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'We all miss it': Snowbirds alumni celebrate 50-year reunion in Moose Jaw


Hundreds of past and present members of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds have gathered in Moose Jaw to celebrate the squadron’s 50-year reunion.

The reunion, which was initially planned for October 2020 and delayed due to COVID-19, coincides with the end of the Snowbirds’ 52nd season.

“The city has really done a lot to welcome us back. A lot of us started our families here and got married here. So it’s always great to come back to Moose Jaw,” said Ret. Lt. Col. Dan Dempsey.

“We have our own families and then we have our snowbird families and that’s what we’re welcoming back this weekend.”

Dempsey did two tours with the Snowbirds. He flew Snowbird 9 in 1980 and 1981 before becoming team leader and commanding officer in 1989 and 1990.

Outside of his tours, he was a RCAF fighter pilot in Europe and instructed other pilots in Moose Jaw. His military career spans 23 years.

He formed the Snowbird Alumni Association in 2013, which is the group that organized the 50-year reunion to reunite with past members and support the current team.

“We all miss it. But we were lucky. We did it. A lot of people don’t get a chance to do that,” he said.

“A lot of my team is back here for this reunion … You can just feel the euphoria in the room. You hear the laughter and all the stories come out.”

A number of private events are being held over the weekend to mark the occasion.

The current Snowbirds performed a 30-minute flypast over the city on Friday as dozens of alumni, honourary members and their families watched from the rooftop of the Grant Hall Hotel.

“It was a pretty special moment,” said the current Snowbirds commanding officer, Lt. Col. Denis Bandet.

“I think you have to remember when you’re on the team you have to remember you’re just borrowing the suit and you’re paying respect to the people who came before you.”

The City of Moose Jaw honoured the alumni by decorating businesses and homes in red and white—an ode to the Tutor jet and the ones who have flown it.

“Truly they’re an iconic team that represents Canadian values. They’ve been inspirational the last two years as they’ve flown across Canada,” said Fraser Tolmie, former Moose Jaw mayor and current Member of Parliament.

The reunion flypast marked the official end of the Snowbirds 2022 season Top Stories

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