2015 Quesnel International Air Show

Posted by Gary:

Several weeks ago, while we were traveling around BC, doing Timing & Results for the Cycling BC Mountain Bike Downhill series, I got a phone call from Drew at StarlightFX.  The people organizing the Air Show had contracted with a pyro specialist  to do the 1000 foot “Walls Of Fire” and needed people with a Pyro license to assist.

So we changed our plans to go and help at the Terrace ‘River Boat Days’.  We got back home from the Mountain Bike races on Monday, had to unpack all of the equipment, find out what would be needed in Quesnel, load all of that up and be ready to head to Quesnel on Thursday afternoon.

Got to Quesnel and met with he pyro guys.  A quick lunch and we started to do the set up for the Air Show.  We set up 2 rows for the 1000 foot walls and 1 row for a 500 foot wall. Click on the photos for a larger image.

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There are 55 – 6 inch pipes in the 1000 foot walls.  Each one will get 2 gallons of gasoline and a 60 gram black powder lift charge.  The 500 foot walls get half as many pipes, loaded the same.    We worked on the setup on Thursday until 9:00PM.

On Saturday, we continued preparing for the ‘Twilight’ show, Friday evening.  In addition to the ‘Wall Of Fire’ we also setup a simulated strafing run that was done by one of the Canadian Armed Forces CF-18’s.  We simulated 20mm cannon hits, followed by gas mines.  It looked like this ‘Bomb Run’ by a P51 Mustang using a cluster of 3 – 6″ pipes and 6 gallons of gas.


The 1000 foot ‘wall’ as the CF-18 made it’s final pass on Friday evening:


The “Jet Truck” also put on an impressive display and that part of the show was ended with a 500 foot ‘wall’:




If you have watched ‘Air Show’ on the Discovery channel, you will remember this guy:


And some of the other aircraft that were there:

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The Snow Birds were the final act all 3 days of the Air Show.




2015 Canada Winter Games – How We Did It

CWG Supplier

When StarlightFX was awarded the contract to be an “Official Supplier” for the 2015 Canada Winter Games it became apparrent that a lot of work was ahead of us to get ready.  First and foremost, we worked closely with one of our main suppliers – “Mystical Distributing” – to determine that we could bring in enough fireworks to meet the requirements of the contract.  Once the order was developed, a 20 foot container was ordered, direct from China.

Conventional “Display Shells” in sizes from 2″ (50mm) to 6″ (155mm) would be required.


Cylindrical Shells were also ordered.  These ‘specialty’ shells produce much more spectacular “breaks”. The break is the effect you see when the ‘burst charge’ goes off.


Many meetings with the Winter Games staff ensued.  The number of shows, the dates, the duration of the shows and the content were determined.  Once all of that was in place, the detailed content of each individual show was decided.  The sequence and timing for each show was pre-programmed, using proprietary software provided by Cobra Firing Systems.  The Cobra firing system was used exclusively for all of the Canada Games shows.

In addition to the shows put on during the Games, StarlightFX also produced 5 additional shows.  There was a 2 Years To Go, a 1 Year To go and a 100 Days to Go shows and celebrations.  StarlightFX traveled to Fort St. John, Terrace and Quesnel as part of the Community Torch Relay celebrations.

For the Games Time shows, 2 complete shows, with all of the required equipment were ready to go.  Everything needed was loaded into trailers and transported to Connaught Hill daily.

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Once on site, the trailer was emptied.  Racks of mortar tubes for the display shells, assemblies for comets, mines and roman candles were placed and prepared.

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In addition, 10 to 12 ‘Display Cakes’ were included in each show.  A cake is a ‘show in a box’ and consists of from 25 to several hundred smaller effects.  The cakes produce a variety of different effects, from waving back & forth, multiple fanned bursts and very loud ‘salutes’.


Connections are made to the Cobra firing modules.  These modules communicate by a secure wireless system  to the remote firing unit.


Shells are placed in the mortars and connected to ‘electric matches’ or e-match.  The e-match is ignited by an electrical signal from the firing module and emits a small flame which in turn lights the fuse on each firework.


Once everything is in place, tested and ready to go, the crew takes a break in the now empty trailer, checks out the city lights and keeps watch.

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Close to show time we set up outside, a final check is made, the firing system is armed in preparation for the signal from the Stage Manager at the entertainment in the Plaza.


Then we get to watch the show!


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A few statistics from the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Approximately 16,000 pounds (7257kg) of product was used.

This includes 6 shows leading up to Games Time and the 18 show during the Games.
Here is what was used:
2″ Display Shells – 1,243
3″ Display Shells – 1,040
4″ Display Shells – 672
5″ Display Shells – 425
6″ Display Shells – 187
1.5″ Comets – 165
2″ Comets – 297
2″ Mines – 63
3″ Mines – 225
Roman Candles – 81
Cakes – 297

Total shots fired – 27,621. 22,223 were from the Cakes.

Drew Larsen and Tom Stephenson – owners of StarlightFX


Part of the crew helping with setting up.

Drew Larsen, Gary Schlesinger, Vickie Stephenson, ‘TJ’ Stephenson and Steven Foulston.


Many more people helped out when they could, including guests from Taylor, Creston and Telkwa.

StarlightFX would like to thank Philomena Hughes and Chris Purves for providing the photos for this story.

We would also like to thank the many excellent photographers that posted their work on social media and the hundreds of positive and encouraging comments.






2015 Canada Winter Games Torch Relay Celebrations In Fort St. John

StarlightFX is the “official Supplier of Fireworks” to the 2015 Canada Winter Games to be held in Prince George from February 13th to March 1st.

As we get closer to ‘Games Time’ StarlightFX will be taking part in the Community Torch Relay Celebrations – “Illuminate The North”
Eight northern BC communities went head-to-head in an online vote from August 27 until September 12 to see who would host the largest 2015 Games celebrations outside of Prince George. During the online vote, over 2,500 British Columbians voted to determine the winning communities. The votes were very close – in some regions, there was only a difference of 50 votes!
Eight northern BC communities went head-to-head in an online vote from August 27 until September 12 to see who would host the largest 2015 Games celebrations outside of Prince George. During the online vote, over 2,500 British Columbians voted to determine the winning communities. The votes were very close – in some regions, there was only a difference of 50 votes!
The 2015 Games Regional Community Torch Celebration communities are:
Northeast: Fort St. John, Northwest: Terrace and Central Interior: Quesnel
Each Regional Community Torch Celebration includes a regional torch relay leg, featuring torchbearers from that region, and a celebration featuring a DJ, Canada Games alumni and representatives, fireworks and coverage of the event by Global BC.
StarlightFX traveled to Fort St. John on November 22nd for the first of three Community celebrations.
We were assisted doing the setup by 2 members of the Fort St. John Fire Department, Ryan Tancock and Jason Donszelmann.

Setting up racks and wiring to the Cobra Wireless Firing System


Preparing the Roman Candles.


The Pomeroy Sport Center is in the background.  This 3 story facility has 2 NHL sized rinks on the ground floor, an Olympic sized indoor long track speed skating oval (1 of only 4 in North America) above that and an indoor 380m, 3 lane walking track above the speed skating oval.


Wiring is done, mines, roman candles and cakes have been installed and connected in the racks.  Continuity checks are completed.  Ryan & Jason do a ‘Happy Dance’.


We were able to do a lot of the rack assembly and wiring of the Cobra Wireless Firing System inside the Fire Department’s mini Rescue Truck out of the cold.


Hot dogs and hot chocolate, waiting for show time.


“Big Screen” TV set up with video from the Torch Relay.


The 2015 Canada Winter Games Torch, used in the relay with the lantern that was lit from the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.


Ryan and Jason pose with the torch.

Check out these YouTube videos of the Torch Relay and the fireworks:


Training – Starting New people

The ‘Explosives Regulatory Division’ (ERD) of Natural Resources Canada provides the introdutory training for individuals that want to become certified to use display fireworks – the fireworks that are used for large outdoor displays and pyrotechnics – the fireworks that are used for indoor events such as concerts, theater and other indoor events.

StarlightFX hosted courses recently in Prince George and as part of the Pyrotechnician course, presented a practical demonstration of some of the devices used by pyrotechnicians.  Thanks to Chris Purves for the photos.

Drew Larsen (StarlightFX) and Rod Boulay (ERD) discussing the effects being used.


Explaining the COBRA wireless firing system:


Stage gerbs:





Loading 2 ounces of smokeless black powder into a flame projector:


Explaining what the ‘effect will be;


Connecting to the COBRA system:


The flame projector:


Air burst:




Chinese New Year, 2014 In Photos

We want to thank Kelly Bergman for letting us use some of his photos taken during the Chinese New Year celebrations at Exploration Place:


“Photos by Kelly Bergman ©BergMedia Photography 2014”


“Photos by Kelly Bergman ©BergMedia Photography 2014”


“Photos by Kelly Bergman ©BergMedia Photography 2014”


“Photos by Kelly Bergman ©BergMedia Photography 2014”


“Photos by Kelly Bergman ©BergMedia Photography 2014”


“Photos by Kelly Bergman ©BergMedia Photography 2014”

新年快乐!Kung Hei Fat Choy – Prince George Welcomes The Year Of The Horse

StarlightFX presented another impressive fireworks display to the hundreds of participants at the 11th annual evening of dinner and celebrations at Exploration Place.  Preparing and presenting a fireworks display in sub-zero temperatures presents some challenges to the crew.  To keep the battery operated firing modules warm, we placed “Little Hotties” hand warmers under the modules.



3″ and 4″ Mines were laid out in a long line, each one with it’s own Cobra 18M firing module.  This allows us to pre-program the effects and fire the mines in groups or other sequences.


There was a rack assembly of 2″ Comets, again with it’s own 18M module.  These turned out to be a crowd favorite and you can expect to see more of these in future shows.


The rest of the show was comprised of 2″, 3″ and 4″ display shells and 12 ‘Cakes’.


A special thanks goes out to the crew members that braved the -17C temperatures to prepare the show.

StarlighFX’s next project will be the “One Year To Go” presentation for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, following the Hedley concert at CN Center, February 14th.

Opinion250 posted this report: