The Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds had children flying high on excitement during a special visit to Nanaimo Airport this week.
Canada’s famous air demonstration squadron touched down in three separate three-aircraft formations and were escorted by YCD Nanaimo’s crash truck as they taxied from the runway to line up in front of Nanaimo Flying Club.
The roar and hiss of jet engines and kerosene-scented exhaust revved up the excitement for children awaiting the team’s arrival for the Snowbirds Fly for CHILD Children’s Reception Party, hosted by the flying club.
The Snowbirds are ambassadors for the CHILD Foundation of Canada and raise awareness about child intestinal and liver disorders.
The team has supported the foundation since 2003 and chooses one city each year to perform and have children the foundation helps meet the pilots and support crew.
“Every year we come out and meet the kids and then the next day we usually perform,” said Maj. Indira Thackorie, Canadian Armed Forces public affairs officer.
“We’ve got 36 shows in our schedule; 11 of them are in the U.S., and this is the only one that supports the CHILD Foundation. We do one a year and this year it’s in Nanaimo,” said Thackorie.
About a dozen children attending Tuesday’s event meet with the team, got autographs and a chance to sit in the cockpits of the jet trainers where they got some hands-on experience with cockpit instrumentation and flight controls.
Several members of this year’s team are from Vancouver Island, including Capt. Avert Pyne, of Victoria, who did some of his early glider training in Nanaimo, and Capt. Matthew Hart of Parksville.
“Not only is it an honour to represent your country and your military, but to be able to get out of the jet and then make kids smile, like here?” Thackorie said. “If they’re having a bad day and then all of a sudden they’re by a jet. They don’t care anymore. They forget that they’re sick. That’s the best part.”
The team aircraft were parked at Nanaimo Airport overnight and prepared for their performance over Nanaimo Harbour Wednesday.
The Snowbirds last performed in Nanaimo in 2013.