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Snowbirds preparing for busy season marking 100 years of the RCAF

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Moose Jaw, Sask. -

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are preparing for a busy 2024 season as the Royal Canadian Air Force marks 100 years.

Members of the team are ramping up training just outside Moose Jaw, practicing both group and solo flights before their first air show of the team’s 2024 schedule in Comox, BC on May 18.

“It can never be perfect, there’s always going to be small variations in how we fly our profiles, conditions of the day,” said Capt. Marc-André Plante, the pilot of Snowbird 8. “But the more reps that we can get in doing that, the more likely it's going to look as good as possible or near perfect for a show.”

While the team makes adjustments in the air, on the ground, a crew of technicians like Cpl. Justin Shantidatt keep the team’s Tutor jets show ready.

“Being an old aircraft, there's not a whole lot of sensors that tell you what's wrong so you gotta be able to figure out and use your troubleshooting ability,” Shantidatt said.

As part of the RCAF centennial celebrations, the Frecce Tricolori from Italy and the Red Arrows from the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force will appear alongside the Snowbirds at a handful of shows in summer 2024.

“It’s not uncommon for us to share some airshows in the previous summers with the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels,” Plante said, referring to the two demonstration teams based in the United States. “But having the Frecce Tricolori, the Red Arrows coming over, is going to be just like icing on the cake."

Marc-André Plante [R] of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds leads a post-flight briefing at 15 Wing Moose Jaw on March 22, 2024. (Cole Davenport / CTV News)

The Frecce Tricolori will fly at air shows in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta over the summer while the RAF Red Arrows will fly demonstrations in Canada for the first time since 2019.

"Besides just getting to see what they do, it's also getting to see how they operate. I know in years past, when we have foreign teams we learn from them, they learn from us,” Shantidatt said. “Just if there’s anything we can streamline.”

The team will move their training to British Columbia in April to begin final preparations for the season that runs from May to October.

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