Tag Archives: Snowbirds

Sky Pilot

I’ve posted this before (twice) but I don’t care. I’m proud of what happened.

I was a small town newspaper guy and my editor phoned me at home one evening and asked me if I was interested in flying with the Snowbirds for an hour or two.

When I said of course I was, she told me to get on the next ferry to Vancouver Island, check in at CFB Comox where I’d spend the night, and the next morning have fun.

So I did. And it was awesome to say the least.

We flew in formation, we went straight up and straight down, we flopped over upside down, and at times our wings seemed to almost touch the ones beside us.

At one point the pilot told me that he wanted a closer look at a fishing boat down below and told me to take the handle and do it. So for several seconds I was in control of a Snowbird all by myself, taking it down closer to the water.

And although he warned me beforehand that many guests lose their lunch at some point and showed me where the barf bags were in the cockpit, I didn’t need them. Very proud about that.

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Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day to everyone, whether you’re Canadian or not. May your winters be warm and your beer cold.

Beatnik has sent me the neatest clip of the Snowbirds in action. No, not a couple of frisky 75-year olds from Brandon now living in Fort Lauderdale. The acrobatic flying team.

The Snowbirds, of course, shine on Canada Day.

 

A Mighty Fine Plane Ride

My editor phoned me at home one evening in the late ’90s and asked me if I was interested in flying with the Snowbirds for an hour or two. When I said of course I was, she told me to get on the next ferry to Vancouver Island, check in at CFB Comox where I’d spend the night, and the next morning have fun.

We flew in formation, we went straight up and straight down, we flopped over upside down, and at times our wings seemed to almost touch the ones beside us. At one point the pilot told me that he wanted a closer look at a fishing boat down below and told me to take the handle and do it. So I did. For several seconds, I was in control of a Snowbird all by myself, taking it down closer to the water.

And although he warned me beforehand that many guests lose their lunch at some point and showed me where the barf bags were in the cockpit, I didn’t need them. Very proud about that.

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Canadiens Not Nearly Good Enough At Heritage Classic

How disappointing was that?

After all the hoopla building up to the Heritage Classic, with much on the line, with injured players Mike Cammalleri, James Wisniewski, and Hal Gill returning, the Canadiens continue their scoring struggles and fall 4-0, thus losing the second of their three-game western swing and in the process upsetting immensely any Habs fan worth his or her salt.

Unfortunately, it’s the Vancouver Canucks next, a team which happens to be leading the entire league and who probably weren’t shaking in their boots at what they saw from the bleu, blanc et rouge in Calgary, and Edmonton before that when the Canadiens lost 4-1.

Montreal has scored three goals in the their last four games, and although they managed 39 shots to Calgary’s 37, their shots came here and there, from the outside or trickling through. The Flames’ Miikka Kiprusoff was good in nets but didn’t have to be great, and Carey Price at the other end was also good but needed to be great to stop this big, dangerous club in white pants who made the Habs look very ordinary on a night when the hockey world was watching.

As much as a spanking as Montreal took, it might have been different if PK Subban and his defence partner Hal Gill hadn’t taken penalties a minute apart in the first period. The Flames grabbed both the lead and the momentum at that point, and being the terrible hosts they are, never allowed the visitors back in it.

After that first goal, the game was as good as done, even when Montreal was getting shots on goal later on. No Hab was a standout, no one was dangerous, many were invisible, and Wiz looked tentative – which I guess can be expected after almost getting his face removed with a puck. Everyone was less than sensational. Way less.

Very disappointing to say the least. And extra disappointed, I suppose, were the many Habs fans at McMahon Stadium in Calgary who paid big money, saw no goals, a loss, and froze their asses off.

Random Notes:

Tuesday in Vancouver. After that, the team is back home to meet and greet the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

I wasn’t going to but I’ve changed my mind and decided to say it – Montreal has lost 6 of their last 7. They’re in the process of taking a huge step backwards. They’re not playing well, not scoring, not impressing anyone at the moment.

The highlight of the day was seeing the Snowbirds fly over McMahon. Twelve years ago I went up with the Snowbirds in Comox as part of a media day thing, and not only did the pilot let me take the controls for a few seconds, but we also flew upside down at one point and did a few tricks. It was amazing, unlike the Habs’ performance today.

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane. Wait A Minute, It’s Me!

About eight years ago or so, the telephone rang. It was the editor of the local newspaper, the Powell River Peak, and she wanted to know if I was interested in doing something a little on the special side. She wanted to know if I wanted to go up with the Snowbirds. And if I did, I should get on the next ferry and get to Comox BC, where the Snowbirds train every spring before going on tour, an hour and a half away.

You don’t say no to something like this.

I got to the airforce base at Comox in the evening and a bunch of enlisted people took me out for dinner and showed me my room at the base. And bright and early the next morning, myself and a bunch of media people from Victoria and Nanaimo found ourselves in a room with a couple of Snowbirds pilots getting briefed on what to expect when we were actually doing it.

We were then assigned to a pilot and aircraft, and I was given aircraft number nine and pilot Robert Reichert, who was as friendly as can be. Robert flew the right flank and was one of two soloists, and he and his technician Marc Elder helped me on with my flight equipment, showed me where the barf bags were located, and explained how to eject if necessary. Shortly after, with the techicians in their uniforms impressively directing us, all nine of us taxied down the runway. Then, as mind-blowing as can be, we all took off in perfect formation at the same time, as Snowbirds do, (they also land in unison) and before I knew it, I’m up in the sky in a Snowbird jet.

I asked Robert if we could go upside down and he radioed the squadron leader. “Passenger requests an inversion,” he said, and the answer came back affirmative. “Here we go” he said, and plop, we were upside down. There are also two steering sticks in these aircraft, and after straightening out, Robert said, “See that fishing boat down there? Take the stick and take us down so we can get a better look.” So I did, and just like that, I was actually taking number nine Snowbird down myself to get a closer look at a fishing boat. Holy smokes!

And often, we would be flying in unison with the others and the leader would bark some mumbo jumbo through the radio and all nine planes would immediately shoot straight up with G force. This is when most civilians puke. But I didn’t, and I’m very proud of that. I didn’t need the barf bags even once.

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