360° Video: Ride inside a Korean War-era RCAF jet

360° VIDEO: Take flight with pilot Rob "Scratch" Mitchell on board the "Ace Maker"

Aviation history was highlighted at the 2018 Abbotsford International Airshow, as a Lockheed T-33 jet — a crucial tool in  preparing pilots for the Korean War — took to the skies.

Painted in war-era colours, third-generation pilot Rob “Scratch” Mitchell captained the “Ace Maker” over hundreds of aviation fans.

The plane is a crowd favourite according to “Scratch,” who was given his nickname following a refueling mishap during his first week as an CF-18 fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“I always get people saying, ‘That was my favourite,'” Scratch said, who likens the T-33 to the purr of a classic muscle car.

The veteran pilot has a keen sense of what each aircraft brings to an airshow, having captained the Snowbirds and flown a vintage F-86, among other planes.

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Mitchell compares the way a CF-18 wows the crowd with speed, noise and fury to the thrill of watching a Formula One car, whereas the T-33’s “art deco design and unique signature in the sky” makes it a performer “no one dislikes.”

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Third generation pilot Rob "Scratch" Mitchell stand beside the Lockheed T-33 "Ace Maker" with his daughter, who has hopes of also becoming a pilot. Global News
Rob "Scratch" Mitchell sits in the cockpit of a Lockheed T-33, which was formerly a Royal Canadian Air Force training jet used during the Korean War. Global News
Canadian pilot Rob "Scratch" Mitchell, from Victoria, B.C., exiting a Lockheed T-33 "Ace Maker" during the 2018 Abbostford International Airshow. Global News

The aircraft was the U.S. Air Force’s first operational jet, taking flight in 1944 as a training jet for the cost-conscious defence department.

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Shortly after war broke out on the Korean peninsula, the Royal Canadian Air Force ordered 30 of the popular “Silver Star” T-33 aircraft, as the country ramped up its involvement.

The T-33’s “smooth” performance led the RCAF to award Canadair a contract to build more than 600 of the jet trainers.

“Flying the T-33 is more a demonstration of the grace of the aeroplane, making pretty ribbons in the sky,” Mitchell says, who sees the sky as his “stage.”

The aircraft Mitchell flies today is the last T-33 retired by the RCAF, and with his father’s history in military aviation, it carries a personal significance.

“He was a pilot in the Canadian Air Force for 20 years as well,” Mitchell said. “So [it’s] pretty cool to think that not only is it a Canadian one, but my father quite likely he flew it.”

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On November 9, 1950, training provided by the T-33 was put into action, as the larger P-80 Shooting Star — sibling to the Lockheed trainer — was involved in the war’s first aerial combat involving two jets.

The USAF P-80 downed a Soviet-era MiG-15 over northwestern Korea, the first of 827 MiG jets to be shot down during the war.

The smaller T-33 would never see combat, but its ability to reach speeds nearing 1,000 km/h made it useful for frontline reconnaissance missions.

WATCH: Abbotsford airshow pilots share their favourite part of the famous aviation festival

Click to play video: 'Abbotsford airshow pilots share their favourite part of the famous aviation festival' Abbotsford airshow pilots share their favourite part of the famous aviation festival
Abbotsford airshow pilots share their favourite part of the famous aviation festival – Aug 10, 2018

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