Who are the Snowbirds and how did their fly overs become so popular in Canada?
Who are the Snowbirds? Well, they're a lot of things: a Canadian Forces squadron, savvy pilots, accomplished aerobats, and — lately — the country's biggest celebrities.
The Snowbirds consist of 11 red-and-white jets, operated by a team of more than 70 Canadian Forces personnel, including pilots, aviation technicians, and commanding officers.
Every winter, the pilots and aircraft technicians spend months at their home base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, training to perform over 50 demanding aerial formations and maneuvres.
Portage la Prairie, MB.— Andrew Matthews (@amatthewsphoto) May 12, 2020
10:00 - May 12th, 2020.#OperationInspiration pic.twitter.com/SOzJsf1rL9
Although the Snowbirds have been operating for decades, they've recently soared to fame due to their Operation Inspiration tour, which will see the squadron fly across the country in an aerial salute to Canada's frontline workers.
@CFSnowbirds thank you for the flyby, that is my balcony/my rainbow #ThankYouNurses #thankyoufrontliners @VancityReynolds pic.twitter.com/DZ396nBBJX— Gisele Goddard (@50G6006) May 13, 2020
So far, the Snowbirds have put smiles on the faces of Canadians in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, and they will continue their journey west in the coming days.
Unfortunately, the Snowbirds were unable to fly over Newfoundland due to bad conditions, but the squadron says that it hopes to return in the summer when the weather improves.
@CFSnowbirds thanks so much for the amazing fly by today. Beautiful. pic.twitter.com/6eakW44iqt— Kathy McGrevy (@KathyMcGrevy) May 13, 2020
But the Snowbirds have been around long before this pandemic started; the group formed during World War II, when they flew on bombing and mine-laying operations under the name No.431 (Bomber) Squadron.
The squadron disbanded after the war, but reformed briefly for a few months in 1954 to fill a shortage in the RCAF.
Nice morning waive to the @CFSnowbirds from Kirkbridge Park in South Winnipeg pic.twitter.com/2xOIurgqSy— McBrently (@brstan) May 12, 2020
It wasn't until the 1970s, however, that the Snowbirds became part of the Canadian Forces permanently, reforming as an air demonstration squadron in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where their home base remains today.
@CFSnowbirds This was so awesome!! What a great way to wake up, you flew right over our house! Bringing the country 🇨🇦🇨🇦together. Thank you, it was really exciting! pic.twitter.com/jWzBv5TWLy— Melissa Stoddart (@Melkbud) May 12, 2020
Their motto — The Hatiten Ronteriios, or "Warriors of the Air" — is a reminder of the pilots' bravery and courage in flight.
A little glimpse inside the cockpit of Snowbird 3. #OpInspiration #cfsnowbirds #rcaf pic.twitter.com/tJ7c4iTIan— CF Snowbirds (@CFSnowbirds) May 12, 2020
But the Snowbirds are more than just aerobats; in difficult times like these, they're also a unifying force — and a symbol of hope for Canadians everywhere.
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