I love a good air show and the Snowbirds never disappoint. With the squadron’s (431 Iroquois) origins in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War I also have a sentimental attachment…my dad was a navigator in the 433 Squadron.
Munson Mountain is the perfect vantage point for a Snowbirds’ show. You get the full sound of the jets and at times you feel as if your hair gets ruffled they pass so low overhead.
When performing their 9-abreast exit the wing tips are only 5.9 feet apart.
The heart, Canada burst, solo head-on crosses and all their highly choreographed moves are amazing, difficult and there is definitely an element of danger. Seven Snowbird pilots and one passenger have been killed over the years.
The first story I heard when I moved from Ontario for my second newspaper job as a reporter to Grande Prairie, Alberta involved a Snowbird crash. The Grande Prairie Herald’s long-time photographer had been assigned to shoot the airshow in 1978. He had gone to the show, snapped some photos and left to fulfill a family commitment. He left before 32-year-old Captain Gordon deJong’s plane crashed. This was in the days before cell phones and cameras so there were few photos of the dreadful event to fulfill the needs of hungry news outlets. For the best I think… His plane’s horizontal stabilizer failed meaning he had no control and his attempt to eject failed. Said photographer stayed right to the end of events ever after.
The military aerobatics air show flight demonstration team is based near Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and comes to Penticton every couple of years. Can’t wait.