Captain Brett Parker is going for a record with the 431 Squadron Canadian Forces Snowbirds as he prepares for his fourth season as an air demonstration pilot.
“I’ve always wanted to do this job, since I was a kid,” Parker told the Times-Herald Friday, following the end-of-season air demonstration for family, friends and invited guests at 15 Wing.
Parker first joined the Snowbirds in 2011 as the second line astern pilot, or Snowbird 5. It was a position he flew in for two years before moving to the inner left wing — Snowbird 3 — in 2013. In 2014, he will fly the opposite side — inner right wing — as Snowbird 2.
A pilot typically flies two consecutive seasons with the Snowbirds before moving on. Some are permitted to fly a third.
Parker said the Snowbirds assign pilots to slots based on tryouts.
“At the end, you get assessed for what you get based on aptitude,” he said. “I started off as line astern pilot, and I was in the right place at the right time when they needed someone to come back to the team and help fill in a position that became vacant.
Parker said he looks forward to the challenge of taking on a new role in the Snowbirds formation.
“Yes, I am going into my fourth year (with the Snowbirds), but I’m switching sides. I’ve changed positions in the formation to keep things interesting and exciting,” Parker said.
But, he said, he also has another role while flying with 431 Squadron.
“I have a new wingman to train for next year, so that will be my big job,” he said. “(I’ll) make sure he learns as much as he can to help carry on the tradition of the Snowbirds and what we do, and hopefully make Canadians aware of (that).”