Canadian Forces Snowbirds perform at the 2016 Abbotsford Airshow.
Ric Ernst / PNG
Scott Boyd remembers the first time he saw the Snowbirds.When he was just five or six years old, he saw Canada’s air acrobats flying to the Abbotsford Airshow while vacationing in Harrison Hot Springs.“At that point, I just begged my dad to take me that weekend,” said Boyd.Decades later, Boyd is now a Snowbird himself, and will be flying at an event that has been an aviation tradition for five decades.“For me, it’s special because I think back and I look at all the families in the crowd and the young kids, and maybe I’ll have the opportunity to inspire someone there to go for their dream, whatever that is.”The Abbotsford International Airshow began in 1962 as a way of promoting the town’s relatively small international airport.
An F-35 at a previous Abbotsford International Air Show.
Francis Georgian /
Since then, says media coordinator Jadene Mah, the three-day event — which features 14 acres of exhibits exploring the history and science of flight, food trucks and displays — has become an annual tradition.The event is organized by 400 volunteers, many of whom are enrolled in the Air Cadet program or who are themselves former or aspiring pilots.Mah herself has a long history in aviation. Her father was a private pilot and installed child seats in the back of his plane so he could take Mah on flights. She remembers her first time in the air as a toddler, and credits her dad for her first job out of university — a gig at a museum with an aviation exhibit.“You don’t realize as a kid that not every kid gets to jump in their airplane and go for a hamburger somewhere else,” she said.For Boyd, the love of flight began even earlier.He remembers wanting to fly ever since he was a small child, when his grandfather, also an army pilot, told him stories of his time as a tailgunner on a Lancaster bomber during the Second World War.
Business end of an American A-10 “Warthog” ground attack aircraft at Abbotsford International Air Show.
Francis Georgian /
Boyd began training in the Air Cadets as a teenager and joined the Air Force after high school. From the day he enrolled, he says his goal was to be a Snowbird.“Being able to that carry that name through the air force and keep it going is awesome,” said Boyd. “I mean, it’s indescribable.”He achieved his dream after four years of training in Moose Jaw, passing the rigorous exam on his first attempt.Air acrobatics look seamless from the ground, says Boyd, but in the air, formation members notice the smallest movements by their peers. Even a difference of one or two feet makes for a slightly bent smoke trail or an imperfect formation.“You’re always kind of chasing perfection,” explains Boyd. “You’re never going to have the perfect flight, right? You’re always trying to get better and better and better, and there is no real end-goal in sight.”The airshow, which begins on Friday, will also feature CF-18 Hornets and two visits from the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.In addition to the planes, Mah says, is the event’s legacy of inspiring pilots-to-be.“The airplanes are definitely there to put on a show, but what I think is more special are those conversations that happen on the ground,” she email@example.com/zakvescera