On October 14, 2016, 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, wrapped up their very successful 2016 season, in Moose Jaw, SK. Many milestones were celebrated by the Snowbirds, including the team's first visit to EAA Oshkosh, in over 30 years.
Year end activities started the day before the final show, which was performed in front of family, friends and military members, at a closed show. Thursday saw the annual squadron "Elephant Walk", where Snowbird family members and spouses, get to experience what it is like to be a Snowbird, from inside of the cockpit. Short of actually getting airborne, the team does a complete start-up and taxi out to the runway, followed by a high speed run, then they taxi back and shut down the jets. With the jets shut down, the smiles could tell the story. It truly is a one of a kind experience.
On Friday afternoon, the Snowbirds prepared for their final show of the season. With the jets running, a small bit of excitement unfolded as Snowbird 8, Capt. Shamus Allen, had a mechanical issue with his jet, which forced him to sprint across the tarmac and into a spare. Within mere minutes, thanks to the help of the dedicated ground crew, "Carney" was taxiing out with the rest of the team.
As the Snowbirds flew their show, with the usual precision and grace, the year end show was almost mirroring the home opener, back in May. During that show, there was one wedding proposal, so it was fitting to close the year out with another one, as Cpl. Andrew Valentine, the team's Technical Coordinator, proposed to his girlfriend, Sara, as the Snowbirds traced the Heart overhead.
With loud applause from family, friends and Snowbird alumni, the Snowbirds made their final passes over the crowd, before landing, followed by a salute to the crowd; a huge, billowing cloud of smoke, from the nine jets.
After shutting down, family and friends gathered around the jets for one last time, taking snapshots, capturing the memories of that moment.
2016 marked the last show for a number of Snowbird pilots, who will be moving on to new postings. Maj. Steve "$pock" Reed, Capt. Shamus "Carney" Allen, Maj. Regan "Sticky" Wickett and Maj. Indira Thackorie, are departing the team, and we would like to wish them good luck on their next assignments.
As it always is, once one show season ends, work on the next begins. Work has already begun on the 2017 season, and that work will continue, during the cold prairie winter. But, before long, winter will give way to spring, and a new season will be upon us. We look forward to the 2017 with much anticipation.
Kestrel Aviation Images would once again, like to thank the Commanding Officer, LCol Brad Wintrup, and all members, of 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, for their continued hospitality and we are looking forward to working with the team in 2017.
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