Save the Snowbirds – A Personal Note

For those of you that don’t know me I will confess that I am a sitcom junkie.  One of my guilty plesaures in the evening is to work on some project while watching a sitcom.  My wife simply cannot understand the attraction and generally leaves the room when I decide to watch a sitcom.  One of my favourite older sitcoms is ‘Home Improvement”.  For those of you who haven’t seen this show, Home Improvement is about a cable tool show host played by Tim Allen that explores family life and relationships.  

Most episodes of Home Improvement featured “show within a show”  called “Tool Time”, the cable show hosted by Tim’s Allen’s character, Tim Taylor. Quite often, to the chargrin of Tim Taylor’s sidekick on th show, Tim would use the show as vehicle to talk about personal matters.   Today, I’d like to do the same thing and go off topic on this blog to talk about the Canadian armed force’s air demonstration team, the Snowbirds.

For several years there has been talk about disbanding the Snowbirds.  Most recently the Canadian military has suggested that shutting down the team in response to the to federal government’s request to find cost savings.   While many pundits have commented that this suggestion is merely a ploy embarrass the government into backing down on their demands, I’d like to call attention to what some are saying is a dangerous “game of chicken” with what has become one of our national symbols.

Unlike many other air demonstration teams such as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds or the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the Snowbirds don’t use front-line aircraft or travel around the world witha large contingent.  Rather, they use an underpowered jet trainer that is older than most of the pilots that fly them and travel from show to show with whatever will fit in these planes including all the support staff.   Yet, despite this minimalist approach, they rival any team in terms of the manoeuvresthat they perform.  While other teams have aircraft withlots of power with which to overcome small mistakes the Snowbirds fly their aircraft to the limit and rely on their skill to make difficult manoeuvres look effortless.

The Snowbirds exemplify the ingenuity and skills of Canadians.  They highlight our ability to work with the resources at hand and to compete with the best of what any other nation can produce.  Some people suggest that we are putting the Snowbird pilots needlessly in danger flying such old aircraft.  Based on my discussions with military pilots I can tell you without hesitation that Snowbird pilots, who are all volunteers, know the risks and willingly choose to take these risks.  They would rather chance dying doing what  they love than be grounded.

If you in any way share my feelings I encourage you to contact your MP and let them know how you feel.


2 responses to “Save the Snowbirds – A Personal Note

  1. Mike,

    I think you nailed the essence of why I love the Snowbirds, they can fly as equals with the big boys around the world, but do it with planes older than me, that are held together with elastic bands. They are as Canadian as hockey and beer. Two things of which I am also rather fond of.

    Although I am not as much of a nut about planes and my co-blogger, I do respect them as an institution. I hope and pray that the stupid bean counters see the value in them as such, and that cutting them would be akin to say the CBC losing the hockey night in Canada theme song…ummm never mind that last point. 🙂

    All joking aside, it is important to keep the Snowbirds, not because of their immense skill or dollar value, but because it is one of the few cross-Canadian symbols that actually mean something across each region in our country. Can you imagine our Yankee cousins even debating a similar situation…not going to happen in the USA. Why is this even being considered in Canada?


  2. You added a couple of interesting observations, particularly with regard to the Snowbirds as a cross-Canadian symbol. We have so many regional differences, it seems some days, that unifying symbols are that so much more important. It is sad to see them reduced to a political football.


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