Canadian Snowbirds

Do you want to know what the Snowbirds are? Do you want to learn about the skill that it takes to be a member of the Canadian Snowbirds? Read our guide for more facts and information…

The Canadian Snowbirds are a division of the Canadian Forces and serve as a demonstration team. The Snowbirds were founded in 1971 from an existing squadron of the Canadian Air Force. The members of the Canadian Snowbirds are comprised of serving members of the Canadian Forces. The members of the Canadian Snowbirds including pilots and technicians bring their performance to audiences across North America aptly fitting their motto, which is warriors of the air. The Canadian Snowbirds also uphold the values of the Canadian Forces including, but not limited to professionalism, teamwork and excellence. The Canadian Snowbirds have their home base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The name for the squadron was created in the founding year as in June of 1971 a contest was held. A gr. 6 student won this contest with the suggested name of the Snowbirds. Since the Canadian Snowbirds have existed they have performed in over 2000 shows and have truly become a Canadian icon.

The Team and the Plane

The Canadian Snowbirds create performances across North America; however, the show is only possible due to the excellence of the team. The Snowbirds feature 11 primary pilots plus one public affairs officer as well as 12 more alternate pilots. In order to become a pilot in the Snowbirds you must not only have exceptional flying ability but also plenty of experience flying with the Canadian Air Force. The pilots of the Snowbirds are also limited to three year stints with the team. One of the pilots is also the ‘boss’ of the Snowbirds, and if they are unable to fly the Snowbirds cannot take to the air.

The Snowbirds also use distinctive planes; the Canadian Snowbirds have flown CT-114 Tutor jets since their inception in 1971. This style of jet is the same that was used by the Air Force in basic pilot training as recently as 2000. The jets used by the Snowbirds do require a few modifications. The plane is designed and built entirely in Canada and is painted in red and white to symbolize the Canadian flag.

The Performance

The Canadian Snowbirds are highly skilled pilots, as flying in formation is not without risk. The Canadian Snowbirds have various formations to utilize throughout a performance; the formations are primarily based on either 9 or 7 planes. While the Snowbirds are flying in formation the average distance between the planes is 1.2 meters. Also, during the performance the Snowbirds fly between 100 and 320 knots. The Canadian Snowbirds perform their shows throughout North America despite being based in Canada. In an average year the Snowbirds fly approximately 70 shows at an average of 50 different locations. The Canadian Snowbirds frequently perform at airbases across the continent as well as at celebrations such as Canada Day in Canada’s capital Ottawa, Ontario.

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