General aviation

Snowbirds plan cross-Canada salute

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds perform over Comox, British Columbia in 2017 (photo: DND/Roxanne Wood).

Canada’s world-famous Snowbird aerial acrobatic team will launch a cross-country tour this weekend to boost spirits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been asked to do what we do best… inspire Canadians,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French, the Snowbirds’ Commanding Officer.

The tour has been dubbed Operation Inspiration.

“Through Operation Inspiration, we not only want to salute the front-line health-care workers, first responders, and essential workers, but also all Canadians doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said French. “We want Canadians to know we’re in this with you.”

The Snowbirds suspended training in March as a result of the pandemic and cancelled their normal summer air show performances. Since then, pilots and support workers have been at home, practicing physical distancing as all Canadians have been asked to do.


Pilots will require two days of refresher training at Canadian Forces Base Moose Jaw before they embark on their tour which begins this weekend in Nova Scotia. The nine-jet team will work its way west from there.

Precise dates and fly-past times will be released on the Snowbirds social media channels.

“Every year, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds travel the country putting smiles on the faces of Canadians,” said Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “While Canadians may not be able to gather at air shows for now, we’re honoured to bring the Snowbirds team to Canadians and to pay special tribute to them.”

The tour follows a similar move in the United States, where the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds staged a joint flypast this week of New York and Pennsylvania.

The Snowbirds say pilots and crew will be washing their hands and wearing protective gear while travelling. They will also avoid contact with people from outside the team as much as possible.

The Snowbirds are asking Canadians to watch the aerial shows from the comfort of their own homes, to practice physical distancing, and avoid travelling to watch the flyovers.