became the full owner of the aircraft in 2011.

  • NAH

    CF-FBD

    Flown by Marco Rusconi


    Harvard 20307 is a Mk IV and was built by Canadian Car & Foundry on May 15th 1952 in Fort William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). It served as an RCAF trainer in Macdonald, MB and Moose Jaw, SK. The aircraft left service in June 1962, when Crown Assets Disposal Corporation (CADC) sold the aircraft on behalf of the government of Canada. The aircraft was stored in the US and then repatriated when purchased by Francis (Burt) Davis, registered as CF-FBD and restored in 1993 in Wetaskiwin, AB. In 2009 the airplane was sold to Mr Olivier Combret of Oliver, BC and maintained by Mr. Walt Lannon. In 2010 Marco purchased the airplane and had it based in Regina, SK before 2011, when its permanent home became Woodstock, ON.

The Routine

To not only see yellow Harvards against a blue sky billowing light smoke, but hear and feel their pulse is an incredible experience shared with air show spectators. The combination of subsonic, transonic and supersonic sections of the prop release a roar that is the music of the Harvard.
It's all about energy management. Potential energy (altitude) being traded for kinetic energy (airspeed) and back again results in a beyond belief show larger than your stationary field of vision. You'll have to crane your neck to take in the full experience. Mouths will be agape, and tonsils will be sunburnt. Unlike jets which pass for a fleeting moment, CHAT dominates centre stage without dead sky limited only by the surface of the earth itself.
Although Pete, Dave, Kent and Marco use these 3 ton aircraft masterfully to perform a tight aerial sequence with upbeat background music, better modern aircraft exist that would make the task much easier - but they just wouldn't have the same presence in the afternoon sky. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.

Our History

All 4 of our pilots come from an aviation background, which stemmed from parents who flew. As a result, they possess amazing skill when at the controls.

  • Pete Spence


    Pete grew up around airplanes and learned to fly on a Piper J3 and DeHaviland Chipmunk. He was also lucky enough to have a father who restored a Fairey Swordfish HS554 which is now in Vintage Wings Collection. He currently runs an excavation company where he has developed the precision necessary to fly the lead aircraft position. He's been flying Harvards for 25 years, debuting with CHAT in 2000 as the lead aircraft. He has flown with the team ever since, building great trust in his wingmen, and furthering his skills as a lead pilot..

  • Dave Hewitt


    Dave first got his pilots license in 1989 when he was 20 years old. His first solo in the Harvard was in 1990. In 1991 he began flying formation in airshows. He flew solo aerobatics at airshows in 1995 and began training as a formation aerobatic pilot in 1998. In 2000 Dave debuted as #2 of the 3 ship Canadian Harvard Aerobatic Team. Dave has over 1400 hours of flight time with over 1300 hours being Harvard time, much of it off the wing of another aircraft. Today Dave flies mostly warbirds or antique aircraft ranging from J3 Cubs to Yales, Champs to Hawker Hurricanes. He also has time in a Pitts Special, Citabria, and now is the proud owner of a Beech 18 aircraft.

  • Kent Beckham


    Kent grew up in Woodstock, ON. He worked from spring to fall during his high school years at a mini golf/driving range to pay for his license. In 1978 he gained his glider pilots license, and his private pilots license, making him the self proclaimed "Youngest pilot in Canada" for a few days. In 1979 he flew his first performance in a 4 ship harvard formation act at an RCAF reunion in the same plane he flies today. In 1980 he got his commercial license, and in 1981 was an instructor. In 1983 he received his airline license, and began his long airline career. When not flying for the airline, he towed sail planes, flew jumpers, instructed, and flew airshows, quickly closing in on 30,000 hours of flight time. His aerobatic career started in 1981 flying a 2 ship formation aerobatic act with his father Norm Beckham. They flew until 1998, when Norm stepped down from the team. The team quickly gained members, gaining Dave Hewitt and Pete Spence. He flew his first 3 plane formation aerobatic performance in 2000.

  • Marco Rusconi


    Marco was born in Florence, Italy and grew up in a small town just north of Rome. His father, Stefano, himself an aviator, taught Marco how to fly at age 14 in the family's Tiger Moth biplane. After that, Marco began gliding and he completed his PPL in Victoria, BC, where he finished his schooling. Marco joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1997, attended RMC Kingston and graduated with his RCAF pilot wings in 2004 at NFTC's training facility in Moose Jaw, SK. His first assignment was as an instructor on the Harvard II aircraft. He was then fortunate to fly as the number 4 and number 7 pilot for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds for the 2008-2011 seasons. After leaving the Canadian Forces in 2011, Marco began his commercial flying career and is currently a first officer on the Boeing B737 for WestJet Airlines. In 2014, Marco joined the team as #4.

Contact


Team coordinator Dave Hewitt is happy to hear from you! Contact him using his email or his cell below!