The Canadian Forces 431 Squadron, better known as the Snowbirds, wrapped up their 2012 season with a final demonstration for friends and family at their home base, Moose Jaw 15 Wing, on Friday.
“Typically, this show has always been for family and friends. It’s not really open to the public,” said Capt. Thomas Edelson, the Snowbirds’s media relations officer. “It’s kind of a unique event.”
The 2012 season focused on the Canadian North and brought the Snowbirds to the Arctic Sea for a performance, said Lt.-Col. Maryse Carmichael, the squadron’s commanding officer.
“Basically, we hit every ocean in North America,” elaborated Maj. Wayne Mott, the Snowbirds’s team lead.
The pilots, technicians and officers were happy to be home, Lt.-Col. Carmichael said.
“When you do as many as over 60 shows in six months, to have all the airplanes at home is a real thrill for us,” she said.
This show was the last for a handful of pilots, technicians and officers, as they will now be rotating out after putting in two years of service with the squadron.
According to Capt. Edelson, each individual squadron member typically serves for a maximum of two years before moving on.
“There’s a reason we only get two years, and that’s typically because of the demand on the families,” he said. “They don’t want to keep pilots for any longer than that, even though they’re good pilots and even though they’re really starting to truly feel totally comfortable.”
“Some of the guys, I’m sure, would love to fly a third or fourth year as well, because it is a lot of fun to travel the country and live that lifestyle,” he said.
“It’s a great job. There’s very few people in the world that are allowed to do it and I’m very privileged to be one of them,” Maj. Mott, who is remaining with the Snowbirds next season, agreed.
To the outgoing squadron members, Lt.-Col. Carmichael said, “They can be proud of what they’ve accomplished... I think that they represented the Canadian forces very well, and I think for a lot of them it was a dream come true.”
For pilots, officers and technicians joining the squadron in the 2013 season, she said, “now the real work begins.”