When Michael Wiskus throws his Pitts S-1-11b SS biplane into a mid-air tumble over Lake Ontario, everything blurs together.

The blue sky, the water, the skyline, the fire engine-red plane — they all meld, the dashboard in front of him the only object to fix his eyes on.

“The entire airplane, the world all around you, it’s a swirl of colour, it’s an explosion,” he says.

The tumble — in which the plane flips tail-over-nose in a mid-air fall — is one manoeuvre the retro-looking plane can perform that its single-wing counterparts can’t.

During the Canadian International Air Show on the Canadian National Exhibition’s final weekend, nearly as many older-style planes will grace the skies as modern fighter jets.