The Canadian Forces Snowbirds flight demonstration team will cross the country to salute Canadians doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19.
The team’s signature nine-jet formation, with trailing white smoke, will fly over cities across the country starting in Nova Scotia this weekend and working west throughout the week. The team will release anticipated locations, routes, and times on their social media platforms each day. Flyovers will occur at an elevation no lower than 500 feet above all obstacles. This unique mission dubbed Operation Inspiration.
“Every year, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds travel the country putting smiles on the faces of Canadians,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander Royal Canadian Air Force. “While Canadians may not be able to gather at air shows for now, we’re honoured to bring the Snowbirds team to Canadians and to pay special tribute to them.”
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds paused operations on March 20, 2020, to preserve the team’s health. The members have been at home physically distancing since that time. The team will spend two days at their home base of 15 Wing Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan flying refresher and proficiency training missions, which is standard Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) practice after an extended pause from flying operations, before starting their cross-Canada tour, during which they will be practicing recommended hand-washing and wearing recommended personal protective equipment while traveling. Team members will also be minimizing any interactions with people outside of the team.
“We’ve been asked to do what we do best… inspire Canadians,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French, Commanding Officer, Canadian Forces Snowbirds. “Through Operation INSPIRATION, we not only want to salute the front-line health-care workers, first responders, and essential workers but also all Canadians doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. We want Canadians to know we’re in this with you.”
Canadian Forces Snowbirds
The Snowbirds, officially known as 431 Air Demonstration Squadron (French: 431e escadron de démonstration aérienne), are the military aerobatics or air show flight demonstration team of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
The Snowbirds are the first Canadian air demonstration team to be designated as a squadron. The team’s official mission is to “demonstrate the skill, professionalism, and teamwork of Canadian Forces personnel”.
The team is based at 15 Wing Moose Jaw near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The show team flies 11 Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet trainer—nine for aerobatic performances, including two solo aircraft, and two as spares, flown by the team coordinators.